Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dreaded Hill

Today I hiked to the top of Dreaded Hill.  It's a really tough hike as you can imagine by the name…

When I got to the top, I was inundated by a bunch of bad news texts.  Nothing earth shattering, but just disheartening.

I sat back and looked at the beautiful view.  It was such a strong contradiction to the ugly news on the screen of my phone.

As I walked down the hill, my eyes were fixed on the ground.   One wrong step can be a pretty rough injury on the way back down.

Suddenly, one footprint grabbed my attention.  It was dramatically smaller than the rest.  It must have been a little boy or little girl tagging along with their dad on his hike.  I realized, that little one had more courage than everyone else.  It takes a strong person to be that little and take on a hill that big.

And it became a perfect analogy for my life at that moment.  In the face of bad news, in the face of changes around the corner, I would be okay I could be as strong and as courageous as this little one.  (And to remember where my strength comes from…)

I pulled out my phone inspired by whoever wore this shoe.  I decided to take a picture of the footprint and put it over my desk reminding myself that I can conquer things that are too hard, too big.

If I could only find the person wearing that shoe and find out their secret.

As I stepped back from taking the picture, I saw something I never expected.

It was my footprint.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Keep going.

My friend, Matt, and I were hiking up in the Hollywood Hills the other day and decided to take a trip to the Hollywood Sign.  It used to be illegal to hike to the Hollywood sign, but I heard a rumor that it's now allowed.  Thus, we headed up that way.  (I figured we could just turn back if we saw no trespassing signs).

Now, I didn't see any signs, but people obviously don't do this very often as Matt and I seemed to (at times) be making our own path.  There were quite a few times when I thought "I'm pretty sure if I lost my footing I would slide right down the side of this hill."

When Matt and I finally got to the end of our hike, we sat back and took in the most amazing view of Los Angeles I had ever seen… and I'm not exaggerating.  To our right, the ocean went on as far as the eye could see, the valley spread out in front of us and downtown stood strong to our left.

Absolutely gorgeous.

And there we were, exhausted, sweaty, covered head to toe in dirt and absolutely intoxicated by the view.

There were plenty of times when we thought about stopping, wondering if it was safe, wondering if we should turn back, but it wasn't until we took in that view that I realized one amazing thing.  You only get to the truly great places when you keep going at the point where everyone else stops.  Keep going.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Undeniably Wonderful Serendipitous Life

For the last 13 years every time I would see a Southwest Airplane a range of emotions would rage through my body.  For it was 13 years ago that I was fired from being a Southwest Flight Attendant.

For the first couple months it was horrible seeing the planes because I was sleeping on my brother's couch with nothing to do and searching for what was next.  I had dreamt of becoming a flight attendant and traveling around the country.  Now I was just a girl who was fired for being cold and unfriendly and I wasn't sure I had much value.

Fast forward just a few months and there I was at a Disney audition getting a job (a story within itself is a miracle).  But still, I would look at those planes and loose heart because that was the vehicle to adventure and I had been thrown out.

Just a year later, my dream of becoming a Standby in a parade at Disneyland came true.  I had always wanted to be the person who got to fill in when someone else was missing.  It was such an adventure showing up everyday not knowing what you were doing and then making it happen.  I remember seeing a Southwest Plane taking off and thinking that the colors that I used to think were of a beautiful sunset were now just a dull Orange and Brown.

A couple years flew by and before I knew it, I was in Fantasmic doing my dream role.  Suddenly the planes looked like unattractive tin cans.

Another year passed and there I was living in Germany.  I will never forget flying out on Luftansa and the little Southwest planes seemed so small and inferior to this life I was living.

Six months later, I got a different job flying through the sky.  An unbelievable opportunity that had been my dream for 10 years.  I drove by John Wayne Airport and saw a Southwest Plane landing and it looked like a prison.  I little metal tube that would have trapped me in there and I would have never had all of these things happen.

The next year I toured with a rock band that I loved.  The next year I started working at Angels Stadium.  The next year I became the 2008 Disneyland Resort Ambassador to the World.  The next year I went back to school full time to dance and write.  The next year I started believing that my life was perfect.  And the truth is, I haven't even notice a Southwest plane in years.

This morning, I watched as an American Airlines plane took off into the sky and I smiled.  I look back 13 years and think about how I thought my dreams had been shattered but in reality, they were put perfectly in place.  My dreams had to be shattered in order to have a life that is more than I could ever ask or imagine.  And now, I don't travel around the country, I travel around the world and I have 13 years of amazing, undeniably wonderful, serendipitous life behind me.

There is a plan for my life and I just need to hold on and trust the big man upstairs, because man, he knows what he's doing.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Live Outside of Security

The international terminal is unlike anywhere else in the airport.  The curbs outside the domestic terminals are just casual occurances.  The cars pull up, the trunk pops open, the passenger gets out, grabs the suitcase, waves through the window and off they go.

I sometimes each lunch here in the international terminal, just outside of security.  I can't help but notice the mother as she hugs her adult son and buries her head in his chest because no matter how old he is, she wants her son close.  Couples kiss and try to leave each other but just can't let go, and kiss just one more time.  Entire families wave as the college age girl moves hesitantly away into the security line.  Last minute advice is thrown to "stay safe"  and "have a great time".  Then tears are wiped away as the families turn and walk away.

