The semester starts in a week! THANK GOODNESS! I LOVE GRAD SCHOOL!

(I really, really do.)

I’ve been lesson planning, writing, reading recreationally, and getting my life together. It’s always a fun time when “getting your life together” is on the agenda.

Getting my life together involves errand-running and goal-setting. In this post, I’d thought I’d write down a few goals, even though some aren’t really concrete. Some are super vague, and most you can’t check off a list.

So this reads more like a little manifesto, I think. Unless I’m getting the definition of “manifesto” confused with something else. Oh well.

So. During this school year, this semester, and this life, I vow to…

  1. Stand taller, speak louder, and cut I’m sorry and I don’t know from my vocabulary. Or at least limit those phrases to situations that actually call for them.
  2. Take failure as it comes and handle it with grace. Accept that it’s a part of the ‘biz and life and everything.
  3. Celebrate every victory, big or small. Maybe with some cake (but not too much).
  4. Work my you-know-what off every single day.
  5. Rest and relax and do what I love every single day.
  6. Read for my craft.
  7. Read for my enjoyment.
  8. Send snail mail to people, because I’ve realized I love writing letters and I want to spread more ink-smeared magic.
  9. Smile more.
  10. Say, “Yes!” more.
  11. Say, “No!” when it’s best for me.
  12. Find so much joy in the opportunity I’ve been given to learn and teach and write.
  13. Go to [restaurant that is famous in college town], because I feel like it’s essential to the whole experience of living in [college town].
  14. Maybe exercise some. (Really, Kaila. EXERCISE SOME.)
  15. Take pride in my work, take pride in the process, and take pride in the ideas that pop into my head. Because sometimes I have some good ones.

I hope everyone is having a happy day. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Kids Baking Championship. Baked goods and cute kids = a winning combo for television.

Ha. Okay. Goodbye now.

Favorite Feelings

The first day of a vacation, i.e. what today is for me. (I’m coming for ya, Allyssa and Iowa and South Dakota!)

The first sip of a large Diet Coke with vanilla from Sonic, because it’s extra vanilla-y.

Reading in a pool, your body half-submerged as the sun warms your shoulders and arms.

When you flip on the Food Network and the Pioneer Woman is on. She’s fantastic.

The crunch of a tortilla chip dripping with creamy jalapeño sauce from Chuy’s. UGH. I melt.

A perfectly clean room.

When you sit down to write and your brain actually spits out ideas.

The first time you listen to an album or a song, and you end up loving it. It’s the magic of listening to lyrics for the first time, you know?

When you used to work at Disney World and you visit for the first time in over a year, and Russell from Up remembers you and walks you to the Wilderness Explorer Clubhouse. (Oh, Disney. I MISS YOU.)

Receiving snail mail from your friends. Just sayin’ hi.

Sitting between the shelves of the local library, writing. You feel so official.

Actually seeing–not FaceTiming, not texting–your best friend for the first time in months. (Tomorrow, tomorrow!)

The tickle of your dog’s tongue on your nose.

Watching baby birds evolve: from aliens to gargoyles to feathered gargoyles to real life birds.

Long drives by yourself. You sing at the top of your lungs and no one judges you when you zone out to think about life and stuff.

And on that drive, you’re able to think of new story ideas and blog posts (like this one) and you feel energized and creative and productive!

And, finally, the satisfaction that comes with writing your thoughts down. There’s nothing better.

Hope and New Beginnings and All That Jazz

I’ve talked about how much I love the New Year on this blog before, but this year I love it times ten. I’m so hopeful and so energized and ready to take on whatever comes my way.

Like so excited.

I think I’m ready to not feel like I’m in a “funk” this year. I’ll be honest, after returning home from my college program in August of 2016, I felt lost and out-of-sorts, unsure and hesitant. Kind of…blah. I think the transition from college to Disney World to the real world to graduate school has been daunting and rough at times. But now I’m feeling good. More balanced. Ready. Excited. Hopeful.

Some quick little goals/resolutions:

  1. Enjoy my first year of teaching–I’ll be teaching composition one as part of my graduate teaching assistantship this coming semester, and I am so excited to give it a whirl.
  2. Make my health a priority this year. Work out! Feel like an athlete again! Eat well! Be mindful! Feel great!
  3. Write and write and write and write and write and revise and revise and revise and revise and submit and submit and submit and submit to magazines and whatnot.
  4. Be happy. Stress less. Enjoy the little things.
  5. Find a hobby–maybe cooking? Something?

I hope everyone has a happy, productive, and magical 2018.

Idina Menzel–The Queen

Last night, I saw my favorite singer of all time, Idina Menzel, in concert.

It was so incredibly amazing, and I’ve decided I’ve got PID–“Post Idina Depression.”

Last night’s happiness just carried over to today.

