Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favorite Day of 2011

Can you remember or pinpoint your favorite day this year? I can.

For me, it was the day after the Royal Wedding. I had been in London for a week. The whole week leading up to the big day was like nothing I've ever experienced. Journalists from all over the world camped out waiting for a glimpse or snippet of something to report to their countries back home. The whole world was tuned in... it was insane.

I kept randomly wandering into media situations, catching glimpses of the Royals and their guests. A lone Buckingham Guard slowly trotted by me patroling the Palace on his horse locking eyes with me. A true Cinderella moment.

Rather than being depressed the day after a big holiday, it was more like a big sigh after the ultimate climax. Though my time in London was expiring, my journey in Europe was just beginning.

But that day, I made no plans. I was over sightseeing. I just wanted TO BE in the city. So I hopped on the Tube and ended up in Piccadilly Circus.

I left the Nikon at home, only took my mini camera and iPhone with my leather journal. Sat in an uber hip coffee shop watching British men stroll by. I quickly realized I was in a location where they were only interested in each other and chuckled to myself, just content to embrace the moment writing in London and being a part of the city like it was my own.

From there I ventured to Fortnum & Mason where I browsed all floors of high end edibles.

I purchased a special expensive minature cake for one with a celebratory C&W honoring Catherine & William. So I took my chocolate wedding cake and ate it in the park.

Thirty minutes each day in the park was the BEST part of my time in London. While working day in and day out, I always fantasized about being outdoors laying in the park staring up at the clouds on a sunny day. In my daydreams it was always Paris or Versailles. But it was London that had the best parks where you could get lost in the soft grass. The sun had been shining all week, and everyone was outside enjoying the park in their own way. I would always choose a grassy knoll where I could peer through the trees gazing at the sky, practicing the art of doing nothing. Those peaceful moments were my best memories of 2011, not even the hay fever attacks from the pollen could steal it away.

Good bye, 2011! 
Hello, 2012!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: A Year in Review

A Year for Following Dreams & Facing Reality...

Last New Year's Eve, I decided that rather than having any New Year's resolutions... I would chose a theme or motto, a simple but powerful one: To Be True to Myself. It took massive courage, but in all my choices and major life changes this year...that is what I did.

In February, I left my job in the financial industry to pursue more creative ventures. After pouring my soul into Photography Getaways, I faced the hard facts that the business just wasn't quite ready, so I focused on a dream trip to Europe which did serve as 'research' for Photography Getaways.

When I tried to purchase my ticket abroad, Travelocity had a glitch charging me for two tickets, but with no confirmed reservation. As fate would have it, the next day I was contacted by HomeAway Vacation Rentals encouraging me to enter their BlogAway contest for the Royal Wedding. I jumped at the opportunity! Within a week, I was a Top 3 Finalist. I fought my heart out on Facebook and Twitter for votes. With the help of friends, family members, and loyal blog readers (especially my Dad and cousin Olivia) I won the week long trip to London for the Royal Wedding!

So, I extended my stay in Europe afterall, visiting one of my dearest friends, Sheila, a woman I met on a spontaneous trip to Switzerland in 2007, after opting not to get engaged. This allowed me to spend a week with her in Birmingham, UK... a town I quickly grew to love.

From there, I flew to Paris where I rented an apartment for 10 days. Though the dream was fulfilled I realized the city streets were not Hollywoodized like in Midnight in Paris.

After Paris, I got in my little rental car and ventured to the Loire Valley for a week... and had my own little driving scene abroad like in The Holiday. It was the bravest thing I've ever done, as silly as it sounds! Learning new traffic signs in a foreign language, while having a Frenchman come to my rescue after getting stuck on a narrow village one way road, denting the bumper and not getting that thing called rental insurance... I needed the whole day to recuperate at Chateau de Les Sablons eating wine and cheese in the private courtyard. Yes, I stayed a week in a French Chateau!

On my way out, I stopped at Chateau Villandry... where the French Gardens are almost as exquisite as Versailles. It was an emotional day, because I had changed my ticket to come home earlier from Nice instead of continuing with my planned 8 weeks to Cinque Terre, Rome, Tuscany, and then Switzerland.

