Tag Archive | vacation

Life on Tahiti Time

This funny thing happened in Tahiti where time stopped. We were ensconced in a tropical paradise bubble where the sun rose and set but time didn’t actually move forward. I don’t think we aged the 10 days we were island-bound. Really, quantum physicists should check this out. It’s weird.

You see, time in my life has always been in relation to my goals. I’ve felt the clock ticking feverishly since I was a child.

How many days until Christmas?

How many days until school gets out?

I want to lose weight. How much time do I have before prom to do that?

I want to be an actress. How much time do I have? Let me stalk IMDB and see what age other actresses were when they got their breaks and I’ll compare myself until I’m satisfied.

I want to run a marathon. How much time do I have to train?

I want to get to the weekend. How many days until the weekend?

I want to leave work. What hand is on what number on that clock?

I want to be a writer. How much time will it take me to finish this manuscript? How early do I have to get up to get decent writing time in before I have to leave for work? How long will it take me to write 10,000 words. How long do I have to wait before I can resubmit to a different publisher. How long should I wait before I follow up about my submission? How long does it take for a manuscript to make it through the editorial pipeline and onto a bookshelf? How much time do I have left to do all of these things? Do I have enough time? Am I running out of time?

Oh screw it. *Goes on Facebook*

On October 5 I stepped onto the soil of Moorea. Time faded away. No change of seasons. No change of tides. No weekends. No happy hours. No deadlines. No race days. No age limits. No pipelines. No time. Just peace. Quiet. Adventure. Fun. Experience.

Here’s the thing though. I missed time. After 10 days I looked forward to stepping back onto my matrix of timelines. I didn’t want to leave paradise but like some sort of junkie I wanted the pressure of a clock ticking toward something, even if that something was just Halloween in two weeks. Am I crazy? Maybe it’s my Western-wired overly ambitious American brain. Probably. I left Tahiti grateful and rejuvenated by the extended pause. Now I’m ready to start the clock with a healthy perspective that my timelines are made up, they are relative, and they can change in an instant.

Tahiti gave my imagination an oasis to which I can always retreat. When time moves too quickly I will close my eyes and fly away to our beach of coral bones, and our Polynesian pups, and the night-light water and wise manta rays. I will go there and I will feel the clock slow. Thank goodness.

So I’m 31 and I’m not a published author yet. I will adjust my timeline. So it’s Tuesday and I’m facing four more days until the weekend. It’s just a day in time and space and the weekend is made up. I will do one thing today completely for myself that makes me feel free and suddenly I’ve turned Tuesday into a weekend. I’ve let time feel like the enemy in my life. I had to run 4,000 miles to discover that he was a villain of my own creation. Aren’t they always?

Our second to last day in French Polynesia I experienced a perfect moment. The sun sat low in the sky on the other side of the lagoon, shining a glorious warm pink light on the main island of Maupiti. It stood there, the mountain, basking in the warm pinkness of the sunset. Brad snorkeled by the reef, beyond where I could see him. I had just finished a good book. The Polynesian pups slept by my feet and roused as I stood to watch the sun go down. I could not see or hear another living human anywhere. For a brief moment I stood alone on this island with my Polynesian pups and the water and the mountain smiling into the sun. Everything felt warm in a sleepy ember sort of way. A perfect moment. The spirit moved me and I sang Never Never Land to the pups and to the mountain and to my husband out in the sea beyond where he could hear me. I stood there and sang at the top of my lungs as the sun set on our last day. It slipped behind a cloud, into the ocean, and as if on cue I felt the clock start ticking once again. Tick. Tock. Suddenly I understood what sort of vicious creature that Captain Hook was really running from. Brad came in from the sea. My siren song worked. He grabbed my hand and we retreated into our bungalow. Time to go home.

I have a place where dreams are born,
And time is never planned.
It’s not on any chart,
You must find it with your heart.
Never Never Land.

It might be miles beyond the moon,
Or right there where you stand.
Just keep an open mind,
And then suddenly you’ll find
Never Never Land.

