Sparks of Magic

Thoughts

The Future of Sparks of Magic

ThoughtsCamilleComment

I am really excited to share that there are some changes going on here. The blog is getting a visual facelift, including the logo (thanks hubby) and a lot of things are happening in the background in relation to my content moving forward. 

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As my space here evolves on the internet to reflect my soul more, you will find that I'm going to be diving into all areas of magic within me - light & bright but also dark & heavy, it's who I am. I am learning to be more open about my life lessons and truths as an individual, partner, wife, mama, daughter, and friend.

The lifestyle content will still be here, the focus in that will be family, wellness and travel. Our goal as a family is to live well collectively and individually, and see the world together. We can't do all of that if we aren't in good health, so we'll be making some changes this year as we all heal our guts, minds and souls. 

I will still share our family's Disney adventures and whatever my heart fancies at the moment that is Disney-related. While Disney is not my main focus anymore, it will not go away.

All of my old content will remain in this space, just a shift in what you see moving forward is what will change. I will still partner with brands in the future, and I will disclose those partnerships so you know that if you purchase through my affiliate link or use my code you understand that I will receive a small commission. I appreciate each purchase because while this is something I absolutely love doing, it is time consuming and every little bit earned helps our family thrive more. I will only work with brands that share similar lifestyle values, showcasing products and/or services focused on eco-wellness and being family-friendly.

I am super grateful to have you on this journey with me and look forward to a new year and a lot of fun!

The Year of Healing: Hello, 2018.

Family, ThoughtsCamilleComment
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2017 shook me to my core, broke me and opened my heart in ways that I was not ready to experience, let alone imagine. I felt like I was repeatedly hit with a ton of bricks throughout the year and never enough time to get up and recover from the previous blow.

The past year, and my heart, seemed overwhelmed by loss:

  • I was laid off from a full time, well-paying and benefitted job that I loved.

  • Loss of my second dad (Father-in-law) hit hard, unexpected and filled me with emotions that I still cannot fully express. I still struggle with how to grieve, when to grieve, and how to move forward. Over eighteen years of memories remain in my heart, including those now cherished most, are of caring for him in his final weeks, days, hours - it will always be bittersweet.
  • Missing out on opportunities that I swore were for me, so I set my heart on them only to receive rejection after rejection.
  • Loss of my Grandmother-in-law, a woman that always remembered me, encouraged me and prayed for me & my family, even when her mind started to fade and couldn't remember her own children's names.
  • Loss of my naivety of the world we have always lived in regarding race and religion. This loss was not bad in the sense of the aforementioned situations, because a veil was lifted from my eyes and mind, but it was like ripping off flesh from a wound I didn’t even know I had. This loss was a good one, but painful nonetheless.

My eyes, heart and mind were wide open - to everything and to everyone’s pain but my own. I always dove in to be a fixer, to see other people happy, to help heal their hurts. At first, I saw the various losses for myself and pushed it aside so I could deal with the situations at hand because things had to be done. I mean, hello - I am “The Magic Maker.” I set myself up daily with high expectations and in the last year seemingly felt like I failed most of the time.

I felt guilt day in and day out because I never felt  like what I did was enough. I never felt like I was enough as a mom, caregiver, daughter. I never felt like I was enough for my husband. Granted, these are all things that I told myself, none of them are true. But I convinced myself that this was the case. I had to be more. I had to be better. I was so focused on pleasing other people that I didn’t realize that they weren’t asking me to do any of that.

The stress I experienced began to manifest in my body physically and overwhelmed my already riddled mind with more anxiety and depression.

I stopped writing. I stopped running. I stopped caring on the inside and no matter how hard I tried to fake it, I just couldn't make it. 

Contrary to some people’s beliefs, depression is not a choice. I didn’t wake up and choose to go completely dark. I do try to find the magic in everything, but this time and at that point the reality of my life seemed to only have been touched by darkness.

I felt there was no other way. I began to close my heart. Even though I visited Disneyland as often as I did and even met Kerry Washington (OMG), I still couldn’t shake feeling so broken.

Then, I began reading and listening. I figured if I couldn't write, I could at least maybe listen, keep learning and somehow figure out how to heal. There are few people in my life that I have felt truly listened and held conversation with me and my fast moving mind and my late Dad was one of them. When I was unable to chat with my blood Daddy, he was there for me as if I were one of his own kids. He knew me since I was 17, which is half of my life. Even in his final hours he was chatting it up with his kids, throwing out gold nuggets of wisdom. What he told my youngest sis is one that will stay with me forever. He always focused on love, the importance of giving it and receiving it. At the end of the day, that’s what matters. It’s all about love. It’s all we need. It is the core of our being and existence.

Essentially, and for lack of butchering his words, I will paraphrase, but he told her teach her kids to love themselves. To be comfortable in their own skin, love wholeheartedly and fully.

Once Dad passed away I found myself having conversations with him and they have been little chats that I treasure and have taken to heart. Month two of his passing, I woke up with a strange sense of peace (it has come and gone, but this day it was clearly a moment I remember and feel). It was the first time I woke up and forgot about the previous night terrors and overwhelming sadness that my heart had been feeling.

I remembered and then before I could become sad again, my heart heard, “Remember what I told Joy? That’s for you, too sweetie... You must love YOU.”

Oh. I see...slowly but surely...*lightbulb*

I need to love myself.

That’s how our kids will learn to love themselves. I can’t teach something I don’t know or experience. It was then that I realized I was in desperate need of some self love and care. Just like Dad, that's all he said. He didn't give me a long speech or make me feel like I was doing anything terrible. It was a gentle, loving reminder to take care of my own heart. I was clearly not doing that.

