March 30, 2011

Disney - Snapshots

Here are a few snapshots from my days in the Kingdom under the castle. Enjoy! 

-1- It was late at night and most people were heading out of the park, so nobody had come by my ice cream stand in Frontierland in quite awhile. Out of nowhere this family ran up to me panting and just about collapsed on the cart. They all sighed and the dad says, "Whatever the kids want, give them the opposite! If he says six, give him a three!" Then the mom saw my name tag and said, "Hun! Look! Another Mandy!" which is when he broke down into some classic Barry Manilow, to which the wife replied, "You're probably too young to know that song.." They all started laughing at the look of "Are you kidding me?" on my face, so we started telling our stories about the people and places who've started singing the song to us. I talked with them for maybe ten minutes, laughing the whole time, before they headed out. Definitely my favorite family to meet so far.

-2- I was working CIF (where I wear a breaker uniform and can walk all over the park instead of just being in one land) on my way to give someone a break, when this guy comes up to me and said, "Do you remember how to skip? Skip with me!" So despite in the back of my mind thinking, "It's ten at night and I've been working all day...are ya kidding me?" I started skipping behind the castle with this 50 something year old guy, white Albert Einstein hair and sunglasses, and then I got tickled because I realized that hilariousness of the situation. There are some things that you really don't see every day.

-3- Back in good ol' Frontierland (it's my favorite land to work in, I love the costume) a group of 5 or 6 teen guys came up and were just talking it up while they were ordering. So one by one I got each of them what the asked for and we joked around, when the last guy in the group comes up to the front of the line. He was the only one who had a girl with him and he said, "Okay, two questions. One: Were any of them cute? And two: Are you too old for them?" I laughed and told him. "Umm I didn't notice and I don't know. Is that a safe answer?" He was like, "You're not allowed to have a safe answer!" We laughed and they walked off to join the group, where he told them my answer, and across the road I hear, "But I had a conversation with her!" Haha. Those guys made me laugh, the goofy things they were doing to get my attention.

Disney - 6 Week Catchup

That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.
-          Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is a funny deal these days. I’ve lived in Florida for almost 6 weeks, and it’s crazy how quickly I’ve adapted without even thinking about it. There were so many things that felt new in those first few weeks, but now I’ve figured out the routine, I know the drill.
I think one of the most calming things about living anywhere is learning the roads. Driving around and recognizing where you are. Knowing which way to turn without checking your GPS. That’s how my life feels these days. I know which way to turn, I know how to do my job to the best of my ability, I know which cupboard the groceries go in, I know the routine.

Hindsight is so 20/20 when I look back and see my emotions and reactions through the past 6 months or so. October when I was scared to death and faking any ounce of confidence I had that I was doing the right thing, February when big talk became reality and my little car was packed up, and now almost April, which finds me in an apartment that is cheap and needs new carpet and new everything else, but is still home. I wouldn’t do anything differently, I wouldn’t exchange all of the emotions of the past months, but they feel so distant to me now. I don’t think I realized how much over the two years that I lived in Ponca my thoughts revolved around “what comes next”, until now, when I’m very settled and living very “in the moment”.

I feel like recently I’m learning the value of persistence, the importance of hard work, and I’m recognizing all of the different phases of life. I’m at the point when I’m looking back at the last phase of my life, I’m living in a current phase, and I’m planning for college and everything that comes with that phase. It’s not often when there are such defining lines around different areas of living like there are for me right now. It’s strange to view life so broken into specific segments.

Anyway, Florida is still good. I still love it here like nothing else. This feels like home in such a strong way that it’s almost scary. I won’t say that I’m not tired, because I am, tired enough that when my head hits that squeaky, plastic, worse than church camp mattress, I fall right asleep. But I’m really content with where I am, really happy in a satisfied sort of way. And my family visited me, which was awesome, so all in all…life is hard and messy and sometimes sad but generally amazing. Oh, and there’s a tornado warning going on right now, please don’t laugh, but I’m really excited and I just ran outside to see if I could see anything. Me? From Oklahoma? I would’ve never guessed…;)

March 19, 2011

Disney - Clouds & Sunshine

I feel like I'm failing a little at the whole blogging thing, and I love blogging. But there are so many things that I love that I'm still trying to find the time to fit into my life right now that blogging has slipped into the background a little. My life has become crazy busy, just trying to juggle long hours of working, running, and sleep...which I guess you could say are my priorities. Oh, and eating. That's become a really big one too. 

