Fresh Start – where to next?

Two. Two more classes. Two more summer classes separate me from completing my master’s degree in Emerging Media Studies. My program at Boston University began on Sept. 2, 2015 and it has been a whirlwind ever since. To think that I’m already graduating this Friday, May 13th, is both exciting and daunting! Have I learned everything I needed to learn to secure the kind of job placement I’m hoping for? The answer is no.20160508_234115

But the answer should be no. Why, you ask? Because I’m constantly learning new things every day. And that is precisely why I chose to study emerging media. The only constant in the media world is change…which is also daunting, but oh so very exciting.

Having worked for The Walt Disney Company, I have high expectations for my future workplace. I was and am very proud to have worked for the Mouse and it is still tough to think that I may not return to work there again anytime soon. BUT, for now, Boston is my home. I love it here and feel extremely lucky to call this my city. Soon, though, I will be a free agent, which means it’s time to really put myself out there and find my dream job. Or just a job. “Gotta start somewhere,” as they say, right? Well, kind of…

You see, after losing my Mom to pancreatic cancer and moving to MA to start anew, I decided that life is too short for mediocrity. I don’t want to just work anywhere. And, as corny as it sounds, I want to make a mark on this world we live in. I want to make an impact, a significant difference, wherever I do end up going.

I have more passion than I know what to do with. I love to know things and that will never change. I love to write, listen, create, think, brainstorm, fix things, problem-solve, tweet, snapchat, gram my life away and # EVERYTHING (but really, though). Most of all, I love to EXPLORE.

Before my graduate program, I considered myself a journalist. A writer. A social media enthusiast and a storyteller. But now, I know I’ve evolved way beyond that. I’m still far from an expert in big data analysis, manual coding, social strategy, SPSS, R, data science, HTML, CSS, Qualtrics, survey-making, etc., but I got my hands dirty in all of it. I’ve spent the better part of the last eight months doing a lot of things that once intimidated me. As someone who has never felt good with numbers (hey, how many communications majors actually do?), I never saw myself even touching most of this stuff. But I’m so glad I did.

Now, I just have to find my place — somewhere that I can put all of these skills to good use. I’ve worked for one of the largest, most well-known and respected brands in the world. I’ve also worked for small newspapers and magazine startups. I’ve been coordinating my program’s Facebook and Twitter since October and I love to dive into all things social. I may still be too young to have 10 years of experience in anything, but I am a hard worker.

So…the goal = stay in Boston. Find a job. But not just any job — find a new home. A place that I’m excited to go to day in and day out, because I do believe that exists and I won’t stop or give up until I find it.

If you’re reading this and you’re hiring in the Boston area, please connect with me (rforman@bu.edu)! Or even if you just have some advice to offer, leave or comment or let’s chat over coffee! I’m open to all opportunities, I’m excited and I’m ready to go!

 

 

All that was me is gone

This time last year I was an ambassador for the 2013 IAAPA Convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. I was also finishing a year-long professional internship with Walt Disney Parks & Resorts in Kissimmee, Florida. I had a healthy Mom, a healthy Dad, a boyfriend I saw a future with and the world at my fingertips.

Today, I have no more Mom, a Dad in the process of finishing chemotherapy, no more boyfriend and still the world at my fingertips.

In fewer than 365 days, my life completely and utterly changed its course…which is difficult for someone who prides herself on usually having things fairly put together.

***

On March 21, my Mom had a procedure done that ended in a doctor telling me he was 99 percent sure she had pancreatic cancer…and unfortunately he was right. The moment he told me, in the middle of a busy hospital hallway, was the moment I began mourning the loss of the woman who brought me into this world.

Cancer is a beast. It affects every single human being in one way or another. But pancreatic cancer is different. It’s super aggressive. It took away Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze and my Mother way too soon (she was only 54 years old). It has a 6% survival rate, which hasn’t risen in the last 40 years. And by the time someone experiences symptoms of this cancer, it is more often than not, way too late.

