Tag Archives: Thank-you

Memorial Day 2014

26 May

Today was bittersweet as we watched my youngest sister, Macayla, march in her last Memorial Day parades. Way to end on a high note, kiddo!! 🙂

 

 

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The Liebster Award

3 May

I began this blog a few years ago. I figured it would be a great way to record my everyday life and to practice and improve my writing talent. I had no idea it would become a close network of friends I’ve never met before. I look forward to reading everyone’s posts and get excited when someone new visits, likes or comments on one of my posts.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this week I was nominated for The Liebster Award by Greg over at Why I runDisney – thank you so, so much! I feel like I have officially been welcomed into an extended blogging community!
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Now, I don’t know much about The Liebster Award, except what I learned on Greg’s post, but basically it’s a nod to new bloggers and a way to help other’s discover their blogs as well. This award is only on the internet and given to bloggers by other bloggers. The rules are simple:

  • You must link back to the person who nominated you
  • You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee
  • You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award
  • You must create 10 questions for your nominees
  • You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees

1. What is your favorite Disney theme park in the world? Why?

My favorite Disney theme park in the whole world by default is Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Not only is it the ONLY Disney theme park I’ve been to (the first time when I was 12 years old), it’s where I worked, played and lived for a year during my Disney College Program. It’s where I met some of my very best friends, now extend members of my family. It’s where I met my boyfriend, Scott. It’s where I truly found me.

2. Are there any Disney theme parks that you would like to visit that you haven’t visited yet? If so, which one(s)?

Someday I would love to visit Disneyland and California Adventure. I would also like to visit one of the international parks, I’m not picky about which one because honestly, if I had an unlimited bank account, I’d love to visit them all!!

3. Since all of you have run in races before, which race was your favorite?

My favorite race was the 2013 runDisney Tower of Terror 10 miler. This was my third runDisney race that I’ve run with my DCP roommate, Monique. It was also the longest distance I have ever pushed myself. I’ve never been so proud of myself before this moment. Crossing that finish line for me was so emotional, so overwhelming, so powerful. Once we crossed the finish line Monique was already talking Wine and Dine Half 2014, which we will be running in November, so my favorite race may change!

runDisney Tower of Terror 10 Miler

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4. If you could choose a theme for a runDisney race, what theme would you choose and why?

Wow, that’s a hard one!! What about a Disney-Pixar themed race?! 🙂

5. What advice would you offer someone who is a beginning runner?

It does not matter if you run the whole time or only for a minute, as long as you run at some point, YOU are a runner. I know it’s hard not to compare yourself to others (trust me on this, I struggle with it daily it seems like), but the only person you should be comparing yourself to is the you from YESTERDAY. When I began my running journey, a seasoned runner told me that I would go through an emotional journey, I would have good days and bad days, days when my lungs and legs would burn, but if I kept pushing, not only physically, but mentally as well, I would reach every running goal I set for myself. I know I’ll never be the fastest, but as long as I finish, that is a win and a major success and accomplishment in my book.

6. What races are on your bucket list?

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7. If you run with music, what are your favorite songs to run with? If you don’t run with music, what is your favorite mantra?

Some of my favorite songs include:

  • Cannonball by Lea Michele
  • Just Like We Dreamed it – Disneyland Resort Paris
  • Waiting for Tomorrow by Mandisa
  • Overcomer by Mandisa
  • Live Like a Warrior by Nick Pitera
  • She’s So Gone by Lemonade Mouth
  • When Can I See You Again (from Wreck it Ralph) by Owl City
  • Not Your Cinderella by Payton Rae
  • Closer, Faster by Against The Current
  • It’s Not Just Make Believe by Kari Kimmel

8. What are your favorite Disney theme park indulgences? This could be favorite food items, favorite shows, favorite attractions, favorite places to go while on a Disney theme park vacation, etc. In other words, what are your favorite things to do at any of the Disney theme parks?