I’m so happy I got to see her in concert, but I am so sorry it’s over. I remember sitting at my computer in November anxiously waiting to purchase pre-order tickets, poised and ready to win a chance to see the original Elphaba (Wicked) in the flesh. My heart was pounding, my feet were bouncing, and my ears were frozen–I had just walked back from class in the freezing November weather. I had my “Let it go” beanie from Hot Topic a top my head for the occasion. I was ready.

When I hit the “Buy” button, I went crazy, bouncing up and down in my apartment and screaming because I knew I would get to see her and  hear her soaring voice fill an entire concert hall. I called my grandma–she paid for the tickets (Thank you Lille!)–and said my thanks in the most excited, shrill way imaginable. I immediately started a countdown on my phone and took pleasure in watching the days tick by.

Now that I’ve attended her concert, I can sincerely say the wait was so, so worth it.

Our tickets were in the first balcony with a clear shot of the stage. The minute Idina appeared singing “Defying Gravity,” I had little tears in my eyes. Idina Menzel was in the same room as me! I was there! She hit every note perfectly and she immediately had such a unique stage presence. Every one of the audience members sat at the edge of their seat, hanging on her every word and occasionally “whooping” and clapping when prominent notes or lyrics came along. This moment was so cool–I was in a room with a bunch of people a lot like me. Musical theatre dorks, Disney freaks, and self-proclaimed misfits who all had a soft spot for Idina Menzel. I felt at ease and so excited. By the end of the night, my cheeks ached from smiling so much.

I knew Idina was funny, but experiencing her sass while in the same room as her takes my love for her personality over the roof. She politely told an obnoxious fan to “Shut the (expletive) up” and then told the parents of “little girls in blue sequined dresses” to cover their ears from time to time. I laughed so hard, as did the rest of the audience. My sister–who was a tad wary of attending an Idina concert, she’s not a die-hard fan like I am–was even red in the face at Idina’s remarks. There was a moment when Idina talked to a fan in the front row who was taking her picture. She insisted on him getting her good side, and laid down on the stage and posed. The audience rip and roared and clapped. She’s just such an entertainer.

There were some sweet moments as well. When a little girl yelled out, “I love you!” She smiled and graciously said, “I love you, too.” You can really tell she’s so grateful to get to do what she’s doing, and I couldn’t be more grateful to be a fan of such an incredible person and performer.

My favorite moment of the entire show had to be when she sang “Let it Go,” but for a completely different reason than what you might think. Before she finished the song, she invited all the little girls in the audience to go up and sing with her. There was this little girl just one row down from me who was dressed as a little Elsa, and she wanted to go, but her mom was unsure because we were in the balcony. They finally decided to sprint downstairs, and the whole balcony was craning our necks in hopes of getting a glimpse of Little Elsa (the only little girl dressed as Elsa in the entire room) making it to join the crowd of little girls lucky enough to be on the orchestra floor. When we saw that she made it, the entire balcony erupted in cheers. The icing on the cake was when Idina noticed the little girl, and she got to stand right next to her. I completely lost it because Little Elsa was just so excited. Talk about a magical moment in the making–when the little girl came back to her seat, we all clapped for her and gave her high fives. What an incredible memory for that little girl and for all of us first balcony goers.

Idina Menzel, if there is any chance you might read this, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting on such a wonderful performance. Your songs are apart of my daily life–I listen to “Defying Gravity” when gearing up for volleyball games, “For Good” because it reminds me of seeing Wicked for the first time and crying my eyes out, and Let it Go because I am such a Disney freak and was so happy you were a part of the Disney movie canon. I counted down the days when I could purchase the If/Then soundtrack last year, and I cheered you on when you sang the National Anthem perfectly at the Super Bowl. Thanks for giving us songs to help us feel empowered, motivated, and sassy (Take Me or Leave Me, anyone?). Last night was a dream come true, and I’m so glad I was a part of it.

When Idina sang “For Good” (acapella, no mic) last night, I tried to etch the moment into my memory because it was so perfect. Here was my favorite singer telling us that she had “been changed for good,” and I want to reciprocate the notion. Because of her music and her magical performance last night, I’ve definitely been “changed for good.”

Pretty as a [Disney] Penny

If you follow me on Instagram (if you’re not following me, click the link located at the end of my menu…good stuff, I tell you!), you’re aware that I’ve been busy getting my new apartment together. I’ve added Disney touches throughout– decor with the mouse (or any Disney character, really) just makes me so happy.

I want to show you all one piece I’m quite proud of. My sister and I made this crafty Pinterest project after collecting a plethora of shiny souvenir Disney pennies on our trip in June 2014:

My penny display is proudly hanging in my new bathroom, and it certainly adds to the mundane getting-ready experience.

I loved collecting these coppery gems. Penny collecting is a fairly cheap endeavor that is so much fun to tackle–love a certain ride, character, or resort? Just visit the many penny-presser-thingys found all over Disney property and discover little souvenirs that don’t break the bank. If you collect enough, crafting the perfect display to show them off is just another plus.

