The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Greetings! It’s definitely been a little while since I’ve been able to sit down and write. Not only am I running on “Disney Time” where days = minutes = hours = oblivion, but time really does fly by in retrospect. Seems like just yesterday I was beginning my Disney journey, but somehow it’s already the holiday season and I have my Christmas preparations in full-swing.

Before you all attack me with the infamous, “Why do you neglect Thanksgiving?” comment, allow me to explain that Christmas isn’t just something I get excited about this time of year. Christmas has always had a deeper meaning in my life and plays a substantial role in my daly living. Christmas is the time of year where magic is in the air, there is a sense of hope and peace that otherwise seems lost throughout the year, and people are (for the most part) happy! So why wouldn’t I be ready to celebrate this merry madness on November 1st? Waiting any later would just be a waste of precious time! So here we are, a few days into November and I am beyond ready to spread some Christmas cheer.

Being in Disney will no doubt make the holiday season a little different this year. I won’t experience the frigid Ohio air, attend any of my usual Christmas parties, view any of my favorite lights, or spend it with my loved ones back home. However, the beautiful thing about Christmas is that it happens every year…and if you’re me, it happens twice a year with Christmas in July! So as sad as it may be at times, this truly will be a unique holiday experience.

Just in the last few weeks, I’ve been able to see the Disney holiday decorations come alive and even work at the Christmas store (where yes, you can guess I was THRIVING). My roommates and I have started to decorate and Christmas music is attached to my ears at all times. I am looking forward to all of the Disney-holiday-exclusive events happening soon and to spread the previously-mentioned cheer I proclaim so highly.

On that note, the main reason I am here working for Disney is that this is the place where magic and dreams come true each and every day, similar to the way people feel during the holiday season. Essentially, the two go hand-in-hand, which is why I feel such a personal connection to Christmas. I promise you that I value Thanksgiving and all that it entails, but Christmas will always be my passion and I will stop at nothing to share that joy as long as I possibly can during this precious season.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

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Game 6

Many of you may be familiar with my infamous “Game 6″ story, so roll your eyes accordingly. Others that are unfamiliar, brace yourselves. Sports fans might connect this phrase with a game that allowed their favorite team to win a championship. I however connect it with a loss. As sore of a subject as it may be, I am referring to
Game 6/7 in 2016’s World Series between the Indians & Cubs. Yes, I realize Game 7 was the game of devastation, but I’d like to take some time to reflect upon Game 6 since Baseball post-season is in the air (Go Tribe!).

It was a crazy Tuesday night and I’d go as far as to say that it was a turning point in my life. I was working at my internship downtown and I felt so cool being in the crazy, fan-driven crowd that swarmed every corner. With work letting out at 5 and my attendance back at JCU needed for a meeting at 6:30, I knew I needed to hurry back. Immediately after the meeting, I hopped back on the RTA and fled downtown as fast as possible (this time, with my squad…you know who you are). Now, any reasonable person would have thought…”You just came from downtown, you have homework to do, an 8am class tomorrow…do not go.” So naturally, I went anyway.

Something about this train ride was different. I couldn’t sit still, I was shaking uncontrollably, and I felt the need to jump out of the window because I could not contain myself. Yes, I tend to make everything an adventure, but something about this felt different. I was ready to take on anything life threw at me and I felt—untouchable, infinite, and perhaps a little crazy. I was ready to see my team win the World Series (yeah, yeah, we know how it ended no need to bring it up, but it’s okay, we are ready this year!).

Fast forward through a night filled with tacos and crowds, before I knew it, the entire night had passed and we had stayed downtown until the first train left at 5:30am to get back to school. Something about the crisp, fall air while being surrounded by a community of people that share your same love…even though we were disappointed in the game, provided a since of security for the future. Security in a sense that everyone here is in the same boat. “We are all in this together” and we might as well bond over it. We all think we are unique and so different from everyone else, but when you take a step back, you see we really aren’t so different and we should use that as fuel to support each other.  Yes, I realize that is cheesy and I got all of this out of a baseball game…but that’s the thing about life: you can make it anything you want it to be.

