One Step At A Time

The first three weeks of 2018 have been a busy, chaotic, stressful mess so far. The old saying “when it rains, it pours” comes to mind. This saying has been a recurring theme in my life. It’s true in both good times and bad. Days, weeks, or months can pass by in which not much seems to happen. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, everything starts happening at once. It can be very overwhelming.

When I started blogging, I typically wrote something every three days. Lately, I have written less often. I never schedule times to write and never force anything. Whenever I have an idea in mind, I’ll write about it.

Since it has been three days since my last post, I felt like I should write something tonight, but had so many different thoughts running through my mind that I couldn’t decide where to start. I started thinking about everything I’ve had going on in my life lately, and all of the things that are coming up in the near future. This time of year, I always have a lot on my mind. I’ll get to that in a post in a couple of days. When things begin to pile up on me, I tend to freeze, at first. I know what needs to be done, but have a hard time deciding where to start.

While lying in bed tonight and failing miserably in my attempt to fall asleep, a solution came to me that I think I have been overlooking just because it seemed too simple… just take one step in the right direction. Take everything one step at a time. All of the ideas that I want to write about won’t suddenly disappear. I can write about all of them over time. All of the things that have been piling up on me recently will all get worked out. I just need to keep moving in the right direction, one step at a time.

Nowadays, we tend to want things to happen immediately. It’s hard to remain patient when we are waiting for something that we want, or need, to happen. Nothing lasts forever. That is something that is important to remember. When you’re in a situation in life that is frustrating, remember that it’s only temporary. Keep taking steps toward your ultimate goals, and things will eventually turn around. Although it may seem like it sometimes, the whole world isn’t against you. I have had some really promising meetings with people over the past week or so that have given me a lot of hope moving forward. As always, nothing is guaranteed. You have to work hard to make things happen in life. But, it’s a lot easier to stay focused when you are reminded that there is hope. Knowing that there are people who are willing to help you makes any situation easier than if you were trying to get through it on your own. Being reminded that others have been in similar situations and have come out of those situations better and stronger than ever helps to approach the situation confidently.

I need to get better about taking my own advice. This is something I have known for years. I’m great at giving advice to others, but struggle when I face a similar situation. I guess it’s maybe just because it’s easier to see the solution when you’re on the outside looking in than to be in the middle of the situation.

The combination of inexperience, indecision, and procrastination can instantly make any situation more complicated than it needs to be. As stressed out as I have been lately, I can’t help but be excited as I look forward. I am a firm believer that nobody ever does everything solely by themselves. If you look closely at situations in life, there seems to always be somebody else involved in making things happen. I am getting to a point in my life now where everything I’ve ever wanted is pretty much right in front of my face waving at me. With the help of a few people, a few of those things could very easily fall into place. The more I learn about life, the more I realize that certain things need to fall into place before more pieces of the puzzle will fit. It all starts with a single step in the right direction. Dream big. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new that may seem scary. Focus on your ultimate goals, but remember to take everything one step at a time.

Knowing that certain things in life need to happen before more pieces of the puzzle can fall into place, stay tuned for my next post this weekend…

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Take A Journey With Me

The sun has just set over Walt Disney World Resort as I am boarding the Admiral Joe Fowler ferryboat. The cold wind blowing across the water hits me like a punch in the face as the boat begins the one mile journey across Seven Seas Lagoon to Magic Kingdom.

Overhead, there is a perfectly clear blue sky. To the east, the light blue sky from the day progressively darkens to a deeper blue and purple as the night sky approaches. To the west is another flawless Florida sunset filled with the most incredible combination of purples, oranges, yellows, and reds. The reflection of the sunset on the water is beautiful beyond belief.

Just above the horizon in the western sky, I see a northbound airplane. I wonder who might be on the plane, where they departed from, and where their next destination might be. I have to imagine many of the passengers onboard are returning from a vacation and are disappointed to be headed to a colder, snowier, more northerly latitude.

As I enter Magic Kingdom, I am immediately greeted by the smell of hot, buttery, salty popcorn. I am surrounded by dozens of families. Some are entering the park to begin an amazing and adventurous evening of Disney magic. Others are exiting the park. The exiting families look exhausted from a long day in the park. Kids are screaming and crying and begging to stay. Parents can’t wait to get back to their hotel so they can eat dinner and relax and recovery from the chaos of the day.

I am arriving just as the “Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party” is ending. I stop and wait for the street party to pass by before continuing into the park. From the other side of one of the floats passing by, my favorite street party/parade performer (yes, I do have a favorite) sees me and yells, “HI!!!!” and waves to me excitedly with a big smile on her face. I yell and wave back. She makes a heart shape with her hands and holds it over her heart, then blows a kiss. I do the same in return. Immediately, I feel any stress that has built up over the past few days completely melt away. I now have a smile tattooed on my face and know that I am back in my happy place. This is my home away from home. This is a typical beginning to most days or evenings in Magic Kingdom for me, and it never fails to instantly make my day infinitely brighter. It is truly amazing how such a brief interaction with another person can make your whole day better, whether you actually know that person or not.

As I continue toward Main Street U.S.A., the bright, flashing lights grab my attention. The first view of Cinderella Castle from the front of Main Street is absolutely stunning. No matter how many times I see the castle, that beautiful, breath-taking view leaves me in awe. The scent of countless candy creations fills the evening air as I pass by Main Street Confectionery. I am trying my best to maneuver between groups of people posing for pictures while others are searching for the perfect angle for their four hundredth selfie of the day.