I was broken inside, trying to help other people pick up the pieces of their lives. Yet, my oxygen mask wasn’t fully on. I knew that at some point I had to change how I was living. I am so thankful that even through his heartbreak and grief, my husband saw my needs and suggested that maybe it was time that I seek counsel. So, I began therapy. I started journaling, saving my thoughts to sort out offline. I started running again and even occasionally went to the gym. Those things helped, but it really was conversation, sorting out my thoughts, allowing myself to feel and be okay to not be okay without guilt or stigma for seeking help.

With the prompting of a sweet friend , I chose a word that I want to use to set precedence for this new year. Initially, I chose “manifestation.” I was desperately seeking resolve, closure, new things, and seeing dreams and goals come to fruition. Almost as quickly as I envisioned “Manifestation,” the word “healing” came to mind and I knew that is what my goal would be for this year. The word kind of picked me. From there, my friend reminded me that I needed to cultivate the soil so that things could grow and I would see that manifestation in the end. I am continuously learning to enjoy this journey, to accept both the light and dark magic that surrounds me (more on that in an upcoming post), embrace and feel the emotions that surface but let them pass through.

I’m learning to be more open with myself and with that kind of comes a “no more bullsh*t” type of feeling that has seemed to surface. My time is no longer to be wasted worrying about what others think or how I should perform or live my life. It’s wasted time and energy, and no one has time for that. I’m learning to say “no,” and move on without guilt. It’s not always easy, but my heart and soul feel so much better to just move forward.

As I heal, as I write more and seek genuine interactions with others during my time here on earth, I am reminded that I am a spiritual being simply experiencing humanity. All of this will fade away. My soul, my existence will live on just as my Dad’s before me. Every moment is one that I am learning to feel – and let go. Life here is truly about the journey. I’m hugging and loving my hubby and babies tighter. I’m appreciating the moments that I will never get back. I’m learning to love myself and be okay to let go of perfection. I’m learning how to let go of needing to control, and letting those that love me do just that - love me hard. Sometimes we forget to allow others in, to let them love us and see us at our most vulnerable point. As a highly sensitive and emotional person, I never thought that I was repressing anything... until it was almost too late.

As a side-note, don’t mistake my revelation as me being a doormat for other people’s negativity because I’m here for the love. I still won’t take bullsh*t. I can and will love from afar if I must. I prefer closeness and hugs, but remember, this is my year of healing, I won’t knowingly allow myself to be subjected to that nonsense.

Friends, here's to a legit 2018, filled with all kinds of magic, love, continuous learning, good health, and most of all a road to the healing of my soul, allowing newness to manifest in ways that I couldn't have imagined for myself. 

Freedom in Release

Thoughts, Family, WellnessCamilleComment
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It’s been way too long since I’ve written from the heart, and I look forward to sharing more. I’m in the middle of rebranding the blog both in design and focus. It’s something I’ve talked about since the beginning of the year but just haven’t gotten to it. As our family’s life has shifted dramatically in the past couple of months, it seems like the most appropriate time to shift in my space on the web.

Even in darkness I know there is beautiful magic and I appreciate the magic so much more going through this seemingly dark period in my life, after my dad-in-love’s passing. I think that’s what Dad continues to show me.

We live and love through our journey and must find that magic to hold onto.

It’s not easy by any means and every bit is a learning and growing experience.

Let Go

One of the things I am slowly learning, is to let go and free myself. In order for me to truly be free I have to allow others the same freedom. I must let go all the way, and that includes releasing others of my expectations. Why? Because it keeps me bound in my mind. I begin to worry about things that aren’t necessary to worry about. I want to be free. I liken this to being at the beach and I want to truly feel the warmth of the sun, the coolness of the water; I’ve gotta get up and go in. But if I’m holding the hands of people that aren’t willing to feel those things with me, and waiting for them, I am still bound. I’m not free because I won’t release their hand. Essentially, I have to let go.

Your Freedom is Your Own

I have to free myself from how I think they should be, live, respond, believe, or feel, in my mind. I also can’t live in fear for others because their journey is not mine. I can’t do that for my kids or husband , my best friends or my family. I’m not abandoning them by any means, I’m simply opening myself to let go. I’m still there, but I’m in the water. I’m experiencing my freedom. For others, their freedom is on the sand because perhaps they feel trapped by the water. I can’t be mad that they don’t feel free in the water. Why would I want someone with me if they’re in fear? Let’s say they physically decide to go with me in the water, but they are now trapped in their own minds, too. Their lessons and learning aren’t the same as what I need.

Will we eventually be in the same place and share the same emotion? Perhaps, and if not, I have to be okay. I have to appreciate them on the sand, or in the air, or in their car, haha. I have to appreciate that our journeys will always be that – OUR OWN. One isn’t better than the other, they’re just different.

Release Others

We have to get to a place where we are looking at how we are living and release ourselves and others from expectations. Does it hurt sometimes? Sure it does, it can be scary feeling as if we are alone wherever we are, but we must allow ourselves to feel the hurt, and just let it pass through. We can’t dwell and we must focus on our own hearts because they also have to live and learn and grow in theirs.

Keep loving friends, keep living and spreading your magic. Let others splash in the water or roll in the sand. Let them experience and grow in their freedom how they need to. Love and appreciate where they are because they are learning and growing, just in a different way.

Magic Makers: A Coffee Chat with Auli'i Cravalho #MoanaBluRay

Disney, Entertainment, ThoughtsCamilleComment
 

I've been toying with the idea of interviews for the blog, focusing on people that are movers and shakers - ultimately, they are Magic Makers in my book, inspiring to many. I see it fitting to begin my first article with a well-known name and face, a young lady is who is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside: Auli'i Cravalho

I was invited to participate in the Moana PR Tour for the Blu-Ray & DVD release, and would be interviewing Auli'i Cravalho, the voice actress for the character "Moana." I had never attended a press junket before, and I went in with way too many assumptions. Long story short, I was prepared to maybe ask one question because I honestly assumed there would be a lot of journalists asking much more intriguing questions, and I probably wouldn't get a word in otherwise.