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How to Cure Vacation Withdrawal… More Vacation

Brad and I just got back from a glorious week-long mountain adventure in Colorado. Activities included whitewater rafting, exploring a ghost town, hiking to the top of a mountain to discover a heavenly meadow of wildflowers and a trout-filled lake, touring our wedding venue, and taking on some serious trail runs at 9,000 feet. To sum up, I need a vacation from my vacation. Answer: Disneyland in 5 weeks.

You thought I forgot, didn’t you? It’s Disneyland Half Marathon time!! The most wonderful running time of the year. I’m so excited to be participating in our 4th straight year of running 13.1 miles through the Happiest Place Race on Earth. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Last week I got a taste of paradise and now Monday has brought with it some serious vacation withdrawal depression. What a relief from the back-to-work blues, knowing that I have this race to look forward to in just a little over a month.

The stakes are higher this year. In case you haven’t heard, runDisney has introduced new madness to Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. For the first time ever they’ve introduced a 10k to the weekend’s activities, the Disneyland 10k specifically. The 10k is a great distance because it’s accessible to pretty much everyone. For those who don’t quite have the motivation to train for a half marathon, the 10k (6.2 miles) is a worthy challenge. And for seasoned marathoners and half marathoners, 10k is still a great workout and provides the perfect opportunity for challenging speed work and the chance to PR time and again. This 10k is going to be particulary fantastic because it’s short enough that most of the race will actually be in the Disneyland resort instead of sprawled out onto the streets of Anaheim. In short, it’s going to rock and I hope you signed up.

But I’m not done! Not only did runDisney introduce a 10k into the mix, but they’ve officially laid down the west coast version of the Goofy Challenge, only slightly less totally insane Goofy. Brad and I are training for the Dumbo Double Dare, which means we’ll be running the 10k on Saturday morning, and the half marathon on Sunday morning. We’re Dumbo! I’ve never run that much mileage back to back, but I’m not too worried. We’re going to take it real easy on the 10k, stopping for photos and enjoying the gentle jog through the parks, and then we’ll really let the motors go for the half marathon. Besides, we ran at 9,000 feet altitude last week (you can feel the the oxygen deprivation!) so our runs at sea level from here on out will pretty much make us feel like superheroes. I understand now why Olympians train at high altitudes!

We had a great 8 mile run last night at sunset. Hard to believe we were in the Rocky Mountains on Saturday and gazing out at the Pacific on Sunday. I really can’t complain about life. It’s really really good. 

Here are some pics from our mountain adventure! 

Hiking in the San Isabel National Forest

Hiking in the San Isabel National Forest

fields of wildflowers on top of a mountain

fields of wildflowers on top of a mountain

St. Elmo ghost town. One of many old abandoned mining towns in the Rockies. Spooky and beautiful.

St. Elmo ghost town. One of many old abandoned mining towns in the Rockies. Spooky and beautiful.

lots of hummingbirds at St. Elmo

lots of hummingbirds at St. Elmo

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There's a corner of St. Elmo home to hundreds of friendly chipmunks. You can buy feed for 50c and these little critters will crawl all over you nibbling away at their seeds. They are incredibly adorable.

There’s a corner of St. Elmo home to hundreds of friendly chipmunks. You can buy feed for 50c and these little critters will crawl all over you nibbling away at their seeds. They are incredibly adorable. What do you think? Is this little guy Chip or Dale?

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My first experience whitewater rafting. I'm hooked.

My first experience whitewater rafting. I’m hooked.

big drop

big drop

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Touring our wedding venue! That meadow is where we'll say "I Do!"

Touring our wedding venue! That meadow is where we’ll say “I Do!”

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Bathing in warm natural spring water at Mt Princeton Hot Springs. Yeah, our wedding is going to rock.

and of course...

and of course…

... running

… running

 

 

Have you taken a vacation yet this year? Where did you adventure?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

falling down the rabbit hole HURTS!

I’ve convinced myself that what happened at the race on Sunday happened so that I would have great material to write about for my blog. Who wants to read about something going as planned? Don’t worry, you won’t.

Running has given me life lessons at every turn and last weekend’s half marathon is no exception. You can plan and plan and plan for something and when it comes right down to it you can’t control what happens at go time.

I start the weekend with enthusiasm and confidence. I know I have trained hard and I have trained strong. I am ready. More ready for a race than ever before. There is practically nothing that can stop me from murdering my personal record.