At the end of Main Street, I am stopped and stuck trying to get through the line that is backed up out the door from Starbucks. The coffee odor coming from inside the store makes me cringe. I hate coffee. Finally, the crowd parts and allows me to pass through and continue further into the park.

I am now sitting behind Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square. This is a spot I regularly stop to take a break from the constantly crowded park. I feel like I can relax here and not be in the way of the crowds.

After a couple of minutes, I am greeted by two ducks. These ducks have become familiar with me since I visit this spot so often. They swim to the edge of the water, walk up the hill, and wait patiently next to me to see if I will feed them. One duck sits on each side of me and looks at me like a friendly, well-trained dog. On a rainy day, these ducks will occasionally take cover from the rain under my wheelchair seat.

The ducks soon realize I do not have any food to share with them, and they walk away. They will take the time to visit me again next time I stop and sit in that spot. Typically, I will also be greeted in this spot by some small, friendly geckos. Tonight is too cold though, so there are no geckos to be found.

It is now time to cross the Liberty Square bridge to the hub and take my place near the Partners Statue (Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands and overlooking Main Street) and wait for the fireworks to begin.

A friend I met while waiting for the fireworks one rainy night last summer is waiting in our favorite spot. We haven’t seen each other in weeks, so I am thrilled to be able to catch up with her while we wait for an hour and a half for the fireworks to start.

This part of Magic Kingdom is wide open, and the brutal, bone-chilling breeze is much more noticeable. The familiar scent of cheeseburgers and fries from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café is starting to make my mouth water. I am getting hungry. I add another layer of clothing and put on my gloves in an attempt to stay somewhat warm while we wait for the fireworks to begin.

At this point, my hands are numb from the cold winter wind. My gloves are no help in my desperate attempt to warm up. The feeling of needles stabbing my fingers starts setting in even after I put on my gloves. Questioning our decision to brave the cold weather, we continue to wait. The fireworks never disappoint. No matter the weather, they are always well worth waiting to see. Something seems to sneak up on me and take me by surprise every time I watch this show. I have now watched the show more times than I can count, yet I always find something I have never noticed before.

After the fireworks finale fades from the frosty Florida sky, my friend and I proceed further into the park to enjoy a few of our favorite rides. Our first ride is one I have never ridden before. The wait time is always ridiculously long. Tonight, we manage to avoid the long wait and quickly get onto the ride. It is a fun first experience, and it will definitely not be my last. We then proceed to my two favorite rides and enjoy no wait whatsoever when we arrive at both rides.

The park will be closing for the night shortly. The feeling in my freezing cold hands is finally starting to come back after enjoying a couple of warm indoor rides. We make our way back toward Main Street, then proceed through the tunnel under the Main Street train station, and exit the park. I arrive at the ferryboat docks right as the Admiral Joe Fowler is departing. After a short wait, I board the Richard F. Irvine and enjoy the calm, cold one mile trip back across Seven Seas Lagoon.

This ends my evening at Magic Kingdom. I hope you all enjoyed this journey through the park with me, wherever you may be in the world. I hope my detailed descriptions of the evening helped you to feel like you were enjoying the evening alongside of me. As much as I was able to do so, I actually wrote this post on my phone while I was inside the park. This post is very different from anything I have written before here on Positively Rolling Through Life, and the idea came from one of my first ever assignments in college nearly 14 years ago. The idea is a paint a picture with words and try to include all of the senses people can experience. This is meant to tell a story that can take the reader to a place where they can see it playing like a movie in their mind while reading it. If I wrote this effectively, you should have been able to picture my evening in Magic Kingdom, almost as if you were there yourself. The assignment I did in college was to go to a quiet place where there were no other people around and write about my surroundings. For this post, I wanted to enhance it, and I can’t think of a better place to focus on the senses than in the world’s busiest theme park. I experienced full-blown sensory overload while writing this. I hope you enjoyed this post, and I would love to read any feedback you may have for me. Thank you for reading!! 😀

Take A Mental Vacation

I’m a dreamer. I’ve always been a dreamer and always will be. My imagination is very detailed, and I am able to take myself to my “happy place” whenever I start to feel stressed out. Let’s be honest, vacations can be very expensive. People save money for years sometimes to be able to take a vacation and escape reality for a little while. Every year, life seems to pass by more quickly, and people become increasingly busier on a daily basis. Not everyone can afford to spend money on vacations, and finding the time to get away can be difficult. Something we all can do, however, is take a mental vacation.

When I lived in North Dakota, I found myself constantly wishing I were somewhere else. I always wanted to be on the beach. I wanted to feel the warm sunshine, see the palm trees dancing in the wind all around me, and hear the waves crashing into the shore. I wanted a delicious cold drink in my hand and a nice buzz helping me to forget about life for a while.

I spent hours every week looking at pictures of random beaches and listening to music that helped me to get in the mood to relax and escape reality. Often times, that meant I was listening to a lot of Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, and The Beach Boys.

In reality, I was sitting at home in North Dakota with snow covering the ground and freezing cold temperatures outside, but, in my mind, I was on the beach enjoying a nice hot day working on my tan. This was what kept me sane during the brutally cold winters. Wheelchairs and snow don’t exactly get along very well, so I spent a lot of time inside during the winter.

When I finally decided to make my dream a reality and moved to Florida, I figured I would get to live the life I had spent years daydreaming of when I took my mental vacations. That was a nice thought, but life doesn’t work that way. Even now that I’m living where I’ve always wanted to live, I still find myself needing to get away once in a while. I live just a little over an hour from the nearest beach, but I don’t get a chance to visit the beach very often. Being able to let my mind wander to memories of time spent at my favorite beaches helps to limit my stress level.

