Inside Out and Upside Down

Inside-Out-Teaser-PosterInside Out is an adorable and smart movie about the emotions living inside 11-year-old Riley’s head. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust work together to guide Riley through transitions and the ups and downs of life.

The movie made me smile. It also made me think about how I approach life and react to problems. Do I respond with joy, sadness, disgust, anger, fear or a combination of emotions?

Ultimately, it made me think of who or what is manning my control center.

I like to think it’s joy, but I know it can be sadness, disgust, fear and anger as well. This isn’t always bad – these emotions work together for our good unless we give one too much control.

I think we have a problem in the church. I’m going to call it the “curse-of-always being-blessed-and-having-no-other-adjective-syndrome”. It’s pretty serious. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. You’ve talked to that lady (or man) at church before who is always blessed, right? Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about (unless you are that person, in which case, bless you).

For some people suffering with the “curse-of-always being-blessed-and-having-no-other-adjective-syndrome” they have the misfortunate fortune of nothing ever going wrong. Nothing breaks, they can go on vacation, they have a good job, their kids are not crazy and their dog is even sweet. They are #blessed.

Then there’s the person whose car is making weird noises, they are scrounging money for a weekend getaway, they are thankful for their job, but don’t get paid much and there are holes in the carpet from where they pray on their knees each night for their kids. They are blessed too.

See how this can be annoying? Sunshine and rainbows do not equate being blessed. Being a Christian does not mean you must be happy 24/7. Having the Spirit of the living God active and alive in you means you’re blessed. A better word would be divinus, the Latin word meaning divinely inspired and sacred. I also love the Greek verb eulogeo meaning to praise or to consecrate with solemn prayer.

I once stopped in a church’s office where the receptionist quite literally answered “blessed” (insert sappy tone here) to my question of “how are you?”. This is too much people.

“Joy” does not man the control panel on her own. Let’s be the complex beings we were made to be filled with the Spirit and reflecting our Father’s love, whimsy, thoughtfulness, riskiness, courage and wisdom.

If blessed is still your favorite word, have yourself a little party in your pew and be happy. I’d rather be divinus. Want to join me?

ESTJs and Life with Joan (of Arc)

How do you fill in your blank? I’m too much. I’m not enough. I’m just too ____________.

So often we fill in the blank with lies. Sometimes we listen so intently to these messages that we eventually embody them and they become a part of us. They are like a little tumor we nickname and grow strangely fond of even though they are the cause of our demise. “Hello failure, so we meet again.” When we do this, we become the enemies of our own stories.

I’m quite fond of personality psychology and enjoy personality tests like Myers-Briggs. Pinterest got wind of people’s interest in personality and iconic movies, so we now have Myers-Briggs profiles for Star Wars characters, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Downton Abbey, Disney and many others.

You can find this and a hundred more on good ol' Pinterest.

You can find this and a hundred more on good ol’ Pinterest.

I’m an ESTJ, which apparently makes me the Darth Vader-Professor McGonagall-George Washington-Judge Judy-type. In a Holy Week version (because Christians want to play the game too), ESTJs are the Joan of Arcs. Even to me this could sound intimidating, except I know the truth about myself.

I am not a heavy breathing villain with a machine for a heart. While I may be a strict, but fiercely loyal Transfiguration professor at Hogwarts, I’m not at liberty to say.

Here’s what I can say, for many years I was a scaredy-cat. I learned to carefully tame my President McGonagall of Arc-ness. It became easier and safer to be that sweet, quiet girl. I found my identity in being who I thought others wanted me to be. I had on so many masks it would take years to remove them one at a time. After all, who could really handle the real me?

I was timidly prancing around like a mousy Jane Bennett when a bold Joan of Arc lay restless and dormant inside me. Identity crisis? I think yes. I was no more a Bennett than Joan of Arc was, but I didn’t have the faintest clue how to be the real me – the girl I had toned down and shoved back for so long. (Disclaimer: I think Jane Austen rocks)

'Joan of Arc' Painting by Sir John Everett Millais in 1865

‘Joan of Arc’ Painting by Sir John Everett Millais in 1865

If it was possible, I was even more afraid of my strengths than I was my weaknesses. I knew what to do with weakness – stare it down, overanalyze and “work on it” until it went away. Healthy, right? But my strengths were terrifying and exciting like a rare creature both familiar and exotic – a creature you instinctively knew you weren’t supposed to touch.

