Saturday, December 31, 2016

Day 1461: What's There to Say?

2016 was pretty much a terrible year for everyone it seems. If you look around for more than a few minutes on Twitter you'll know very quickly just how awful the last 12 months were for a lot of people. We've lost so many legends this year, we elected a new president that split the country in a brand new way, and in general, 2016 was a flop. Which means that 2017 can only be better, right? 

For me, 2016 was a year of change and learning. I started it in one of the darkest places I've ever been, struggling with who to trust, where I was going to live, and feeling betrayed by the people I once called my friends. Luckily, moving out and across campus into a different apartment was the start of something great in my life. I strengthened the relationships that remained, gained a new and wonderful roommate, found comfort and happiness with new friends, and really learned who I am and who I want to be. As the year went on, I took risks too. I ended up attending an international conference in the Twin Cities, drove all the way to Colorado and back, traveled to Walt Disney World by myself for the first time (and for another conference!), joined a new group on campus that I never believed I could be a part of, and really began to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life once I leave the security of college. 

At the beginning of 2016, I made a resolution to, instead of taking on something new, focus on finding balance in my life that allows for growth. I honestly think I found that this year, although there's absolutely still room for improvement, and Everyday Disney is an example of that in itself. But even if I haven't quite figured out the full balance of time in my schedule, I feel like I've found balance in myself. The people I surround myself with now care about me for who I am and definitely don't ask me to change. I don't feel as though I'm split into multiple parts the same way I was last year, and most importantly, I feel confident in what I am capable of. 

Normally at this point in the end of the year blog post I'd go on some ramble about how many words I wrote this year, but since a good portion of the year has yet to be completed, that seems sort of irrelevant, so perhaps we'll save that for a later date. For now, we'll just keep steaming ahead into 2017 and new adventures, because something tells me that this next year could be one of the most interesting yet. 

Have a magical day!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Day 1459: Keep on Singing

I can't believe that this is the second of these posts I'll be writing this week. 

I don't think I realized how much I needed Debbie Reynolds until the first time I watched Singin' in the Rain. Prior to a few years ago, I guess I hadn't really paid any attention to the film that would, quite literally, change my life. And then one fateful day while riding The Great Movie Ride, I made a decision to watch some of the old films featured in the attraction. Now I'm on a personal mission to watch all of the AFI Top 100 films and any others featured in the original Great Movie Ride Film (so the one previous to what's there now), but that's kind of beside the point. 

When I did watch Singin' in the Rain for the first time, I was absolutely enchanted. There's no other way to describe it. The music, the color, the characters, the dancing, everything. What was once just some movie about singing in the rain somehow rose above all the others, and at some point, it became my all time favorite movie. I'm still not entirely sure when that happened. 

But Singin' in the Rain did so much more than become my favorite movie. I once heard a story about how Gene Kelly once insulted Debbie for not being able to dance, because prior to filming she had next to no dance experience. You'd never know with the way she performs on screen, and that idea alone helped give me the courage to audition for Knights on Broadway. I figured that if Debbie had no dance experience and could accomplish something like Singin' in the Rain, I could accomplish something like being a member of Knights on Broadway, where I too had to do a bit of dancing, so you'd better bet that every second on stage I was channeling my inner Debbie Reynolds. 

Singin' in the Rain was the very first movie I put in the box to bring to college. When my brother complained about me taking it, I immediately ordered him a copy of his own to keep at home so we'd never be without the film. 

At some point in high school, I learned every last word of the film, and I can still remember dancing around the band room on one of my last days there while Debbie and Gene mirrored us on the giant screen. 

To this day, Singin' in the Rain is my cure for even the worst day. My friends all know this, and haven't hesitated to put it on or play or sing one of the songs just to make my smile. 

The night I became an official member of Knights on Broadway we had a discussion at dinner about our favorite musicals and what role we'd most like to play - I said without hesitation Singin' in the Rain and Kathy Selden. 

But this goes far beyond Singin' in the Rain. Where Carrie was my courage and my commitment to be the person I want to be, Debbie was my inspiration. These two wonderful women encouraged me to reach for the stars, take risks, and remind myself that we're all a work in progress. We can only start from where we are right now, and if that starting place is one without Debbie and Carrie, then we'll just have to keep going and strive to uphold the legacy that they so deserve. 