I’ve been very fortunate to get to live a life that people have always told me they wish they could live, but the truth is that anybody could live the way I live if they put in the effort to do so. I will never understand why people let things bother them so much. When I get stressed out, it typically lasts for hours or days, at the most. Some people get stressed out to the point that they become depressed, and it ruins several months or even years of their life. Don’t forget that you only get one chance at life, and it doesn’t last long. Don’t waste time worrying and obsessing over the things in life that you can’t control. That is time that you will never get back. If you can’t control the situation anyway, why wouldn’t you just let it work out the way it is going to happen and focus your time and energy on being happy? You CAN control your happiness. You may not be able to get away and enjoy a week of relaxing on the beach, but, when you need to relax and clear your mind for a few minutes, you absolutely can. Here are a few tips to help you “get away” without having to spend any money or actually go anywhere:

  1. Think of the one place in the world you would rather be more than anywhere else.
  2. Think about the person(s) you want to be with (if anyone).
  3. Think about what you would want to be doing if you were actually visiting this place.
  4. Get specific with the details. What exactly do you want to see around you? What do you want to hear? What do you want to feel? What do you want to smell? What do you want to taste? What would make that experience perfect? This is your dream getaway. Money is no object, because you aren’t actually going anywhere, so get creative and think about EXACTLY what you want to experience on this vacation.
  5. Think about any people you would want to meet (if any).
  6. Remember that you are basically creating a story in your head. When you take a real vacation, people ask you when you return home what all you did and if you have any cool stories to share. Create in your mind what you think would be the coolest vacation you could tell anyone about. Picture it and let your mind drift away to this situation. If you think of enough specific details, you will hopefully be able to see it happening as you immerse yourself in a daydream of your perfect vacation. Everyone is different. You may want to take an adventurous vacation, or you may want to just sit and relax. Whatever you want is perfect.

If you do these things and really allow yourself to become a part of this daydream, you will likely find that you feel happier and refreshed from this little break you’ve given yourself. You can learn to take yourself away from the stress of everyday life and take a quick break without going anywhere.

For me, even just a few minutes to letting my mind wander can turn my entire day around. The thought of being where I want to be in that moment never fails to put a smile on my face. When you think of your favorite places, favorite people, favorite foods/drinks, and favorite activities, those happy thoughts should bring a smile to your face. I know it brings a smile to my face every time.

There have been times at Disney World when I have had to wait a long time in “my” spot for the fireworks to start at Magic Kingdom that I have just stared at Cinderella Castle and let my mind wander. The spot I always try to watch the fireworks from at Magic Kingdom is my single favorite spot to sit in the entire world. I just love everything about it. When I let my mind wander and think about who I wish I were sharing that experience with, it brings a smile to my face. Complete strangers who are standing around me have said, “You must really love this place. The smile on your face when you look at that castle is exactly what the magic of Disney is all about.” I couldn’t agree with them more. Disney World may not be everyone’s first choice for a place to relax. It may not be everyone’s “happy place”, but it definitely is mine. I get a similar feeling any time I get a chance to sit on a beach and stare out into the ocean. Just as I could stare at Cinderella Castle forever and never love it any less, I could sit on the beach and stare out into the ocean forever and never get sick of it. I can feel my stress just melt away every time. The best part is, I’m no longer sitting at home staring at a computer screen. I can now go to these places and experience them for real. Although I am almost always by myself, I can thoroughly enjoy the experience. I would love to share the experience with someone special, but, for now, I really can’t complain. I get to enjoy the places I love most. Not everyone has that luxury, but you can all let your imagination run wild and daydream about your dream getaway.

Instead of wishing you could experience somebody else’s life, focus on your own personal “happy place” and let your imagination take you there any time, no matter where you are. A quick mental vacation can help you to reduce the stress of every day life without spending the time, effort, and money necessary for a real vacation. Hopefully you all will get to live in your favorite place someday, but, until then, let your imagination take you there as often as possible. Enjoy every day of your life while you can. Be happy. Be positive. Smile. Most importantly, take the necessary steps toward making your dream life your reality. Why waste time complaining about what you wish you had when you could spend that time working toward actually making it happen? Dream big, and pay attention to what you truly want in life. Your mental vacations will show you what you really want in life. Someday, that life can be yours if you’re willing to find a way to make it happen. To quote Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

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Castle 3

It’s A Process

Those of you who have read my posts in the past, and all of you who know me, know that I’ve lived a pretty interesting life. I’ve had the opportunity to experience things that many people only dream of experiencing. Some people spend their whole life chasing a dream that they never get to see become a reality. I got to live my childhood dream, and am now chasing another dream. As much as I like to focus on the successes I’ve enjoyed in my life, I don’t want people to think that I’m somehow magically immune to reality. I try my best to live in a fantasy world whenever I can, but, just like everyone else, I have to deal with reality. Things don’t always go as planned. Right now is a time in my life that I’m being reminded of what has gotten me to this point in my life.

The past couple of weeks have been less than ideal, to put it nicely. At the very end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, it seemed like everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. I won’t go into specifics, but it just seemed like things in my life started to drag me down, and then started kicking me while I was already down. Life has a way of doing that sometimes.

There is a lot that has suddenly piled up on me lately, and I’m trying my best to take care of everything at the same time. Anybody who has been in a similar situation knows that it rarely works well to try to take on too much at one time. Hopefully things will start to settle down to the point where I can focus on one or two tasks at a time in the near future.