When I discovered that I was ardently pursued and fiercely loved by Jesus, that’s when things shifted. A daughter of the King does not live life masked and afraid.   A daughter of the king must wake up and stand up for such a time as this. When I realized that it was me and me alone holding myself back, I knew something had to change.

To dare to be known – to be real and to be known for exactly who I was and not who I was projecting – took practice. It also took someone else saying to me, “I see your beauty. I see your brokenness and I’m not afraid. You are a daughter of the king. Who you are is strong, tender and enough.”

For years I scoffed at who I was without understanding myself fully and without owning my story or my weaknesses and the part I played. I put the blinders on thick and blindly swung my sword around – this is both awkward and dangerous. I thought I was playing a key role in a battle, but really I was swatting at flies. Flies that were pestering me because I was in fact stuck in the muddy pit of comfort, holding tight to fear while sitting in a pile of poo. I was my own prisoner and I was fighting fear with poo. Not awesome. But now I know I must own my own story. And I must become friends with my story to be at peace and to find my strength.

So often we typecast people.  She’s so sweet! He’s such a nice guy. Oh, he’s just being a boy. I had typecast myself as the quiet, sweet, good girl. And then I got stuck there. When Joan of Arc started slashing her sword around, I told her to quiet down. I didn’t know how to do life with Joan. And I definitely didn’t know how to invite others to be their true selves whether that be the Joans, Chewbaccas, Thors or the Mother Theresas around me.

But now I want to dare greatly to be who God made me to be and allow others to do the same. I want to create an environment where people are free to be the best version of themselves. I want to call out the greatness, the beauty, the fire and the tenderness in those around me. I’ve been learning this from others and it’s a beautiful and freeing thing.

This is not a case for ignoring weakness. Instead, it’s a call to press into weakness and lean into brokenness and the darkness so that we may find intense light, love and life. I think the path to heaven is lined with discarded masks. Each step we take deeper into the kingdom of God reveals another characteristic of our Father and we can know a little more intimately who we are in Him and let down our masks.

We can do this because we are not slaves to fear. I have a confession to make – I don’t usually like Christian music. (I know… you can judge me a little). But this song is an exception. I’ve been listening to it over and over. Listen with me until you believe it too.

PS – What’s your Myers-Briggs type?

To Infinity and Beyond!

1171308My Disney College Program has come to an end.  I have learned much from my time at Disney.  For example, I’ve learned how to stay behind the yellow line and exit through the open doors to my left.  (It’s surprisingly a confusing concept for many Guests).  I’ve learned how to Disney point, answer a question and yell the next show time all at the same time and all while smiling.  (This takes practice).   I’ve also learned how to unlock about 30 different types of stroller brakes and how to park correctly.  (Trust me, there are many wrong ways to park a stroller).   And most importantly, I’ve learned how to wear white pleated granny pants with over-sized button up shirts.  (Stylish, I know, but please don’t try this at home).

Although I had planned on staying with Disney and moving to Orlando, I have recently had a change of plans and will be staying home.  This was an unexpected decision, but one I am very excited about.  I don’t know what lies ahead, but I look forward as the adventure continues to unfold.  The sky is the limit and I’m dreaming to infinity and beyond!

I am so thankful for all the memories I made at Walt Disney World.  I loved working at Hollywood Studios, my favorite park since I was little, and I loved being a Cast Member, which truly was a dream come true.  I treasure the friends I’ve made and all the special memories I’ll carry with me.

It’s always hard leaving Walt Disney World, the most magical place on earth, but instead of saying goodbye, I think I’ll just take my cue from my pal Mickey and say, “I’ll see ya real soon!”

Fireworks, Icecream and Mickey, Oh My!

2563676October brought with it a fun filled visit from my family.  Family vacations to Disney World have always been our favorite and this trip was no exception!  Joy and I showed off our wizardly ways at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, while the rest of the family made a grand adventure at the Animal Kingdom.  A day at the Magic Kingdom was fun and exciting.  Epcot was filled with random adventures – doesn’t everyone video tape “Living with the Land” with your own running commentary?  And a trip to Hollywood Studios included a fascinating tour by yours truly.  There were fireworks to see each night, Mickey icecreams to eat . . . each night, and of course Mickey Mouse to say hello to!
I love you guys!

Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust

4750575What do a playground, a mermaid and a playhouse have in common?  Well . . . me!  That’s right, throw some pixie dust on this Cast Member because yours truly is spreading her Disney Magic across Hollywood Studios!

Want to come along?  Then just think happy thoughts and off you go!  No, not to Neverland, but to the glamorous Hollywood of old.  Come with me to Hollywood Studios where every Guest is a Star.  Here at Hollywood Studios, we put you right in the middle of the action and let you experience the creation of the magic and the movies!

Our first stop is the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure.  Here Guests shrink and become smaller than ants as they play and explore this recreation of the backyard of the classic film,Honey I Shrunk the Kids.  Pose with Anty, slide down a giant role of film and climb a treacherous spider web if you dare.  This playground is not for the faint at heart!

Next stop is Playhouse Disney where kids of all ages can come and play at Mickey’s Clubhouse.  Dance and sing along with Mickey and friends, The Little Einsteins and Handy Manny in this live stage show!  If you like music and story time, then this is the place for you!  Come play with us at Playhouse Disney!

And finally, come under the sea to visit Ariel and her deep sea friends in a live stage production based on the characters and songs from The Little Mermaid.  This spectacular journey is one of a kind and is sure to entertain and inspire all Guests who love classic Disney.  What are you waiting for?  Let’s go!

Twists and turns abound in the journey, but with faith, trust and a little pixie dust, I am bound to soar!  And what better place to shine like a star than Hollywood Studios?  Some people may think this glamorous and picturesque Hollywood was never real and is just a figment of our imagination.  Perhaps I’m a hopeless romantic, or maybe the magic has just gone to my head, but I believe that this Hollywood was indeed real.  So come experience the magic, come and be a Star, come to Hollywood Studios!

The American Idol Experience

4131074We’re live in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 . . . . Hello everyone and welcome to The American Idol Experience!  Please welcome your host, Esther Owen!

Well, although I’m not the host of the show, I am now officially qualified to welcome you into our American Idol Experience Audition Facility, Studio 2B, and see you to your Casting Director where you will sing a 30 second a cappella song for your audition.  Are you ready to sing?  Alright, let’s go!  Then, if you make it past one of our Casting Directors, I will welcome you into our Coke-a-Cola Lounge where you will rehearse a song from our Idol song list to sing for the Producer.  This is when you really give it your all!  Are you ready to go?  Great!  As you’re singing for the Producer, they are not only listening to your voice, but are also checking to see how you look on camera, your stage presence and your song choice!

Did you make it past our Producer?  If you did, then congratulations!  I will now check you into our backstage access where hair and make-up, and voice coaches will take it from there!  Do you have family or friends with you?  Great!  I will now welcome them into The American Idol Experience theater where they will be shown to their VIP seats.  Don’t worry, we’ll get them in the theater before the rush of Guests come in.

Speaking of Guests, I hope you all enjoyed the pre-show as you were waiting to enter the theater!  And don’t forget to cheer for that cute blond girl giving an official Idol Spiel for the Guests waiting to come in to the theater!  Alright, are you in your seat now?  Great, because it’s show time!  Over to you Ryan Seacrest!

Destination Disney

838085I arrived in Florida last Monday and was immediately ushered into registration and orientation, all to the beat of the latest Disney Mania music mix, of course.  After recieving information about my role at the Casting Center, I headed back to my new apartment to meet my new roommates.

I enjoyed Traditions the next morning, where I got to watch videos of Walt Disney himself  and learned all about his legacy, and the part we play in honoring his legacy and his staying true to his philosophies.  A tour through Utiladors (the tunnels under the Magic Kingdom) was exciting, but the greatest moment was when Mickey Mouse himself came for a surprise visit and brought us our Cast Member name tags!

My first few days at work were overwhelming, but fun.  I am working at the attraction at Hollywood Studios called The American Idol Experience.  It is as it sounds – a show where you can experience American Idol, as see on TV.  You can sit in the audience and enjoy our Guest performers and even vote for your favorite one!  Or if you really want to experience American Idol, you can audition to be a participant in the show!

