Once the Happiest Place on Earth, Always the Happiest Place on Earth

Her Campus

Originally posted on March 8th, 2017 on Her Campus UCF.

I was recently asked by my dad if the magic ever goes away for me. As an annual pass holder for the Walt Disney World resort, it’s easy to believe that weekly trips to the parks could minimize how special this place is to my heart. Yet this question really made me think. How could the most magical place on earth ever lose value? Does the magic go away as you get older? Will there ever be a day that I enter the park without a smile on my face?

The answer is no. Disney is more than just a vacation destination for me. Disney is my happy place, where I can be free to express myself and my love for all things whimsical. Am I a kid at heart? No, not really. Yet when I enter the gates, all my worries go away.

As arguably the most popular tourist destination in the world, most everyone has had their favorite memory that they can reflect on from one of their trips to the house of mouse. Families will shell out thousands of dollars after years of saving up in order to experience this glorified amusement park, and continue to repeat this cycle year after year. What makes this park so special that it keeps bringing guests back even after they have done everything?

The memories, the laughter, the escape from reality. All the most popular reasons guests give for returning to this magical place. The Disney company prides itself on exemplary guest service that sparks interest for guests to come back year after year. There’s just something magical about walking under the train station on Main Street USA and getting the first glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle whether it’s your first time there or your hundred and first time.

As you walk through all the lands, you become part of the story as you interact with your favorite characters and explore their reality. It becomes your reality for a moment and you share a bond with those surrounding you. Each ride you step foot on transports you to your favorite world as you are blown away with magic involved in making these dreams a reality. Every step you take brings you closer to a new adventure, and not a day goes by without a huge smile plastered across your face.

That’s what’s so special about this kingdom. No matter how many times I ride Space Mountain, I will always walk off excited to ride it again. No matter how many Mickey ice cream bars I ate, I will never get sick of the chocolate coated vanilla ice cream on a stick. No matter how many times I meet Goofy, I will never fail to run into his arms for the biggest embrace in the world. No matter how many times I watch the fireworks, I will never fail to belt out “WISHES!” at the top of my lungs. There’s something there that makes every experience a magical moment.

Yes, pass holders and cast members get the luxury of being able to go to the parks on a daily basis, but does the repetitiveness minimize the magic? Not in the slightest. I am extremely fortunate to be able to spend so much time in such a magical place, and I hope someday to be able to be part of the magical team responsible for making this place so inviting. Walt didn’t just create a vacation destination, he created a home. And to all who come to this happy place, welcome!

xoxo,

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25 Pieces of Advice That Will Change Your Life

Her Campus

Originally posted on February 16th, 2017 on Her Campus UCF.

I was recently told the most life changing piece of advice, that I have included down below, that truly changed my outlook on how I view things. After hearing this, I gained a more positive outlook on life and started to wonder, what other words of wisdom are out there to explore. So I set out to discover what advice others have given or received that has changed their life, and the results captivated me in a way I never knew possible. So here are twenty-five of the most unique outlooks on life, and hopefully some of them change yours as well.

“If you want to be outstanding, you have to live an outstanding life.”

-Kyle M, 20

 “‘Life is short.’ That simple saying has had a huge impact on my life, especially where I am at this point. Ever since those words were said, I have had a new perspective on life. It’s such a simple thing to say, and many people use it as an excuse to do stupid things, but I believe it means so much more than that. Don’t live a life full of regrets and “what-ifs”. Wanna have desert? Have dessert. Wanna make new friends? Put yourself out there. Life is SHORT.”

-Julia F, 18

 “Not everyone you lose is a loss.”

-Ashley W, 18

 “As student body president, I gave the incoming freshman a piece of advice I wish someone had given me when I was a freshman. I told them to not be afraid of failure because the fear of failure can paralyze people and keep them from doing big things.”

-Will S, 19

 “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

-Anna D, 19

“Do as much as you can because you’ll never know your full potential until you reach failure.”

-Josh E, 18

“Whatever is meant to happen, will happen.”

-Samantha Y, 20

 “’Don’t deny yourself the simple pleasures.’ I’m not sure where that originated or how it got into my brain but ever since that piece of advice got itself lodged in the back of my head, I’ve been a lot happier. I don’t deny myself the candy bar in the grocery checkout line or the walks to the mailbox on nice bays. I’ve lived my life very happy and relatively stress free with that saying in my head.”

-Jess R, 20

“We will have faith in you, as long as you have faith in yourself.”

-Megan P, 19

“Don’t forget to floss. Wash your face every night. Be the nicest person in the room. When you think of something nice to do, do it! Don’t delay, just do it, regardless of how it’s recognized or received.”