So by the time my mom had jaundice (when your skin turns yellow because bile isn’t being processed normally), the tumor in the head of her pancreas was nearing 1-inch in size. Most people do not even know where their pancreas is located, but it is responsible for many critical functions in the body.

My Mom’s first appointment to Moffitt Cancer Center was on April 1st. Three rounds of chemo and five days of radiation later, we were pushing towards a surgery date of Aug. 8. The Whipple surgery would potentially save my Mom’s life and give her at the least a 5-year survival rate.

The big day came and as soon as the surgeon placed her tiny, delicate hands into my Mom’s abdomen, she discovered several tiny tumors – peritoneal carcinomatosis – the cancer had metastasized. And it was on this day that I had to accept that my Mother would most likely not live long enough to see me get married or have children.

Fast forward to Sept. 11 – a day that is difficult enough to get through already – and we were back at the hospital because my Mom’s breathing was labored and we knew things weren’t right. In the back our minds, we figured the cancer had most likely spread to her lungs, but we continued to deny those thoughts and decided we would continue to think as positively as we could.

But cancer doesn’t care who you are or how positive your outlook is. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. And it had indeed spread to her lungs. Fluid began to fill up on one side and she ended up having it drained on a few different occasions. But we still refused to believe this was the end.

My Mom still had so much to do in her life. She had a good job, she was finishing her bachelor’s degree in business management…she also had goals to lose weight, but the cancer was already taking care of that and then some.

Having lost 85+ pounds in a matter of months, my mother no longer looked like the woman I knew. And even when she could eat, she still continued to lose weight. Seeing someone shrink away before your eyes is something I would never wish on anyone. By the end of September, I knew things had progressed too far. At this point, more chemo and pain management were the only options left. But, the pain was barely being managed and the chemo just caused more pain.

***

My Mom was never afraid of death. Don’t get me wrong – she gave 110 percent and then some…but by the end of the first week of October, I could tell she was ready to go. Her best friend had come down to visit her from Connecticut and she had all of her loved ones around her. She had made her peace and was ready to be done with it all. The chemo. The pain. The constant struggle. And how could I argue with her at this point?

My Mom lost her Mom at the tender age of 21. She knew what it was to lose a Mother way too soon and I think that played a huge role in how she raised me and we made sure that nothing would go unsaid by the time she could no longer speak.

And that time came by the second week of October. It was then that Hospice care was called to our house. But even with Hospice, my aunt and I were sharing the responsibility of administering liquid morphine every two hours by syringe. It was then that I decided in my heart that this was no way to live and I had to come to terms that it was time to let go.

Late at night on Oct. 15, my Mom took her last breath. It wasn’t until the Boston Bruins won in OT that she left us, though. One month later and it’s still so surreal.

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***

Meanwhile, back in June, my Dad had an MRI for some stomach pain he had been experiencing. It was then that doctors decided he would have his gallbladder removed, which is a fairly common operation. We humans can survive without this organ.

But, during the surgery, a mass was discovered within the gallbladder that was cancerous. So the surgeon not only removed his gallbladder, but the surrounding lymph nodes and a small slice of his liver. And he’s had chemo once a week, almost every week since. And he might have to have radiation as well. But, thankfully, his journey has been no where near as life-changing as my mother’s.

Did I mention they’re divorced and I’m an only child? So, yeah, having both parents diagnosed with cancer in the same year, only to be treated in the same exact hospital that is located on your college campus is a very strange way to live. Perhaps I should play the lottery or something.

***

I’ll spare you the details of my break-up, especially since that happened first, but I’m sure I’ll feel the need to write down my thoughts on that tale at some point, too. But the purpose of this blog is this:

Last year, I saw life in one way and today I’ve been forced to see it completely differently. SO much has changed. I’m 26 years old and I have absolutely no idea what tomorrow holds. And while so much of my life is out of my control, I have learned the hard way that I am at least somewhat in control of where it is going. My hope and faith in people, my will to carry on my Mom’s legacy, and most importantly my perspective is what continues to get me through. I can only hope that reading some of my story can help you put your life into perspective as well.