Wow, I’m not sure I can narrow that down, especially since I just returned from the Happiest Place on Earth. Can I say everything?! Okay here goes – at Animal Kingdom: Finding Nemo: The Musical, Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, and when they still had it, the Shrimp Po Boy sandwich at Restaurantosaurus.

Epcot – Spaceship Earth, Test Track, Soarin’, walking around World Showcase, especially during the International Food and Wine Festival in the fall, and watching Illuninations, the best place in my opinion is from the Mexico Pavilion.

Hollywood Studios – Rock N Roller Coaster, The Great Movie Ride, Indiana Jones Stunt Show, a new favorite is the character drawing class in the Animation Building, and Fantasmic.

Magic Kingdom – Meeting Mickey, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, People Mover, Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, Festival of Fantasy parade, Wishes, and eating at be Our Guest. Also, if you are lucky enough to got to a Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, DO IT, you won’t be disappointed, I promise!

I also enjoy riding the monorail and watching Wishes from the roof of the Contemporary Resort and from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. If you are ever at Downtown Disney, eat at Earl of Sandwich, get a chocolate milkshake from Ghirardelli and if your looking for something completely different, spend a few hours at Disney Quest.

9. When training for a race (a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, or Ultra), where is your favorite place to run?

There is a state park not far from where I live that has a nice path out over the dam – down and back is just under 3 miles, it’s also a slight incline. I also enjoy running around the roads where I live – hilly country back roads, around the “block” is 3.5 miles.

10. If you could personalize the post race food given to you after a race like a half marathon or full marathon, what would your order?

As I haven’t run a half marathon yet, I’m not sure what they give you. But when I get back from my training runs I always want chocolate milk after my bottle of water.

And now to pass the baton along, I’m tagging:

1. TheDisneyDiva

2. Jessica at  PubRunAholic

3. Katie, Letty and Michelle at The Tipsy Geekette

4. Casey at Life with Roozle

5. Victoria and Kyle at The WDW Blog

6. Ti and Kellz at The 2econd Star

7. Jennifer at Dreams Really Do Come True

8. Sarah at PR and Pixie Dust

9. Adam at Things Goofy

10. Rachel at Rachel Does Disney…Again

Now for the fun part, my questions for the nominees should they choose to accept it!

1. What is your favorite quote/poem/motivational saying?

2. If you could visit any country in the world and stay for as long as you wanted, where would you go and why?

3. What was your favorite Disney movie as a kid? Is it still your favorite?

4. Tell me about a “hidden gem” in your town, something a tourist would never know to look for!

5. What are the 5 most played songs on your iPod/MP3 player/computer?

6. What are you most looking forward to this summer?

7. How many times have you been to the Disney Parks?  7.1 Share a Disney memory!

8. What is your favorite thing about blogging?

9. If you could have any role in a movie, what would it be?

10. What is the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home?

Cloud 1,000

16 Feb

Have you ever been so in love, you just wanted to shout it from the rooftops, print in the papers, write it the sky and tell random strangers on the street about how happy you are this special person chose you? If you haven’t had that feeling yet, trust me when I say it’s one of the best natural highs you’ll ever experience.

It’s no secret that I’ve had my heart broken a few times, and that I’ve had to relearn to take life, love and relationships one day at a time. But can I just say what a difference a year makes – February 14, 2013 wasn’t all that spectacular, except that I began to love me, and I took the steps needed to heal emotionally, and even learned to trust my heart with someone new.

While the events I’m about to tell you about happened for Valentine’s Day, that’s not what this post is really about at all. It’s about finally feeling whole, like I’ve found the missing puzzle piece in my life – him.

I’m use to low-key Valentine’s Days. Even WHEN I was “lucky” enough to be with someone — it’s always just been another day. And please don’t get me wrong, I’d rather show and receive love the other 364 days of the year if it was one or the other. But, that being said, I’ve still always wondered what it would feel like to be surprised on this day meant for romance. And I was prepared for this year to be the same, with the exception being the wonderful man I have in my life who reminds me daily how much he loves me.

