Rapunzel Hair

Hair is a funny, funny thing. We become attached to our locks, desperate to find the style that’s right for our faces, for our personalities, for our “aesthetic” we want to portray to the world.

We become attached to our locks, desperate to find the style that’s right for our faces, for our personalities, for our “aesthetic” we want to portray to the world.

I used to cling desperately to my long hair. There was a point when I had “mermaid hair,” hair so long it could cover…well. You know.

But I’ve always wanted a long bob. Always, ever since I was a little girl. But fear and my involvement in athletics made me wary of chopping my hair–I thought a long bob would make my face appear thicker, or I thought I’d miss braids and long ponytails. I thought my long hair was such a big part of me, and I was so afraid to part with it, even though it’s what I truly wanted.

You know what I finally realized just a few weeks ago? HAIR GROWS BACK. So I cut it. I’m going to try to find pictures of the longest hair and my shortest style and insert them right here:

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You know what’s amazing? This was my first haircut in which I almost HAPPY CRIED with the results. I WAS SO HAPPY THAT I FINALLY DID WHAT I WANTED! And I’m still so happy!

The moral of the story? Hair (or anything, really) doesn’t define you. You define you. Your dreams define you, your personality, your likes, your spirit. Our girl Rapunzel is the perfect example of a physical thing not embodying your essence–while she didn’t cut her hair herself, her hair was still her defining quality before the chop. When it was lobbed off, she was free of an expectation, free of Mother Gothel’s abusive restraints.

She went from “Rapunzel with the hair that glows when she sings” to just “Rapunzel.” And that’s all that she ever really needed to be.

I’m not saying long hair’s bad. Not at all–mermaid hair (or buzzed hair or blue hair or any kind of hair) is beautiful. I’m just saying to do what you want to do, do the things that truly make you who you are, and become who you want to be. That’s all we can ever do: love the things we love, be nice to people, and find joy in doing exactly the things you’ve always thought you’d never try. Let’s do the things we like and make a little bit of a difference in our little corners of the world.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go shake my head because I love how my new hair bounces when it’s curled.

Best. Day. Ever!

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Adventures

I just want to share this photo of my pup, and I want to caption it with one of my favorite puppy (and adventurous people) quotes of all time:

Behold, the cutest photo in this world, taken by my sister (follow her at @klemsonphotographydesign on Instagram, people!):

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And here’s the caption:

“There’s a great big hunk of world out there with no fence around it. Where two dogs can find adventure and excitement. And beyond those distant hills, who knows what wonderful experiences? And it’s all ours for the taking, Pige.” 

It’s from Lady and the Tramp, and I absolutely love it. And I love little Ellie’s face in the photo–it’s like she’s saying, “Oh! There it is! The biggest and prettiest world I’ll ever know…I’m just…kind of…frightened. Can I go? Will I go? Should I go?”

And, if you’re like me and Ellie, you might think these kinds of things right before you embark on new adventures. I’m about to begin grad school and a graduate teaching assistantship and a new life and in a brand new town and have to meet new people and do new things and shed fear of failure and experience apprehension and step out of my comfort zone all over again so…yes. These thoughts and feelings are quite relevant at the moment.

I’m human–of course I’m afraid of failure. I’ll be working on an MFA in creative writing and I’m already nervous–will I be horrible? Can I keep up with my fellow writers?

Will. I. Fail. Miserably?!?!?

I hope not. And if I do, hey. It’s cool. It’s fine. I’ll be okay. I’ll just work harder and find my way and my place in this big, fence-less world.

There is a great big hunk of world out there with no fence around it, so new adventures will always be limitless. I’m excited to try my hand at this new venture–let’s write stuff! Lots of it! Let it be horrible or wonderful or kind of okay! Either way, it’s a start and a new beginning, and I love those suckers.

You ready, Ellie?

 

 

“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?

 

Adventures In Puppy-ing

Ellie Kevin Lancaster, meet everyone. Everyone, meet Ellie Kevin Lancaster.


This is my sweet little Shih Tzu. She weighs only two pounds and has rank puppy breath, but she is mine and mine alone. She  happens to be a little terror and have quite the rambunctious spirit, but that’s why I’m so smitten.