That night was the first time in a long time that I felt freedom. Freedom to live the life I’ve always wanted to live, through the adventures I had been craving, while following any and all of my passions. Part of me wishes I had had this realization in a more glorious story (perhaps this story ending with a win), but if you know me at all, you know that unconventional and awkward is how I roll. I have since used this as motivation to chase my dreams and I encourage you all to find your “game 6.”

On that note, I wish the Indians best of luck during this post-season! You best believe I’ll be cheering you on from Florida!

PS: I still went to my 8am that next morning if you were curious. Talk about living on the edge! Everything that happened that night was worth it.

Home

32 days; 768 hours; 46,080 minutes; 2,764,800 seconds: That’s approximately how long I’ve been living here in Orlando. It’s amazing to me how fast time flies, but how infinite the moments feel. Sometimes I feel as though I’ve been here forever and summer was ages ago, while other times, I feel as though I moved in yesterday (particularly when I make diddlebop mistakes like miss the bus…oops).

I thought I would take time to reflect at this one month mark, particularly about being away from home. When I went off to college, yes, I experienced being away and gained the independence of living on my own; however, I used those 4 years to further explore my city, just a short 47 minutes away from home. Prior to college, I rarely spent anytime in Downtown Cleveland. With the exception of a few Indians games growing up, I had no idea how to maneuver the great city. When embarking upon my collegiate voyage, I found myself spending lots of time downtown. From sporting events (#neverforgetGame6), to Barrio (back before the Cleveland Heights location opened), to learning the ways of the RTA and working at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I absolutely fell in love with my home. I knew I had made the right decision to go to school far enough away to gain the experience, but close enough to grow to love the land of the CLE.

Now as I am thriving in the post-grad life, I have found that I love the fact that I took the next step and traveled to a new place (1,044 miles away from my house, but who’s counting?). I love wearing a Cleveland t-shirt to the grocery store and making immediate friends or sports enemies. I love that while sitting on the bus, someone is speaking Spanish, German, French, Chinese, you name it! I love meeting people from all over the country and even the world! I love that we are all able to come together and bond over the most powerful thing in the world: magic!

So when people ask, are you homesick? I can’t help but think, well of course, I miss my home…my friends…my family…my cat..JCU…Barrio, duh! But it’s my home that has made me into the person that I am today. The adventure seeker that I strive to be. The dreamer searching for ways to make magic happen on the “daly.” I can’t help but feel indebted to my home for providing me such a solid foundation to go out and see the world. I’m forever grateful for every moment that has led me to the current moment and I look forward to taking all these current memories and adventures back home with me one day.

Home truly is where the heart is and I’m so glad that I am able to take my heart with me wherever I go. Live each day by putting love into everything you do and you’ll never feel away from home a day in your life.

So Far, So Magical! DCP 2017

So by now, it’s no secret that I’ve made it to Orlando and have survived 2 weeks of my Disney College Program. Time has a funny way of working down here. Obviously it flies when having fun, but I can’t help but think of “With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).

I feel this fits here quite nicely. When participating in a program such as this, you think you are in control of time. There are so many things you need to do, so many things you want to do, and there are only 24 hours in a day. (By the way, Disney runs on 24-hour time, which is quite the adjustment from AM/PM. Yes, I know you just subtract 12, but nonetheless, still an adjustment!) Anyhoo, it’s much more sensible to let go and surrender yourself to the boundaries of time. I am so blessed to be here and I thank God for making this all possible. Through Him, I am able to make this a irreplaceable, life-changing experience regardless of the amount of time.

