dreams, magic and disneyland paris

Magic. What a special thing that is. Most need more magic in their lives, it’s something we all crave. Yet, it comes so easily to children. With their willingness and openness to their imagination, their ability to believe in the magic within all of their youthful hearts. Where did the magic go as we all grew up? Why do many of us get lost in the our own lives, often forgetting about the dreams we all once had? Well, I don’t know the answers to any of this. But, I do know that sometimes adopting childlike faith and excitement and retreating back to the world of magic can open up the doors to beautiful things. I opened up those doors yesterday as I walked through the doors of no other place than Disneyland in Paris. I went to disney world as a child and it was of course enchanting, but after years it’s easy to forget the magic of such a place. When I returned to disney world when I was about 17, it was wonderful but due to hardships in my life at the time, my time in the magical place wasn’t all that easy. However, things have changed now. I have tried to adopt a childlike mentality in many ways, especially in how I perceive the world and those around me. This childlike mentality made my time at disneyland both freeing and more magical than I could have ever dreamed.
Lacye and I arrived to disney on January 1st around 1:30pm. We had accidentally slept in but we decided to still head to disney! As we arrived we were blessed in only having to wait for about 10 minutes to enter the enchanting disneyland gates! As we walked into the “happiest place on earth” we heard frozen songs people played and walked through crowds of excited children who were watching a Frozen parade! I of course was excited and singing along as well, letting the child in me come out! The adorable downtown area was lit up with Christmas cheer.
After watching the adorable show we headed to the different areas of Disneyland. We first visited the enchanting castle and visited fantasyland, discoveryland, adventureland, and frontierland. We were able to ride many of the main attractions because the lines were not very long. My favorite was definitely space mountain! During my Disneyland visit I was of course wearing my Micky mouse ears the entire time and I was there. I also enjoyed the “it’s a small world” boat cruise. It was so beautiful and stood for the unity of all peoples. On the short cruise I was brought through various sections that represented the different regions in the world. All the small dolls in each section sang “it’s a small world” along with various other Christmas carols. At the end images showing the unity of all people from different cultures was shown. How beautiful is that? I love that Disney is representing such a meaningful cause as the unity of all, that’s a beautiful message for both adults and children alike. After exploring the park and embracing the beauty of newfound childhood excitement, the park eventually came to a close at 10pm with a special holiday castle light show. Lacye and I did not know what to expect for the light show, but we were excited to see it. I, however, had no clue at how elaborate the show would be. We watched in awe as various Christmas and Disney songs were played while the castle was clothed in beautiful colors! It was pure magic. There were also fireworks- amazing ones, far better than the ones we saw the night prior for New Years in Paris! The colorful fireworks were accompanied by a beautiful water color show. Various shades of colorful water soared through the air in an ever so perfect manor. It was hard not to smile at such a beautiful sight!
My emotions got the best of me as the song “if you just believe” came on. I know the song from the Polar Express and it definitely made me and Lacye both tear up a bit. The song talked about believing, about hope, and about peace. As the song talked about peace the word “peace” was projected on the building in many languages. That was such a special emotional moment. How special is was to stand in a crowd of strangers, seeing and hearing such a beautiful, meaningful universal message of love and peace. The show ended rather extravagantly and it was not finished there. As we walked out of the closing park, beautiful classical Christmas hymns were played, they sounded so angelic, so perfect. I’m not sure how Disney made me, 20 year old college student retreat back to childhood, but I’m thankful for that magical day. If more of us opened up our hearts and minds like children do, this world would be a far better, more love filled place. So, maybe not all of us have the opportunity to go to Disneyland in Paris, but that should not stop us. Everyday we should all strive to be more loving, accepting, peace oriented, and adopt a childlike excitement. For, this world is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people, it’s time we start noticing the beauty and magic within our everyday lives, I know it’s there. I challenge each of you to think back, think back to long ago. Think back to the time in your life where you had dreams. We all have had dreams and many of us have let go of our past aspirations. Why? Why as we grow up does the world seem so difficult and our dreams so unachievable? Well, there are many answers people could give to the previous said statements. Those statements, however, will do nothing and will not change anything. It’s up to us to adopt a more childlike love and outlook in the world. Disneyland invokes such a positive worldview because beauty, innocence and joy are projected everywhere. Let us all focus on the beautiful people in the world, on the positive aspects of our lives, and let us all open up our hearts to the magic within our everyday lives.
Stay true, live justly and always travel on. Peace and love.

