Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Learning to Love Life; Learning to Smile

"Don't be gloomy.  Do not dwell on unkind things.  Stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.  Even if you are not happy, put a smile on your face.  'Accentuate the positive.'  Look a little deeper for the good.  Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, with great and strong purpose in your heart.  Love life." ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

How I miss President Gordon B. Hinckley and his incredible optimism.  This quote seems easier said than done, especially for me as someone who struggles with depression.  But even on the darkest days, I believe light can still be found, and that we can find things to be happy about.  Feeling happy is better then feeling sad.  It lifts the spirit.  Happiness glows, and I think it's something we don't just feel but give.

It's hard, especially on days when it feels like my greatest accomplishment is simply getting out of bed and then finding the strength and courage to face the World.  But the more I've pondered between positive and negative thoughts, the more I realize what a mind game it all is.  Negative will always be easier, as going down hill will always be easier than going up.  And there are days where it feels like I'm being crushed by a dark void, drowning, and those days are especially hard when it comes to finding the positive.  But even in the darkness there's power in gratitude.  Power in tuning in and focusing on love.  Power in giving.  Power in patience.  Power in faith.

And on some days I can only take a couple steps towards the light, and that's okay.  A couple steps are better than none.  Better than standing still or going backward.

It's a scientific fact that smiling releases endorphins, serotonin, and natural painkillers.  "Together these three neurotransmitters make us feel good from head to toe. Not only do these natural chemicals elevate your mood, but they also relax your body and reduce physical pain." (From Top 10 Reasons You Should Smile Every Day.)  It's amazing what just putting a smile on your face can do, and trust me I know it's hard.  Man it's hard.  But smiling, even when it's not at first genuine, as you fight through it, will help you feel better.

When I was in my deepest depression my Mom would say, "Fake it till you make it."  I would glare at her, because how could she know the pain?  How could I smile?  Why do I want to be fake?  But as time passes the more I realize how right she is.

It's hard to smile when I don't feel good, when I don't feel like it, but it does make a World of difference.

And there is power in focusing on the Positive over the Negative.  I still struggle with depression and my brain's natural need to be gloomy and calculate worse case scenarios, but as I've focused on my thoughts and the patterns they make, it's incredible what imagining the positive does.  Saying kind things to myself verses mean things.  Being gentler.  Noting and noticing the good.  It's a process, one that feels upstream, but our minds are powerful tools, and I want my brain to be a tool for good, if that makes any sense.

I read on Facebook a quote that I need to work on: 

"Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right." ~ Kushandwizdom (found on Facebook)

I'm not perfect.

I won't pretend to be.

But I do desire to focus on what can go right, instead of what can go wrong, which is my natural inclination.  And I'm not going to get this right everyday.  I'm going to mess up.  I'm going to fall down.  As I start developing other healthy habits like overcoming my sugar addiction (aka self-medication), healthy eating, regular exercise, etc, I'm going to have good days and bad.

Regardless of the bad days with the good, the point is I'm trying.

I'm trying and recognizing.

I'm recognizing and moving.

Taking risks.  Being bold.  Finding courage.

And learning to love life.

We all have so much to be grateful.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Magical Balloon Powers, Or Possibly One of the Hardest Disneyland Jobs

Last week my family had a combined May birthday party.  Four of us kids (in-laws included) are May babes.  Which means more then half of us are Tauruses.  And three of the four birthdays fall on the same week.  That's a LOT of cake and ice-cream.  So to make life simpler we celebrate brithdays separately (if possible . . . heh), and then throw a combined party.

My Mom loves balloons.  Loves them.  A party isn't a party unless we have them.  So off to Smiths my Mom and I went, and she bought 15 latex balloons.  That's pretty standard for us, and didn't seem like a big deal--15 balloons, in groups of three, loosely bound together--until I got outside.

It was windy!

Super windy!

Out of no-where windy!

