I had a great time in Disney Land this weekend, thanks to a group trip that I took to learn more about the ins and outs of branding, customer service, and emotionally connecting to your clients.15055644_1605813203060529_6291833328063458022_n.jpg

I hadn’t been to Disney Land since I was a kid, so the entire experience was very different than how I remembered it – and probably different than the way anyone else might too. One thing I learned visiting the parks (I got to visit California Adventure as well) was that every person approaches the park differently. Some people in the group went very early in the morning and got everything out of the way taking a midday nap, while others (like me) started the day a little later and stayed late into the evening when things really closed down around 1 a.m. ┬áThe first day, when we hit up California Adventure, I took some time out of my day to hit up the hotel spa and get a very special Disney massage. The treatment was exemplary and showed off one of the things that make this complicated place such a treasured experience – the service was amazing. The woman who booked me knew I was on a time crunch because I wanted to attend a musical at 7:30, so got me a half-hour session which wasn’t normally on the menu. My masseuse was so gentle and friendly and made sure I had water and knew right away my legs were hurting. She made sure I’d be able to walk through the many extra hours I had ahead of me.

And when I was done, I had enough time to score myself a cocktail at the replica theater of the original place where Snow White first debuted. This one was called the Poisoned Apple and came with a souvenir “poison apple” – a waterproof cube that can be turned on and off and dropped into a drink at any time. A thoughtful, fun way to take the magic home. I brought them home and showed them off to my partner who immediately fell in love with it. I also got us something else that I really wanted us to share:

15036697_1606887792953070_6163996154825467425_n
engagement rings!

I think I sized my partner correctly, but just to make sure, I asked the sales woman at the store (somewhere in Fantasy Land) if there was something I could do if the ring was the wrong size. She wrote down a phone number and said if I had any problems someone would be available to help us size them retroactively and get a replacement. They seem to fit but Phoenix says it’s a bit tight – so we might need that number.

I got to take a number of photos that are perfect for parents and friends that want a holiday memory of me taking a trip through the Happiest Place on Earth too.

14993524_1605813096393873_1787871813693672711_n.jpg

Along with several shots of me with the one thing I promised myself I would not buy – that’s right, a pair of mouse ears.

15129961_1606242043017645_1960408763_n.jpgI arrived Disney skeptical – keep in mind I come from a leftist family that doesn’t like big shows of money or power. I myself assumed Disney would be a more opulent capitalist experience, but to my surprise, it was just the break I needed from the world in which things have been really violent to immigrants and refugees like my family lately. The place is kind and gentle with heavy souls, even my own. I am a journalist and writer at heart, so it seems I might always be carrying a bit of the world with me. Disney must have had more magic than I expected.

I sent dozens of photos to my friends back home who know I have been scared and confused these past few months as white nationalism has been on the rise in the United States. The people that love me were so happy to hear I had taken a moment to care for myself and enjoy the gorgeous California weather for a much-needed break.

I can’t wait to bring back some of the joy I got to the communities I live in. You don’t need a $200 ticket to a land of adventure to show kindness to the people around you – although it certainly doesn’t hurt! I challenge those around me to do something genuinely kind for an immigrant or refugee in their life right now. I challenge myself to be the person I am fresh out of a joyful vacation even when things get tough. I challenge myself to find a deeper part of myself with a vision of what I want to create. I hope you will join me.

Need a little inspiration? You can always check out the cheesy holiday vacation video I made for my mom and dad.