I arrived at the gorgeous Fairmont San Francisco a couple of hours early so I could scope out where I'd be going before Jeff & MeiLani left me (I tend to get lost). They ended up coming with me upstairs since it was only going to be 30 minutes of interview time so they were right outside the room.

I met two other freelancers, and we found out that this truly was a big press day & event, but it was not a big press room or a bunch of crazy journalists, like you'd see on Scandal in the White House Press Room. We were going to have some quality time with Auli'i, just the four of us. 

H E L L O. 

My excitement levels jumped a few notches because I really had no idea it would be such a close encounter. My inner child was freaking out, and then I literally thought "shit, I should have brought more questions." However, what happened next was an insightful, candid, and sweet conversation that I will never forget...

Thoughts from Auli'i

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I will start first on how this sixteen year old has an amazing heart, is down to earth, wise, curious, humble and has a bubbly spirit. I knew the minute she walked in, that we'd have a fun time. She is truly an old, sweet soul sprinkled with the heart of a child, and it was an honor to spend some time with her talking about life, the movie, and her future.

Fun Facts:

  • Auli'i has music flowing in her blood, through her rich Puerto Rican, Portuguese & Hawaiian heritage.
  • She's pretty sure her strong vocals come from screaming as a child
  • She never had music or voice lessons until she became Moana
  • She has no intentions of watching her performance on the Oscars
  • She loves history, science & butterflies :)
  • She is a Junior in high school & would love to visit colleges in SF

On Moana

When asked what she appreciates the most about the character, Moana, or what resonates most with her, she mentioned the strength of Moana and being the heroine of her own story. Since Moana has no love interest in the film, it truly is about finding out who she is on her own, above anything else. I appreciate the direction that Disney took with this film, to encourage and empower our youth (kids and adults, too) to look inward first. 

As for similarities, Auli'i shared that she had a lot in common with Moana, growing up on the island of Hawai'i, with pigs and chickens - you know, like Pua and Hei Hei! She also paddled as part of her all-Hawaiian school's canoe club, and has a loving family. 

Auli'i appreciates the journey that Moana takes to figure out who she is. Moana's strength and resilience, and curiosity to find out who she is will always be inspiring. 

On Empowering Others

The next burning question began, "Did you ever in a million years think ..." to which Auli'i quickly interjected "Noooo..." and caused us all to roar with laughter. Her demeanor in that moment reminded us that she has not lost that sixteen year old spark!

Auli'i was only fourteen (14), when she landed the role of Moana. When asked if she ready for that? In a sense of - being ready to be a role model to people everywhere, of all ages? She said to a certain degree, yes. She knew the importance of the film, because of how important Moana was to her. However, she had no idea just how much this would empower people of all ages. She had us chuckling though, as she expressed her disdain for dishes and chores, which isn't surprising because who likes that? Although now I tell my kids, "See, even Auli'i has to do chores." LOL.

On Life, Hopes & Dreams

I asked Auli'i, courtesy of my daughter KaiLeia (14), what the theme song of her life is/would be. She smiled, and pondered for a moment. Then replied, "Moon River." She loves Audrey Hepburn and said that the song is full of hope and talks about dreams and while they might not happen quickly, it is about that journey. If you haven't heard "Moon River," and listened to the lyrics. Heck, if you haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's, you should add it to your "must watch" list. 

One of my favorite parts of our conversation focused on hopes and dreams, and the idea of truly knowing who you are. We began chatting about if she ever envisioned her life, how it is today - singing live at the Oscars, preparing for a new show, empowering so many, and she shared that while she is a role model, she is not perfect or complete. Her journey always continues. She will never be complete.

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So, how do we get to the point where we "just know" that we are complete? We don't. There are no absolutes and "we are not a complete person ever & we are never to stop growing." What we can do is explore and take a journey for ourselves, which Auli'i says "doesn't have to be across a vast ocean like Moana." It is merely listening to the voice you have inside, to be brave enough to see what else is out there and available to you. Finding who you are might be about leaving everything you know, but "the person you become is worth it." 

What's Next?

Auli'i will be starring in an NBC Pilot called Drama High, and will be playing the role of Lilette. She shared that this project is about youth coming together from all walks of life to express themselves through theater. 

We can only imagine the amounts of singing, and other talent that will be involved with this theatrical production. According to Deadline, the show, brought to us by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights) and Jeffrey Sellers (Hamilton), is based on the true story of high school drama teacher, Lou Volpes – as told via the book Drama High, written by one of Mr. Volpe's former students, Michael Sokolove.  

For the rest of her visit in SF, Auli'i had her heart set on a bread bowl full of San Francisco's clam chowder and exploring museums, enjoying the city, and perhaps visiting some college campuses. Compared to Hawai'i and New York, she said SF has just enough hustle & bustle for her, plus the weather is colder so she can wear jackets, scarves, and mittens!

Auli'i shared that her family would be traveling from Hawai'i to visit her this weekend in San Francisco before heading to New York to film for three weeks. I hope she gets a nice relaxing family time and special moments before her travels. She has a great support system, and I hope that as she continues to thrive in the entertainment industry her family bond just keeps getting stronger!

Aulii Cravalho - MeiLani - Sparks of Magic
Aulii Cravalho - MeiLani - Sparks of Magic 2

Speaking of family, mine waited outside for me! After our interview, Auli'i made a quick surprise stop in the hall to say "hi" to my eldest, MeiLani - who is also 16, and they took some pictures. While she said adults are fun and all, she was pretty excited to see another teenager! I know that MeiLani will remember that moment for a lifetime.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with Auli'i and share laughter, happy tears and hugs. Our family looks forward to watching her in Drama High and follow this bright star as she continues to spread her magic in the world!

