Reasons you should find YOUR Disneyland.

If you know me even a little bit, it is no secret at all that I am obsessed with Walt Disney and Disneyland. I am okay with this love affair and here’s why: I didn’t discover the magic of Disneyland until I was 15 years old. I was raised by forest ranger grandparents and ocean-obsessed parents and my childhood was made of hikes, annual passes to Yosemite, and summers spent learning to identify pine trees by the smell of their bark. So when I stepped foot in Disneyland as a high schooler, an entire new world opened up to me. Something completely magical occurred and I have never been the same. I was not healthy at that age. My life was a mess and I was a mess and Disney just did something incredible for me. Over the years, the park has become my comfort and my safe haven. The wonders that having someplace like that can do for one’s life are incomparable. I’m not trying to convert any reader to the dark side here, I’m trying to explain why finding your own Disneyland and investing in it is not only acceptable; but wonderful, healthy, and worth it. Particularly if you’re in high demanding positions of service or leadership….

  1. Finding your Disneyland gives you something that is special to only you. So often we get so caught up in demands, in what others need and want from us, in the normalcy of routine. And having a special place that you are really passionate about gets your head out of that stuff. It allows you to have a mental break from the normal, the needy, the mundane and get your head clear for just a little bit. Cognitively, this makes your focus, memory, immune health, work endurance, and attitude more positive on a daily and consistent basis.
  2. Investing in your special thing allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Whether it’s Disney or a yoga group you retreat with each year or a sports team, investing your energy and money in something that is magic to you makes you a part of something big, communal, and like-minded. This is a need built into everybody and it’s proven scientifically that the investment improves your entire physical health and the way you view the world around you! 
  3. Creating time to spend in your place allows you to refresh, recharge, and heal. When you choose to plan for and protect time spent in those special places and groups, your entire being goes through a shift. Your brain relaxes and lets go of worry, your body releases tension and toxins, you physically relax and rest in your soul, you smile and laugh more, you reset internally. Not only have I found studies proving this, I AM proof of this. I just went through several years of relatively intense stress. Last year, there were 3 trips in a row to Disney in which my body let go of all the tension I was holding each time I’d go to the parks and I would end up with a seriously upset stomach and headache. My body needed to release and reset and being at the parks felt safe and allowed me to completely relax and release and rest. Every person needs this. 
  4. Spending time in your Disneyland makes you more impactful and dynamic in your everyday world and life. I used to feel guilty about spending time and money going to the park, but once I allowed myself to be committed to this as a lifestyle, I became a completely different person here in my daily life. All day long I deal with people in crisis, people who are feeling like the world is terrible and life is awful and what’s the point. All day long I face intensity. At first, I couldn’t handle it. I would go home every day with the entire world on my shoulders. I couldn’t shake it.  But then I began going to the park more often. The more I go, the more it becomes this other part of my life that I have ownership of. I know every corner of the park. I recognize all the minute details. I know the smells and the sounds in every corner. I feel I have ownership of the place and my time. This feeling of ownership and belonging over something so separated from my life here is a strange thing. I am driving from my home to the place that feels just as familiar. Since starting this, people’s most common comments to me involve things like “you’re constantly positive, you don’t walk around overwhelmed like everyone else, you are always singing, you are so animated….” There are several reasons for this, but Disney is one of them. Going often keeps me re-focusing, refreshing, re-setting. And everybody needs that. Especially if you’re in a position of service or leadership. It makes a dramatic difference. Whether it’s learning to play a new instrument or to paint, being involved in a group, going to a specific spot in nature, it’s worth it. Find what does this for you. Take some time to experience and try new things. And when you discover what is that pure magic for you, commit to it for a period of time and test the theory. See if you become more vibrant! 
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Reasons why you should update your resume.

I don’t typically enjoy updating my resume. In fact, I usually run away from it.  But sometimes those seasons hit and you have to face it. That’s where I’m at. And to my surprise, things have been different this time as I’ve pulled that dreaded paper out and prepared to tackle it head-on.  As I worked through it this week, I had some exciting revelations which I naturally can’t wait to share with everyone. So, I present to you…reasons why you should update your resume (even if you aren’t job-seeking)…..

