Tale as long as time

“If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it.”

– Cogsworth

As I continue on my Disney journey and explaining the life lessons each movie taught me, I have to include one of my favorite movies EVER, Beauty and the Beast. In my previous posts, I picked out a song from the movie that spoke to me but for Beauty and the Beast, that’s just impossible. I love everything about the movie (absolutely everything). But what I love most about the movie is Belle. It’s safe to say that she is my girl crush. Not only is she pretty but Belle is gentle, caring, intelligent, and determined. Growing up, I always wanted to be like Belle. (I know she is just a movie character but work with me here) She embodies many of the characteristics I wish to emulate, like being selfless, seeing the inner beauty in others, standing up for what you believe in, and always being willing to learn.

So today, instead of analyzing a song, I’m going to analyze Belle and how she influenced me. (and continues to do so) .

Lesson #1 

Intelligence is beautiful.

We are first introduced to Belle as she strolls through her tiny village one morning, running errands and picking up a new book to read. The villagers find this to be very peculiar, questioning why such a pretty girl has her nose stuck in a book. Doesn’t she have something else better to do with her life?! What they don’t know is Belle has a thirst for knowledge, adventure, and a curiosity for what lies beyond “her provincial life”. She finds reading books as a way to quench her thirst and learn more about the world.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read a new book at least every month. Growing up, I used to be a bookworm but as life got in the way, I haven’t had time to read as much as I’d like. But this year, I’m determined to change that. No matter if it is a classic novel, a textbook, a fantasy novel,  or a comic book, all books have something to teach us. Within each book lies a story that will broaden our perspective, challenge us, or make us laugh. Books make us think and wonder. So far, I have kept my resolution and read 2 very different books that caused me to examine myself and enable me to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Belle shows us that intelligence is beautiful, that the more we learn, the more we become informed and enlightened. And with knowledge, we can achieve our dreams.

Lesson #2 

Be yourself and never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in

One of the first lessons we learn from Belle is to be yourself and not to be discouraged by others. It is quite obvious that Belle is an outcast in town and that most people find her to be odd but she does not let a bunch of ridiculous opinions get her down. Instead of pretending to be in love with Gaston and “fitting in” with the town or giving up her love for reading, Belle remains true to herself

Belle was also not afraid to voice her opinion or speak up for what she believed in. As a prisoner of the castle, Belle was not intimidated by the Beast. Instead, her comments and arguments challenged the Beast to look beyond his narrow ways and to see the truth.

Belle teaches us to brave, to remain strong even when we are scared, and to stand up for what is right.

Lesson #3 Loyalty.

This point can very easily be tied with Lesson #2. Throughout the movie, Belle shows her loyalty to those she really cares about. The first example is her father, Maurice. The town may find Belle to be a bit odd but to  everyone, Maurice is downright strange. He is always tinkering with his “new inventions.” Gaston even thinks Maurice is crazy and should be locked up.  But Belle does not care about what anyone else thinks. She is aware that her father is a little quirky but loves him and supports him despite of others’ opinions.

Another example is how Belle returns to the Beast after leaving to look after her father. She cares for the Beast and wants to warn him of the attack on his castle.  Although she was merely a prisoner and does not owe anything to the Beast, she feels a sense of loyalty towards him. Her steadfast loyalty towards both her father and the Beast helps her to gain respect from them and those around her.

Lesson #4 Don’t judge a book by the cover

One of the most obvious lessons from Beauty and the Beast is that of inner beauty versus outer beauty. Gaston may seem like the whole package, tall, dark, and handsome; but he proves to have a serious vanity issue and is in capable of seeing  anything beyond surface level. His massive ego, interest in only himself, and ugly personality immediately cause Belle to run far away from Gaston. He is a prime example of how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Although Belle was startled by the Beast’s appearance at first, with patience, kindness, and love, she was able to look past his exterior and see the man who lied within.

One of my favorite quotes, which happens to be from another Disney movie, describes this lesson very well.

“Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what outside, but what is inside that counts.”