You can follow Auli'i on her adventures via her Instagram – @auliicravalho!

MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD +Digital HD

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Make sure to catch more fun outtakes and features exclusive to the MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD, including more interviews with the cast of characters, musicians, writers and directors. We digitally downloaded the film on iTunes early, and our kids (ages 10-16) have watched it already a dozen times! 

MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD will be available in stores beginning Tuesday, March 7, 2017! Start planning that movie night!! 

Well, Mahalo for reading my experience, I had a blast & hope you enjoyed it, too!

As Maui would say, You're welcome. :) 

Like MOANA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/disneymoana

Follow MOANA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneymoana

Follow Disney Animation on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/disneyanimation/

Visit Disney Animation on Tumblr: http://disneyanimation.tumblr.com/

Visit the official MOANA website here: http://movies.disney.com/moana

 

To the Fools Who Dream

Thoughts, LifestyleCamilleComment
 

As we've closed the door to 2016 and ushered in newness, hope, and excitement for the year of 2017, like most I like to reflect on what transpired and how it has made me a better person because of it, good or bad.

Family Life

We had ups and downs. We laughed a lot. I cried a lot. We've fought. We've also racked up hospital visits from Lodi to Sacramento for both our daughter and my mom in law. We are grateful that both of them are with us and have their health. We traveled hundreds of miles roundtrip to experience Disney magic and visit with family and friends in Southern CA. We witnessed family members become one through marriage. We went on hot dates. Jeff and I have been married for 16 years, together for 17. We seriously thought I was pregnant for almost twelve hours last year... They were the second-longest twelve hours of my life.

The first longest twelve + hours was my labor with our eldest, who is now SIXTEEN. Repeat, we have a sixteen year old. On top of that, we officially now have THREE teenage daughters (13, 14 & 16). God help Jeff and the boys cause someone is always PMS-ing. LOL. Our final baby is in double digits. Our girls have signed up for PSATS. They still fight like cats and dogs. But they all have hearts of gold, even if they are sassy as hell.

Most importantly, at the end of the day, we have each other. 

 My Instagram #BestofNine in 2016

My Instagram #BestofNine in 2016

Work Life

The year of 2016 was somewhat of a whirlwind. I spent a full year at the same temporary job working in Human Resources. I ended the previous year working 2 part-time jobs after finishing my Bachelor's. Once I left retail in January 2016, I was solely part time at Delta, and eventually was placed full-time in March. When I began, I knew it was temporary, but there was possibility that I would land a permanent spot that would help me on my career path – I hoped it led me back to The Walt Disney Company. I grew in my role as a temp Administrative Assistant, advancing in skills and knowledge, moving up to an HR Specialist by July. I had some colleagues and my boss take me under their wings and became my mentors. By October of 2016, I started my Master's program in Organizational Leadership. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was settling. Unintentionally, my sights became set on being comfortable and having a stable "grown up" job to provide for our family. It was, in my mind, time to kind of let my creative and entrepreneurial spirit take a rest so that my husband could get a chance to have his creative freedom and break the burden of 24/7 commuting and never seeing him. He left Amazon in February and took on two design clients that still keep him busy; knowing that his mental and physical health are way better off I know that having a happy and healthy husband is better than one that is over worked, under paid, and not enjoying his life everyday. 

2016 started out fantastic in the sense that I started to fit some kind of mold that looking back, I made for myself. I was making grown up dollars and felt like this was something I could pursue for my entire life and be "okay." If you know me, you know I am not driven by money. I don't work for money. I work because I love what I do. Somehow along the way my goals took a back seat as I attempted to make waves and find my place at my current job. My temporary assignment was only supposed to be from Dec. 2015 - March 2016. It kept getting extended and the hope that there would be an opportunity for permanency was definitely prevalent, and continued to grow. I started to get comfortable and hold on to something that was only meant to be temporary. From the very beginning, I knew my job was temporary. Yet, eternal optimist that I am - I was holding out hope. It wasn't until November that I realized I was holding on to something that wasn't mine. There are some education codes that must be followed, and as a temporary employee, I cannot work more than 75% of the academic year... so in all honesty, my time is coming to an end. I won't even say timing was off, because I truly believe (it took a while to get that through my head) that my place is not to be permanent at the college. It's definitely not an easy thing to even sit here and write because let's be honest, I'm scared shitless.

What comes next? Well, I've had recruiters contact me in the last two months, I've had interviews. I've applied for jobs. I can't control anything outside of showing up and giving my best. What I can control is my response to the worst case scenario – not having a full time job outside the home and prepare for change. But is that really worst case? I mean, I have my health. I have my family. Jeff is still working. So, what will I fall back on? How will we really make ends meet? What if? How? Why?

And then, it hit me, like Glinda telling Dorothy – she had the power all along. Say whaaat?! LOL.

I already have the power.

What's my power? I already have a working set of skills that I continue to grow in everyday. I am already a business woman, entrepreneur and creative. I just set a lot of that aside so I could work full time at a job that gave me over a year of experience under my belt. I am grateful. The last year has been amazing, and I have made new friends that have taught me so much. It will not be easy to leave them, but I am really excited to get back to the magic that has been brewing within my heart the last few weeks.

We will be branching out How About Now Creative Co.'s brand management service into a separate business. Jeff will continue his design and photography work. My new venture I will include brand strategy and add business, leadership and lifestyle consulting as another component. I have a name that will be revealed soon, I've been working on the branding, business set up and strategy. I am taking necessary baby steps for everything to fall in to place as I am still working full time, but really they are huge leaps and bounds because in less than 90 days it will be our bread and butter. I will continue to blog here and partner with brands that fit for our family and readers. Additionally, we plan to travel more. Which is really exciting because I have yet to experience much of the world, and my dream and goal has always been to jet set with my hubby and kids.

