Thursday, April 25, 2013

Life Is What You Make of It

Hey all,

I've been thinking a lot about my life lately.  How things change and how things stay the same.  I know that sounds trite, but it is a real truth.

I have been fortunate in my life for the most part.  I've had my disappointments and my triumphs.  I've cried with heartbreak that I didn't believe I'd ever get over and I've danced in the rain with inexpressible joy.  Nothing boring about me, that's for sure.  My life is an utter roller coaster ride.

Sometimes it gets to be too much and I just want to crawl into bed and hide.  If my health isn't good or if Jonathon and I have had a fight.  When I'm down, it doesn't take much to send me into despair.  But on the other hand, it doesn't take much to make me happy.  A single smile from a lover, a striking sunset or a even a taste of chocolate.  What can I say?  I'm please.  :-)

I think that's why being an author is so much fun.  I can take all those messy emotions and pour them into the written a therapy I guess.  I know when I'm mad I write AWESOME fight scenes and when my world is glowing with love, those sexy interludes just smolder with all the heat you can wish for.

But I save my emotions for the most part for my books or my family and close friends.  I don't share all the ups and downs here on the blog (unless I think it will help others) and I surely don't vomit out my disappointments and fears on Facebook or some other social media.  In fact, I despise those posts that whine or lament about how hard life is.  It's one thing to talk to a friend, but to let everything out to hundreds of thousands of people you don't know...and who don't know you?  My idea of stupid.

I read an article the other day when I was at the doctor's office.  (Yes, I actually found one in English)  It stated that more people these days were seeing psychiatrists than ever before.  And those shrinks polled admitted that most of the "problems" discussed weren't ones that necessarily needed to be dealt with in a psychiatrists office.  Made me remember that conversation from the movie, Crocodile Dundee...

Sue Charlton: People go to a psychiatrist to talk about their problems. She just needed to unload them. You know, bring them out in the open.
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee: Hasn't she got any mates?
Sue Charlton: You're right. I guess we could all use more mates. I suppose you don't have any shrinks at Walkabout Creek.
Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee: No, back there if you got a problem you tell Wally. And he tells everyone in town, brings it out in the open, no more problem.

So maybe Facebook and such are some lonely people's idea of a cheap therapy.  If you don't have a "mate" or a "Wally", maybe social media is the next best thing.  Makes me realize just how lucky I am to have my sweet baboo to talk to whenever I need to.

In fact, I think that's a treasure worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox.  To have someone to talk to and who cares enough to listen.

I'll take that type of "social media" any time!!!

Until next week...


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Italy...Let's Get the Boot!

Hey all,

Today's blog is the finish up from last week.  I shared the first part of our I'll share some pics of our last ten days in Italy.

Now I'd been there before, but Jonathon hadn't, so I was jazzed to show him some of the places I'd enjoyed, like Rome, Florence and Naples.  But we weren't stopping there.  We traveled all over Italy and loved every single second of it!!!!

We went to some of the big attractions, like Pompeii and the Roman Colosseum, but we also hit some of the small places you might not think of.  And those were even more amazing than some of the "BIG" tourist sites.

Our first stop after we entered Italy was the beautiful city of Venice.  I had never been there before and as one of my top bucket list items was to take a romantic gondola ride with my sweet baboo, I was really looking forward to it.  We went just before dusk and were able to see the waterways both in the daylight and as the sun set over the canals.  And it was just as wonderful and romantic as we expected!!!!

The next stop was something very special for a romance writer.  Something I stumbled on by chance and when I mentioned it to Jonathon, he, like the sweetheart he is, made sure I got to see it.  Where am I talking about?  What is one of the most romantic places in literature?  How about the balcony and courtyard of Juliet where Romeo made his famous speech!!!  It is said to kiss under this balcony makes sure you will always have romance in your relationship!  I can go for that!!!!

After a lovely drive and night on the banks of the beautiful Lake Como...

We decided that we were so close to Monte Carlo, we couldn't pass up the chance to go to this most famous of cities.  So off we went to the tiny (and I do mean tiny) country of Monaco.  After a most terrifying drive down some of the most hairpin curves I've EVER traveled, we found ourselves at the famous Monte Carlo Casino...the one James Bond made famous.  No pics are allowed inside, but it is one of the most loveliest places I've seen

And through Genoa down to Pisa, where we had to have our obligatory "prop up the Leaning Tower" pictures.  LOL  It was quite an interesting area and one of the actual FREE places which was pretty cool.  A courtyard, museum, cemetery and the Tower.