And the balloons decided to throw an early party and started dancing about, intertwining, until they formed a crazy complex braid.

I noticed too late what was happening, and immediately let out a moan.

Suddenly, in my mind, I envisioned Disneyland, remembering those cast members assigned to sale balloon.  30+ balloons bound together!  A happy, glorious assortment of colors in the shape of Mickey heads.  How do they do it?  I wondered.  How do they keep all those balloons sorted, ready to pull one down and out to give to a kid with a few dollars in his/her outstretched hand?  And then I wondered if that was one of the hardest jobs at Disneyland.

Can you imagine having to keep all those balloons from getting tangled!!??

When we got home it was my job to untangle them.

I slumped on the couch and quickly assessed the situation: Top to bottom.  That was the only way.  To be honest I was grumbly through the whole of it, which wouldn't fly at Disneyland.  Grumbly as I looked at my watch and then up again to see the slow progress.  5 minutes, then 10, 20 30, and finaly 45 minutes.  It took me 45 minutes.

By that time the family had all arrived, and my Mom took the groups of three and spread them throughout the house, all five bunches.

At the bottom of the stairs my little nephew tried to get a green balloon, pulling as hard as he could, to no avail.  He exclaimed, "It's stuck!"  And those of us downstairs giggling at his cuteness recommended he look for Grammy to ask if he could have the balloon.  He looked down the open hallway, went into the creative room, and then out, arms up and shrugged in a question mark.

It was adorable.

Soon enough he had his balloon.

And suddenly those 45 minutes spent untangling the balloons were completely worth it.

"Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon."

 ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-The-Pooh

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Forgiving Others For Their Imperfections

"The people around us are not perfect.  People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger.  In this mortal life it will always be that way.  Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances.  Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things.  That is the Lord's way." 

~ Elder Dieter Uchtdorf

This is something I'm still working on and struggling with.  It's a day to day process for me, but an important process, because we do need to let go of our grievances.  In the end I'm hurting myself far more than the person I'm forgiving hurt me.  And none of us are perfect, myself included, and I know I have annoyed, disappointed, and angered others in turn, and I hope those I've hurt are willing to forgive me.

(In other news, I think that cat wanted to kill me.)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Those Out of the Blue Magical Moments At Disneyland

Last November, when I went on a week vacation to Disneyland, I spent every moment with someone in my family.  No time alone at all.  Rushing here, there, and everywhere.  And then on the last day we all suddenly separated.  We each had a couple hours to ourselves before joining up for Dinner.  I think none of us could agree with what we wanted to all do together or in groups.

So right at sunset I got to wander the park by myself.  Golden hour, as I call it.  So I started by It's a Small World and casually walked towards Frontierland.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard music coming from the carousel that I had never heard before.  I guess I'm so familiar with the park that a change in song distracts me.  And I looked at the carousel until I realized the music wasn't per-recorded.  It sounded like a band was playing the tune from Hunchback of Notre Dame.  And then I saw them, the band riding the carousel while playing!

It was a great moment.

And then I meandered by Big Thunder Mountain, looked over the lake, and then casually walked into Critter Country, because I realized I hadn't been to Critter Country all trip, and that's some sort of crime.  Both Winnie the Pooh and Splash Mountain were down, due to electrical problems or something, but it was fun walking around and looking through the store, getting smashed pennies, and then heading towards dinner.

It's nice taking breaks to breath.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Shows at Disneyland and California Adventure

 Paint the Night!  I love, love this new rendition of the electrical parade.  Great use of lights and new technology.  Just overall fun.  And I love the Owl City music they played with hints of the original parade in the soundtrack.  I saw it three times!  And my poor 5 yr. old niece wanted to see it so bad, but she slept through it twice.

 Disneyland Forever is the new show introduced this year for the 60th anniversary.  I liked it, especially the image show they did on the buildings on main street, but I feel the Remember Dreams Come True firework show is a better.

