Thursday, July 6, 2017

Make Each Day the Best. Day. Ever.

There is power in self-worth and self-confidence. There is power in words. There is an unimaginable amount of power in a positive attitude.

Back when I was working for Disney, back when I was on the ol' Frontier, I sat in my car before work thinking about the day ahead of me. It was still summer, and it was still scorching hot outside. None of my friends were working that day. I was in a rut and felt I hadn't accomplished anything of value that month. At Disney, you received "Guest Service Fanatic" cards, or, as we called them, GSFs. You received them from co-workers, and, if you were lucky and creative enough, you received them from managers as well. They were a neat way to say "I noticed what you did and it was awesome." I couldn't remember the last time I had one. All this was bearing down on me, on top of a summer storm rolling in. The cards didn't spell out "good day". But, for what I remember to be the first time, I looked in the mirror and told myself: "Today is going to be a good day. You're going to get a GSF. You're going to make someone's day." And out I went into the storm.

That day not only did I receive THREE GSFs, all from managers, but I also received the "Basically the Best" award that one of the Managers was giving out each day (Thanks Corey!). And, yes, I still have it. While the recognition was rewarding, nothing could beat the feeling of going through the day with a positive attitude. I created a game for children with a basket and some of the plush pumpkins (because at Disney, Halloween starts when it's still summer out). I talked about the liquid pixie dust raining down on us that day. I handed out stickers and stated in my most southern accent "Howdy" and "Happy trails now y'all." It was a magical day, so much so that almost 6 years later I remember it to the last minute of my shift.

My friend Katlyn won a night in Cinderella's Dream Suite and got to pick 5 friends to join. The day they told her, they called a fake meeting and brought in a Disney Ambassador to announce the news. Katlyn, elated, shouted "Best. Day. Ever." The managers all got a chuckle out of that and it became a mantra. Rapunzel shouts this in Tangled as well, and most people have used it to describe their time at Disney or on vacation. You'll see at least 10 Best. Day. Ever. shirts when you go to Disney now, guaranteed.

After moving and getting through hurdles of not knowing what I was doing, feeling overwhelmed, not hearing back from friends and regretting the decision, one day I had enough of the negativity. Baltimore is not Orlando. Once I could admit that, I started looking at each day a little bit different. Today I'm going to finish the report on time. Today I'm not going to voice my frustrations. Today I won't message the people back home saying how much I wish I was there. Today I'm going to be true to myself. Today I'm choosing to shine. And one day, I messaged my good friend back home: "Good Morning, today is going to be a good day." And that was the first day I felt on top of everything. That was the first day I felt like I could conquer anything thrown at me. That day was the Best. Day. Ever.

"Bring your day-off self to work", "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life", "Your day will go in the same direction as the corners of your mouth". There are a million and one positive ways to look at the day. But it's a conscious decision to choose happiness.

My friends like to tease me because, in the Harry Potter universe, I consider myself a Gryffindor, even though my demeanor and actions definitely point more towards Hufflepuff. But, I argue, it takes a great amount of bravery and courage to fight negativity with a positive outlook. It's not "cool" to be positive, because misery loves company. Choosing to look for the bad and to sulk is easy.

It's not easy to treat a normal working day the same as you treat a day where you win an award, or where you're on vacation. It takes a lot of work and creativity and imagination to mold each day into the Best. Day. Ever. It's a lot of smiling and enthusiasm and finding the fun in what would otherwise be a monotonous conversation. But even with the work, it's less stressful. It's exciting. It's a challenge. And when you tell the world you're going to make it a good day, you stay true to your word.

But, if you fail today, which we're human, surely that'll happen now and again, you find one thing from today that you can look on positively, even if it was a good Lyft ride, or having the time to fully enjoy a cup of coffee; remember today as living in that one moment. And then you choose one thing that went wrong with today and you promise yourself and the world that it'll be better tomorrow. If you're not doing this already, I challenge you to try it. Choose one thing, and make accomplishing that be the thing that makes your day the Best. Day. Ever.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Storyteller

Recently I had the opportunity to go on a slightly extended, multi-city vacation to San Francisco, Anaheim and Washington DC. It was on my second day in San Francisco that my mind started processing the blog I am writing today. Erin and I were at the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park, a fine arts museum in the middle of a park - something for her and something for me. Before we went in, I noticed a plaque on a bench in the park that read:

In Loving Memory of Lawrence J. Larry" Gimple
A true friend of the park and indeed all of nature

I immediately started wondering who this guy was, what he did for nature and for the parks, and what led his family and friends to make a bench a fitting tribute. I became fascinated with the idea, as I myself have an affinity for nature and National Parks. Would we have been friends? Did he work for Parks and Rec, as I once had? What was Larry's story? A bench didn't seem to do it justice.

