Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why I Did a Second Disney College Program

Hi guys! As I mentioned briefly yesterday, this week has been a rough week for me. I've been having lots of personal issues and struggling with friendships and work life. One of the biggest questions I get asked about the Disney College Program is why do a second one? If there are so many struggles and issues I go through with it, what makes it worth it? Today I'm sharing my reasons why doing a second college program was a step I had to take.


The opportunity to experience both coasts //

In my first program, I participated in Disneyland for a couple of reasons. For one, I had been there before so I was familiar with the parks, and felt more comfortable there. Also, it was closer to home so it was less of move and change for me. When Nick and I made the decision to apply for a second program, we knew we wanted to apply to Walt Disney World instead. Neither of us have been here before this program, and the likelihood that we would be visiting soon for any other reason was not realistic. Both programs are hosted very differently, and we wanted to be able to experience both of them.

Disney is a company I always want to work for //

One of the biggest reasons we decided to return was the fact that we both missed the atmosphere of the parks and the people we saw everyday, as well as being completely immersed in the Disney world. Both of us are big Disney fans, and after our first program Disney became a permanent part of our life. A second program gives us a chance to move towards a career within the Disney company.

Having married housing //

One thing that the Disneyland program does not offer, but Disney World does, is the option for married housing. If we chose to return to Disneyland, we would either have to live off-site, or not be roommates. While that was an option, it didn't make sense for us to get married and then move into separate apartments only a few months later. Being able to have our own one bedroom apartment has been a great experience for us, and eliminated the roommate issues we dealt with during our last programs.

A chance to make new friends //

Because I struggled so much with losing friend from my last program, I was determined to make friends this program. After applying we quickly connected with a group of applicants that we met through a GroupMe, and we all became fast friends. Ride Or Die, as we cal ourselves, has been the best support group for me that I could have imagined while here. They are all vastly different, but each of them has something different to offer and we all fit together so wonderfully, We even created a family tree because we all feel so connected. I don't want to think about the pain we will go through when we have to say goodbye!

A program that will change your life forever //

I cannot stress this enough. The Disney College Program really is a life changing experience. While yes, it is a great internship to have on your resume, the friendships you can gain and experiences you go through during the program make it a program that cannot be forgotten. Even if we decide to not continue with the company after this program, the time we spent in both programs is valuable enough that we won't stop talking about it.

If you are someone who has considered the program before, but isn't sure if it is for you, I encourage you to apply. This is an experience that you don't want to pass up, even if it means moving all the way across the country like we did. The Disney College Program changed me life, and I want it to change yours too.

Have you ever considered the Disney College Program? Do you know anyone who has participated?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Book Review: The Stone Bearers

Hi friends! It's a been a rough weekend for me, so getting these posts out this week has taken a lot of effort. I promised myself I would keep up with my two days a week schedule, as well as get this review completed on time. The review is actually less of an issue, as this book was amazing and I didn't want to put it down! The bigger issue came when I sat down to draft my posts on Sunday amidst a raging migraine. Blogger problems, am I right?! Anyway, here I am with another week of posts for you! Today I'm finishing the last book review for this blog, before moving them back to The Librarian's Bookshelf, as I mentioned last week.


I don't typically get pulled into self-published books often, but when I do it's because the author knows how to write compelling twists and turns and keeps you on the edge of your seat. From the first chapter I was drawn in, and as the book reaches the climax you are left breathless with anticipation as each new layer of mystery is added to the previous one. By the time you finish the book, you are blown away by the masterful writing she uses to tie everything together.

The author also uses such deep descriptions of the characters, and creates genuine interactions between them so that you grow to care for them, despite their quirks or the dark sides they may have. If you are a fan of fantasy, or of any book that will keep you guessing, this is a book for you to read!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Have you heard of The Stone Bearers? Is fantasy a genre you typically read?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Top 5 Favorite Bloggers

Hi guys! Before I became a lifestyle blogger, I used my blog mainly as a journal. Along with that, I didn't read practically ANY other bloggers, because I didn't care, and I wasn't learning anything from them! Now that I do blog regularly, I read quite a few bloggers that I learn so much from with every post they right. Today, in no particular order, I'm sharing my five favorite bloggers I read!


