Success and Leadership Lessons Learned from The Wisdom of Walt {Book Review}

Success and Leadership Lessons Learned from The Wisdom of Walt {Book Review}

I was given a copy of The Wisdom of Walt by the author in exchange for an honest review. No further compensation was made and all opinions are 100% mine. This post contains affiliate links.

Cover image © Jeffrey Barnes / TheWisdomofWalt.com Cover image © Jeffrey Barnes / TheWisdomofWalt.com

It is often heard that “it was all started by a Mouse.” I slightly beg to differ, because the drive, passion and perseverance of moving forward (not to mention the Mouse himself), was started by a man – Walter Elias Disney.

Disney was born with the great ability to dream and take action. These are just a few of his traits that I admire most. When I first heard of this book, I knew I needed to read it and share it with all of you. I have a propensity to gravitate towards all things about Walt Disney, so I’m very grateful to have received a copy of this book, and it even arrived with a note from the author.

This book was written by, Jeffrey Barnes, also known as Dr. Disneyland. He teaches a college course: The History of Disneyland, at Cal Baptist in Riverside, CA. I will tell you now that Barnes’ story of survival alone is one that will inspire you, and he shares it within the page of his book. You’ll need to get his book to hear how his failures led to success. Oh! One fun fact for my extreme Disney fans is that the foreword was written by Garner Holt and Bill Butler, as in Garner Holt Productions (think audio-animatronics). The foreword definitely set the tone for the awesome experience that I had waiting for me.

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The Wisdom of Walt: Leadership Lessons from the Happiest Place on Earth is a book that will keep you inspired, motivated, and seeking more from life. It pushed me to write my goals for success onto paper, to think of necessary actions to execute my vision, and made me realize that there is a lot of wisdom to gain when we look at what Walt experienced, and how he became successful.

When I first started the book, I was so anxious to take notes, but initially I didn’t want to write within the pages. I mean, this is a really high-quality book with a hardcover, and gorgeous jacket. Eventually, I couldn’t help it and by the middle of chapter one, I was already highlighting, starring, and taking notes within the pages.

Let me share a few sentiments from the book, but then I highly encourage you to pick up your own copy!l


“Vision is the extension of the ability to dream.”
– Jeffrey Barnes, 
The Wisdom of Walt


This was my first little nugget of wisdom found. I think that as dreamers we aren’t always taken seriously. I mean, look at Walt. With Disneyland, his grandest dream of all, he could not find anyone to back his vision. Look at Disneyland today. If Walt didn’t create a vision from his dream of a place for his daughters and so many other children and families to have, the world would be a little less bright. However, even with hearing the doubters, we must press on. We create the vision and we make them believe. Another relevant sentiment about dreams and vision that Jeff shares, is that we must treat our dreams like we treat our children, because they don’t raise themselves. Isn’t that so true?


Master the four C’s: Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy


With anything in life, those four C’s can be relevant. But with the mindset of leadership and progress, they are crucial.

Curiosity should never end. We should be curious about everything, we should push boundaries to understand things and that helps others to do the same. Being curious might seem ridiculous for grown adults, but I tell you it is not. I feel that the example of my curiosity paves the way for my kids to be curious themselves.

Confidence – It goes without saying, but how will you bring your dreams and visions to fruition if you are too scared? Don’t be afraid to fail. Be confident in your skill set and ability to keep learning and growing to get better. Be confident in knowing that “beyond a shadow of a doubt, that regardless of how your risk turns out, you will, in fact, be okay.”

Courage is not always easy and no one ever said it would be. Being courageous must be a conscious choice. It’s moving forward, moving past the stuff that wants to keep you paralyzed in fear. When there is a lot at risk, it’s hard to convince others to believe in you and your dreams. And sometimes, the hardest person you have to convince is yourself. But be consciously courageous, because you and miss out on the thrills of success.

Constancy – As the book states, “Excellence is a habit.” We know this from Aristotle, we know it from Disney, we can see it with Disneyland. There’s a reason that businesses from all over the world take tidbits of magic from Disney’s examples on leadership, guest service, and entertainment. “Disneyland always shows up.” If anything, this should be a shining example on how to lead – we must show up, whether we want to or not.


“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious – and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
– Walt Disney


Look who I ran into at D23 Expo 2015!  Look who I ran into at D23 Expo 2015!

Well, this is a book that will remain in my library and one that I’ll share with the future employees of my own empire (see what I did there? I, too, have a vision). My favorite parts were the Souvenir Stops at the end of each chapter, they really get you thinking and planning. There’s so much more packed into this book than I could ever completely write about, but know it’s 18 chapters and reads easily, you’ll laugh, dream and plan. You can choose to read a chapter a day or a few a day. But make sure to do the Souvenir Stop because that’s where you’ll apply the lessons to your own life.