Ellie has been a hoot since bringing her home. She arrived on the scene with a bout of fleas and worms–common puppy problems, but inconvenient and worrisome for this new puppy mom. Don’t worry, we took care of it, but for our first couple days of furry friendship, Ellie was calm. Stoic. Tired.

Of course she was. She felt sick, poor baby.

After getting her treated and cured of her puppy problems, my sweet Ellie blossomed into the minuscule maniac she was destined to be.  She sprints across the living room to the kitchen in a furry frenzy, in frantic pursuit of “Big Dog’s” food and treats. Big Dog is Kasper, our former “little” dog.

He’s now the big one.

She plays with her dog bed as if it were an oversized toy, dragging it across the floor and gleefully ripping her claws into the soft fabric. I’ll have to invest in a new one soon.

She leaves tiny little puppy puddles on the kitchen tile. At least she doesn’t like peeing on the carpet too, too much. She gets so busy explorin’ her new world, she forgets she has a teeny tiny little bladder.

She’s my little explorer.

Why the name “Ellie Kevin?” She’s named after two beloved characters from Disney’s Up, of course.

She embodies Ellie’s (the character) adventurous spirit so well. Seriously–each morning she sprints from her kennel and begins to explore her brand new world; she’s full of joy and puppy curiosity, and she’s so sweet and good natured. She wiggles and squirms when you pick her up. She’d rather be discovering new nooks and crannies; she loves to cuddle when she’s tired, but she loves stretching her legs.

She’s my adventurer. She’s my Ellie girl.

And Kevin? You know: Kevin, the bird from Up. Her middle name’s Kevin, ’cause Kevin’s a girl. (Duh.)

I love you so much, Ellie. I can’t wait to begin a new adventure with you soon. Graduate school is fast approaching, which translates to a move to a new town and a fresh, shiny beginning. I can’t wait to take it all on with you.

Adventure is certainly out there.

 

 

Writer

I recently changed a few bullet points under the “about me” category.

First: “recent college graduate” transformed to “graduate student in creative writing.” Yes, you read that right! I’ll be heading back to school in the fall, and I am thrilled to continue my education. Who knows? Perhaps a doctorate is in my [distant] future?

I like school, okay? Let me stay forever.

Second: I changed “aspiring writer” to simply read “writer.”

Because I realized something.

I don’t have to wait until I’m a “grown-up” to fully realize my “grown-up” dream. And heck, I am a grown-up! Painfully so. I’ll be 24 in less than a month, and that’s scary. And kind of cool. But mostly terrifying.

You see, reader, I’m a writer because I write. I am not published in the sense that I have novels under my belt, but I write. A lot. At least I try to.

I do have a few articles published in a local magazine, and that’s cool. I’m so grateful for  the opportunity to contribute to a wonderful publication. But I still have a hard time considering myself a full-fledged writer.

But I am. And now that I’m realizing it, I’m so excited about my future and all the possibilities yet to be.

I write stories before bed! Fiction! And I love doing it! I’m using exclamation points because I think I found what I love to do! Making up stories to fill our dark little world with hero[ines] and characters that came to be because I used my brain muscles and created them out of nothing!

Now, yes, eventually I’d like to be semi-successful in this writing endeavor. But I can’t become successful or good at anything without a little elbow grease and a whole lot of doing.

And the doing–the writing, the doing the writing–makes me a writer. It’s the same concept as running. I’m currently training for a half marathon, and the act of running makes me a runner.

I’m slow as dirt, and it’s hard to wake up early before work to “pound the pavement.” (That’s runner’s speak.) But I run, so I am a runner.

I’m a writer, I’m a runner, I’m a dreamer. And I love and cherish all of those titles.

Have a magical day, my friends.

 

 

 

Little Things: 2.0

One of my very first posts (seriously, back in 2014!) on this blog talked about “the little things” in life. It’s unanimous that we humans love talking about the little things, no matter how cliche and trite our discussions of little things can get.