I decided going into 2018 that I will find a way to stay happy and positive throughout the year. Life never goes perfectly, but there are always ways to be positive when things aren’t going well. It’s all just a matter of the attitude with which you choose to go into the situation. While talking on the phone with my dad earlier tonight, he reminded me that life always has a way of working out for the best in the end. I told him that the ONLY reason I’m not completely stressed out right now is because I know that I have made it through worse situations in my life, and things have always worked out eventually. It doesn’t make the situation any easier to resolve, but it does help me to focus more on the big picture.

Nowadays, more than any other time I know of, people want things to happen instantly. With the technology we have now, pretty much anything you could want is at your fingertips and is usually available instantly. I think people tend to forget that that’s not always the case in life. Things don’t always happen instantly, and that frustrates people, because they’re so used to not having to wait for anything. They start to wonder if certain things will never happen for them, just because it’s not working out instantly. A great reminder for all of us is that life is a process. You can’t just snap your fingers and things magically happen. Most people get to live a long life. Things keep happening and changing throughout the course of your entire life. Just because something isn’t happening as quickly or as smoothly as you had hoped doesn’t mean it will never happen. Make the best of your journey through life. Hard times may get you down, but just remember that it’s only temporary. Nothing lasts forever. Both good times and bad times eventually fade away. They cycle throughout your life. When something good in your life goes away, something else will replace it. Your life isn’t over. You just have to keep going and remember that more good times await you in the future.

I’ve said repeatedly in my previous posts that I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. The things you’ve always dreamed of may not be as great as you had hoped. Things you’ve never wanted may end up surprising you and may be exactly what you need. I don’t know where this journey through life will lead, no one does. But, I know that whatever happens will lead to where I’m supposed to end up. Life isn’t a result, it’s a process. Follow the process. Trust in the process. Believe in the process. And, as always, never give up!!

Looking Ahead At 2018

Well, we are now a couple of days into 2018. As much fun as it can be looking back and reflecting on great memories, we have a brand new year ahead of us to look forward to. Whether 2017 went according to plan for you or not, the beginning of a new year is the beginning of a new chapter in the story of your life. You can improve upon the things you did last year (both the good and the bad), and make changes to not repeat the mistakes you made.

So, as we look ahead to the coming year, what are you most looking forward to in your life?

What I am looking forward to in this new year is simple. It’s just living a life of happiness. It’s being in control of my own happiness. It’s loving myself. These are things I FINALLY learned to do in 2017. I learned these things throughout the past year, and I am now looking forward to really applying them to my life.

In the past, I have relied on other people to make me happy. I relied on them to give me a reason to be happy. When I ended up being disappointed in a situation not working out as I had hoped, or when I found out that certain people weren’t who I thought they were, I was disappointed. That disappointment stuck with me for long periods of time. Looking back, I completely wasted a lot of time that should have been spent just being happy with myself. My life has been far from perfect, but, at the same time, I really can’t complain much. I know that a lot of people in this world go through life not knowing if they will get to eat every day, or if they will even live through the day/night. When you think about the things those people deal with on a daily basis, it makes the problems that most of us deal with every day seem so small and so simple. Don’t waste time whining about failed plans. Change your plans and try again. Don’t let things you can’t control ruin your day. Focus on the things you can control and learn to accept that sometimes things just happen in life, whether you want them to happen or not.

With the right attitude, you can make 2018 the happiest year of your life. Things won’t go as planned. There will be disappointment. In some situations, you will fail. That’s all part of life. Don’t let those things ruin your whole year. Take the hand you’re dealt and make the best of it.

I am going into this year with no expectations, yet I know there is endless potential. In past years, I have set certain expectations, and just tried to live up to them. With the knowledge I have gained over the past year, I can now clearly see that I had good intentions, but was just going about things in the wrong way. I keep seeing “New year, new me” posts all over Facebook. I’ve been there, done that. People seem to think that, as soon as the calendar flips to a new year, they are magically a completely different person. I used to think that way, too. It just doesn’t work that way. The person you are today is a result of the changes you’ve made over time. Your year and your life are whatever you make them, so make them great!!

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2018- “The Year of Great Potential”

Happy New Year to all of you around the world!! 2017 is now behind us and 2018 is here. I decided a few weeks ago to declare 2018 “The Year of Great Potential”. A lot of really great things are possible, but, as always, nothing is guaranteed. My attitude going into this year is different from previous years, so that is why I expect different results this year. In 2017, I learned to love myself. In 2018, I will love myself and love life.

There is a lot of uncertainty in my life as I begin 2018, but I will love life regardless this year. It’s what I have decided. Whatever happens in life seems to happen for a reason, so I am just going to embrace and enjoy whatever this year throws at me. I have no expectations, except to be happy and love life. I learned in 2017 to take responsibility for my own happiness. 2018 will not go as planned, I already know that, but I will find happiness in whatever happens.

I’m over setting expectations for myself and trying to live up to them. That just leads to disappointment. For the first time in my life, I love myself and love what I’m all about. I’m going to live my life this year, and know that, whatever happens, I am doing what I am supposed to do in life. I don’t care who does or doesn’t like it. I’m not trying to impress anybody. Whatever I do will be what is best for me and what will eventually lead to my happiness.

I feel truly inspired right now and will probably write a lot in the near future, so I will keep this short.

To all of you around the world, whether you know me or not, I wish you a 2018 that exceeds your greatest expectations. Don’t wait for life to happen. Go out and MAKE life happen!! Don’t wait for someone to make you happy. Take full responsibility for your own happiness. If someone else adds to your happiness, consider yourself lucky, but don’t wait for it to happen. Years fly by too quickly, and life is too short. Make 2018 your best year yet!!