1. Organizing your experience shows you exactly where you’ve been. Sometimes I completely forget about some of the places I have been and things I’ve been through. Organizing this reminds me of experience, knowledge, and skills that have been gained, strength that’s been built, and wisdom that I’ve obtained and now have to offer others.

2. Looking at your list of positions can show you where you HAVEN’T been yet and remind you of where you’d like to place your focus. I grew up in the world of musical theater. It’s my first love. In recent years I fell in love with directing and choreographing youth theater. I have always assumed that someday, after grad school, I would get back into theater. Audition for stuff, maybe direct kids again, even find a way to incorporate in as a therapeutic tool for clients. But what if  there’s a way for me to begin this now and I don’t even know it? Why am I waiting around? By updating my resume I am reminded that life is short and it’s important to focus on the things that you’re passionate about.

3. There is a hidden thread sewing together your experiences and creating something beautiful-it’s just not always obvious. If you can find it, you may gain HUGE insight about yourself! I typically stare at my list of jobs and experience thinking “what in the world is all this random stuff about?! I’m so weird!” But something interesting popped out at me this time: Everything I’ve done has involved a love of instructing and encouraging in some form. There is a common thread! It ALL involves a natural tendency to help others learn something new, build their knowledge and confidence, and bring hope, healing, and restoration to minds and bodies. I am a born teacher and I didn’t even know it until recently. I now plan to be a public speaker and an instructor at a University with my degree because of looking at my experience.

4. Having an updated resume at the ready allows you to rid yourself of excuses that are holding you back and live with an excited and eager attitude for any opportunity that may pop up. Making the decision to live with a prepared and updated resume is a process. You don’t just log onto your laptop and update things quickly. As you are choosing to spend time on it, you are facing the reasons you haven’t done this in so long. It’s impossible to work on your resume without thinking through why you haven’t applied for certain things yet or what you want or wish to apply for. As you clean up your document, you are getting your life into position to ask for that thing, go for the big one, and you are ready to say yes and quickly move forward when something comes up.

5. Updating your resume can show you who you are. There’s something unique about the choices we make when it comes to jobs. Sometimes we really do grab any job we can, but that is relatively rare. For the most part, there is something about all our choices that tell us a lot about ourselves. I can look at my choices and see that I love people. I love instilling knowledge and encouraging. I will never get tired of the look on someone’s face when they “get it” for the first time. That is like a drug I can’t get enough of!

I encourage you to give this a shot and let me know how it affected you. What did you learn? What did updating your resume change for you?!

Prologue.

The music wasn’t coming on. Something was terribly wrong. There was no connection, no sound coming from the sound booth. An entire audience was waiting in anticipation. I was managing the backstage. I peaked over to the other side of the stage, caught the eye of one of my actors, grabbed a microphone, and ran out onto the stage. She followed my lead, having no idea what I was up to but knew I had a plan. I launched quickly into a scene from the Broadway musical Wicked. She immediately caught on and didn’t miss a beat. We acted out the entire scene-no rehearsals, no preparation, and no music. But we sang the duet loud and strong. Neither of us would have fully been able to do it without the other. But together we soared through that scene, allowing the tech crew a few minutes time to solve their problem. And you know what? We did great.
Afterwards, an acquaintance whom I’ve known for 15 years or so walked up to me and said “Um, how did I not know you were a singer?” This acquaintance happened to have a degree in music. And did I hear that right? He was calling me a SINGER?! It was as if somebody had ripped off my clothing and my deepest love-the thing I love more than anything in the world-was exposed. And at the same time it was liberating and exhilarating. How was it I was able to jump out there and do that so quickly? Just 8 years before, I would have refused. I would never have been able to bear such a task. I would have stood there frozen and not able to think quickly. It was in this moment that I began to realize something. I may not have a higher degree. I may not have anything that appears impressive to show for my years thus far. But I have something else. Something special. Something that God handed me years before I even recognized it. A precious gift I was holding long before it registered that it was in my hands. That gift? Health. No, not just health. The understanding of health. Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, and Physical health. The gift of going from a completely unhealthy and screwed up mess to being healed and made whole. Oh, when I was going through the process it sure didn’t feel like anything close to a gift! It felt so painful I wanted to die at times. It felt like I was being stomped on again and again and again for years. But then this day happened. This small, 5-minute blip on the radar that opened my mind’s eye to where I stand now. And how every single piano lesson before I was even 5 years old, every one of the many circumstances of abuse and bullying, every painful relationship and lesson learned, every musical I watched or was in, every forest I’ve tromped through, ocean I’ve frequented-every place I’ve been, every one of the 300 hours spent on an airplane traveling to a place I hadn’t stepped foot before, every dollar and hour spent in Cosmetology school, Theology school, training for missions and ministry, every long and sweaty Zumba class and mile driven to instructor training taught me. Shaped me. Changed me. Formed me. Created me. Learning about health is long, exhausting, way messier than it appears, and leaves you with some serious scars. But it’s also kind of amazing…..
I’ve been very quiet about all this stuff. I haven’t spoken a lot about some of the harsh circumstances and places I’ve been, and how each of them has taught me a lesson about a form of health. But now I want to write some of this stuff out. I want to write about each type of health (emotional, physical, spiritual, mental) and some observations and things learned. Because I hope to begin some solid, meaty discussions around being healthy and what that really looks like. If anything is worth the thought and attention, your health as a person is! So sit down. Buckle up. Get ready to laugh, be surprised, and find things you relate with. Because I want so much to hear from you in response to all the things I’m about to post! Let’s do this.