I’m here to write a “Little Things: 2.0” post, simply because I just can’t get enough of freakin’ little things.

I love the feeling of my sister’s dog as he lays on my derrière in the mornings. (Weird, I know.)  Kasper’s routine: wake up. Eat breakfast. Go sleep with Kaila on Kaila’s behind. He snores, and when my alarm goes off at 5:45, he groans.

Shuffling down my block at 6 a.m.–it’s only me and my adorable neighbors (I say that respectfully), and I savor the darkness and the quiet. My neighbors are so cool; the woman runs and runs and runs at the same exact pace; she sometimes walks with her husband and carries teeny pink weights as she pumps her dainty arms. I’d bet money that those arms, as slight and petite as they are, could still pack a punch. She just keeps going and going and going. I go, but I can’t go and go and go.

Not yet.

“BAHHH BAHHH BA BA BA BAAAAAAAAAAAH BA.”

That’s me trying to emulate the opening track of any Star Wars film. The soundtracks are often my running music of choice; might as well gain inspiration from the Jedi, the rebels, and the Empire. Sometimes I don’t want to listen to words at 6 a.m.; I have to stare at words all day. I just listen to epic music and, in turn, I feel pretty darn epic.

Coffee. Coffee was mentioned in my first “Little Things” post, and not much as changed since 2014.

Lunch. I have about a 10-15 minute lunch break between two [wonderful] jobs, and those moments spent in silence driving from point A to point B while nibbling on a turkey sandwich, a handful of chips, and string cheese are often just the right amount of fuel I need to conquer the rest of my day.

Finally falling asleep after a restless night. That’s what I’m about to attempt, so wish me luck. Thanks for sticking with me, friends. It means a whole lot to an aspiring writer for real actual humans to read words that I hastily type into WordPress’ handy word processor area thing. That was eloquent, I know.

Seriously. It means a lot.

Good night, and I hope you all take a little time out of your busy days to find and appreciate those stinkin’ little things.

 

 

 

 

To Be Determined

You know. Things really don’t ever turn out just how you thought it was going to be.

I thought I was going to be bored to tears in my college town, home of the University of Itty Bitty.  Its  population is tiny; barely over 10,ooo when school is in session. Main Street is peppered with mom-and-pops and fast food. The school was “average,” “undistinguished.” I was a Division II athlete, “lesser” than the best of the best.

I thought Animal Kingdom was going to be so-so as a  home park. I wanted Magic Kingdom; everyone does.  Classic and magical and the best of the best in entertainment. Animal Kingdom, in contrast, is new, environmental. Slightly smelly to be quite honest. I loved Disney with all my heart, but I was never sure if I loved Disney’s Animal Kingdom before my college program.

Preconceptions are stupid, my friends. I know it’s a “bad” word in Kindergarten , but they are stupid. And sucky.

The University of Itty Bitty? It turned out to be the very best experience possible. I became an English major and fell in love with writing and reading and analyzing and academia. I excelled as a college athlete, even though my version of excelling did not involve a Division I national championship. I discovered my love for autumn and authentic blizzards. My heart belongs to the miles of miles of uninterrupted patchwork views, littered only by immense wind turbines and their blades that rhythmically beat against a brilliant, red dirt-dusted sunset.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom? My goodness. It’s my home. I will always remember walking through an empty park at 7:50 in the morning, marveling at how the sun glinted off of the Tree of Life’s  foliage, how the distinct morning shadows highlighted the tree’s animal carvings. The mouthwatering aroma of Flame Tree Barbecue would overpower the stench of the birds that make the Oasis their home. Multicolored macaws noislily squawked and beat their wings, stirring the sweet humid air that forced my hair into its signature braid for six months. When the nighttime offerings began, I would park myself in front of the Tree of Life to watch it awaken.

If you’ve never experienced these awakenings, I’m here to tell you that they create just as much magic as Tinker Bell’s pixie dust.

Now that I’m home, I’m working and applying to graduate schools. As I sit down to complete applications, I notice that I’m applying to big schools with big names and little schools with little names. I realize that I probably won’t get into every school I apply to. Once this whole process is over, I must choose the right place for me. I also know that there is a possibility that I won’t have the option to choose the “right” place–there might be an “only” place.