Living Inside “The Disney Bubble”

Over the past couple of years, I have noticed a major difference between where I live and other places. I like to call this area “The Disney Bubble”. Living just a couple miles from Disney World has a major impact on the overall way of life here. I tend to be reminded of this frequently.

If you can’t be happy at Disney World (or even close to Disney World), then I don’t know how you can be happy anywhere. Disney is all about happiness and escaping reality. It’s about being immersed in a fantasy world where you can forget about your problems for a while.

Living so close to Disney, the influence of Disney spreads to the people who live around here, the other businesses in the area, and just the attitude here. People here seem to be friendly, polite, and helpful in most cases. Customer service most places tends to be excellent, because there is so much competition between businesses. If customers aren’t happy with their experience or the way they’re treated somewhere, they will go somewhere else, and they know they can find better here. Overall, I feel like this area is just different from anywhere else I’ve ever been. Life is good here. I’ll be honest, I feel pretty spoiled to have experienced life the way I have for nearly 2 1/2 years.

Last night was a great reminder for me of just how lucky I am to live the life that I get to live. I had a pretty crappy day yesterday. My car wouldn’t start, and my refrigerator suddenly stopped working. The fridge won’t be fixed for a few more days, so I tried to get my car started. I know almost nothing about cars, so I tried to rely on people to give me ideas over the phone and try to figure out what they were telling me to do and how to do it. One of my neighbors that I had never met saw the hood of my car open, and offered to try to help me. Turns out he has experience working on racecars, so it was great to have someone who actually knew what they were doing take a look at the car. Once we got it started, I drove to Wal-Mart to buy a jump starter that I can use until after New Year’s when I can have somebody replace the battery. It had been a busy, stressful, less than ideal day, but when I got home from Wal-Mart, I got to sit in the parking lot outside of my building and watch Magic Kingdom’s “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks show. “Fantasy in the Sky” is the New Year’s Eve fireworks show, but Disney has two show times per night both December 30th and 31st.

After such a crappy day where it seemed like everything that could possibly go wrong was going wrong, I got to end my night with a huge smile on my face watching quite possibly the most amazing fireworks show I’ve ever seen. Other places, I may have just gone to bed still stressed out from the events of the day. Instead, I got to be distracted for a few minutes and was reminded that anything that doesn’t go as planned is just a minor setback. I’ve lost count of the number of times that Disney has managed to completely change my mood/attitude and bring happiness to my life. Watching the fireworks last night was no different.

Tonight, I’ll be keeping a tradition alive for the 3rd New Year’s Eve in a row. I still haven’t found that special someone to share my life with, so there will be no midnight kiss for me to look forward to as I ring in the new year, but I will be sitting outside watching the fireworks again when the clock hits midnight. I will pour a glass of champagne, then head outside to watch the fireworks, and then come back inside to enjoy my champagne and begin to look ahead to the great potential that the new year brings with it.

Happy New Year to all of you, wherever you may be!! I hope your New Year’s Eve is a fun and safe one! I wish you all a fantastic 2018 filled with love, happiness, positivity, good health, success, and continued growth. Cheers, everybody! 😀

Wishes

2017: The Year of… I Don’t Know

Every year at the end of the year, I take some time to look back and reflect upon the past year. It’s a great way to remind myself how far I’ve come, and what I need to do better in the coming year. Here is a look back at my 2017, a year that has been hard to describe.

I ended 2016 by graduating from Golf Academy of America’s Orlando, Florida campus. It was an exciting, yet scary time for me. There is endless potential in the golf industry, but nothing is guaranteed. As is usually the case in life, you get out of it what you put into it. I was proud of finishing school, but scared to death not having a clue what I was going to do next.

I began teaching golf at the end of 2016, and I quickly realized that was what I wanted to do when I finished school. My mom taught preschool for 20 years, so, without realizing it, I was learning to be a teacher just by being around my mom while I was growing up. Public speaking had always scared the living sh*t out of me. It just did. I have never enjoyed being the center of attention. I think a big part of growing up in North Dakota is being taught to not talk about yourself or draw attention to yourself. That is how I was raised, and it has taken me 32 years to break away from that mindset.

In January of 2017, I, once again, got to attend the PGA Merchandise Show here in Orlando and volunteered at the PGA Demo Day. Both were great experiences. The highlight for me had to be on the second to last day of the show when somebody randomly handed me a wristband to get into the Cobra/Puma after-party where I got to meet professional golfers Greg Norman, Blair O’Neal, and Jesper Parnevik. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be in this after-party, so I did my best to act like I belonged and not do anything stupid that would get me kicked out. haha

The weekend after the PGA show, one of my teachers from Golf Academy who became my boss when I started teaching golf asked me to attend a certification class and learn to teach golfers with all kinds of special needs. At the end of the day, I was asked to go through my pre-shot routine and explain to people how I play golf. For those of you who don’t know me, I was born with Spina Bifida and rely on a wheelchair to get around, but I play golf standing up. I ended up speaking to the group for about 10 minutes and hit a few shots to show how I play. Immediately after the class wrapped up for the day, my friend/teacher/boss pulled me aside and asked me if I would be interested in taking over the role of Program Director and Lead Instructor for his special needs junior golf program. At this point, I had been done with school for six weeks and had no clue what, if anything, I would be able to do in the golf industry. I was thrilled to accept this position with Little Linksters!!

February was a new beginning for me. I was now the Director of the Little Linksters G.O.A.L.S. program, and had no experience whatsoever. This whole year has been a learning experience for me, but I am now starting to realize what I did well and what I need to do better.