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amsterdam

One night, two days, that’s the amount of time I spent the city with a rather interesting, quite infamous reputation. The city that I had only heard negative things of, the ever so illustrious city we have all come to know as Amsterdam.
Lacye and I met at the Zürich station after Christmas and arrived in Amsterdam together. We arrived in the city around 9:00am after taking a 12 hour night train. On arriving to the city we dropped our bags off at the hostel. We then explored the city a bit and headed to the Anne Frank Museum. When we arrived at the museum we noticed a long, long line. After discovering the line would most likely take three hours to get through, I was hesitant and we almost decided to come back the next day! Turns out we met two young men, Brennan and Jhuanderson, from the United States who were waiting in line just ahead of us. Brennan and Jhuanderson are both around our same age and also attend a private university in the United States and were also studying abroad. While Pepperdine is west coast, their college is an east coast school, but we were all somewhat similar. They too were studying abroad, while I’m studying in Italy and Lacye in Switzerland, they are both studying in Spain. They even knew about the Camino de Santiago and had visited Santiago themselves, which we of course spoke about. The three hour line seemed to pass by quickly as we all became quick friends. It sounds funny when I talk about meeting friends in Amsterdam, but these two are really special. Both of them are so kind and genuine, which I don’t say about everyone. We even stuck together on the tour of Anne Frank’s home. The tour was quite an emotional time for me. After seeing the assembly grounds for Hitler’s radical group, the Dachau concentration camp, and finally Berlin where Hitler killed himself, seeing and hearing about a real life story was unreal. I read Anne’s book when I was a child and I hope to reread the book soon. As I walked through I thought and mourned not only for Anne and the Frank family, but also for the other families and victims of the holocaust. What are the stories of the other victims? Did they hide too? What are their names? Why are thousands of lives merely forgotten, while over one million individuals visit the home and mourn the life of Anne Frank each year?
It is so hard to process and impossible to understand the devastation that the holocaust caused in our broken world. I hope and pray nothing of the sort ever occurs again, because we all know in our hearts that it could. What silent holocaust is now occurring? What injustices are we letting continue? Will it take 11 million lives before we intervene this time?
I pray not. Just as Anne’s father had to press on after losing his wife and daughters, who else had to live their lives without their families and loved ones? Who are the unknown heroes of World War II? Who are the silent heroes of today? We need not take our blessed lives for granted, our freedom and liberty are gifts in themselves, gifts that many people like Anne Frank were not given. The museum is beautiful, I hope it is a remembrance for all of the untold stories of victims around the world. After visiting the museum, Lacye and I along with our two new friends explored the city and eventually went on a city tour together. Later on, on the tour the guide walked our group by the red light district and I was horrified. I could not help but pray for all the women who willingly seemed to objectify themselves in such a dark, dirty environment. Though I saw only a small part of the district, it was extremely explicit and sad. I was shocked to see how many tourists just walked through looking with curiosity. Looking at the girls behind the glass window was so heartbreaking. Each of those women were once little girls. Little girls who dreamed to be princesses, children who had so much innocence and hope.
Yet, now the girls stand objectified, objects of entertainment for the crowds of “clients” and tourists. Where are their families? Where are their fathers? What are their stories? How did they get to where they are?
To be stripped of dignity and to be dehumanized is what happened during the holocaust yet I feel as though the same thing occurs everyday on the red light districts throughout the world. I felt like being there I was indirectly supporting the horrid cause, so Lacye and I left soon after we entered the district. I think seeing such dark things in the world was actually good for me, almost like a reality check. It’s easy when you’re surrounded by loving, wholesome people to forget about the darkness that exists in the world. And, for me right now it’s so easy to get caught up in the idealistic view that everyone is loving and caring. But, Amsterdam reminded me otherwise, I will try to pray for that city for the rest of my life. After seeing such things, it reminds me that there is definitely a need for more love and more prayer in the world. The world is hurting in so many ways, but I know there is always hope which is reassuring. After that horrid sight, my view of Amsterdam was quite tainted and I felt ready to leave. Later that night, however, Lacye, Brennan, Jhuanderson and I explored most places in the city, had great conversations and an overall wonderful night even after the rough start. The next morning we all met and went to the Van Gogh Museum. The line was quite long but passed by swiftly in good company. The museum was incredible. It was special to see all of the art pieces I had only heard about and seen in books and movies! After the museum we all went on a boat tour of the city together! The city is really a beautiful place architecturally and I loved all the small, narrow alleyways. What made the trip great was not the place, it was the new friendships we made. I’m not sure how we keep meeting all these wonderful, genuine, kind people. But, I’m sure it’s God, bringing such wonderful people into my life. Saying goodbye to Brennan and Jhuanderson was sad because I may never see them again. But who knows? Maybe we will meet again some day. I know that some people come into our lives quickly and leave after a short time; however, even a short time with wonderful people is better than no time with them at all. After our boat tour Lacye and I headed back to the hostel to pick up our bags and we then headed to Paris. We arrived in the city of love around 8:30pm and our Paris adventure then began- which you will be hearing about shortly!
Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and love.

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