I don't know why this place is so different.  Maybe it's because of the distance that will be jammed in between them in just a few minutes as the plane hurtles into the sky.  Maybe it's because the future is uncertain and the return flight isn't yet set.  Whatever the reason, true geniune love is apparent here.  There are very few casual goodbyes.

I want to bottle this up.  I want to take this love and appreciation and give it away in bulk to the world.  If we could, throughout the day, have this feeling toward our loved ones when they don't do this dishes or leave the light on for the fourteenth time in a row, our day would be different.  And when we continually have days that are different, that are better, the world begins to change.

I know that it feels overwhelming to try to change the whole world, but what if we all did it, one person at a time, one moment at a time, by always living just outside the security gate.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Just one person

So there I am, stuck in traffic.  Not just traffic but horrible traffic.  The kind of traffic where four lanes just shrunk down to two.  We are on a pretty mean uphill when the car in front of me stops and their hazards begin to flash.  I wait for a good 3 or 4 minutes because this car has just turned four lanes into one and they were gonna need help pushing.  But they don't get out to push.  They just sit in their car waiting (probably knowing that one person can't push this car up this hill alone.)  So I pull over and run over.

"Can I help you push?"

I can just imagine them thinking "We need six big truckers, not a tiny little girl with no muscles."

But they took me up on my offer.  The guy in the front seat jumps out and we start pushing.  The kind of pushing where we are parallel with the ground pushing as hard as we can and we are barely making any ground.  One inch at a time. My feet keep slipping, but I keep pushing with all my might.  We are nearly stopped even though are muscles are strained and I say "one, two, THREE."  And we give the car a real hard push and it rolls about six inches.  We try to use the momentum but the hill wins and we are back to just inching along.

We are about to give up when we look up and see SEVEN guys running toward us.  They had all pulled over and were coming to help.  Thank God.  I was so tired.  So we just hold our ground waiting for the guys to get to us.  One of the guys kindly pats me on the back and says "We got it from here."  And with ease the guys push the car to the top.

I stood up, arms and legs jelly, and smiled.  I knew I couldn't push that car on my own, but I knew people would join me if I just had the courage to start.  It just takes one person to start a movement.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Be Inspired!

I woke up this morning, three days before Easter, many hours before my alarm thinking of all the things I need to accomplish today and pressure from my parents to refinance my house.  (It's a perfect time for that.)

When I feel overwhelmed my first reaction is to clean.  I don't know why, maybe it's because the order of cleanliness make me feel like things are in control.  So, I woke up and the first thing I did (like most mornings) is look at my inspiration wall.  It's a mess.

So, I decided to start "cleaning it up".  I walked over trying to decide what to take down.  And suddenly I realized this board is perfect, just as it is.  Here is what I learn from this board.

A picture from Banksy reminds me, "Use your unique voice, your the only who has it."

A picture of kids dancing shows me, "Something average can be absolutely amazing when given the right tools."

A picture of my college alumni newsletters nudges, "Other people are accomplishing great things and you have that inside of you, so go do it!"

My fortune cookie from Thomas inspires me to "Dream loft dreams and as you dream so shall you become."

My favorite Bible verses (Exodus 4:11-12) prompts, "Just go create, God will speak for you."

A program from Jack Gilberts memorial awkens me to, "Do nothing for money, but rather to help advance others and to be happy."

A handmade birthday card from my nephew, "Create like a child allowing yourself to be free to make mistakes and create original work."

From Proverbs 31, "Be an awesome woman."

A card from my birthday scavenger hunt two years ago, "Surround yourself with awesome people and go have adventures."

My list of places to visit, "Never stop dreaming, you never know what is going to happen."

A quote from Return to Me, "You only have struggles because God knows you can handle them and they only make you stronger."

My storyline screenplay cards, "Write."

Some people make inspiration boards because they believe they can will it to be.  I don't believe that.  I believe that reminding yourself of what is important and what inspires you will make you act.  Your dreams will not come true wishing they will happen.  They will come true from hard work and dedication.  Make an inspiration wall and remember what is important to you everyday.

(It can be cleaner than mine.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Just Cuz It's Funny.

So, I now work at American Airlines.  People ask me what I do and I usually say "I'm the bouncer for the VIP lounge for American Airlines at LAX."  This really is the best description because I just sit at the door and decide who comes in and who doesn't.  That's all I do.  All day.

Obviously, because we are the VIP lounge in LA, I refer to my job as the famous person parade.  Every day multiple famous people come through.  Luckily, in my life I have had multiple jobs where I deal with famous people so it doesn't really phase me.

Of course, regular people come into the lounge, too.  Every now and then I see people I know.  A few friends from Disney have come through.  My brother comes through every now and then with guys he works with.  One day, a guy from my church came in.  Here's how the conversation went:

Liz (excited to see a friend):  Hey!  How's it going?
Church Guy (a little taken back by my friendliness):  Good.