I was surprised to find out that The Disney College Program is not actually an internship.  The program just consists of working in the Parks.  Although it’s not what I expected, I’m looking forward to all that lies ahead.  Thank you for your support and prayers!  I love you and miss you all!

Just 10 more days to Go!

3471577“Beep, beep, beep.” 

You reach over to turn off your alarm clock and pull the covers back as you smile.  The sound of an alarm usually doesn’t warrant a smile, but today is different.  Today you’re going to Disneyworld.  You get up early to be there before the park opens.  You wait in the long line of excited Guests waiting to enter.  Then finally, it happens.  A loud and joyous announcement is made declaring that Disneyworld is now open.  As the lines begin to move forward, you join in with the eager chatter.  

 You can hear the sounds of children laughing, teens talking and parents delighting in the smiles of their kids.  You are enveloped in the tantalizing smell of popcorn as you pass the lively machine.  Then you see it. Cinderella’s Castle, tall and beautiful looming ahead of you like a perfect story book picture and you know it’s going to be a great day.  

 The sights and smells and sounds indulge your senses as you step into another world.  The change of music and scenery as you pass into Adventureland draws you into a time and place of the past where you are the adventurer.  You are now the character, the actor as you step from one world to another. The stage is set and the script is yours.  You are an explorer as you journey down the Nile River, you become the toughest Ranger in the West as you survive a daring train ride through the wilderness in Frontierland, you are a renowned innovator as you step into the future of Tomorrowland and you are the beloved princess who rules Fantasyland.  The past, present and future are yours as you move from one adventure to the next.  

 There is something in the air, charging the very atmosphere.  You look around to see what this could be, but you see nothing.  Yes, there is the music, the characters, the attractions and thrills which all lend to the excitement, but there is something more.  You look around again to find this incredible force.  As you look around once more, your eye catches something.  Just in front of the Castle you can see a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands.  

 “That’s it,” you breathe.

 And you know, without saying a word, that the special element is that classic and ever present Disney magic.  It began with Walt Disney as he claimed a vision and pushed the envelope to make a dream a reality.   It began with Walt when he drew an optimistic little mouse on a blank page and brought him to life.  His legend is alive in the sights, sounds and smells of this blissful world.  Some call it Disneyworld; others call it the Happiest Place on Earth.  But whatever it is called, the magic is alive and as Walt said, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”

One Month to Go!

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Welcome aboard the Jungle Cruise!  We’re now leaving the last outpost of civilization and entering the jungle by way of the Irrawaddy river of Burma.

Now please watch out for these carnivorous vines right over there.  Last week, one of them reached into the back of the boat and pulled a woman right out. It was awful! And just before she disappeared, she was feeling just vine.

Just a little bit of Jungle Cruise humor for you.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to be leaving for Disney World in less than a month where I will be beginning my grand adventure.  Hey, I might even get to travel down the Nile River, and if you don’t believe me, well, you’re just in de-nile.  (Get it!?!?!)

Speaking of grand and magical journeys, you know you’re excited about going to Disney World when everywhere you look something reminds you of Disney.  The red apple you had for lunch is Snow White’s poisonous apple, you refer to your clothing as your costume, you arrange your food in order to resemble Mickey and a Disney princess song is never far from your lips.

Ah, yes life is good.  School is over (forever) and in just a few weeks I’ll be residing in one of the top vacation spots in the world.  If you’re concerned about me suffering in the warm breeze which gently rustles the palm trees and luscious plant life and brings in the scent of ocean . . . well, don’t worry! I’ll be perfectly fine with my pal Mickey Mouse!  Somehow, amid all that sunshine, sand and magic, I’ll survive all those attractions and Mickey ice creams.

As we approach the dock, please keep your hands inside the boat, I sure don’t want my new dock ruined. If you liked your ride my name is Esther, if you didn’t my name is Jane and I work on the Submarine Voyage.

Good-bye for now and have a magical day!

Countdown to Florida!

disney“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney
Beginning in August, I will head down to Florida to eat, sleep and breathe Disney magic where dreams come true at every turn and adventure is waiting right around every corner.  Yep, I’m going to the Disney College Program where I will be enjoying an internship at Disneyworld, right in the middle of the magic.  A friend of mine once gave me the quote, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”  We didn’t realize until later that this was a quote from Walt Disney himself.  So look out Disney World, cause I’m dreaming big and here I come! Continue reading