The Magic of Disney never ends!

There is nothing I don’t love about all things Disney parks! The music, the food, the rides (the calm ones I go on, the wilder ones my kids go on while I people watch). Most of all, I love the magic, the whimsical feeling that takes over the second I enter the park – truth be known, as I enter the parking lot. That, coupled with spending time with my kids at the parks, in a word is pure, unaltered bliss. A place far from the stress, strain and worrisome reality beyond the gates. A place where we’re together, my favorite time to be.

I think this sign, hung above a tunnel walkway says it all. Walt Disney was brilliant in creating these parks and the legacy that will remain for generations to come.

 

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My photos aren’t the greatest, but I choose to share them, because they’re a reminder of our latest lovely visit.

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Oh Donald, you quack me up.:)

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Two of my boys and I. Two of my favorite people on earth.

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We were fortunate to be there for the second day after the re-opening of Fantasmic. It’s a gorgeous production; alone it’s worth the price of admission.

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My absolute favorite, Beauty and the Beast. I seriously have a mad crush on Beast. ūüėć

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The park at closing. Another glorious day… even twelve hours wasn’t enough. No visit is ever enough. As we drove away, plans were being made for our next time.

“See ya real soon”!

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Parnoid, Perceptive or Prepared?

Warning

In light of the horror that via instant access we’re made aware of constantly, I had a conversation with a friend about how the news stresses me about all that could happen in any given moment. Her response was that for the most part, she doesn’t stress because she believes none of it will ever happen to her!

Honestly, I envy my friends outlook. I wish I was like that. However, I’m not wired that way (having high-level anxiety, controlled panic disorder, and a vivid imagination doesn’t¬†¬†help). I’m wary of everything going on around me and my kids. Looking back as far as I can remember, I’ve always been like this. ¬†By definition (I checked with Webster), I’m not paranoid. I am perceptive and as much as is humanly possible, I am always prepared and cautious. I tell my kids a dozen times a day to “be careful”. ¬†But, I realize that with being careful, you also need to be smart, which takes us back to being prepared. For example, I can tell my kid to “be careful” crossing the street. Of course, he will be; adding “be smart” to that means, also be prepared for a driver who isn’t being careful. The one who runs the red light or doesn’t see you in the cross work as he’s making a turn.

I could list at least a thousand occasions¬†where I’ve been perceptive of and in turn prepared about things, good and bad, around me, that have gone unnoticed by others with me. I know this for a fact because as the moment passed, I’ve said “did you see that woman driving oddly?”, “Did that see that guy acting sort of suspiciously in the parking lot?” “Did you notice that guy checking you out?”. ¬†Their response, “Nope didn’t notice”.

Which leads me to my point. There are so many people who just are not tuned into the world around them. Though they might be calmer than me, are they actually putting themselves in harm’s way? Perhaps because they think nothing will ever happen to them, avoidable things do happen to them. I, on the other hand, am conscious of the fact, ¬†if it happens to someone, it can indeed happen to me, so perhaps there are things I’ve been spared of. Of course, I know some things are unavoidable. There are victims who no matter how smart, wary or careful they were would still have been victims. Sadly, that’s life, with no guarantees. But, then there are also victims who perhaps could have avoided an incident or at least lessened the devastation of results.

Take for example the following instances. ¬†When you’re driving, there are times when, if you’re paying extra close attention, you’ll see someone behind a wheel who just doesn’t have it together and doing so might prevent you being part of his accident. Those times when remaining at a green light for an extra beat might prevent being broadsided. When waiting an extra second before walking across a street would prevent you from being plowed into. Walking through a parking lot and noticing the suspicious guy might prevent a mugging. Quickly leaving a place because of a customer behaving oddly could save your life. I’ve done all these things; having avoided incidences I always say my guardian angel was working over time. In that, I also refer to the saying “God helps those who help themselves”.

