A Journey of Kismet, Anxiety, Healing, YouTube, and the Magic of Disney

In life for as many changes as we experience there are also many constants. For myself, the longest one has been my love for Disney and those who share this passion. It’s also said that life is a journey, not a destination. And it’s a statement I definitely agree with. But I would amend this philosophy with what I’ve also found to be true- That life is filled with many journeys towards destinations that are merely paths, that lead you down more paths; and is often the case, it’s a domino effect that has a lastly impact on your life. Which leads me towards my purpose in writing and sharing this. Many that I’ve been following me are aware, but many also are not, so let me enlighten you. I always wanted to create and share things that bring people happiness and to spread some positivity in the world. That is my goal for The Girly Nerd: to create my own content as well as share such that does just that. But sometimes life throws you curve balls and it can be a great struggle. It can be difficult to share things like this- to be open and vulnerable and wear your heart on your sleeve. It’s honestly somewhat terrifying to open up this way with my personal struggles, especially when you have dealt with anxiety, depression and wounds of cruelty and rejection. Consequently it can very difficult to reach out to people in any way. But with encouragement from family, friends, and those inspirations that one finds in life, as well as the caveat that perhaps others may be helped with my story, I’ve been sharing more with all of you and I cannot thank those who have helped me enough.

(Additive: Since I began writing this, one of my most beloved college professors passed away suddenly and she was the second one I’ve lost. Both were young and this hits me deeply, so it’s a wake up call).

I’ve also come to realize that in what feels like kismet, so many of my experiences and these paths are interconnected. So no matter who sees this, it’s important for me to share what’s led me to this place, in my effort to be less passive, to engage and connect more with lovely people, and be brave enough to put myself out there more. On Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram I’ve made an effort to do just that- chatting, liking, commenting, and such with those I truly like.  Once such source of motivation to do so is Jennifer Morrison, who has become such an inspiration not only through her Once Upon a Time character Emma but also through her own grace through life. And a quote she herself said has come to mean a great deal, especially at present time. “Don’t wish for your fairy tale. Fight for your fairy tale. Slay your dragon, then go to the ball.” And so, I slowly but surely find myself doing just that. Not just dreaming but fighting and slaying those demons that are hurting and holding me back. I am not perfect; some days are still hard. But isn’t that part of everyone’s journey?

First I must preface this with the times in my life where, when I recently stopped and thought about it, have striking similarities to the present. In my last semester of college, a few weeks in, I became ill with a severe kidney infection. I vividly remember asking my doctor when I could return to school. He laughed because my recovery was going to be long- not astronomically long, but long enough that it would make it so I couldn’t possibly catch up in my classes. I was about to graduate and here I had to delay it for a whole other semester. It was disappointing and dejecting to say the least, on top of feeling awful physically. But out of something bad, came something wonderful. When I was well enough I  began auditing one class and talked to my advisor about going to Graduate School for my Master’s after finishing my Bachelor’s. And if I hadn’t gotten sick I would have been with different students and class options and professors. But because of the timing it led me to some of the greatest friends I’ve ever made in my life. They are my steadfast support and loving kindred spirits and if I hadn’t gotten ill I may never have met them. And I cannot imagine a life where they are not part of it.

Similarly, a job I had after college required a laptop, which funnily enough with a new computer it led me to both streaming TV shows for the first time and to tumblr, which led me to discovering the show Chuck and becoming a fan of Zachary Levi, getting into the fandom of Once Upon a Time, and discovering the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. And this led me to writing for The Nerd Machine, attending NerdHQ, and becoming more immersed and actively in social media where I began writing so much and creating art, as well as becoming motivated to create The Girly Nerd. Though social media can be fickle and often negative when you immerse yourself in these worlds, in the end despite some hurtful experiences, I’ve also had some amazing experiences and found some lifelong, wonderful friends. There were some low points and struggles job wise and emotionally, but these wonderful things were brought about because of them. It truly shows that with storms come rainbows. And take one thing out of the equation and things would be completely different.

And thus leads me to the real my real purpose with this piece, and thank you for reading this far and indulging my typical loquacious ways. In those experiences above, certain individuals proved to not only be kind, lovely and positive, but also inspiring to me in my present state. For the past few years I have been struggling a great deal with my health both physically and mentally. I developed anemia on top of hypothyroidism, which is being well handled now with medication, but I often was still feeling a lack of energy, motivation and often sadness. Recently, I was given an official diagnosis of anxiety and dysthymia, which is a mild depression. It was difficult to hear this, and it’s even more difficult to talk about. But in today’s age it seems people are more open and encouraging regarding things like this. And I finally feel at a place where I am not only getting to a better place, and more actively working to feel better, but also brave enough to talk about it.