And if anything, my dreams and aspirations are just that much more within reach. Why? Because I have hit bottom. And life can only go up from here.

VIDEO: Voices of Liberty add ‘Let it Go’ to repertoire

Just recently the Voices of Liberty added some new songs to their repertoire, including “Let it Go” from that little movie, Frozen.

This a cappella group is one my most favorite things to see while I’m at Epcot. They give my goosebumps goosebumps. They always nail their songs and they’re always mixing it up throughout the day so you’re never hearing the same song twice.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to be in the parks myself as of late, but thankfully Inside the Magic has posted video of them performing the new song:

If you’ve never seen this group, I highly recommend it. They can be found in the rotunda in the American Adventure pavilion. The rotunda is not only beautiful, but it enables the group to achieve the perfect sound.

Don’t miss out: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

Muppets Most Wanted topiary.

Muppets Most Wanted topiary

Spring has officially sprung and one of the best places to enjoy the Florida sun is at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Now in its 21st year, the festival is better than ever because outdoor kitchens have been added, making it what I call—Food & Wine Festival with Plants.

All kidding aside, the park really is a sight to see. There are beautiful topiaries all around and everything is so vibrant.

Snow White outside of the Germany pavilion. Notice she even has a face this year!

Snow White outside of the Germany pavilion. Notice she even has a face this year!

There’s a butterfly garden and a Monsters University-inspired playground for the kids. There’s a festival center where talent from HGTV shows come and do talks and demos. There’s even special entertainment every weekend in what’s known as the Flower Power Concert Series…today through the weekend features The Lovin’ Spoonful, who you might know for such hits as “Summer in the City” and “Do You Believe in Magic.”

Now back to the FOOD. I’ve gone to the Festival a couple of times so far (I mean, I do work at Epcot right now after all) and I’ve been lucky enough to try out quite a few of the options.

Temaki chicken hand roll in Japan! Very yummy and quite the portion!

Temaki chicken hand roll in Japan! Very yummy and quite the portion!

Fruit sushi or Frushi in Japan.

Fruit sushi or Frushi in Japan.

Potato & cheddar cheese biscuit with salmon tartare from the Buttercup Cottage in the UK pavilion.

Potato & cheddar cheese biscuit with salmon tartare from the Buttercup Cottage in the UK pavilion.

Three cheese manicotti from Italy.

Three cheese manicotti from Italy.

This gnocchi from France is one of my favorites!

This gnocchi from France is one of my favorites!

Baghrir, a tasy pancake with almonds and honey, from Morocco.

Baghrir, a tasty pancake with almonds and honey, from Morocco.

Beijing-style candied strawberries from China.

Beijing-style candied strawberries from China.

And the award for most interesting offering goes to…

Piggylicious bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunchies on top. I dare you to try it!

Piggylicious bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunchies on top. I dare you to try it!

I obviously tried all of these on different days, and shared with friends, so by no means do you have to try all of it at once. In fact, that’s the best part of these festivals…they’re included in your admission and you can participate as much or as little as you want!

So go celebrate what spring has to offer and head on over to this fun event…you’ve got until May 18!

*All of these photos (and more) can be found on my Instagram page, @rebeccajforman!

ABC’s ‘The Middle’ films episode at EPCOT

One of the coolest things about being at Walt Disney World Resort is you never know what or who you’re going to see. With 47-squares miles, there is always something going on.

Today, ABC’s family comedy “The Middle” is filming an episode in Epcot. And even if you weren’t a Guest in the park, you can still check it all out thanks to social media.

Shared by @RamblingKite

Shared by @RamblingKite

Shared by @kaylaferris

Shared by @kaylaferris

Shared by @lizmclean14

Shared by @lizmclean14

@BazTastic77

Shared by @BazTastic77

Shared by @brihealy

Shared by @brihealy

As a Disney Cast Member, I had the chance to look over the production schedule. And while such information is confidential, I can say that it’s truly amazing that such a huge crew can film a television show without interrupting and interfering with the daily operation.

I’m not exactly sure when this episode will air, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for it!