I am so excited about my costume choice and have even convinced Brad to dress up as the White Rabbit.

ready to race

We make it down to the starting corral at 5:00 am and the nerves start to kick in. Not everything is perfect after all. I have a pinched nerve in my back that seems to flare up only at times it is unwelcome. Despite my best efforts to get up extra early and drink copious amounts of coffee I have not yet “gone to the bathroom.” Pardon me for the crudeness but this is a very important issue for runners. And lastly, I remember that my last long race was not strong at all. It was an 8 miler and it almost got the best of me. These things start to play on my confidence and I feel it wane a bit.

I suffer from allowing my race day energy to disguise itself as worry as I wait in my corral for the 45 minutes before we start running. Something I need to work on. Thankfully the energy is quickly put to good use as we move across the starting line. I feel the nerves turn into running fuel. We start strong. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.. GO! The race is off. 

At just a 1/4 mile into the race Brad and I hear a loud smack and see a poor runner just to our right take a nasty face-plant into the pavement. Those street lane bumps, they’ll get you every time. It’s a bad spill and I feel so sorry for her. She gets up rather quickly, although I don’t know if she is able to stay in the race. I think to myself “Geez I’m glad that wasn’t me,” coupled with an eerie shadow of foreboding. I shake it off and keep running. Watch your footing, I tell myself.

The race is fantastic. I feel so strong. We’re passing people left and right which clearly means we’re going to pace out with a group much faster than in previous year’s. We do have to stop in Fantasyland for a bathroom break (dang coffee, NOW you kick in!) but luckily there is no line so it’s only about a 3 minute delay. Still. 3 minutes mean a lot to a runner trying to beat a PR. But it can’t be helped.

There’s not much else to say about the next 5 miles. They are incredible. I feel strong. I feel fast. I even feel a runner’s high start to kick in. I have a killer playlist to boot. Amazing what music does to put pep in your step. Good, good, better, better. Let’s skip to mile 8, shall we?

We turn the corner to enter Angel Stadium. This is one of Brad and my’s favorite spots on the course. There are so many people in the stadium there cheering us on. It’s exactly the burst of energy we need at mile 9 to get through the next 4 miles. We turn the corner to exit the stadium and that’s when it happens. I fall down the rabbit hole. The operative word being fall.

I have a fair amount of Disney music on my half marathon playlist. What can I say? I love it. Have you ever run to “Out There” from Hunchback of Notre Dame? Or even better, “Go the Distance” from Hercules? You’ll never run faster. I have one song on my playlist to pay homage to our costumes for the day. This song:

This is the song that Alice sings right before she falls down the rabbit hole. This is the song that plays as I turn the corner out of the stadium, catch half of my foot on the cement walkway and half on the dirt sidewalk, and fall on my face. This is the song that plays as I fall down a rabbit hole of my own, I kid you not. Not only do I seem to live my life in metaphors, I seem to actually BE Alice.

Many emotions and thoughts race through your body and brain when you fall in a moment like that. Amazingly you run the entire gamut of emotions in just the few short seconds it takes you to hit the ground. Forgive the dramatics as I describe this experience but the reason for them is that I have huge expectations for this race. I know what stellar shape I’m in. I know that we’re ahead of our PR and if we just keep at pace, we’ll beat it by a landslide. As I fall, first I feel denial. I feel that I can stop myself. I feel that I can catch my footing. Then I realize I can’t. Then I feel embarrassment. Good lord how embarrassing to fall in front of all these runners. And in a petticoat no less. I suddenly feel silly for wearing it. Then I feel dread. Oh no. I can’t believe I just fell. I can’t believe that just happened. What does this mean? I try to assess the damage but I can’t tell yet. Oh God what if I can’t finish?? I look down and see that I’ve scraped my knee rather dramatically. What just a moment ago was was a gleaming pair of white tights is now a torn dirty bloody rip across my knee. I don’t care about that. I can run with a scraped knee. What I care about is that I can tell something is wrong with my ankle. A new level of denial kicks in. No way. My ankle is FINE. I give it a good rub. A runner who is right in front of me when I fall is so kind. Even though she sees Brad is there to help me, she stops and helps me up and shows true concern on her face. She tells me just to stand for a few minutes before I start running again. There is something about her. She doesn’t show me pity. She looks truly concerned. She shows solidarity. I read in her face “girl, this happens to everyone at some point.” I won’t forget that woman and her random act of kindness. It really comforts me in that moment.

