Nature’s stress relief

Ah, the soothing sound of a babbling brook! I recently returned from a vacation trip to Colorado. It wasn’t a whirlwind, action-packed, sightseeing, tourist kind of trip. It was more of a let-it-go, kick-back, unwind and relax trip. And at the center of that kind of trip is nature — lakes and streams, shimmering aspen trees, secluded trails, a little wildlife, wildflowers and scenic vistas.

I love the sound of a rushing Colorado stream. While we were there, we dined creekside, walked along a trail that followed a gentle stream, and hung out, just listening to the sound of the water cascading over the rocks. I could sit and read or write with that sound as a backdrop for hours!

For me, the water is mesmerizing to watch, and soothing to listen to, especially if the creek is moving fast enough to drown out traffic and other noise. It’s as if nature is saying, “Ahhhh, take a break.”

Enjoy this little snippet!

 

Are there other sights and sounds of nature that give you pause and refreshment?

Darlene

Ready, set, launch! Graduation hails accomplishment and transition

Well, we hit another milestone. Last weekend, we finished up the last of the college graduation festivities. For the first time in a couple of decades, we have no kids in school. We have no college tuition payments to make.

As many of you probably already know, this is big. Huge. In many ways.

As I reflect on what this means, sure, I see home projects and travel we can now do because we might have a little extra cash. It’s also been a fun trip down memory lane. But mostly, I see a transition to a new stage of life. We will never be as involved in our kids’ lives. They’ll have so many new experiences that won’t involve us. Meet so many new people that we may never know. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but right now that feels a little strange.

mortarboards

There’s also a sense of accomplishment. Yay! We managed to keep them alive to “adulthood.” The oldest, who just graduated with her master’s degree, is already pretty self-sufficient. The youngest is now a young man also on his way to being self-sufficient. We’re so proud of both of them. Proud to be launching decent, functional, intelligent contributing people into the world.

I suppose the other emotion is relief. As the mom, of course I’ll still worry about them, but it feels different now. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a full-time job. Maybe I can relax a tiny bit and enjoy watching their progress from a little more distance. I can’t wait to see how the next couple of years unfold – where life takes them. And me.

So far, I have no big plans other than to buckle down and get some writing done, launch a few more books into the world. Maybe a trip or two. I think we’ll take some time to ease into this transition, and let things settle. And then . . .

Well, who knows? We’ll toss our mortarboard in the air and see where it lands. 🙂

As always, time marches on. Enjoy the ride!

Darlene

You go, girls! Happy travels!

It’s almost summer, and that means travel, vacation, relaxing with friends, right? Hopefully there’s a little of that in your summer plans! I’ve heard of so many great girl trips lately, that I asked my favorite travel agent some questions about planning the best trip with friends.
Enjoy, and happy travels!
Chatting with Janet McLaren, Cruise Planners, personal travel advocate:
Thanks for inviting me to your blog! It’s always fun to talk about travel, and travel with friends is always the best!

 

IMG_3852– What are some of the most interesting or unusual girls’ trips you’ve arranged?
It seems like women either want to get away for relaxation at a resort with a good beach and spa, or they want a cultural adventure with a combination of organized events and independent exploring. I’d say for most interesting: a group of ladies who are going to Italian wine country this summer. They are sharing a villa near Florence for a week and taking day trips into the city and into surrounding towns, then spending two days in Rome.
Getaway cruises are always popular, too, because they are usually economical for everyone and don’t require as big a commitment of time. One group of ladies takes a short cruise to Mexico every January when the fares are low.

– A friend of mine recently visited Barcelona on a tour with her wine club. I’ve heard of book clubs attending author-sponsored cruises. Are these kinds of themed-trips gaining in popularity?
They are, but they are mostly arranged by private groups, not the cruise line. An exception is river cruising — several of the top lines “theme” a number of cruises each year. I’m looking at one for a group right now that is focused on beer (haha, right?), but there are wine themes, music, and Christmastime, too. Also, there are land tours that are geared for special interests. I know of literary-themed tours in England that focus on historical sites related to authors such as Jane Austin, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Charles Dickens, for a few examples. Garden tours abound, as well as castle tours (think Downton Abbey, for instance), and “quaint towns.”