I realize he doesn't recognize me because I cut off my hair, so I say:

Liz:  I cut off my hair.
Church Guy (confused):  Great.

Now I'm getting embarrassed that he clearly doesn't remember me, so trying to help him out I say:

Liz (reminding him):  It used to be brown and real long.
Church Guy (with a little smile):  Yah, my hair used to be a little longer too.

With his smile and imagining him with longer hair I realize that he doesn't go to my church, he is Tag - Rachel's boyfriend from Friends - or some of you may know him from CSI: NY.  Eddie Cahill.

Oh man, with this realization, I re-live the conversation... Weird girl says hi really too friendly, randomly mentions she cut off her hair, gives a description of previous hair and is now staring at him terrified....

Now, I'm just trying to get rid of him as fast as possible.  So I quickly go through the things I'm required to say and then look down at my keyboard until he leaves, playing with my nails, straightening my desk, moving around pens for no reason.   And it take him FOREVER to leave because he has to put stuff back in his wallet and pack up his bag and get his jacket on his arm and put his backpack on his back and pick up his phone and wallet off the counter.  Finally, he's all organized and I look up embarrassed to say one more friendly goodbye.  And with such kindness and grace he says, "Thanks, I like the hair."

Note to self:  Assume people at LAX are actors not friends.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An 18 year old mystery. Solved.

The other day, I was sitting on the shuttle that takes me from my car to LAX and back.  (I work for American Airlines now.)  The shuttles we ride have seats like on subways, where we awkwardly face each other and we look around as to not be looking directly at each other.  Commonly, we are all on our phones scrolling through Facebook.

This particular day, my phone had run out of battery.  It had been a very long day and I'm sure I was more tired than my phone, but I didn't have the option of shutting down.  I love riding the shuttle because we drive down the runway right next to planes taking off.  I like to pretend I'm the villain in an action movie, who just can't quite catch up to the good guy escaping into the sky.  I smile often when this happens.  I'm sure the people around me wonder why I'm smiling.

Anyway, because my phone had died, I started thinking about this crazy life I lead and how I have done so many weird things.  One of the first things that came to mind was when I toured with this ridiculously cheesy Christian singing group.  Oh, it was bad.  We would actually say "The bigger the hair the closer to God."  Horrible.  But one thing was true, it was one of the first times I danced outside of my small town.  I got to tour internationally; singing and dancing.

I was fresh out of high school and sent to Colorado for training.  I will never forget sitting there in the Denver airport on my one allowed suitcase and hugging my pillow just praying someone would find me.  In Colorado about 350 people came together to learn music and choreography and then we were split into ten different groups and sent all over the world.  Every group had a dance soloist.  I was the dance soloist for my group.

At the end of the tours, we all came back together for one huge concert; 350 singers, audience of a couple thousand.  Trying to get all the choirs to work together was difficult, but the worst was trying to get the dance soloists to match.  We had all slightly changed our dances to fit us best and through out the tour they had become very different.  Thus, when we all danced together, we looked like a hot mess.

The choreographer came up and said that he was just going to pick one girl and that girl was... me.

I almost died of fright.  I felt so very small.  This little tiny girl, from this tiny town, in front of a choir of 350.  I just knew I would just be swallowed up by the size of the stage in this huge venue.

Back in the shuttle, 18 years later, I starred into space wondering why that choreographer ever chose me.  I definitely had the least experience.  I definitely was from the smallest town on earth.  And then for no reason at all, I remembered...

About a year before that scary moment, I had auditioned for him to do this job.  I had forced myself through a hip hop routine that didn't look great on me, but I was determined to try.  It was time for the final round.  It was me and four amazing girls, what was I doing here?  The music turns on, I adjust my hair and pull at my shirt.  Do I look ok?

I count myself in... 5,6,7 and everyone starts.  Well, the truth is the girl who had the most confidence starts on 8 and everyone follows her.

Except me.

I knew we were supposed to start on 1.  I was starting on 1.  The entire routine, I was exactly 1 count behind everyone.  It was really hard; to stay focused, to stay on beat, to not let the movement of the girls make me rush, and to not let the stares of the people watching scare me.  I could see that everyone thought I was wrong.  The choreographer had his eyes plastered on me.  He had to know I was right, right?

The routine got done.  There was a small polite awkward applause and the confident girl walks by me, "What were you doing?"  To be honest, I had no idea.  Maybe I should have danced with everyone, but as the choreographer left the room, he walked by me and without even stopping,  he nodded and said "Well done."

And that is when I got the solo.  An entire year earlier, I had held my ground.  I refused to conform.  I proved that I was more than a small town dancer.

As I rode in the shuttle, I sat back into my seat.  An 18 year old mystery had been solved.  What a crazy realization.  As I watched the beautiful sunset, I smiled remembering how I danced that night with all of my heart.  Filling that huge stage with the joy I feel when I dance.

And then a thought came to me.  Would I have thought about any of this if I had been scrolling on my Facebook?  Probably not and I most definitely would have missed that sunset.  So, every time I ride the shuttle, I leave my phone in my pocket and let my mind wander.  I don't often get answers to 18 year old mysteries but it is fun to just have a half an hour a day to sit and ponder.