I take her advice and Brad and I stand there for a few minutes to see if I can put weight on my ankle. In the back of my mind I know it doesn’t matter. I am finishing this race if I have to crawl to the finish line. A few minutes of walking and I start to pick up the pace again. The tingling in my ankle seems to have stopped and I feel pretty much fine putting my complete weight on it and getting back to our previous pace. I figure I’m lucky. That I just escaped really twisting or spraining it and won’t be injured at all other than my bloody knee. I underestimate the power of adrenaline. Looking back I know now that a huge dose of the wonder hormone surged straight towards my bad ankle and let me finish the race. Adrenaline is an amazing thing. Human bodies are amazing things. Of course a day later I’ve got a knot the size and color of ripe plum on the side of my foot, but in that moment I think I’m in the clear.

Within just a few minutes we’re flying again. I feel strong and fast and I’m doing my best just to laugh off the fall. Focus and determination to cross that finish line prevent me from looking back. Prevent me from playing the moment over and over again in my head and trying to undo it somehow. That would come in time.

I do my best to really pick up the pace these last few miles. I know we lost at least 4 minutes with the fall. We turn the corner at the end of mile 12 and I can’t believe how amazing I feel. I see a group of runners doing burpees at the mile 13 sign. Ok, so I don’t feel THAT good, but by my standards I’ve never felt better. The finish line is in sight and I fly toward it. At this point I try not to think about my time and just focus on finishing strong. I’ve never experienced the half marathon finish like this. Not a single ounce of nausea. Barely any fatigue. Minimal muscle tightening. I really could have gone farther. We fly through the finish line, Donald and Goofy cheering from the sidelines. Brad feels good enough to proclaim that he feels like he could run a marathon right now. Now there’s an idea.

Not too much time goes by and thoughts previously put at bay by determination and adrenaline start to creep into my mind.

WHY DID I HAVE TO FALL?????

Ugh. Why? How hard is it to put one foot in front of the other? How could I fall? I try to visualize it in my head in slow-mo and I can’t figure out how it happened. One minute I’m running, the next minute I’m eating dirt. If only I had been more careful with my footing. If only I hadn’t been so over zealous in trying to pass people. I would have stayed more on the center of the track and not gone near that lip that tripped me. If only I hadn’t chased that white rabbit. If only… if only… if only. I know it’s just the Disneyland Half Marathon. I know it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But I was doing so well! Why did I have to fall on my best run ever? Why couldn’t I fall on a mediocre run when there was less at stake?

I immediately start thinking about the Olympics. So many Olympian runners have fallen at clinch moments. 1st place with just 200M left and a hurdle gets ’em. Down they go along with their dreams of gold medal glory. If I feel this bad after falling during the Disneyland Half Marathon, I really can’t imagine how those Olympians who have suffered a similar fate felt when their life’s dreams slipped away. Truly. My heart goes out to you.

Even with these thoughts running through my head trying to undo what happened, the truth is I don’t feel terrible. I feel awesome. I feel better than ever before and though I don’t share Brad’s immediate confidence that I could run 26.2 miles in that exact moment, for the first time ever I start to think that one day I probably could.

Then I start thinking about our time. Brad used the Nike+ running app (which he is now completely converted to thanks to my review), to track our time so we’d be able to see our splits. We look at the final results. 2:33. Last year’s time, 2:43. That’s not bad. We didn’t shave 15 minutes off but we shaved 10, and that’s pretty darn good.

This realization is bittersweet. I know that this will not be our official chip time. Brad paused the app during our bathroom breaks and during my stumble incident, so while this is an accurate depiction of the amount of time it took us to literally run 13.1 miles, it’s not our official time. 2:33 is the time it took us minus all of the obstacles that got in our way, but it’s the obstacles that get in your way and what it takes you to overcome them that give you your real record. That’s why official times matter. Because you can’t subtract the obstacles from your life to measure your success. They have to factor in or the success is not real, it’s sterilized.