It seems almost redundant now to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the family, but they are, especially with Billie. I can't even imagine what this feels like for her, but I do know that Debbie and Carrie are together again, the way they always wanted to be. 

Although something tells me that Carrie is cursing her mother for stealing her thunder. 

We'll miss you both, forever and always. Keep singing and dancing, even from the stars. 

Have a magical day! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Day 1458: Photo Spot Favorites

Disney World is a absolutely one of the best places in the world to explore photography, and so many of us do. My family has been taking pictures of Walt Disney World since...well, pretty much forever...and I've picked up on the habit. Usually you'll find me with a video camera in my hand, but I'm constantly taking pictures on my phone, and on occasion, you'll find me borrowing one of my parents' cameras as well. Plus, I love the Disney Instagram community, which has really only increased my love of photography over the past few years. 

That being said, I couldn't help but think back recently to a challenge I did in 2013. Inspired by several lists I'd seen on the internet of "Must Take Disney World Photos," I compiled a list of over 100 pictures to take on my trip in July of 2013, and so the Official July 2013 Disney Challenge began. After pinning more than a few Disney World pictures on Pinterest over the past week, I also realized that something like this would be sort of fun to do again...with a twist. 

The lists I compiled for 2013 were based on internet lists of a similar fashion, but they're all really stereotypical. We all take pictures of the castle and Spaceship Earth and the list goes on, but there are some pictures out there just waiting to be found. Take the Purple Wall for instance, which has literally been at Magic Kingdom for years but just recently (and suddenly) became an must-see for most Disney Instagrammers. Plus, I'm a big fan of really exploring the nooks and crannies of Walt Disney World - and finding the little spots that we never knew existed, so a new photo challenge seems like a great idea. 

Which is where all of my followers come in. Similar to what I did in May with my choose my adventure idea (and that video is slowly coming!), I figure the best way to find the best spots is to ask the best people I know! So in the comments below or through a tweet or something, let me know a few of the photo spots I should check out on my upcoming trip! Give me a challenging idea for how or where to take a picture (although remember that it must, in some way, be possible. I'm not about to climb to the top of Spaceship Earth, no matter how fun that sounds). Give me a suggestion for that one picture you always have to take, or one that you always forget to take! And just to make things easier, here's a Google Form you can fill out with your suggestion:

I'm pretty excited to see what you all come up with, and while I'm in Florida be sure to follow along on my Instagram to see some of the pictures! 

Have a magical day!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Day 1457: Carrie

This is the kind of blog post that everyone dreads writing. 

I remember my Dad telling me once that there are certain moments in history where you just remember where you were and what you were doing - the assassination of JFK, the Moon Landing, 9/11, and so on and so forth. I didn't really understand what he meant until the day that Robin Williams died, and I can still recall every part of that day, where I checked my phone to find one of my inspirations gone. I remember the way the sun was setting, I remember the way my room was arranged, and I certainly remember the way I felt. 

Today will be another one of those days. 

I was in the middle of getting my haircut, barely a minute or two into it actually, when Frank texted me. I didn't check my phone, despite the fact that it was absolutely blowing up and vibrating every two seconds. When I did finally check my phone on my way out the door, happily sporting a new hairstyle, I was hit with the news and my face fell. 

It's taken me a good portion of the rest of the day to figure out what I really want to say about this. As I walked around the mall, filled with people taking advantage of post-Christmas sales, I couldn't help but wonder if anyone around me felt the same way I did. One glance at Twitter and it was almost like Alderaan blew up all over again, but for the most part, those around me seemed alright. They didn't seem sad, they didn't seem heartbroken, they seemed fine, and thus the shoppers became an instant reminder that, even in the face of death, life does go on. 

