In honor of Thanksgiving

It’s not quite Christmas, but Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have arrived.

Around this time of year, we start to reminisce on the year: the ups, the downs, what we’re thankful for and what we wish were different.  It’s a time for giving back, for loving our family and friends, for stressing because we realize finals are about to happen.

For junior ASU student, Jessica Boehm, the holidays are a time for family and fun.

“Every year on Christmas Eve, my family gets together for a big game of White Elephant after a hearty dinner.”  Boehm said.  “The game usually gets pretty heated–what exemplifies the holiday spirit better than a little family feud?”  She joked.  “The best moment from any of our games had to be when what was meant to be a gag gift–a tube of caulk– turned out to be a coveted prize for my handyman grandpa!”

Megan Thompson, junior at ASU, always thinks of her beloved dog, Honey, around this time of year.  Having received Honey as a Christmas gift as a little girl, the two grew up together and spent many a holiday together as years went on.  Honey unfortunately passed August of 2012.

Honey Photo courtesy of Megan Thompson

Honey
Photo courtesy of Megan Thompson

Thanksgiving, the word “thanks” is in the title.  Social media (with a big push from NBC) has taken to highlighting what they are thankful for using the hash-tag #WhyImThankful :

This time of year reminds us that our lives are so much more than what we do and where we work and what we buy.  Yes, sometimes those are important.  But if there’s anything we can learn from this time of year, it is that we need to be thankful more often.  Life is too short to go through it without loving our friends and embracing even the bad days.  There are ways to help and show thanks in many different forms.

The end of 2013 is quickly approaching, how will you make it count?

Disney Cast Members Make Magic

The Walt Disney Company has captured our hearts for the past 60 years not only in its spell-bounding films but in theme park attractions, television shows, merchandise and now, superheros, Jedi and Pixar characters alike.

With the recent death of Diane Disney Miller, Uncle Walt’s only remaining daughter, we reflect upon the magic this great entertainment entity has brought us and realize one more piece of Mr. Disney has gone from this earth, but we are left with something that cannot be taken: his legacy.

For those who have experienced the Magic Kingdom, they know that (while at times stressful to plan) it is the Happiest Place on Earth for a reason.  Disneyland allows parents, kids, teens, grandparents, everyone to forget their day to day lives and live in the moment of family, love and fun.

"I hope we don't lose sight of one thing...that it all started with a mouse." ~Walt Disney

“I hope we don’t lose sight of one thing…that it all started with a mouse.”
~Walt Disney

And the Cast Members are there to make sure it all runs smoothly.

“It’s not about ringing up merchandise or loading attractions or prepping food,” Zoey Berman, Youth Education Series and Guest Talent Programs Cast Member said.  “It’s about the connections we establish, the memories we create and the magic we make.”

Every semester, students from across the globe apply for the opportunity to participate in the Disney College Program, a paid internship experience where young professionals not only work with the Fortune 100 company, but also participate in classes taught by Disney instructors, live in Disney sponsored housing and have the opportunity to network with professionals in all lines of business within The Company.

Berman, an alum of the program, decided to stay on with The Company after the program in hopes of forging a career with a company she feels has “incredible values.”

And they do.  From the “Disney look,” to the family friendly atmosphere, Disneyland (and The Walt Disney Company as a whole) provides a safe environment that encourages people to keep coming back, keep watching movies, keep buying the Mickey Mouse watches.  Disney allows people to keep making memories.

Ask any Cast Member about their favorite memory, and their eyes will light up with excitement.  “That one time…,” “No, no.  There was this really cute family…,” “Let me tell you about the time I…”  No matter what role, each Cast Member seems to have a story they love to share about that magic moment.

For Bree Craig, also an alum of the DCP, her memories gave her more than just happy thoughts.  “Every job has its days,” Craig said. “But I learned that when you are contributing to something you truly believe in, even the worst days are worth it because  you are a part of something much bigger than yourself and your own limited experiences.”

Craig recalls waving goodbye to the Guests one night after fireworks.  Tears rushing down her own face and parents mouthed “thank yous” and showed her smiles.

“It was the first time I felt like I was a part of someone’s vacation, a part of their happiness.  That’s what being a Cast Member is all about,” Craig said.

Disneyland will continue to make dreams come true as long as there is imagination left in the world; Walt said so himself.

In a time when life seems to be passing us by, perhaps we should take a step back, sit on a park bench and eat some peanuts while our kids play.  Life is short.  Make magic.

