Knit, Purl, Hurl (from Sheer Excitement)

As I mentioned in my last Things I Love Thursday post, there’s been some great opportunities and exciting news in my life as of late!

Firstly, I’m so excited to announce that a local shop in Old Town, Wild Women in the Garden, will be carrying some of my hand-knit items this fall and winter!


The short version of an otherwise long story is…sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to ask! My first trial order with the shop should be completely knit up and delivered very soon, which means my fingers have been flying.

Offerings will include fingerless gloves/wrist warmers, and my favourite thing to knit, hooded scarves. Between this and Christmas gifts, if you see me without a pair of knitting needles in my hand, there’s something terribly wrong.

The other bit of exciting news I found out recently: After visiting a campus counselor I mapped out that, if I hit the books hard for the next two semesters, I’ll graduate next year! As an off-and-on student since 2009, this is so exciting – especially considering I’ll not only be getting an AA-Transfer degree in History, but another unexpected AA in Liberal Arts. So begins my gleeful collection of degrees….As Oscar Wilde said, “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” (Needless to say, I am ecstatic to somehow be both.)

Naturally, it’s time to start looking at universities. My ultimate dream is to study at Berkeley’s (legendary) Dwinelle Hall…but the thought of tuition makes me break out into hives. In the meantime, my interest is caught between UC Davis’s history department, which has offerings such as “Christianity and Culture In Europe from 50-1450” and “Medieval and Renaissance Medicine.” Their medieval studies courses seem much more varied and well-rounded than other UCs, though I am very tempted by UC Santa Cruz’s class on “Saints and Holiness in Medieval Europe.” What’s a poor, indecisive student to do?

Finally, (and this is more personal, and probably less exciting), autumn is here at last! The air is crisp, my collection of cardigans is now being worn on rotation, and pumpkin goodies adorn the shelves at Trader Joe’s.  I was lucky enough to attend a Mabon (Autumn Equinox) festival last Sunday with my friends Karl and Katrina, and had a wonderful time despite getting a gnarly sunburn. We participated in a circle ritual, went metaphysical shopping (my wallet was safe from the crystals, but I did walk away with a teeny bottle of Full Moon incense that I can’t wait to use), did a spot of yoga (tip: yoga poses in a dress is not easy), and wrapped up the day with delicious sushi and frozen yogurt. It was a great experience, and I am so grateful they invited me along to share it 🙂

Things are still busy here at the New Nest. Life is steadily humming along, despite my tendency to stick my fingers in my ears and pretend I don’t have anything going on – a major failing for someone who wants to graduate next year, no? There are so many big things on the horizon for the remainder of the year, and I’m eager to experience and share them with you.



Feathering the Nest

As you may know (seeing as how I am unable to silence myself for any long period of time about it), I’m in the middle of a huge transitory period. Moving out from my childhood home and being – accordingly – festooned in the trappings of an Official Bona Fide Grown Up – not only that, but being comfortable with being an Actual Adult for the first time in this new space!
I thought the transition from my childhood home would be uncomfortable and awkward and send me into screaming fits of panic, but I’m surprising myself at the ease with which I’m moving.


So far I’ve had a lot of fun going through my possessions, culling what I don’t need any more, and figuring out the direction that I want my new digs to go in.
It’s not easy…between going to class four days a week and still living out of boxes, sometimes all I want to do when I get home is roll straight into bed when there’s still unpacking and cleaning to be done and household chores to take care of!
My general rule for keeping vs throwing away is “If it’s not beautiful or useful, then why hold on to it?” I’ve been able to put so much stuff that I was afraid to get rid of in the trash/Goodwill box by applying these rules! Not only does cutting down on your personal belongings reduce clutter, but it also clears out stagnant energy – and allows you to make room for a flow of new, fresh energy into your life, whether it be money, friendship, or health. And I’m ready for all of the above!


Though I loved my room in my beautiful old home, I realize that it was only a matter of time before I had to outgrow it. And even though this new room is much smaller, I’m completely in love with it. Not only does it make me think critically of what to take on this physical journey through life, but it also presents me with a blank canvas for this new stage of my life.


Here, it feels like I do magic.

