“Disney Day”

“Disney Days” are essential to the mental health of an avid Disney fan. If you didn’t know, I’m an avid Disney fan…times ten.

I know. Shocking.

What is a “Disney Day?” It’s not just a day spent at a theme park (although it can be). A Disney Day can be any ol’ regular day with an intentional amount of magic and pixie dust thrown in.

Disney fans have a way with “fluffy” words, don’t they?

We (my family and I) had our own Disney Day this past Sunday. We declared it Disney Day from the start–we each picked out a Disney movie and sat down for hours to watch some favorites and some forgotten classics. We took a break for lunch and a treat, and we gabbed and napped throughout the showings.

It was pure, lazy, pixie-dusted bliss.

We could’ve made our day more elaborate, with treats and favors fit for Instagram. We could’ve put more thought and planning into the movies we watched. I could have started a hashtag, worn ears, done my makeup, felt like a presentable human being.

But did we do that? Nope! We just sat down and watched some movies. The simplicity of the occasion made the day so much better–free of fuss, free of perfection, free of a bra. (TMI? Probably.)

Here’s how our lineup developed:

  1. The Little Mermaid, followed by a Lean Cuisine for lunch and a trip to DQ for a vanilla ice cream cone.
  2. Aladdin with bouts of power outages due to a summer thunderstorm. It took us a long time to watch and finish Aladdin. Momma cried because she had never sat and watched it all the way through–she adored the song “A Whole New World,” and she was so proud of Al when he set the Genie free. My sister took a hearty nap.
  3. The Lion King, with bonus features included.
  4. Peter Pan whilst sorting through old photos and memorabilia. I found some old short stories of mine, written around the third or fourth grade. One piece was entitled “The Irish Setter Who Loved Golf.” An Irish Setter is a breed of dog, one I was particularly fond of as a child. It was a work of literary genius, no doubt. Find me an agent, stat! (Ha.)

While this wasn’t a stop-the-presses kind of day, it was one of my favorite. It was a Disney Day for the books–I’ve had some pretty incredible park days, but there’s something about intentionally sitting  and watching movies all day with the ones you love that makes every “monotonous” moment magical.

How would you go about your own Disney Day?

 

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Falling Down a Rabbit Hole

In honor of today being Disney’s Alice in Wonderland release date (July 28, 1951), I wanted to pay a little tribute to the movie and the curious little girl who inspires me as I go through my young adult life.

I’m a girl in her early twenties–I’m scared out of my mind quite more often than not. I don’t know what’s in store for my life; I can work hard and try a lot of different things, but success is never guaranteed. That’s scary.

I often feel like Alice–she tumbles down a rabbit hole, pursuing the flighty white rabbit (a metaphor for dreams? Goals? Aspirations perhaps?), and ends up in a very strange, wondrous place. Everything is backwards from what she is used to, and the inhabitants often make no sense at all. She encounters dodo birds, disappearing cats, a little mouse that seems to be drunk more often than not, and a really mean, scary lady who’s determined to decapitate the entire population.

It’s a mad house.

Sometimes I imagine the “adult” world is a version of Wonderland–there will be people who don’t give a darn about you and your pursuits, you’ll hear talk and jargon that you’ll barely understand, and there’ll be people who are after your head, your success.

You’ll just want “everything to make sense for a change.”

I also think Wonderland (aka “Adultland”) will also be wonderful and exciting. Alice found a world full of color and vivacity: talking flowers, mazes of bright green, and tasty treats that made her height fluctuate. I think there could be wonderful things waiting for me (and you) in Adultland. Things that don’t make any sense can be exciting and wonderful.

Alice has also sparked a certain curiosity within my nature. I love taking a cue from this little adventurer–I’m always wanting to learn and soak up many different subjects, cultures, books. You name it. Being curious keeps the soul young. Wanting to learn and experience new things is a really good thing. Alice couldn’t settle for ordinary. Of course, once she discovered that the unordinary could be a little scary and chaotic, the ordinary was waiting for her to return, there for her to recover from the stimulation of Wonderland. That’s how home is to me. Once I’ve had my fill of adventure, I can always return home to recharge, to regroup. Home is always there, Just as Dinah (that little cat Alice is so fond of) will always be there for little Alice.

Alice in Wonderland can really serve as a fitting metaphor for a wandering twenty-something. I think it’s the anticipation of the journey to Wonderland (Adultland) that’s the hardest. You want to know what it’s like; your curiosity overflows to the brim. I feel like Alice as she lays in the meadow filled with flowers, singing of the day where she’ll have a “world of her own.”