What I lacked since first starting our business is sincere confidence in myself and listening to outside voices that wanted to put me into a box. Not to mention, because of those voices, I have put myself in a box. I was jaded along the way, experienced some heart ache with clients and some messes because I am not a financial guru - numbers have always scared me, and let's be real, sometimes I was self-sabotaging because I refused to charge my worth. I love people and I am in the business of seeing others thrive in their passion and crafts. That usually ended me in a hole financially or taken advantage of, often working way too many hours for minimum wage. And oh, don't forget the taxes. Gotta pay those. I have made a lot of mistakes, I have learned a lot of "what not to do" and I was not ready to get back up and try again. However, while I learned a lot in those first two years of business, ultimately it put me back into the 8-5 because I was not ready. This time I have a different perspective. This time, I am more than confident and I am honest with myself. I've dusted myself off and I am back at it again. I am going to be busy as hell as Mama, wife, student, full-time employee and entrepreneur. But – I love what I do. I love learning, helping brands, people and businesses. It is hard work, and I will be tired. There will be moments that I will want to give up, but I have chosen my path and I will keep moving forward. 

Jeff and I had a hot date in the final days of 2016. We went to see La-La-Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Oh my. It was phenomenal. I love musicals; Jeff doesn't. He loved it though, which makes me happy. I was inspired. I laughed. I cried. I was encouraged, and it seriously sealed the deal on how I would move forward with pursuing my dream and setting my goals. I love spoilers, mainly because I don't like surprises, it gives me anxiety. However, I won't spoil the film for you. I did link the trailer above.  Just go see it and be inspired. If you have a dream, it is worth your time. If you don't have a dream, you might be reminded of one that you let go. The music of the film has inspired me so much I already have a draft written for another post!

All that to say - My biggest reflections from 2016 was that irrespective of circumstances, I was able to learn, grow and soak up everything. This new year, I plan on doing my best but know I'll still make mistakes. I will keep learning from them, seeing growth, being successful, and seeing more of my family on a daily basis. I plan to receive the blessings and the trials of 2017 knowing that every experience is part of my journey. I am nervous about putting myself out there more. It's so much easier to coach someone and help them find their magic, and sometimes it's hard to see it within yourself. I call myself the Magic Maker, but at times I rarely take my own advice. I do give myself advice often, though. This is the year of consistency, follow through, and self-love. I cannot be true magic to others until I realize the magic within me. 

I encourage each of you to continue to dream, take steps towards those dreams and make some solid goals, buckle down and put in the time. It won't be easy, that much I can promise you.

But when you are working from the heart, everything seems to fall in to place.

I know that I will be able to help some of you with your goals through my new venture, too! I appreciate all of the support that I've gotten over the last two years, and I hope you continue to join me on my journey in the new year. I am excited to see my friends thrive, grow and experience new beginnings. I have some great vibes about 2017!

 

Realizing Why I Write and How I am Moving Forward

Thoughts, FamilyCamilleComment

I woke up from my sleep in tears. Literally. I had a dream full of emotion, it was bittersweet and I was cut to the core in the midst because, for some reason I was in my dream, KNOWING that I was only dreaming. I was being reunited with some of my dear Disney friends at a celebration of some sorts; we shed tears of happiness, caught up on moments missed and chatted about our different paths in life. I was so overwhelmed this morning as I wiped away what was left of the moments that never really happened. 

My brain runs like a motor that has a broken off switch.

I told myself, "Self, you better get up this morning and do some writing." I'm not sure what writing has to do with my emotional dream, but I do know that writing helps me to process everything that goes on in this crazy-beautiful, ADHD head of mine (wide eyed awake, or asleep). I've also noticed that since I've been on a writing hiatus, my brain feels like it might explode since I'm not releasing anything mentally. 

Hitting "publish" offers a different kind of satisfaction and solace than just having a verbal conversation. I don't have a huge audience of readers here, so for me, this entire process has been about a release. Believe me, I LOVE to talk. However, I tend to convey my thoughts better through written form. I write about things that are important to me (family, fun, life), and I also have sponsored content that I create for brands. I'm blessed with the opportunities that I do have, but at the end of the day, this space is still for me and anyone else that is seeking to find some magic in their lives.

My world outside of Sparks of Magic is very R E A L.

I know that life is not perfect, but I choose to be positive about most of it, which includes my writing and my visual imagery for my blog and social spaces. I like pretty things but I have a messy house more often than not. I can't stop my kids from loving crappy junk food or wearing mismatch socks. They also tend to be angels in public and I have no idea where I get them from when they are at home. My husband and I are seriously best friends but you also should know that we drive each other crazy (which is where we got our crazy kids).

I live a daily battle with anxiety and depression that I don't usually talk about outside of my immediate family and close circle of friends. I love people. I love connecting with others. I work full time in human resources and at times find that I take on the emotional stresses of colleagues and students on campus. Sometimes I just can't help it because I care. I cry in my office with students and new hires that are trying to survive working to support their families, I celebrate with them when they are getting their first job or retiring from years of service. I cry all the time. Happy. Sad. Frustrated. Elated. Mad. Confused. It's just what happens. If only I shed water weight like I shed tears.

There is this perception that bloggers have a picture perfect life.

I will never attest to that, and the bloggers that I know will be the first to tell you that is not true. Perhaps you're reading the wrong blogs if that is the expectation. We tend to joke about being "Martha Stewart" in the kitchen as the epitome of the perfectly marketed domestic lifestyle. No. That is her BRAND. Real Life is meant to be lived. Life is messy. Life is hard and most of us work our asses off to get where we are. I might not have buckets of money pouring in from my sporadic content, but do you know what I do have? Enough. The universe takes care of me and my family, and things come along when they do, WHEN they are meant to happen. 