Let me clarify, I don’t roam about in fear locked in a room afraid of my own shadow. I live a happy, productive life pretty much doing all the things I desire to do, without constant worry; without paranoia. I always entrust myself to God’s care and know what will be, will be. However, I do all the things I choose to do while being vigilantly alert. ¬†Granted, sometimes it can be exhausting. It does indeed annoy people – especially my kids who always say “mom do you have to notice EVERYTHING”. In fact, there’ve been times when they know just by my expression I’m noticing something on my radar and they’ll tease “ok, what are we on the look out for now?”

Go ahead and laugh, tease, criticize or encourage me to calm down. Seriously, I’m not planning on changing. I’ll remain perceptive and prepared, heeding my internal warning signs. Actually, I’m not even envying my friends nonchalant take on stuff not happening to her. I’ll stay as I am… wary, street smart, and diligently cautious. It could offer me the opportunity to, save myself or someone else. And then at least no matter what happens ¬†I’ll know I tried.

Plus, I know I’ll never miss a cute guy flirting!

Addictions… habits… we all have them!

Every day we hear, read and witness the horror of detrimental habits – addictions! Those of us with empathy feel compassion for the addicting/habitual souls who are plagued to the point of destruction. We understand how easily any single one of us can fall under the spell of their grip. However, others of us shake our heads, tsk-tsk in disgust¬†and say simplistically¬†“get over it”, “just stop”.. as if it were indeed that simple!

The fact most of us forget is that every living being has habits they are addicted to. Take for example those of us (me) who can’t start the day without a cup of coffee. ¬†Or those of us (not me) who needs a daily run in order to feel their best. ¬†Maybe it’s a TV show we can’t miss or a ritual when not followed messes with our psyche. The possibilities¬†of¬†these habits are countless. Granted most are harmless, perhaps even good for us, but, they are still habits, substances, activities we’re addicted to!

Think of something, anything you do like clock-work every single day. ¬†Now think about NOT doing it! Take it a step further and actually don’t do it! Dig deeper and tell yourself you can never, ever again do that action or ingestion you stopped. How do you feel? Is it easy to “just stop”? Is it simple to “get over it”? How long can you last before you give in to the urge to go back to the whatever it is you quit?

The fact is, it’s not easy at all… sure maybe for an hour, a day, even a month or two you can muster the self-control to avoid your habit… ¬†but long term… forever… that’s going to take a whole lot of will-power, strength< external support and probably two steps forward, one step back!

I’m not insinuating an addiction to or abstaining from coffee, or chocolate or exercise is as difficult as weaning¬†one’s self off drugs, alcohol or other substances as those things have an entirely different, often devastating¬†effect on the mind and body.

The point I’m making is, removing anything from our lives that we’ve become accustomed to; those things or activities that make us feel good, relax us or are simply done by mindless habit, is not easy! ¬†It’s not something most of us humans can snap our fingers and sans struggle go without. ¬†There are many of us who don’t have the support or resources to seek assistance or rely on.

As we meet or hear about addicts, no matter their addiction, or where it’s¬†led them, let’s keep an open mind and empathetic heart. Let’s remember they are not unworthy or horrible people undeserving of our love, care or at least gentle understanding. They are not deserving to be thought less of, scorned or ignored. Let us always remember, before passing judgment, “that there but for the grace of God go I”. No matter how certain we are it won’t happen to us, addictions are insidious¬†and none of us are immune!

We all helped elect President Donald Trump!

Before you shout “THE HELL I HELPED, I DIDN’T VOTE FOR HIM”… hear, or in this case, read me out!

I grew up hearing many adages that while corny then make sense now. “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”, “the devils in the details” and “assuming makes an ass out of you and me”. come to mind. As does the warning my mom shared to keep my humility in check “don’t get cocky!”. So how does any of this relate to the POTUS or why we’re all to blame for his bearing that title?