Zachary Levi has proved to be truly inspiring and a wonderful person not only the many times I met him (If you have not listened to the first time I did so, with an interview with him and Mandy Moore, you can do so here), but he’s also been so encouraging to others in the ways he talks about his own life’s journey and encouraging to talk about your own mental health and how important self care is. As I mentioned, Jennifer Morrison is ever an inspiration with her grace and work ethic and similar philosophy of learning to be brave and open with both yourself and others, especially when loving yourself may be difficult. Being a fan of hers introduced me to her sister in law Eleanora Morrison, whose very open dialogue about journey with her health she so bravely shared, and now she is doing amazingly with her own magazine Eleanora Magazine, once again proving to be an inspiration for me. And finally Maxwell Glick, who I discovered in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and was so happy to meet at NerdHQ a few years back, led me to discovering his YouTube channel.

Which leads me to now. For so long Maxwell’s, aka MrCheezyPop, was the only YouTube channel I watched. But for awhile I got out of the habit of doing so, among other things and I didn’t find much joy, energy or motivation for much of anything. Some days I found even getting up for the day difficult. The thought of writing or creating anything became a source of anxiousness instead of joy. Now I know why. And I won’t pretend these struggles are completely gone. But I am in such a better place for the reasons above and one more- the very reason I am writing this article. One day (and a day I am so thankful for) I began to watch Maxwell’s channel again. And once again, like the other times in my life, a beautiful domino effect occurred. Finding so much joy, and with the convenience of being able to watch YouTube on my smart TV, I started up with these videos again and they brought me so much happiness. And with the wonderful way YouTube works, you can discover more and more wonders. And oh my goodness, so began a long line of discovery. Through MrCheezyPop I discovered FreshBaked, Tiffany Mink, Sarah Sterling, Leo Camacho, and the Hayes Family Vlog. Through FreshBaked I discovered TheTimTracker, and through their channel I found Justin Scarred and AdamtheWoo, which led me to Life Disney & Beyond, Disney Kittee and Fairy Tales and Fitness. Over the course of a year, though I was still not always in the best place, I had found these channels filled with fun, positivity and such truly wonderful people. I don’t want to be too hyperbolic and say this saved me, but I can say that these discoveries changed me, helped me beyond measure, and made my life brighter. I don’t even want to imagine where I would be if I had not had that fateful day where I decided to watch Maxwell’s videos again. Like these other moments I truly believe the universe was working its magic for me. I found my soul reawakened.

So here I am wanting to share all of these wonderful people in gratitude, and admiration, deep appreciation, and even a hand of friendship. And between YouTube and Instagram I find new, lovely people all the time. The online community can be a crazy place, and sometimes dark and cruel. But you can also find amazing, gifted, beautiful, kind souls. I may not know many of the following well, and some more than others; but you never know, that may change. And that would be lovely. With no agenda and a bit of hope, connecting with others is an important part of life. To any of the following who sees this, I want to say above all THANK YOU, and whatever may come, I am better off. As I said in my Favorite Films of 2018 about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a deep love of any kind of media has “the ability to awaken and move the soul in a profound way. For we see how [it] can bring people together- reach across time and space and not only make us feel, but help us feel connected to others. Isn’t that what the finest books, or films, or music or art can accomplish- create an unique kind of radiant magic that can helps create unbreakable bonds of love, family and friendship. In a world filed with darkness, this is a glowing beacon of light and hope.” And to everyone else who reads this, I hope you discover this wondrous Disney community for yourself and let that magic into your life. You will not regret it.

And here they all are:
Maxwell Glick (MrCheezyPop)
I definitely owe a great deal to Maxwell as I would not have discovered any of the other channels otherwise. But even beyond this, with him you will find the epitome of positivity, kindness and class with his “Adventures Through Happiness.” Fun food reviews, which is probably his trademark, hilarious reactions videos, Disney Parks trips in not only Disneyland and Disney World, his videos are truly the best. The channel has evolved a great deal in exciting and wonderful ways and I also love the special events, film reviews, and even more fantastic things beyond the world of Disney that I personally love and relate to such as Top 10 lists, original music videos and pop music, insights into his acting works, and sports. No matter what I find myself always smiling, laughing or at peace with these videos. Max is funny, sweet, positive and a wonderful guy in every way. Every day could be made magical with such a kindred spirit.