 Frozen Sing Along . . . because there isn't enough Frozen in the park.  I'm still trying to figure out how I managed to see it three times.  It was fun with the family, but I'm on Frozen overload.  And I'm seriously bummed Aladdin the Musical is being replaced by Frozen as well.

 I've seen Fantasmic! so many times.  I even had the music on cassette tape once and wore it out.  Still, with all the times I've seen it, I've never been this close.  You can get meal packages with some restaurants in the park that give you a special pass to different sections.  It was great.  The show is on sabbatical until the Rivers of America is filled in again.  I hope they bring it back!  I'm sure they will.

 World of Color - Celebrate!

Bring back the old show where you choreographed more complete songs to lights and music, and not just Let it Go.

Disneyland . . . let it go.

And Mickey and the Magical Map.

Somehow I managed to see this show three times as well.  3 is the magical number.  But it is a cute show, and I like the songs they choose.

For me no Disneyland experience is complete without seeing a few shows.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Having a Good Time in Disneyland

 To say that my family had fun at Disneyland last November would be an understatement.

We all had a blast!  And it was the first time we had all gone.  We had a great family reunion, though we technically see each other several times a week, regardless.  But still, if you're going to have a family reunion, Disneyland is a great place to have it.

 Steven photo bombing.

 Enjoying the ride on the Mark Twain before the Rivers of America would be drained for the new Star Wars expansion.  (Tom Sawyer Island and the Rivers of America aren't going anywhere, they just can't have conflicts with the water.)

 I played the Woody carnival ride game with my 5 yr. old niece in California Adventure.  She was player 1.  I was player 2, and even though my score is low, check out my accuracy!

 My niece was freaking out!!!

 My Dad and his Olaf love continues!

 I love how my nieces would always get bashful around Minnie Mouse.

Happened every time.

 Posing for the magic shot.

 I'm holding Tinker Bell!

 My nephew holding my Shelly May Minnie Mouse while watching Mickey and the Magical Map.

 Going on my favorite ride with the nieces.

I love the storybook ride!  it's so cute.

 Prepared to get wet.

 My niece loved it.

 "Are there movies under here?" exclaimed my 4 yr. old niece when the Finding Nemo section began.

 This is how we pass time while in line.

 Getting attacked by the nephew!

 Fun times. :0)

Saying goodbye.

Can't wait to go again.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Changing of the Seasons at Disneyland

My family went to Disneyland the first week of November.  It's a trip that was a year and a half in the making.  Originally we were suppose to go in April, but circumstances bumped it back.  And I'm glad it was, for many reasons.  But one interesting fact about visiting Disneyland during the first week of November is that you get to see park make a gradual change from Halloween to Christmas.  Bit by bit.

 By the end of the week these pumpkins were gone, and around the Railroad station on Main Street there were ornaments and wreaths.

One day half of main street would suddenly have decorations, and the next day the rest of the street had a Christmas flair.

Windows that were bare would suddenly show Mickey nutcrackers.

 It was fun seeing the change.

And it was nice that the Holiday version of It's a Small World, where they switch between the main song and Jingle Bells, or Jingle Shells in the mermaid section, was completed the day before we left, fresh with Santa references and lights.

My big regret was not going on the Haunted Mansions, the Nightmare Before Christmas.  A whole five days in the park and I didn't go.  How is that possible?  I also managed to not ride Splash Mountain and Alice in Wonderland.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Lost Language of Shorthand

 My Grandpa was going through some of his books and found this old copy of Gregg Shorthand Dictionary, which my Grandma R. had when she went to secretary school.  It's so much fun to look through.  And it's crazy how it looks like another language, one that seems to now be lost with the advancement of technology.

 But still, it's really cool looking at each word, and what seems to be random scribbles aren't.  There's patterns.  It's just amazing how a system like this was ever created and used.  And it's sad that it's fading away.  I feel like I own a piece of history.  A representation of years pass, and the processes we no longer need to follow.