            Best shopping?   Mexico — the short cruises that go there, and the resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen are excellent for picking up handicrafts, jewelry, and clothes. New York and London shopping trips are still popular, although you have to watch the conversion rate of the British Pound to be sure popping off to London is a value or not.

            Best for beach/relaxing?  Interestingly, I get a fair number of inquiries about Miami Beach. The old-style glam resort hotels and the nightlife are very appealing. You get a nice combination of beach time, relaxation, and some fun. Restaurants are a big thing there, too. Of course many all-inclusive Caribbean and Mexican resorts have it all in one place! That’s probably the easiest getaway of all — just go, get transported to your resort, then don’t worry about very much at all. 

            Best sightseeing/culture?  Europe is still number one — history, churches, museums, wine, music, art, ancient architecture — it’s easy to come up with a common interest that binds a group together for a shared experience.

– Any tips or special advice for women traveling together?

Yes, I find that I am often reminding people that they cannot possibly do everything in one trip! Select a theme then let me help plan a reasonable, “do-able” outline that won’t exhaust you — decide on a few important highlights. Save some down time; not every minute has to be planned out and everyone could use a little “me time” mixed in, too.

– Any places you’d advise small groups of women to avoid?

Yes, sadly not all places in the world are travel-friendly to women and male-centric societies make for too much stress and worry. For some reason Dubai holds a fascination (I suppose for the shopping), but I wouldn’t choose it for a girlfriend getaway. India, China, some places in the Mideast and Africa — not worth it. Exceptions: I think a well-coordinated safari in certain locations would make a terrific all-woman adventure, and a historical or spiritual journey in Israel and Jordon would be safe and rewarding.

 

Thanks for sharing your time and expertise, Janet! I want to do it all! Dear readers, do you have a favorite spot for trips with friends? Tips or experiences to share? We’d love to hear them!

Contact Janet for additional info and ideas. 866-592-7351 | 972-231-0066 | jmclaren@cruiseplanners.com | www.cruiseplanforyou.com

A little peace and quiet, please!

Sometimes you just gotta get away.

We were in Orlando a few days ago for spring break, the destination determined by our son’s tennis team. We deliberately elected not to visit the crowd-magnet attractions such as Disney World, Sea World or Universal Studios. And yet, we could not escape the crowds. Of course I didn’t expect to have the place to myself, but there were times I found myself about ready to run screaming to try and get away from all the people. They were everywhere. The beach was crazy. The parking was challenging. And. The. Traffic. The nearly stand-still lanes of cars creeping along the highways between Clearwater and Orlando made for a stressful and tedious drive.

But finally, on the next-to-last day of our trip, it happened. We got away. We found ourselves on roads with few other cars in sight. Call me crotchety, but I just don’t enjoy listening to screaming children, being run into, being coughed on or having my freshly-pedicured toes stepped on. Crazy, right?

P1080353The answer? Nature. I said before we left that I’d like to see some alligators from a safe distance, and preferably from our car. And we did!

We discovered that outside of Orlando, near the Kennedy Space Center area, are some awesome nature sanctuaries. We spent several hours meandering by car along gravel roads through scenic marshy areas that were full of wildlife – gators, turtles, hundreds of birds, butterflies, and the occasional wild pig.

Several times, we stopped along the road and simply took in the scenery around us. We gaped at the alligators and watched flocks of birds skim across the waters and lift into the sky. We saw interesting foliage and grasses. We took our time – and lots of pictures. It was quiet. Peaceful. Refreshing.

And for this introvert, much fun. 🙂

Do you have a favorite get-away?

Another anniversary. Another gift-giving dilemma!