Becky @ Disney in Your Day //

Becky has guest posted before, so she is not new to my blog! I met Becky a few month ago now, through a blog buddy sign up we participated in. Being the only two Disney bloggers, we were matched, and it was perfect! We hit it off right away and have been supporting each other since. She is currently my biggest blog supporter (other than Nick, of course!) and we even got to meet up a few weeks back when she came to Orlando for the Disney Parks Princess Half Marathon Weekend! It was a highlight of my week and we're hoping to meet up again when she visits for the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival soon!

As I mentioned above, she is primarily a Disney blogger, but she also blogs about travel and her travel business, and her training goals for the marathons she runs! She also shares different Disney content than myself, so if you crave that Disney fix, she's another great option! Becky is just super sweet and down to earth, and her support has made it one of the reasons why she is one of my favorite bloggers.

Summer @ Coffee With Summer //

Summer was not the first lifestyle blogger I followed when I starting seriously blogging, but she has quickly become one of my favorites! She is authentic, and is consistently sharing posts that are raw but very relevant to many people. One of the main reasons I read her so much now, is she has begun branching out and sharing her tips and successes in blog growth, which I'm finding invaluable as I continue blogging less as a hobby and more as a regular thing. Summer is also largely encouraging - sending her a message asking for advice or even a simple prayer and she is happy to step in.

Chelsie @ Hey There, Chelsie //

I first discovered Chelsie through Summer, and quickly fell in love with her blog as well. Chelsie has a different focus and tone than Summer, but creates just as valuable content. She recently rebranded, so before she shared more often about Rosie, her puppy that her and her husband Dustin adopted to help with her knee replacement. While I love her Rosie stories, I love that lately she has been sharing her journey into full-time blogging, as that is a goal I'm striving for as well, and I love hearing other bloggers' struggle and successes! Chelsie also shares both beauty and fashion, and since I fail at being fashionable, I live my beauty desires through her blog.

Helene @ Helene in Between //

My last two bloggers are more well known, but no less valuable! Helene is a blogger I look to as a multi-topiced lifestyle blogger. What does that mean? For me, I'm primarily a lifestyle blogger, but I blog under four specific topics: Disney, marriage, faith and mental illness. For Helene, she shares blogging tips, travel adventures, and fashion posts. Many bloggers will tell you to focus on one topic alone, and that multiple topics hurt your audience. Helene is an example that you don't have to limit yourself to one topic, and I love that! All of her topics have a steady following and don't hurt her views in any way! Along with that, she has been a successful professional blogger for awhile and often shares her income reports, which is eye opening for smaller bloggers like myself,

Melyssa @ The Nectar Collective //

Melyssa is another well-known blogger! Like Helene, she shares monthly income reports and has shared her success, primarily coming from her e-mail list and ecourses. She also shares blogging advice, but since that is her main topic she shares more content that is relevant to bloggers and helpful on growing views and social media. She is also down-to-earth, and if you take the time to follow her various social media (especially Snapchat!) you'll see she's a normal blogger with just a larger following than others,

If you are a blogger, no matter your content or niche, it's important to be reading other bloggers and supporting each other. Find a good mix of smaller and larger bloggers and start reading and commenting! You'd be surprised to support you can get just from other bloggers.

Do you read any of my favorite bloggers? Who are some of your favorites, and why?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Why Taking a Blog Break is a Good Thing

Hi friends! You'll remember that through the month of February and half of March, I disappeared from the blog. This was not a planned blog break, but it was one I desperately needed. While I did feel guilty during the break, I've come to realize it was a great thing for me! Here's a few reasons why you should consider your own blogging break.


