I Shall Not Live in Vain

Here is my positive thought of the day to share with you during this crazy time. A poem by Emily Dickinson.

We can all make a difference in big or small ways. Right now, we’re making a difference by staying home and isolating.

Shout out to all the people who are currently making a difference in big ways. The doctors and nurses, the first responders, the political and business leaders having to make big decisions to keep us safe, the providers of food and other necessities, and again to the healthcare providers. There are lots of people right now who are making a difference in big ways. But even if that isn’t you, think of all the small ways that you make a difference.

One Week In ….

It has been one week since I posted my “how I’m going to spend my time during quarantine” post. Let’s just say, that I am not always the person I hope to be.

I have no schedule. I know a lot of people have been touting the importance of a schedule, especially in regards to homeschooling, but also just for life. I’m not really a schedule person. Too much pressure. Instead, my goal has just been variety. I don’t want to do the same thing for hours at a time. I try to make sure that I switch it up often enough.

That doesn’t mean I am filling my time with noble and productive pursuits. It just means I want variety in whatever it is I decide to do. Read a book to my daughter – switch to workout – scroll through facebook – draw – take a nap – go for a walk outside – eat a snack – watch an animal video from the zoo – read the news – watch a show – play a board game – and so on and so on.

I have not cleaned my entire house or done any elaborate art or implemented a strict homeschooling curriculum. But so far, we are surviving and trying to prevent too much boredom. How has your time on the inside been going?

Quarantine – How will I use my time?

Today is the first day of our coronavirus quarantine.  My husband told me this was going to happen back in January when news of the virus first came out.  I didn’t believe him and thought he was always assuming the worst will happen. I’ve had to admit that he was right (although I still think he is a negative Nelly).

I am an introvert.  I enjoy time to myself immensely.  But I also know from experience that I can get antsy after too much time at home.  As of right now, schools are closed for at least the next month. I am trying to be proactive and make sure my family doesn’t go crazy during this quarantine.  It actually has the potential to be a great time of togetherness and quality time.

Even on a regular day, I spend waaaaay too much time on my phone and Facebook.  My goal during this quarantine is to fill as much of my time with things of value and not waste it away.  Don’t get me wrong, I do find value in social media. On it, we share information, humor, our lives, ideas, and more.  I do value it as a way to remain connected to others. Collectively finding joy and humor in the coronavirus memes is great.  I just want to make sure that I don’t become consumed (like I have the tendency to do).

So my goal is going to be to look for things to do that bring value to my life during this time of uncertainty.  Yoga, art projects, reading, prayer, walks outside, organization and decluttering, etc. These are things that I always try to focus on, as I’m big on self-care.  With all of this extra time, what more will I be able to accomplish?

And it isn’t just about me.  Unlike me, my daughter is a very social creature.  She gets great joy out of attending school each day and seeing her friends.  My time will be filled with making sure that her learning and fun continue. That means I can’t be on my phone, but directly engaging with her for as much of the day as possible.  Just like I can get sucked into the social media hole, she can easily get sucked into the watching TV hole.

For some reason, I woke up at 4:30 this morning.  I never get up this early, and yet here I am, up early with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  I know it is anxiety keeping me up, but I’m sure I will fit in a nap later today in my busy quarantine schedule.  Look at me, already making good use of my time by writing a blog post for my sadly neglected blog!

My husband and I will still be working from home, but I know that our next month is going to look very different.  My goal is to use my time as wisely as possible. What are you doing to make the best of your quarantine time?

Onward

I just got back from the new Pixar movie, Onward, which came out today. Like all Pixar movies, it was adorable. It was both funny and heartfelt. I may have teared up at the end.

I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best Pixar movies, but it was still a fun watch with a great message. I was shocked by the short that played before the movie. It was entertaining, but unexpected. I won’t say more, in case you like to be surprised.

Onward is a story about family and brothers. It’s a story about loss. It’s a story about magic. It’s a story about finding your true self and courage. It’s the perfect story for a “Looking on the Bright Side” kind of life!

Bible Journaling through Art

I have felt less than inspired by the most recent Bible study book that I had been working through. So a few weeks ago, I decided to just go straight to the source and spend more time directly in the Bible, rather than in other’s interpretations of it.

Awhile back, I had done a study of Proverbs and used this coloring book as I worked my way through it. It has both journaling space, the entire text, and pages and designs to color inspired by verses. There is also a Psalms version available.

I thought about buying a journal Bible that was intended to color, but thought it might be a bit much. Too busy and too thin of pages.

If you read my gratitude post a couple of months ago, you may remember that I was trying my hand at art journaling in place of a regular gratitude journal. I decided to do the same for my study of the Bible.

I already had this cute journal with lined pages that I bought a long time ago and never used. I am going to read my way through the Bible and write down the verses that speak to me in that moment in this book.

I have read the Bible cover to cover before, but decided to read a book at a time in a somewhat random order this time. I’m letting the Holy Spirit guide me to which book to read next.