During the months leading up to the election, those on team HRC were sure she’d win. Heck, what could possibly go wrong? She had the support of women – and like it or not, women usually get their way! She had the support of many who saw their rights being held fast to and fought for by her, and so, her team got “cocky”. Buying pantsuits and posting little arrows stating “I’m with her” on social profiles, her supporters basked in the glory of her win before she won, thus “counting their chickens before they hatched”.

These people neglected to pay attention to the “devil in the details”. They turned a blind eye and chose to stop listening to the others who, also, are citizens with a right to vote! HRC supporters assumed the handful of ignorant, uneducated, hateful fools who supported Trump would eventually see the light or just not vote at all. Even though we chant “vote your conscience”, “do not ignore your right to be heard”, we forgot to tell those people, yeah you have the freedom of choice but choose our way. Again, everyone assumed they would and well there’s no need to rehash where assuming got us!

The people who pompously, self-righteously, sat on their laurels preparing to celebrate Clinton’s win only paid heed to their own voices. Only clustered in their own groups of like minds stating “defriend me if you’re NOT with her because if you’re not with her, you are a hateful, ignorant bigot!” Their loud disdain created silence among the others. Really, who will willingly set themselves up to be beaten down and bullied? Called an ignorant hater? Rather, those who were sick and tired of politics, as usual, saw something different in Trump that supported not hate (in many of their eyes) but life and changes that would help them. And so ignoring the noise, they silently headed to the polls with the agenda that matters to them top of mind.

I’m not a Trump supporter. Nor was I a Clinton supporter. I felt neither were the best choice for the job. However, I know supporters of both. None are ignorant, uneducated or hateful. Some, from both sides, are among my dearest friends and family. I did not defriend or berate anyone for their choices. Instead, because communication is so important to me – trust that I know first hand how destructive the lack of it is – I listened with an open mind and empathetic heart to all opinions. I discussed, listened, debated and formed my own personal conclusion. Perhaps stepping away gave me more insight than those who refused to acknowledge the other sides.

Once after saying we need to listen to and learn about the Trump supporters, I was called an “ignorant b*&ch” by someone who shut down, stating they have “no time to deal with or educate ignorant a-holes” Perhaps why, when the Election Day results were announced I was among the few who were not surprised. In fact, all along, I said: “I’ll wager he will win because HRC supporters stopped listening too soon”. They got “cocky” “counting their chickens”!

Now, thanks to us all look where we are! We face one of the most conflicted, divided, disquieted, scariest times in the recent history of our nation. Still, again, no one is really listening. People are protesting (as they should and have a right to). Angry, fearful people are going at each other privately and publicly like wild dogs fighting over a piece of meat, forgetting one of us falls down, we all fall down. We are all in this together. The people are perpetuating the hate, discourse, and alienation that we’re protesting against.

Like it or not, accept that we all are responsible for this mess and now we are all responsible for cleaning it up. Sure we can go on saying “Not my president”. Guess what folks, the fact is, if you live in the United States, right now President Donald Trump is your, mine and our president. Get out of denial, stop whining and take action, not reaction. We can all sit around wagging a finger shaming those who voted for him. We can sit behind our computers defriending people until the cows come home. We can hit share on every damn new story written, sans fact checking. We can create chaos and panic by comparing Trump to Hitler every freaking chance we get. I do not see the benefit in any of this beyond making our own personal feelings feel better.

We can, however, collectively get out of our own way, and unite in solidarity and figure out what can be done! Perhaps we need a moment of silence, metaphorically and earnestly to come together and choose the biggest battles that must be fought now and those worth fighting in the future. How POTUS wears his hair, the shade of his tan, his wife’s attire, and his ten-year-old child’s behavior are not, and should not be, anywhere on the list of battles. Jokes and memes and comedy shows should not be part of the good fight if we are to be taken seriously by him or anyone else.

I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe the reason here is actually to teach us a lesson – a severe lesson indeed. Next time let’s be smart enough to not count our chickens too soon. Let’s pay attention to the details and assume nothing. Let’s not be cocky.