This display was super easy to make. Just find the size frame you want, construct a background out of a solid piece of scrapbook paper (I chose this pretty blue to tie in with the rest of my apartment), and super glue your pressed pennies onto the paper in the pattern you desire. Frame it up, hang it up, and viola! A pretty little penny display fit for any Disney-lover.

The best part of our penny display is the memories that emerge from the depths of my long-term memory after I steal a glance at our masterpiece. Every time I look at my display, I remember the fun I had picking out the perfect pennies to suit my Disney favorites. My sister, mom, grandma, and I had the best time finding the penny machines and cranking out the miniature works of art. We would frantically search for the coveted machines after we would step off of an attraction and clap our hands with delight at the sight of all of the options. One memory involves us getting off of Splash Mountain–dripping wet–and waddling toward the penny machine to pick out the perfect “laughing place” souvenir. We spent weeks before the trip saving our quarters for the project, and the quest for pennies was so worth it.

I hope you all enjoyed my penny project. Souvenirs are for helping you retain your precious memories–this display ensures that my Disney memories (especially from the trip in which we decided to seek out the pennies!) will never go dim.

Have a magical day, everyone!

3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge

I got nominated to do my very first “blog challenge” thingy by Disney on my Mind (Marywdw) (she writes an awesome blog, by the way), and I couldn’t be more excited! This challenge involves picking three of my favorite quotes and posting them for the next three days. I also get to nominate three other bloggers to participate in the challenge. The three bloggers I nominate are as follows:

It’s A Great Blog After All

How Savannah Smiles

Witty ‘N’ Pretty

I enjoy reading all of these blogs, so I thought it might be fun to nominate them!

Now for the hard part: picking which quotes to post. I’m SUCH a quote person (click here for an old post dedicated to the subject) so it’s hard for me to pick just three. Your favorite quotes can help define what you believe in and who you are.

It’s an important decision, as you can see.

After a lot of debate, here’s the first one:

“The very things that held you down are gonna carry you up and up and up!” {Timothy Mouse from Disney’s Dumbo}.

We all have things that hold us down–fear holds me down, anxiety holds me down, and my one-track mind holds me down. What I love about this quote is that it gives me hope that one day I’ll be able to overcome the things that hold me down and soar.

I hope everyone has a great day! “Believe and soar” today and every day.

30 Random Facts About Me

Hello everyone! I thought it might be fun to tell you all some totally random facts about me, just so you can get a feel for the person behind the posts. I love reading these types of things because I’m such a “people watcher” person–I love trying to figure out the lives of all the unsuspecting strangers around me, so when I get to actually know something about them, it’s the coolest thing ever.

Totally not creepy.

Without further ado, here are thirty random facts about myself:

  1.  Fig Newtons are my favorite snack.
  2. I’ve played volleyball since the fourth grade.
  3. Gilmore Girls is my favorite show of all time.
  4. I’m Rory Gilmore.
  5. I’m also sort of Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation).
  6. I think Ben Wyatt (from Parks in Recreation) should exist in real life. He’s perfect.
  7. I lived off of The Magic Treehouse series when I was little.
  8. My first puppy was named Oliver after the cat from Oliver and Company. I was into irony at a young age.
  9. I’m an emotional person. I’ll happy-cry at the littlest thing.
  10. I’m slightly OCD.
  11. I make to-do lists first thing in the morning.
  12. I’m a notoriously heavy sweater (when I work out…not while participating in daily circumstances). My team makes fun of me. It’s a grand time.
  13. I’m an English major with an emphasis in literature. I’m thinking about adding a communications degree to my resume. I’m also thinking about graduate school. I want to be an eternal student, you see.
  14. I have an obsessive personality; I am one-track-minded.
  15. I try to write something everyday.
  16. I’m a defensive specialist on my volleyball team. I’m usually the libero, which means I get to wear the different colored jersey.
  17. I sing in the shower not only for enjoyment purposes, but also for the purpose of actually getting better at singing. I want to be a self-taught decent singer.
  18. Blogging is so much fun. I started less than a year ago, and I’m always working to improve.
  19. I love food. Especially Mexican.
  20. I have a sweet tooth.
  21. Sweet tea is my favorite drink. I have to limit myself.
  22. I’m 22 and have no interest in drinking. For special occasions, I treat myself to sweet tea.
  23. Idina Menzel is my favorite singer of all time. This was true even before Frozen.
  24. I’m a worrier. I have big dreams and I’m constantly wondering if they’ll ever happen.
  25. Chocolate is life.
  26. I love music, especially soundtracks to Disney or musicals.
  27. I have a Dumbo pillow pet.
  28. I love HGTV.
  29. Whataburger is my favorite fast-food burger place. That might be a hint to what part of the country I’m from.
  30. I can swim really really well; I’m talking fish status.

There you have it! Thirty random facts about me. I hope you have a little eclectic picture in your head of the girl behind the wittily written (humor me) blog posts of Kaila in Wonderland. I love writing for anyone who is willing to read the silly little posts I love to write, and I’m so happy that some of you actually enjoy it.

See? So happy.

I hope you have a wonderful day, everyone!