Some Advise for the Grads

First of all, congrats! Whether it be high school, college, military or whatever else has graduations, you did it! All of your hard work paid off.

I want to share some of the things I learned over the years, mostly in college, to try to help some of you. Some lessons you will have to learn the hard way, but I hope this will give you an idea of what to watch out for. It will make you stronger, smarter, better. It will hurt, and some of that pain may take a long time to fade. And we all will react to that pain differently. Just be sure to do what is best for you.

Anyway, some food for thought:

  • Try new things. Especially if you are going the college route. Now is the time to find the things you like. Maybe swing dancing or improv. Campuses have a little bit of everything.
  • It is absolutely okay to not know what you want to do and to change your major. I started out as a creative writing major, and now I am a C.P.A. Accounting was my third major.
  • Apply for the Disney College Program! It’s fun. You will learn a lot, and it’s Disney. Do it.
  • Just because it is popular, does not mean that it is your style. Not all of us can pull off feathers in our hair, though some of us tried.
  • Alternate water when drinking! Believe me, it will save you a headache. Always have water.
  • It is perfectly fine to be the mom of the group. Groups need the mom friend for a reason. You will help them survive.
  • Learn and grow from your mistakes. There will be plenty.
  • You will come to realize who your real friends are. Beware one sided friendships, and be mindful of who stays by you when there is a rough patch. Be there for your friends as well. Also, you will be the bad friend to some. If they call you out on it, try to do better.
  • College weight gain is a real thing. Just because it is a buffet, does not mean you need to get pizza and a burger.
  • If you feel like the outcast in your friend group, maybe you need to find different one. Do find a different group if that group does not take your outcast feelings seriously.
  • You do not have to say yes to everything and please everyone. That is impossible. Again, do what is best for you.

My hardest learned lesson was toxic people. I am not a social butterfly- I have a handful of close friends and that’s it. I am mostly an introvert. But, I also felt like I should have had more friends. Been more outgoing. Basically be not me. As a result, I was the mom friend and the outcast of a friend group. I did not start out as the outcast as we were a small group, but the group expanded when I went to my DCP (no regrets there, obviously, because I am now a salaried CM), and I never really got close to the new members of the group when I got back. Those last couple years of college were hell on my mental health as I kept trying to fit in with that group. They did not treat me well, and I did not see them as toxic until I let the fact that I was the outsider consume me. I tried so hard to fix things, when I should have just let them go. Thank whatever god or goddess was watching me when I found one of my now best friends who made that last year fun and bearable. One good friend is worth more than 10 fake ones.

And family members can be toxic as well. Yes, there are different rules to handling it depending on the culture of your family and how easy it is to enforce boundaries. I had A LOT of one sided relationships with family members. And, again, it took a good friend (or several in some cases) pointing out the effect that person had on my health before I realized it. If someone is concerned about you, listen to them. A lot of times you cannot see the toxicity because you are too close. It is a hard lesson to learn without experiencing it. And I hope that you will not have to endure too much pain before you learn what is toxic to you.

So, in conclusion, the bullet pointed list is the general pieces of advise I would give to everyone. The paragraphs after were definitely more personal, but I believe that it is the biggest lesson to learn. You will have to deal with toxic people in school, work, personal life, basically everywhere. And if you cannot get rid of them, you will have to find ways to cope – i recommend having a really good friend on hand to boost you up. And if you try to tell someone they are toxic, be prepared for a world of defense mechanisms and excuses. Not everyone owns their flaws. Own yours.

I feel like this has become a hot mess of me just ranting. So, congrats again grads of 2020. Good luck in your journey, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Goals Check In

Hello everyone! We are still in self-isolation/quarantine land, and I have barely been outside my home in over a month. The worst traffic I have seen is my cat cleaning his junk in the middle of the walk way. As such, most of my health goals have been replaced by excuses.

I started out really well with morning runs and such, but then the Cast Member 5K at Disney Springs was officially cancelled and I just kind of lost the motivation. And that motivation has been extremely difficult to get back. I haven’t worked out in two weeks. It’s bad.