National Residence Hall Honorary presents The Diamond Awards: Honoring one moment at a time

The National Residence Hall Honorary is an organization dedicated to service and providing leadership opportunities to students in residential communities.  Reserved for the top 1% of the student body (with a GPA requirement of 3.0), NRHH is founded on the four pillars of service, leadership, scholastic and recognition.

This November, the Downtown chapter of NRHH, The Order of the Pitchfork, will be holding their annual Diamond Awards ceremony to award student, faculty and staff for excellent service, spirit, presence on campus and in various other categories.

Used with permission from NRHH Order of the Pitchfork.

Used with permission from NRHH Order of the Pitchfork.

Rachel Gosselin, chancellor of the Downtown chapter, looks forward to this year’s awards and committee.

“It’s been a rebuilding year–most of our staff graduated or left last year.  I hope people recognize faculty and staff and get involved more on campus,” Gosselin said.  “I think this will be a different event.  I think people will be surprised what they are nominated for and will hopefully recognize others.”

The Diamond Awards stem from the recognition pillar–wanting to recognize people in the hall and around the community, Director of Membership Edward Hernandez explained.

“I want people to realize that it is good to recognize others for their service.  Even if it is for opening the door for someone…the smallest of services.  If one person takes that idea away from these awards, I’ll have done my job,” Hernandez said.

The Diamond Awards will be held November 26 at 7pm in the Nursing and Health Innovation 2 Building on the Downtown Phoenix Campus.

Moments impact others.  Others impact moments.  Recognize.  Lead.  Creating more memories–that is what service is truly about.

Fate versus tragedy: Who decides what’s what?

According to the Center For Disease Control, the leading cause of death in teenagers is accidents.  Car accidents account for over one-third of all deaths.

For 23-year-old Shelby Wray, this statistic rings close to home.  When she was 9 years old, her 17-year-old brother, Jeremy, died in a car accident.

“I remember my dad pulling me and my sister out of class and bringing us to a bench in a park…I knew then something was wrong.,” she said.

This moment, this singular instant in the context of time completely changed her life.

She recalled fond memories of her brother, sharing stories of sock puppets and photo-shoots–Jeremy was an aspiring photographer–and while her voice said she was okay, her eyes told the truth: she lost her big brother, and it hurts.

Many years later, coming to the same intersection where she lost her brother that fateful day, Wray was also involved in an accident.  Fracturing her pelvis, tail bone and (later discovered) ripping her diaphragm, Wray remembers thinking, “Jeremy is here.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he was looking out for me that day,” she said.

Recovering from the physical but perhaps not emotional scars, Wray continued with life.  Currently in college, she hopes to work for a major league baseball team planning their events in the future.  A strong and passionate individual, Wray says she doesn’t let this tragedy hinder her, but strengthen her to be better, and has seen life this way for a while.

“Tragedies don’t define us,’ Wray said.  “They just leave scars that make us stronger.”

Ancient philosophers like Cicero might argue that our moments are set in stone–destined to occur no matter what path we take.  So, no matter what Shelby Wray did that day, no matter if she changed her mind about something, she would have been involved in that accident, so says the philosophers.  Same for her brother.  But who determines when one lives or one dies?  The Fates?  Wray asks this question at times, wondering, “Why me?  Why not him?”  It is a deep question that is not simply answered and yet, we all as humans face the concept at some point or another. Be it divine intervention or fate or destiny…do we have a choice?  Despite our yearning for free will and choice, we seem to succumb to fate when it suits our needs.

https://twitter.com/jacirosexox/status/387052250318659586

Still, the irony about humanity’s ultimate fate is that it is all the same:  None of us ever come out of it alive.  And, perhaps that is the beauty about life; knowing that, one day, we all end up the same way.

You’ll be caught one day

Twenty-two year old Kelly Kleber quietly sipped her coffee as she recalled the events from that night nearly a year ago. Her piercing blue eyes searched for the memories, reliving every moment as she tasted the words that flowed from her tongue.

On November 10, 2012, Kleber was date raped.

“I’d known this person since I was 15…I never suspected he would do this awful thing to me.”

She recalled the night with a sense of calm, still her voice gave hints of pain.

“He made me a rum and coke.  I remember he didn’t want to have one.  That was a typical drink we had together, but he was very adamant about not having a rum and coke, so he had a beer,” Kleber said.  “He was just staring at me as I drank.  And I just got this really off vibe.”

As soon as she finished her first drink, he quickly refilled it and simply stared at her, Kleber noticed.

“I didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “Why would I suspect someone I had known for 7 years?”

From there the story becomes like so many we have heard before.

“I felt extremely intoxicated.  After having a drink and a half, I felt like I had 10,” she said.

