Tag Archives: WDW

Ready…Set…GO!

BAM!

My final semester at university has begun! I am so excited to finally say those words, er…type those words. Haha! I graduated from high school back in 2008 and it has taken me 8 years to get this far to my final semester to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree. I know that it should only take 4 years to get your Bachelor’s Degree, but I took two semesters off to participate in the Disney College Program internship in Orlando, Florida for a year from 2010-2011. Then 2013-2014 I had to take a year off due to medical problems so that I could recover and get my health back to normal. Finally, I started classes again the Fall of 2015 and now…after all this time, I’m so close to the finish line and I’m so excited to graduate in December!

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The best news? Only two classes stand in my way of completing my goal. This last semester, I am taking “Survey of Asian Art” and “Music Appreciation”. Now why those two you may ask? Well, as an Art Major, I am required to take a Music, Theater, or Dance class and I didn’t mean to put it off until my last semester, that’s just how it happened, so Music Appreciation it was. And, I needed one more Art History elective class, and I really am a BIG appreciator of Asian culture, so I just HAD to take that class when I saw it was an option, haha!

So…please wish me luck!

– Soleil

 

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What It Feels Like To Be Me

I have found the past two weeks of my life have been difficult. Why is that? I know why but I hate to admit the reason. Admitting it feels like I’m giving up, like I’m a failure, and that hurts.

When I was in sixth grade, my Memere was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer. She underwent chemo-therapy and surgery to remove it and then she was fine. But it came back. By the time I was in high school, it had returned at least three times. The summer I finished my Junior year and was waiting to begin my Senior year in the fall, the cancer had been back and had spread to her brain. She had surgery again that August to take out what they could in her brain, but they couldn’t take it all. From that date on, I watched her deteriorate before my eyes.

My mother and I went to my Memere and Pepere’s house every day to help take care of her. These were my mother’s parents and my mom wanted to be there to help not only Memere, but to give Pepere time to himself, too. By the time I started school, she decided to stop with all of her chemo-therapy and radiation treatments. As I watched her get worse, I began to have panic attacks in school. Suddenly, while in classes, I would feel like I couldn’t breathe and I’d ask to go to the nurse’s office, and she would let me call my mom, begging her to come and get me so we couldn’t go and see Memere until she could talk to me enough to calm me down and finish out my school day. By Christmas she was in a wheelchair, weighed as much as I did at that time, and had trouble swallowing her medicine and food. One week later, she couldn’t even get out of bed, then she had trouble understanding, and by the second week of January, she was gone.

I remember so clearly, the Friday before she passed away. My high school was gearing up for our annual Relay for Life event and we had a meeting for the whole school in the auditorium. It was a sort of review meeting, to go over what we had done last year and to see videos, and to explain to the Freshmen and new students of that year what Relay for Life was and why we did it. I stood up when one of the teacher’s giving a speech asked who had family members and friends close to them with cancer and then sat back down and when that same teacher started to talk about her own experience, well, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I was sitting in the very last row of the auditorium, in the very middle. With friends on either side, I suddenly felt so trapped. I knew I wasn’t going to make it if I tried to squeeze past all of them to get out to the aisle, so I got up on my seat and jumped over it to the floor behind me. I ran out the doors. In the foyer outside, one of the substitute teachers was waiting for the meeting to be over, I guess I must have looked terrible because she asked me what was wrong and the next thing I knew I was sobbing in her arms telling her all of the horrible things I’d been living through for six years and how it’d just gotten so much worse in the past six months and that I didn’t know what to do anymore. How I just wanted to go home and see my Memere. How she was dying and there was nothing I could do about it.

To be honest, I’m not sure where I would have run to if she hadn’t caught me and expressed her concern. I probably would have ended up crying alone in the bathroom, stuck in my own misery until someone found me.

And then, my worst fear came true. I told my substitute teacher on Friday that my Memere was dying and that Sunday she passed away. That was probably the worst day of my life so far. I cried so much. I still do. It’s hard, losing someone you love. I’m not sure that you ever really do get over it. You keep loving them even though their gone, and that is okay. But I felt so lost after that. I became so tired of forcing myself to smile and pretending to be alright. When we went on our Senior Trip to Walt Disney World in Florida five months later, that was the first time I actually smiled and laughed and it wasn’t forced. I meant it.