However, when he asked me about a week and a half ago if I had a house address other than the Post Office Box address I’d given him for Christmas (for those of you who may be wondering, we are in a long distance relationship, about 1,040-ish miles give or take are between us), I didn’t want to get my hopes up because honestly, who knew why he was asking. Yeah Valentine’s Day was coming up, but it has never/wasn’t really on my radar…

But when he started asking me the Monday of Valentine’s Week if I’d gotten any deliveries, I couldn’t stop myself. My interests were peaked and I became giddy with excitement. For the next three days I anticipated seeing something waiting for me when I returned home from work, only to be greeted with nothing. Finally, Thursday during my lunch break, I received an excited text from him that it had been delivered and I added to the excitement as I told him the package I had mailed him had been delivered that day as well! So on a whim, but mostly because he had a 12 hour shift the next day and chances of us talking would be slim, we decided to celebrate a day early.

When I came home from work, this is what I found waiting, cue the waterworks, I was so excited! No one, besides my parents who don’t count in this situation, has given me flowers before!

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Excitedly I sent off a text asking if I could open them or if I had to wait until we got to video chat. He wanted to see my reaction, so I waited – not so patiently – to see the flowers he had picked for me! As I waited, and the anticipation grew, emotions quickly took over me.

While I waited for him to drive home from work so we could video chat, and before I even looked in the box, I loved him more. It didn’t matter to me what kind they were, all that mattered was he picked them out specifically for me. In that moment, I had my first valentine and my heart was overflowing.

He was very adorable on our video chat, I could tell he was anxious to see what I’d sent him, so he opened his first. It was all very simple, but from the heart. Again, not knowing anything other than a low-key Valentine’s Day, I opted for homemade, from the heart, and personalized crafts. He loved them all!

Then it was my turn!! First I found this:

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It’s the envelope that held a very sweet, very personal and heartfelt message. Again, I started to tear up. That lifelong dream of being someone’s Valentine was coming true and it was better than I ever could have imagined. If the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes at Christmas, mine must have burst with love and affection. And then I saw my flowers and words failed me.

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He didn’t just send me flowers, he sent me a dozen of the most beautiful, long stem roses I’ve ever seen! I couldn’t make a coherent thought let alone express out loud how much I loved them! As I was admiring my beautiful bouquet, I smiled as a random quote from the movie “The Perfect Man” popped into my mind:

…a flower like this is perfect, and giving a woman a dozen of them, it’s like saying there is such a thing as perfect. And it’s out there.

Once I put my flowers in water and admired them a few more minutes, we had one wonderful two-hour video chat. I loved that during that time talking and laughing, it somehow felt like the miles weren’t quite so far apart. There are days when it’s hard being so far, but I know in my heart it’s worth it because I knew without a doubt that he is my perfect – our quirks compliment each other and there’s an ease I’ve never felt with anyone else, somehow we just click, – he’s the one I didn’t know I’ve been waiting for.

All weekend I’ve been in this state of utter bliss. I would say I’ve been on Cloud 9, but that’s just not good enough to describe the happiness and love I am blessed to have in my life – it’s more like I’m on my own personal Cloud 1,000 and I have no interest of rejoining the earthlings anytime soon! In fact, I think I’m going to float around on this cloud of mine forever, because when you’re happy and in love, why should you be reduced to walking?!

Oh and my flowers…. here’s what they look like three days later! I’m just going to put this out there – my man did good, he did VERY good! ❤

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My Virtual Thanksgiving Table

28 Nov

 

 

Teachers – changing the world one student at a time

4 Oct

I have had many teachers in my lifetime, and many more to come should I ever decide to attend grad school in the future. It’s amazing how some of the most bizarre details of these individuals, the people we spent five days a week for seven or so hours a day, listening to and observing as if they were on display at the local zoo, stick out to us years after we were their students.

