Posted in Tarables

The First of Many “Tarables”: A Comparison Between Ourselves and the Story of the Prodigal Son

Yep, I know what you’re thinking: “There she goes again, making tara-ble puns with her name.” Well, yes and no. This time, I am taking a different approach to the lasting legacy between my name and puns. I wanted to add a more spiritual component to my current blog by discussing real thoughts and relating them to The Big Man Upstairs. I know you’re all very familiar with Parables, so alas…here we have arrived at Tarables.

Let’s take the story of the Prodigal Son for example. Long story short…a man has two sons. The one runs off and makes less-than-ideal choices with his life. He decides to return home and expects a less-than-friendly welcome back, only to find his father actually welcomes him back with open arms. Of course, the other son that has committed his life to making wholesome choices is miffed about this, but come to think of it, his feelings are probably quite natural if you think about it…but let’s move on.

So moral of the story? The father emulates God’s love for us by setting aside the feelings of disappointment, concern, anger, and sadness for a force that is even more powerful: love. If the father in the story and God, the Father can set aside all of that negativity for love, why can’t we do that for ourselves?

Take the early adulthood years as an example. Every day (at least for me…can’t speak for everyone, but work with me on this generalization), we make choices that help us grow into better versions of ourselves, but sometimes…we make choices that we question, or even make mistakes, and immediately begin to grow feelings of doubt for ourselves. We forget to celebrate all the good that has happened because we dwell on one little mishap.

We allow one little ounce of negativity to completely captivate the attention of our optimism. Not having a plan for the future, not knowing what is next, feeling insecure in all of the “adulting” matters has the power to make us believe that we aren’t good enough and that we will never be enough. WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES?

I don’t necessarily have the answer, but I’ll always be here to provide some food for thought. Sure, we aren’t as strong as God because obviously He has the power to welcome us back with open arms. However, let’s not forget that we are indeed made in His image, thus, shouldn’t we provide more grace for ourselves? That’s what Jesus would do.

So next time you feel as though you aren’t enough, or that you’ve made too many mistakes, or that you’re living with limitless regret, stop and remember that God will always welcome you back with open arms and a clean slate: now you have the power to do that for yourself too. Love the person that you have become. Forgive yourself because He forgives us.

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Posted in Inspiration, Tara's Tales

It Can’t Rain on Your Parade Without Your Consent

Picture this: a perfect Cleveland spring day….HA! And by that, I mean that we start out the morning with a winter coat, brace for rain/snow/mix, and go coatless by mid-afternoon with that sunshine glow! You know, the usual. Because the high was predicted to be 70 degrees today, I had decided to wake up early and go for a walk at my favorite place–Brunswick Lake. The sun was just peeking over the top of Giant Eagle and the avid morning dog-walkers were in full swing. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Then, as if straight out of a movie, (I find that many of my day-to-day actions appear as cinematic moments) the sky became dark and all those eager walkers had disappeared. I was the only one brave enough (or perhaps silly enough) to withstand the oncoming rain. Then, another woman got out of her mini-van and joined me on the path.

My first initial thought was, “I hope she walks the opposite way. It will be awkward if she’s dragging right behind me. Maybe I should run.” (but if being completely honest, did I want to run? NOPE! Plan = foiled).

“Man, I thought I was going to beat the rain,” she exclaimed as the rain started to fall upon our faces. *Me: Who is she talking to? Oh…I guess me. Don’t be rude, RESPOND!*

“Oh yeah, isn’t it so refreshing?” And there I went…striking up a conversation of no return. She stuck to my side and became my unofficial walking buddy.

Yeah, it was a tad awkward at first. I mean, I still don’t even know her name. BUT I can tell you that she attended college over the span of 22 years, with a total of 9 degrees ranging from a psychology, public health, nursing, and journalism. She’s basically been in school for the duration of my entire life…INSANE. She has 6 kids and has even bigger dreams for her posterity than she’s ever had for herself. She has a huge heart and has gone through a pit of bad luck. She gave me life advice on keeping my bones safe from osteoporosis and provided encouragement I didn’t know I needed. She told me way too much about her personal life, but we shared a few laughs nonetheless.

So why am I sharing this? As mentioned in my previous blog, “Room for Cream?” it is absolutely essential that we work hard to treasure the little moments in life. Far too often we are quick to overlook and don’t realize the importance of things until it is too late. Needless to say, I thought I would have rather enjoyed a walk to myself; however, I ended up walking just shy of 2 miles with a complete stranger that shed a new light on my day (even though it was terribly dark outside). We walked until our heads were soaked and parted just as friends would when going separate ways.

Next time it rains (figuratively, literally, or in this case…both!), choose to make it a positive experience for yourself and perhaps a stranger. You never know what may happen.

Posted in Tara's Tales

Room for Cream–I mean Love?

I should probably start with I don’t participate in the highly-coveted drive-thru services available at many of our favorite coffee shops and restaurants. The reason behind that decision aside, I truly believe when looking to treat yourself to that delicious caffeinated beverage, the experience truly lies within the journey of going in, engaging in genuine, human interaction, and then going on with your day. Not convinced? Allow me to share my story.