I will also take a moment to use this as a brief update in addition to my reflection. All aspects of the program are taking off without a hitch. Everything from roommates, role training, park adventures, and everything in between are going just swimmingly so far. After 2 weeks, I have (more or less) figured out how to take the busses and am excited to go on even more adventures! Pretty soon, I’ll be taking some seminars to further my knowledge and hopefully soon I’ll be operating in my role with confidence and ease. It’s all about perspective and I have high hopes that these next few months will be worth every minute.

Next time you find yourself worried about time and how much you can squeeze into a certain amount of it, just remember that God is there to help you handle the logistics of time, it’s just up to you to make it all worthwhile. So far, my DCP experience has been nothing short of magical and I wish the same upon all of you as well.

 

Do Something

“Gosh, there’s just so much to do and so little time.” “I’ve always wanted to do that, but I haven’t yet.” “I’ll get to it, it’s on the list!” These are just a few phrases I catch myself saying on the “daly” haha, get it? Not that anything is wrong with recognizing that life goes fast and there is much to be done; however, particularly around the time of summer, it becomes normal for my peers to struggle finding the balance between the attempt of cramming a million and one things into their short summer, while simultaneously using the time to do things that can’t be done during the school year: sleep & be lazy. Summer also becomes the focal point of empty promises with the inevitable “We should totally hang out sometime…” and we all know that never happens.

Why is that? Why is it that we have big dreams and large plans that only fall flat the typical rat race of our days? Why is it that we want to do everything, but in reality…most of the time we are doing nothing? Now wait, before you take offense, I assure you that I understand that most of us are not actually sitting around doing “nothing.” Most of the time, we are running around with a to-do list a mile long without a spare moment to breathe. What I really mean is that we fail to fill our free time with the things we really want to do. We let summer after summer go by without achieving our goals and making it the best it can be–we are constantly looking forward to the next exciting opportunity rather than embracing the present. Well, this summer, I decided to make a change.

One of my absolute favorite songs is “Do Something” by Matthew West. This song encourages you to not only sit around and wish the world was different, but to go out and “be the change you want to see.” If you haven’t heard it, I suggest you give it a listen. This summer, I started off by immediately making a bucket list that would encompass all I wanted to do. It was broken down into four categories and would include things that benefit my personal habits, social activities, finances, and relaxation. From there, I was able to outline those specific goals to ensure they were able to be met.

The key here, folks is that I no longer make “plans.” Plans involve tedious logistics that can be altered and discouraging if not met accordingly. I’ve decided to only make “passionate goals” from here on out. The difference is that now I look at the bigger picture, set those goals, and gain satisfaction from meeting them in good time. Instead of focusing on the steps to achieve said goals, I now focus on what makes me happy and what needs to be done to to ensure future happiness. Life is too short to be anything, but happy…so putting one’s own emotional status as a priority is essential for being content with one’s day-to-day life.

Next time you catch yourself wishing you would do something or don’t allow enough time/effort to make yourself a priority, take a step back, reevaluate, and do what you need to do to gain that inner peace. It’s amazing how effective passionate goals can be when you start doing what you want and filling your life with meaningful experiences!

Christmas in July! What’s this all about?

Hey, you! Merry Christmas! Now, you may be thinking, “It’s not December, why all the hubbub?” Before I proceed, I would like provide the disclaimer that I do in fact take Christmas very seriously, especially in a religious sense. Thus, my summer festivities are never meant to deter from the true meaning of Christmas.

Over time, Christmas has certainly become commercialized and during the holiday season, it can be challenging to fully immerse yourself in the festivities while keeping a close eye on that true meaning– whatever that true meaning is for you. But here’s the thing, that’s the best part of Christmas: the versatility! Christmas can be whatever it is you make it to be. From preparing for the birth of Jesus, to bringing the entire family together around a classic Christmas film, the possibilities are endless!