Some of my earliest memories of my teachers are details of how they looked. Take my first through third grade science teacher, Mrs. Bloor, for example. She had white-blonde curly old lady hair (you know, like a grandma!), she would draw on her eyebrows and had the kindest smile. I found my old yearbook to double check this and lo and behold, I remembered her perfectly!
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And then there are the odds and ends I remember about the music teacher from the same grades, Mrs. Miles. She had two, big, black poodles she loved talking about! my family and I also would bike past her house when the weather was nice, so I saw them in person a few times, too. I loved her class because she introduced us to music from around the world. One of my favorite memories is that of her dancing around the room holding a rain stick while tribal music played on the speakers. She was teaching the class a chant or something, but that part is hazy. I’ve always had a love of music and I think her class taught me at a very young age to appreciate and enjoy all kinds of music.
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There are two teachers from this school I have seen periodically over the years, who surprisingly remember me. Most recently I saw my kindergarten teacher, Miss Cobbs (she has gotten married and changed her name since I was her student all those years ago), at the first high school football game of this season. I moved school districts when I was going into the fourth grade and for the opening game this year, the school I graduated from was playing the school district I use to attend and she was at the game. I could tell you it’s a small world running into her, but my mom is a teacher in this district as well and they keep in touch at district wide meetings and whatnot. I would also like to point out that I’m as tall as she is, not that that’s saying much as I stand a barely respectable five feet, four inches tall. She also couldn’t believe I was 25, honestly, where has the time gone?!

The other elementary teacher I have seen from time to time over the years was my reading teacher, Mrs. Searfoss. If my mother hadn’t ingrained a love of reading in me from such a young age, I feel I still would have developed it in her class. I can remember reading and writing poems, short stories and her bubbly, infectious laughter. When I moved schools, she mailed me a letter and a book. I came across them just a few months ago tucked neatly away in a box hidden in the back of my closet, which means that at this moment when I’d like to take a photo of them, they are nowhere to be seen.

I’ve had dozens of teachers over the years, but none has had as great an impact on my life outside of school as that of my seventh and eighth grade language arts teacher, Mr. Lawrence.

I remember the first day of his class as if it were yesterday. There we were, all sitting there with the deer-in-the-headlights look as we waited for our names to be called. (Was I the only one who breathed a sigh of relief afterwards because I was in the right room on the first try? I always felt bad for the kid who read their schedule wrong for whatever reason.) Anyways, I was in class with my two best friends at the time, Sarah and Kris, her last name came before mine and his after, as my last name fell near the middle of the roster for the class. Finally I knew mine was to (should) be the next name called based on the students sitting around me, but it wasn’t my last name he called. “Mariah Monkey.”

WHAT?! [Looks at best friends completely confused.] Again he says, “Mariah Monkey.” This time in a tiny, shy voice I speak up, “I’m Mariah, but that’s not my last name.” To which he responded something to the effect of “I know that. But your last name is a species of monkey.” [Collective class ah-ha as it all makes since.] And after that, the nickname stuck. My friends and I started calling each other by nicknames based off our last names. (Sarah became “Birdie,” Kris became “Directions,” and I of course was “Monkey.”) I even adopted the nickname on the soccer field and put it on the back of my team hoodie. And the year I was very sick, it was monkeys that filled my hospital room. On a Saturday morning during soccer games, Mr. Lawrence learned from my parents that I was 1. Very sick and 2. He was the reason behind all my new monkey companions. He made a special trip to visit me in the burn unit and when he came into my room he had the biggest Curious George monkey I’d ever seen. (I named him Taco, but that’s a story for another time.)

While the story of how I got my nickname is interesting to tell, it’s not the true reason why Mr. Lawrence is mentioned in this particular post. I chose to include and publicly thank him because he was the first teacher to recognize that I was a writer.