And life seemed to get better after that. I graduated and was sad about it, but it was okay. I started college and for my second semester I went to work at Walt Disney World in Florida as a part of their Disney College Program. I made a new friend and he became my best friend. But when I came home, I don’t know why, but my panic attacks came back. Slowly at first, so I just thought that the OCD habits I was picking up were normal. But when I went back to do a second DCP the following year and the habits became excessive and the panic attacks became so frequent that I was calling my mother and crying to her every day, begging her to come home even though I had a month of my program left to complete, I knew something was wrong.

But I finished my program and my dad and younger brother picked me up and brought me back home. And I was okay again. The panic attacks subsided and the OCD dwindled to being barely noticeable. And then it was back again, so much worse than before. This time the OCD controlled me. I couldn’t do anything without doing it as a habit of so many counted steps, so many taps of my fingers, so many buttoning of the same button, or zippering of the same zipper, over and over and over again until I felt as though I was insane. And I often did question my sanity during this time. I swore I was going mental, that I’d have to be handled with extreme medical treatment. I was terrified!

And the panic attacks became paralyzing. I couldn’t speak or move or even think when I had one. Just the same flash of fear that I was going to die consumed me until suddenly my mother or brother came to my rescue, pulling me out of my stuck state, forcing me to interact with them, to talk to them, to explain what was wrong and what I was feeling.

By Christmas, after roughly eight months of going through this uncontrollable torture, of jeopardizing my job and school attendance because I couldn’t get out of the house in time because I was doing habits, of not going at all because I was having a breakdown, I told my parents I wanted to see a doctor. I ended up with a psychologist. He met me every week and spoke with me, gave me things to do to try and control my anxiety and OCD. And he recommended medication. But I’m stubborn. Medication was my largest concern of the whole thing. It was my worst nightmare coming true. I needed medical help and that was the last thing I wanted. Because, accepting medication as the answer meant that I wasn’t normal. That I couldn’t cope like every other normal human being could. That I was different and was going to be different for a very long time. In my eyes, it meant defeat, that I had let these anxieties and OCD habits take over my life, and I had lost.

It took a year for my psychologist and parents to convince me to even try taking medication. I was prescribed an SSRI (or a Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor), which helps to regulate the serotonin levels in your brain. And when I did, I felt sick for weeks. I didn’t go to school and I failed all of my classes from lack of attendance alone. I literally spent days dragging myself out of bed only to curl up in a ball on the couch and watch things to keep me happy and not focused on myself. Mostly, it was the Disney Channel.

And then, suddenly, I began to feel “normal” again. After taking the medicine for an entire year, I actually felt like my old, “normal” self again. Two years after taking it and I felt completely alright and expressed to my doctor that I wanted to ween off of the medication to see how I did without it now that I felt cured. They agreed and the process began. Originally up to 20mg of the SSRI, I dropped to a 10mg for 30 days and then 5mg for the following 30 days.

And now we’re back at present time. Precisely two weeks ago, I stopped taking my SSRI. Since then I have had two panic attacks. Both have been cope-able. The first was more tolerable than the one I had today. And it was today I realized that without the medication, they’re just going to get worse again. I can’t be a normal person without the medication. I can’t feel like a normal person taking the medication.

I feel so defeated.

I see my counselor about all of this tomorrow. I will start taking my SSRI medication again so that I can be myself, but what frustrates me the most is that I wasn’t like this when I was younger. My panic attacks didn’t begin until my Senior year of high school. My OCD didn’t start showing up with the panic attacks until two years after that. So why can’t I just be normal like when I was younger? The answer: I can’t. I will most likely be on this medication for the rest of my life and that’s disappointing. But if that means I can feel like my old self again with the help of the medication, then I have to learn to live with it.

That’s my update. Sorry it’s so long and deep and boring.

Look for my words again soon!

-Soleil

Destination: Florida!

Florida is so wonderful. While, yes, it is hot here and they have humidity, it’s not the same sticky humidity that we get back home. Needless to say, I find it delightful. I really have missed this place and I’m glad to be back.

My road trip with Kels and Marty went by with little issues. I think the longest duration of the trip was South Carolina. It just felt like it took forever to get through that state. We stopped three times for gas and 5 times for food. Honestly, I thought we were never going to get to Florida because of all the stops we took. But, we made it, yay! To be honest, it wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be, the drive down I mean. So, yay!