A couple hours later in the museum I visited the Danny Lyon photography exhibit. Lyon is a photographer who managed to capture poignant images of everything from the Civil Rights Movement to the destruction of Lower Manhattan. One of his most known subjects is the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club, which he had joined to better know and document their lifestyle. I stopped a bit longer than usual at an image titled "Kathy", which has a placard next to it relaying that Kathy was the wife of one of the bikers, and she was Lyon's favorite storyteller. To my bemusement, a speaker was set below the picture, with Kathy's voice emanating, telling a quite ordinary story about meeting one of the bikers. The subject was simple, but the story was detailed, explaining the scenery, the sounds and even smells. I was mesmerized - what a fascinating exhibit to capture the simple beauty of a well-told story - and here it was, immortalized for all to see and hear. 

From the placard, the word "storyteller" stayed with me. How I loved that word! What high-praise to be deemed a favorite storyteller! Until that moment I felt a good storyteller was an author, a writer, an artist, even an actor. But there in front of me was the multi-faceted image of Kathy, a favorite, not at all famous, storyteller. 

This theme continued throughout my trip. The next day I sat with a friend in a coffee shop, staring out the window and creating stories for all the people passing by. Afterwords while walking back to the hotel I lost a bit of sense and started to walk out in the middle of traffic. He stopped me from essentially killing myself and said it was "the first story [I had] to tell when [I] returned home." I remember clearly he said the word story because it immediately brought my mind back to Kathy and her ability to tell a good story. Now I had one to tell as well.

Storytellers Statue
Sign by the statue
A few days later, when we were in Anaheim we visited my favorite Walt Disney statue at California Adventure - it's a statue of Walt arriving in California with Mickey Mouse and a suitcase and it has a sign next to it that reads: "The Storyteller: We're Just Getting Started". For me, this created a challenge. Just getting started meant there was so much more to tell. The ideas in my head continued to stew, unsure of what form they would present themselves. 

We then traveled back across the country to Washington DC. On my last day in DC, I purchased a ticket to see one of my new favorite movies, La La Land. Now, I had seen this movie before... more than once... and seeing it again was a bit frivolous, but I wanted something simple to end my vacation, and the melancholy ending was exactly what I needed on the eve of returning home. I'd seen this movie several times prior, but I hadn't noticed (or, rather, it didn't mean much before) that towards the end, at one of Mia's auditions, the casting manager directs her to "Tell a story" and when Mia seems confused she clarifies "You're a storyteller, aren't you?". What followed is what had always been my favorite song from the film - Audition (Fools that Dream) - a song that tells a story and encourages the people who dare to dream and tell these stories. Perfection. 

Assuredly, storytelling is not a new concept. Oral Storytelling is an ancient tradition, without which we wouldn't know a good sum of our history. Forgive me from stealing from Wikipedia here:

The storyteller reveals, and thus shares, him/her self through his/her telling and the listeners reveal and share themselves through their reception of the story. The intimacy and connection is deepened by the flexibility of oral storytelling which allows the tale to be moulded according to the needs of the audience and/or the location or environment of the telling.... Storytelling creates a personal bond with the teller and the audience.

Imagine that - all this thought and talk about how I wanted to be a favorite storyteller and soon I realized I had been a storyteller all my life. Ever the talker, I was the daughter who always ran up to her father when he returned home to say "Hey, hey, Daddy, know what?" followed by a story of very little importance. My sister and I created plays for our parents (evidence embarrassingly below) and though they didn't tell a clear story, the intention was always there--I'm sure it was better in my head. I remember one time my parents had a party for church at a parishioner's house and our pastor walked into the children's play room and found all the children surrounding me as I told the story of the nativity.

Yes. This is how I tell stories. Fun fact: I don't think I ever really danced in public after this video. Singing I got better at. 