Most of all, let’s hope and pray we can get out of this mess unscathed. Let’s prove what America is really made of.

Time to clean the closet!

The over stuffed closet … 

Because I don’t like labels, i don’t consider myself a minimalist because. Instead I prefer just stating the facts… with rare exception I’m not attached to material stuff. What’s the exception you might ask, thinking I have a roomful of some something. Nope! All I hang onto are photos, all of them, as well as an occasional macaroni necklace, ceramic planter and art from my children’s childhood. In addition, I have a crucifix that belonged to my parents (they actually received it as a wedding present) and a small replica of the Pieta in Rome which they acquired at the New York Worlds Fair in 1964. 

 

There’s some stuffed animals that were gifts or were my children’s favorite fuzzy friends. Realistically, all my “treasured keepsakes” fit in one plastic storage bucket.

But then there’s the dreaded closet… what lurks behind the door??? 

 

I don’t believe there are many of us who don’t have items we glance at year after year; never wearing, never tossing. It’s as if magically that thing you’d only wear in desperation to avoid nudity will become an item you love! Maybe it’s lazziness (me),  a lack of finances (also me), or just that thought of someday it will be handy, that keeps someone who’s not attached to stuff, tidyly hanging on to this stuff.  I’m not emotionally attached to most of it (there are three items that remind me of extra special times). The clothes were not expensive (I am a bargain hunter who never pays full price). They are not designer labels or classics that will span decades. 

New year, new me… I know, let’s all stop to do a collective eye roll at the tired cliche. But, seriously that’s kinda sorta what it is. I’ve found it oh so true, the better I feel about how I look the better I feel about life in general and the more I get done and am inspired too do because of it. The other day I was getting ready to attend mass. I pulled out a dress I’d not worn in six years (I know this because I wore on my last day at a job I was laid off from in 2010). Ah-ha says I, this will do nicely. Later at mass, and then a few errands I ran, I felt meh; old, tired, bored. The dress fit well, in spite of being a bit longer than I now wear, and for all intent and purpose it did what it was supposed to do, but I was uncomfortable. 

Arriving home I took a long, hard look in the mirror. The reflection was of a person torn between who I was when I purchased the garment and who I am now. Subtle and trivial yes. Important for my psyche, absolutely. This thing that cost me eleven bucks and had known many wears, was pulling me down, distracting me from putting my best foot forward. Into the laundry and onto donation. This happenstance led me to a decision of sorts. I had neither the time nor inclinatioan to rummage through each article in the closet, making decisions about each piece. I sad I decided to use that one dress moment as a template for keep versus not.
Now, as I get ready, instead of reaching for a tried and true outfit I’m sure of, I grab one of those been there for awhile items. I do some self evaluatiian in the mirror and away from it. I ask myself a few questions: Would I wear this on a date? To a meeting at the office? To dinner with my kids or friends? Would I be happy to run into someone I haven’t seen in awhile? Do I feel good about myself? If most of the answers are no, it goes on to its next purpose with someone who might need or even love it. I’m doing this with shoes and costume jewelry also. Surprisingly it’s already making a difference in the amount of stuff I have!

Trust I am not wealthy; there are no plans to go on a self-indulgent shopping spree… the ten dollar, size eight, deep discounted skinny jeans I scored yesterday at TJ Max is as big a spree ask as there will be for awhile. I don’t need to replace what I’m tossing because the stuff has been idle for too long a time. For me quantity is not important. I’d prefer to have a few outfits I feel good about myself in, instead of a closet full of stuff that on some level, even if not worn, makes me feel prosperous via accumulation. 

It’s said clothes make the man… I believe in this case “man” is a generic term for all humans. If you find yourself in a slump, not feeling up to par for no explicit reason, look in the mirror. Check what you’re wearing. Ask yourself my questions. Maybe all you need to do is swap out your outfit (or a portion of it) for something else you already have. You never know, could be change your clothes, change your life! 

