picture of book Acne: A Memoir (by Laura Chinn)

Can Our Emotions Cause or Cure Acne?

The other day I was walking around in downtown Abilene, and outside of one of the stores was a table of books. As any librarian and/or book lover would do, I paused to glance over the titles. Only one book really caught my eye:

Acne: A Memoir

I loved the simple design of the cover, light pink with varying sizes of red dots sprinkled all over it. It seemed like a no-brainer for me – I love memoirs, I love reading… I don’t love acne, but unfortunately it has had quite an impact on me and my story.

I scanned the book for a price, and suddenly saw a sign that said “Free books: Limit 1 per customer.” Free book??? Even better.

I had no idea what this book was really going to be like, but when I came to this paragraph on the second page, I knew I was going to like it:

“After genocide, nuclear war, famine, slavery, and child abuse, acne is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a person. Okay, fine, maybe cancer is worse, and probably a bunch of other stuff, but acne is bad, really bad, and if you haven’t lived though it then… honestly, go f*** yourself.”

— Laura Chinn (p. 2)

I laughed out loud when I read that last part! It was so honest and real. If you’ve never had bad acne, you will think these sentiments are crazy exaggerations. If you have struggled with bad acne, you’ll know that during your lowest points of dealing with red spots all over your face, you literally do feel like this sometimes.

My experience with acne is something that deeply affected me, more than I ever knew until I really started doing some reflecting upon the experience in my 30’s. It affected my body image (I stopped thinking I was pretty, and in fact, was convinced that because of acne scarring I could never be beautiful again), my idea of my own self-worth (I questioned why anyone would want to be friends with someone as ugly as me), and my mental and physical health (I had a few years of extreme dieting when I was trying to find the perfect diet to “cure” my acne, and instead ended up losing so much weight that my period stopped).

Acne is no joke.

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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Entrance at Disney World

Disney World Genie+ and Lightning Lanes – Worth the Extra Cost?

You’ve got your tickets, hotel, and flights, and you’re all set to go to Disney World on a great vacation. But you still have a few more choices to make – the main one now being:

WILL YOU PAY EXTRA FOR GENIE+ AND LIGHTNING LANES???

Genie+ is a new service that rolled out at Disney World in December of last year, essentially like the old Fast Pass system, but not free anymore. (Back in the day, Fast Passes were paper tickets that would give you a window of about one hour to come back to a ride and get in the “Fast Pass” lane, which was much shorter than the regular standby line. If you wanted to ride as many rides as possible, Fast Passes were a must! You could only have one or two Fast Pass reservations at a time, so you had to be strategic about which rides you chose to get them for.)

Now, if you pay $15 per day (per ticketed guest), you get access to Genie+ on the My Disney Experience app, and essentially you make your “fast pass” reservations electronically. You can only book one Genie+ reservation at a time, and you can’t make a new one until you use your current one, or two hours have passed since you made a reservation.

So, if you have a family of 4, and are planning to go to the parks for 6 days, getting Genie+ would cost you an extra $360. (But this doesn’t include paying extra for individual Lightning Lanes.)

Yes, it’s true – even AFTER buying Genie+, there are some rides you still have to pay for individually to get a “fast pass” for – now known as Lightning Lane (LL) passes – and the costs are usually between $8-14 per person. These are the big ticket rides that you probably won’t want to miss, and the standby lines can easily be 1-2 hours long. So, are you willing to shell out another $40 to save time? Is it worth it?

My family just returned from a week-long stay at Disney World, and we opted into getting Genie+ for our party of 4 (myself, my husband, my son, and my mother-in-law) all the days we were there. Below I’ll share what you should consider before purchasing Genie+ or Lightning Lanes, the pros and cons, and what happens if, heaven forbid, a ride you bought a LL pass for breaks down!