-Aladdin

So many times we see something only for surface value and not for what truly is. As someone who is physically disabled and looks different from most, this is something I experience all the time.  Belle reminds us to look beyond physical appearance and see the inner beauty in those around us.

belle2

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Lessons from the wind

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind

As you could probably tell from my last post, I am obsessed with Disney and on a mission to share my interpretations and memories of some iconic songs.

“Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, in my opinion, is one of Disney’s greatest hits. Not only is it easy to sing along, which I’ve done several times, (it’s not pretty though) but Colors of the Wind is full of so much wisdom and thought-provoking questions.

As I read over the lyrics last night, my mind felt blown!  As a child, I listened to this song almost everyday and thought the lyrics related so well to the movie but now as an adult, realize the beautiful messages in this song that can be transferred to our daily lives. Seriously, there are a lot of issues in our world today that could be resolved or viewed differentaly by listening to this song. (not trying to sound political but just saying, that’s my political rant)

An overall theme of the song is about broadening one’s perspective, how often we are blinded by ignorance or narrow-mindness. The song starts out by saying:

You think I’m an ignorant savage
And you’ve been so many places
I guess it must be so
But still I cannot see
If the savage one is me
How can there be so much that you don’t know? You don’t know

Lesson #1

Although, this may seem self-explainatory, it is something that is much easier said than done.  We are all guilty of judging others, it is part of our human nature. We often think that if we’ve met one, we’ve met them all. Or that anyone who doesn’t dress, think, or act like us, they should be treated like outcasts.
For example, I have one friend from college that before we ever even spoke to each other, I had a preconceived notion of her (which turned out to be absolutely false) She had designer clothes, designer bags, her hair and makeup was always flawless, never seemed troubled by anything, and always surrounded by friends. Well, you can imagine how stupid and terrible I felt when the two of us started to work together on a group project and we got to know each other better. The way she put others before herself, how she saw the best in everyone regardless of their looks, and how upon asking “how are you?”  in passing, she genuiely was interested in you; not just in making small talk. She is an incredible person and I am so glad my own ignorance didn’t keep me from gaining such an amazing friend..

There is a saying “don’t let one bad apple ruin them all”. Don’t let your own ignorant, preconceived notions, or bias ideals, blind you from seeing the truth.

Lesson #2
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

As cliche as this is and is repeated over and over, it is true. Everything in life has a reason. Native Americans believe there are spirits everywhere and although I’m a Christian, I definitely can understand what they’re saying. But also from a physical viewpoint, plants provide oxygen, earth provides foods that we eat, water to drink, and animals to watch over( either to provide us with food or to love and care for) Everything has a reason and they deserve our respect.

Lesson #3

This is my favorite part!

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew

This ties in with the lyrics from before and is something I’ve touched on a million times in my blog. One of the greatest downfalls of humans is being narrow0minded; seeing the world only from our perspective and nothing more. By doing this, we are shutting the door on so many wonderful experiences, opportunities, and suprises the world has to offer.

Although many stories come to mind, one in particular is that of high school. Many of the teachers were uncomfortable with my lack of balance or unsteady gait to explain it best. I would take step, hoping my feet would do what my brain told them. Sometimes I’d take one step forward and two steps backwards. I used to stumble and fall a lot, never usaully seriously injuring myself but there was always that concern. Many of the teachers wanted me in a wheelchair but I explained (several times too many) that this was something I was not interested in. How I had once been in a wheelchair but was stubborn and determined to walk again, even if it was not perfect. And that I had no interest in going back into a wheelchair, it was non-negotiable for me. Well, you can imagine how well that went with some teachers.

After plenty of teacher meetings and feeling attacked, I decided it was my job to educate these teachers on what it is like to be physically disabled and to have a physically disabled student because they didn’t really understand either. And if they weren’t educated on this issue, then how was it fair of me to expect them to understand what daily life was like for me being disabled and why the thought of any assistive device didn’t sit well with me? It was with this conclusion that they started to see more through my perspective but also I began to see from their eyes.Both sides decided to let go of the wheelchair idea and along with finding a greater respect for each other, we we’re able to find an even ground..