Happy dressing and purging. ūüôā 

Insidius Stress and Social Networking!

I thoroughly¬†enjoy social networking. I appreciate how it allows us to be connected to the world, our community, and friends with just a click of a button. If you’ve got something to shamelessly promote, it’s great for that too. However, I’ve become aware of a dark side to it all, and no, I don’t mean the time we spend sitting behind a screen!

I am a person who suffers from a high level of anxiety. External stimuli can set me off in the blink of an eye. If I’m not cautious things that might make others a bit nervous, will place me into a full blown panic attack. It’s how I’m wired, I’ve adapted to it and thankfully it does not deter my quality of life.

To that end, lately, for no particular reason, I’ve been a bit more stressed, edgy, fearful. It seems a little dark cloud is always looming in the distance in spite of how content I am. By the grace of God, I have a great job, kids I adore with whom I have a wonderful relationship, and friends I know I can count on. We’re healthy, peaceful, successful, so what’s causing my unease?

The possible answer dawned on me in the most unlikely of ways. I visited the Getty Museum¬†in LA with my oldest son, who was here from NYC for the holidays. ¬†Chilling on a bench waiting for him to rejoin me, I casually opened Facebook on my iPhone. There I found the sad breaking news – seriously it had just posted – that Carrie Fisher had taken ill aboard a plane in route to LAX. I could feel my heart quicken and my neck tighten. I’m not a huge fan of the now late Ms. Fisher, I didn’t know the woman personally, but as a human being, I cared. I thought of her family and friends getting the call and racing to the hospital. Additionally, as I’ve shared in other posts, I am terrified of flying for all obvious reasons and one lesser so… what happens if you become seriously ill way up in the sky? How does one get emergency help? ¬†Collectively the information and my imagination stressed me beyond the point it should have (go back to the first paragraph).

So to my point… the above is one example of how social media created insidious stress. How often do we read about horrors that occur on a daily basis? From attacks to accidents, earthquakes to fires… lives lost and forever changed. Even advice about health risks, parenting and relationships can be detrimental in large doses. It’s all coming at us like a hailstorm from which we have no protection. Except to avoid the carrier!

I am not suggesting we live in a bubble of indifference pretending all is perfect. We need to be aware of what’s happening in order to help create change. However, do we need to know each happenstance the second it happens? Do I need the news celebrity has passed within seconds of the passing? Do I need to know a tiny earthquake hit a hundred or so miles from me? Will I be of service to anyone involved in an accident on the 10 as I sit at my desk? Of course NOT!

Just as our bodies react negatively to over-indulgence of unhealthy¬†ingestion, so do our minds. If we are constantly bombarding our psyche’s with sadness and horror, whether it directly affects us or not, our minds – and subsequently our bodies – will react to the stimuli. We might have trouble sleeping, concentrating, effectively participating, feeling positive, or as in my case, feel edgy and fearful.

The bottom line is, there is indeed plenty of personal stuff we each need to deal with on any given day. Then there’s the immediate world stuff we collectively must open our minds to. But there’s the whole lot of other stuff we can find out about eventually, gently, slowly. We can mourn a celebrity later. We can wait a couple days to send condolences to a cyber friend whose 98-year-old great uncle passed away. We can learn about snarled traffic on the highway when we’re actually planning to drive on that highway. We do not need to have the minute to minute updates about everything constantly slamming us.

I’ll never leave any of the social platforms… in fact, I keep joining them as new ones come along. But as I start a fresh new year, I will visit with more discerning caution. I will scroll by more and read less. Just to be safe, I’ll be spending more time on SnapChat and Instagram, where, for the most part, things are a little lighter and a lot more cheerful!

Cheers to less stress and more bliss in 2017… Happy New Year!

Reorienting My Bliss in New York City! Part 8 – savoring the end of a gorgeous trip! Burgers, museum, and bears.