I did sign up for a virtual 5K that is taking place May 2nd. Bert’s Big Adventure from Atlanta is hosting it. All money raised is going to the charity which takes children and their families to Disney World among other things. Most of the children have some kind of serious illness or superpower, and I have been a big supporter for more than a decade. It’s awesome. Go check them out. The race is $15 for a runner and $5 for each additional runner you register.

I also purchased an elliptical that has yet to ship. I am hoping it will come soon, but COVID is putting a delay on a lot of purchases.

The other big problem my health goals are facing is the fact that I can snack all day long with no judgment thanks to working from home. The snacks plus the lack of movement (I am averaging less than half of the usual steps a day I got in the office) means I am definitely consuming more calories than what I am burning.

But, this is a new week leading into a new month. I am going to get back on track and complete that 5K. I will be ready to get back to the gym and the theme parks when they finally reopen. And as soon as that elliptical gets delivered, I will be adding it to my morning or afternoon routine to the point where I am doing some kind of cardio at least 4x a week.

And I will continue to be honest to myself and to you guys when it comes to the ups and downs of this. Health is hard, and you have to be able to acknowledge the issues to get there.

Camp NaNo Check In

Howdy! It’s a little over half way through April. So, I thought it was time to do a check in.

My goal for April Camp NaNo was 20,000 words on my novel from November. I have written a grand total of 707 words so far.

I just haven’t had the motivation to write on that story. I’m kind of at the part where things need to be set up, and it’s just UGH. I want to get to the good bits. Heck, the 707 words I did write are not even the part I was working on. It’s in the middle-end part of the book! But, it is something so small victory.

And I have written other things- like this blog for instance. The words just don’t count towards the goal I set. Also, I started playing Starfinder with a few members of my family which is basically writing without writing (I do take notes though).

It’s been hard to find the energy to write. Working from home has ended up being more hours than I was working before the quarantine started, and by the time I am logged off from my computer, my brain is tired. I don’t want to look at a laptop anymore.

But, the good new is there is still over a week to go in April. I can write 19,300 words in a week. I hope.

The Top Disney Animated Sequels

Let’s do a top 15 list! I debated long and hard on whether or not I was going to include sequels released in theaters, because I did not want this list to be all Pixar. After all, the 90s and 2000s were a prime time for straight to home video sequels and prequels and mid-quels that were labeled as sequels. So, I will do one top 15 with theatrical releases, and one without.

As always, feel free to tell me why I am wrong in the comments.

THE TOP 15 DISNEY ANIMATED SEQUELS

  1. Toy Story 2
  2. The Lion King: Simba’s Pride
  3. Toy Story 3
  4. The Incredibles 2
  5. Frozen 2
  6. Lilo and Stitch: Stitch has a Glitch
  7. Lion King 1/2
  8. Toy Story 4
  9. Kronk’s New Groove
  10. The Return of Jafar
  11. Belle’s Enchanted Christmas
  12. The Rescuers Down Under
  13. Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time
  14. Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea
  15. Peter Pan: Return to Neverland

It is important to point out that a VAST MAJORITY of the straight to home video sequels were the opposite of the original. In about half of them, the offspring of the main character wants to do the reverse arc of the parent. Also, a lot of them have “return” in the title. It’s pretty wild. Anyway, here is the same list without theatrical releases:

  1. The Lion King: Simba’s Pride
  2. Lilo and Stitch: Stitch has a Glitch
  3. Lion King 1/2
  4. Kronk’s New Groove
  5. The Return of Jafar
  6. Belle’s Enchanted Christmas
  7. Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time
  8. Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea
  9. Peter Pan: Return to Neverland
  10. Aladdin and the King of Theives
  11. An Extremely Goofy Movie
  12. Mulan 2
  13. Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp’s Adventure
  14. Atlantis 2: Milo’s Return
  15. Tarzan 2

There you have it, folks. I know some of these are controversial. And my mom is probably reading this and thinking “you made me watch this movie so many times, and it’s not even at the top of your list?!” Well, Melody is annoying, and Ariel should have just told her she was a mermaid. As I have re-watched these with an adult mind, I have noticed my perceptions have changed.

Except for the Lion King movies. Each and every one is a masterpiece. Lion King 1/2 was the first thing I watched on Disney Plus and I am proud of it.