IMG_3248Thirty five years is a long time. At least it’s a long time to buy someone gifts. My husband and I are celebrating our 35th anniversary today, and I’ve been running around trying to find something meaningful, functional, interesting, desirable (I’d settle for one of those qualities!) as a gift suitable for the occasion.

The fact is, I’m gifted-out. The creative juices in that department have dried up. And he’s pretty short on offering up ideas. He doesn’t need anything. Doesn’t want anything. In fact, he’s all for clearing out cupboards and closets and throwing things away! All of my cool ideas seem to relate to his business, so nix those. They’re business expenses. Tax write-offs. But . . . but . . . it’s our anniversary. Shouldn’t I do something to mark the occasion? I mean, I get flowers, probably a nice piece of jewelry and maybe a little chocolate, too! I’m easy!!! Those things work. Every. Time.

I remember when we used to celebrate, or at least remember, the anniversary of our first date. Of our engagement. Hahaha! Really? These days I’m more than happy to let those things petrify in the past.

Sure, anniversaries are special. And they only come once a year. But, hey, so do birthdays and Christmas and other holidays. Valentine’s Day!?! Are you kidding me? I just bought you a Christmas gift! And once we had kids? Oh, great, throw Father’s Day in there, too. Every year.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually like giving gifts. I usually enjoy the process of finding the perfect present. I like the creative task of wrapping the packages. But the rapid succession of birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and anniversary has really taken its toll this year. Today is also our daughter’s birthday, so there’s that. Spring break is next week, so there’s that. Not to mention a few books to write!

People say give experiences instead of gifts. Sure, we’re going out for a nice dinner. We’ll have wine and dessert. On our 25th, we took a trip to Hawaii. But those dream vacations are expensive. They require time off from work, a ton of coordination, details, decisions, etc. Maybe next year.

For now, I’ll just have to hope that the “it’s the thought that counts” sentiment still holds true! I tried! 🙂

Do you have any go-to gifts that always hit the mark?

Happy Heart Day!

Happy Val

Hello, everyone! Hope you all are feeling the love today from significant others, fans, friends and family! Many thanks to all the readers who’ve shown my books a little love! Right back at you!

Today, the hubs and I are going out for a nice lunch and skipping the restaurant crowds tonight. Coming up on our 35th anniversary, we’ve kind of been there, done that! 🙂

There will most likely be chocolate and wine this evening.

However you celebrate the day – or not – enjoy!

Darlene

Here’s to Heartwarming Holidays!

imageedit_3_6261879313

Hey, friends!

It’s that time of year –– time for some jolly holiday fun!

Join me and several other awesome authors, in the Heartwarming Holiday Blog Hop! It’s your opportunity to meet new authors and a chance to win a Kindle Fire 7 with Alexa!

Here’s how it works:

Visit each author blog in the hop and look for their “Heartwarming Holidays” blog post. 
Look for the title that includes the words “heartwarming” and “holidays.”
Visiting each blog in this hop is mandatory in order to be eligible for the grand prize, so be sure to comment on all “heartwarming holidays” posts from each of the following blogs between December 4 – 9, 2017:
Nicole Morgan, Suzanne Jenkins, Holly Cortelyou, Darlene Deluca, Casi McLean, Sensuous Promos, and  The Book Pub.

Speaking of heartwarming, it’s one of the words that always comes to mind when I describe my novel Unexpected Legacy.

Unexpected_Legacy_Cover

You might fall in love with hero Matt Dalton who’s just found out he has a 16-year-old son. You might relate to the leading lady, an up-and-coming high school principal who champions her students. And you’ll definitely cheer on Brady, the teenager who’s dealing with the traumatic effects of an accident and the loss of his best friend.

It’s a heartwarming story of bravery, resilience, and, of course, love! One that will leave you with a satisfied smile! Perfect for cozy holiday reading!

 

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and best of luck!

Darlene

 

blog hop visit authors icon