Since attending college, I’ve come to realize that Christmas may not always be the same as it was growing up. As we all embark on new adventures, while seeing different parts of the world, and the friends and family that hold Christmas together may not always be present for those typical holiday traditions, it’s important to remember what it is about those traditions that can consistently bring you joy. Then, you must find a way to bring that joy into new and innovative traditions!

For me, it’s the start of this unconventional Christmas in July party that is now 4 years strong! It started as a small social gathering in my basement on a rainy summer evening in 2014 and it has blossomed into a roaring Christmas extravaganza that must continue for years to come! It certainly would not be what it is today without all the help of my wonderful family and friends and for that, I am forever grateful.

For an inside look at this year’s Christmas in July party, please check out my videos on my recently established YouTube channel, tarablytarafied (See links below). I hope that this inspires you to carry the love of Christmas in your hearts all year long and to make your own, unconventional Christmas traditions!

An Inside Look at Christmas in July & Bloopers!

Christmas in July 2017

 

Hall of Fame

Each summer, with the help of a couple close friends, we create a music video to a song of our choosing with footage we’ve complied from various locations. This started as a fun little project back in the summer of 2014 with the song “Crazy World” by Boys Like Girls. After realizing how fun it was to make, we decided to continue the trend with “I Lived” by OneRepublic in 2015, “Be Okay” by Oh Honey in 2016 and now this year, we decided to use the song “Hall of Fame” by The Script.

Of course, I hope you’ll take the time to watch our latest music video (trust me, it won’t disappoint & I’ll link it down below), but I also wanted to take this time to explain to you the vision behind the video and why we do what we do. Sure, we may look silly prancing in Downtown Cleveland with our sub-par dance moves and camera capturing our every move. But the use of creative energy to come together to create something we can cherish forever is what makes it worthwhile.

When I hear the song, “Hall of Fame,” I get a chill in my bones because it sends a sense of empowerment down my spine. Is it because I’ve suddenly developed impeccable sports abilities (or any remarkable skill for that matter that could pass for talent…) while endlessly praying for my chance of obtaining fame? Awe heck to the no.

It’s because when I think about my own legacy (or my Hall of Fame so-to-speak) I think about filling my life with as much adventure as possible that not only has the initiative to satisfy my goals, but can encourage others to do the same. We don’t have to be a celebrity to make our claim to fame. We have the power to make our lives as full as they can be and that’s all we need to “be the greatest” or “be the best.” I think The Script would agree with me on this one, thus their song was the perfect summer video soundtrack.

This all comes full circle because when I think back to when I wanted to start a blog, my biggest hesitation was that “I didn’t have anything monumental to write about.” I’m so thankful that I made it past that speed bump because I’ve come to realize that every thing we do in life can be monumental if we so choose. You don’t need to hike the largest mountain or find a cure for a disease to see the work that you do as valuable (but of course, if you do those things, major kudos to you!). Every encounter you have, every relationship you form, every trip to the grocery store you have can be impactful and worth sharing. After all, it’s your life, so make it as exhilarating as possible.

Thanks for reading! Check out our video & let me know what you think! With that being said, I can’t wait to see your legacy as you enter your own Hall of Fame.

WATCH HALL OF FAME (CLEVELAND TRIBUTE) HERE!

What I Actually Learned in College: Tara’s Tips & Tricks for the Collegiate Experience

It’s no secret that college is the BEST and FASTEST four years of your life. It feels like just yesterday I was crying about graduating high school, “tara-fied” of what the future would hold. “Where do I go to college? What do I major in?” These questions suffocated my everyday conversations with no hope for escape. Fast forward: Now, here I am about to embark on the next phase of life while holding tight to the irreplaceable experience over the last four years at JCU. I can’t believe how fast time went–but I did it! Check out my top 15 lessons learned over my undergraduate years!