The “right” place might not be the biggest school with the most distinguished program. But it might be. I’m not sure yet.

What I must consider from past experiences? Preconceptions are stupid. I can’t wait to continue to add to my collection of homes:

My home town.

University of Itty Bitty.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

To be determined.

 

Monday Musings

Hello. It’s Monday. I’m feeling a short blog post with a list of random thoughts. I haven’t done one of those in a while, and it’s always a nice way to get creative juices flowing.

So. Here goes nothing:

  • I love bullet points. They’re so clean. So neat.
  • I’ve officially been working two jobs in my field (English, writing, that sort of thing) for two months! I’m practically a full-fledged adult.
  • I’m an adult who eats ghost cookies (you know the ones) every day for lunch.
  • I’m also an adult who writes with a light saber pen to get through a particularly busy Friday. (May the Force be with you)
  • I’m planning/hoping/working for my future. Wish me luck.
  • I’m reading Dracula and loving it. So creepy. So predictable.
  • Well, it’s predictable for me because I know what two little holes on the side of a victim’s neck are–Stoker’s audience didn’t. So wonderfully creepy and campy and horrific!
  • My dogs are currently clamoring for my attention. Silly Snoop. Cantankerous Kasper.
  • I just ate popcorn slathered with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. My goodness, so tasty.
  • I miss Disney a whole lot.
  • To cope, I listen to Disney music every day and sing along with the all force of a great typhoon.
  • If you caught the reference, give yourself ten points.
  • Do these points matter? No!
  • Do you still want the points? Yes!
  • Halloween is one week away! And then the most important month of the year shall begin…
  • NOVEMBER! The month of Christmas (yes), Moana, and Gilmore Girls! I can’t believe the revival is almost here and we will have another Disney heroine. Ohmygoodness. Yes, blended words intentional.
  • Alright. That’s enough for tonight.

Thanks for joining me in my list-making madness. Have a wonderful rest of your Monday, my friends!

“Just You Wait…”

Why am I always late to the pop culture party?

Seriously. Gilmore Girls and Harry Potter are the only other immediate examples I can think of, but I feel like I am always really, really late when it comes to experiencing the good stuff in real time. Granted, I was too young to watch Gilmore Girls when it debuted, but still.

This year I showed up late to the Hamilton bash. I’d like to think I was fashionably late.

You guys. I am obsessed. Hardcore obsessed–the soundtrack that has changed musical theater forever is always playing to drown out the noise of my keyboard tapping away as I plow through graduate school applications, it’s always playing when I drive to work in the mornings, it’s always playing as I attempt to run on the weekends.

It’s. Always. Playing. 

It’s not one of those society-is-blowing-this-out-of-porportion things, either. Hamilton is just so stinkin’ good. The concept is admittedly odd, but it works.

If you live under a rock (don’t worry if you do; I’m always living under one, it’s quite comfy down here) you might not know that Hamilton is a musical that utilizes rap and hip-hop to tell the story of one of America’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton.

I’m not a big rap or hip-hop fan, but when I listen to Hamilton, I am listening to poetry.

I’m listening to a soundtrack that tells the story of a scrappy, hardworking outcast who is desperate to find his way and leave his mark. I’m listening to a story about a man whose flaws try to outshine his genius, but fail. I’m listening to a narrative about American history and learning more about American history than I ever did in any of my history classes.

I’m listening to poetry that is moving, funny, witty, punny, powerful, provoking.

The Hamilton hype is too real, and the Hamilton hype is well-deserved.

I think what makes me love this musical so much is not the unconventional way that it is told–although I do love that aspect, too–but the way I can identify with Hamilton.

Heck. I can identify with almost everyone in this incredible musical.

Hamilton is so desperate to create a legacy; he is an insatiable workhorse. He “writes like [he’s] running out of time,” he assures his peers that “there’s a million things [he] hasn’t done” but “just you wait.” I feel like Hamilton; I’m always looking forward and working toward something. I find it hard to settle down and relax, to “take a break.”

