Monday, September 25, 2017

The Only Way To Say Goodbye

The First Picture Ever Posted on Picturing Disney: 11/20/11

As many of you know, I founded Picturing Disney almost 7 years ago. We started out as a small little photo blog devoted to pictures I had taken in the parks over the years. This was a hobby of mine, to take pictures, to be creative, to see things people hadn't noticed before. But as I did this so did many, many others. In that I found my blog changing shape. I found my creative ways of raising trip money became posts with huge views, that people liked my trip reports, that people enjoyed that I shared my printables and crafts and my recipes which I have been reposting all summer, and that companies loves my writing style enough to send me free stuff to write about and take pictures of. I found that I had a little community here. And without realizing it, I had come to need that.

You see, my Disney trips were not just because I loved Disney World, there was something bigger at play. My high school sweetheart, my boyfriend, my fiance, my husband (all names he had from me over the course of my blog ownership) he had a lot of anxiety and travel was a trigger for him. He had traveled to Disney as a child, and to some beach vacations and therefore he didn't have much issue with Disney Parks or various Beach trips we had taken. I wanted more than just laying on a beach and repeating, I wanted a place I could have adventures. I found that place in Disney. Don't get me wrong, I went to many beaches up and down the east coast and even got him out to the Bahamas once. I tried to get him out to Cali once and we had to change our entire trip on the spot (and on my credit card) to Disneyland to stop an all afternoon anxiety attack that ensued upon landing.

In sickness and in health was something I was prepared to handle. I was here, I had my PD community, I had a great community of Disney friends, and I had my family and wonderful friends at home. I woke up one day and I realized I had been gaslighted. I realized I had been in a cycle of abuse. And the more I woke up to it, the more I realized I couldn't get out. I focused on ways to fund Disney trips while he was out of work, while he was back in school, while he was going to classes but I was doing to research papers and working full time and getting my Masters, and all the while GUILT GUILT GUILT and PAIN PAIN PAIN. I was so busy taking care and control in BOTH of our lives, so busy getting everything done, so busy giving him ALL of my sunshine that all that was shiny and beautiful inside me was dying. I was withering away because I had forgotten to save some of my sunshine for myself.

And then the unthinkable happened. Those moments in life that when they are happening and in the immediate aftermath you think "I will never forget this" but then somehow your own defense mechanisms make you forget everything but how you felt inside. Something happened between us that had happened before but never like this. And as he pulled back his arm, I could almost watch all of my sunshine go to black, see him pulling from me all that I had fought for over the years. And in a moment of intense emotional rewind, my brain brought me back to that same face in a different place. Suddenly his face was not angry and sad and overwhelmed and filled with all the things from his childhood he'd never dealt with.

Suddenly, we were on Prince Charming's Carousel at 3am during Spring Break Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours. He was smiling and laughing like a kid. I was giggling. His eyes were happy, they had a shine to them, a sparkle. My heart was full. The air was cold and I had the hood of my sweatshirt pulled up. There was no anxiety in either of us, no pain, no fear, just two kids celebrating my 30th birthday. Suddenly, in that moment I knew I needed to leave him here. I knew I needed to be that happy every day. I knew that this glittering moment that happened 10 months and a lifetime before was how I should remember my high school sweetheart, boyfriend, fiance, husband, and ex husband. And so I did.

I could not continue my life as I once had. That was when Monique of Only One Mark Inc took over the site. She was wonderful and Picturing Disney flourished for the 3 years she was the owner. OOMI has ballooned and become her full time work (and she is incredible!!! she designed my housewarming invitations, engagement announcements, and wedding invites!!).  Over that time that Monique was the owner and manager of PD, I found my sunshine. What is incredible about it was that I thought this whole time that it was important that I make my own sunshine, that I find a way to grow and do it within my own soul. Then I met Jason. I met the man who has redefined what the saying "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine" means in my world. I have never felt more loved and more overwhelmed with happiness than I do every single time I meet his eyes. I have always wondered about soulmates, about what love truly is, I questioned everything after my divorce. I never questioned Jason. He never questioned me. We met and that is all there is to it. We were never going to be whole again without each other.  Our lives have been filled with love and adventures since the moment we met and I have never in my life been so excited to grow old.

I found my happy place and it has been wonderful. We have a family together, we got engaged in Disney World. We are going to be married next month! And when Monique asked me to manage Picturing Disney and take the reigns back, I was so happy to take this step of my journey with my family! We shared the fun in doing Disney Publishing reviews. My youngest is our LeSportSac backpack reviewer extraordinaire, and I found a way to come full circle. I found a way to make peace. And in the year that I have been running the site again I have had a wonderful time.