Awwww: Firefighters sing ‘Let it Go’ while rescuing family from elevator

From WHDH News Boston:

READING, Mass. (WHDH) – Firefighters in Reading were called upon to rescue a family of three from an elevator, but more than the rescue it’s their singing that’s getting attention.

Four-year-old Kaelyn Kerr was stuck in the elevator with her mother and brother after a visit to the salon.

“As we approached the second floor the elevator stopped, we pressed every button known to man, nothing happened, we tried to push through the door and it was stopped,” Kaelyn’s mother Kristin Kerr said.

Firefighters lowered a ladder in, but Kaelyn was too scared to climb up, that’s when one firefighter asked what her favorite movie was and she said Frozen, the popular Disney movie.

They weren’t just familiar with the movie, but one of the firefighters actually had the Oscar winning song ‘Let it Go’ on his cell phone.

“He pulled out his phone and on his phone was the song ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen. He put it on and they all started singing to her,” Kerr said.

“I just started singing and grabbed my phone, because you know, I’m sure she didn’t want to hear me singing the entire time,” Scott Myette said.

After the song Kaelyn was more comfortable climbing up the ladder and out from the elevator.

“I don’t think it’s anything different than what anyone else would have done. Whether they sang or you know, distract with a little stuffed animal, I think it’s probably along those lines,” John Keough said.
The firefighters said they are glad everything worked out in the end.

Kerr said she was relieved they were out, entertained by the firefighters’ show and impressed with their singing voices.

Now I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a teeny tiny bit tired of Adele Nazeem’s hit, “Let it Go.” I’ve been listening to the song for months—the movie version, in live performance, parodies and so on. The song even plays multiple times a day on my office radio station. But when I saw this story, I just HAD to share.

I’m always amazed at how Disney and Disney movies can tie in to everyday life and touch so many different people. I was lucky enough to see the movie before it was released and I just knew the song would be a hit. It’s so powerful and Idina Menzel is just the perfect powerhouse artist for this now iconic song.

Do you have a favorite “Let it Go” rendition? Below are a few of my favorites:

Here it is in 25 different languages. I’m really hoping to learn the song in Mandarin!

I first watched this video when it only had a little more than 10,000 views. Now it has nearly nine million. (His Pooh Bear is my favorite part.)

And the African tribal version. I still can’t believe the girl is only 11 years old!

VIDEO: Disney Cruise Line announces new itineraries and ports for 2015

Today, Disney Cruise Line announced new itineraries and ports for 2015:

  • Norwegian Fjord sailings —a first for Disney Cruise Line—with stops in Norway’s fjord region, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Guests can experience the part of the world that inspired the Disney animated film Frozen
  • Northern Europe cruises, including Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland—as well as Russia’s cultural capital, St. Petersburg
  • Mediterranean sailings that visit popular ports of call, like Naples
  • Alaskan
  • Eastern Caribbean destinations, featuring stops at tropical islands like St. Maarten, St Thomas and Castaway Cay—Disney’s private island
  • Western Caribbean cruises to Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Castaway Cay
  • Bahamian itineraries departing from Port Canaveral, Fla. and Miami, Fla.
  • A Panama Canal crossing
  • A transatlantic sailing

Sooooo, I’ve never been on a cruise. But it’s definitely on my bucket list. And, if I had to guess, my first cruise will most likely be with Disney.

I mean, not only has Disney Cruise Line been ranked No. 1 for the past five consecutive years, but as a Disney Cast Member, I get a not too shabby discount. And I have a much better chance of not having to poop in a bag during my trip. Yes, I’m talking to you, Carnival.

I think if I had to choose from the list, I’d pick the Norway itinerary. Who wouldn’t want to see a fjord? I’ve always wanted to go to Norway, especially since I discovered a relative of mine emigrated from Norway in the late 1880s. AND the trip goes to Iceland and the Faroe Islands, which also look absolutely amazing. Not that the Bahamas don’t sound great and all, but this trips sounds much more interesting. Ahhh, let the daydreaming commence.

Have you been on a cruise? Any good stories or recommendations?