What I learned from Walt Disney

By Jasmine Grace

“To all that come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America… with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” Walt Disney

I can personally attest to the fact that Disneyland was a source of inspiration and allowed me in youth and adulthood to face the challenge and promise of the future! This blog is a reflection of how Walt Disney’s ideals and dreams helped shape my life.

I have played “shop” since I was five. My mother owned an eclectic convenience and health food store in a sleepy beach town in New Zealand. I can remember making twenty-five and fifty cent candy bags or as we call them in New Zealand “lolly bags”. Sometimes I would invite a friend to help; one piece of candy for the bag, one piece of candy for us, one for the bag and one for us. What a way to learn math and thank goodness my mother didn’t inventory the candy by the piece! The memories of this time in my life are very vivid. I would stand behind the cash register on a stepping stool and greet guests. The locals all knew me by name and would always have something nice to say. This proficiency of being a entrepreneur established at a young age carried over to high school. At the age of 14 I was living in Australia and I was given a set of keys and the weekend 6 a.m. opening shift to a beach convenience store.  I would rock-up a few minutes early, pull in the daily newspapers. I always loved it when an impatient local had taken a paper and left fifty cents on the stack. These were fun years and the owner of Kings Beach Store, John Cauchi-Gera was one of my first mentors. It was a particularly hard time for my family financially and if I had not had this job I am sure times would have been even tougher for my mother and me. I was not an easy teenager. I had little regard for adult wisdom, I talked back, thought I knew everything and I had a strong point of view on how things should be done. In addition to going to school, I worked what seemed like 8 hours every Saturday and Sunday. My view was of the beach so I didn’t mind too much. When it wasn’t busy at the Kings Beach Store I would dream about what my life would be like when I got older – knowing that if I worked hard and smart enough anything is possible.

Kings Beach, Queensland, Australia.

Kings Beach, Queensland, Australia.

The belief that anything was possible (and the fact that I slept on a Mickey Mouse pillow case every night in my childhood) led to a scholarship with Walt Disney Corporation. Funny how this works isn’t it? When I applied for the scholarship I would visualize myself receiving it and the specific details of what this experience might be like. I would visualize my acceptance speech, what it might be like to be at Disneyland, and the opportunities that could come from this experience. I won the scholarship and when I turned 16 I left home for a year on an adventure. Full of wanderlust, that has never left me, I was fueled by the Disney philosophy and my entrepreneurial spirit.
When I first got to go to Disneyland in Florida, I can remember noticing the attention to detail at every level. I noticed the organization of the backstage and the backdoor of the enterprise; the professionalism of the employees, the care to cleanliness, the service, the smiles, and a concentration around the experience. I was in my element! Disney was quoted saying, “Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.” Perhaps not the most yogic of virtues but from a business sense it is something you have to do. In order to survive as a business these days you always have to .continue to assess, learn, grow and ask the question, how can we make this experience even better?

By the time I turned 21 I was a partner in my own business. This endeavor began with a dream, drive and notes on a paper plate on Sand Key Beach in Clearwater, Florida. And now as I turn to the next phase I find myself reflecting on Walt Disney again. So it is no doubt, although on a much, much smaller scale,

that I have the same dreams and aspirations (aligned with the founding partners, Marcia, Linda, and Martha) for Yoga on High. This brings me to one aspect of our studio -- our book and gift store. Have you seen the changes? Keep your eye out for new product, a new paint color in the reception area, online purchasing of Yoga on High product, a greater selection, and special ordering capabilities for bulk items. We hope you make us your resource for yoga products, cute clothing finds, and yogi gift giving. We are not done yet but we are expanding our selection of what we offer to include yoga mats, rugs and towels, yoga props, clothing, meditation supplies, jewelry & accessories, self-care products, home décor, books & journals, cards and gifts. This holiday we will offer a holiday gift giving service to include gift wrapping and shipping to your loved ones. Not to mention online gift certificates that can be emailed directly to the recipient.

We will also be giving the studio a bit of a facelift with a new paint color and a much needed upgrade to the outside of the building. Other changes you will see this fall and next year include more open class drop-in options on the schedule, new programs and formats to the Yoga on High Teacher Training curriculum, and the possibility of more locations. We have listened to the feedback you have provided and are making changes as requested by you and our staff. As Walt Disney said, “You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it requires people to make the dream a reality.” Thank you for making our corner of the world a reality. We hope to see you in the studio soon.

I am no Walt Disney but I thought I would write this for fun:

“To all that come to this happy place: welcome. Yoga on High is your yoga studio. Here we offer yoga for every body, and here stress relief, transformative personal growth and healing may occur so that you have the strength, flexibility and awareness to savor the challenge and promise of everyday life. Yoga on High is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the needs of the community ….with hope that with your practice of yoga you will find how brightly your own inner light shines.” Jasmine Grace

Love and Light,
Jasmine Astra-elle Grace


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2 Responses to What I learned from Walt Disney
  1. John Cauchi-Gera

    hi Jasmine its an absolute pleasure to hear from you i do keep track on how your going its great to see photo’s of yourself, your husband and your children you all look so happy, and of course so great together. Our children, Natascha 26 & Nicholas 24, have all left home now and its just Carola the dog the cat & I, wierd but great.Thanks for the article, you sent it at the right time just turned 53 and have been back in the gym for the last couple of months trying to keep the body in some type of condition. Carola is great, she has just lost 13 kl that she had been so desparate to get rid of. She really is looking amazing, take care and thank you for the nice words in your article, we always knew that you would end up as happy as you so obviously are, take care John & Carola.

  2. Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing! I too have always loved Disney and the belief in dreams and am inspired by Walt. I had my daughter read your post to see how hard you worked and kept your dreams alive. Be well!