A Handful Of Stones Are Making A Huge Difference

A Handful Of Stones Are Making A Huge Difference

All you need is a rock, a pen and a good heart!

I stumbled across an incredible act of kindness today while exploring Cape Cod, MA. In the sand by the boardwalk, there was a collection of stones that had words of encouragement written on them. Phrases like "You are special" and "The best is yet to come" splashed across the sand on these painted rocks, reminding passersby that kindness is still out there. Amidst the rocks was a message written on a piece of driftwood:

Take one if it has meaning to you, share one with a friend in need of inspiration or add one to the pile! It's all about Kindness

My sister and I stood there for a while reading all the messages. Some were simple, others were more specific, but all of them were beautiful. I felt moved by the idea of strangers helping strangers with words of kindness and instantly began to wonder how widespread this #thekindnessrocksproject actually is. I picked up a rock with "You rock" written on it and replaced it with one of my own ("You are so very important") before heading back to the hotel to do some research.

As it turns out, there's an entire Facebook page for those who want to be a part of the movement. The page consists of tons of posts from people around the globe who are sharing kindness rocks. Individuals are starting up kindness rock piles at their schools, in their neighborhoods and even at the bases of random trees in random parks. There is no right or wrong place to leave a kindness rock; you can leave them virtually any place someone in need will find them.

This is obviously a fun and creative project that could make a priceless difference in someone's life, right? Yeah, I thought so, too. My question for you is this: If these rocks provide a ray of hope in a world where people are so often trapped in the cages of their mind—cages filled with stress, doubt, fear and anxiety—why aren't there more of them out there? I've seen all sorts of movements and protests on my college campus and in my small mountain town, but in the three years that I've lived there, I've never seen any kindness rocks.

Today, I accepted the challenge to make sure that my words of kindness reach people more often. Today, I vowed to drop a rock or two of reassurance out there every now and then because if more people can feel the joy that I felt today, maybe the world won't be so bad off. And if every person reading this article can do the same, there will be a lot more kindness in our communities. More kindness means better moods. Better moods mean nicer people. Nicer people mean more small acts of kindness. Don't you see? This isn't just a project or a movement. This is a lifestyle that can change lives.

Cover Image Credit: Dylan Julian

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.


Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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Still Dusting Pixie Dust off My Ears

And it never gets old. I looked at every attraction as if it were my first time seeing it. It was magical.

Walt Disney World is indeed the land where dreams come true, and it is a safe haven where adults can unwind and become kiddos in their own right. At twenty years old, I recently went to WDW for the fourth time in my life. And it never gets old. I looked at every attraction as if it were my first time seeing it. It was magical.

But, one thing certainly changed after this trip to WDW that I did not experience after my previous trips. Almost nearly four months after my excursion, I still have what I like to call a “Disney hangover."

I miss the magic of Disney, and I crave the feeling of having nothing to do but park hop all day long. I've been hopelessly coping through my post-Disney woes. Here are a few survival tips:

  • Take tons of pictures and print them all out at your local pharmacy or superstore. Compare memories from past trips with those of your latest trip. You'll be surprised at how much you and the parks have changed. Looking back on fun-filled pictures may ease your throbbing post-Disney migraine after a long day at work.
  • Buy something meaningful in WDW. No, I don't mean a cheesy tee with the year or park on it. But, instead, purchase something you will cherish and use after your trip. Unlike my previous trips to Disney, I bought such meaningful souvenirs: Starbucks Collectible mugs from each park and three charms for my Pandora bracelet. Life seems just a little sweeter while drinking out of a WDW coffee mug and slipping my cherished Pandora travel bracelet on my wrist amidst the daily grind of adulthood.
  • Eat your heart out while you're in the parks. It's true, memories of food oozing in calories and goodness will make your Disney hangover a bit worse by the time you make it home; however, it's worth it.
  • If you're like me, and you only travel to WDW about every eight to ten years, don't hesitate to park hop until you drop. You may be a little grouchy and tired by the time you reach your hotel each evening, but it's worth it if you don't plan on going back to the land of pixie dust anytime soon. However, be sure to know your limits. There is a fine line between exhaustion and suffering, so don't push it! The key to handling your Disney hangover after returning home includes fun-filled memories with family and friends: no tears and temper tantrums allowed.
  • Buy those legendary mouse ears before you head to the parks. I heard rumors that Mickey Mouse ears were cheaper on Etsy. And, boy, were those rumors true. I was hesitant to hop on the pre-ordering ears trend: I wasn't sure how the accessories would turn out, and I thought it would be more sentimental to purchase them in the parks. I ended up ordering my Mickey Mouse ears a few weeks before my trip from CaSales on Etsy. I spent roughly $20 on both pairs. I ordered Minnie Mouse-themed ears and Belle-themed ears. Saving money on basic purchases leads to ease while in Disney. You already have your WDW spirit and essential accessories in tow when you're off to the parks on day one. My Disney hangover has been lessened thanks to my cherished mouse ears. I had a ton of fun wearing them, and I saved money too.

Website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CaSales?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Are you a WDW superfan? Take to Instagram and follow Jenna, a good friend of mine, @pixiedustoffyourears for park hoppin' vibes and WDW inspiration.

Cover Image Credit: Katherine Stall

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