I am also not justifying this list. Most of the second list is “I like the characters, but the original had the magic.” And I really should not have to tell you why there are so many Pixar movies in the first list. And, yes, I think Frozen 2 is better than Frozen.

But Tangled is better than both.

Isolating Truths

Do you ever feel a certain way and then get angry at yourself for feeling that way because you know other people have it worse than you? Like, you should be grateful for what you have, but you still feel really crappy? That’s been me the past few days.

I know isolation and quarantine has started at different moments for everyone, and a lot of people are still working. Disney announced closure about three weeks ago, and I have been lucky enough to be able to work from home. At first it was fine, but then things in the world got worse. Events I had been looking forward to, including one of my best friends’ wedding, got cancelled. We couldn’t drive to Atlanta to visit family. I couldn’t see my favorite hairdresser that I am willing to drive eight hours for. Seemingly small things when there are those who lost their jobs, their milestones, their lives. So, I am mad at myself for feeling so crappy.

This past week has been the hardest. It is one of our busy times at work, and Thursday Disney announced that furloughs are in the future for some cast members. Oh, and we won’t know for sure who is affected until next week. It was hard enough to concentrate on my duties without the uncertainty. I know it’s a necessary evil for the company as everything is shut down, but I just want to know one way or the other. Accounting is usually safe (to my knowledge. I have no source.), but cruises are cancelled, trips are cancelled, parks are closed. What is there to report on? There certainty is not enough going on for whole teams, maybe partial. Either way, nothing official has come out and I have spent the last few days stressed out and not sleeping.

Though, the not sleeping thing has helped my Camp Nano word count. Nothing like insomnia to spur the internal muse.

Working from home has it’s challenges. The cats are distracting. I miss my standing desk, and I am not moving as much. Heck, I haven’t worked out this whole week. I’ve taken a couple walks around the neighborhood, but I just haven’t had the energy to actually exercise. There is also this weird stigma that’s probably all in my head that I cannot be the first to log off. I end up working through lunch (unless I take one of those walks). During busy time, we were on until 10pm or later to get everything reviewed. When Taylor is not working, he’s a distraction because OMG I GET PEOPLE INTERACTION. There are at least three more weeks of this. I really hope this gets easier.

I’m trying really hard to stay upbeat. I try to practice daily gratitude. I try not to get angry because some coworkers have children at home and can’t always work a full day. I try to stay focused. I am one of the lucky ones who have a job and my health. But I am so tired. I am stressed. Every day is unpredictable. Taylor is still going to work as phone repair is considered essential, and I just have to hope that the store’s precautions will be enough. Even though I know that they have worked with customers that have been tested for the virus. Phones are dirty and disgusting. I am scared.

Stay inside. Wash your hands. Social distance. Do your part so things can go back to normal, or at least a new normal that allows us to go to parks and malls again.

Create Semi-Stable Financials

Personal finances is always tricky, and for a lot of us right now, it’s in trouble. I am not about to tell you how to pay off debt in 30 days. I haven’t done that. I feel like I fit in with a majority of millennials (no, we are not still going on Spring Break. We’re like 25-30 years old right now. Stop confusing us with Gen Z just to make headlines flashier): a lot of student debt, high cost of living. But I am also lucky to be married to a man with a pretty good job and we were able to save up to buy a house. This post is for those wanting a starting point in personal finance as I am just going to talk about the things I do.

The biggest thing is having and tracking a budget. If you can stick to it, then kudos, cause that’s where I struggle (especially in the grocery department). I use an excel document on One Drive online so I can update it on my phone if I need to. I have multiple tabs in this excel: Bank Account (used as a transaction register so I know how much cash I have and need for bills), House Budget (bills, food, income, etc), Personal Budget (any extra spending on things that do not fit into the House Budget categories. This includes books, clothing, hobby things, movies, all the fun stuff), Savings (keep track of the three savings accounts I have), Master Budget updated every 6 months, Vacation planning as needed, Loans to keep track of balances, and Christmas budget to keep track of how much I am spending on who. I try to keep this excel as up to date as possible to see where we need to work on. It’s helpful to see what you are using your money on to highlight patterns that may be problematic.

