When I Think of Summer 2018…

My summer’s almost come to an end–it’s almost time for workshops, writing, lesson planning, grading, meetings, readings, etc. It’s almost time for my second year of grad school to commence.

Oh man. I’m so excited for the upcoming semester.

And while I’m excited for what’s ahead, I wanted to write a little post about this summer, about the little moments that have become memories.

So. When I think of the summer of 2018–

I’ll think of purchasing bubbles for a dollar and sitting in the backyard nightly, blowing bubbles for Ellie (my pup) to chase.

I’ll think of reading so much and learning so much for my craft. This summer I truly discovered the complex joy that is literary fiction.

I’ll think of large Diet Cokes with vanilla from Sonic, purchased almost every single day during happy hour.

I’ll think of the week I spent with my best friend up in South Dakota and Iowa, in which we talked and drove and talked and bid on pies and ate s’mores and went on a wagon ride to which I said, “It’s like Kilimanjaro Safaris of South Dakota!”

I’ll also think of the soundtrack Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and miles and miles of corn fields.

I’ll think of finally seeing Waitress after more than a year of obsessing over the soundtrack and the story. Sweet smells (that lobby, though!), sweet pie, sweet experience.

Side note: when can I see another musical?!

I’ll think of trekking to the local library almost every day to write fiction (hopefully the start of my thesis…ahh!) among the books, huge wireless pink headphones spitting the newest Carousel revival soundtrack into my ears, the songs “Mister Snow” and “If I Loved You” always on repeat. So soothing. So nuanced. So great.

I’ll think of finally writing more for this blog after months of being stuck.

I’ll think of The Handmaid’s Tale and Mad Men, the two shows I watched religiously over the summer. Elisabeth Moss is a master, and the characters she portrays are incredible.

Side note: from now on, whenever I’m feeling a little glum/not confident when it comes to my work, I’ll ask myself, “What would Peggy Olson do?” She’s amazing. 

I’ll think of the sleep I lost because I stayed up late watching The Handmaid’s Tale and Mad Men. 

(Ha. I love television, don’t you?)

I’ll think of my re-discovering the gloriousness that is Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food (is that how you spell it?!) ice cream.

I’ll think of barn swallow nests and bird watching.

And, finally, I’ll think of spending time with the people I love most.

It was a good summer, indeed.

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FOLK: A Way of Life

What do I mean by FOLK, you ask?

The Festival of the Lion King, of course!

During my college program, the Festival of the Lion King became my absolute favorite show on Walt Disney World property–every time I visited DAK (Disney’s Animal Kingdom…WDW [Walt Disney World…see?!] is obsessed with acronyms), I made sure to stop by the Harambe Theatre and take in all that this glorious festival has to offer. If you haven’t experienced it for yourself yet, I encourage you to do so on your next trip.

The Festival of the Lion King is not a show based on plot or story, but rather ambiance inspired by select songs from The Lion King. “Tumble Monkeys” exhibit the fun and laid-back vibe of “Hakuna Matata,” a fierce fire-twirler (is that the right term?) captures the sinister aura of “Be Prepared,” and literal love-birds take the stage to represent the sweet nature of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” The more I watched this beautiful show, the more my love for it grew and grew. There was something about the simplicity of it–I didn’t have to keep up with a plot, I only had to sit back and enjoy every intricate piece of the performance.

Because I love this show so much, it is no surprise that my favorite memory from my college program is the day I got to experience it in the front row of the lion section.

I had seen the show so many times before, but seeing the spectacle from that close was truly incredible. The cast seemed to connect with each one of us. Timon stopped by and a Tumble Monkey played a quick game of duck-duck-goose. Did I mention that I got to be the demonstrator of the lion section? I will forever be unnecessarily proud of that moment; I tried my very best to replicate the roar of the most majestic creature of the animal kingdom.