In March, I got to volunteer at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill here in Orlando again. This time, I knew what I was doing and enjoyed it even more than last year. Those of us who volunteered in 2016 had the incredible honor of knowing that Arnold Palmer himself was watching us work our asses off to make sure the job we were doing was acceptable and made him proud. I’ve said this in a previous post, but one of the greatest honors of my life and one of my proudest moments was when Mr. Palmer made eye contact with me while I was working, smiled, and gave me a thumbs up. It was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. Since Mr. Palmer passed away in September of 2016, I didn’t know what to expect going into the week of Bay Hill this year. When I arrived the first day of setup, those of us who hadn’t seen each other in a year hugged and took a moment to catch up, then we all said, “Let’s make him proud this year.” To be perfectly honest, I think we all worked even harder this year. We all kept waiting for Mr. Palmer to walk into the merchandise tent and ask, “What do we have going on in here today?” His presence was felt all week long. Although he is gone physically, we all knew he was there watching over us all week long. The tournament was a success, and I believe Mr. Palmer would have been proud of us. The highlights of that week for me were getting to watch the unveiling of the new bronze statue of Mr. Palmer, and getting a brief moment to say hello to Mr. Palmer’s grandson, PGA Tour player Sam Saunders.

My dad spent a few weeks here in Florida at the end of February through the beginning of March while he recovered from back surgery. I rarely get to see most of my family now that I live 1,500 miles away, so I always enjoy any time I get to spend with family. One funny moment for me was the day of my dad’s surgery. One of his nurses said I looked familiar for some reason, but we had never met. A while later, she came back and asked if I play golf. I said I teach golf. She apparently recognized me from a segment about junior golf that aired on Golf Channel. I wasn’t interviewed for the segment and my name wasn’t shown on TV, but there were several brief clips of me teaching lessons shown, and she somehow remembered seeing me. I think this was the first time my dad realized that I am getting to do some pretty cool things in my life.

April was when I started to feel a change in myself. Our Little Linksters G.O.A.L.S. program is partnered with Jordan Spieth’s foundation. A picture of me teaching a golf lesson was posted on the homepage of Jordan Spieth’s website. There was also an article about our program on Jordan’s website. This was really great exposure for our program, and, selfishly, it was an incredible moment for me. I have been a fan of Jordan, both as a golfer and as a person, since he first debuted on the PGA Tour. Knowing that my picture and name were on his website during the week of The Masters was a pretty big thrill. As I said before, I grew up not liking being the center of attention. I was taught to not draw attention to myself. This was the first time in my life that I was thrown into the spotlight and absolutely loved every second of it. I was proud to be someone who people could recognize as one of the faces of our Little Linksters program. Not THE face, but one of the faces.

May was a busy month. One of my favorite singers is Jimmy Buffett. I’m a Parrotthead, and actually have a cool story about that. The first time Jimmy Buffett’s fans were referred to as “Parrottheads” was at his concert in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 28th, 1985. I was born (1,000 miles away) at the same time that concert was beginning. In a way, I feel like I was born to be a Parrotthead, and, randomly, I have ended up having a strong connection in my life to the Cincinnati area. I got to see Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band in concert for the first time in Orlando in May. It was well worth the wait. What an amazing show!!

Since I volunteered at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, I was able to go back to Bay Hill in May to play a round of golf. Although I had been teaching golf all year, I hadn’t actually played golf since before I finished school back in December of 2016. Spending most of my time in a wheelchair and being active all the time, it’s easy to forget how little I use my legs and how little I walk when I’m not playing golf regularly. I was completely exhausted after 3 holes, and was very thankful when a massive thunderstorm rained out the rest of our round. Physically, I wasn’t able to continue anyway. We were told we would get to come back at a later date to play again.

The last weekend in May, I got to catch up with one of my best friends for the first time in over a year. For those of you who don’t know me, I got to live my childhood dream of traveling with my favorite band for 6 years. The band’s sound engineer/tour manager was my roommate on the road and he is still one of my best friends. Earlier this year, he was hired to run sound for an internationally known Country music artist that we have been fans of for years. I actually got to sell merchandise for this artist for a night back in 2012, which is when I became a fan. Anyway, this artist played on the final day of the Country 500 Festival at Daytona International Speedway, so I drove up to Daytona to spend the day with my friend and catch up. I got to see several familiar faces that day from my years spent on the road. Wheeling up on stage and looking out at a crowd of 75,000 people was pretty amazing. Getting to watch Kip Moore, Keith Urban, and Kid Rock from the front of house tent was awesome. Keith Urban is one of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met, so it was cool to see him, his band, and his crew again. I would never expect Kip Moore to remember that I sold merchandise for him for one night 5+ years ago, but it was cool to see him again, and it was even cooler to see my friend run sound for him. My friend is the kind of guy who, for as long as I’ve known him, has always worked harder than anyone and has always done a really incredible job. In our years as roommates on the road, he was still up working on things for the next night’s show when I fell asleep, and he usually woke up before me the next morning, too. He deserves to do what he loves to do at the highest level, and I’m damn proud of him.

At the end of May, I got a phone call that turned my whole year around. I was involved in a really bad car accident back in September of 2015, 3 weeks after I moved to Florida. A passenger in the other vehicle who was perfectly fine at the scene of the accident, decided later on that he wanted to take advantage of the situation. He ended up suing me, and it turned into a 10 month process that led to countless sleepless nights, a ridiculous amount of stress and anxiety for me, and pretty much made my life a nightmare. The phone call I received was from my attorney, telling me that the lawsuit had been settled, and I could put it behind me completely. Instantly, I felt my stress start to melt away. It’s a pretty horrible feeling to spend 10 months of your life scared to death to check your mail, answer your phone, or hear the doorbell ring, because it might be more bad news. The effects of that time in my life are things I’m still trying to get over. I’m not the kind of person who would ever intentionally harm another person, and I legitimately feel horrible if I do anything that takes away from another person’s happiness, so being sued over a car accident was something that probably affected me more than it would most people.