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING GENIE+ AND LIGHTNING LANES

1. How crowded will the park be on the day you visit it?
If the park is not going to be super crowded, then it may not be worth it to you to pay the extra money for Genie+. However, our family just visited Disney World from January 10-15, which I figured would be “off-season,” and it was still crazy crowded. I honestly don’t think Disney has an off-season anymore. It’s going to be crowded, you are going to wait in long lines.

2. Which rides are you wanting to ride the most? How popular are they?
Make sure to see which rides you can get passes for with Genie+ (it’s not all the rides). If you are going with small children and only want to ride the carousel over and over – or you are planning to go back to the hotel and go swimming for a good portion of the day – then you may not need Genie+. Some rides that have Genie+ never really seemed to get that crowded (for example, we got a Genie+ pass for Spaceship Earth, but the standby line was only ever 5-15 minutes long). But, if your party wants to ride Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain, and the Jungle Cruise (typically all long waits) then Genie+ makes more sense.

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2022

My Word for 2022: Forgive

After writing my last post, it got me thinking a lot about forgiveness. It’s been a topic that has been surfacing again and again in the last few months, and I’m thinking that I need to take note of it. 

I have a hard time with forgiveness. I’m sure everyone does to some extent, but I realized recently that my personality is wired to make it extra challenging. I’m an Enneagram 1 – and Ones are described as having a “strong, innate desire for fairness, accuracy, and order. They tend be bold advocates for the rights of others and when healthy, may challenge the status quo to make push for reforms and equality.” 

The book The Road Back To You calls Enneagram 1s “Reformers.” But another word that is also accurate is “Perfectionist.” Ones don’t like mistakes. They want things to be fair. Getting taken advantage of, or seeing another person get taken advantage of, is extremely aggravating for Ones. Ones often have issues with resentment and unexpressed anger.

All of that mixed together in one personality can make it very hard to forgive. I think a lot of Enneagram 1s also find it hard to offer forgiveness to themselves, due to their constant inner critic. 

Fairness and justice are wonderful things. Being an advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves is awesome – and hooray to Ones for upholding those values. 

But it sure makes the world a hard place to live in sometimes. Life is not fair, it’s not always just. People are selfish and make mistakes. 

My personal focus for last year was “spiritual bravery.” I wanted to have more faith and courage in God. I wanted to release my desire to control everything all of the time. It was a good focus, and I’ve grown in faith and spiritual courage this past year. 

As I thought ahead to 2022, even though I was not super excited about it, all signs pointed to one word: Forgiveness. 

What were the signs, you may wonder? I had recently attended a Bible class at my church, and the teacher made the following statement:

“If you read everything that Jesus said in the Bible, and there’s not something that bothers you, you’re not paying attention.”

Randy Harris
Bible

He was specifically referencing Jesus asking us to forgive others, even those who don’t deserve it. (Matthew 18:21-22)

Then less than a week later, I found myself in a situation where I was really angry with a friend and needed to forgive her. I thought of a lot of reasons not to, and tried to rationalize with myself that she didn’t deserve for me to forgive her yet again. But then I remembered that Bible class, and I remembered what God calls me to do: forgive others. 

If I’m honest, I don’t want this to be my focus. (And that’s part of the reason why I am confident this is supposed to be my word for this year!) It’s going to be a challenge, and something that I am confident I will fail at many times.

But I know I need to be more intentional about fostering forgiveness, and I need to practice it more often so that hopefully down the road, it won’t be as difficult as it feels today. Honestly, I think the only way I’m going to make any progress at it is going to be through the grace of God, and his transforming power.

If you’ve grown up going to church or reading the Bible to any extent, you’ve probably heard many verses and sermons about forgiveness. So at this time, I won’t go into all the reasons why, from a Biblical perspective, we should forgive. (But if you’re interested, I found a site that goes into depth on 10 reasons why the Bible tells us to forgive – or you can always grab a Bible and do your own studying.)

My top reasons for wanting this to be my focus for this year do revolve around God and personal spiritual growth. But even if you don’t consider yourself a religious or spiritual person, there are still some great reasons to forgive others.

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