FreshBaked
These are without a doubt my favorite Disneyland walk through vloggers. Led by David, wife Liz and friend Ian, each week I adore becoming immersed with whatever they are doing in Disneyland whether it be rides, food, or special events. They also do Secrets and Histories, Construction Updates, weekly fun livesteams all with so much positivity and lighthearted fun. I laugh so much and definitely relate to them, most especially Liz who is beyond sweet and funny with the Friends and fave film references. And their reverence for Disney history is ever relatable. Founding member Sara is no longer part of FreshBaked but I highly recommend going back and watching past videos. I unabashedly admit watching a great many of the past trip reports at the same time as the new ones. And special shout out also to Damion who runs the FreshBaked Twitter! They are all such wonderful, kind individuals who let us feel like we are right there with them in the Happiest Place on Earth.

Sara still does her own thing as Lady Romey and I recommend following her further adventures because she such a lively and loving person as well extremely creative with her shop. I bought an adorable sign for Halloween which I just love. She also has been very open and raw with her personal struggles and it’s truly touching and inspirational.

TheTimTracker
Tim and Jenn Tracker have had a long YouTube career and like Freshbaked I have gone back and watched a great many of their past videos as well as their new content every week. These two are truly the sweetest individuals, and certainly couple goals. I have never been to any other Disney park besides Disneyland, but I feel like I have thanks to them, and definitely know what I need to when I hopefully do someday. Their channel has evolved a great deal and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing this transformation and see them continue to do new things within Florida, a brand new podcast, as well as the constants with their home vlogs. But what I really love is that they have obviously remained very open, honest, funny, genuine and kind people. And I have to also say, for me personally, their videos have an overwhelming calming effect on me, which for someone who struggles with anxiety, is invaluable. I’ve also found myself working “Ding Dang,” “Holy Macaroni,” and “And now it’s time to pay the price” into my vernacular. The Trackers are the absolute best of the best!

Tiffany Mink, Sarah Sterling, Leo Camacho
They all have individual channels, but these three are so interconnected to me and are upbeat, creative, nice and funny people. I honestly aspire to be as creative and confident as they are!! The original Disney Bounders as far as I can tell, they all do their own thing but collaborate a great deal. I love Tiffany’s unboxings and creative fashion and Disney hacks, Sarah’s Disney histories, tips and park videos, and Leo’s gaming and top 10’s especially. Their presence is a bit more on Instagram now, but YouTube still has a lot of fun stuff to watch.

Justin Scarred
Justin is the very definition of just a cool and funny dude. But he’s also very honest and vulnerable in his struggles with anxiety that he’s dealt with in the more introspective moments. His video editing style is so fun and creative, making all of the Disney History and trip reports beyond fun. There’s more than just Disney, but all kinds of outings around California and beyond, many with fiancée Ally. The first video I actually watched included Justin’s story of how the two met, and it’s was so touching and frankly #GOALS! Both are sweet and a great balance of outgoing and more introverted. There’s so much to love in Randomland.

AdamtheWoo (TheDailyWoo)
Adam is another guy who I would above all call simply cool. The variety and amount of amazing things Adam has visited across the country is astonishing and I am still trying to catch up. Of course I especially appreciate the Disney Parks videos, but I am also a fan of the Universal trips, and other places of interest such as filming locations- the Back to the Future House is a personal favorite. He begins all his videos with the phrase “Join me. Shall You?” and if you do you won’t regret it.

Life Disney & Beyond
In Disney and other life adventures with Katie and Spencer, we get bright, happy times with this extremely sweet and positive couple who implore us all to live by the beautiful philosophy to live your best life. That is definitely something we all could aspire to and although I haven’t been watching their videos for as long, they certainly already have made an impact, especially with the struggles I’ve been going through. For that I am so thankful. Their videos always bring a smile to my face.

