Happy Holidays! (+ Photos from Epcot’s Germany Pavilion)

Thank you for all your support this year. I’m excited to make 2012 even better! Have a magical holiday & remember the many reasons for the season. May peace find its way into your heart tonight.

Here’s some special pictures I took in Germany at Epcot this year. They’re miniaturized photos of the miniature village, where they’re celebrating the holidays, too!

Here is the church, and here is the steeple!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Deck the halls!

Faith, Trust, Pixie Dust, and Lots of Love,

Lindsay

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Ursula’s Latest Victim

“A woman doesn’t know how precious her voice is until she’s been silenced.” – Ursula

We’ve all had that feeling.. you wake up and someone says “Good morning!” to you. You open your mouth to respond, but instead of a friendly hello, you sound like a groggy Grinch. As you may have guessed, I’m writing this from experience.

This has happened to me before, but perhaps not at a worse time. I sing constantly, but during the holiday season, I am always found around my house belting my favorite Christmas tunes. These two weeks are also especially important for my voice; I have a singing exam this week, and next week, I’m performing at the Candlelight Processional in Epcot.

I pray that my sore throat heals as soon as possible, but its a part of living up north and singing your heart out everyday. Perhaps feeling a bit like Ariel isn’t the worst thing in the world; after all, she did get her handsome prince at the end.. AND she got her voice back in only 3 DAYS!

Ariel!

Stay healthy, friends 🙂

Faith, trust, & pixie dust,

Lindsay

“What’s this?” When Halloween & Christmas Collide..

For the first time in weeks, I felt as if I had had a good night’s sleep. I was excited to actually have a weekend at home that brought the promise of Halloween activities along with it. When I opened my eyes from my peaceful slumber, I was in for quite a surprise.

As I would on a frosty winter morning, I rushed to the window, thrilled at what I saw. There were snowflakes floating in the air and the ground was sparkly white. It was October 29th and we had snow.

If you’re reading this from, say, Colorado, I’m sure this is nothing special, but for a resident of Pennsylvania, snow isn’t usually seen until the end of December.

Once I got over the initial shock, I changed into my flannel Christmas pajamas, grabbed my Santa hat, and rushed downstairs to greet my parents with a rendition of “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” My parents laughed and we all gazed out the window at the snow gently coating the trees and recently changed leaves.

The morning was spent like any good snow day- in the kitchen with my mom, making breakfast and listening to Christmas songs. As I ate my pancakes, I laughed at the sight of the Halloween decorations next to the frosted window. This was all so surreal.

Later that afternoon, we continued our kitchen adventures with Halloween cookies and cupcakes. I had to pull out 20 different Christmas sprinkle jars until I finally found orange.

We also carved our pumpkin, which wasn’t in the best shape after sitting in the snow for hours. I wanted to do something clever and Disney, and soon enough, the idea hit me! I had to do Orange Bird! Unfortunately, I did not have a test pumpkin and my idea didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, but it still somewhat resembled my little citrus friend! Next year, though, I’ll remember to carve simply his face and add another green leaf to his stem.

Orange Bird pumpkin

This day was more confused than I was- it had no idea what we were celebrating. There was only one logical way to end it. We had to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas. That movie has always been a favorite of mine. The music and animation are equally superb and it combines two of my favorite holidays (kind of like this day did).

October 29 was not just a snow day or  Halloween or somewhere in between. It was a chance for me to regain my spirits that I had lost over the past few weeks. I had hit a wall of anxiety and exhaustion, but as always, a day devoted to magic, family bonding, and food brought me back to my center. The snow may have seemed like Mother Nature’s trick, but overall, it provided me with a Hallo-Christmas-ween holiday treat.

Faith, trust, and pixie dust,

Lindsay

Pixar Party- Remembering Steve Jobs

This Sunday night, October 9th, around 6:30 pm Eastern time and into the evening, I will be celebrating the life of Steve Jobs and his influence on Pixar. I’ll be hosting a party and watching all of the Pixar shorts, as well as a voted upon Pixar movie. The best part? You’re invited, too! I’ll be streaming live from the party on my UStream account, http://www.ustream.tv/channel/it-s-a-small-blog-after-all. You can either watch it through the video and chat with us, or chat along while watching the films at your own house! I will also be giving away one small prize to a lucky viewer, so come and join us! Comment or email me for more information!