And then on through several other cities.  I'll add pics and brief captions for each of them.  Enjoy!!!

The famous market bride in Florence.  Silver and Gold and beautiful Jewelry.

The amazing UNESCO Sassi Cave Houses.  If you even have a chance to visit, do so.  This whole area was absolutely amazing.

One of my other favorite UNESCO sites.  I thought these Trulli houses looked just like what hobbit or faerie houses might look like.  Another place I'd highly recommend to see.

A beautiful drive along the Amalfi coast was one of the most terrifying things I've ever done!  Tiny roads and HUGE buses DO NOT mix!!!

A kiss in Pompeii!  One of the most tragic, yet interesting places I've ever seen.

And finally, the Vatican in Rome.  The art is amazing and there is so much to see.  We barely made it, before the conclave, but Jonathon was able to see the Sistine Chapel.  This is just a small sample of one of the beautiful rooms in the museum.

Obviously, there is so much more to see and I wish I could put up all the pics we took, but like before, uploading took me forever.  Just know if you ever have a chance to visit Italy, do so.  You'll never regret it.  Especially, if you do it with someone you love!

Until next week!


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Today is Thursday, So It Must Be Vienna!!!

Hey all,

As promised, today I'm going to share some of the photos we took as we did our last travel through Europe.  We had a wonderful three week road trip and made memories we'll cherish for a lifetime!  Such as this beautiful night scene of the castles in Prague!

After leaving Hamburg, we traveled through quite a few countries.  Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungry, Slovenia, Croatia, Monaco and Italy.  It's a good thing we love to go by car, because we spent a lot of hours in one.

But I have to say it was one of the best trips we've done.  No airports or worries that way.  Just jumping in a car and going until we didn't want to go any more.  I'll probably do another blog next week with more pics...breaking it up into two entries, because we did so much and enjoyed ourselves so thoroughly.  God is good.  To give us the opportunity and the where-with-all to make our traveling dreams come true.

So, I'll start at the beginning and today's blog will cover everything but Italy, because that in itself was an amazing 10 days!!!

Ready?  Remember to click on the pics to see them bigger.

Once we left Germany, we went straight into the Czech Republic.  We spent two delightful days in Prague, (remember the picture up above?) which everyone said is one of the world's most beautiful cities...and it is.  The architecture, the art and the people.  I could have spent the whole time there and never been bored.

This is one of their famous landmarks, the clock that sits in the city square.  Unique and beautiful, we bought a copy of it to take home with us.  We were lucky enough to walk by when it was hitting the noon hour and the chimes and music it makes are wonderful!

After visiting Prague Castle - the biggest castle complex in the world and another UNESCO site, we headed for our last destination in the Czech Republic, the little known Bone Church in the tiny town of Kutna Hora.  I'd never heard of this place before a circus friend told me about it.  And once I researched it, we found this small city had not only this amazing church, but several other HERITAGE sites as well.  So we enjoyed ourselves very much.  But the Bone Church is so unusual, I had to show you a couple of pics.  Believe it or not.

 And this is a close up of one of wall arts.  Yes...that IS a parrot on his shoulder!

After we left the Czech Republic, we went back into Austria so we could visit Vienna.  Another old world town with much to see and do, we could only see bits and pieces.  But what we did see showed us it lives up to it's name as one of the greatest places to visit.  My favorite areas were St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Rathouse(city hall) and the many palace complexes.  We were even able to visit one of the most famous landmarks...the main cemetery of Vienna where many of the world's most famous musicians were buried.  Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss to name a few.

 And since Strauss in one of Vienna's favorite sons, we even hiked to his golden statue in the middle of Stadpark.

After leaving Vienna, we drove through the countries of Slovakia, Hungry, Slovenia and Croatia.  We were curious as to what these areas of Europe were like and since we had the time and the inclination, we took a day and a half and just explored.  We found friendly people, good food and some beautiful countryside.  And while we didn't go for any specific attraction, we're glad we took the time to visit.

Slovakian Sunset

Stayed in this unexpectedly beautiful area just on the Hungarian /Austrian border.  When we woke up, we found this small basilica.  So very beautiful and the plain people who worshiped there touched my heart in a special way.

On we went through Slovenia and Croatia.  Slovenia was a pretty country with some beautiful countryside.  Tall trees and hidden valleys.  We loved the short time we were there.