There is A LOT of hard work to put into having a successful blog, and I give MAD PROPS to my peeps that are doing it SO WELL. (I am going to need to compile a list of some of the diamonds in the blogging game, people that are raw, real, and some of the best). I just don't have the same desire or time to put into growing my blog; I had to come to that realization and not beat myself up over it. Over the course of past the year, and during my hiatus I really wanted to understand myself, set some goals for my life, and figure out why I couldn't seem to stick to the consistency needed to build my Sparks brand the way that I can totally envision. Then, it hit me.

B E I N G a "full-time blogger" is not my calling, and I am realizing it is not my desire.

Let it be known, if you don't know me already, my career passion lies in working for a brand that has existed for decades. If you remember the early stages of Sparks of Magic, it began as a Disney-focused blog. It was a means to an end. It gave me comfort to write about the magic I experienced, and long to have back, when I worked for The Walt Disney Company. I truly believe that Disney is my destiny. I put it out in the universe years ago, and my journey keeps moving in that direction. No matter where I am job-wise, since leaving Disney, it has always been my goal/dream/destiny to go back. I worked hard to finish my Bachelors Degree last year and am studying for my GMAT to apply for my MBA program. There have been times that I've wanted to give up, mainly because a career with Disney includes a 300 mile relocation for my family of seven, not to mention a much higher cost of living; then, I look at my kids.

Kids don’t do as we say, they do as we do.

I've grown up with a passion and drive to follow my heart. I work 24-7 for myself and my family and I don't ever want to be in a place where I am settling. I pursue my goals and take necessary steps towards achieving them for myself, but also for my kids. What better role model would they have than one that birthed them, loves and cares for them, and will always be here to support them?  My husband and I parent in a very transparent way, our kids might "know too much" for a lot of people's standards and opinions, but we are gearing them up to live a very real life for themselves. We can't keep them bubbled up and they need to know that you succeed when you give it your all, and then some. They also need to understand that success is different for everyone. They also need to understand that mistakes and failure are part of the journey. Determination and working through failures and mistakes towards our goals gives us learning experiences that we wouldn't have any other way.

All that to say?

I guess I no longer feel like I need to be something that I am not meant to be.

Granted, in just 2 years time, I have been able to do some really awesome things with Sparks of Magic. If I compare my success to another blogger's or my journey to another person's, it is easy to say I haven't achieved much. Sometimes I forget how far I have come in a short amount of time. I can't forget that, and I am encouraging each of you to remember where you started, where you are and where you are heading.

Today, I am working on propelling myself to where I know I belong. My blog will continue to serve a purpose, and it might not fully support us financially, but it does help. It might not be the top blog in any specific category, I may never win any awards, but you know what? That's okay. I am choosing to move forward and focus on what my blog IS: It is a place that spreads magic, big and small, to anyone that stops by. Sometimes I feel it helps me more, but I love to inspire, and sometimes we CAN inspire ourselves. I will continue to write here and share the awesome and not so awesome things that I face, like sassy teenagers, fun-filled family trips, thoughts on real-life situations, dreams and aspirations, and obviously a whole lot of pixie dust. I also will continue to write for brands that have values that align with mine.

For whatever reason, I am now realizing that I just have a different mindset. I guess that's what it comes down to, my perspective. I feel like I needed to express the justification for not being as consistent as I would like. I still can't pinpoint what my dream has to do with this, aside from being inspired as my friends continue to inspire me hundreds of miles away, to just keep writing. Kinda like Dory. So, I think you'll be seeing "me" more with this new mindset. Hey now, two blog posts in a week. See, progress already. :) Thanks for hearing my heart.

Moments in Dining Out Together

Thoughts, Family, FoodCamilleComment

If you're anything like me, dinner time can be hit or miss. With the hustle and bustle of working full time and coming home and assuming the "homework dance," while attempting to cook dinner with your spouse, whilst having a conversation, it gets pretty overwhelming. Sometimes, it's nice to just say to cooking, "not today," and plan for a night out.

Whether we sit together at our own dinner table, or plan a special time out to eat together, there is something special about sharing a meal with your family. At the end of a long day, even if I do spend time in the kitchen, sitting down with my family brings comfort, peace and I love the interactions that ensue.

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This past week I began a new year as part of Denny's Ambassador Council, so it was a special treat to take the kids out (on a school night at that!), and share a family meal. My kids & I love our local Denny's in Lodi (I-5 and Hwy 12); the staff is always very attentive, they take great care of us, and the experience is always wonderful.

I know that I've shared before that Kids Eat Free on Tuesday nights, and with a large family, we like to take advantage of the savings! We specifically went to Denny's to try their newest menu "Red, White and Bacon!" Do you love bacon? Because my family LOOOOVES bacon (I won't lie, I'm eating a gluten free bacon breakfast sandwich as I type). My kids freaked out when I told them the menu was all about bacon. They were immediately sold and the countdown to our Tuesday night excursion began.

For all of my bacon-loving movie fans, Denny's "Red, White and Bacon" menu is a partnership with Twentieth Century Fox and their new film, Independence Day: Resurgence. 

Our kids are usually little angels when we go out. All of a sudden they remember their Ps and Qs, they are cordial with each other, and they share food! I often think we should go out more often for that alone! Unfortunately, the pocket book doesn't always agree, so we get out when we can, and make it memorable with each experience. 

If your kids can eat off the kids menu, let them. We encourage it, especially when we are looking to save a bit of money and honestly they get enough food, even as little tweens. Now, we do have a couple that can eat off the adult menu, so then we add an extra side (usually 99¢) from the kids' menu.