Your blog does not rule your life //

What?! You mean my blog isn't something I should be thinking about 24/7?? Seriously though, don't let your blog rule your life. There needs to be a balance for everything in life, and that includes blogging and personal free time.

Even full-time bloggers can't be tied down to their blogs //

Bloggers who blog as a profession naturally put a lot of time into their blogs. However, even they need blog breaks too! Just as people with office professions get tired of the same thing over and over, bloggers do too! Which leads me to my next point...

Blogger burnout is a real thing //

It definitely is an issue, even for part-time bloggers. This was a major factor into why my blog break was so long! While I was busy and adjusting to my new schedule here in Florida, honestly my biggest concern was that I didn't feel like blogging. I genuinely didn't feel like taking the time to sit down and pump out even one post. Blogger burnout is a real thing, and that's okay! You need to be able to relax once in awhile.

Self-care is a real thing //

I've seen many bloggers emphasize the importance of self-care (I love Summer's blog!), and it's so true! Many bloggers get so wrapped up in their blogs that they forget to step back, relax, and just take some time to recharge. A blogging break is one of the best times to do that, because you're not forced to go back to blogging any sooner than you want to.

Blogging is actual work //

Many non-bloggers don't understand the time and effort that goes into blogging. Even part-time blogging has many elements to it! With cutting my schedule down to two posts a week, there are still at least three or four days a week when I have to spend multiple hours on blog work to keep my posts consistent and worthy of the quality I want on my blog. Blogging is so much more than writing and publishing posts!

While taking a blog break can feel like you're giving up on your blog, it's really a chance for your to grow and bring better content to your blog in the future. If you're feeling burnout or just don't feel like you're putting your best content out there, I highly encourage considering a blog break of your own.

Have you ever taken a blog break? What did you learn from it? How do you feel about bloggers who take planned or unplanned breaks?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book Review: The Subtle Beauty

Hi everyone! I have a quick surprise post for you today. I normally don't post book reviews to this blog, as I have The Librarian's Bookshelf for that I try to keep my blogs separate. However recently I accepted a couple of review specifically for Keys to My Life, so I'm following through with that! I will have one more book review coming sometime next week or the week after, and then I will continue to separate my blogs. For now, enjoy a quick change from the norm!


The Subtle Beauty (Crowns of the Twelve #1) by Ann Hunter

Release Date: January 2, 2014
Publisher: Afterglow Productions
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Crowns of the Twelve
Format: eBook
Pages; 170
Buy It: Amazon
A cursed prince. A vain beauty. Glory is the seventh daughter of Balthazar, High King of the Twelve Kingdoms. Glory hopes that - of all her sisters - she can escape the fate of a loveless marriage. But on the night she plans to elope with the royal falconer, her world comes crashing down: Her father announces Glory's betrothal to Eoghan of the Blood Realm - a prince no one has ever seen. The prince is said to be a recluse, cursed and deformed by the gods for the sins of his power-hungry father. Yet when Glory is trapped in Blackthorn Keep she discovers that not everything is what she expected. An insulting gryphon, a persistent ghost, and a secret plan to usurp the prince keep Glory reeling. Can she overcome her vanity to learn that what you want isn’t necessarily what you need—and save the cursed prince?
I had a hard time getting into this book at first, because the backstory seemed out of place and hard to follow. Once the backstory was in place, the novel picks up quickly and you're pulled into the adventures of Glory and Colin, and their quest to find each other despite Glory's royal duties. There is not one, but two, unexpected twists towards the end of the story, that had me literally gasping while frantically reaching the end of the story. This story is a unique but well thought out retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and I'm excited to see where the rest of the series leads us.

I received this book free for review through Tomoson and the book publisher. I was not required to post a positive review, and the thoughts contained herein are my own.

Have you read this series yet? How do you feel about fairytale retellings?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

March Goals

Yes, I know it's halfway through March. But hey, never too late for monthly goals right? Because it is so late in the month, I am going to trim it down a little. Have to keep it realistic!