As a child and teenager, I was a writer, always keeping a journal and readily sharing it with friends when they came to stay over. I published fanfiction and original pieces on the ever-growing internet. I loved History and Literature - the subjects of stories and how we learn from them. I was, and still am, an avid reader and movie-goer, a watcher and witness of stories. My parents were always suspicious when I begged them to leave the house and leave me alone for a little, but really I just spent the time daydreaming and acting out the stories I made in my mind - sometimes I preferred to be a private storyteller. I was a lector at church and always jumped at the possibility of giving a witness talk - sometimes I preferred to be a very public storyteller as well.

Thinking back on all this, I thought it was something I lost - the ability to tell stories in such a way I connect with the people I'm speaking with. "Adulting" took over, finding a job, looking for a purpose. I was happy to notice, when I looked at it intrinsically - when I remember meeting with old friends and talking about important events, when I look back on this blog, when I scroll through my Instagram -  it's something that's never really left me. It just shows itself in odd ways sometimes, rather different ways. 

I train at work. It's one of my favorite aspects - talking to my newest coworkers, helping them adjust, helping them succeed. I train by telling stories. I talk about my own failures and successes. I talk about changes I've seen in my own short time in the industry. Sometimes I even go into stories in my personal life, if needed. I train through stories. I guess, in a sense, that makes me a professional storyteller. 

Not too long ago, not understanding this label, I rejected it. I was getting breakfast with my best friend, telling him a story when I realized I had dominated the entire conversation, and I was probably making the simplest of instances into a huge dramatic saga. I stopped myself and apologized for being so melodramatic--I don't always love this aspect about myself and sometimes wish I could find a way to change it. He then stopped me and said, "No, I like that you do that. You live every part of your life like it's an important scene in a book or movie, an essential plot line. You make yourself the star of your own story."

So, keeping that in mind, I'm not sure where my story will lead me next. I have little control as to what happens, but I can promise that I will continue to tell my story - because I think it's worth telling. Hopefully, like the ancient oral storytellers, through my story I can continue to form connections with new and old friends. Likewise, I am anxious to continue listening to my favorite storytellers and learn from them as well. You never know what you might learn from a well-told story. 

There's a theme in Lin Manuel Miranda's Hamilton that relays "You have no control who....... tells your story." I suppose that's true. I don't know if those to whom I tell my stories will relay them, or merely put my name on a park bench as a friend of nature. Forever someone who refuses to relinquish control, I am certainly dedicated to telling my own story. And I hope that you, the reader, my friend, will take control and tell yours as well. I'd love to hear it. 

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Jumping off the Precipice

I love heights, but I have a fear of falling. That's why you'll always find me on the observation towers of iconic buildings, in a hot air balloon, roof top restaurants and even the window seat on an airplane; you'll never find me actually jump out of one, or base jumping, or cliff diving.

There's this feeling you get when you're high up, or looking at stars or multitudes of lanterns--the feeling of endless possibilities. Thousands of people down below you, each with their own story. Hundreds of places within one glance, each emanating countless opportunities. Each star represents a hundred wishes and each lantern has a story. There's nothing so awe-inspiring than when you're in this one spot standing still among boundless prospects--

--and nothing so terrifying.

In my head I keep telling myself I'm on the precipice of change. Have you ever been at that point where you are overcome by a sense of destabilization? Something is about to change, and it will throw me off balance. I have no idea what it could be, or even more so, where it'll leave me and that's what scares me.

When I last visited Chicago, my friends took me to the Sears Tower where I was insistent on going to the Sky Ledge. I had no qualms about a sheet of glass being the only thing between my body and the ground. I felt secure and at ease looking at the city beneath me. I was in a glass box, safe from falling, and safe from not knowing where I'd land. When my friends questioned the possibility of plummeting, I smirked and said "Well, at least it would be a good story."

So much in my life thus far has been decided based on knowing the outcome - I chose the high school my friends were going to instead of following my heart to the theatre magnet. I chose the cheaper college closest to my boyfriend at the time, and where more of my friends were going, instead of aiming for a writing career at Loyola Chicago. I chose a career in Tourism over a degree in Public Relations because it was what I knew. I went to work for Disney because my whole life was there, so why should my career be any different? I stayed at home because the amount of possible outcomes elsewhere frightened me.

I never jumped. I was always content to keep my view, in my little glass box, watching others continue on, take risks and live to tell amazing stories.

What's fascinating about being on a precipice is that if you don't jump, if you don't embrace it, someone or something is surely going to push you. The choice becomes clear - when do you start taking your life into your own hands, taking risks and living outside that comfort zone?