Until then, I’ll be content up in my tree, petting my Dinah, and listening to my sister read from a book (not really. This is what Alice did, of course). I’ll realize how wonderful it is to be content and comfortable, and gear up for my own journey to Wonderland.

Happy birthday, Alice in Wonderland. You’ve kept audiences captivated since 1951, and for that I couldn’t be more grateful.

“God Help the Outcasts”

Who loves The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney’s version, not Hugo’s) as much as I do?

Goodness. It’s such an underrated movie, and it has an even more under-appreciated song.

“God Help the Outcasts,” sung by the gypsy Esmerelda, an outcast herself, never ceases to touch my very soul, to make me want to be a little kinder, gentler, or better. Its lyrics and melody combine to deliver a simple message: notice those who feel lost and cast out, and reach out a helping hand to them. Esmerelda also conveys a sentiment that I wish I could so easily adapt:

“I ask for nothing, I can get by. But I know so many less lucky than I.” 

It’s so hard for me to “ask for nothing.” We live in a world where we are always asking for “more.” More stuff, more followers, more clothes, more experiences, more food, more friends, more…anything.

I’m so guilty of this. So very guilty.

I honestly have everything I could ever need, and yet I always ask for more.

I, and we, can learn so much from Esmerelda, the gypsy on the run who wants for nothing and asks for everything for her people, the “poor and down-trod.” She treats Paris’ ultimate pariah, Quasimodo, with the utmost kindness, despite the citizens’ initial disgust for the kind-hearted bell-ringer. She does all the wrong things for all the right reasons. She’s an outcast, yes, but she’s an outcast who creates magic through her kindness, through her friendship.

She also has a little butt-kickin’ instinct in her. She’s kind and gentle, but she can also stand on her own two feet.

Esmerelda’s plea to God can be transferred to all who watch this movie–we can help the outcasts, the people who feel a little out of the loop. Offer a smile to someone who looks a little sad. Hold a conversation with the little old lady sitting beside you in the doctor’s office waiting room. Make someone’s day with a compliment or a nice “thinking of you” note.

You may also feel like an outcast yourself; it’s ok. Everyone does. That doesn’t mean you can’t be helped, too–just know that everyone feels a little like an outcast from time to time, and begin to bloom just as you are.

Now going back to that “asking for nothing” bit. Yes. This is so hard. But maybe just start with baby steps: ask for less and less and give more and more. It doesn’t have to be a physical thing; give your time, give your effort, give your love, and give your sincerity. And, with our good deeds, expect nothing in return, just like Esmerelda.

Honestly, I don’t know why Esmerelda isn’t talked about as much as the other princesses and what not in the Disney bubble. She’s so strong and independent, a real spit-fire, yet she knows what really matters: kindness, justice, and humility. Esmerelda has seen some pretty rough things, yet she hopes for a more just society, one that isn’t filled with hypocrites that tear into the outcasts of her world.

We can learn so much from Esmerelda and the words she sings. It’s just that decision to put into action the lessons we learn that truly determine the course that we take.

A lovely image captured whilst watching Netflix.

 

Love, Adventure, and Selflessness: Lessons We Can Learn from Disney-Pixar’s UP

Up is one of my favorite Disney-Pixar movies. I love it so much.

Exhibit A.

The first ten minutes are so beautiful and heartbreaking; I cry every time. The idea of a house being carried away by balloons is simply whimsical and so creative, and this entire movie redefines what it means to have an adventure. It’s soundtrack acts as glorious study music, and the characters are so incredibly lovable.

Up really has taught me so much, and it has reminded me of some loved ones in my own life.

Let’s talk about the relationship between Carl and Ellie. I believe Disney-Pixar has captured the perfect romance in this animated movie–whimsical and magical with a realistic touch. I love how there love was founded on their thirst for adventure as little kids, and I am so happy that Ellie is so rambunctious and energetic. The fact that their relationship is told entirely through a scored, silent montage is brilliant and provides the perfect backdrop for the audience’s heartbreak.

We can learn so much from Carl and Ellie’s relationship: love can be founded on friendship and on similar interests, adventure can be found through day-to-day activities, and the little things–such as sitting in adjacent chairs while reading and sweetly holding hands–can mean everything. I think people can get carried away in thinking that love stories have to be chock full of grand gestures.  In reality, the most beautiful love stories are filled with simple moments carried out with great love.

The best part of Up is near the very end. Carl flips through the “Adventure Book,” expecting to be disappointed by the empty pages he would surely find. Instead, he finds pictures that Ellie had placed in the Adventure Book documenting their life together. On the very last page, Carl discovers Ellie’s parting note to him:

“Thanks for the adventure–now go have a new one!

Tears. So many tears.