March Goals | Keys to My Life

February Re-Cap

Blog and Social Media Goals:

1. Create my e-mail opt-in. Fail. I now know what I want to do, but it will take some time.

2. Finish cleaning out Instagram follows. Again, fail.

3. Continue cleaning up Pinterest. This partially happened. I'm using Boardbooster now so that will help a little.

4. Work on scheduling blog weeks ahead of time to avoid cramming the night before. So obviously this didn't happen. Depression got the best of me and I couldn't get myself to blog. I'm putting myself on a regular schedule for this month so that should help!

Personal Goals:

1. Continue reading books, especially blog tour books. This actually happened! I finished a couple of books this last month, although I haven't done any reviews. But more books are coming!

2. Participate in as many housing and program events that my schedule allows. I did a lot of fun events this month! We had the welcome party event, where we had pizza and a dance party and all seven dwarves visited. We also got to do grocery bingo where we got two big bags of food!

3. Create a bucket list for my time here. This hasn't been started yet, but I'm working on it!

March Goals

Blog and Social Media Goals:

1. Set up my daily social media and blogging schedule, and stick to it. Now that I'm back into regular blogging, I also want to extend that to using all my social media regularly and interacting with my followers and other bloggers!

2. Actually finish cleaning up Instagram. I've been putting this off for how many months now?! I need to buckle down and do it.

3. Work on my opt-in/secret project. Yes! So my opt-in is connected to a project that I am keeping secret for now. (If you want a sneak peek, subscribe to my newsletter!) I hope to have it down by the end of next month!

Personal Goals:

1. Get caught up on my devotional and Bible reading. I'm not too far behind, so it shouldn't take much to catch up!

2. Find more park buddies for my days off. Because I spend my days off at home doing nothing but Netflix and Facebook, it really affects my moods. I just need to invite people!

What do you think of this months goals? Are they realistic considering March is half over?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

How I Celebrated My 25th Birthday at Walt Disney World

Hi everyone! As promised, I'm back! I will be tweaking my posting schedule, and only posting twice a week. Even with only around 33 hours a week, I'm often busy and exhausted which makes blogging hard. I definitely miss it though, so I'm trying to keep it up from here!

A couple of weeks ago, I turned 25! Nick and I both got the day off, and we spent all day in the parks doing whatever I wanted to do. We have lots of adventures, so here is a fun highlight!

How I Celebrated My 25th Birthday at Walt Disney World | Keys to My Life

We started off the day in EPCOT, trying to meet a few characters I hadn't seen yet. I was dressed head to toe as Anna, because she is my favorite, and who doesn't want to be their favorite princess on their birthday?! We ended up meeting with Mary Poppins and Belle, but who were perfect and were very genuine in their interactions! Belle was also excited to hear we were dining with the Beast for dinner and trying the "Grey Stuff", which is quite delicious. More on that later!


 

After walking around EPCOT for awhile, we headed to Magic Kingdom so Nick could finally see the day parade, Festival of Fantasy. I didn't take any pictures of the parade, but I will be vlogging it soon! After the parade we saw even more characters, including Marie, Mickey Mouse, Elsa, and of course, Anna. Anna was the BEST meet and greet I have had so far! She was super bubbly and personable, and she loved my dress so much that she suggested a picture with just her, as well as one with Nick added. She made my entire day!



Mickey was also great! When you meet Magician Mickey in Town Square Theater, he gains some of Tinkerbell's pixie dust and is able to talk to the guests that visit him. I was expecting him to talk, but I was not expecting him to SING Happy Birthday to me! That's right, Mickey can sing Happy Birthday! It was such a special surprise that I started tearing up. If you haven't had the chance to visit Magician Mickey, make it a priority!

Mickey singing me Happy Birthday took me by surprise - cue the tears!


 Finally, we were headed to the one place I had been looking forward to for months - Be Our Guest restaurant. I had booked dinner reservations for my birthday the day they opened, because I have always wanted to celebrate my birthday there!