I'd like to say I have a plan. I can't go to the grocery store without a plan, so I'd like to say I have one. But search this blog and you'll find me talking about moving to Chicago, or studying for the LSAT (both also comfort choices as I know people in Chicago and greatly enjoy LSAT theory). I have plans, I just spend too much time planning, I never act on them.

I don't know what's coming. I don't know if I'm going to jump or be pushed. But I'd like to say that one day I'll make the leap. One day I'll take a chance and leave the familiar. I sincerely hope that day is soon.

I'll close with my inner church girl reciting her favorite phrase: "Let go, and let God." You don't have to be religious to get the meaning - let go, give up control, let yourself drift through the sea, flurry in the wind. Trust. Don't be afraid.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Finishing was an Added Bonus - My First 10K

Me with Katlyn after
Princess 5K
When my good friend and RunDisney partner Katlyn told me to register for the Star Wars Dark Side 10K, I thought she was insane. I was lucky enough to make it through the few 5K races I've done, let alone double that. But, ever my cheerleader, she convinced me to do it and I registered and began writing up my training plan.

That was in the last quarter of last year, and in typical fashion, I chose to wait until the weather cooled down to start my training. But we had a strange year, with Christmas in the 80s and cooler weather didn't hit until January--then some health issues came up, work became more tiring, and before you knew it, the Princess 5K was here in February. I muddled my way through it, knowing it was more of a fun run to begin with.

Diana in the middle - Princess 5K
I then had two months to prepare for the 10K-- 2 months and a trip to DC that resulted in a multi-blistered foot. The universe was voting strongly against me--it seemed everyone was. I didn't mention the upcoming 10K often, but when I did I was met with skeptical glances and doubt. I was determined to prove everyone wrong, and mad at myself that I let the world get me down enough to not complete training for the race. Defiantly, I bought a shirt for the race that said "I find your lack of faith disturbing."

Race weekend came, and packet pick up day I walked around with Katlyn and Diana (RunDisney buddy number 2!) making small comments about not finishing. I had never done 6.2 miles in one go, and for the first time to be during a race that held certain pacing requirements, I was certain I wouldn't make it. I resigned myself to believe that starting meant more than anything, and having registered for the Wine and Dine 10K in November, I knew not finishing would drive me even harder to succeed for my second 10K.

Katlyn and Me with Jabba
Then, the night before the race I found myself up all night with food poisoning. I didn't get any sleep. My stomach was killing me and I was certain that would be my out - I would start and they would find me sick on the side of the road somewhere.

When the alarms went off, Katlyn and I got up, donned our race gear, and made our way to the shuttle bus. We took pictures with Jabba the Hut and hydrated before getting in our corrals. We were in the corrals for a good hour. On our way, Katlyn pointed out a shirt to me that said Finishing Dead Last > Not Finishing > Not Starting. I looked around in the corral and saw runners of all types of sizes and varieties. There was another woman close by that looked about my size and I heard her mention to her friends that it's her first 10K as well.

Corral Photo - We look tired!
We slowly moved forward as the race started in the upper corrals. I thought about the course and how much I wanted to make it to mile 4 - the last mile inside the theme parks. Mile 1- a boring path along a dark gravel road - would go quickly, and walking through the theme parks is a different mind game. I would be proud of myself if I got to mile 4. The fireworks were set, and off we went! It was an exhilarating first few minutes, and as I felt my shin splints start, I moved to the right side so I could slow down without getting in anyone's way--that was my huge mistake.

The first part of the race was slightly inclined and curved, and being on the right side made my foot nearly sideways. My shin splints at that point felt as though my legs burst into flames and I nearly had to hobble along the side. My first instinct: "Where are the medical bikes? I want OUT!". I didn't see any, so I continued to hobble along, practically walking right-together-left-together. I was embarrassed and ashamed. Who gets out on the first mile? But Katlyn had told me to not stop, to keep going, one foot in front of the other, and so I did. I made it to the first character meet and greet - R2D2 - and the attendants said he had about a 20 minute wait. I NEVER wait for characters during races, as I can't afford it with the pacing requirements, but my legs hurt so much, it was a great guise to stop. Once I stopped walking, my legs nearly buckled from the pain, and I almost fell over. I get shin splints often - trained or not trained - but these had to be the worst.

As I waited in line, the pain started to ease, and I thought I might be able to get a little further. I made it to the first mile marker, I was in Epcot. As I walked through the park, I took my time and stopped when I saw other people taking pictures and offered to be their photographer. Dammit, if I wasn't going to make my goal, I was going to be friendly and help other people.