Carrie Fisher was, without a doubt, my first female idol. Previous to watching Star Wars, I honestly can't recall any other icon having such an impact on me. I remember just having to read her book, and actively searching it out from the library. I remember reading everything I possibly could about her life, and being pretty astonished to realize somewhere along the line that Debbie Reynolds, another of my favorite actresses, was her mother. She was, in every way, one of the most incredible, strong women in Hollywood and the world, and she taught me so much about strength and, quite literally, not taking crap from anyone. Through the pages of her book, she taught me about the seriousness of mental illness, and supplied the foundation for me to reach out to my friends struggling with it. Carrie helped me to understand that I can't resent the people who have hurt me over the years, because, and this is one of my favorite quotes, "Resentment is like drinking a poison and waiting for the other person to die." And above all else, for years, I wanted to be Princess Leia. I wanted to be strong and confident and sassy all at the same time, and you know, I think a part of me has gotten there thanks to her. 

Which is why this hurts so much. I never met Carrie, and I probably wouldn't have even if she lived past today, but that doesn't diminish what she's inspired me to do. I'm a better person because of Carrie. I'm more sure of myself, more confident in what I want, and absolutely positive that nothing in this world will ever hold me back, even if some mysterious space station comes and blows up my planet. 

My thoughts and prayers are with Billie, Debbie, and all of Carrie's family and friends.

And to Carrie - We'll Miss You. 

Have a magical day!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Day 1451: Out of Touch

I must say that this semester has been an absolute whirlwind. With five classes, six ensembles, three jobs, three honor society presidencies, volunteer work, Bible study, homework, writing for The Odyssey Online, practicing, and time with family and friends, I've been lucky to eat two meals a day and sleep more than five or six hours. That being said, it's probably pretty obvious that Everyday Disney is a bit behind. It's not for lack of thought, but simply lack of time and energy to write anything more than I had to. Two of my classes were English courses, meaning they were writing intensive, and that's just scratching the surface. 

But to be honest, I've missed writing for this blog. I've fallen drastically behind in everything Disney related actually, and it almost feels like something's missing. I've seen the movies, which will have reviews up soon, and I've definitely been planning here and there for my upcoming trip in January, but overall, I'm behind. Even when I'm not actively writing for the blog, I'm usually going through the Disney news in my feed, but I haven't even done that. 

Which would be why I'm spending an obnoxious amount of time going way back through my feed trying desperately to figure out what I've missed over the past few months. Aside from the big news like the announcement of the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, the premieres of Rogue One and Moana, and the good old Christmas at Disney Announcements, what's really been going on? 

I hate feeling out of touch, and right now, that's where I am. But the good news is that the semester is over, and now I have the rest of the year and into next year to catch things back up around here. Whether or not Everyday Disney will be back to 100% before the end of the year, I'm not too sure, but it will be soon, and as we head into the new year, and the fifth year of Everyday Disney, I'm going to turn back to my roots, because now that I have my life somewhat figured out and back on track, I think it's about time to return to the blog, because I've missed it, and I've missed talking to all of you! 

Get ready for lots of updates here at Everyday Disney and on my YouTube channel, where new vlogs will be appearing soon! 

Have a magical day!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Day 1450: KOB

Yep, that's me you see in the above picture, and yes, I'm singing. Honestly I don't think I believe it yet either, even though I just completed my first ever six show run with the St. Norbert College Knights on Broadway. 

A year ago, almost to the day (December 2015 was a big month for me in the change and important life event department), I became the newest KOGroupie. Before last year's show, I was sort of in a bad place. With emotions running high from roommate difficulties, I'd spent the week studying for finals and commuting to school, and by Friday I really needed a break. Earlier that day, one of the members of KOB happened to instruct me on exactly where to sit for the show that night. I did as he told me, and part way through the show it led to a (not-so) spontaneous dance that literally made my entire week so much better. For those couple of minutes, I forgot all about my roommates and the problems we'd been having, and I was happier than I'd been in quite some time. I left that show wanting to see more, and went from the average fan of Knights on Broadway to their biggest fan. 

My love of the student group only grew in the following months, all leading up to August when I was watching The Sound of Music in my living room and decided that maybe I wanted to audition for the group. After all, audition information had just been posted, and I had a few weeks to really figure things out. After talking it over with a few of my friends, I ended up going in and talking to the director and soon found myself the newest member of Knights on Broadway (after an audition and callbacks, of course). 

The rest is a story from another blog post, but now that we've ended our Christmas show, I'm so thankful I decided to audition. It was a huge step for me, especially considering the fact that I haven't really been in a vocal group since middle school. My singing has extended little beyond my car and my church for the past 8 years, so this was all entirely new for me. 