We live in a world where we really don’t have to communicate with people if we choose not to. Email, Snapchat, online order/delivery, you name it! You basically have the world at your fingertips just by communicating with a machine. Now, yes, there certainly are perks to this. I love being able to mobile deposit paper checks to my bank account on a Sunday morning in about 3 minutes flat instead of waiting until Monday to deposit the check at the bank’s branch. However, I can’t help but feel we have to work extra hard if we want to form strong bonds with our fellow human beings in the simple day-to-day errands.

I’d like to highlight one moment I had this past Friday. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon when I really wanted a cup of coffee. I decided to take a stroll to my favorite local coffee shop that I hadn’t been to since the summer…before I left for Disney. It had been almost 6 months since I had seen my favorite barista (for the sake of privacy, I’ll call her Ophelia). She’s the cutest older woman and really takes her time when crafting your beverage. So if you’re in a hurry for work and need your caffeine fix before you interact with anyone, this is not your place.

Prior to this day, she could recognize me by face, but we’ve only ever exchanged stories, not names (although she wears a name tag, so I had the advantage in this case). As soon as I walked in, her face lit up. “YOU’RE BACK!” she exclaimed. “Your parents must be so happy to have you home.” And just like that, I stood there talking with her for 17 minutes.

After catching up on all the details, she looks at me and says, “Hun, I need to know… what is your name?” Not only did she address me by name several times throughout the conversation, she opened up to me about her late husband and how her love for him is still so strong. She told me about her 4 kids and about her upcoming Valentine’s Day tradition that she’s been doing with her kids and their spouses for YEARS. If that weren’t enough to get the water-works warmed up, she even told me about her favorite hymn to sing in church: Open my eyes, Lord. Help me to see Your face. Open my eyes, Lord. Help me to see. (And yes, Ophelia did in fact sing this to me in the most beautiful fashion). 

At this point, I had almost forgotten about the beverage. She looks at me and she knew exactly what I had wanted. “Room for cream?” she asked. Oh yes, we all know I like a little coffee with my cream, but that day, there was room for so much more. Imagine if we all took the time to slow down and form a special bond with someone we wouldn’t have otherwise thought twice about. If we all found an Ophelia, I think the world would be filled with much more love. So this year, don’t become consumed in what you don’t have this Valentine’s Day. Remind your friends and family of how much you adore them, and when you go out on your usual errands, leave room for love.

Posted in Disney Diaries

Post-Program Reflection: Why the Disney College Program was the Best Decision for Me

Okay okay. I know you’re all dying to know the inside scoop on working for Disney. Well, it goes something like this: When I wake up in the morning, I arise out of bed with my pet mice dressing me in beautiful threads. I pour 8 ounces of pixie dust into my cereal and a horse & chariot arrive at my doorstep to take me to Cinderella’s Castle. EHHHHHH. WRONG. Let’s try again.

So, maybe the above statements were an exaggerated personification of the classic Disney tales. However, working for Disney truly was a magical experience, but just like everything else in life–it’s all about perspective. There are many program participants that will tell you that working here ruined the magic for them and how they couldn’t wait to go home. I couldn’t disagree more.

Sure, maybe the details of working here weren’t always the greatest, but that’s life for you. There were some days I left work defeated and others where I left on cloud 9. But it’s those bad moments that help us appreciate the good ones. Learning to work with ungrateful guests made me stronger and more compassionate for the ones that needed a little extra love. Working those late hours helped me to appreciate the 24-hour business. When people go on vacation, they often forget that those making their vacation relaxing and special is NOT a vacation for workers themselves. Disney operates at all hours of the day, every single day of the year in some capacity. All of the hard work, planning, and dedication that goes into making magic for people is something to be truly in awe of…and now, after witnessing it first hand, I have even more respect for the industry.

I often hear that landing an internship with Disney is a “dream come true,” but then that dream is quickly crushed after completing the program. For me, that is the farthest from the truth. I would love to combat the negativity because it truly was a dream come true for me. I’ve wanted to work here since my very first visit in 2015 and I stopped at nothing to make it happen. After almost finishing the program, I am so proud and honored to have been selected to do this. I’ve learned so much during the course of my program. I’ve gained transferrable skills that I know can help me in any career I choose. I have also gained the confidence to chase after my dreams, even if they are crazy. This certainly is NOT for everyone and I’m not suggesting that it should be, but I am truly grateful for Walter Elias Disney for making this all possible.

Now, as the program is over, I am back in THE LAND, ready to take on a new adventure. I don’t have all the details figured out yet, but I know that regardless of where I end up, I can always call Disney my home. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world and I will always treasure the memories made during the fastest semester of my life.

Anything you feel called to do in life can be your “Disney Dream.” But just remember, if things aren’t exactly like you had hoped or planned, that doesn’t mean the dream wasn’t worth it. Nothing is perfect. We are constructed to believe that nothing is “good” unless it is “perfect.” I believe this is why there is so much negativity plaguing our world. However, if you take that step back and realize that emotional perfection actually stems from acceptance of imperfection, then you can make the happiness surrounding your dreams a reality.

Peace & Pixie Dust

Posted in Disney Diaries

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!

 

Posted in Inspiration, Tara's Tales

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.

Posted in Disney Diaries

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.

Posted in Disney Diaries

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.

 

Posted in Tara's Tales

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!

Posted in Tara's Tales

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