Perfect shirt for this race. 
Once I got through Epcot, the shin splints started to cease. I was able to pick up my pace, but I had no idea how much time I had lost. In my head, I went back to my old goal - make it to mile 4. Mile 4 would mean going further than I had in any other race. It would mean not giving up until they told me I had to. Mile 4 was something I could live with. And gosh darnit, I made it to mile 4! I can't begin to describe that relief, the know that anything after that was an added bonus. But then I looked down at my shirt "I find your lack of faith disturbing" and I thought of all the people whose faces said "you can't do this" and I thought of Katlyn and Diana telling me I could. Then the person with the "Finishing Dead Last > Not Finishing > Not Starting" shirt passed me. Suddenly, I had to finish. It was essential.

Between Mile 4 and Mile 5 I saw the woman who was in my corral who looked like me. She looked like she was struggling as well. I caught up to her and told her "I started with you, we're doing so well! We've got this!" and she smiled and agreed "We got this!". That was my last added boost of adrenaline. I'm not sure how I got through those last 2 miles--all roads and 2 bus pickups ready to clear the course at a moment's notice--but seeing the finish line was one of those rare happy moments when you're surrounded by people, but at the same time you're in your own happy place.

That clearly didn't come across on camera.

My Face: "I hate everyone."
And so I survived. I conquered. I finished. And what was in my mind an added bonus, truly became everything. And the smile in my finisher photo, as I lift my medal to be sure my shirt was not blocked, is the result of realizing I proved everyone wrong, and that I would do it even better come November.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Best Laid Plans...

I had a plan this week.

I knew what I was going to make for dinner each night. I knew what exercises I was doing in the mornings or afternoons. I was committed. Day 0 (food prep day) was a phenomenal success with the most delicious sweet potato, cauliflower and chicken dish. I had a lunchbox for work and new containers for my healthy snacks. Day 1 continued the trend, with sit ups being the small start to my workout routine. Work had trail mix (without chocolate!) and fruit and almonds. Even said no to delicious maple cookies (from Canada!). It was all working out.

On the morning of Day 2 I woke up as planned, bright and early. I dragged myself out of bed and got my running gear on. I go to the treadmill and press the on button.... and nothing happens. It's broken, and my whole plan throws itself out the window. I think about going outside to walk, but it's too dark out, and I don't even have my armband for my phone yet. I resign my morning to looking on Amazon for a band that can be delivered same day and a pair of wireless headphones.

I pack my snack bag for the day and head in to work. A little more than halfway through my day, I go to grab my snacks and the bag is missing. It's no where to be found. We tracked it up to the office, and after that, nothing. It's the mystery in the office, but it's gone. An angel of a co-worker gives me a clementine, and I continue my day. I get home and it's once again, too dark to run outside, but I resign to doing more sit ups and making the dinner I planned - sweet potato rice with butternut squash, goat cheese and pomegranate. Another delicious meal, and the only thing that went right that day.

My dad was able to pull a miracle and fixed the treadmill, and I had a couple days where I was able to get on it, and then my ankle started hurting. I got about half my walk in before I switched to more sit ups and free weights. I decided to take a break the next day, because my body clearly wasn't liking me this week.

For the first time when starting a new workout/eating regimen the food was easier than the working out. This week was hard, and not everything I wanted to do was accomplished, but looking back at it now, I choose to take comfort in the things that did work - the recipes I chose to make and the few workouts I did get in. With this knowledge, I'll switch it up a little this week.

I'm doing the Princess 5K next Friday with my cousin and two friends who did it last year. It will be my cousin's first time. This was the run that made me want to be better at running, and I want to share that joy and fun with my cousin. I'm really hoping this week goes better than last. I have faith in myself, and I really hope there are others out there who believe in me. I've tried not to share my journey so much this trip around, because I see so much disappointment when I fail.

There are so many I want to prove wrong, so many I want to be strong for, and still so many hurdles to stumble my way over. And so starts another week, with hopefully more flexibility and willingness to roll with the punches bound to hit me.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Remembering Alan Rickman

I never wanted to write this.

I thought that if Alan Rickman ever passed (as he was immortal in my eyes), it would be when I had children of my own. They would be confused as I slowly turned despondent while reading the news of the day on some hologram (it would be so far into the future), and then again when I started crying during that year's Oscars In Memoriam. I couldn't imagine he would leave us so soon.