For the most part, June and July sucked here in Florida. Specifically, the weather was unbelievably terrible. It rained most of the day literally every single day for almost two months. The temperatures and humidity in Florida are pretty brutal in the summer typically, but this year was a special case with all of the rain we had. I spent most of those two months sitting at home, stuck inside. It was depressing.

I got an e-mail informing me that my rescheduled round of golf at Bay Hill was on the afternoon of June 28th, which was my 32nd birthday. Happy Birthday to me!! haha Every single day for several weeks, I used my crutches and walked back and forth across my living room until my legs completely gave out from exhaustion and I fell to the floor. I pushed myself as hard as I physically could to get in shape for that round of golf. It was a special treat for me to be able to play golf at Bay Hill on my birthday, and I wanted to be as ready for it as I could possibly be. My hard work paid off. Although I played horribly, my physical condition improved a ton. Weeks earlier in May, I was exhausted after 3 holes. On my birthday, I was able to play 17 holes. I was disappointed in myself for allowing myself to get that out of shape in the first place, but I was proud of the progress I made in such a short time. I’m not the kind of person who makes excuses or wants to be treated differently from anybody else, but, for someone who uses a wheelchair 99% of the time, to push myself to the point where I was walking 10,000 steps per day and was so exhausted and in so much pain that I was crying and fell to the ground every single day, I feel like what I was able to accomplish in getting myself ready to play golf again is something that people should recognize and applaud.

When I got to Bay Hill that day, I knew that I hadn’t practiced golf and knew I wouldn’t play well, but I just hoped to finish the round. I enjoyed my day on the course, and got another awesome birthday surprise when I found out baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. was playing in the group in front of me. What a thrill!! I love baseball and grew up watching Cal Ripken Jr. play.

In July, I had a lot of time on my hands, since the rain still hadn’t let up. For years, people had told me I should write a book or start blogging. I ignored it, and figured no one would care to read anything I would write. Finally, in the middle of July, I gave in. Positively Rolling Through Life was born. I will be honest, establishing a blog and getting people to read is not easy. Some people have had more views in their first month of blogging than I’ve had in over five months, but it’s all good. I write for me. I write what I want to write. I want to share a message of love, positivity, and happiness. If people choose to read and enjoy what I write, that means a lot to me. If not, I’ll keep writing for me. I would love to make this blog a success. I would love to make money doing this. So far, that hasn’t happened. If it never happens, I’ll still keep writing, and I’ll keep hoping someone somewhere likes it and gets something out of it.

August, September, October, and November were all about a few things for me: blogging, teaching golf, trying to make sense of life, and Disney.

I spent most of August at Disney World. Every day that I could be in the parks, I was there.

Due to a lot of uncertainty in my life, August wasn’t the best month for me. If certain things hadn’t worked out the way they did, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to continue my current path in life. The thought of being forced to move back to North Dakota became an unfortunate possibility for me, and I had to try to find a way to not let it happen.

September began worse than most months of my life. I was relieved that I would be able to stay in Florida still, but immediately after those details got worked out, hurricane season happened. Hurricane Irma was headed directly toward Florida, and became the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. To make things worse, a guy I met during my time on the road who played a major role in helping our band take its first steps toward getting to the next level was tragically killed in a helicopter crash. I only got to meet Troy once, but he immediately treated me like an old friend and welcomed me into his world. I will never forget that. Although I really can’t say I got to know him on a personal level, the impact that he had on what became my future made that loss truly heartbreaking for me. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me when my friends started sharing posts on Facebook about the crash. I hoped it was just another celebrity death hoax, but quickly realized that it was all too real, and that Troy was gone.

Because of the timing, I don’t feel like the reality of Troy’s death has really hit me yet. Two days after that tragedy, Hurricane Irma moved north off the coast of Cuba and headed directly toward Florida. It was my first experience feeling the full effects of a major hurricane, and it was something I will never forget. I was one of the lucky ones. I never lost electricity, and I didn’t have any property damage. When the outer bands of Irma moved into the Orlando area, I was on the phone with my dad. I got an alert on my phone saying there was a Tornado Warning and that the storm was moving 90 mph. Within minutes, it looked like a bomb exploded outside my window. I dropped to the kitchen floor and hoped I wasn’t about to die. Within a few short minutes, the tornado passed by, but buildings and trees around me had been heavily damaged. Power lines were down, yet I somehow still had electricity. In the distance, I could see somebody’s house on fire. The hurricane was still 200 miles away at this point. If you want the full story, I wrote updates during the hurricane, so you can go back and read those if you’d like. My takeaway is this, as bad as Hurricane Irma was here in central Florida, we got lucky. The things that happened from the Keys all the way through the Caribbean are pretty unbelievable. I can’t begin to comprehend how horrible that storm must have been for the people who had to ride it out. If that wasn’t bad enough, Hurricane Maria was shortly behind Irma. I have made a point of saying all along that no matter how bad things were here in Florida for some people, we are not the ones who need help. The Caribbean is still destroyed. Those people need help. I hope they get that help. The whole world needs to do their part to help these people. That is the only way they will get things back to somewhat normal.