Maybe that’s not the greatest example but hopefully it makes you think. There are many times where arguments or disagreements could easily be solved by pausing and trying to learn what it is like to walk in the footsteps of a stranger. Everyone is unique with a different upbringing, a different way of thinking, and a unique perspective. Although frusterating at times, this is what makes the world such a great place, no one of is exactly alike and we all can learn something from each other. Even if we don’t see eye to eye, we can still listen and acknowledge contrasting perspectives, opinions and beliefs.

Lesson #4

How high will the sycamore grow
If you cut it down, then you’ll never know

This ties in with Lesson #1 and 3#. We are quick to judge based on first glance or what we perceive the situation to be and by doing this, we often turn our backs on something great. Something that could challenge our thinking, improve who you are as an invidual,  or enable us to grow.  And don’t we all want to grow?


poc

We need to sing with all the voices of the mountain
Need to paint with all the colors of the wind
You can own the earth and still
All you’ll own is earth until
You can paint with all the colors of the wind

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Taking a page from The Jungle Book

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife

Have you ever re-watched a children’s movie or listened to kid’s music and got more out of it as an adult than you previously did as a child?

To anyone who knows me, it is no suprise to them of my love for Disney. I spent most of my childhood watching Disney movies, singing along to every song, and being influenced by the many life lessons Disney taught. Most of my favorite childhood memories include Disney whether it is the princesses, beloved characters such as Winnie the Pooh, or other cheesy yet awesome shows like Lizzie McGuire.

After my first brain tumor surgery, Make-A-Wish partnered with Give Kids the World and sent my family to Disney World for a week long vacation. It was such a fun and magical experience filled with amazing memories that I will cherish forever.

One of my favorite parts of having to spend so much time at Johns Hopkins Hospital as a kid, was the fact that they had The Disney channel which we didn’t have it at home. I easily wasted hours in my hospital room just chilling out, watching The Disney channel. But when I had my second brain tumor surgery, two years later, they had taken away the channel! I was devasted, along wiith many other kids. Needless to say, Johns Hopkins quickly fixed that issue and made sure to provide the channel again for the children’s center.

The other week, as I was listening to a Disney playlist and once again, the songs inspired me just as they did when I was a kid. So many of them contain messages of how to deal with difficulties in life, how to treat those around you, and to never give up.

One of my favorite songs is Bare Necessities from The Jungle Book. The song makes you want to dance. It is so happy and light-hearted. In Bare Necessities, Baloo explains to Mowgli the importantance of letting go of your worries, having a good time with your friends and family, and going with the flow. He teaches Mowgli that some of the greatest gifts in life, such as love, friendship, and laughter, are free and there is no need to stress out over these things. These are natural pleasures and can enhance our mood causing us to enjoy our lives more. (Who doesn’t like that idea?!) So many times, we waste so much time and energy worrying that we neglect the people we love.  Worrying takes away from living in the present moment which is something I’ve repeated in many of my posts because I feel like this is something we all need to work on. (especially me)

At the end of the song, Baloo touches on another important lesson.

“And don’t spend your time lookin’ around
For something you want that can’t be found                                                                                 When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin’ about it
I’ll tell you something true”.

He continues to tell us how we should relish in what we have instead of wanting what we don’t have. And that, more than often, if we do stumble upon what we thought would make us happier; we end up still searching for more instead of appreciating what we’ve had all along.

As we approach the new year, it is easy to get caught up in New Year’s resoluions and our goals for the future but don’t let your goal for an entire year, keep you from living one day at a time and being grateful for love, friendships, and the life that we have been given.

baloo

The bare necessities of life will come to you
They’ll come to you!

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The ticking sound of time

“You would know the value of time, the day you start counting not the hours, but the seconds they contain, and what you did with them.”

-Herman J Steinherr

As the holidays quickly approaches, our minds tend to reflect on Christmas memories and holiday traditions. After asking some friends what to write about in my blog, they suggested writing about these memories. Well I want to write about another memory, CLOCKS!