Jaren’s apartment is AMAZING! I would share pictures, but I want to ask before I do. I don’t want him to be weirded out or anything, haha! The decor is very snazzy. It was all done by one of his room mates. This guy has a taste for interior design. It’s like “magazine-ready” good.

Yesterday, after our long trip ended and we finally ended up at Jaren’s, we ended up going to the pool at his apartment community, then to DownTown Disney for dinner. We ate at the Earl of Sandwich, yum! I missed that place! AND, all of DownTown Disney is being remodeled! Especially the West Side and Pleasure Island! They’ll be renaming DownTown Disney to Disney Springs once all of the construction is done, although there are already a bunch of new shops and a parking garage. More shops are planned and a second parking garage!

Here is some of the concept art!

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 12, 2013 – Along with an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands, Disney Springs (as shown in this conceptual rendering) will feature a new gateway with a signature water tower and grand entry.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., March 12, 2013 – Along with an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands, Disney Springs (as shown in this conceptual rendering) will feature a new gateway with a signature water tower and grand entry.

Disney Springs Town Center Concept Art

I do have some pictures I took for you guys, though.

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This is Tampa. I drove by it today on my way to St. Pete’s Beach. I’ve never seen Tampa before when I used to live in Florida, so it was cool to see. Although, I’ve seen bigger cities that are more congested and knit-together.

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Wawa’s in Florida apparently all have walk-in beer coolers. Since this nifty feature isn’t included in the layout of our Wawa’s back home, I can see how some people might be jealous. But, since I don’t drink alcohol (I don’t like the taste, and it usually smells weird), I think it’s just an interesting addition.

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I found this really cool conch shell today at St. Pete’s Beach! I sort of stepped on a part of it, so I went underwater and dug it up and I was like “Oh, a pretty conch shell! I’m gonna keep it!”

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But, it had a sea slug living inside of it, so…I put it back in the ocean. I walked through the waist-deep, low tide water, up onto the sandbar, then past the sandbar to waist-level again and gave him a light toss back into the ocean. Hopefully he was able to bury back into the sand and no one else took him out of the water to keep his shell.

Finally, I’d like to conclude with a picture of me and my friend, Kels, at the beach today. The pose was her idea. I’m the blonde one on the right and she’s the shorter blonde on the left. Have a great day everyone!

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Look for my words again soon!

Soleil

Disney and an Accomplice Blog!

I am no longer in consideration for the Concept Artist position at Disney Interactive Gaming. That’s a bummer. I really wanted that internship. -sigh- As they say, one door closes, another opens. Next month, I will try to make it to Disney World in Florida to audition for the part of Dory in the Finding Nemo Musical that they do at Animal Kingdom. Wish me luck in that endeavor!

In the meantime, I will continue work on my commission. It’s coming along nicely, I must say. I’m very pleased with how it looks so far. Since I’m working with oil paints, when I’m not painting, I leave the easel and painting set up in front of the air conditioner to help the paints dry a littler faster so I can work on different areas without smearing anything.

Currently, I’m roasting some chick peas and then I’ll spice them for a tasty snack. I’m trying very hard to eat healthier. Since my mom is diabetic, I want to try and avoid that myself. As it may run in the family, I’m at a higher risk, so as of late, not only am I trying to eat better, but I am also trying to exercise on a more daily basis.

Jae has been sick since yesterday. I went to the local CVS to buy him medicine and saltine crackers last night. When I came home, after a half hour, he asked me for gatorade. So, I made a trip to Shop Rite at 1030 PM at night. After I came home, I told him he’s lucky I like him, haha!

Wow this is delicious! I just got my roasted chick peas out of the oven! I officially am declaring that I will start a food blog, too, and share the recipes that I find. Would any of you follow it? Here, I’m going to start it now, so that I don’t forget. Okay, almost an hour later, I’m done! Here’s the link to my second blog here on WordPress. I’ve ttled it: Tuck In and Chow Down!

Please enjoy my adventures there, too! Thank you very much for treating me so kindly thus far. I continue to hope that we can be good friends and readers together here!

Look for my words again soon.

-Soleil