I wish I had taken pictures of the outside, because it truly is amazing. Beast and Belle's castle sits high upon the hill overlooking Fantasyland, and you walk across a beautiful bridge and wait in the courtyard until you are ready to be seated. At this point, I was already crying a ridiculous amount! I just couldn't believe we were finally doing something I had to have on my Disney bucket list.

Once inside, the view takes your breath away. It looks just as if you had stepped into the movie - there is no other comparison. We were seated in the Grand Ballroom, which I mistakenly took no pictures of! Trust me when I say, it's far more perfect that you could imagine.

The neat thing about Be Our Guest is that they allow you, and even encourage you, to walk around the castle and explore! The other rooms we got to see were the West Wing and the Rose Courtyard. The Rose Courtyard was an extra room, like a lounge of sorts, and wasn't directly designed from the movie, however still beautiful. The West Wing was dark and mysterious and was exactly as you would expect. The detail everywhere was amazing! Even our napkins were roses.




Nick and I decided to share a meal, which was a great idea because dessert was delicious and took over our appetites. The food was good, but I'm a picky eater and I don't think it is something I would order again. Dessert was scrumptious though! Nick chose the Triple Chocolate Cupcake, which he loved, and I, of course, chose the Grey Stuff. It really is delicious, you can ask the dishes! It tastes like cookies and cream mousse, and is served on a chocolate brownie bar. Definitely worth it!


At the end we were fortunate enough to meet Beast, who is quite the gentleman, and take a few pictures with him. Afterwards I was so overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn't even stay for the fireworks! It was a more perfect birthday than I could have imagined.


I was hoping to vlog for my birthday adventures, but I'm still not 100% comfortable vlogging on my iPhone. I did vlog one day so far, but it may be awhile before I edit that vlog and upload it. I do hope to vlog more of my adventures, but for now I might just stick to blogging. I would love suggestions of what sorts of things you would like to see! I love having my own adventures, but I like trying new things too! Leave a comment or send me a message with your suggestions.

Have you visited some of these characters? Do you think Be Our Guest is worth it to you? How would you celebrate your birthday in the parks?



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What to Expect From Keys to My Life in the Coming Weeks

Hi friends! You may have noticed the absence of my vlog for Monday, and the delayed post for today. I have some important news about Keys to My Life for the next few months while I'm in Florida, which I'm sharing today.


I've only been in Florida for a week and a half now, but it's been busy. For the last five days I've been working 6-8 hour shifts which requires lots of walking and not a lot of sleep. I thought that based on my last program I would be able to continue balancing my blog with work and play. Unfortunately I've had no time to vlog, or even edit the little vlogging I've done, or research the blog posts I have planned.

On top of that, I've dealing with one of the worst bouts of depression in awhile - one that is causing me to doubt all of my friendships. Many of my friends are spending their days off in the parks - as they should - but it's often on days I am working so I feel lonely when I'm not able to go. My friends from back home don't have much communication with me, even the friends I would consider to be best friends, so when I'm home alone on days like today, the lonliness gets even worse.

So how am I going to deal with this, and keep my blog running? I'm not. I am taking a break from consistent 3x weekly blogging. Now that doesn't mean I won't continue to blog about my experiences in Florida, or do the occasional update. I definitely will, and I plan to continue vlogging during my adventures! But for now, I can't continue full-time blogging. It's mentally exhausting me and I can't add any other stress to what I'm already dealing with.

I could use some prayers and support. I'm going back and forth between sitting in my room watching Netflix alone all day, to working 8 hour shifts at a location that isn't what I was hoping for. (More on that later.) I just need to know there are people out there that still care about me and are thinking about me. I know I'm oversensitive right now, but any support I get helps. Thanks for continuing to follow my life and adventures!

