The Thought that Counts

One of the most used expressions in the English language is, “It’s the thought that counts.” It’s a saying that is so often repeated that over time, it has lost its true value, simply drowning in a sea of meaningless words. As it goes with the most  profound definitions, the true meaning of this expression came to me practically out of the blue.

My 16th birthday was the epitome of the most loving thought: two parents wishing for nothing less than a trip that would make their daughter’s dreams come true. They spent months planning the perfect getaway, mostly without my help! I was completely blown away when they showed me the itinerary; I never dreamed I’d be going on a trip like that!

The first day of the vacation was straight out of a dream. I needed to pinch myself every hour in reminder that this was real. We got back in our room decently late after a day of adventure. I felt as if I was on the top of the world, and I was super excited to climb into my Polynesian bed to reenergize for the next day’s events. I entered the room and was greeted by a massive Mickey Mouse-shaped gift basket paired with Tiana and Minnie Mouse balloons. Inside, it was filled with coloring supplies and a personalized Mickey ears hat. The Disney Florist left a small, personalized note with the basket. It read:

“Today you have been given two gifts. One gift is the treasure you hold in your hands. The other is the gift of thoughtfulness. Both were meant for you.”

I sat with this note for a while, rereading it in my head. I smiled at its innocence, but moved on to exploring my new gifts.

Three months later, I was sitting in my mother’s classroom, eating my lunch. I pulled out my chunky peanut butter and jelly on wheat from my floral lunch bag and saw a shiny Phineas and Ferb sticker on the sandwich bag. This time, something clicked.

I’m so lucky to have a father who still makes my lunch, just as I’m so lucky to have parents who went the extra mile to give me the greatest birthday present. However, it’s one thing to just give someone a gift, and a completely different thing to do so with love, compassion, and thoughtfulness. The gift basket and the sticker were unexpected additions, but as sweet as single cherry atop a 10 scoop sundae.

The big picture is often what most people think about, but the small details are the most important. Just as a song would sound empty without bass, a gift is nothing but a material possession without care. There are so many things in life to be grateful for, but most of all, we should be thankful for the simple things brought into our lives with love. If we notice the feeling behind a gift rather than the gift itself, we ultimately receive a greater gift: the knowledge that  it is the thought that counts.

Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust,




A trip to the Walt Disney World Resort is an absolute sensory experience. Many guests seem to be pulled to one specific sense. Each sense is a like a spider web, catching tourists as its prey. Disney enthusiasts spend their free time trying to formulate the sensory experience that Disney is, but it often proves impossible to do it justice. Through this blog, I hope to bring to life the indescribable, or at least give a glance into the heart of Disney, rather than the brain. For a writer, emotions and senses are the greatest things to write about. For a travel writer, they’re vital oxygen that allow a memorable story to breathe. The unfortunate thing about Disney World (and most destinations, for that matter) is that you can’t always bring senses back with you, only a remembrance of what it was like. When one comes across the opportunity to capture a sense for good, the opportunity is often immediately seized. That explains why I joyously ran to the juice section of my local grocery store. My parents told me the rumors, but were they true? As I confirmed my hope, I quickly grabbed one (expensive) bottle of Disney senses, and rushed to the cashier, afraid that any second I would wake up from this lovely dream without paying for a sample to take home. But it was real. In my hand was a bottle of… GOP JUICE!

Okay, no, GOP juice is not its own religion, like turkey legs or Dole Whips, but it is a unique flavor that stuck with me from my most recent trip. February 20 was a warm, sunny morning at the Polynesian. We took the short, leisurely stroll from our room in Aotearoa to the Great Ceremonial House for our reservation at Ohana. Cast members presented my family with colorful leis, and after the usual 10 to 15 minute wait, we were seated. For my birthday, they gave us a table with a nice view of the castle. I gazed out at the castle, then back in the dining room filled with characters, while taking in the famous Polynesian aroma.

After a few minutes to soak in the atmosphere, our waitress came to our table and filled our glasses with a juice so orange that Orange Bird himself would be jealous. At first, I wasn’t too thrilled to try it. It looked very strange, very fake. However, I trusted Disney, and decided to taste it. Boy, am I glad I did! Every tropical flavor you could imagine invaded my taste buds, and I was even further immersed in my resort.

“What is this?!?!” I questioned our waitress.

“GOP juice!” My mom and I traded confused looks. GOP..? “It’s a popular beverage in Hawaii- a mix of guava, orange, and passionfruit!”

At that moment, it was love.

I can’t remember exactly how many glasses of GOP juice I had, but thanks to our lovely waitress, my glass was never empty. When I returned home, GOP juice became another missed memory, placed on the shelf with my favorite attractions, Adventureland egg rolls, and Epcot music. I knew in a matter of months I’d return to most of those things, but the juice was a different story. We didn’t go to Ohana on every trip. There was a hole in my stomach that I knew I couldn’t fill. Its only fuel was the flavor of sunshine itself. Then, the miracle happened.

“I have a surprise for you!” warned my parents. I couldn’t even imagine what it could be. My dad went to the fridge, and pulled out an illustrated bottle. I slowly read the label aloud, “Passion… Orange… Guava… POG… GOP!” Right before my eyes was an unthinkable dream come true! It was by far the most exciting part of my day, and probably week. It may seem lame, but it was a perfect reminder of how grateful we should be for simple pleasures. No, I wasn’t still in my room at the Polynesian, but at least it tasted like I was. Sometimes, that’s really all you need. (However, a personal pineapple soft serve machine would be a welcome addition to my life, to use in between cups of GOP.)

Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust,


For information on finding your own bottle of GOP, go to!