Just Keep Swimming

“Take a look around you- the ocean’s alive! In the big blue world, it’s time for you to arrive!”

Fort Lauderdale beach isn’t one of the most exotic of oceans, and I’ve never been to the Great Barrier Reef, but as I sit here, gazing at the infinite green sea we call the Atlantic Ocean, I think back to the times I really felt like I was a part of “the big blue world.”

Last summer, I had the opportunity to snorkel in St. John. It was a serene beach with crystal clear water and a wide stretch of sand. I had never snorkeled before, so I had a few issues with the mask, but overall, it was a magical experience. I’ll never forget the seconds a swam with a whole school of fish. Within that moment, I believed I was one with the sea, and I wondered how Ariel was so willing to give it all up to be on land. My friend, Holly, who plays her in our character entertainment business, pointed out, “Ariel really had no idea how good she had it!”

A year later, I stood at the entrance of Shark Reef in Typhoon Lagoon, practically unable to move. I wondered why I was so afraid with an incredible experience under my belt. At the same time, my travel partner, Emily, who also snorkeled with me in St. John, was freaking out over the sharks and stingrays. (I swam with stingrays in the Grand Caymans, so that was no excuse for my anxiety either!) We were the only swimmers left; it was “now or never,” even though the lifeguard encouraged us to “take our time.” The exact second I swam past the drop off, a panic attack settled in. I couldn’t see fish, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t figure out how far I was from land. All I felt was chilly saltwater and the presence of a wimpy shark 10 feet below me. I got out of Shark Reef in a few seconds, but it seemed like hours. Afterwards, I was absolutely disappointed in myself. Our whole Disney trip had been full of fear conquering. This was pathetic.

A few hours later, I was ready to face the reef again. I gave myself a quick pep talk. I had done this before. I knew what I was doing. This was a great opportunity – I had no idea when I’d be able to do this again. I needed to be brave. I needed to face my fears. I couldn’t keep hiding anymore. We grabbed our disinfected snorkels and wrapped around the empty queue. We got into the reef right away, and it was as if all of the fish had come to celebrate. There were sharks, stingrays, colorful fish, and a few of the Dory variety. I was disappointed at the end, only because it was over far too quickly!

It’s amazing how we can lose sight of ourselves when we’re overcome by fear. I’m a relatively strong person, who looks up to Pocahontas, dreams of being Nemo in Finding Nemo: The Musical, and has always adored The Little Mermaid, and yet I couldn’t breathe at the sight of a minuscule shark. This happens to the best of us in an array of situations. A straight-A student can forget an easy answer, a linguist can get culture shock, a singer can get stage fright. We feel the pressure of living up to our personal definitions, and that itself is the problem. The pressure is only from within, and therefore, is not necessary. Our personal definitions can be so restricting, and what I’ve been learning lately is that perhaps they are not necessary either. Fear can get the best of us sometimes, but as I looked down at Dory swimming below me, I remembered her insightful lyrics:

“Sometimes things look bad, then poof! The moment is gone! And what do we do? We just keep swimming on!”

Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust,

Lindsay

The Courage to Sing from the Heart

Fear is a human limitation we force upon ourselves, not an act of natural instinct. Often times, fear is our only obstacle standing in the way, the sad part being that we are the ones who put it there. I am nowhere near fearless; in fact, I’m afraid of a lot of things. However, there had always been one fear holding me back from countless opportunities: my fear of singing in public.

This fear did not make sense compared to the rest of my personality. Acting is one of my favorite activities, and in that aspect of performance, I don’t have stage fright. I’m very loud, too, and not afraid to say what I think. I’ve been singing my entire life in school and church, but after all of those years and missed chances, there was never a solo. I had done singing auditions before, but I often let my nerves get the best of me, limiting myself in the process.