In my time managing the site, I have also found someone who truly loves this site, who has worked with us for years, and who has been running her own site Kid Congeniality with heart and compassion that PD has always craved. I could not be happier to introduce Michele as the new owner of Picturing Disney. She has a breadth of social media knowledge that I could only dream of, she lives in the greatest city in the world, she loves all things Disney, and we share the same ideals of love, harmony, and sprinkling pixie dust wherever we go.

To celebrate this lovely happenstance we are going to run a little giveaway through Picturing Disney on instagram. Featuring our lovely account, Kid Congeniality, and my StepMommy Blog: StepMusings, you will be able to win a wonderful prize pack from LeSportSac and Disney Publishing, just in time for a spooktacularly special October!

I urge you, like Walt (and I like to think myself now too), to keep moving forward.
I will be around from time to time, but lets all give Michele the warmest of welcomes as Picturing Disney embarks upon a new and most exciting adventure.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Power Up Your Next Vacation with NintendoxLeSportSac!!!

LeSportSac has done it again! 
Here are Picturing Disney we just LOVE the collaborations that we see coming out of LeSportSac over the years! We have featured their Disney collections, as well as their pairings with Mr. Men and Peanuts. And as a girl who still has her original NES hooked up in her living room (and still can't beat World 8 on Super Mario Bros 3) this pulled at all of my heart strings! 

Nintendo x LeSportSac features two distinct lines: Power Up Burst and Mario Travel (and also some adorable Gamer Accessories).

We got to check out two awesome products from this collab for review. 
LeSportSac Weekenders are our FAVORITE travel bags! They are perfect for someone who packs light and wants an easy-to-slide-under-the-seat-in-front-of-you carry-on bag or a great sleepover pack! And the material is easy to clean and lightly waterproof! 

We also got, to my daughters complete and udder joy (as her initials are SMB) the Essential Backpack in Mario Travel

As always, the theme is tried and true and the smallest details make our hearts flutter, like the coin zipper pulls! These are my favorite backpacks of all time. And while they are pricey, so are any of the best quality bags and while those boast lifetime guarantees, we've never had a LSS backpack break in the last 6 years of use! 

We, of course, can never ever enjoy beautiful items sent for review without getting some giveaway items as well! We are teaming up with two of our favorite accounts, LeSportSac, and Disney publishing for a Spooktacular Giveaway on Instagram featuring these two beauties:
The Piranha Plant Pouch and Square Cosmetic are amazing quality (and worth a combined $60) in a giveaway with another $40 worth of great storybooks coming your way soon!


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Windy City Magic is the perfect read this Summerfall!

Oh I am sorry, you aren't acquainted with the term Summerfall? Well let me explain. My sister and I invented this word for that time of year where you and mother nature are in denial that summer is ending. The sun still sets around 8, there are days where shorts are needed, you still order sangria and margaritas out at dinner, the crickets chirp, tomatoes still grow, and most importantly... you can allow yourself to be in total denial that its time to go back to school! Why? Because Summerfall is all about the sunshine. 

Just like we all love experiencing the great summer reads each time school lets out, Summerfall lends itself to fun, romantic, reading with characters we can connect to and just enough whimsy that we can wish we lived in that world. "The Best Kind of Magic" delivers just that feeling! And being the first book in a series, we can't wait to get our hands on the rest of the Windy City Magic series! So grab a bath bomb, pull your hair back, swipe on a clay mask, put some soft folksy music on, and relax with this wonder! And you might as well crack the window so you can feel the slightly cool breeze and smell the sweet scent of grass, just like Summerfall beckons.

Monday, August 28, 2017

#BrewYourHappyPlace with Trader Sam's!

This September is the perfect time to check out Trader Sam's Coffee Company! The folks at Trader Sam's sent us some delicious coffee and an awesome mug to help commemorate their upcoming 3 year anniversary! Inspired by your (and my) favorite rides and attractions at Disney Parks, these unique and delicious blends are sure to excite all palates! We were lucky enough to try Ghoulish Delight, Roundup Roast, Skipper's Brew Jungle Banana Pie, and EnchantedTiki Coconut (with distinct Haunted Mansion, Toy Story, Jungle Cruise, and Enchanted Tiki Room theming respectively) and they were as magical as they sound!

The Skipper's Brew is by far a personal favorite with Tiki Coconut a close second. Here at Picturing Disney we love exploring our favorite place and bring the happiness of family vacations, magical memories, and loving laughs that we have on adventures into our homes. Trader Sam's fits the bill here. We love their story, the way they have donated some of their profits to help rescue dogs, even the way their coffee showcases artists. While they are not affiliated with Disney, they have really hit a heartstring with us and we hope you check them out and share our love of this great brew!