To help keep track of transactions, I use the Mint app by Intuit. You link your accounts to the app, and it will update and list all transactions. There is a budget aspect built into the app, but I found that it was not too user friendly as a lot of things are auto-categorized incorrectly. But, that may just be me. I mainly use this as a transaction checklist when updating my budget. It’s also nice to see all your balances in one place if you link everything.

I mentioned earlier I have three savings accounts. This is a personal choice, but I do recommend having more than one. We have an account for the following three areas: emergency, house, and vacation. I regularly contribute to the emergency and vacation funds, but when we decide on projects or moving, I will restart monthly contributions to the house account as well. Having separate accounts for each area may not be necessary, but I like having designated things for the money there, especially the vacation fund.

Most recently, my husband and I have started investing in stocks. If you have some extra disposable income, but not enough for most broker companies ($1K seems to be the most popular initial investment), use RobinHood. There is not a minimum investment, the app is user friendly, and you get a free stock when you sign up. And, if you can, right now is great to start as most companies are “discounted”. Even if it’s not much, it’s a start. Just don’t check it every day- things are roller coaster-y right now.

If you have any tips or tricks to create better personal finances, let me know in the comments!

Create Gratitude

So, this was not going to be my next post, but with everything going on, I believe it’s more important than what I was planning.

I am an avid listener to a relatively new podcast called The Upside with Callie and Jeff. They are big on the topic of gratitude and finding the upside in the everyday, and they make a point to be a break from the news that clogs our social media and other outlets. I started listening to Jeff almost 20 years ago when he was a radio DJ in Atlanta, and I cannot recommend them enough.

Anyway, a lot of what I am writing here comes from what I have gotten out of that podcast, hence the quick plug. Gratitude is so important in the world we live in. When everything seems dark and negative, a simple “thank you” can change someone’s day. You can show gratitude in other ways as well- an act of service, being there for someone who was there for you, a smile, whatever. You are not restricted in this area.

Start keeping track of what you are grateful for. My planner has a section at the back of each month that I can write what I am thankful for and why. I have included things like my crock-pot, my husband, my cats, working from home, and milkshakes. It doesn’t have to be something life changing. But keeping up with it will change your view on life.

Right now I am thankful that my position allows me to continue to work remotely during this global crisis. As most of the world is stuck at home, please think about those who still have to show up:

  • Doctors, nurses, other medical professionals
  • Our military
  • Our first responders
  • The customer service reps who are trying to help you reschedule your spring break plans (my heart goes out to my fellow cast members who are dealing with thousands of calls)
  • The grocery store clerks that cannot control what is out of stock
  • The other service workers such as trash collection, mail, deliveries, etc.

If you interact with someone in one of these professions, remember that they are human too. They are not the business that told them to come in. They are working for their paycheck. They are tired. Treat them with kindness.

On the other side of the same coin, check in on the local businesses that may not have the resources to survive the shut down. I know of a few bakeries and restaurants that are still open, but only serving carry out and delivery orders. Show them gratitude, even if you don’t order from them- comment on a post on Facebook or something.

But the best way to show gratitude right now? Do not go out unless you have to. Remember that there are other medical emergencies going on, and the hospitals are not only dealing with this virus. Stay away from beaches and crowds. We are trying to slow the spread for the benefit of our community. By working together, we will be able to go back to Disney World sooner rather than later.

Here is the link to The Upside if anyone is interested: https://www.callieandjeff.com/

Creating Health Goals

So, being an accountant means that I basically sit on my rump 40-50 hours a week (including commute time). Then there is Netflix and other non-active activities to engage in when I’m home. This has led to being at a state of health that I do not like. I have tried combating it with spur of the moment diets, halfhearted home gym work outs, and even a personal trainer. Nothing has really stuck. 2020 is the year I change that.

In October, I started going to OrangeTheory Fitness. I go twice a week as my work schedule allows, and I really enjoy it. OTF is an hour long HIIT group class that utilizes the row machine, treadmill, and weight floor in order to improve muscle and cardio. The coaches are super supportive so far, and I feel like I can modify as needed, depending on what my body tells me. You also earn “splatpoints” which is a great pull on my competitive side and makes me push harder.