Such a Clever Grown-Up Miss: Things I Learned from my Disney College Program

Now that my Disney College Program is over (and because I am quite possibly insane) I am considering doing the whole process over again. However! For the second time around, I would definitely make some changes. The first Program was a learning-on-my-feet experience, and now that I know what to do – and perhaps even more importantly, what not to do. Here’s some basic advice that I’d like to offer to anyone who is considering or preparing for their own College Program:

Invest in some easily-reheatable basics to always have on hand for meals – hot dogs, a big bag of frozen veggies, canned soups, and so on. Depending on how long your program is, you’ll get sick of mac & cheese and ramen really fast. I’m a fan of Michelina’s frozen meals, which I can get for less than a dollar each at Wal-Mart’s grocery section.
Always bring your lunch. The staff cafeterias are pricey! I paid $2.50 for an aforementioned frozen meal (which, again, costs around a dollar if you buy it and bring it in) on one day that I forgot to bring in my lunch.

If you can, get a crockpot. Not having to worry about making dinner after an eight-hour (or longer!) shift will take a lot of stress off of you.

One of the major drawing points of the Disney College Program is the lure of “You’ll be able to go to the parks for free on your days off!” What people neglect to mention is black-out dates. Some parks have more black-out dates than others – Magic Kingdom is particularly notorious for being filled to capacity on certain occasions like Spring Break. This year on the 4th of July, MK hit capacity around 10 in the morning! Utter insanity. Others, like Animal Kingdom, have less black-out dates.

Use your common sense and courtesy: If you’re under 21, follow the rules regarding alcohol. Regardless of your age, follow the rules regarding drugs. Don’t be that person who is up banging and stomping around at 3 in the morning when your neighbors or roommates have to get up at five for work. If you have to come home drunk in the small hours of the morning, don’t shout or scream as you’re walking between the apartment buildings because people can hear you and they probably won’t react kindly. Clean up after yourself. Don’t eat food that belongs to your roommates, seriously, that’s just rude. And, for the love of god, don’t call in sick and then go to the parks or sell your main gates. You will get termed. 

Don’t be afraid to pester Maintenance. This is especially applicable if you live in the older apartment complex, Vista Way. My apartment’s garbage disposal and dishwasher were completely busted, and it took several requests, each less patient and kind than the last, for them to come by and fix it.

Due to the mild winters and subtropical climate, Florida is the land of giant bugs. If you start seeing bugs in your apartment, let the front desk of your complex know immediately so they can schedule pest control to stop by ASAP. You do not want to let a bug problem get out of control.

Generally, it’s a good idea to keep your place tidy so you’re not scrambling to clean up the entire apartment the night before inspection. If your roommates are unhelpful, keep your own personal space tidy at the very least. This doesn’t mean you should be a doormat and clean up after everyone – a little negotiation goes a long way.

Stay hydrated. Again, this should fall under ‘common sense’ but I can understand the appeal of knocking back energy drinks before your shift after a long night out. Keep a water bottle with you. Florida is hot and humid and you’ll dehydrate faster than you think.

Be wise where you shop. A certain superstore on the bus route is arranged to cater specifically to both tourists and college program participants, so the ‘savings’ aren’t that great for the quality. If you have a car, or know someone who does, there are several grocery stores in the area which, while also catering to tourists, have rewards card programs that you can sign up for. Even if you don’t end up saving a lot of money at these grocery stores, I find the difference in the quality of food to be worth the price.

Depending on your job, your pay might not be as stellar as you thought it would be. I notice that Cast Members working in more retail-oriented roles (such as Merchandise, Food Service, etc) tend to have more work days or longer shifts, and subsequently, higher paychecks. Working in costuming, I learned this the hard way after several three- and four-day weeks and less-than-awesome paychecks. Talk to your coworkers and see if there is a facebook page for your department so you can set up shift exchanges or pickups.

Generally, it’s very useful to keep a little bit of cash with you (at home) at all times. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just about $15, in fives or tens. You never know when you’ll have to refill your laundry card or tip the pizza delivery guy.

Make a point to visit the Cast Connection store. It’s great for finding deals on gifts, apparel for yourself, and has great prices on basic groceries that you’ll definitely want to take advantage of.

Get an umbrella or a waterproof poncho ASAP, if you didn’t bring one with you. Depending on when your program is, a pair of dependable rainboots is also a great idea. During the summer months there are pretty dependable thunderstorms and torrential downpours if not daily, then at least once every few days. You will get tired of getting wet.