Growing up I always enjoyed writing. I began keeping a detailed journal at age 10 and I was constantly making up stories and writing poems. And finally, someone outside my family recognized that talent in me as well.

Now don’t get me wrong. There were days when I wondered if I’d ever write something “good enough.” Mr. Lawrence was tough on me, but that taught me to sharpen my skills. He made me ask questions of my writing “are there details that need more explanation, eliminated because it clutters the flow? Have you told the best story you can? Have you conveyed your meaning as clearly as possible? Who is your target audience? Are you using words and language appropriate to them?”
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Mariah, yes you still have “it.” But I must warn you, however,that if you ever figure out what “it” is, you won’t have it anymore. The only way to become a true writer is to write. There are no shortcuts. P.S. It’s comforting to know I may have a small part in touching the world through you. -Mr. Lawrence, October 27, 2006

Many times he told me that writing was going to be important in my future and he was right. I spend my days using the skills he taught me at work to write press releases, blog posts and other various projects. And in my free time I am journaling and blogging. And I am happy to say I have still yet to figure out what “it” is, and honestly I think that’s why writing is still so effortless and enjoyable to me. And that is something I hope never changes.

Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

25 May

In the Background: The places that we pass through day after day, or even once in a lifetime, leave in their small way, echoes and traces of themselves upon us. But so often when taking self portraits or pictures of friends, the places themselves become a soft blurred mush of indistinct semi-nothingness, the limelight stolen by our smiling faces.” – The Daily Post

Purple flowers in focus as a soldier walks in the background, face hidden

As soon as I saw the topic for this week’s photo challenge I went searching for this photo. It is about 4 years old now but I still get chills when I see it. And to think, this shot was pure luck, no staging, one of those perfect moments forever captured in a still-shot. I wish I could find the file without the added text, but then again it aids in the storytelling of this very special photo. Let me explain…

As I have already mentioned, this photo is 4 years old. I was a sophomore in college and my older cousin, Alan (who I adore and think of more as my older brother because he has treated me like a little sister all my life. I have no brothers of my own and his sister and I are the same age, so we are kind of a packaged deal. He pestered us both, made lots of jokes and had our backs growing up. He’s two years older than me, so you can see the relationship!) Anyways, Alan was graduating from Basic Training in Ft. Jackson, SC in 2009 and I got to make the trip down there with his parents, his sister Manda, future wife Erica and our grandparents. We were all so proud of him! We got to see his base and watch him graduate, it was a very emotional weekend.

And as Alan was taking us around, I was the “unofficial photographer” for the weekend….partly because my aunt was so excited to see him and emotional she knew she’d forget to take lots of pictures to scrapbook and partly because let’s face it, this is me we’re talking about. My camera is an extension of my arm. I hardly EVER go anywhere without it, because you never know when the perfect picture will present itself, which brings me back to my photo for the week.

Alan had stopped to point out something (a building a person, a drill course, I don’t remember now) and tell us a story about it when I noticed these BEAUTIFUL purple flowers blowing in the wind. So naturally, I start taking photos of them. The shots were nice but the composition was all off and that’s when I knelt down and saw it through the lens on my camera, the perfect visual representation of something BEAUTIFULLY STRONG.

Here’s why I love this photo. The flowers are this bold purplish-pink color and immediately the eye is drawn to them. The branches provide beautiful curving, dark contrasting lines to offset the color. And then if you look closely, hidden in the background among the green of the trees and the grass is a soldier in camo, with his face hidden. He could represent anyone’s son, brother, cousin, uncle, father, friend…anyone. I’m glad that he’s out-of-focus because it forces you to really look for him, and once spotted he becomes what your eye is drawn to, the real subject of this photo, the strength and beauty of America. I choose to title this shot “Beautifully Strong” because it’s a beautiful sacrifice these brave men and women who serve our country make. They must be strong in their decision and their families, loved-ones, friends and those left behind must also be strong enough to support them.