Once my friends and I started our small business, Enchanted Rose Entertainment, I knew I’d have to sing publicly. I wasn’t sure how I’d measure up to my experienced colleagues, but I was willing to try. After our first party, Chick-fil-a heard about us and booked us for their Princess Night. I was going to have to sing as Belle, in front of a crowded restaurant. Before I could even worry about how scared I would be, I had to pick a song. Immediately, I knew what I had to sing.

Ever since I had heard “Home” from the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, I hoped that one day, I could sing it. This goal seemed at first like a lost dream. How could I sing a song like that? I’d never have the guts or the range. Years later now, I was more experienced, and although I hadn’t tried it before, I had a few weeks to achieve this dream.

Every rehearsal with my mom was getting better and better. My Enchanted Rose partners, Holly and Olivia, were over for a meeting, so I figured I’d give my song a try. It didn’t go so well. I messed up a few times, and my voice wasn’t strong. I didn’t have any confidence. If I couldn’t sing in front of my best friends, how could I sing in front of a herd of strangers?

A few nights before the event, I was home alone and I knew I needed to practice the song, even though I was terrified to face it again. I got my instrumental recording ready, and paused for a minute. This time it had to be different. I could no longer bear to live in this constant state of fear. It was time to sing this song from my heart. I pressed play, and felt the rhythm of the piano notes. As I opened my mouth to sing, I heard my inner’s Belle’s voice, echoing her deepest emotions into my breath. By the end of the song, I had completely transformed into her.

“Build higher walls around me, change every lock and key. Nothings lasts, nothing holds, all of me.”

This fear could no longer limit the power and passion I held within myself. I absolutely loved Belle- she was able to see beauty where others could not, she always stayed true to herself, and she experienced pure love. I could relate to her, as well. Books are always my escape, and sometimes I feel as though the people around me don’t understand me. Her songs have brought me to tears on countless occasions, almost as if Belle is inside of me, weeping for her old home or realizing that she had learned so much during the hardest period of her life.

I finished the song with a sweet silence, followed by a dramatic applause from the rainstorm outside. I could hear the tiny droplets cheering me on, urging me to do this. All it took was the courage to sing from my heart. It had been there all along.

***

At first, I wanted to end this story with that tender moment, but I realized that had I done so, I wouldn’t have actually completed the tale. I hadn’t officially faced my fear yet. The performance day came, and I was feeling good. There were little nerves, only excitement. We rehearsed and got ready, and before I knew it, we were there in full character. Many of my family and friends stopped by; support was all around me. (For anyone that came, thank you. Without all of you, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish any of this. I’m truly grateful for you all.) The children couldn’t have been sweeter, and I felt honored to bring a little extra magic into their imaginative minds. This was exactly what I lived for.

It was nearing my time to sing, and I heard a little girl say to her father, “I want Belle to sing!” If I hadn’t been in character, that request would’ve brought me to tears. I went over to the girl and said, “Hey, princess! I heard you want me to sing! I’d like to sing my song to you!”  The music started and I got down to her height to sing her the story of how I gave up my freedom for my father’s. At first, it felt like it was only us, but as my song went on, the room increased. I was sharing my experience with the whole restaurant- no fear or nerves, just bare honesty. I was free,and  just like Belle, I was starting a new chapter in my life, a chapter I knew would be worth the read.

Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust,

Lindsay

To Imagineer

“To Imagineer”

A Found Poem taken from Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real

Imagineer:

Both a verb and a noun,

Standing firm upon the foundation of

Disney values and optimism.

Animators, directors, writers,

Artists, and set designers,

Inspired by the

Lessons Walt had taught us so well,

Learning and succeeding by

Dreaming and doing,

Purely Disney.

The dreamers and doers

Rallied together to reach

New milestones:

A scene, a breathtaking vista,

An unparalleled spectrum of opportunity,

Countless worlds,

Still unexplored.

To Imagineer

Begins with a spark.