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!

Happy New Year in Magic Kingdom

We started this new year and new decade off right, at Walt Disney World!

We went to the park first thing in the morning so that we could rope drop Seven Dwarves Mine Train. Crowds were heavy, but not too too bad, probably because so many people had stayed up late the night before.

I have never been to Disney World during the holidays before, so I was happy to see that many of the Christmas decorations were still up. I would love to come back before Christmas one year and attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party.

Since it was New Year’s Day, we all wore matching Mickey Happy New Year’s shirts.

Since it was a busy day (and my husband is not a morning until night GoGoGoer like me), we did not get to do everything. That’s okay though since we are fortunate enough to be able to make it to Disneyworld once every couple years. We still managed to ride a few of my favorites.

Of course, some of the fun of Disney goes beyond the attractions to the little details and fun things lurking around every corner.

We didn’t stake out front row seats to the afternoon Festival of Fantasy parade, but were able to watch it from a distance in the green space at the end of Main street. The floats are fun to see.

And what better to enjoy while watching the parade then a special treat from Plaza Ice Cream Parlor!

What a way to usher in the New Year!

Disneybounding!

On my most recent trip to Walt Disney World was the first time I participated in the trend of disneybounding. Disneybound is a term coined by Leslie Kay, who runs the website and instagram account. Disneybounding is the putting together of an outfit inspired by a Disney character. Adults are not allowed to wear costumes in the Disney parks. Disneybounding is a fun way to dress up as your favorite character using clothes that you already have in your closet or found at the mall.

I have wanted to Disneybound ever since my good friend introduced me to the concept. I have followed the Instagram account and love seeing all the cute outfits that people come up with. For my first attempt at Disneybounding, I wanted to make sure that I stuck with characters that would be easily recognizable, as I think that makes it more fun. Serious Disneybounders attempt outfits inspired by even the more obscure characters.

On our recent trip, we were in the parks for four days (one day in each park). Our first day was New Year’s day in Magic Kingdom. My mother-in-law bought us matching Mickey Happy New Year’s shirts that we wore for the occasion. That left three Disneybounds for me to put together.

Our second park was Hollywood Studios. This was my first visit to Hollywood Studios since both Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land opened. I have been so excited to visit Toy Story Land, so I chose Woody as my Disneybound character.

I found the perfect yellow plaid shirt at Old Navy, which I paired with my regular jeans and brown boots. I bought a cute bandana headband from Claire’s and even ordered a cow print scrunchie to wear on my wrist from Amazon. It was perfect, and I was easily recognizable as Woody.

I bought my daughter this adorable Buzz Lightyear dress from Presley Couture. As a pair, we got a lot of attention as we walked through the busy park.

The best part, of course, was meeting with the characters. Both Buzz and Jessie were super excited to see us in our outfits.

We even got attention from the other performers and characters. The Citizens of Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard asked me if I had ANDY written on the bottom of my boot. (Sadly, I did not).

Vampirina wanted to fly like Buzz with my daughter.

And Fancy Nancy was jealous of her stormtrooper tattoo. She was begging her castmember to allow her to get a tattoo, and even wrote on her wrist with her pen (much to the castmember’s chagrin)!

Our next park day was Animal Kingdom. I decided to Disneybound as Minnie Mouse. I already had the red and white polka dot Keds (that I wear on every Disney trip) and the Minnie Mouse ears. I ordered the polka dot skirt from Amazon and paired it with a black shirt.

I got a lot of compliments from parkgoers on this cute ensemble also. My daughter wore a Minnie Mouse shirt. Later in the day, her Nonna bought her some cute Minnie ear barrettes to add to her look.

Our final park day was Epcot. Norway has always been my favorite country in the World Showcase, even long before it added the Frozen touches. I disneybounded as Anna, while my daughter dressed as Elsa.

For this outfit, I was able to wear all clothes that I had in my closet already, except for the two sets of Presley Couture ears and my daughter’s Presley Couture dress. The ears really made the outfit pop though! I work blue tights, black boots, a black top, magenta sweater and brown belt. It looked perfect. I wore my hair in pigtails with some Anna barrettes and even added the detail of a snowflake necklace.

Again the other characters were excited to see my daughter dressed as Elsa. Joy was overjoyed, as were Wreck-it-Ralph and Vanellope!

Of course, the day would not be complete without meeting Elsa and Anna themselves. They were wearing their new outfits from Frozen II, which was super exciting, even though we didn’t match!

Overall, I had so much fun Disneybounding and cannot wait to do it again on future Disney trips!

Choosing Joy (even when it’s difficult)

It’s been awhile since I last posted. The holidays are always busy, and I also went out of town. So there will be some Disney World posts forthcoming. Today’s post is about choosing joy. But it’s really about choosing joy when life is difficult.

I purchased a new Mantraband for 2020. My other Mantraband says “Be the Change.” Mantrabands are nice reminders to wear on your wrist of how you want to live your life. My new Mantraband says “Choose Joy.”

I’m already a positive thinker. But I also struggle with anxiety. “Choose Joy” is a reminder to make choices that bring joy into my life. Multiple people can be presented with the same situation, but have completely different reactions to it.

On New Year’s Eve, we had a short stop at the beach. It wasn’t a big beach trip. We weren’t dressed for the beach. It was a quick stop. My daughter had so much joy in her as she walked to the edge of the ocean. She splashed in the water with abandon. She danced and sang to the ocean. I wished I could have as much joy in that moment. Instead, I concentrated on not getting wet and messy. I did get joy from witnessing her joy, however.

The past few days, I have not been feeling great. I feel anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, and sad. I have been making an active effort to choose joy and am still coming up short. I’ve tried to change my thoughts. I’ve prayed. I’ve listened to inspiring music. And I still feel blah.

I know that one cannot be happy all of the time. Today at work, I flipped through a book that I bought to use in counseling called, “How to be Happy, or at least less Sad.” If you can decrease the sad feelings, then the happy feelings naturally increase. They may not currently be at the level that I would like. Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. I am not currently full of joy. But it is always the goal and baby steps count.

In the interest of taking those baby steps, my plan is to notice the small things that bring me joy, even if only briefly. Once I’ve identified that something brings me joy, I can concentrate on having more of that thing. Right now, I am struggling to change my thoughts. So my only option is to attempt to replace them. If I replace the anxious thoughts with joyful thoughts, I should make a little progress.

I added a layout to my bullet journal to encourage me to write down the little things I notice that bring me joy. Hopefully that and my Mantraband will help me be more cognizant of those things. And hopefully, I come out of this funk soon.