Selecting their food is half the fun, as the kids' menu changes just like the adult menu. Our kids still love to color and do the activities in the menu. I seriously hope they always keep their love for creating and handwriting, along with their childlike spirits! They are so fun!

The kid's menu doesn't have anything "new" but the activities, and you CAN substitute the new honey jalapeño bacon for regular bacon and it is delicious!

MOMENTS NEVER FORGOTTEN

I think my favorite times when we eat out include the conversation. The kids are always entertaining, and it is sweet to see how they are growing up into little adults. We will never get these moments back. Some days are absolutely trying as a parent, but nothing brings a smile to your face more than a stranger encouraging you and telling you how wonderful it is to see a large family enjoying meal OUTSIDE the home. I think it's rare to see large families out and about, let alone confined in a restaurant. There was a time when we didn't really go out because being outnumbered by toddlers and little ones isn't always fun and games (for them it is, though). Ha. But they are growing up, and have almost mastered their inside voices that getting out is good for ALL of us, especially on those nights where my "not today" attitude is showing. Food brings us together, and it's been blessing to have more opportunities to get out and dine together as a family. So, thank you Denny's! 

THE MENU

Some of the new and returning things that you'll see in this limited edition menu include:

  • Red, White & Blue Slam® - It's back! In honor of "Independence Day: Resurgence" this classic entree includes two fluffy blueberry buttermilk pancakes topped with strawberries, cream cheese icing, and whipped cream. Of course, a slam isn't complete without two eggs cooked to order, hash browns, and your choice of two bacon strips or sausage links.
  • Honey Jalapeño Bacon Slam® - Everything that the Slam is known for – two eggs cooked to order, two buttermilk pancakes, hash browns, and thick-cut honey jalapeño bacon.
  • Triple Bacon Sampler - SIX strips of bacon!! Two strips each of honey jalapeño bacon, turkey bacon, and hickory smoked bacon, hash browns, two eggs cooked to order, and your choice of bread (don't forget they have gluten free).
  • Honey Jalapeño Bacon Sriracha Burger - This is a Sriracha seasoned, hand pressed 100% beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, two strips of honey jalapeño bacon and creamy Sriracha sauce, served on Denny's new brioche bun with a  side of French fries.
  • Loaded Bacon, Steak & Potato Skillet - note, this does not include honey jalapeno bacon, but it can be substituted!
  • Bacon Cheddar Tots - House-made shredded potatoes, bacon and cheddar cheese, served with sour cream for dipping! I bet this would actually taste good with ketchup. Or ranch. Or both. Just saying.
  • Maple Bacon Sundae - say WHAT?! I'll have to go to Denny's again, but on an empty stomach, because honestly by the time we got to dessert, I couldn't look at anymore bacon. :) It is on our "try next" list. This is exactly what it sounds like. Premium vanilla ice cream, maple syrup and crispy bacon.  
  • Sweet Blueberry Sensations beverages
    • Lemon Berry Smoothie
    • Berry Blue Lemonade

ENTER THE SPECIAL SWEEPSTAKES

For a limited time, Denny's and Twentieth Century Fox are inviting you to participate in a fun sweepstakes, with the grand prize being whisked away to the red carpet for the Hollywood premier of Independence Day: Resurgence!

You can enter by posting a photo of a person that you'd want fighting alongside of you, should we ever encounter an alien invasion! Use the hashtag #IDRSweepstakes on Twitter and Instagram and be entered to win an all-inclusive trip to the Hollywood premier!

Are you enticed by the deliciousness of bacon? I'm not sure how well you can fight off aliens on a full stomach, but at that point I don't think you'd care. :)

This yummy conversation was sponsored by Denny's in an ongoing partnership to bring you the newest menus and special offerings, I am a  member of Denny's Diner Ambassador Council. All thoughts and opinions are magical and mine. :)

Let's Share Our Strength with Denny's and No Kid Hungry

Thoughts, FoodCamilleComment

Throughout life there are times where we sit back and reflect on what we have, the privileges afforded to us, and blessings received. As I have partnered with Denny's recently, one of the organizations that they are connected to is No Kid Hungry. When I was asked to participate in this awareness campaign, I knew it would be one that I'd be proud of. The numbers don't lie. In fact it's unsettling when you realize just how many kids are going without food in America.

 photo courtesy No Kid Hungry

photo courtesy No Kid Hungry

Did you know that 1 in 5 kids will face hunger this year? Here –yes, in America. I know that we know there are poverty-stricken areas, but even the middle class is hit with these scenarios. If we get a little more detailed, here in California, 1 in 4 kids will struggle or have struggled this year. Only 53% of kids that qualify or free/reduced lunch also get school breakfast. Sadly, only 20% of kids that qualify for free/reduced lunches will have summer meals. 

In our local school district, all kids are able to get free breakfast, and over the summer, they did free breakfast and lunch for any child under 18. Man, that's a lot of kids without basic meals. Having a system in place like this allows for every child to get extra nutrients before putting their little minds to work.

Learning and growing is dependent on nutrition, and when a person (myself included) is hungry, we know it is hard to focus and concentrate. I appreciate the many teachers and administrators that notice this and help those children in need, sometimes even out of their own pockets! I've heard countless stories of children not having enough food, and it affects their education, on top of everything else.

 photo courtesy No Kid Hungry

photo courtesy No Kid Hungry

I can't imagine the thought of my children having to miss meals due to lack of food. But that is the reality for many families. We do our best to teach our children to be grateful, and appreciative of all that they have; to learn to eat food, even if it isn't their favorite, and to not waste food that they are given. We teach our children to give, and the help others.

While I am a paid member of Denny's Diner Ambassador Council, I am so proud to be part of the No Kid Hungry campaign. I would love for you to please help me and our Ambassador team as we raise funds for this important cause.

Please check out my fundraising page – all proceeds will go directly to No Kid Hungry.