Fitbits and La Croix Galore. A new beginning.

For 2 years, I’ve been thinking about what I want to do after school. And while I’m being open to anything, I long to be an expert on self-care. To travel and speak to groups about the importance of taking care of your mind and body. Particularly in ministry and leadership positions because we often overlook this in the name of the needs we are trying to meet. The problem is that for 2 years, I’ve allowed the numbers of my waistline, cholesterol, & scale to rise. I say “yes” to everybody and everything except making time for my body to exercise and for a healthy meal to be prepared. For 2 years I have been overly busy and under stress. Which means that for 2 years I have been a hypocrite. If I want to be an expert on self-care, it needs to begin with me. I need to tromp through the mud of figuring this out. How do you balance everything? How do you fight for and protect the time getting healthy requires while living a busy life? I don’t know, but I’m determined to figure it out. I’m done with feeling uncomfortable in my own body. Done with my lack of energy. Done with my health risks. Done being overweight. Done being a bad example of what I preach. Today marks the beginning of my journey to whole physical health. I don’t know where it will lead, but I’d sure love your company along the way!

10 Random Thoughts

I’ve been working on an actual blog post about something that is actually a thing. But in the mean time, I’ve been jotting down random thoughts that very often cross my mind.  Here’s 10 in no particular order. What kinds of things do these make you think about?…..
1. Life hacks. What did people do before Pinterest and Vloggers? I had the same Mary Kay products from age 10 until age 25. It wasn’t like I could go online and see what was new! Now I can’t even keep up with the rate at which the Kardashians are pumping out contouring kits.

2. Putting your phone on “speakerphone” and holding it up at chin height while you’re driving is NOT hands free, people! And doing it makes you look like a jerk. So stop it.

3. If you find the right thrift store, you will never go broke on the clothing budget again and even places like Target and Old Navy seem expensive. A really great thrift store is indispensible.

4. Nobody tells you that you might still have acne when you begin getting wrinkles. So you have several problems that often require different treatments going on at the same time. My face thinks it’s a tween and a grandma all at once. Great. Like we need another possible cause of identity crisis!

5. Choose one year and commit to creating everybody Christmas presents without purchasing anything new. Maybe even have a crafting party with friends. It’s fun to create things and get dirty, it allows you to spend time on something meaningful for people, and it is super freeing to save a lot of money.

6. Going on at least one big trip alone is amazing in so many ways! You will observe more, you will meet new people who you will probably keep in touch with, you will learn a ton, and you really see yourself in a new light when observing other places and cultures.