-Rebecca S

 “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”

-Hunter L, 22

“When I was going through a prolonged period of trying to change career paths, a number of promising leads appeared but dried up. This went on for a while and the sense of just not knowing where I would end up was taking a toll. My sister said to me, ‘Just think about where you are now and the work you are doing. Five years ago, you couldn’t have imagined doing any of it. It wasn’t even on your horizon and yet here you are. I have no doubt that five years in the future you will be doing work that right now you can’t even imagine and it will be great.’ Somehow taking the long term perspective was enough to get me through the interim churn and frustration. And she was right!”

-Lisa B

“Don’t f*ck up.”

-Hallie B, 18

 “Don’t let the day run you, you have to run your day!”

-Gabriella M, 18

“Whenever you are upset or angry about something, try to think about whether or not it will matter a year from now. It really puts things in perspective and helps you get back to being happy quicker!”

-Claire J, 20

“Six months might seem like a long time right now, but years down the road when you look back on yourself, it will feel like nothing. Don’t miss out on any opportunities right now because you are scared of missing out on six months of your life. Just because it’s not part of ‘your plan’, doesn’t mean it’s something worth losing. Take everything that is handed to you, because you’re only young once and you don’t want to look back and wonder ‘what if’.”

-Lena D, 18

 “Thank the people who have hurt you in the past because they are the reason you are so strong today!”

-Alexa I, 20

“Measure your own success and have a rich and wealthy life. Don’t worry about the material things. What really matter at the end is to be rich with love, surrounded by a loving family, and a wealth of loving friends!”

-Anonymous

 “You owe yourself the love you give to give to everyone else.”

-Samantha Y, 20

“Recognize yourself in your overall personal goals.”

-Brennan V, 18

“Another woman’s beauty is not the absence of your own.”

-Shannon L, 23

 “I’m about to graduate from college and, naturally, have spent some time throughout my years struggling with school. I usually always try to get A’s but sometimes that doesn’t happen and it usually devastates me. In my last conversation with my favorite relative, my great-uncle Wayne, before he passed away, he said, “Just get the degree!” That feels especially relevant right now in the middle of midterms of this quarter!”

-Cayenne E, 22

“Spend money on experiences, not objects.”

-Julia T, 18

 “Focus on making yourself proud of you.”

-Justin J, 18

 “Knowledge is the most important thing in life- You can never learn too much about anything, ever. The second most important thing is fashion.”

-Nicole W, 18

xoxo,

One Year of Happiness, New Opportunities, and Sub-par Satire

BLOG, Reflections

Happy Birthday to me..er this blog!! It’s crazy that just 52 weeks ago, I sat down with a laptop and an idea, and completely changed my life. A lot has happened in a year; I’ve experimented with many different styles of writing, looks of the web-face, and content to upload, but I couldn’t be happier with where this blog is now and all the the things to come in the future.

When I started my blog, I wasn’t sure how dedicated I would be. I had an idea, but like most, I spent a week devoting all my time to it, and thought it would fall into the void, aka where all my unfinished projects go to die. But I surprised myself with this baby, and I was able to maintain it which surprised myself more than anyone. So here we are with my 52nd post and I’m amazed.

Originally titled Chasing Myself, I had an idea to document my life through one of the craziest and excited times. My transition from high school to college was an incredible one, and provided lots to elaborate on. I truly was chasing myself and chasing my dreams. As the year progressed, I was able to catch up to my dreams, which is an incredible feeling, but left me in a predicament with my blog’s title. Ah, a major millennial crisis. Luckily I came up with an ingenious solution, my name. I know, I know, how does she do it? And thus Lena Dani was born and harbored to hold all of my creative juices.

If you would have asked me a year ago if I thought I were a writer, I would have laughed in your face. But after spending a summer jotting down ironic sentences about my uneventful life, I started to gain confidence in myself. It gave me the motivation to apply to write for an online campus magazine, Her Campus UCF, that is now one of the most important activities in my life. I was able to experiment with different subjects and topics and write about things that other people could relate to. It even inspired me to declare a minor in the Mass Communications field, so that I can use my hobby to help my career.

Creating this blog a year ago changed me for the better. In addition to opening up countless doors, it gave me something to be excited about. Writing has become my number one stress reliever, and running this blog has been extremely therapeutic for me. I’ve been able to meet so many cool people who also love what I love and bounce inspiration off of each other.

Yeah, I might not have a following of thousands praising my every word, but the handful of people those who do read my writing and support me show so much love. I might not take over the internet with my record breaking views on each article, but if I can make at least one person proud, even if that person is myself, I’ve succeeded.