About No Kid Hungry

A non-profit organization dedicated to helping to feed children across America. The campaign itself connects kids with nutritious foods, and teaches their families how to cook healthy meals. For more information on the No Kid Hungry campaign initiative visit their website.

I'm grateful for each and every one of you that took the time to read, those that will donate, and if you feel inclined, please share this message!  

Disclaimer: I am a member of Denny's Ambassador Council, and while this post has been sponsored, all thoughts and opinions are mine. 

What's Your Legacy? Walt Disney Records and H2OPlus #ShareYourLegacy Sweepstakes!

Thoughts, DisneyCamilleComment

I was originally introduced to the H2O+ amenity line as a guest at the Disneyland Resort. They are the exclusive worldwide provider for in-room amenities of the Disney Resorts, and I have to say their products are AMAZING.

H2O+ helps women achieve healthy, hydrated skin through advanced water-baed formulas and innovative skincare technology. 

Walls-Sparks of Magic - H2O - Legacy.JPG

Guess what?! H2O+ is teaming up with Walt Disney Records to celebrate The Legacy Collection, which commemorates the rich heritage of classic Disney films and soundtracks. Remember my previous post about The Little Mermaid Legacy Collection? I seriously love the Legacy Collection and the next one on my list is "Disneyland."

WHAT IS YOUR LEGACY?

Have you considered what are you leaving behind as you travel through life? As a busy mom of five, attempting to navigate through life working both in and out of the home, tending to the family, being a daughter, sister, friend, and making sure that I MAKE time for myself, I can say my legacy today is hard work, determination, faith, and positivity. 

What will it be when I am gone? Well, I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, so I know there will be more adventure, triumph and even trials ahead that I will learn and grow from. It think my legacy will evolve a little with each new experience. 

That being said, I want to leave a life legacy of full of love, magic, integrity, passion, perseverance, kindness, and hard work. I want my kids to realize and understand that life comes around only once, and if they have a dream, to set goals and take steps towards living that dream. Life is taken way too seriously and a lot of stress comes from not being happy in where you are, simply because you are focused on where you want to be. I think that we can enjoy the present, even if it is not ideal, but we should also take steps to make changes that we can. 

I want to encourage a life of passion, kindness, and faith in my kids. I want them to believe in themselves, and be confident in their skills, and their skin. I want them to see me love others and know that we should be kind. I want them to work hard. They see their Daddy and I work really hard, and they've already begun to follow suite. I'm proud of them and I hope they are proud of me and the legacy I will leave behind. It begins now.

I invite you to #ShareYourLegacy because we all have a story and all stories lead to a legacy.

Enter now for a chance to add an exciting Broadway story to your legacy. Grand Prize Winner and a guest will be whisked away to New York City for a once in a lifetime Broadway experience. Find out more at: www.h2oplus.com/legacy and #ShareYourLegacy with us!


About the sweepstakes:

  • US Only – 18+; Participants do NOT have to post #ShareYourLegacy to enter the sweeps.

Prizes are:

  • Round-trip airfare for two to NY
  • Two night hotel stay
  • Two tickets to The Lion King and exclusive behind the scenes tour
  • H2O+ Skin & Bodycare Beauty Basket ($500 retail) full of bestsellers for healthy, glowing skin for your big night on the town.

Disclaimer: I am participating in this campaign as a member of Entertainment New Media Network. Although this is not a paid post, I was sent a small thank you gift for my participation. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Another First Day.

Thoughts, FamilyCamilleComment

It's barely 9 am and today has already been emotional. 

No, we didn't have any fights or frustrations; this morning went very well. If you have kids, you know that what might seem as a simple act of walking out the door, ON TIME, with kids in tow, really is an accomplishment. 

With our five kids, someone is bound to be in tears over the last bowl of cereal being eaten, forgetting to put their shirt in the dryer, or fighting over the bathroom, hair brushes, or socks!

I know that as the nervousness of a new environment fades, and they become more comfortable with their new school schedule, we might see a more typical morning at home – madness. Ha ha!

I loved seeing them walk together, help each other find things so they weren't late, and I'm grateful to have been here with them this morning to not only witness the angelic behavior, but to love on them and usher them into their newest journey.

I began the school drop offs at 7 am and was home by 8:15 am. Three schools later, and hugs with my five babies, I went back to my car with a sense of relief. I have been counting down to them going back to school, tired of hearing the "I'm boooooored" chant for days on end. But, even after all of that, in that moment alone, as I began to drive away, I let out a huge sigh and began to cry.

Talk about emo. :)

Today is a day of firsts; we now have a freshman in high school. We also have two 7th graders, and both of our boys are now "uppers" at the elementary school. As we move forward in life, we always have firsts and I want them to know it's okay to be nervous, but they should be excited to learn new things, grow in new ways and experience life with a new perspective.

It's so weird hearing my 7th grade baby girl  talk about her extracurricular activities for her college applications; she wants to go to Stanford or UCLA, so she's diving in and signing up for Science Olympiad and deciding what else she will pursue. Sometimes I want to say "STOP GROWING UP!" But, I know, this isn't Neverland.

I guess to keep it short and sweet, I am making it a point to remind myself that they will grow up. But as they do, I will keep stashing these memories like today away. When I'm feeling frustrated or stressed, I will pull these memories out and remember that I am not promised to have them tomorrow, and pretty soon, I will have my last "first" with them.

Have your kids gone back to school? Please tell me I am not the only crying mother. :) 

Raising Our Boys to Respect Women

Thoughts, FamilyCamilleComment

With all things in life comes responsibility, especially with how we treat others. We focus on respecting others' mind, body and soul. Teaching our kids to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions is important. In this journey of life we are privileged to raise our five children and hope to watch them flourish as responsible citizens and kind hearted people.