Utilize the Disney Learning Centers at the parks and at Vista Way. The selection of books (for resource, self-development, and recreational reading!) and movies is amazingly vast.

Pick up a PAC shift at least once. Then be grateful that you never have to do it again if you don’t want to.

If you’re ever unsure about something, ask. The staff both at the apartment help/learning centers and your coordinators/managers at work are knowledgable and, more often than not, want to help set you up for success. You will always get some conflicting answers, but it’s better to suss out how things work than remain in the dark. Your College Program success will, overall, depend largely on your ingenuity and determination. Don’t be afraid to ask for a helping hand.

And finally, each and every college program is different. Do the best that you can with what you have, work hard, and don’t forget to have fun along the way!

A Very Personal Post: The Tabula Rasa

My situation has changed forever and while it makes me sad, I’m going to view this as the right time for me to begin anew. While my slate isn’t completely wiped clean I do have a fresh start, of sorts, for when I move back to California.

And what do I want to do with it? I am thrilled at all of the possibility. The list-maker in me is wringing her hands and sharpening her pencils with glee.

I want comfort and creativity and enough space for both. Bowls of flowers. Ornate picture frames, knit quilts, loaded bookshelves, flower fairy lights on my headboard.
I want to study with reckless abandon and know exactly where I’m going with my education.
I want to wake up with excitement and energy. Each morning I want my toes to hit the floor and my spirit to fill the room with excitement and gleeful anticipation at the possibility that a brand new day will bring.

I always feel so run down and weary, and I can’t get out of bed in the morning. Maybe if I change my mind – I have energy! I wake up with vibrancy! – I’ll get it. Because that’s what I want my life to be. Energy and excitement. Everyday life filled with productivity, love, learning, and happiness.  I want energy. I want to know my life is going places.

I want to dress after the fashion of my soul. I want to walk around campus like I mean business. When people see me in passing they need to think, “Damn, I better either get out of her way or join her!” I want to kick ass at maths. I want to meet like minded people and form great connections while having great conversations, founded in truth and knowledge and similar values.

I want time and energy to pursue what I love and make it look effortless.

I want to look good and feel awesome. Every day. Even on the weekends where all I’m doing is putting on sweatpants and walking the dog and putting something in the slow cooker for dinner.

As for the rest of the year…
I want an Indian summer of lazy sunsets and warm afternoons and minty iced tea. I want nights of chilled wine and salads and talking about everything. I want a summer vacation exploring a place I love, learning new things and finding the space to breathe.
I want an ethereal Halloween. A fall of comfort and being utterly in-tune with the shift in seasons. Eating seasonally and locally, touching my environment as it changes. I want to take walks in the rain and wear tartan and boots and have the smell of crushed fallen leaves and tea be my perfume.
I want holidays of chant and polyphony music. Ornate, jewel-bright baubles. Thoughtfulness. Joy. Writing letters and sending cards to everyone I’ve met here in Florida, as well as the far-flung friends I’ve made all over the world. I want brightness and baking, knitting, planning for 2014.

I get all of these wild hairs about “what I want my life to be like” and never act on them. They’re all ideas and they feel so close it breaks my heart, if only because I don’t know how to get from my current reality to what I want my life to be like. That’s dumb. I need to act! Every day, I need to make the choices that will push me toward this beautiful life. What is it – Abraham said something about using your emotions as a guide to attune yourself to what you want to be aligned with vibrationally.
And, well, I want to feel good all the time. Even when I’m not sure what I want…all I know is that I want to feel good. That’s what I want from my blank slate: Beauty, knowledge, and feeling good.

Pardon My Pixie Dust

The whole life of man is but a point in time; let us enjoy it.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ve been extremely, mind-bendingly unhappy lately.

The thing about unhappiness like this is that it isn’t dissimilar to quicksand. Walking along, nothing will seem amiss save for a gradual downward slope – and before I know it, I’m up to my neck and can’t haul myself out. It takes a lot of energy just to keep my head above it. Treading water requires a tremendous amount of effort.