So how long did it officially take us to run the Disneyland Half Marathon this year? 2:39. Even with two bathroom breaks (one extra long) and a pretty dramatic tumble in Angel Stadium, we still shaved 4 minutes off of our race time. We still finished with a personal record. So why am I so dissatisfied?

Last year’s race and this year’s were so different. Last year’s training regimen was weak. We ran the race with zero stops, bathroom breaks or otherwise, and finished at 2:43. If what had happened this year on the course had happened last year I know that 2:43 would have been closer to 2:55. So somewhere in my heart I know that I actually did cut 15 minutes off of my race time. But it doesn’t count. What I did was cut 15 minutes off of my ability, and there’s value to that, but the official time is the official time. We run races for a reason. A race is what you do with 15,000 other runners around you. A race is what you do with a course you’ve never been on before. A race is what you do in a sudden rainstorm, or freezing weather. A race is how fast you pick yourself up when you fall down. A race is what you do knowing the clock won’t stop to make it easier. You can train for years and when it comes right down to it, you can’t control what happens on race day. You can’t control the weather, you can’t control your bowels, you can’t control if you fall (well, you can control it but you definitely can’t reverse it). You can never run in perfect conditions. This is why runner’s run races. Because life isn’t sterilized. Life doesn’t hand you perfect conditions so when you succeed in spite of the challenges, the success is so sweet and so worthy of celebration.

When a race doesn’t go exactly as planned, the challenges that got in your way motivate you to try again and circumvent them completely. Yes we finished with a new personal record. In the face of the obstacles presented to us we did incredibly well and yes, without those obstacles we would have done even better. Without those obstacles I would have accomplished what I set out to do, and that is cut 15 minutes off of my official time. Knowing that I’m ready to achieve that motivates me like crazy. We did everything we should have done. We trained right. We ran strong. Everything else was out of our control. Let’s just say, I’m counting down the weeks until Half Marathon 2013. I will not be falling again.

falling down hurts

but doesn’t stop me from smiling

proud with our medals

Alice

shot of the bunny tail

happy

Next installment of Running to Tahiti, “my visit to Wonderland.”

what do you get the mouse that has everything? a love letter to disneyland

Today marks the 57th birthday of The Happiest Place on Earth. What a brilliant tagline. Walt Disney was pretty good at that. Branding. He was good at many things and while there are many who fault him for this or that, I can’t help but admire the guy. Through the desire to create and innovate he developed, well, the happiest place on earth. There may be things wrong with the Disney company. It is one of the largest corporations in the world. What large corporation is perfect? (are you reading this on your iPhone?) I won’t focus today on what Disney could do better, though I’m sure there is a list. Today I focus on what Disney does better than anyone else.

If you have followed my writing at all you must know that I am a bonified Disney nerd. Why? Why do I like it? I’m sure many of my friends and family wonder that. Why do I like something that is ultimately made for kids? I’ve never really been able to articulate a proper answer to that question. Why do I love Disney and specifically Disneyland so much? Sure there’s the obvious answer. It’s a theme park. It is by definition a place to have fun. There are rides. There is junk food. Six Flags has those things too. As does Universal Studios. So what makes Disneyland special? I shall try to put it into words.

Passion, love and ideas are the driving force of life but they aren’t worth anything if one can’t find a way to communicate them. This is what art is for. This is what literature is for. Heck, this is what science is for. (Carl Sagan communicates more passion through his study of the cosmos than I read in most plays or hear in most songs). I admire deeply the masters who can articulate exactly how and why they feel something. Whatever the feeling is, doesn’t matter, if what they communicate makes me understand them, I’m on board. I’m moved. I admire that ability greatly perhaps because I count myself bad at it. I’m an actor. I need other writer’s words to be able to communicate my passion. I just finished playing Mary Warren in The Crucible. My favorite role to date. Mary Warren told my story more than I could have told it on my own. I’m grateful to Arthur Miller for writing it. So what am I getting at here? I’m trying to build up the courage to explain why I love Disneyland so much and prefacing it by saying that I’m  not sure I’ll be able to. Yet, I think there’s something in my love for the place that goes beyond the place itself. I want to share it. So here goes. For its birthday I bestow upon the Mouse House a humble gift, a love letter to Disneyland. I don’t have the skill to compose a song about it. I don’t have the skill to paint it. I don’t have the money to make a movie about it. But I can write. I can write about it and hopefully you will read it, and you will look for your own Disneyland in life. Your own place that elicits imagination and possibility. Here goes…