How fitting a topic and photo for this Memorial Day weekend, I couldn’t be more proud of my cousin and all my other family members who are currently serving or have served. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping to keep us safe. I love you all! ❤

Remembering to be Thankful

25 Nov

A few days late, but that doesn’t matter because we need to be thankful the other 364 days of the year as well.

This year I have much to be thankful for. Finding a place to start will be the hard part, but here it goes:

  • Second chances at happiness, friendship and love
  • Technology and it’s ability to connect me with friends and family who are far away
  • Broken hearts and promises and the lessons they teach us
  • My large, over-the-top family
  • My personal health and the improving health of my little sister. See her story here.
  • Graduating from college
  • My current temporary job turning into a full-time job with benefits
  • Mistakes and hard decisions, or rather the opportunities for growth each provide us with
  • Loving parents who support me in my decisions
  • Little sisters who make me laugh and remind me to relax and enjoy life
  • True Friends who are there when times are good and when they are bad
  • Living in a land where I have the ability to express my thoughts and ideas without having to live in fear
  • The men and women who were not able to spend the holiday with their families so that I may live in this country
  • For the roof over my head, the food on our table, and the clothes on my back – especially when there are so many who are struggling after the recent storms on the East coast
  • Hard days that allow me to more fully appreciate the wonderful days

Thanksgiving is and always has been my favorite holiday. It’s not because of the food, the day off work or the deals that follow on Black Friday. To me, Thanksgiving is a day spent in the company of my large, close-knit, sometimes embarrassing, but always loving extended family members. I look forward to seeing everyone, catching up on family news, taking silly pictures with my sisters and cousins and enjoying the craziness!

For as long as I can remember, we have always celebrated Thanksgiving with my mom’s side of the family. During my childhood, the festivities were held at my grandparents’ home, where we cleared an area in the living room for the very long table where everyone would sit down together for the meal. Now, I have to explain, this table needed to sit 30 – 40 people at one time, so it was placed diagonally across the room, and once it was set up, chairs and all, there was hardly any room to move about, but we made it work. Well, as you can probably guess, now that my cousins and I are getting older, some have gotten married and started their own families, and we’ve quickly out-grown my grandparents living room. (Last year I believe we had 50 – 60 present at final count!) So for the last 4 or 5 years we’ve held Thanksgiving at the little community church just down the road from where most of us live.

Thanksgiving highlights 2012

However, this year was different. Our numbers were smaller. Only 22 of us… okay, I know what you’re thinking “22 is still a lot of people.” And to that I say, “Yes, yes it is, but when you are used to 50 people, 22 sure feels like no one showed up this year.” It’s not that most of my family members didn’t want to come, it’s more they had more important places to be this year. For example, my cousin Alan lives out-of-state with his wife, and before the end of the year (we believe it’ll happen sometime before Christmas) he is going to be deployed for the second time. Therefore, it was more important for my aunt and uncle, and my cousin and her husband to spend the holiday with him. (Down 4) Another aunt and uncle had the opportunity to visit with another cousin of mine who now lives out of the country with her little family. They were all here last year, so that makes us down 7 more. Their other daughters, one has recently gotten engaged and chose to spend the day with her fiance (down 1), and the other daughter and her family couldn’t make the trip north this year. (Down 5) So if you add those missing family members to those who attended that’s a grand total of 39!! And that’s not even counting everyone! I told you I had a big family!

Everyday I am grateful I have another day on this planet, that I get to worship however I choose, that I have transportation, heat, the basic necessities to live. Too often I think we get caught up in our lives and we forget how blessed we are. From now on, I am going to try harder to remember that I am one of the lucky ones. I don’t have to question where my next meal will come from or how I will stay warm this winter.

I am making it my goal to find something new to be thankful for everyday and I would challenge you to do the same.