Dear Freshman Tara,

I’ve definitely learned a lot over the last few years. From academics to adult-ing 101, I thought I would highlight a few of the life lessons acquired:

1. You must conquer your fear of public bathrooms. *laugh if you must, but this fear is legitimate and crosses every freshman’s mind as they learn the ways of communal bathrooms*

2. Always keep your leftovers even if you think you won’t eat them. Because when you realize you’re desperate for food, you’ll eat it. Or you can share with roommates!

3. If there is free stuff in the atrium, take it! You never know when you may need a pencil blessed by a priest.

4. Always keep your roommates’ numbers on speed dial in case you’re trapped by a BIG HONKIN SPIDER in your apartment and need immediate backup. *Yep, it’s happened. After 45 minutes, 8 ounces of tears, and 3 roommates working together, the deed was done*

5. Always bring napkins back home when you go out to eat. If you have a car, keep napkins in it! Even if you don’t eat in your car…trust me. They will come in handy in case a spider wants to make an appearance.

6. Keep chopsticks in your apartment in case you need to make a spider Shish Kabob because the vacuum, bleach, and sheer will power aren’t enough to exterminate it.

Okay okay, relax. You probably think these tips are all about spiders. Rest assured, that’s it, but they significantly impacted my senior year, thus the issue needed to be addressed. You’ll thank me later. Let’s continue:

7. Memorize important phone numbers of roommates, friends, and family because if you’re stranded downtown at 3am during Game 6 of the World Series with a dead cellphone, and don’t have money for an Uber, you’ll want to know the right number to call off of someone else’s phone.

8. Don’t make enemies. Especially if you attend a small college. Even if someone rubs you the wrong way, be nice to everyone you meet.

9. Always hold the door for a fellow student/professor/human. Do not let it slam on them or you will be marked as a rude individual.

10. If you don’t already, invest in a credit card. We are all in deep student loan debt–the least we can do is build ourselves good credit card credit.

11. Send snail mail cards to friends at different universities. Even if you don’t receive any in return, I promise it will make a difference in their days as well as yours.

12. Go to the career center. Even if it is painfully awkward, there are scholarships and career-enhancing resources that go unnoticed by the everyday student. Take advantage of all they have to offer.

13. Never settle for a major, career, or situation that makes you unhappy! Seek any and all experiences to make life worthwhile.

14. Don’t be scared of unpaid internships. Yes, of course it’s not ideal, but if you find the right ones, you’ll gain irreplaceable experiences that will last a lifetime. *Also, if you make connections with the career center as mentioned in lesson #12, you may find ways to get funding for those internships!*

15. Do something that scares you. Go out of your comfort zone and the results will amaze you. I owe a lot to my decision to go through sorority recruitment and I am grateful for all of the opportunities.

I hope this makes you laugh while assuring you that college will teach you so much more than academic subject matter. This is your chance to discover who you truly are and simultaneously make memories that will last you a lifetime.

Best,

Post-Grad Tara

Maybe If I Ignore It, It Will Go Away: Part 2 of the G-Word Saga

If you’ve been following my collegiate endeavors, you know how hard it was to pick a college and pick a major. For the longest time, I was convinced that I would NEVER find a major for my indecisive self. From the very beginning, I knew I was different. I didn’t want a career in which I felt trapped. I didn’t want to be consumed in the rat-race of life. Life is so much more than making money and moving up the ladder. Yes, money and upward mobility are an added bonus, but it shouldn’t be the motivating factor behind all actions.

So what does this mean for after the g-word? Instead of panicking about my future, I have decided to be full-blown cheesy and follow my heart. I am officially announcing that I have been accepted to work for The Walt Disney Company. I have no certainty in my role, the future, or the upward mobility….I just know that I am following my heart and pursuing what is really important in life: experience.

For those that are searching for a job, waiting for acceptance into grad school, pacing around the room hoping that an ounce of an epiphany will shine through the window…you can do it. This is just the next step in your life…not your whole life. You don’t always need immediate answers. Do what makes you happy and seek any and all experiences that make you feel full of life…and the rest will come with time.

 

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