I don’t remember my first trip to Disneyland. I believe I was 5. I know it was a big trip with aunts and uncles and grandparents. I know we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. I know we made the obligatory day trip over to Knott’s Berry Farm and counted the hours until we went back to Disneyland. These are things I’ve been told about the trip. They are not things I remember. I have a vague memory of feelings. Can you remember feelings? I think so, but not until you feel them again. That’s when you’re reminded that you’ve felt them before. When the familiarity strikes you like lightning. This, I believe, this mingling of faint memories to emotions is what ultimately made Disneyland a mythical place in my life.

About 5 years after that first trip, we started planning another with my brother, my mom, and our family friend Erin (a fellow lifelong Disney fan). My brother gets excited about things. Really excited. Perhaps obsessive. Especially as a kid. Perhaps only as a kid actually. I haven’t seen the same level of unbridled frantic joy about anything since those years. When he visits me in L.A. I always ask him if he wants to go to Disneyland in the hopes that I’ll rekindle some of that fire in him. It doesn’t really work. He’s grown out of it, I think by choice. Or maybe he really is, just, over it. Nowadays he just makes fun of me, for I have chosen not to grow out of it. And I think I’m the better for it. 

In the weeks leading up to our trip down south, we would get home from school every day and watch Disney Sing-a-Long: Disneyland Fun

When I say repeat, I mean, literally, repeat. A couple of times a day, every day, for several weeks. So here is my first point of analysis. Why did this excite me so? Why did I love this video so much and why did I get more excited about this trip to Disneyland than I did about a new Barbie, or a trip to the State Fair, or Knott’s Berry Farm. It must have been those cloudy feelings that I couldn’t put images to from when I was 5. I think my 10 year old self yearned to remember what it was that made me so deliriously happy. There was mystery in it and that intrigued me. I couldn’t wait to get there, and to remember.

I won’t go through the details of this trip to Disneyland. It would take me the entire chapter of a book let alone a simple page on a blog. I will say this. It was the trip. You know which one I’m talking about Disney fans. You all have one. That one trip that cements your status as a Disney nerd forever. You can repress it for the rest of your life but once you’ve had that special trip, somewhere within you there will always be a little kid who wants to go to Disneyland. You can let that little kid come out once in awhile, or you can bury it. I let mine out quite frequently.

I was thinking a few weeks ago about how there is something inherently sad about being a Disneyland fan. Let me explain. I can’t remember being as in awe of anything as a child as I was when I first stepped foot back on Main Street. I’ve had more awestruck moments as an adult. Seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. Looking at the Sistine Chapel for the first time. Hearing Brad say “I’m falling in love with you” for the first time. These awe struck moments are treasured; but of my childhood memories that moment on Main Street takes the cake. We walked through the gates. “Here you leave today, and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” It was a perfect place. I could dream there about anything and everything and there would be no limit to my imagination. What more could a kid ask for?

Have you ever been to a place, or had a dream about a place, that felt so familiar yet you had no memory of it. Every time I turned a corner I uncovered something about the park that felt so familiar to me and brought back a flood of happy feelings, yet I couldn’t place them so I still enjoyed the place as if I was discovering it for the first time. In that way this trip was better than the first, for how many times in life do you get to rediscover something you love as if for the first time? You get one first love, one first kiss, one first trip to Disneyland. Not me, I felt like I got two. Going back to my previous comment, why is this sad? Because I can never get that back. I think many Disney fans spend lots of time in the parks waxing poetic about their previous experiences there, feeling nostalgic, and trying to reclaim that feeling of being 10 and like you’d just stepped into heaven. But you never can. As much as I love going to Disneyland to this day, obviously, it will never be like that again. Even if I didn’t go for the next 10 years and tried to forget everything, it wouldn’t be like that. I know almost every nook and cranny in that park. I will never again turn a corner and not know what I will find. I will never be in awe of Fantasmic like I was for the first time. I will never get the same giddy bubbles in my heart when I’m driving down the 5 and see the Matterhorn poking up next to the freeway. I will never be 10 years old and be allowed to express that kind of unbridled excitement. There is something sad about growing up. Going to Disneyland now is both a bittersweet reminder of that fact as well as a welcome allowance to get back in touch with the wide-eyed little girl I once was.