On the food side of things, I am working on snacking less and eating more veges and fruits. This is a huge challenge, and it’s where I am the weakest. I am using MyFitnessPal to keep track of calories and macros, but I know I am not doing enough in this area to really get me where I want to be.

Now that the setup is complete, I give you my health goals for 2020:

  • Lose an overall 10-15 pounds
  • Move to a jogger from a power walker
  • Complete my first 5K with a time under 50 minutes (which, I actually have signed up for one at the end of April)- I currently have a 16.5ish minute mile.
  • Complete my first 10K with a time around 1 hour 45 minute (the original plan was only to do the 5K, but I managed to snag spots for the Wine and Dine 10K in EPCOT in November!)
  • Cook with more fresh veggies
  • Less SUPER processed foods for meals (I love my Chef Boyarde ravioli in a pinch, but I will not be unrealistic and say all processed foods. I’m still human)

I have dedicated a page in the back of my planner to keeping track of my progress when it comes to OTF. Every month I update/ choose new parameters for myself. Basically, as my fitness gets better, my speed on the treadmill and weights on the floor increase. I know it’s not always going to be a linear thing- it is very import to listen to what your body tells you. One day I be able to jog a few minutes, the next power walking may be a struggle. The progress is in the long game.

To everyone in their own health and fitness journey: may we all suffer together and support each other. This is a team sport, y’all.

The Word of the Year is Create

I am a big fan of having a word of the year. And after having more “serious” words the last few years, I decided to do something more fun. My 2020 word is “create.”

I am not sure if you can read all of the headers, but the pictures above say “In 2020 I will Create…”

  • Stories
  • A Healthy Lifestyle
  • Ears
  • Better Relationships
  • A Loving Home
  • Memories
  • Stable Financials
  • Gratitude

I have four blank columns left, but all of these correspond to some goal I have for myself this year. I want to work on what makes me better as a person, which means I need to create the habits and hobbies that will get me there. I have also noticed that I have stopped spending time doing the things that make me relaxed an happy, which is why you see stories and ears at the front of the list.

And by ears, I mean Mickey. I have started making my own, because even with my cast member discount, those things are expensive. Plus, it’s fun to design and make. It’s putting my sewing machine to good use. I’m not making them to sell, though. I am no where as talented as some of the people I see on Etsy.

I will post about each of these areas- either separately or a couple at a time. There is a lot that will go into each one, but some are hard to describe/ explain correctly. Plus, some just seem to go together so well that it would make sense to talk about them at the same time. I encourage you all to have your own word of the year. I find them to be good motivators.

Goals for 2020

So we are six weeks into 2020, but I am still trying to figure out what my main goals for the year are. I am trying to have at least one for what I believe to be the important parts of my life. As soon as I share them, you guys can help hold me accountable. But, here are the couple I have so far:

My reading goal for the year is 50 books. That’s a little less than a book a week, and I think I can pull it off. Heck, I have 12 done already which will be good if I get into a reading slump later in the year.

Health goals are going to be non-scale based. I think that is part of the reason why I have such a hard time with it- numbers get into my head. I want to complete a 5k by the end of the year and move from power walking to jogging on the treads at my Orange Theory class. I just started jogging on the all outs without inclines, and man, that makes me super winded. Cardio is not my thing, y’all.

I want to finish writing my NaNoWriMo 2019 novel before NaNoWriMo 2020 starts. My plot decided to not follow my outline so I have been stuck with how to get things going again.

Make the most out of my annual passes. I am paying for Universal and SeaWorld, and I don’t want that money to be wasted. I don’t see it happening because I just love theme parks and roller coasters, but my life isn’t 24/7 Disney (it basically is, but we keep getting blocked out thanks to Star Wars).

Career wise I don’t have any specific goals yet. Last year was huge for my job, so I feel like this year will be honing my knowledge on skills I need for industry accounting. The change from public was a welcome one, but a lot of my every day smarts are not used here as they were tax related. It’s a different brain and I am enjoying it very much.

I plan on keeping you updated on these goals and more as they come up. I also plan on bragging about all the fun theme park stuff I get up to, so if you have any questions about Orlando theme parks, let me know and I will do my best to answer!