But I loved every last second of it. Over the past year, I've struggled with finding where I belong. My friends have changed more than a few times, I've moved several times, traveled all over the country, and gotten drastically behind in blog posts and YouTube videos, but as I was singing a mash up of "Silent Night," "O Holy Night," and "Hallelujah" with KOB this past weekend, I finally felt like I belong. These people don't force me to be anything I'm not, and quite honestly, I've never been more confident in who I am. I've found a new familiarity with the stage that I've never had before, was reminded why I love music so much, was encouraged to look past obstacles and pursue what I really want, and found myself a part of a new family that I wouldn't trade for anything. 

Auditioning for Knights on Broadway is absolutely, without a doubt in my mind, the best thing I've ever done in college. I've never felt more at home, and I honestly don't think I've ever been happier. This group, which I once thought I'd never be a part of in my wildest dreams, has given me more than I could ever ask for, and I can't wait for the new adventures we'll have in the spring. 

Which, may I add, includes a little trip to Florida, and perhaps, a dash of Disney. 

Have a magical day!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day 1445: Rogue One

Just a warning - There may be spoilers in this post for Star Wars: Rogue One! 

For the second year in a row, I caught the newest Star Wars movie on opening night, almost as soon as I possibly could, and let me just was sort of weird watching a movie where you knew the whole time exactly how it was going to end. For the entire two hours, you just sat there knowing that the characters you were getting attached two were ultimately going to die, and then for a moment in the middle you forgot...and then remembered all over again. 

But that says something extremely important about this film, and it's the reason I actually loved it far more than I expected to. We knew what this film was about - the rebels that stole the plans for the Death Star and gave their lives doing so. We knew they were going to die at the end, and yet we were able to grow attached to them the same way we do any of the other characters. That's some intense storytelling, because in the case of the other main characters, we've had or will have much longer to grow attached to them. Darth Vader, for instance, has been around from the beginning, and we've had how many films to enjoy him as a character, but for the others in Rogue One, this is it. There's no Episode VIII, no Rogue One II, no further story. 

They do, however, play such an important role in the overall plot of the Star Wars Universe. Rogue One was, at one point not too long ago, was sort of just legend. We didn't really know what was going on or what had happened in that 20 year or so span between Episodes III and IV, and now there's a solidified story that helps complete things. Overall though, let's talk about the ups and downs of this film: 

What I Loved: As previously mentioned, the characters. I'm a particular fan of K-2SO, who I definitely refer to as "C-3PO but better," and really I thought it was a great play on our favorite droid, especially with all the statistics and such. I couldn't help but think of "The chances of successfully navigating this asteroid field..." in the middle of the movie. And that's just it - Rogue One fits in perfectly with the other films, and that makes it feel cohesive and real, even if it's a standalone film that isn't a part of the main arc. I was also a HUGE fan of the little references to the original films that were stuck in there, which consistently made me chuckle throughout the film. 

What I Liked: I honestly thought the casting in general for this film was great, especially for the characters that they brought back from the original trilogy (aka Tarkin and others). It brought a sense of connection to A New Hope, and while there was always this sense that "this isn't real" because they're not exactly the characters we see in the other films, I for one got chills when each of the original characters appeared on screen - especially Vader. 

What I Didn't Like As Much: As much as I really loved this film, there was still something about it that I couldn't quite get behind. Perhaps it was the fact that, after last year's episode that took me on a complete emotional rollercoaster, this felt like it was lacking, at least for me in the excitement department. That's not to say that this isn't a phenomenal movie though, because it absolutely it. 

In the end, I'd say that Rogue One ranks somewhere like this in my Star Wars line up: V, IV, VII, Rogue One, VI, III, I, II. I'm always a little hesitant as to where to put Episode VI though, because I adore the film and it's one of the ones I watch the most, but overall, I think, in terms of the film overall, that's where I'd put it, almost smack dab in the middle and, yes, underneath Episode VII, which I know is a hot debate right now. Why that is I'm still not entirely sure, but after I get a chance to see Rogue One again, I'll let you know! 

What did you think of Rogue One? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

Have a magical day!