7.  I’ve found being very kind to people can get you places you didn’t know you can go. With a huge smile and genuine care about my waiter, flight attendant, the hotel clerk, etc…I have been ushered into some impossibly amazing places and given serious perks. Extra benefits on your flight because you were kind? Okay! Working for Beth Moore because you were outgoing and just asked? Totally. Waltzing into Club 33? That happened. We are more invited to things than we may think. show someone they’re not invisible and it’s amazing what can occur!

8. You can get literally EVERYTHING on Amazon. Even things you wouldn’t think of like make-up, vitamins, toys, school supplies and textbooks….and it saves you money because you’re not going into Target as often. (We ALL know what happens every time we go to Target. Go in for deodorant. Come out with $200 worth of stuff and forget the deodorant.)

9. This younger generation with Google and Siri. What happens the day Google crashes? You won’t be able to Google “What happened to Google today?” Also, kids, learn to read a map! What happens when you are suddenly in the middle of Africa with only a paper map and your job is to drive into the township and find a tiny school located in the middle of nowhere where the roads aren’t really even labeled? See how much Google Maps loves you when there aren’t any cell towers around.

10. Hand dryers in public restrooms. Has anyone else been leery of these? I have always refused to use them because I was convinced that since they’re a warm moist environment germs must breed up in there. I finally found the research for that and guess what?! It’s TRUE! A paper towel reduces germs up to 60%. A hand dryer INCREASES germs on your hands up to 155%! I just severely grossed you out, didn’t I? You’re Welcome.

From dirt to diploma

My foot stepped off that plane and onto African soil for the first time. It felt like a scene from a movie. I’d dreamed about it from my earliest of memories. Always thinking about this. Always knowing somehow that this was part of me. But life had gotten in the way. Messes happened, brokenness occurred, and years of healing were needed. Then well meaning people and society had taught me to shoot for other things. Think more practically. Until I remembered that I don’t have to listen to society. I am free in Jesus to be exactly who He made me to be and do whatever it is He has designed me for-normal or not.

This is what led to that moment. That moment that seemed unreal. Stepping with my foot off of that plane and into a totally different world. It didn’t even take a whole day to know that a decent portion of my future would contain Africa in some form or another. And it began to. For several years and for several trips it began to be a focus of my life. I began to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Many things happen. You get used to unusual. You get used to missing home when you’re there and missing Africa when you’re here. Your view of the world shifts and changes. You’re influenced by multiple cultures now. And you’re never the same again. I love Africa. I adore it. I want to live there. I often feel more strange here than I do overseas. But I also love that God’s dreams and plans for us are so often more than we might expect. While I was content with assisting and interning for missionaries, God had other plans. Isn’t that so beautiful? One of my favorite things about Him is that when we find a place we are content and comfortable in, He often pushes and challenges us. He gets in our space and steps into the most personal realms of our being. It’s terrifying. And it’s awesome.

I was content to kind of work with my head down. Humbly and quietly thankful that I had the opportunity to serve missionaries and experience these amazing things globally. Learning, doing, serving, running, watching all the cool stuff happen from whatever table I was posted behind. I did it for years at home. I loved doing it abroad. It was me. Until God began to stir something within me that I wouldn’t have seen or chosen in a hundred years. You see, I have never seen myself as smart or having a ton to offer. I enjoy hanging around people who ARE and watching them, gleaning from them. I enjoy coffee dates and encouraging a friend over a meal. But that was the extent of things. So I never anticipated hearing Jesus draw me back home in order to go to university. College was the last thing I ever pictured for my life. All I knew was that I was supposed to come home and get my Master’s Degree. I didn’t know all the details. So I began the journey. A lot of the why has shaped together as I’ve worked through my AA. And while I’m getting ready to graduate in 2 weeks, I still like to say that I have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that I plan on a Master’s in Psychology. I plan on specializing in therapy for people in missions and ministry. I know that things like being a single woman and loving theater are not an accident and I am meant to use that. I also know there are a few other old dreams that have kindled on the fire for years and I’m seeing some of them emerge. Some of them are not yet known to many. Some I’ve hid for a long time. Some are obvious. I’d love it if you’d journey with me into the next chapter and share your adventures in return.