Each day, I read a few chapters from the book that I am currently working on. I pause to copy down any verses that stick out to me in that day’s prayer. Once I have read a few chapters, I switch to the art journal.

The art journal is just a regular sketchbook. It is actually the same one that I was using as my gratitude journal.

I choose one verse or idea from that day’s reading and spend a few minutes drawing a picture to further reflect on it. This is not serious art by any means. It is just a humble little sketch that lets me spend a few more moments focusing on the message.

Here are a few of my entries so far (not all of them). I started with the Gospel of John.

Next, I read the Book of Ruth.

I followed that with the letter to the Romans.

I’m currently making my way through Isaiah.

Sometimes, my drawing is not related to a particular verse, but rather just a message that I am concentrating on after my reading.

You obviously do not need to be an artist to engage in this form of prayer. If you are looking for a new way to connect with the word of God, maybe give art journaling a try!

Spreading Love through Music – a Celine Dion Concert Review

Last night, my sister and I attended Celine Dion’s Courage tour in New Orleans. I love attending concerts, but this one definitely blew both of us away. It was amazing!

Celine Dion was our first major stadium concert back in middle school. I was a big fan back at that time, over twenty years ago now. I remember doing a project on her once for music class.

While I have always remained a fan, I have not followed her career closely in the intervening years. Last night reminded me how completely amazing she is!

My sister and I unintentionally wore outfits that were color-coordinated. We had a laugh at our accidental twinning. Many of the fans, however, wore sparkles, sequins, and fur in dramatic silhouettes. I wished that I had dressed with a bit more glam, although my outfit was chosen to take me straight from work to the concert. Together, we decided that we need to attend more events where sequins are the norm and bring some more sparkle into our lives!

And let me tell you, Celine is someone who embraces the sparkle. She had several outfit changes. Each time, I could not wait to see the dramatic and fun look she would sport next.

Pictures that I take at concerts never turn out great, but here is a look at her six different looks.

She started the show with this sparkly red dress with a slit up to there! She is 51 years old, but she has a dancer’s body. Throughout the concert, she did squats and back bends in high heels like it was nothing!

Her next outfit was this tuxedo-inspired pantsuit with the biggest sleeves I’ve ever seen. My sister joked that she looked like a waiter carrying two tablecloths. But you know what, when you’re a diva….you pull it off!

Eventually, she ripped off the sleeves and performed in just the pantsuit.

Her next outfit was a lacy floor-length gown.

In this sassy and silver sequin jumpsuit, Celine performed a medley of covers including “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Kiss,” “Lady Marmalade,” and more. It was spectacular.

Her last outfit of the night was this dramatic poofy gown that she wore for the encore. She came out singing “My Heart Will Go On,” but actually ended the show with John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

It’s hard to put into words what made this show so amazing. It was such a positive, hopeful, and heartfelt performance. From beginning to end, Celine seemed so genuinely appreciative of her fans. She exuded kindness and gratitude. She accepted every gift handed to her from people in the front row as if it was a priceless treasure.

She was entertaining and funny, but even more, she was spreading the messages of love, courage, and peace.

When the couple seen at the top of the picture below got engaged during “Because You Love Me,” she was so excited.

Each part of the show was visually stunning without being too over the top. She highlighted several different musicians in her band. She even brought out one of her back-up singers (I presume) to do the Beauty and the Beast duet with her.

There were cool video montages playing during each of her outfit changes (which she did rather quickly).

She sang all of her big songs, both old and new. It truly was an amazing concert. My Celine Dion fandom has been revitalized. If you ever get the chance to see her live, I highly recommend it. You will walk away not only entertained, but feeling hopeful, loved, and maybe even a bit glamorous!

Thrive not Survive

This morning on my way to work, I was listening to the radio when the song “Thrive” by Casting Crowns came on. The song is about how we were made to do more than just survive, but to thrive.

It got me thinking. What does thriving look like for me?

There are days in life when our motivation is to just survive. Depending on our individual life circumstances, some of us may have more of those days than others. I do feel that I am fortunate enough to be able to focus on thriving, not just surviving. But what is thriving?

The dictionary uses several words to define thrive. It means to prosper. It means to flourish. It means to be fortunate or successful. It means to grow or develop vigorously.

So to me, thriving means always getting better. I am a big goal setter, and I always am working on developing new habits that will make my life better. To me, thriving also means finding joy and being happy in life. It may not be overly noble, but living with joy is one of my greatest goals.

So what does thriving mean to you? And are your daily actions and decisions designed to help you survive or to thrive?

Rainy Day in Epcot

I don’t have a ton of Epcot pictures from this most recent trip. It was our last day and rainy, so we didn’t do everything. But we still had a good time.

We rope dropped Soarin’ which is one of my favorite rides. While in the Land, we got breakfast and rode Living with the Land. It’s cool to see all of the plants. I wish I had more success growing food.