This week has been killer for me, I've been so exhausted mentally and physically. Last night my shift was extended from getting off at 9:45 to getting off at 1:15, so I pulled in a twelve hour day, which seems to be happening a lot. It's crazy though, because I drag my feet to work, I moan and groan about how I don't want to go, but once I'm there, I love it. I seriously love it. Yesterday turned out to be probably the best day of work I've had so far. It was so awesome because as I was standing in Frontierland, just talking to guests as they headed out of the park (because it was a lil late) I had one lady come up to me and say thanks because everyone at Disney was so great, then I had a family come up and when they saw that my name was Mandy the husband broke down into a full rendition of Barry Manilow, and the wife looked at me and said, "My name's Mandy...I've had to put up with this for thirteen years of marriage." That started a ton of teasing going around, and I probably talked to them for ten minutes, just laughing. Oh! And then there was the guy who lives in Yukon, about ten minutes away from where I grew up! We had the full, "Do you know where the Xerox plant is? Okay go down the road from here, turn right, and I live..." conversation. You wouldn't think that it's a big deal, but every time I meet an Oklahoman we get super excited. It's like the further away from Oklahoma we all get the more like neighbors we become. Which is awesome because I've met a TON of neighbors this week. 

Anyway, this week has had it's ups and downs. Tuesday was a really bad day, this may sound crazy but it was the first bad day I've had down here. There are good things and there are bad things here, like anywhere else I suppose, and trying to navigate through the bad things without getting my heart burned in the process is tricky. It makes me a little sad, but I am having to learn how to be callous, to not trust people as easily as I have in the past, and to be on my guard more. I don't like that. I don't like knowing that I need to be more cautious and jaded. I like being innocent. I like being friends with everybody. So I called home and had an overflow of emotions and after I vented I was able to go to work, chill out a little, and then gear up for the hard thing to do... which always tends to be the right thing. Tuesday was rough. Wednesday was better. Friday things were back to normal. Funny how that always happens. 

Now today, today is going to be awesome, do you want to know why? Well, there are two of my favorite people in the whole wide world coming to visit me. Ma famille! :) Except for Jenni, who is stuck at home because of this little thing that they call college. I am SO excited to see them. At first, when they were planning this trip, I thought that they'd be coming a little bit early, because honestly I haven't been homesick since I've gotten here, but after some of the events of this week I'd say that the timing is perfect. Here's the crazy thing, on Monday I will have lived in Florida for one month. One whole month. WHOA. I am 1/6th of the way through this program...how crazy is that?! 

Time is flying by here in Florida, the days are long, the weeks are short, and the friends are good. That pretty much sums up everything. So much is happening, so many things that I want to write about now that I actually have a computer in front of me and a few minutes of free time, like getting to see some good friends from back home last Monday, or the chase for the counterfeit money man across the Magic Kingdom, or snorkeling with sharks & stingrays with Christy last week, but getting ready for work is in my near future so I need to cut this short. I'll try and be more diligent with my blogs, pinky promise.

 So that's all from my side of the world today, as I get ready to head off to Liberty Square and dish out the Mickey Mouse ice creams, and maybe, just maybe, see some famliar faces walk past me as I'm working. It's going to be a good day in the Sunshine State, I just know it. 

March 10, 2011

Disney - Rainy Days

It's 8:45 am currently, Orlando time. 
2:45 pm Vienna time.
I only know that because my phone still has Vienna time saved on it from when my sister was living over there...so it's kind of one of those useless facts that I can always say if there's an awkward silence, "Hey do you know what time it is in Vienna?!" 
No don't worry. I don't actually do that. That'd be lame. 
Anyway. 
I was supposed to work a 12 hour shift starting in an hour, but it's pouring down rain and I just got a call saying that I didn't have to come into work today. 
Something about working outdoor foods in an amusement park puts your job at the mercy of the weather. 
I won't complain.
My job is going really great, not saying I want to sell popcorn for the rest of my life, but I think I can handle it for a few more months. The best part about it is really the people that I work with. Everyone has been so nice and really patient with this girl who doesn't really know what in the world she's doing.
Another great thing is some of the guests that I get to interact with. Just yesterday I had such a sweet moment when the parade was passing by our cart, when a mom and her little girl, Ella, came and stood in front of me. Ella was about 4 years old, dark hair, sweet sweet smile, and had Down's syndrome. Her mom was holding her and she wasn't watching the parade in front of her, she was watching me behind her. So I was smiling and waving and talking to her, and she was giggling and just being adorable. Made my day. :)
Right after her I met the guy with a huge OU tatoo across his heart.
All in a day's work! 