Today at work, when one of the girls suddenly gasped and said "Snape died," I quite possibly screamed in horror. As she told the story of a former co-worker texting her the news, I was certain it was false. I grabbed my phone to see the news for myself, but once glance told me everything I needed to know - before unlocking my screen, I saw dozens of texts, Facebook chats, calls - all from different groups of friends, and all before 9 in the morning - it had to be true.

As I scrolled through Facebook, I saw countless tributes to Professor Snape, which honestly kept me from crying--now, I love Harry Potter arguably more than the next person, but Alan Rickman was so much more than one character.

I first declared my love for Alan Rickman at the age of 3. My sister, Lauren and I watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves more than any Disney movie. She not-so-secretly harbored a love for Kevin Costner, and not wanting to like the same guy, in fact, choosing to like the opposite, I was smitten with the Sheriff of Nottingham, as played by Alan Rickman, of course. Years later, we would joke that I had the better taste. We both grew up loving him.

How easy it was to love him in Sense and Sensibility! To so many he is Professor Snape, but to me, he will forever be Colonel Brandon, lost in his endless devotion to Marianne Dashwood. Colonel Brandon, who fell in love during a song.
Colonel Brandon, who showed his obvious affection, but waited out of respect for Marianne's wishes. Colonel Brandon, who carried her through the rain, who only hours later rode through the storm and night to bring her mother to see her ailing child. Alan Rickman's Colonel Brandon, who truly ruined all men for me.

To others, his role as Professor Snape made them love him. To me, I loved Professor Snape, because of him. A huge Potter-head, I read books 1-4 countless times, never once liking Snape. Once the movies came out, it was impossible to hate him. Alan Rickman played him in such a way, you just had to know there was good in him somewhere. Only after that first movie did I start looking into the character more. Words and phrases and subtext can only go so far; Alan Rickman brought JK Rowling's Snape to life.

He acted from the heart and shared his craft with all of us privileged to exist on earth at the same time. So many characters he brought to life. He was always more than just lines or stage directions.

But aside from his wonderful acting, Alan Rickman was a good guy. There were reports of him bringing children of friends to the set of the Harry Potter movies, reports of how he treated his fans and friends alike. I was lucky enough to be an example of this when my sister wrote to him, telling him how I'd loved him since I was three. He mailed me a personalized Playbill of the play, Seminar, which he was staring in. When I posted the story on the blog, an Alan Rickman message board picked up the story and gushed over his kindness. He was a man everyone loved.

I won't be with my children when they play the In Memoriam segment at the Oscars featuring my favorite person, my first crush, the arguable love of my life. But I can guarantee that when I show them his movies, when I tell them the stories, and when I tell them just how much I love him, they'll ask "After all this time?" and I'll respond, knowingly, faithfully, "Always."

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Everybody has a Laughing Place

On any given day there's a 40% chance you'll find me at the Starbucks porch in Disney Springs. I'll be the one curled in the corner by the fireplace (that isn't actually hot), reading a book and sipping coffee. There's a fair chance you'll see me take out a phone and snap a picture that looks very similar the one in this post.

I've posted a near identical photo on Instagram at least once a month. This is my happy place, or, if we're sticking to the original theme of this blog, my laughing place.

I started visiting the waterfront area of Downtown Disney after one evening when I found myself having a very serious and difficult conversation with a friend--one that I never thought I'd have the courage to have. Writing words is one thing, but talking in person, looking into someone's eyes, not being able to plan each paragraph and argument--I'm afraid to admit I'm still no good at difficult conversations.

I visited the site of this conversation at times because it reminded me of my own inner strength... and then I started to notice more about the area. The people walking around were all so different - families, couples, friends, individuals like myself - and it seemed to be a testament to humanity just watching people interact, watching them with their purchases. I suppose you can watch this anywhere that draws large crowds, but somehow being at Disney there was so much more - you could almost guarantee that everyone there was a Disney fan - and there was beauty in knowing that through all these different people, there was one thread that tied everyone together.

So I found my place. When Starbucks opened their porch that looks over the waterfront with semi-secluded seating, I knew I was home. I could sit for hours reading in this atmosphere (and often do). And when I look out, past my book, past the fireplace, past the people and out on the waterfront, I feel an overwhelming sense of calm. Time stops and it's impossible to feel anything but happy. I wish time would stop forever and freeze in that moment, so I take a picture--every time--in hopes that one will eventually capture the perfect emotion of it all.