In short, I’ve lost “it” – “it” being pixie dust, zazz, joie de vivre, whatever you want to call the happiness and energy that I first experienced upon moving out here. My weekly Gratitude Lists have sputtered out spectacularly. My friends and family, bless them, have been putting up with a constant litany of homesickness and self-deprecation from me for the better of three weeks now, and I’ve all but stopped singing at my work. A Disney Princess, I am not (at least currently).

I’ve figured out the secret of most College Programs and why they only last about four months: If what I’m going through is any indication, at around the three-month mark, we get sick of this and want to go back home! It takes a very special and driven sort of person to want to stay with the program or, god forbid, extend and apply for the professional internships.
I am not a very special and driven sort of person; all I can think about is my cat, my garden, the flowers I want to grow and the beautiful things I want to cook, the clothes I want to sew, the classes I want to take and the things I want to learn. You had better believe I’m making a list of all the things I’m going to do when I get back to California!

Along with the homesickness, the thought of self-terminating has been constantly running at the back of my mind – especially on the days where I’m tired and sore beyond belief, my coworkers are infuriating, and my shifts are unbearable. (I am not too proud to admit that on a recent shift I was sobbing hysterically the last twenty minutes before I clocked out, one step away from barging into my manager’s office and quitting on the spot.)
What keeps me from self-terming is a strange sort of masochism, my awesome flatmates encouraging me to stay strong and live it up while I’m here,  a determination to not disappoint myself or anyone else, and the knowledge that I am supposed to be here and I am supposed to be learning from this. If I can’t enjoy it, then at the very least I can learn from it, right?

The Plutarch I quoted at the beginning of this post appeared to me out of the blue a few nights ago. A very well-timed fragment of serendipity, I’ve been ruminating on it for the past few days – however brief and understated it is, it is comforting to keep in mind.
To be honest, I’m not sure what the point of this post is. Perhaps it’s to get these thoughts off of my chest, as though exorcising them thoughts will improve my situation – or at the very least, my peace of mind. Early in this blog’s infancy I promised myself I wouldn’t dump nonconstructive whining here. (Is constructiveness in the eye of the beholder, for lack of a better term?) Or perhaps this is productive and constructive – perhaps this is to be a public record of my thoughts and feelings; a reminder for the future that this unhappiness is only a very brief moment in the entirety of life.

Shifting Perspectives

Greetings from the Ville!

I may have underestimated how cold it would be in Kentucky – the thought that it might not be springtime everywhere didn’t even occur to me until I got off the plane and went, “Wow, it’s freezing!” As I write, last night’s flurry of snow is half-melted on the ground and I am clinging to a cup of green tea just a bit desperately. I’ve been spoiled by the Land of Eternal Summerand Florida seems worlds away right now – and that’s a good thing!

Stepping away from your current situation and getting a change of scenery always changes the way I think. Whether it is the actual, literal change of scenery, or something subtler such as the different energies and vibrations that one’s exposed to while in transit or in a new location, it’s astounding how differently the brain functions while taking a trip. Every chance I get to travel somewhere and take a breather, I wind up finding out new things about life – or else I have radical moments of clarity when I had only been floundering through murky thoughts for the longest time!

The flight from Orlando to Atlanta brought with it some caffeine-deprived musing on what I’m currently doing with my life. Admittedly, lately I’ve been feeling disenchanted with my College Program experience at Disney, due to several factors (in short – loneliness, anxiety about my living situation, long and frustrating days at work and meager paychecks that make wonder, “Is this even worth it?!”) It’s still very early on in my program, and the past week I’ve gone from feeling bad to worse about my decision to move across the country for my college program experience.

It wasn’t much longer after the plane touched down in Louisville that I came to a startling epiphany. Thoughts that had been slowly developing, unrealized, in the back of my mind suddenly burst open!

What I figured out was this: Lately, I feel like I don’t belong at Disney.
But wait! There’s more. It’s not a bad thing, I promise:

I don’t understand the standard corporate 9-5 (or 4pm to midnight, in my case) job. I don’t understand working eight hour days and trying to advance through the company as so many of my coworkers are trying to do. I just don’t see the point of it.

I’m thrilled that the ultimate goal of the company I work for is to make guests happy. I love that goal – I love being happy. I love making people happy. Happiness truly makes the world go round, in my opinion. Yet – at the same time, I feel that there are more important things to apply myself to. I want to make a difference  and here is where I get started, making a difference by contributing to a company that makes people happy. I’m working for the mouse for another four and a half months, which is more than enough time for me to learn all the lessons that I’m meant to learn here.