We were trapped in the play area that you exit to from Spaceship Earth for awhile due to a torrential downpour, so my daughter and I played some of the games in there. We put the parts of the body together and powered a city with all kinds of energy!

In the World Showcase, I really liked the Anna and Elsa meet and greet set-up. The queue was full of cute and fun details.

We had some tasty fish and chips from Yorkshire County Fish Shop in Great Britain.

Even the squirrels agreed that the food there is top notch.

The Ralph and Vanellope meet and greet was cool because the characters come out of the “link” to meet you, just like in Ralph Breaks the Internet.

Of course, I have always had a soft spot for Journey Into Imagination and Figment. I visited Disney World as a baby and fell in love with “Bink” as I called him.

Overall, a fun trip to Disney World. I can’t wait until next time!

Animal Kingdom and Polynesian Luau

Our third day at Walt Disney World took us to the Animal Kingdom park and to the luau at the Polynesian resort. On our last trip to Disney World, we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and spent a lot of time at this park, so we did a shorter day there on this trip.

Dinoland is a great area of the park for young kids.

My daughter especially loves playing in the Boneyard play area.

I was super excited to catch sight of Kevin from Up more than once throughout the day!

The safari is always interesting and fun. Thankfully, we had a Fastpass, so we could fit it in on this busy park day.

I’ve still never been on Flight of Passage in Avatar since I don’t wait in 3 hour lines. Maybe one day we’ll get a fast pass. We did ride Na’vi River Journey again.

My daughter’s favorite ride is Kali River Rapids. We wore our ponchos, which we needed for the next day, anyway.

My daughter also got her face painted and a caricature drawn in the afternoon.

After we left the Animal Kingdom, we drove to the Polynesian Resort to attend the Spirit of Aloha luau. The luau is always a fun time. We didn’t make it to the end, because my daughter was falling asleep. It was a long day.

The food is delicious, although I didn’t take pictures of the tasty meat.

I had to go up with my daughter to learn the hula because she was being uncharacteristically shy.

Overall, another great day in the magical world of Disney.

Toy Story, Star Wars, and Mickey, Oh My!

Our second day on our recent Disney World trip was spent in Hollywood Studios. Due to the extreme popularity of the new Star Wars land – Galaxy’s Edge, we knew this would be our most crowded day. The park opened at 7am, and we had to be there early to be sure that we were in the park already when it opened so that we could get a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. The new ride is so popular that the only way to ride is get a boarding group at park opening. I’m pretty sure all of the rides for the day were sold out in only a couple minutes on the day we were there.

In the dark, waiting for the park to officially open to get that boarding pass!

Rise of the Resistance is more than just a ride. It is an immersive experience that takes about twenty minutes. You are ushered to different areas to follow along with the story. The walk takes you inside and outside. You are on a special mission, and then eventually get captured by Kylo Ren and the Stormtroopers. It was a cool ride, even for those not as familiar with Star Wars.

Part of the experience is even being ordered around by the Imperial officers and the Stormtroopers.

Getting our boarding passes right at 7:00 on the dot, our boarding group was called around lunchtime. This was convenient, and we did not have to stay in the park all day to make sure we didn’t miss our chance to ride.

We decided not to wait in line for the other new ride in Galaxy’s Edge, Millennium Falcon – Smuggler’s Run. Maybe next time! We did do Star Tours, however, and explore the land.

We even got breakfast at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo with all of its themed food. We had Mustafarian cinnamon rolls and Bright Suns breakfast platters. It was all tasty.

While my husband was excited to visit Galaxy’s Edge, I was most excited to see Toy Story Land! We skipped Hollywood Studios on our last Disney World trip, because so much of it was under construction for the two new lands. Toy Story Land opened a couple of months after our last visit to WDW.

The whole area is themed with bright colors and toys! It is very fun. I also loved how they had added some Christmas decorations in for the holidays.

We rode both of the new rides in Toy Story Land. Alien Swirling Saucers was our first ride of the day, so we didn’t have to wait long.

I also rode Slinky Dog Dash (even though I had my eyes closed). I am not a roller coaster person, and in all of my trips to Disney World I have never ridden on any of the mountains (Splash, Space, Big Thunder)! I know, I know, I’m a baby. I was excited about Slinky Dog though, because of the cute theme. It’s also cool because it goes all around the land.

We left the crowded park at mid-day to go back to the hotel and relax and swim. We returned in the evening to do a few attractions and see Fantasmic. I bought us tickets to the Fantasmic dessert VIP package so that we could have great seats without waiting in line. We sat front and center.

When you purchase the dessert package, you get a whole tray of desserts, a light up necklace, and a light up glass (with margarita inside)! Look at all of the tasty treats!

To me, the dessert package was worth it. We got more food than we could even eat, drinks, and great seats. This was the cheapest nighttime dessert package that I saw out of all the parks.

The show was awesome. It is full of fireworks, special effects, water, story, and characters!

And of course the light up cups were quite useful for a hotel disco dance party the next day!