There are ways to deal with this inherently sad aspect of being heartsick  for a child’s view of Disneyland. You become an annual passholder like me and go three or four times a year to try and capture a fleeting moment of that joyful nostalgia, and in the other 59 seconds of every minute you enjoy a new kind of Disneyland experience; one where you know every window on Main Street and know what the light in the window of the firehouse stands for. Or you don’t really go anymore but you hold on to the memories of loving the place as a kid. Or you go there once maybe every 5-10 years if you’re invited by a group of friends or an event of some sort. Or you bury that child within you and try to focus on being an adult. Adults don’t go to Disneyland. Adults don’t play with toys. Adults don’t get nostalgic. Adults move forward. Or, you never liked Disneyland in the first place, in which case, I hope you have some place or some thing from your childhood that was the equivalent.

What else is it? It must be more than just memories that make a place special? And why DO kids like it so much? I asked my brother that one time and he answered with this, “Because it’s theatre. Disneyland is theatre.” And that’s exactly it. The theatre is a place of dreams and ideas and fantasy reflecting off of reality. Everything in Disneyland is fake, and I know this is what turns a lot of people off of it. It’s what turns me on. It’s the most elaborate theatrical set I have ever seen. Every cobblestone on the street, every boulder, every door, every piece of music playing in the background is all part of an elaborate artistic design to tell a story. Many stories actually. Many stories that make up one story, the story of Disneyland. I mean how incredible is that? In real theatres, we get one stage (Most of the time anyway. I once went to a play in London that took place in the underground tunnel system and we walked through several tunnels to see the play, but that’s rare.) Most of the time, you get one stage, and you get the best set designer possible to bring your little empty space to life. Disneyland is an entire LAND. You get to look at it up close and inspect it. You get to pretend you’re part of the fantasy. It’s immersive theatre, and it’s done well. It’s sensory. Every sense. Not enough can be said about the execution of this theatrical experience. I’m an annual passholder. I go to the park about 4 times a year. I’ve been going since I was 5. I always discover some new small detail I never noticed before. Even if you don’t like the “play” itself, you have to appreciate the artistic execution.

On top of everything and maybe most of all, I’m a dreamer. I have passionate dreams for this world and my place in it. Life is hard and drags down these dreams often. When I’m in Disneyland, it welcomes them. Disneyland fulfills a fantasy and a dreamer’s sensibility at every stage of her life. When I was young, the fantasies were imaginative. I was a princess, I was a dragon, I was fighting off snakes with Indiana Jones (who am I kidding? I still fantasize about that). When I was a tween, I fantasized about being independent and going places with my friends. When I was a teenager and finally went to Disneyland just with my friends, I fantasized about being in love, and going to Disneyland with a boy. Now I go to Disneyland with a boy, and we hold hands and watch the fireworks. Now I’ve started to fantasize about one day going to Disneyland with my kids. (Don’t worry sweetie, not quite yet). One day I hope to fantasize about going to Disneyland with their kids. Disneyland makes me interested in storytelling. It makes me interested in people. It makes me interested in history. It sparks creativity. Everything I’ve ever dreamt about accomplishing in life I would love to celebrate in Disneyland. Love, marriage, kids, career, family. I want it all, and I want to celebrate in the land. Because it’s there that we can let our freak flags fly. It’s there that we don’t have to worry about anyone telling us we can’t. Or anyone telling us we look stupid, or aren’t right, or aren’t being realistic. How many places can you go and find dozens of Monday thru Friday Executive types wearing Mickey Mouse ears? How many places in the world do you go where thousands of people all at once are full of joy, love, and excitement? How many places in the world do you go where thousands of people squeezed next to each other are all happy? There’s something to be said about that.