What are you waiting for? Take action, and go make your dreams a reality.


“Deciding to do something is not the same as actually doing it.”
– Jeffrey Barnes, The Wisdom of Walt


You can order the Kindle version for $5.99 from Amazon or $24.95 (plus shipping) for the gorgeous hardcover book, directly from TheWisdomofWalt.com through Paypal!

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Thank you again, Jeff, for adding such magic to my library. I wish you continued success!

Eating Healthy and #GlutenFree at Denny’s

Eating Healthy and #GlutenFree at Denny’s

One of the downfalls of having a food allergy is that in smaller towns, usually there are less options for dining out. For our family, though, we typically don’t eat out, so this doesn’t affect me as much as it does for others. Thankfully, I have found ways to eat semi-healthy and remain pain free when eating out. One restaurant that has been really accommodating is our local Denny’s. 

When I first started this ambassadorship with Denny’s, I knew it would be a great opportunity to take the kids out as a family or on special dates to experience America’s beloved diner. Little did I know that I’d actually have quite a bit of options myself, being allergic to gluten and attempting to have a fairly healthy eating lifestyle. 

The Fit Fare Menu

One of my favorite features of Denny’s healthier eating initiative is the Fit Fare menu.

Did you know that there are over 250 ways to Build-Your-Own Grand Slam®? Plus, there are four special categories (and you’ll see cute little colored heart symbols for each) on the Fit Fare® menu:

  • Lean – 15g of fat or less
  • Light – 550 calories or less
  • Protein – 20g or more
  • Fiber –  8g or more

If you’re watching your fat intake or wanting to increase your protein and/or fiber intake, having these options are necessary and convenient. Some menu items will have a couple of symbols attached to its nutritional value, others will have

Typically, I order just sides instead of entrees, or I will eat something before we go out as a family or on a date. But with the array of menu items, I am happy to say that I now eat full entrees when we hit the town. 

I’m really looking forward to my next Denny’s date because I will be ordering the Fit Slam® from the Fit Fare® menu. The Fit Slam® consists of scrambled egg whites, spinach and grape tomatoes, bacon, seasonal fruit, and English muffins. I’m extremely excited to announce that some Denny’s diners do offer gluten-free English muffins and they’ll pair perfectly with the Fit Slam®!

We know that Denny’s offers breakfast all day, which is awesome, and on days that I don’t necessarily want to eat a heavy dinner, I think having the option for a light breakfast-type meal for dinner is not only versatile, but my body feels so much better after eating.

Another meal I’m looking forward to trying is the Cranberry Apple Chicken Salad. << YUM>> A delicious breakfast alternative, this will be a delightful lunch or dinner date meal. I don’t really make salads at home, my kids don’t eat them as much as they do other veggie dishes, so I usually reserve salads for when I eat out. 

There are eight (8) menu items, plus an additional one for the senior population, on the Fit Fare® menu. When you add in the many ways to enjoy your own Grand Slam®, you really can’t go wrong! I’m excited to be a partner with an organization that is making steps to increase a healthier eating style for those that want it. Having options is always better, and in the end it does increase consumer loyalty because I know that when I am out of town, I can count on Denny’s to have food items that fit within my family’s food lifestyle.

Make sure to follow me on Instagram and twitter, that’s where I share all of my eating fun, on-the-go!

I am a member of Denny’s Ambassador Council, and while this post has been sponsored and I have been compensated, all thoughts and opinions are mine. I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences with my family at Denny’s! 

Film Review: Disney’s Tomorrowland Hits the Heart

Film Review: Disney’s Tomorrowland Hits the Heart

If there’s anything that I took from Walt Disney Studio’s “Tomorrowland” film, aside from the idea that believing, dreaming and taking action to DO SOMETHING is important, it’s that as dreamers we need to stick together.

Dreaming and goal-setting at times can be lonely if you don’t find likeminded people to share in your vision. I can only go on personal experience, but more often than not, I tend to “rally the troops” and get everyone excited about a dream or goal. It’s fun! It’s also can be exhausting. However, I do not see it any other way; I love encouraging and inspiring others. I’m so grateful to have a few dreamers in my life, and a very supportive realist in my husband, haha. He keeps me grounded enough, but doesn’t ever dare clip my fairy wings. 🙂

Being a dreamer and visionary myself, I tend to gravitate towards like-minded people. I want to see the good, I want to solve the problems. The idea that magic is around every corner, dreams are waiting to come true, and hard work and dedication towards a dream & goal will pay off in the end is what I live by… it’s what I hope to inspire others to do, too.