I can’t wait to see what the future brings for both this blog, and the other internet outlets I have branched into to share my work. It’s been an amazing year, and I want to extend more thanks than you could ever imagine to those of you who do read my work. You mean the world to me, and thanks for sticking through the hundreds of typos. I would say “I love Lena Dani” but that sounds a tish narcisistic, so I’ll just end with “I love my blog and I love my fans!”

xoxo,

Fall in Love With the Word “Love”

Her Campus

Originally posted on February 7th, 2017 on Her Campus UCF.

The word “love” is often feared due to the pressure of emotional attachment. Most would agree that the only thing scarier than falling in love, is finding out that you are not loved back. But what does that mean exactly? Well to one person, it might mean that the guy they’ve been crushing on doesn’t have mutual feelings. For others, it might mean that no matter how much time and effort they put into a friendship, it might not be reciprocated. On the contrary, it could be less severe and mean that the puppy you’ve been admiring in the park wants no part of your attention.

Each of these scenarios lead to drastic changes in how it affects your mood. These downers could last from minutes to months, depending on the weight of the situation. That lead me to wonder why. Why do all of these situations inquire unique changes in one’s mood if they are all based on love? It’s because love is one of the most powerful emotions in existence, and holds the ability to manipulate feelings in thousands of different ways. Simply, no two loves are the same.

If you asked me my opinion on love six months ago, I would have broken down in tears. Fresh out of my first relationship, I was convinced that the two years I spent in it were all fraud. But time goes on and people change, and the growth made is the most important thing that could happen. Two and a half years ago, my best friend at the time turned into my first boyfriend. Still awkward teenagers, fresh out of puberty, our 14 and 15 year-old selves didn’t know what we were getting into. We made mistakes, and we fixed them, but we never knew how to love.

“Love” was a term that we tossed around like a softball, letting it come up whenever and as often as possible. It seemed sweet and endearing, and was always the perfect phrase to use to solve all of our arguments. Yet because of this, its meaning got smaller and smaller with every use. There is nothing wrong with expressing emotion, but throwing it around in the wrong context gave it a new meaning to us. The word holds such a power that is deserves much, much more than this.

I do believe I was in love during my first relationship. We cared about each other and were each other’s best friends. Yet every love is different and I would not use the same word to compare my previous relationship and my current one. As I have grown in the past three years, I have brought the word “love” on the journey with me. Each love is different, as the word holds such a powerful position in society. I love puppies. I love Disney World. I love my family. I love my friends. But I don’t love them all in the same way. It’s incredible that such a term has been used to compare passion towards a human being, as well as a favorite food. Which leads me to believe that the word is one that is ever changing.

I was happily in love in my past relationship at the time. I am happily in love in my current relationship now. Yet these two loves are the farthest things from similar. The love I felt in the past is nowhere near as raw and as emotional as the love I feel now, yet that doesn’t invalidate how I felt in a specific moment 15 months ago. Maybe it’s a factor of time, but I’m a firm believer in the evolution of vocabulary.

The love your best friend shows to their boyfriend is a different love that they show you, yet the power the word holds remains equivalent. Love is powerful and everyone is lucky enough to experience it in it’s different forms each and every day. Don’t let the stigma of the word scare you from expressing your true feelings towards anything and everything. Love your pet. Love your favorite pasta dish. Love your grandmother. Love your fuzzy socks. Love your kindergarten teacher. Love your boyfriend or girlfriend. Love yourself. But most importantly, don’t be scared of the word “love”. It’s powerful, but you hold the right to acknowledge it in whichever means necessary to fall in love with the word “love”.

xoxo,

Gloomy Day, Bright Art

TRAVEL

How can you tell that it’s time for the Three Rivers Arts Festival? Wait for the rainiest week in June!

Yesterday Josh and I ventured out into the pouring rain to take in one of my favorite events in Pittsburgh, the Three Rivers Arts Festival. Here’s the lowdown: 10 days of free art and music with over a hundred booths set up by local artists. Oh yeah, and the most important part is all the amazing food you can get! I try to go at least once every year (and even wrote about last year’s adventure here) so I’m super excited to share what I encountered this year!

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Like I said, it was super gloomy and rainy, which didn’t make for the ideal weather. But luckily we are used to Florida, and have learned not to melt in the rain. Plus, this cute art exhibit doubled as protection from the treacherous downpour that was happening around us.


As we made it to the food, the sun came out and provided a perfect afternoon for us. I dropped way too much money on tater tots, but what else is new? I’m pretty sure my meal weighed at least five pounds, so that’s worth it in my book!

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We ventured down to the Point to take some quick pictures before heading back to take in the amazing talent. (Speaking of talent, look how cool these photos turned out! Josh’s photography game is strong.)


It’s not an arts festival if you don’t drop a lot of money, so I made sure to pick something up as a keepsake!

I hope to make it back down once more before it ends this weekend so I can snab some coveted deep fried Oreos and overpriced festival lemonade!

Until next time!

xoxo,