I want to do the things that I’m passionate about for a living (if you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your life!) and make a difference somehow. Looking at my parents – two awesome people who are doing what they love for a living, or taking steps toward it – it’s no surprise that I can’t adhere to the standard work routine.

(Well, I can – I just don’t enjoy it!)

My questions about the future, which have been floating vague and menacing around my head for some months now, are answered in at least this regard: In the long run, I am not going to forge a Disney career. But this experience will teach me and give me tools that I wouldn’t be able to gain anywhere else.

And now, I’m okay with not fitting in quite right with the rest of the College Program participants, and I’m okay with not especially wanting to extend my College Program until January of 2014 like other people are going to do. I don’t need to be living large with my paychecks, networking within the company, or making friends wherever I go.

This shift in perspective has shown me that I just need to be filling out my toolbox for the rest of my life so I can do what I’m passionate about – and I’m okay with that. I am exactly where I need to be, even if where that is is only temporary.

Until next we meet –

Be happy, be well, and be warm,

~Tessa Grace

Things I Love…Thursday: Tale as Old as Time…

Mea culpa. How long can I use “I’ve been busy” as an excuse until it’s no longer acceptable?

(That’s a trick question. The fact of the matter is excuses are never cool, especially for personal challenges that you’re trying to hold yourself to. Am I right?)

I had such an amazing day last Friday, it bears being retold in photos! My best friend’s parents were in town visiting for her father’s birthday, and luckily my day off coincided with their first day here. We visited the expanded Fantasyland and spied a castle belonging to a certain Beast…


I got to partake in Enchanted Tales with Belle! Though the wait in line was about forty minutes long, I was practically vibrating out of my skin with excitement. Beauty and the Beast was my favourite Disney movie growing up, and Belle has always been one of my biggest role models – that she’s a princess is only icing on the cake. So when I got my picture taken with Belle, well…I wasn’t quite sure what to do and my face sort of froze in an unfortunate spasm of happiness.


In a masterful stroke of luck which has me questioning what I’ve done to deserve such good karma, we managed to get a table at the new Be Our Guest restaurant. The entire experience was just beyond words, and of course the food and beer were delicious – everything from the French baguette with salted butter, the rotisserie game hen with fingerling potatoes and seasonal vegetables (though I was eyeing Kayla’s strip steak – om nom nom) to the adorable strawberry cream cheese cupcake I had for dessert. Of course, no dinner in the Beast’s castle would be complete without a photo op or two!

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C’est magnifique! I can’t even find the words to express my thanks to Kayla and her family for such a magical evening. Here’s (a huge list) of what else I’ve been digging since last we spoke…

Cupcakes at work ♥ iTV’s Whitechapel – woops, hello new TV addiction ♥ fluffy squirrels and tiny birds everywhere in my apartment complex – #disneyprincesslife ♥ care packages stuffed with tea, Trader Joe’s goodies, and lovely notes from my family and friends ♥ Midnight diner trips with my roommate ♥ Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland – they really did use antlers in all of their decorating! ♥ A friend’s formula for feeling better on a day where I was feeling pretty rotten (Step 1: Eat one super healthy thing. Step 2: Do one thing that makes you feel pretty. Step 3: Text one friend you haven’t talked to for a while. It really works!) ♥ Getting a formal recognition by my coordinator of going ‘above and beyond’ on the job – I was just trying to step in and be helpful, I swear! ♥ At last, finding Udi’s Gluten-free bread in a grocery store. Reunited and it feels so good! ♥ The first sip of loose-leaf tea after going without for so long… ♥ Self-medicating by overdosing on classical music, white tea, and pictures of pretty clothes ♥ This cover of Thrift Shop – vastly preferable to the original! ♥ Collecting little tokens of my journey so far and putting them in the Smashbook my wonderful godmom gave me as a gift. ♥

Every single day brings new memories. They may not be grandiose or life-altering, but they need to be remembered all the same. I don’t think it’s the huge events that make a lifetime, rather, it’s the little things that often slip by unnoticed. Take note of them, whether on the back of a receipt, a note document on your phone, or in a bedazzled gratitude journal. How do you keep track of them?

Till next we meet!