Clocks have always been a part of my life. To me, there is something so soothing and comforting about the ticking of a clocks. The constant tick tock drives most people crazy but the rhythmatic sound makes me feel secure and at ease.

One of my dad’s favorite hobbies was to collect clocks, antique clocks, cuckoo clocks, clocks from a ship, and the list goes on. At one point, there were over 70 clocks in our house. There was something about clocks that fascinated my dad. Maybe it was how they worked, how each clock had such intricate detail, and the story each clock held. He loved his clock collection, seeing the beauty in every clock and every chime. I never realized until I was in a house without clocks how he had passed that love onto me. It was so quiet! My friend once spent the night at my house and in the morning, she asked how I slept all the time with clocks always ticking and chiming. I had no answer except that the sound had become second nature to me.

When my dad passed away, clocks not only were a way of telling time but they became a memory of the time we had. A man who was a second father to me, passed away, his family gave us his clock which was actually a gift from my family years ago. His clock also acts as a reminder of our time together and it makes me smile with each chime.

Growing up with clocks has taught me many lessons including preferring an analog clock over digital clocks. But one thing clocks taught me most was to respect time, to value and enjoy your time instead of trying to control it. Time is precious, every second and every moment, no matter how unimportant or small it may seem. To live in the present instead of focusing on the past or on the future. A clock lives in the moment, it doesn’t dwell on the time from yesterday or what is going to occur at a certain time tomorrow. A clock makes every second count, literally. Shouldn’t we all be like clocks?

As we rush around for the holidays, going to parties, shopping, wrapping, and everything in between,  remember to make every second count. Every action you make, every moment, and every word you speak. Respect your time, live in the moment, and value every second even it is spent with people we don’t really care for or doing something that we would much rather not be doing.

“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.”
― Peter Pan

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Don’t suck the fun out of life

“There’s joy and wonder everywhere when you see the world through the eyes of a child”

-Katrina Mayer

Isn’t there just something fun and exciting about drinking through a straw? Whether it’s bendy, striped, twisty, or bright neon colors, straws transform an ordinary glass of water into a cup of fun.

One of the many side effects I experienced from brain cancer and radiation treatments was losing all facial movement. For several years I couldn’t smile, frown, and had no control of my face. My cheeks became extremely puffy due to the lack of muscle and the steroids I was taking. Saying I looked like a chipmunk is an understatement. As a result of this, I started to use a straw with my drinks because drinking from a glass was next to impossible. I would dribble all over myself and whatever I drank, ended up all over me. So a straw was an easy solution to that problem. Thankfully, after a couple surgeries and hours of speech therapy, the movement in my face came back! I could smile again and just in time for high school.

Although the facial movement has slowly returned to my face and I can drink out of glass now, it’s still easier to use a straw. As my doctor explained once, the muscle around your lips is like a rubber band and when it breaks, the muscle never completely recovers. So I still use a straw most of the time, partly because it’s easier and partly because it reminds me to not take life so seriously.

Some of my friends know I always come prepared with straws and just shake their heads as I pull a folded-up straw out of my pocket. Some women carry lipstick in their purses; I carry straws.

A straw is not only a simple solution to queching my thrist but it also reminds me of how important it is to maintain my childlike innocence. To not view the world from the perspective of a jaded, opinionated adult but as a child full of wonder and imagination. To always look for the best in people, to be hopeful no matter what I face, and to find joy in the simple things. Someone once told me “Life is so much better through a straw”, I think they were onto something with that thought. Straws make a simple drink such as a milkshake or a smoothie seem like a treat or full of adventure. Even at bars, the straws used in fancy drinks make them more appealing.

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But the thing is, is it the straw itself that brings out the kid in us or is it our attitude towards  straws? And why only have that attitude when using a straw? Why not approach every day and every moment with that childlike innocence?

No matter what happens, always remember to keep your childlike innocence,. It is the most important thing.