Friday, February 5, 2016

How Depression and Anxiety Hamper Goal-Setting

I've mentioned before that my depression and anxiety can severely affect many aspects of my life, from personal, to work, to my faith. Today I'm going to talk a little bit about how my depression and anxiety affect goal-setting, but especially goal-setting for larger goals and projects.

How Depression and Anxiety Hamper Goal-Setting | Keys to My Life

It's only been the last few months that I've seriously started working on my blog as more than a hobby, and as a potential stream of income. However, with that focus has come a lot of extra goals to work towards. Those goals are often lofty goals, and I can get easily overwhelmed just thinking about them.

The biggest goal that my mental illnesses are currently affecting is our goal to get out of debt using Dave Ramsey's debt snowball method. We currently have almost $100,000 in debt from student loans, and for two 20-somethings with low-paying jobs, that's a lot of money we're throwing away each year in payments. How do I keep myself from becoming overwhelmed with these big goals? Here are some of my tips.

1. Break the goal into smaller chunks

It's easier to tackle a lofty goal if you break it into smaller chunks. For example, we're working on paying off the smallest loan first and moving forward from there, rather than putting a lot of extra money towards all of our loans at once.

2. Set a timeline for when certain benchmarks are completed

One of my blogging goals is to continue and grow my social media and blog following. In order to keep from getting overwhelmed by all the accounts I manage, I choose one or two a month to work on, and choose a number or percentage to grow by at the end of that month. It gives me something to work towards and keeps me from working at one goal for too long.

3. Have someone to keep you accountable on working towards those goals

One of the reasons I post my monthly goals each month is not only to have it written in front of me, but also so you, my readers, can keep me accountable with my goals each month! It keeps from me slacking, as well as getting to overwhelmed with the goals I set for myself.

My depression and anxiety can really kick me in the butt when it comes to getting stuff accomplished. That doesn't mean goal-setting is impossible, it just means I have to have a plan for my goals and work towards those goals each month.

How do you tackle goals? Do you find certain techniques work for you in goal-setting?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February Goals

Sorry for the late post today! We're officially in Florida and getting used to the weather and spending time with friends, and we got back fairly late last night. I will continue to keep posting, however!


January Re-Cap

Blog and Social Media Goals:

1. Grow my e-mail list. This didn't work as well as I'd hoped. I grew my list by 6 subscribers reaching 16 total subscribers, but I didn't hit the 30 I was hoping for.

2. Post 3x weekly. Done!

3. Clean up my Pinterest. This was an nightmare. I was cleaning up my blogging board one day at work and accidentally deleted THE ENTIRE BOARD. I seriously cried. So no, this isn't done. But it's in progress.

4. Clean up Instagram follows. I started the process of this, and am down about 200 follows. Still working on it though!

Personal Goals:

1. Continue reading in my spare time. I didn't do too much of this.

2. Finish purging and packing for Florida. Done, since we're in Florida!

3. Read our couple's devotional daily. While we didn't read it daily due to traveling, we are caught up and staying caught up!

February Goals

Blogging and Social Media Goals:

1. Create my e-mail opt-in. In order to continue to grow my list and send out exclusive additional content, I've been doing various e-mail list webinars for ideas. One big thing I hear everywhere is using an e-mail opt-in. I have a couple ideas in progress, I just need to work on them!

2. Finish cleaning out Instagram follows. I just need to do it.

3. Continue cleaning up Pinterest. I don't think I will finish going through it, but I want to continue.

4. Work on scheduling blog weeks ahead of time to avoid cramming the night before. Since my work schedule here will be all over the place, I don't want to be skimping on sleep or fun. I want to balance the blog and my life here!

Personal Goals:

1. Continue reading books, especially blog tour books. I have been accepting a couple of books for review back on The Librarian's Bookshelf, so I need to continue reading those books.

2. Participate in as many housing and program events that my schedule allows. I didn't do many events in my last program, and I want to change that!

3. Create a bucket list for my time here. It's started, but I need to finish it.

What do you think about this month's goals? Do you have any similar goals?