Croatia we didn't spend more than a few hours in.  We didn't have the time.  We'd gone there because when we were in Berlin at one of the Christmas Markets, a group of Croatian dancers had preformed.  The squealing cries uttered by the women dancers intrigued us, so we dipped into the country to check it out.  We didn't see any women squeaking--though I did a few of my own just to say we did--but we did see the BIGGEST SHOPPING MALL IN CROATIA.  I guess it can be another thing to mark off our bucket list.  LOL

Anyway, that's just a taste of what we were able to explore.  I wish the internet was better.  I'd put more pics up, but it took me most of Wednesday to do these.  *sigh*  I'm just glad I can get on at all!!!!

I'll be back next Thursday with lots of photos of Italy.  And a couple of Monte Carlo, Monaco, since we spun the wheel just for luck in that famous city!

Hugs and see you next week!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Chow-Chow Europe, Bem-Vindo ao Brasil

Hey All,

I'm Baaaack!!!!  And rested, ready and raring to go.  It was a wonderful vacation traveling through some areas of Europe we hadn't seen before.  Afterwards, we spent two lovely weeks in the states visiting our kids.  Not nearly enough time, just enough to make me miss them even more.  *sniff*

But now we're here in South America, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, starting a brand new adventure.  The trip was uneventful, planes comfortable and on time.  Customs and immigration easily done.  My favorite part was getting this picture out the window just by chance.  First Mt. the Amazon River.  Awesome.

We're going to take a trip into the rainforest...a boat ride down the river as well as a trek into the forest itself.  Something we've been looking forward to for a long time.  A bucket list item for sure!!!

We arrived in Sao Paulo in good time and our driver picked us up and took us to our hotel.  Easy peasy, that is until we found out it would be three days before we could get to our actual room.  They moved us around for a while before it came free.  Not a big deal, but irritating.

The internet was the next challenge.  As you know, we'd been warned about the quality and they were right.  It took us almost two weeks to get the internet to where we could actually use it.  And even now, it's a chancy business.  So if you don't hear from me for some reason, you'll know why.  LOL

At first, I wasn't all that impressed by the city of Sao Paulo.  First off... it's a city and I'm a country girl, so I don't like cities in the first place.  But I've gotten used to living in them, and finding things to like about each city.  It's not a "pretty" city by any means as you can see by the view out our window, plus there is an oppressiveness over this city that I can't quite shake off.  So, walking around was a bit uncomfortable at first.

But then Jonathon and I took some time to go further afield.  And I'm glad we did.  We found a huge, lovely park, interesting street markets and safe shopping areas.  We talked to locals who did much to dispel many of our worries.  Now I can go out on my own and as long as I keep to certain places, I should be fine.

Our favorite part of the city so far is the park I mentioned.  Ibirapuera Park is one of the prettiest parks I've seen in our travels, and the trees there are absolutely gorgeous.  Large and quite odd looking, they are Mother Nature's art at her finest.  See what I mean?  That is ONE SINGLE TREE!!!

 Or this...  The words on the pavement say "SLOW".  Ya think?????  LOL

The rest of the park is just as interesting.  Lakes and ponds with fountains, playgrounds and open spaces, and many museums just waiting to be explored.  I'll spend several enjoyable days wandering there.

We also visited Sao Paulo Cathedral (more on that in another blog), Avendida Paulista-the main shopping road, and several malls.  

Things in their stores are quite different than I've seen before.  At Easter this is how they display their Easter chocolate eggs.  Large and EXPENSIVE!!!!!!  But very cool and I'd never seen the like before.  (Click to make larger and see it better.)

As a matter of fact, Sao Paulo is one of the most expensive cities in Brazil.  More expensive than Zurich, Switzerland.  Some things are so outrageously costly, I almost had a coronary.  LOL  Luckily, I'd thought ahead and brought much of what I'd need. 

Except coffee.  Seriously.  I'm in bloody Brazil.  Who'd of thunk coffee would be three times as expensive as it is in the states?  I'm ready to have my son send me some Starbucks beans, just so I can enjoy my morning brew!!!!

Anyway, that's all for today.  I'll be doing a weekly blog until I have my big book launch this summer.  Then I'll go back to two a week.  But for now I need all the time I can get for other projects.  Having the time off was fun, but now I'm paying for it.  LOL

You all have a great Thursday!  I'll see you next week with a blog about our vacation through Europe!


CJ England

Follow Your Dreams