Disneyland started from an idea Walt had one day while watching his daughters on the merry-go-round at Griffith Park. He imagined a place where parents could take their children, and enjoy the day just as much as they would. Reeeeally enjoy it. Not just fake enjoy it because the kids are occupied and having fun. Disneyland is not just a place for kids. It’s a place for people who need to remember what it’s like to be a kid. What it’s like to dream, and to let the sky be limitless. After all, “Adults are only kids grown up.” -WD-

I’m certain that Disneyland does not and could not mean this to everyone, but this is what it means to me. If you don’t have a Disneyland, find one. It may be a book, or a song, or a city, or a park, or a toy. Hold on to what made you joyful as a child, for chances are the same will make you joyful today. And it will be a pure joy, full of possibility. So after 57 years of making billions of people all over the world smile, thank you. Happy birthday Disneyland.

the first trip

brad’s first trip

the day we were invited to club 33, a rite of passage for any disney fan

being sworn in as an honorary citizen of Disneyland

san diego running adventure: photo essay #2

I’ve been so focused on Disneyland Half Marathon training and Running for Wonderlust that I almost lost sight of where we’re going… Tahiti! If you’ve been following our journey from the beginning, you’ll recall that Brad and I got the idea to run to Tahiti because of a mini getaway to Petaluma last year. We were training for the D-Land half marathon at the time and had to get a 6 mile run in while in the bay area. Brad took us on a gorgeous 6 mile route through dairy farm country. It was so pleasant and peaceful. As I neared the culmination of The Happiest Runner on Earth, I wanted a new idea for a running blog. This trip to Petaluma provided the inspiration. Running and traveling. Running truly is a wonderful, if not perfect way to experience a new land. You have the earth beneath your feet, the wind in your face, the sun at your back, and you just soak up the local life through your pores. The added experience of not really knowing exactly where you are, or where you’ll end up, provides the perfect tinge of adventure that one should always have when traveling the globe.

Yesterday Brad and I took a mini-holiday to San Diego for the day. I’ll admit that I have mixed feelings about San Diego as a region. I’ll just say this, throughout our entire afternoon in La Jolla I saw maybe one person who wasn’t white. They need a diversity club. To live, I find San Diego a bit too homogeneous and manicured for my taste. It is however a beautiful place to visit. Absolutely gorgeous! There are a million fun things to do and see in San Diego so don’t get me wrong, I think you all should take a trip. Spend some time in “America’s Finest City.” (Everyone kept calling it that. I’m not sure why, but I’ll go with it).

I never understood the hub-bub about San Diego beaches. I figured, how can they be so great? We’ve got Malibu and Point Dume here in L.A. That’s enough. Oh, no no no. Malibu, Point Dume? Sorry but you ain’t got nothing on San Diego. The beaches are pristine, gorgeous. They remind me of the Mediterranean. Actually, you know what’s funny? The beach in La Jolla reminded me of the Northern California coast. Now hold on, before you say I’m crazy, let me explain. The clean sand, the dramatic cliffs, beautiful shoreline parks, rugged beach rocks, ocean peppered with dozens upon dozens of seals, huge surf, great white sharks. All things you find in NorCal. Only thing missing is the sun. If you just turn the sun up to level 10 up north, you’d have San Diego. Am I right?

Brad and I did our last training run along a white sandy beach in La Jolla, CA with the seals barking below and the sun glimmering on the water. We traversed rocks that looked like a moonscape, dug our feet in the clean white sand and stood in awe as dozens of surfers took on 10 foot swells in shark infested waters. Yes I said infested. There were 5 great white shark sightings in San Diego just in the day and a half we were down there. 2 sightings being in La Jolla cove, exactly where we found ourselves. One shark spotted in what they call the “children’s pool.” Oh shark, have you no decency? Needless to say Brad could not convince me to go snorkeling.

The afternoon reminded me that we are on a path. An adventure to paradise. We’re on this path together, and I couldn’t be happier. I love exploring new lands with you Brad Light. I cannot wait to get to Tahiti, and I cannot wait to find a beautiful running route once we get there!!

couple 'a birds

brad insists on standing too close to the edge

no picture does justice to the size of the waves

perfect pre-run picnic in the park

ready to run

found a charming tiki hut halfway through our run

taking a breather on some moon rocks

i have no idea

nearing sunset

so much beauty to admire

in complete awe of the massive surfmore admiring

sunset

goodnight pacific