Tomorrowland | Image © Disney Studios

The film was wonderfully done. A person that isn’t a huge Disney fan (heaven help you) would still love it and relate. In fact, the film isn’t about even about Tomorrowland in Disneyland Resort, even though there are some visual references to that magical place that made me smile. You do see the 1964 World’s Fair and we do get to “ride” on my favorite attraction, “it’s a small world.”

I’ll also tell you now – I LOVED the film. The entire cast was amazing, but I really loved the character Casey (played by Britt Robertson). Her spunky outlook on life, vibrant spirit, always looking at the glass being full, and never wanting to give in to the idea of impossible, is so inspiring. We need more people in the world like Casey, Athena (Raffey Cassidy), and Frank (George Clooney). While Frank started out with a similar positive outlook on life, eventually his ideas and heart were worn down to give up. He was hurt and his guard went up. The fact that he is introduced to Casey through Athena, and there is a flicker of possibility and hope again, reminds him of “what could be” and that things don’t have to remain the same –especially if we believe we can change them.

So, what is Tomorrowland?

Well, in the film, it’s a magical place. A secret society of sorts; a place where scientists and artists came together to create a better world.

Tomorrowland | Image courtesy © Walt Disney Pictures Image courtesy © Walt Disney Pictures

How do you get there?

It’s complicated, but having that special pin helps, in the beginning. The idea that a place where innovation, creativity, and imagination collide, makes pretty much anything possible.

What is Tomorrowland in real life?

Aside from being a magical land at Disneyland Resort, It’s basically a state of mind. It’s a place where there is always forward thinking, progression, and never settling. We should be working towards a better tomorrow. How will we shape the future, today?

Anything is Possible

In the film, I laughed, I cried, I was amazed and left wishing that this place was real. To be surrounded by genius and possibility, well the idea is thrilling. Brad Bird and David Lindelof created a world that we secretly (or not so secretly) hope exists. I am still at a loss on how to fully describe the film with words because I felt SO MUCH. I’ll be honest, the movie was deep and it might not hit the same chords if you are not a dreamer. But I hope it inspires you to look at being the change around you and maybe some inspiration will rub off on you!

I appreciated the storyline and that at some point, even with all the positivity and inspiration that Casey gave to everyone around her, including herself, there was a scene that she begins to doubt – even if just for a little bit. Why? Because it’s normal. And the beautiful thing is when an optimist has even a sliver of a doubt, it tends to bring out the optimism in another person to help pick the up and remind them of the possibilities that lie ahead. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with positive people. It helps you to help others when they need it most. You never know who needs a good word or deed.

Tomorrowland | Image courtesy © Walt Disney Pictures Image courtesy © Walt Disney Pictures

Grow Your Mind & Tribe

Never settle. You know the old saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way?” Well it’s true. What are you dreaming towards and what goals have you set to get there? Write it down. And then make a plan to figure it out. Sure, it won’t necessarily be a smooth path, and it might evolve over time but you have to remember that it’s also about the journey.

Don’t stop learning and always seek to challenge your mind! When Casey finds out about the pending doom of the world, her question is always “what are we going to do to fix it?” That’s the mindset we need to be in to see a better future for ourselves and the world in general. We need more fixers, we need more believers that see opportunity.

People make dreams a reality. Find your tribe of like minded people that will push you, encourage you, give a different perspective. If you’re not finding a lot in “real life,” there are great groups on Facebook for pretty much any industry – remember you are not alone. You can find local creative groups or industry groups and network with others. We all have to work together for a common goal – a better future.

One last thing about Frank (Clooney). When he cried, I cried. His story was so REAL and touching. The hope, loss, and love portrayed in the film… it was phenomenal. That is all. Go see it!

If you haven’t seen the film, I highly suggest you take time to see it in theaters! I give it a thumbs up with a boatload of pixie dust, it was so good. What are you looking towards most with the film? If you’ve seen it, what did you take away? Would love to hear your thoughts! 🙂 

Spread Magic

Disclaimer: As a member of the press, I received a complimentary screening of this film. No other compensation was given. All reviews are 100% my opinion and always magical.

Keep up with Tomorrowland online:

Like TOMORROWLAND on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyTomorrowland 

Follow Disney Pictures on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyPictures

Visit the official TOMORROWLAND website: www.Disney.com/Tomorrowland

Taste Guru’s Gluten Free Goodies!

Taste Guru’s Gluten Free Goodies!