Disney Kittee
Becka is the YouTuber I have connected with the most and certainly one of the lovely ladies I relate to the most in personality and the kinds of things I enjoy and hope to do more of. Although we do have some different favorites and interests (and oh how I wish I could sing as beautifully as she), Becka is the kind of lovely person we all would want to be friends with and share stories and a love of Disney. Seeing her share some of her insecurities has helped me a great deal try to be braver. Her unboxings are so much fun, especially if you adore Disney merchandise, and I adore her trip vlogs, amazing Pin Boards, and the mystery pins which she often shares with her husband- the two of them are so adorable together! And of course her Magic Mail Mondays, one of which I was a part of because I simply had to send something, are a joy to watch as they shine a light of so many great people. And your Disney sketch is still coming, I promise!! Becka is a beautiful soul.

Fairy Tales and Fitness
Kaitlyn, much like DisneyKitte is someone I greatly relate to and thoroughly enjoy watching and getting to know. She has such as sweet and calming demeanor and her love for all things Disney, and positive attitude is just lovely. Her style and favorites are so akin to my own, so of course I love watching her shopping hauls, and trips to the all of the Disney Springs stores. Even though I can’t visit them myself, I love seeing all the new merchandise. I don’t call myself the Girly Nerd for nothing, so it is a joy finding a channel with so much girly delights. Her videos also often include her husband as well as her sweet mom and their relationship reminds me so much of me and my Mom. Everything here is a breath of fresh air.

Hayes Family Vlog
I discovered this channel the most recently, and it truly is an inspirational and heartwarming one. Following the Hayes family’s adventures through Disneyland and mostly little Malia’s encounters with Disney characters will melt the heart of even the biggest of Grinch’s. And for me who is about the easiest, softest touch in the world, I cannot help by always smile, and often cry. Malia has an autoimmune condition called Alopecia, and in addition to raising awareness, the Hayes family want everyone to know, and show through this brave and adorable little girl, that beauty is everywhere, and encourage us all to “live your best day ever” every day. That is a beautiful message!!

These are in my opinion some of the loveliest people you will find in the Disney community, but I am sure I will discover more. And I hope I get to know them all better. That is what is so wonderful. It’s such a large community with room for everyone. And it’s a very warm and positive atmosphere that I am so happy to be immersing myself in- and in so many ways. And I dare say Walt himself would be happy and proud of all the magic he has inspired.

Memory Monday: Tangled Interview with Zachary Levi & Mandy Moore

In November 2011, I was part of a round table interview for Tangled with the voices of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider themselves, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi. This was such a fun interview with myself and three of women where we asked what it was like being a part of Disney’s 50 animated film.

My Questions: Being Disney fans, what’s it like now being a part of Disney’s legacy?

The film is a beautiful one- which scenes struck you both and were your favorites?

Listen to the interview below!!

If interested in the subsequent article I wrote after the interview you can read that here:  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column/spiritual-themes-to-be-found-in-disneys-tangled-1449

A Visit to Disneyland’s Club 33

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This past year I had a supreme honor and opportunity I never thought I would have. Visiting the Happiest Place on Earth with some friends we all were given the chance to dine at Disneyland’s most coveted restaurant: the illustrious Club 33. It’s a place some Disney attendees don’t even know exists. And those who do, know that being able to dine there is rare and special. It’s a place that was originally formed for Walt Disney to entertain VIPS and dignitaries in the park, away from the hustle and bustle, to relax with fine food and elegant decor. Now it’s a Club that has a limited members list, with the chance for non members to attend based usually on knowing someone who is.

I knew this was probably a once in a lifetime occurrence so myself and my friends soaked up everything and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The service was impeccable, the food divine and the entire atmosphere grand and yet intimate. Club 33 is indeed a beautiful place and I will always cherish that I was able to attend, and with people who are so dear to me.

 

 

Our lunch consisted of 4 courses. Here was our menu.

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I ordered the Steak Tartare of Filet Mignon, the Tricore Salad, the Grilled Angus Filet Mignon, and Chocolate Profiteroles. To say the food was delicious is an understatement. It was delectable and one of the best meals I’ve ever had. We were celebrating my Friend’s upcoming wedding, so also they treated us to an extra dessert of delicious beignets.

 

And in between courses and after lunch we were able to take as many photos as we wished. And I certainly was inspired! The décor alone was lovely, but the view onto New Orleans Square and the Rivers of America on gorgeous wrought iron balconies was just exquisite. You already feel special when you are there, but this made it feel even more so.

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Of course, a visit to Club 33 wouldn’t be complete without getting a few souvenirs to commemorate the occasion. Even the bag the purchases come in is pretty and fancy. I picked up what was called a paper weight, but something I have hung up on my wall, along with a lovely key chain.