After the show, we were so very lucky to get to meet a few members of the cast. My group of friends was undeniably a little bit of a mess–with only two weeks left of our beloved Disney College Program, we were already beginning to become reluctant to leave the magic behind. We were so overcome with emotion and excitement,  we couldn’t stop crying. Ugly crying.

Those poor Tumble Monkeys didn’t know how to handle us.

I just want to take the time to thank everyone who brings this beautiful show to life. It’s a celebration of life and love and beauty and color and music, and it truly touches so many. I listened to the soundtrack today as I made my way around town doing errands, and my heart couldn’t help but ache for it. I miss you, FOLK, but I know that you will always welcome me with open arms whenever I visit my home.

Until I can feast my eyes on FOLK again, I just have to remember to live in the moment on my own “path unwinding,” to celebrate life as joyfully as a mischievous Tumble Monkey, to not be afraid to fight for the spotlight like Timon, to embrace beauty and love as it comes, and to truly appreciate all that the circle of life has to offer. FOLK is not just a show–it is truly a way of life.

Hakuna matata, my friends. I hope you have a “wild” day!

Tunes to Fuel Your Run/Workout

I am a college athlete. I work out. A lot.

Music is definitely the fuel for my workouts, the one thing that helps distract me from the sweat dripping down my forearms (I’m a notoriously heavy sweater when I work out). Music inspires me as I make my way through my runs and my weight lifting; lyrics have a way of igniting my soul and passion and focusing my energy on the task at hand. Music can help me focus on the goals I’m pursuing, be it in athletics or in life.

My playlist is anything but conventional, however. Remember, I’m a Disney freak/ musical junkie/ Top 40/ a sprinkle of rap kind of girl. I’m not big on the typical “pump-up” songs. I like songs that either carry me away into a story or help me concretely focus on my goals. My favorite workout music definitely varies. The music I listen to as I complete my workouts include music that ranges from slow ballads to epic finale numbers. I’m not kidding.

Here are some of my favorite songs to run/workout to at the moment:

  • “Go The Distance” from Hercules. Such a good song. Goosebumps, I tell you!
  • “I Can Do Better Than That” from The Last Five Years (movie) soundtrack. Anna Kendrick slays.
  • “Still Hurting” from The Last Five Years (movie) soundtrack. Anna Kendrick pulls at the heart-strings. I can imagine the entire story behind this song, so whatever running/lifting I am doing is a little easier with this gem.
  • “Immortals” by Fallout Boy. Yes, it’s from Big Hero 6, and it’s awesome. My one true favorite “pump-up” song at the moment.
  • “Strong” from the credits of Cinderella (2015). I’m unsure of the artist, but I just love this song.
  • “On My Way” from the musical Violet. I love the latest version sung by Sutton Foster, another Broadway queen I admire.
  • “See You Again” from the Wreck it Ralph soundtrack. So peppy.
  • “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. All time favorite musical with my all time favorite Broadway queen. I literally (Chris Traeger voice…ten points to you if you caught the reference) get goosebumps during my run when this song starts to play. All the feels accompany this song. Love you, Idina.
  • “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding. Solid Top 40 song.
  • “Finale” from the show Fantasmic in Walt Disney World. “Some Imagination, Huh?”
  • “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” from the Carousel of Progress in Walt Disney World. So positive. So wonderful. It makes me want to better myself for the good of tomorrow.

With the right music, you can learn to enjoy (or tolerate) your workouts as well! If you enjoy a good pump-up song, go for it. If you tend to listen to symphonies as you run, don’t feel self-conscious when you’re on that treadmill in the gym. Do what’s best for you. Even if it means blaring “Anything Goes” (from the musical Anything Goes) as you do your squats next to a very intimidating dude with muscles popping unnaturally out of his shirt. That example was based on a true story.

Anyways.

Have a wonderful day, my friends! I hope my eclectic playlist inspires you to get moving and to get inspired by the music you choose. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect in your athletic endeavors. You just have to make the decision to try.

Happy sweating!

Still smiling after my run, drenched in sweat and listening to my tunes.