Friends! This post is sponsored by Taste Guru. I am a Taste Guru Ambassador and was sent a voucher to redeem this awesome box of heaven from them, in order to share my opinions on the subscription service and its contents. As with all of my reviews, they are 100% my opinion and always magical. 

The trend for the past few years has been with subscription box services. From makeup to clothing, razors and gamer goods, to food/treats, we can pay a monthly fee to have special items curated either on our behalf, or to the consumer market as a whole. What I love about this is the surprise of what is in the box! It’s like Christmas every month! 

Finding gluten free snacks is a lot easier now than when I was first diagnosed with having a gluten allergy in 2010. Fast forward to five years later, and today gluten free is EVERYWHERE. However, living in a smaller town, scarcity almost always equals more expensive. I can find some goodies at Trader Jo’s, Raley’s and Safeway, but it’s so nice to have them delivered to our home!

I was so excited to try out Taste Guru because the box is 100% gluten free! This specific box was absolutely amazing. I am excited to have snacks to take while I am on campus after lecture, and it was pretty easy to add them into my meal plans for the day. Seriously, snacks are delicious! 

There are four options in getting a little bit of magic to your doorstep!

Having a box delivered to you chock-full of treats gives you chance to try new brands and explore options that might now be available at your local store. Just one box gave me over 5 new brands to check out; my favorite things were the Yum Earth Sour Jelly Beans, ips chips, and the better batter brownies! 

I can’t wait to share more goodies soon! 

Under the Sea with The Walt Disney Legacy Collection

Under the Sea with The Walt Disney Legacy Collection

Disclosure: I received the Little Mermaid Legacy Collection CD as a member of the Entertainment New Media Network.  No further compensation was received and all opinions are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links.

Disclosure: I received the Little Mermaid Legacy Collection CD as a member of the Entertainment New Media Network.  No further compensation was received and all opinions are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links.

Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: The Little Mermaid

“Life under the sea is better than anything they’ve got up there.” – Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

No truer words have been spoken, especially if you’re a sea faring, mermaid wanna-be. I was around 8 years old when The Little Mermaid film was released to the world. Ariel was my favorite Disney Princess at the time, and Ursula is my favorite villainess of all time. I’m pretty sure that my alter ego is based on her coldness. It doesn’t come out often, but I do tend to have the same sarcastic wit, I’m sure that’s where I got it from. I can still sing along to the movie as if I were in the 80’s. I’m sure my kids are thinking they are “poor unfortunate souls” when I get to jamming with my Disney music. C’est la vie! 

Nothing like a nice quiet evening, enjoying warm cocoa with my favorite Ursula cup from the Disney Store and listening to my new cd!

Nothing like a nice quiet evening, enjoying warm cocoa with my favorite Ursula cup from the Disney Store and listening to my new cd!

Well, I am happy to share my thoughts and love for the film but especially for the music that makes the film! AND, keep reading because I am also happy to share that I’m hosting a giveaway and Walt Disney Records will be providing a special copy to one of YOU! But, if you’re already loving what I have to say so far, you can just purchase your own copy of Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: The Little Mermaid now and if you win, hey, you can always have a cool gift on hand for that special Disney music lover in your life!

Happy 25th Anniversary to this beloved Disney classic!

Ariel is bold, courageous, curious ,and paved the way for independence for us as little girls. In some circles, Ariel was seen as a “rebellious” role model and she quickly was banned in some homes. However, gratefully my parents allowed me to watch and sing and dream. I must also say that Prince Eric was my first crush. Is it surprising that today I am now happily married to a dark-haired man that loves water (he used to be a diver)? Probably not. Ha!

I think that the entire story of Ariel encompasses one of finding yourself, being happy with who and where you are, and taking risks for not just love, but living a life that you want. There are morals in the story for both children and parents, like pretty much every Disney film… ever. 

My favorite bonus, aside from the gorgeous presentation and cover art, is that there are two discs. Disc One has original songs and score of the entire film. It’s like listening to the movie, and if you’re like me, you can probably quote the dialogue within the songs. Disc Two has bonus content and includes 12 songs with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s demos, work tapes and mockups. These are really awesome to hear, especially if you are a lover of the behind-the-scene workings of written composition and the process of creating music. I love hearing the composers and writers singing their own songs. My favorite demo is probably when Howard and Alan sing ‘Daughters of Triton.’ 

Extra bonus? If you’re a fan that loves to sing along, the beautiful cover includes a 20-page collectible booklet with the lyrics! Score!

Can you name Ariel’s six sisters? 🙂 – Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Atina, Adella, and Allana! 