She put her rum and coke down, she said her vision became blurry and she leaned back in her chair.  That is the last thing she vividly remembers before she blacked out.  As the night unfolded, things escalated over the course of the 3-4 hours she was in and out of consciousness. During this time, he proceeded to choke her, rape her, and give her over 40 bruises on her body.

“He had his hands around my neck so tightly that my vision went completely black [when she was conscious],” Kleber said.  “I couldn’t see anything.  I just felt him on top of me.”

When it was all done, she managed to put her pants on backwards, place her ripped shirt over her and get into her car, though she does not remember how.

“The next thing I remember were these flashing lights.  I thought, ‘Am I in Heaven?’” she joked, though her eyes hid behind her coffee, knowing it could have been true.  “We all think we’re invincible… [but] part of me thinks I should have died that night.”

The police found her in the middle of an intersection, unconscious, with her lights turned off.  Arrested for a DUI, the police took her into the station and took a blood sample, as protocol.  Despite her apparent state, with bruises around her neck, drag marks on her legs and thighs, and barely any clothes on, the police did not take her to the hospital for a checkup or a rape kit.

The police then told her she would be charged with a hit and run in addition to her DUI.

“My life was completely changed forever,” Kleber said.  “You never think this is going to happen to you.”

The next day, the police told her she had traces of Rohypnol, commonly known as “roofies,” and an animal tranquilizer known as Ketamine in her blood system.  Still, the police did not take her to the hospital.  (Click here for a report on drugs of abuse from the DEA)

Nonetheless, the DUI and hit and run charges were dropped, an open sex case was pursued.  She had solid evidence of drugs, flashbacks from the horrific events; to any victim she had an ideal case because she knew her attacker—but that was the problem.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network,(RAINN)¸ approximately 2/3rds of all rape is committed by someone the victim knows and 38 percent of rapists are friends or acquaintances.   Nevertheless, 97 percent of rapists will never serve a day in jail for their rape crime.

Nearly 100 percent of rapists will never serve a day in jail?  This seems impossible and yet, the statistics remain.  These criminals get to continue to infect the lives of others and not have to think twice about the woman or man they have destroyed.

“He’s in med-school, good grades, not the ‘man in the bush’ we all hear about,” she said.  “He’ll get to go on with his life while I pick up the pieces to mine.”  Her case was closed and her rapist walked free.

Thankfully for Kleber, this event has challenged her to change the way the justice system sees rape.

“I’m not going to let him win.  I’m in control, not him,” she said. “It has become my mission to change how we prosecute acquaintance rape.  The justice system failed me.”

She has only these few words, now, for her rapist:

“You’ll be caught one day.”

Some moments leave us asking, “Why?”  We begin to second guess every choice we’ve made and reevaluate the decisions we’ve followed, wondering if there was some way to prevent a bad situation.  That said; remember it is not your fault. Some moments seem to “happen for a reason,” and while we may not know the reason in the moment, we hope that one day their true purpose will reveal themselves.  And while no one wants this to happen, it does, every day;

This is real life.

If you or someone you know is a victim of rape or sexual assault, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).

Moments

Years are made up of months.  Months of weeks.  Weeks of days.  Days of hours.  Hours of minutes.  Minutes of seconds and so on.

But what makes up a moment?

Is it that instant in time when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up?  When you receive a warm smile or friendly hello walking down the street?

When a minute seems like an hour and an hour only a brief second?

Albert Einstein might call a “moment” the idea of relativity, like when you take a girl on a date or put your hand on the stove.  It’s all subjective.

And yet, it is something that all human beings share.

These moments count so much more than the minutes and seconds that make up lives.

These moments are memories.

There are many types of moments: “A-Ha moments,” upsetting moments, “moments of truth,” “magic moments,” even sometimes, “blonde moments.”

And then sometimes, if we’re lucky; if all the stars align and everything falls into place, there are the “best moment of my life,” moments.

The Walt Disney Company has, in a sense, coined the phrase, “magic moment.”  They have integrated the belief that magic can exist in every day interactions and, as a result, often influence the visits of the families in their parks.

The beauty of these “magic moments” is that they do not just occur in Disneyland.  They happen every day, all around, from every type of person.

This blog will investigate the humanity involved in “moments.”  It will recollect and share the moments experienced by people in everyday life, and, most importantly, it will encourage readers to go out and make their own moments.

Recently, sports-caster Richard Deitsch asked his Twitter followers to share their “best life moments.”  The result: a flood of human experiences combined together to remind human kind of one thing:

We are not alone in this world.