I think I love this so much because Carl and Ellie’s relationship reminds me so much of my grandparents’–I call them “Bo” and “Lille.” Bo, my grandpa, passed away from a brain tumor back in 2005. My grandparents met when they were in junior high, and were together ever since. Their love was based on those sweet little things that matter so much, and they both worked together to make every day–be it ordinary or special–a grand adventure for my sister and me.

I also saw Ellie’s attitude in my Bo; he reminds me so much of the woman who captured Carl’s heart–his exuberant spirit is so much like Ellie’s. He had so much fun in his daily life–he was a classic “bull sh*tter” (excuse my French) and tried to make every day a joyous one. I have so many awesome memories of my Bo; he would dance in movie theaters as the credits rolled, hold impromptu “parades” at our birthday parties, and hold last-minute free-throw shooting contests with ice cream at stake (we inevitably won the sweet prize every time; Bo loved his ice cream). He made sure that his loved ones were taken care of, even when it was his time to leave us. He was passionate about what he did, and he didn’t take a day for granted. He loved Lille, he loved my mom, and he loved my sister and me with all that he had.

He wanted us to have adventures with him; but he wanted us to have them even more so after he was gone.

He made this known to my mom and Lille. He wanted us to live life to the fullest, and he wanted to make sure he did everything in his power so that we could do so after he was gone.

This is why I think I love Up–Carl and Ellie were so devoted to each other, just like my Bo and Lille. Bo is the Ellie of the bunch; he did everything in his power to make everyday an adventure. What he wanted more than anything, however, was to see his loved ones have an adventure themselves, just as Ellie wants Carl to “have a new one.”

Let’s learn a few things from Carl and Ellie, and, subsequently, from my Bo and Lille.

Find love in the little things that someone does for you. It doesn’t have to be romantic love–take note of the way your sister does everything in her power to make you happy, take note of your mom’s constant pin-sending (you know: Pinterest), take note of your grandma’s consistent phone calls. That’s love. Roses are not required.

Find adventure in the mundane. Ellie (and Bo) knew the importance of this. Life won’t be a series of big moments; life is a series of little moments strung together. We must find the fun in it all, the adventure that awaits in every new day.

And, last but not least, look for ways to make the people you love happy. Ellie left that note knowing it would give Carl some peace; she encouraged him to continue finding new adventures. That’s not selfish. She (and my Bo) knew that selflessness was the most important thing, especially toward the people you love.

So. “Adventure is out there!” Take the lessons you learn from Up and apply them to your daily life. Always remember to make the people you care about happy, find adventure and joy in the little things, and always check under the porch for snipes.

They certainly are tricky little buggers.

I got this lovely shirt at Hot Topic.
“Adventure is out there,” my friends! Now go and find it.

“Tomorrow’s Just a Dream Away”

Disney’s new theme-park-inspired movie Tomorrowland was inspiring. No better way to put it.

This movie was a surprise from the start–I had no idea what I was getting into as the first shots of George Clooney’s face, directly addressing the camera, and, in turn, the audience, encompassed the movie screen. It came across rather odd at first, but as the minutes ticked by (much like the countdown you are introduced to from the start) things start to unfold and make more and more sense. In truth, I can’t recall the exact plot that developed, but the themes that Tomorrowland emphasizes are wonderful. I wanted to walk out of the theatre and truly make a difference in this world; I wanted to be among the dreamers that are handpicked by Tomorrowland‘s legions of kid robots.

Yes, it sounds weird. But don’t knock it till you try it.

I especially loved the Disney easter eggs placed throughout the movie: the song “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from Carousel of Progress, the presence of Space Mountain blended into the skyline of Tomorrowland, and “It’s a Small World” at its debut at the 1964 World’s Fair all make an appearance. I was looking incredibly close at the skyline of Tomorrowland in hopes of catching a glimpse of the famed “EPCOT golf ball,” Spaceship Earth. There might be a chance that it’s there (spherical architecture is popular in the future, you see), but I can’t confirm.

What I ultimately loved about the movie was the unabashed optimism of our heroine, Casey Newton–is her name a coincidence? I think not. There’s a perfect moment at the very beginning of the movie where little toddler Casey is examining the stars. Her mother (who isn’t in the rest of the movie…typical Disney) asks the starry-eyed little girl–pun intended–if she’s going to visit the stars someday. She says yes, and her father asks, “What if there’s nothing up there?” Little Casey looks at her father as if he’s asked the stupidest question. She retorts:

“But daddy! What if there’s everything up there?”

Her hope and her optimism continue throughout the movie, and she makes me wish that there were more “Casey-s” in this world.