This was it, our last day in NYC. I woke up happy, grateful but a tad of sad loomed over me… I did not want the trip to end, but all things must!

First off I walked with oldest to a local roastery to replenish the fresh beans which were creating our most delicious, French pressed coffee every morning. It was a nice breezy stroll. The first time he and I had spent a few mom/son moments alone. I watched as he intentionally chose the preferred beans. He explained to me since the shop is so near he buys small quantities so they stay fresh. We made another quick stop along the way. I had and hadn’t noticed before how sure and capable he is; truly a successful man in a city where you swim or drown.¬†We talked, laughed and went to KMart for socks for the youngest, who’d used all the ones he’d packed.:)

After donuts and bagels with the steaming fresh coffee – how come mine never comes out as good? We headed to the Museum of Natural History.

582585581This was always a favorite when my kids were little, though the youngest does not remember it well. We explored every corner and purchased tickets for every show. My favorites being Dark Universe in the Haydon Planetarium, breathtaking! And Wonders of the Artic, fascinating!

I love the animals set in displays of their natural habitats. My favorite being… you guessed it… the bears!

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I insisted on a photo op with my pals:)

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Next were the dinos which are a favorite of middle son. Yes, was wishing he was with us, again.

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We explored the Ice Age and every exhibit the museum offers.

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Eventually we found yet another bear.

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And mammals

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The grounds of the museum are a masterpiece themselves. Hours could be spent there wallowing in the beauty.

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Watching them watching.

 

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Time to go and time to eat… We stayed uptown and visited another Shack Shack for another of my favorite burgers and a large portion of chocolate frozen custard. I can’t get enough of that stuff.

We walked along Fifth Avenue headed toward Columbus Circle. We checked out the stores before eventually hopping on the subway.

608607To my surprise,¬†the subway station is also a shopping mall. It’s clean and beautiful with all sorts of shops.

That evening, as we changed trains and waited for others, I was inspired to take photos of life underground. NYC subways get a bad rep. Sure there are some that are gross, smelly, dirty. Yes, you might run into some unsavory people. But isn’t that true in all of life? That is life, a blending of the good and bad. To that end, you use caution, celebrate the good and do what you can with the bad. Nothing is the sum-total of everything. It’s all an entity¬†unto itself.577

I appreciate the stellar performers you’ll find on a platform.

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And way underground, in the bowels of the city, there is art.le

As we neared home we remembered we’d not been able to find my beloved Drakes ring-dings. Something else I can’t get in California. We headed to another grocery story, a bit out of the way and yea… they had them. Something else I love, the narrowness of aisles in city grocery stores. Stores in the burbs are huge, tiresome and often a waste of time. If I run in for three items, I don’t need to take a day trip from one end of the store to the other. I just want to grab the three things, get in and out. There’s no way around it, I’ve tried both lifestyles and I am, hands down a city girl!

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Later that night we ordered pizza. Real, honest to goodness New York Pizza, like none other in the world. Where a slice needs patting and a fold. Where the cheese is real and pineapple or ham are not really a thing. Where it’s hot enough to burn the roof of your mouth and the pain is delightful.

Eventually, the boys dozed off. I could have too, but since it was our last night here, I didn’t want to. We’d done, seen, enjoyed so much, but there was still so much more. I sat on the patio, breathing in the night air, admiring the skyscrapers, listening to the bustle of life on the street below. Inside I watched my sons sleep, remembering how they looked when they were little when knowing we were all safe together under the same roof was a given. Now, that they’re grown, being under the same roof is a gift, a treat, a blessing!

Tomorrow we’ll rise at six to hop on the shuttle headed for JFK. Tomorrow two of us would sleep under different roofs in California, one of us would still be here. Tomorrow it was back to real life as I know it now. Back to dreaming and setting goals for how I want it to be. But for now, in these quiet New York City hours, I was completely home living in the place where my heart and mind often journey away from where my body resides. It’s not a bad life in California, not at all, it’s just not where my heart is!