It’s a flaw, but I’m never satisfied. This trait has helped me achieve a lot of goals throughout my life–a volleyball scholarship, an almost-perfect GPA, an internship with Disney. I become obsessive in achieving the next big thing. My mind becomes one-tracked–the process can be exhausting, but the reward is so thrilling.

But do these achievements even matter? Truly matter?

Ambition and the desire to do great things does matter to an extent, but what I think Hamilton considered a legacy throughout most of his life–awards, achievements, status, etc.–is not the legacy that truly counts. Yes, a legacy is “plating seeds in a garden you’re never going to see,” but those seeds aren’t status and name; they’re how you have treated others throughout your life.

Oh man. I’m getting cheesy again.

It’s so true, though. I think Hamilton (as portrayed in the musical) realizes this as he dies, but listening to this incredible musical has made me realize it in the here and now. Yes, all of my achievements are wonderful and I will continue to work hard to meet goals. Working toward the next big thing will always be in my nature.

I just need to remember to take the time to sow the seeds that matter most, to water time spent with loved ones, to let the sun in on relationships so that they may prosper and grow.

Isn’t it incredible that one musical written by one man could spark such an epic internal discussion?

Thank you, Hamilton, for helping me conquer my post-Disney depression and for helping me reflect and recharge. You are so awesome, and you will continue to be on repeat for the next few weeks…or months.

 

 

Magic

Magic exists in so many different forms. I live in Disney World at the moment, and the magic I witness is not always so typical.

Yes, there is that “typical” Disney magic that exists in a child’s face when they meet Mickey Mouse for the very first time. There is the magic that filters the atmosphere when a family watches the fireworks and decides then and there that they will keep coming back for more. There is the magic that happens when a guests takes a bite out of a Mickey-shaped treat and decides it’s the best thing they have ever tasted.

There is this typical Disney magic that exists each and every day, and it’s wonderful and special. The magic that isn’t always so typical, however–the type of magic that isn’t necessarily prominent to anybody but the person who experiences it–is some of the best magic of all.

I have just finished a week-long family vacation with the people I love the most. After an unusually tough day being Dug and Russell’s babysitter, I headed to Disney’s Pop Century resort to check-in and see loved ones I hadn’t seen in months. I pulled up and saw my sister waving at me, and I just had to burst into tears. I hadn’t seen my sissy since early January, and in that moment all was right with the world.

We checked in and and the kindness of our hospitality hostess filled my heart–she gave us “family reunion” buttons after chatting with us and discovering what a happy reunion it was turning out to be. This small, kind gesture moved my mom and me to tears (remember, I was slightly emotional that day) and it sprinkled our vacation with extra pixie dust from the get-go.

People can also be magical through their companionship and their very persona. I’ve met one of the best friends I’ve ever had while on this college program. It’s crazy to think how Disney can bring people with similar interests together–there was never a dull moment with Allyssa. We met characters together, ate so much Disney food together, thought of Instagram captions together, and just soaked up every inch of the Disney life together. Her friendship brought so much magic into my life–it was wonderful to share Disney adventures with her. (Allyssa, if you’re reading this…I miss you).

Magic can exist in the smallest of moments. Whenever I receive a hug from a small child (this doesn’t happen often, but it is the best feeling) or see a military family making bittersweet memories without a loved one or I see friends celebrating their reunion in the company of Dug and Russell (one of my favorite memories), I know that magic can exist in the most minuscule, insignificant, fleeting form. It just takes a second to feel it, to capture it. This kind of magic keeps you going, it reminds you of what’s important, and assures you that so much good exists in the world.

I have fifty days left of making magic at the Walt Disney World resort. This does not mean that I will quit making magic all together–I truly believe magic can be made and experienced anywhere and everywhere. As Jiminy Cricket says during the nighttime fireworks at Magic Kingdom every single night–“You’ll never run out of wishes. They’re shining deep down inside of you. And that, my friends, is where the magic lives!” 

Don’t you worry Jiminy. I have enough wishes to keep the magic living on forever and ever.

Experiencing magic with friends is one of the best things ever.