That’s another great thing about Tomorrowland: the movie asserts that we all can be the “Casey-s,” the dreamers. We only have to decide to do so. Our fate–and the fate of our future–rests in the decision to try.

This movie was an excellent departure from the fairy tales I love so much; it perfectly captures the hope for the future and the promise of possibility that you can tangibly feel when you enter EPCOT or Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Let’s all decide to be the dreamers of the world, to inspire others with our optimism and can-do spirit. We can change things for the better, no matter how dim the future might seem. It only takes the decision to try and the will to follow through.

“Dreamers have to stick together.” Let’s stick together, my friends, and start creating a future we can be proud of.

“Have Courage and Be Kind”

Cinderella has never been an absolute favorite Disney princess for me. Of course, I love the whole iconography that her story and her castle encapsulates–if anyone even utters the words “Cinderella Castle,” I immediately start to get butterflies and heart palpitations. Cinderella’s person and image is connected to my favorite place in the entire world. In my opinion, she and Mickey are the head honchos of the place. Her castle sits at the end of Main Street, and Mick has his head plastered everywhere. It just goes.

She still has never been one of my favorite Disney characters, though. Until now.

If you haven’t seen the new live-action version of Cinderella, DO IT. Right now. Get up and go to your local theater and purchase a passport into a magical tale that holds just so much heart and inspiration and magic.

*Spoilers ahead*

I loved this movie. Absolutely loved it. Disney kept the story pure, exactly the same as the original Disney version of the fairytale (the original original is quite dark, but Disney decided to make it a little more warm and fuzzy). What the filmmakers added, however, were motives, a back story and a simple, yet profound, message that will sure to linger on your lips every time you search for advice to give. “Have courage and be kind.”

Cinderella, a girl whose life is riddled with sorrow and suffering, never forgets those words her dying mother gave her. She takes courage, stays where her evil stepmother resides simply because it’s a beloved family home, and is kind to all who encounter her, including the dashing, sensitive, perfectly-blue-eyed Prince (who she mistakes for an apprentice) when they  rendezvous in the woods (of course). This is the first modernization of the film–she meets her Prince Charming before she even thinks about going to the ball. She knows she has a liking for him without having the knowledge that he is even a Prince.

When she does go to the ball, the result is magical–Cinderella’s coach is to die for, her dress is glittering and fit for a beautiful “honest country girl” turned princess, and the glass slippers bestowed on her feet are absolutely dazzling. As her carriage makes its way to the ball that will change her life, fireworks go off in the distance.

This, my friends, was just one of the moments where I cried shamelessly. It was all just so beautiful.

One of my favorite parts of this film were the simple, yet profound, messages it brings its audience. Of course, Cinderella’s mother delivers the main theme of them all: “Have courage and be kind.” My favorite moment, however (and the place in which I bawled like I had just won Miss America) had to be when Cinderella was descending the stairs to meet her Prince, right before he would place her slipper on her dainty foot. The narrator (the Fairy Godmother) informs the audience that without magic to hide behind, Cinderella had to gather incredible courage. She was to present herself to royalty, just as she was: an honest country girl.” As Cinderella looks at her honest reflection in the mirror, her Fairy Godmother says what I think may be the most important lesson of this film:

“There is no greater risk that any of us will take: to be seen as we truly are.” 

Cinderella was just a girl–a beautiful, kind girl, but a girl of low status, nonetheless. She had to face her biggest dream, the Prince, just as she was, unable to hide behind a cloak of glitter and grandeur. She descends the staircase from her confining attic in her old tattered blue dress and worn blue flats she wears throughout the entire movie. She tells the Prince that she has nothing–“No carriage. No parents. No dowry.” She’s just Cinderella. She asks him, “If that slipper fits, Will you take me as I am?” And we all know what happens: they live happily ever after.

I don’t know why this hit me quite so hard, but I couldn’t stop crying in the theater. Disney is at its best when it can deliver simple messages that we, as a society, so often forget. This movie is a comfort to a weary heart because it emphasizes two of the most important things in this world: Be kind and be yourself. Another favorite moment of mine is when Cinderella utters three words to her stepmother as she and her love depart: “I forgive you.” Cinderella is never bitter. We can all learn so much from this princess that I used to just “like.” Now I can’t help but love her.

Please. If you haven’t seen this movie, do so. Be swept away by the sets, the costumes, the beautiful humans that portray Cinderella and her Prince. Be enamored with the magic we so often forget can exist in a pure story and a beautiful message. Go to the ball and feel so happy for Cinderella. Take her lessons to heart: “Have courage and be kind.”

And, above all, learn to make some magic like Cinderella can–with the kindness of your words, and the sincerity of your actions. Have a magical day, my friends.