 

 

If the chance to attend Club 33 ever comes your way, do not hesitate. It’s a special experience and I know I will always be grateful I got to visit, even if it was just once.I will cherish this day always!!

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A Trip to “That’s From Disneyland” Pop-Up Exhibition and Auction

This past week I had the immense pleasure of attending “That’s from Disneyland,” an extraordinary 40,000 square feet pop-up exhibition featuring the largest ever collection of Disneyland memorabilia and collectibles from collector Richard Kraft and his son Nicholas. From now until August 24 you can visit the exhibit in Sherman Oaks, CA for free and marvel at these astounding pieces from attraction posters, paintings and signs, to ride vehicles of such treasured attractions as Dumbo (which once took up residence in the Kraft living room) the People Mover and Skyway, to the 50 foot Sea Serpent from the previous version of the Submarine Voyage. After the exhibit concludes, on August 25 and 26, every item will be auctioned off in person, and via phone and online to the highest bidders. Even if these items are out of one’s price range, if you have the opportunity to visit this you should, especially for those who love Disneyland, nostalgia and a healthy dose of magic. There are plenty of photo opportunities and lots of fun of fun to be had. Lastly, I want to thank Richard and Nicholas for their generosity in setting up this exhibition. As a lifelong fan of all these Disney and a frequent visitor to the Disneyland Park since I was a young child, this exhibition was a true wonder to behold and I found myself amazed, delighted, and often overwhelmed, nostalgic and moved. Just like Disneyland itself, this truly is for the young and young at heart.

Take a look below at many of the items from this collection (including some comparisons from pictures taken during many past trips). This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what is up for auction. And for more information visit ThatsFromDisneyland.com

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Fashion Friday: Minnie Mouse Style

When it comes to fashion, there is not much that is as girly as Minnie Mouse style. The sweet and timeless character has provided inspiration for almost 90 years. Although her true love Mickey is arguably the most popular animated character of all time, and is seen in just about everything under the sun, Minnie is just as beloved and popular especially in the fashion world. Designers are always giving us new and beautiful clothes, jewelry and accessories inspired by this colorful character, and many a style blog or fashion magazine highlight these inspired fashions from official character pieces to ones that incorporate her style, from red and black fashion, to polka dots and bows in just about every color. In this post I will be highlighting some of my own Minnie Mouse fashion pieces and places you can get them, or ones quite similar.

One of my first “Minnie” fashion purchases was this red and white polka dot purse from the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort.

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Not only is it adorable, but was affordable at around $40, and excellent quality, especially because it is not real leather. I have had this purse for almost 4 years and it still practically looks like new.  This particular purse must be still popular because during my last trip to the park in December it was still available to purchase in the Le Bat en Rouge shop in New Orleans Square, along with an array of other delightful Minnie apparel.

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If you can’t make it to the park, I found multiple listings on Ebay!
Disney Parks Minnie Mouse Barrel Style Purse (Value $40)
$45 (X), $29.99 (X), $55 (money goes to charity) (X)

Around the same time, I purchased some adorable bow earrings. They are costume jewelry but good quality and nicely sized, shown here alone, and with a penny to give you an idea.

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These are no longer available but the style remains popular. If you feel like treating yourself, Pandora released very similar earrings that are even more beautiful.
Pandora Minnie Bow Earrings $75

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Another World of Disney purchase was this Minnie Mouse Sequin Bow Sweater $54.95

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It is a thin sweater, but super cozy and soft. I love the sequin bow. They are very tightly woven and intricate and sparkle beautifully. Select sizes are still available on The Disney Store and I found a listing for size small on Ebay. Keep checking. More may pop up! Disney Store, Ebay $64.95

Lastly, I adore Lauren Conrad’s fashion line for Kohls. Her pieces are beautiful, feminine and do not break the bank. I have several tops and dresses from her line, include some of her many Disney inspired ones. She has done special tributes to Cinderella, Bambi, and you guessed it, Minnie Mouse, which so far has been my personal favorite. I purchased a red dress with a hat and bow pattern, and a coral blouse with a lace and polka dot peter pan collar, and mouse ear and polka dot pattern.

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These special inspired lines have limited runs, but as always you can always find listings on Ebay. Here is all of the Lauren Conrad Minnie Apparel available on Ebay.

Do you love Minnie inspired fashion as much as I do? What are some of your favorite pieces? Would you like to see more? Sound off in the comments 🙂