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.

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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 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 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

 

Posted in Tara's Tales

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

Posted in Tara's Tales

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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Posted in Disney Diaries, Tara's Tales

Maybe If I Ignore It, It will Go Away: A Saga About Confronting the G-Word & Finding Peace in the Future

Hello, it’s me. Four years later and it’s the same old routine. I’ve found comfort in my everyday activities, fallen in love with the relationships I’ve established, and found my home in everything I do. Back in 2013, I had a reputation as, “The-girl-that-didn’t-want-to-go-to-college.”

Now, let me tell you, it wasn’t because I didn’t desire higher education. It was the anxiety-provoking thought of leaving everything I’ve invested so much time and effort in over the last four years and potentially losing all of it that I dreaded. I also couldn’t fathom the idea of making the “right” decision. It’s no secret that my family had a very different plan for my collegiate experience than I had for myself. Over time, I realized there was no “right” decision. It was the decision that was best for me and my dreams and the answer would eventually follow. But, until I had that personal revelation, every family function became the exciting time of asking, “Does Tara know what she’s doing yet?” or “Is she finally ready to talk about it?” The summer before my senior year, my family took our very first big family vacation and I made a rule before we left that we couldn’t talk about college. Thankfully, most of them were able to abide by my policy, but it didn’t make college “go away.”

Now, here I am about to g-word from college. Where in the heck did the time go? I may not have an answer for that, but what I do have is confidence. Confidence in myself, my abilities, and that everything will work out in the end. Yes, I still resonate with senior-year-of-high-school-Tara by getting butterflies about the uncertain future and by discouraging discussion of things such as the g-word, future, and senior-oriented festivities. HOWEVER, after going to college and seeing that everything I was so worried about losing from high school has remained in tact, I’m solidifying my confidence in everything I’ve invested in during these last 4 years. I’m confident that the connections, friendships, and memories I’ve worked so hard to create will follow me wherever I go in whatever I do.

I’m not worried about the future and I don’t have a 5 year plan. I am however, cognizant of future endeavors, such as paying back loans and finding stability in a career, but that’s not what life is about. Life is about seeking experience and memories that will last you a lifetime.

Finding this confidence does not mean I’m by any means ready to move on or g-word by any means, but it does mean that I am ready to live life everyday with a positive attitude for both now and in the future. I hope that those of you also in the same g-word boat don’t wish this time away to move into the future too quickly, but take each day as a gift and encourage others to do the same. That, my friends is what we should be concerning ourselves with each day. Find your magic and what makes you happy…and the peace and confidence in what is to come shall follow.

 

Posted in Inspiration, Tara's Tales

reSOLUTIONS

New Year, new you, right? Well, at least what people used to say–I know I certainly have utilized it in my new year’s vernacular. However, I’ve noticed that this phrase has actually gained a negative connotation recently. People roll their eyes or look down on others that set these big expectations for the new year because they think they are wise enough to know that most people never actually reach their resolutions and fizzle out towards the end of January. That may be true for some, and I’m sure we are all guilty of setting resolutions we never follow up on, but for others, is the ever-so-easy eye roll or degrading Twitter meme stifling to those looking to make big changes or dream big dreams in the new year? Maybe it’s time we rethink the way we see resolutions because being on either end of this spectrum isn’t going to help anyone this new year.

I’m a huge advocate for setting goals and making lists, so planning new year’s resolutions is a field day for me. I’ve always been the type to make large goals and plans because it seems to give the tradition more meaning. I recently came across my 2011 list of resolutions (in which I had 11 to be exact). Now you’re probably wondering, did you actually achieve all 11? Of course not. That’s because I did it wrong. I listed all of the things I wanted to do, but in no way did I indicate how I was going to do them. They were all quality initiatives with great intentions; however, without a real plan of execution, there truly was no way to gauge the success of the goal.

Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to roll our eyes at those that say these big changes they want to make…because we are basing it solely on the words we hear and not actions we witness, which may be rightfully so. Also, it may be attributed to the fact that people that want change to come with the new year are seeing the previous year as bad and coming out of it with a salty perspective. Okay, who am I to dictate who had a good and bad year…clearly I can’t do that. But I can encourage those that feel that way to truly dig deep and find just one positive thing that happened in the previous year and use that as fuel to set fire to the new year. You’d be surprised…positivity is actually more flammable than negativity. So, if you are actually looking to enact the change you’ve been desiring, pour positivity in your tank and get going. That is what’s going to make your new year the year you need it to be.

Now, if resolutions aren’t your thing, that’s completely okay. You do you, my friend. I would never say that you have to have resolutions to have a meaningful year. However, let this thought simmer: if we all work together as a support system for each other (particularly for those that get in to the resolution business), imagine the increase in success rates for new year’s resolutions. If you use positivity to plan your resolutions, imagine the greater depths you can reach. If we set goals designed to improve instead of setting unrealistic ideas with no substance to back it up, imagine the growth you can achieve. You can make this year anything you want it to be.

So next time you hear someone talk about their resolutions, smile and hold their hand along the way. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big–after all, maybe that can be the solution to our resolutions.

 

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Posted in Tara's Tales

A Letter to My Childhood Best Friends

Dear My Oldest-Yet-Dearest-Friends,

I can’t believe I’m doing this. Sitting in a café, writing this article, on the edge of youth and adulthood (more like hanging on for dear life as the g-word is drawing near, but you get the point) reflecting on our past (may or may not even have a few tears in my eyes…allergies, I swear). I kid you not, it seems like just yesterday we were playing kickball in the cul-de-sac, writing scripts to our own versions of Hannah Montana, and getting a thrill of going to the mall without adults and taking way too many photo booth pics. Do the youth even do that nowadays?

I might be biased, but I believe we grew up at the perfect time. We have an appreciation for VHS tapes and thrived during the days of calling our home phones to see if we could come out and play; however, we are also are well-acquainted with the technological boom of today. We had it made, guys. I miss those simple times, I really do. Our imaginations were impeccable and I envy our ambitions. I want to take this moment to thank you for all of it.

You were my first friends. The ones I associate my earliest memories with today. You were number one on my birthday invite lists (thank you for still coming even though I had almost every party at Miss Molly’s Tea Room). You were there through all of the early milestones. You were even still friends with me during my caveman-looking-days (God bless you for that).

When high school came, I was terrified of losing you. I remember freshmen orientation like it was yesterday…when we had to split up, and I was the only one at the beginning of the alphabet, I thought my life was over. I couldn’t imagine going through what was supposed to be the best (and fastest) 4 years without you. But here’s the beauty of it: even when we established ourselves in different friend groups, joined different clubs, and hung out with different people at dances, our bond never quivered.

Then of course, college came in the blink of an eye and that fear came back around. How the heck could I stay friends with people going to colleges in completely different directions? But thankfully yet again, I was wrong because here we are many years later, still best friends.

40325_1401311362083_193811_nYou know who you are and this letter speaks for itself. Thank you for sticking by my side all this time and I look forward to all of our future endeavors to come.  I love you from the bottom of my heart and I always will.

xoxo