-Federico Fellini

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A game of give or take

Being a role model is the most powerful form of education”

-John Wooden

 Growing up with 3 older brothers, sports have always been a big part of my life, whether it’s playing in them or being a spectator. The other Saturday, I was watching pregame for college football, trying to catch-up on some highlights and immediately my eyes were drawn to the TV as Tim Tebow started his analysis of the game.I’m going to be a that annoying girl right now but oh my gosh, he is so beautiful!! And it’s not just that he is good looking but also his morals and character that make him so attractive.

That got me to thinking, how come people like Tim Tebow; who are fantastic role models and committed to helping others,  get a bad rep compared to someone like a flashy athlete with a huge ego, whines when it doesn’t go their way, and makes poor decisions? It’s so weird and frusterating how our society and the media tend to focus soley on drama and trainwrecks instead of paying attention to those who have an upstanding character, put others before themselves, and overcome adversity with determination, courage, and strength.

And is that the kind of role model you want for your child? Someone who gives up when faced with a challenge or blames someone else for their mistakes instead of owning up to it? Or just throws life away when things get tough?

Isn’t that very much like what our society has become too? When things go bad, get difficult, or get a little bit awkward, we throw them away. Food, clothes, phones, computers, or to get a little deeper, careers, relationships, friendships. What happened to forgiveness or trying to repair something instead of just throwing it out and buying a new one?

Sometimes I think instant gratification has made us all weak, causing us to forget what hard work is, and that more than often, we expect things to go a certain way and when they don’t, we throw them away. And as adults, hopefully we can know the difference between something earned and a gift.  But what about the kids in this world who don’t know the difference? Kids are innocent and need a strong role model to teach them about life, to stay determined through trials in life, to give back to those around you, and what the value of hard work truly is instead of  being given something.

Gale Ann Hurd, a famous director,  once said “If you can’t find a good role model, be one.” In a world where there are so many people only concerned for themselves, don’t be a taker. Choose to be a giver. Choose to be a good role model.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

-Albert Schweitzer

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Life is like a Ferris wheel

 

“If you’re gonna make a change, you’re gonna have to operate from a belief that says life happens not to me, but for me”
-Tony Robbins
It’s been said a million times before but isn’t it funny how a song brings back a memory?
While watching a football game a couple weeks ago, I heard I feel good by James Brown being played throughout the stadium. Immediately, my mind went back in time and was reminded of a time  of dancing on desks.

It was after school, I was in second grade and just hanging out in my mom’s classroom. For some odd reason, don’t ask me why, but that song was stuck in my head.  So naturally, I started dancing, yes I was that weird kid who randomly started dancing. One thing led to another and before you know it, I was dancing on the desks to a song no one else could hear but me. I was full of energy and unstoppable.

That night, my mood unexpectedly changed, almost as if someone flipped a light switch. By that time, I had already undergone my first brain tumor surgery and that night, it became obvious the tumor was back. I started vomiting uncontrollably, felt as though someone was taking a sledge hammer to my head and my desire to dance was gone.Within a week, I had another surgery to remove the tumor a second time.
For most people who follow my blog, you know things slowly went downhill after that but then with a lot of faith and determination, things went uphill. The tumor came back a third time, I received radiation treatments instead of surgery. The radiation destroyed the cancer but scattered throughout my brain, nearly killing me and leaving me physically disabled. I fought for my life, proved some people wrong along the way, and continued to grow, never letting anything keep me down for too long.
As I was thinking about this memory, it reminded me of how quickly our lives change, for the better or for the worst and with each change, you gain a new perspective. Change in life is like riding a Ferris wheel, as it spins around and around, your view constantly changes. The view from the top is completely different from the view at the bottom or in the middle.  But each view is unique and allows you to see life from a different angle.
A sudden change in my health was not the greatest news and dealing with cancer was not a positive change in my life but it gave me a new appreciation for life, a new perspective. Maybe I don’t dance on desks anymore but I still dance all the time, just safely on the ground.
“Here’s the truth, your situation is never permanent; it’s what you make it. Life is not solid, it’s liquid, it changes.”

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