I was exhausted, lonely, hadn't spoken much English to anyone, was stressed about getting to and from with my luggage, and the dollar wasn't going as far as hoped. I lost 8 pounds (currently 13 lbs!) because I couldn't enjoy all the fabulous French food.

So I pressed on to Dordogne, where I stayed with a fantastic English couple at Les Quatre Piins, and made wonderful friends who were so hospitable to me. Maybe I had given up too soon. Things were looking up... though I was desperate to get rid of that rental car. But I saw all the places I dreamed about... visiting Domme, Beynac, Le Roque Gageac, and Sarlat. It was remarkable... though I wished I had someone to share it with.

I traded in the car and took the train from Cahors to Nice and stayed in my first hostel... Villa St. Exupery. It was so much fun! I should have incorporated more hostels into my trip all along. I knew I didn't want it the entire time, but it would have saved money and offered more socialization.

So I boarded the plane on June 5th, from Nice to Fort Lauderdale, content that I had followed my dream. Even though France had chewed me up and spit me out... it was eye opening, and I'm proud of myself for following my dreams.

As soon as I landed in Fort Lauderdale, it felt like home for the first time in five years. But when I got home... the problems in my personal relationship hadn't magically worked themselves out like I hoped. I gave it everything I had for over three years. Love wasn't enough. It was time to walk away 

with my kitty... and time to return home 3,000 miles away. After 11 years of living in a different state than my Mom, it was the perfect time for a mother's love to heal all wounds in Truckee, California.

The second half of the year I found balance. I spent more time away from the computer and social media. More time on excerise, developing friendships, and catching up on family time

I found a new guy quicker than I planned, and finally I'm not fearful of commitment, but just content and optimistic to see how things ride out.

I've almost completed my novel... a dating/ relationship memoir. A difficult task to face the past, but I'm finally ready to face the end!

The most important thing I learned about Being True To Myself... is I should have done it all along and much sooner. This goes for everything: jobs, dreams, relationships, etc. Because the bottom line is you have to live for yourself, you are responsible for your own happiness, and once you're happy from within, things will work out the way they are supposed to.

It is too late to live with regret, but because I wasn't true to myself sooner... My Mandatory 2012 Resolution theme or goal is: To Rebuild.

Rebuilding will take time. I'm starting from scratch again. But I'm greatful for all I've been gifted this year. My belief in fate, faith, and spirituality has improved by leaps and bounds this year. When I really needed guidance through prayer... it was there. I never prayed more than when I was in Europe... or these past few months. Courage and strength from within, and signs I couldn't ignore appeared when I desperately needed it.

My real Christmas gift (not the movie Runaway Bride my parents jokingly got me...yes, Eggs Benedict are my favorite) came a week early... a new job for the Department of Health & Human Resources for Carson City which will begin mid January. Social services will be a whole new field for me, and I feel it will be rewarding, giving me more purpose to help people. I'll also be getting my own place again for the first time in five years in just two short weeks! So, I couldn't ask for anything more than starting 2012 with a new career and a home of my own.

Thanks for sharing the journey with me this year!

Have a Safe, Happy, & Prosperous
New Year My Friends!
Remember YOU have the power 
to make it ANY kind of year you want!!

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Old Fashioned Holiday Street Festival

Christmas Market

When I heard about the Victorian Christmas held in historic Nevada City, a town filmed in Hallmark Channel's The Christmas Card. It was a must for me to check out this quaint town an hour away from me. The festival was filled with all kinds of Christmas charm like:

* roasted chestnuts on an open fire *
*strolling carolers*
*hot buttered rum*
*carriage rides*

Only four days left til Christmas!

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weekend Brunch

Herbs de Provence Omlette
on a bed of Organic Arugula...

2 eggs
1 tsp Herb de Provence
3 fresh leaves of chopped basil
1/4 fresh shaved Parmesean cheese
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped purple onion
Pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp of butter for pan
Cherry tomatoes for garnish

Stir ingredients in a bowl and cook in skillet for a few minutes until your personal liking. Serve on a bed of arugula with cherry tomatoes.

Bon appetit!

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Author Interview

I'm very excited to be able to share my author interview with you! Many people have asked questions about my book, 'Running Away to ...