March 5, 2011

Disney - Earned My Ears

All week long I've had this little red tag sticking out of the bottom of my name tag, with the words, "Earning My Ears" written on it. What it tells every guest in the park is that I have no clue what I'm doing because I'm new.
But yesterday...yesterday, the tag came off.
I've earned my ears.
Mouse ears, that is. 
Today I'm going into work and I won't have a trainer there to be at my side if I mess up.
Now that's intimidating.
But I'm actually really excited to figure out how this system works and to give it my best shot... go big or go home, right?
That's kind of been my catch phrase this week: go big or go home.
There's no in between for me here in Florida.
Either I'm going to give it all I have, every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears...or it's not worth my time to be here.
Either I'm going to learn everything that I can possibly learn and take away as much as I can from this experience... or I'm just wasting my energy.
I'm so pumped up right now on this new job and this new experience, I love how much I'm learning both on the job and off the job.
I love how much I need to learn.
Oh, and I'm doing something a little scary for me, I'm posting this blog to facebook.
In the words of my dear, wise sister, "Manda, you need to get over yourself and just put yourself out there. People want to hear how you're doing."
I've been a little chicken to do it because my words are where all of my thoughts come out, the good, the bad, and the ugly...and sometimes I'm not sure if people want to read what I'm saying. But I'm trying really hard to get over myself and let you guys catch a glimpse of my life right now.
So welcome to my blog, if this is the first post you're reading. If you're really nice and tell me that you're reading this, I might mail you a Mickey Mouse post card.
And yes...that was bribery. 

March 3, 2011

Disney - Compassion and Compromise

Tonight was really great.
Amazing actually.
And do you want to know the crazy thing?
Nothing unusual happened.
Except this:
I'm home at my grandparents house for the night (they live about an hour and a half away from my apartment) because my car is out of the shop and it's at their house, so I needed to pick it up. And since tonight is Wednesday, I went to church with them to meet the teens.
It was a smaller youth group with some re
ally great people in it, and the lesson was really good...but you know what got me? Walking in, sitting next to two girls I'd never met before, hitting it off and talking for a while, and then singing.
It wasn't an emotional set up.
No dark lights.
No alter calls.
No "make you cry" sermons.
Even the band was a little off in their rhythm.
But my heart was so desperate to worship God...
so needing a moment of quietness...
that praising Him in that moment was one of the best worship experiences I've had in a long time.
I am learning so much about what it means to be a Christian.
What it means to be in the world but not of it.
What is means to live a life of compassion but not compromise.
I have felt so at peace since I moved to Florida, filled with a confidence that I have never had before that this is the place where God wants me to be...but at the same time I have never felt so strongly like I'm in a lion's den as I do now.
My faith is my core, my everything, and I'm figuring out what it means to live faith under fire.
To be sincere in what I believe.
To walk the walk and not just talk the talk.
I want to love people like Jesus loves them, whole heartily, sincerely, with everything that I am...but I don't want to compromise what makes my faith different, the core of what Jesus taught, the values and the redemption and the forgiveness of sins. That is where my identity is found, but acknowledging the presence of sin in this world is offensive to people. What I believe in goes against the grain, it goes against human nature, but it is what makes me who I am. My identity.
So tonight, dropping all of the guards that I have had up...
being in a place where I can lift my hands and worship God with abandon...
it was so peaceful.
So amazing.
And even better? Here's the verse that's been on my mind recently. Kind of appropriate, don't you think? 

Philippians 4:6-8
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

March 2, 2011

Disney - Nine Days In

My first week working at Disney World is officially over, and what a week it's been! Sunday I started on the job training, now I have today and tomorrow off, and then on Friday I'll have my assessment. If all goes well and I don't majorly mess up the assessment, on Saturday I'll be on my own. Am I ready for that? Not so much... but I've been doing a lot of things recently that I thought I wasn't ready for, and I'm discovering that if you just act like you know what you're doing than you start actually figuring it out...so I'm just pretending like I'm ready for everything that's happening around me. I'm winging it! 

In case you were wondering, my job is working outdoor carts at the Magic Kingdom. If you ever see those people selling Mickey Mouse ice cream bars or boxes of popcorn, that's me. I really love certain parts of my job, especially interacting with the guests. I've had a blast during training because we've been out in front of our carts getting guests to clap and dance around with us, just goofing off. It's been hilarious because we'll start doing the cha cha slide, and as guests walk by they have no idea what's going on, but they start doing whatever we're doing! People are so funny to watch sometimes, it really makes me smile.

I've really surprised myself since I've gotten here to Florida, because I have been very oddly calm. As I've ridden the bus to work, gotten home from work past midnight the past few nights, ran errands, cooked meals, and done laundry... I've begun to get an idea of what my life looks like right now. It's different, very different from anything I ever imagined it would be, but I like it. I like being confident on my own, I like knowing that I can be brave enough to do hard things, I like meeting so many new people and getting to jump into their lives, even for the briefest moments in time.

I am one week and two days into something life changing. Something crazy. I love so many things about Florida, my new friends, parts of my job, the weather...and I'm trying to take the harder things in stride, trying to grow from every experience that I come across. So far, one week and two days in, I am feeling like this is going to be something incredible. Something worthwhile. It's not all pixie dust, there are definite downsides that I'm trying to figure out how to deal with, but I have such a strong group of friends around me, both new and old, that I think will help me through whatever is ahead.

Alright, this is getting to be a long blog, but I just wanted to say thanks to all of the people who have been praying and cheering for me. it's really meant the world to me. If you haven't heard me say it enough than this is for you: thank you!