Check out the video below of Oscar® Winning Composer, Alan Menken, discussing Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: The Little Mermaid!

Disney Music Emporium

Walt Disney Records recently launched its newest website, Disney Music Emporium (DME) at www.disneymusicemporium.com, where guests can purchase collectible music items, including the Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection, a line that celebrates the anniversaries of Disney’s most beloved and cherished classic films that have had a lasting legacy throughout the years.  

You can follow DME on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DisneyMusicEmporium and via their Twitter account @DisneyMusicEmp.  

THE GIVEAWAY!

Please note: If it comes to this blogger’s attention that the winner of this giveaway has won on an additional blog for this same prize, this blog reserves the right to choose another winner.

1. COMMENT BELOW with your favorite song from The Little Mermaid!

2. Click the link above!
Clicking the above link will send you to the giveaway tab on Sparks of Magic’s Facebook page, where all entries will be conducted through woobox.com. Winner will be chose at random on January 15, 2015. Prize will be sent directly from Walt Disney Records within 4-6 weeks of winning.

My MacBook Air Got #RESPECKED

My MacBook Air Got #RESPECKED

If you know me, you know that I love my Apple products. As a graphic designer, using a Mac is just a way of life. I have Apple’s 13″ MacBook Air laptop and I LOVE it. It’s one of my most prized possessions. Using my Air helps me express my creative mind and provide for my family; it is a huge part of how I earn my livelihood. We all have tools for our work-life that are precious and my laptop is just that. It makes a lot of sense to take precautions and protect them any way possible.

Enter the Speck® SmartShell™ MacBook Air Cover. I’ve had this specific cover on my Air for a couple of months and you can see normal signs of wear and tear, but it’s held up really well. Mind you, my laptop probably goes through a little more rough love since my children also use it for school, gaming, and {Eek} tossing it to Mommy on the sofa! My Air resides in whatever purse I choose to carry for the day. It’s mingled in with my planner, sunglasses, countless amounts of pens, mints, kids socks, LEGO™ toys, keys, makeup.. you name it, it’s probably been in my purse.

Here are a few things that I love about the Speck® SmartShell™:

1) Color!!! It’s in “Mykonos Blue.” While I love silver and grey, and I think the beauty of Apple’s products are unparalleled… I also love a pop of color, specifically those reminiscent of relaxing blues, aquas, and the ocean (even though I have no desire to jump in). Bonus? The name alone reminds me that one day I want to go to Greece. This specific SmartShell™ (for the 13″ Air) comes in 14 different colors!

2) It’s sheer. You see the gorgeous Apple logo lit up through the cover. This makes me happy. I can’t even see the logo since it’s on the opposite side, but knowing that it is shining bright makes me happy.

3) Easy on, Easy off. Snapping the case on and off to wipe my computer down has been simple. Speck® recommends that you remove the case once a month to wipe it down to prevent debris build up. Let’s face it, dust happens.

4) Great Protection. Even though the cover gets a few scratches here and there, it protects my baby. This Air is the product of hard work and determination, I want to keep it pretty forever, or as long as possible. The SmartShell™ is made of durable polycarbonate, and is comprised of a two-piece hardshell.

5) Lightweight. The cover doesn’t add bulk to my Air and it is very form fitting. Score! 🙂

6) Port Access. All of my USB, Thunderbolt, and Charging ports are free and open. My headphones fit great, no issues with accessing any plug in devices. 

Oh gosh, did I mention the color? Haha. I can’t get over it. I seriously want everything in Mykonos Blue.  You also should take note that the  Speck® SmartShell™ is backed by a one year warranty, and if you purchase it through their website, you have a 30-Day Unconditional Guarantee. 

I’m really excited to share what Speck® will be offering during the holiday season. Make sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to see the latest Specktacular deals only available through speckproducts.com

About Speck®

Speck is an award-winning leader of mighty slim protective cases for the world’s top smartphones, tablets, and laptops. From iPad cases and iPhone cases to Samsung Galaxy cases and everything in between, we design cases that are slim, good looking and most importantly, the most effective protection possible. Our roots are in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the intersection of design and technology, inspiring forward-thinking innovation to craft masterfully engineered and patented designs. Our design philosophy delivers the best looking and most effective slim protection because we believe protection doesn’t need to be ugly, nor bulky. It’s all in the details; we create our cases to enable you to go more places and enjoy more from your mobile devices. 

Disclaimer: I was given a Speck® SmartShell™ for reviewing purposes. No further compensation was given. All opinions are 100% mine, and I hope that they’ve added a little bit of magic to your day. MacBook Air is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. I am not affiliated with Apple Inc., but I sure do love them.