In November, I got to catch up with some people I hadn’t seen in a long time, and it was much needed for me. When you go 5-6 months without getting to spend time with anyone from back home, you get homesick. The way my life has worked out, I haven’t been able to go back home to visit since May of 2016. There are a lot of people that I am really missing right now, as much as I don’t miss North Dakota itself.

When you move away from your family and friends, you realize fairly quickly who cares enough to keep in touch. You realize who is deserving of your time and effort, because they also put in the time and effort to keep in touch with you. I’ve had a bunch of wakeup calls this year, and I feel I’m better off because of it. A friend that I have known for several years now was down here the week of Thanksgiving visiting Disney World with her family. We never spent a ton of time together when I lived in North Dakota, but she was someone I always enjoyed seeing and being around. Since I moved, I feel like I have gotten to know her better (from a distance). She is somebody that I really admire, and she inspires me every day to improve myself. Although it was very brief, I got to spend some time with her at Disney World, and it was THE highlight of my nearly 2 1/2 years in Florida. When you meet someone and then move 1,500 miles away, you never imagine that someone from your old home will be someone you get to share a memory with in your new home. It was just a really special experience for me. I know that she reads my blog, but I hope to someday tell her face-to-face why that was such a special night for me.

December has been a busy month for me. My dad just spent two weeks here visiting again, and we stayed pretty busy the whole time. I am now starting to take a little time to let 2017 sink in and get ready for 2018.

When I look back every year, there is a common theme that has come up throughout the year. I have decided that 2017 has been the year of “I Don’t Know”. There has been so much uncertainty and so much that has changed in my life that I really don’t know what to think of this past year. Even more fitting, the Jimmy Buffett concert I went to back in May was part of his “IDK (I Don’t Know) Tour”. 2018 is a year that has a ton of potential. 2017 was just a lot of uncertainty. It had its ups and downs, but I can take away some great lessons learned from this year.

Every year until now, I have written a Facebook post at the end of the year telling the story of the past year. I have now transitioned that to my blog. Last year at this time, I wrote that I hadn’t changed as a person over the past year. I was still the same person I had always been, except I had learned to accept who I am. This year, I am not the same person I was a year ago. Not even close. I am forever changed. This year, I learned to love myself. I’m sorry if this sounds arrogant in any way, and I apologize if it does, but I’m a damn good person. I KNOW that I’m a good person. I do what makes ME happy. I live my life in a way that I want to live it. The things I focus on and the things that are my top priorities are the things I want to be the most important in my life. I am far from perfect, but I am happy with the person that I am now. I no longer care if someone wants to judge me in a certain way. It won’t change who I am or what I do. My goal is to spread love, positivity, and happiness with the world. I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference in some way, and every day of my life I am working toward that. I’m the most optimistic person you could ever meet. I love life and I believe in making dreams a reality. There is no reason why a fantasy world and the real world can’t become one. I basically live in a fantasy world. I spend every possible second of my life at Walt Disney World. In 2017, I visited Magic Kingdom 110 times, Epcot 31 times, Hollywood Studios 3 times, and Animal Kingdom 6 times. You can do the math on that. In 365 days, I visited Walt Disney World 150 times. Some people get to visit Disney World once a year, some people just a few times in their life, some only get to visit once every few years or once ever, most people never get to experience Disney. I am there enough that many of the performers recognize me. Other cast members recognize me, and some know me by name. There is nothing cooler in the entire world than going into Magic Kingdom and hearing a cast member say, “Hi, Danny!! Welcome home!!” It truly is the “Most Magical Place on Earth”. It just is.

A lot in my life is going to change in 2018, and I am now better prepared for it. I love who I am as a person and I have learned who matters most in my life. I know what I want to do and how I want to go through life. Knowing those things, I am better prepared to take on whatever comes my way in 2018. This may not be my last post of 2017, but if it is, I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read this. When I started blogging, I figured a few of my close friends might take the time to read my posts on occasion. I am far from being a successful blogger, but people from around the world read my posts, and I think that is pretty incredible. Hopefully the message I share is something that can make a difference in the world. If I am able to, in some way, make this world a better place than it was before I came along, then I feel like I am living my purpose.

I hope you all have had a great 2017, and I wish you all a 2018 filled with love, peace, happiness, positivity, and good health. Thank you all for joining me in this journey of Positively Rolling Through Life!! 😀

Making A Difference

I hear people say all the time, “I wish I could make a difference in the world” or “I want to make a difference in the world”. I say this often, too. People want to have a lasting impact on the world. That is great to hear. It’s awesome to know that so many people want to do good things in this world. There can never be too many or enough good people doing good things. But the real difference is made when people stop wishing and wanting, and they start doing. It’s great that people want to make a difference. It’s great that people wish they could make a difference. Well, what most people fail to realize is that you CAN make a difference. You just have to do it. Do good deeds. Treat others well. Help people in need when you are able to do so. Be nice to people. Be polite.

We all hear about people who are labeled as “heroes”. If you want to be considered a hero, then you can be. So many people think of certain job titles when they think of heroes. The truth is, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a living. Your actions and your character are what determine whether or not you’re a hero. There are people who risk their lives every single day to protect others from danger, and they do it simply because it’s their job. They took that job because they want to help people. Those people are heroes. But, there are also people who go out of their way to help others in need simply because they want to help in some way. Those people aren’t getting paid to do what they do. They do it just because they are good people. Those people are heroes, as well. There are many different types of heroes and difference makers in this world, and they all help to make our world a better place.

If you want to make a difference in this world, you can. You don’t necessarily have to jump in front of a bullet for somebody or carry them out of a burning building. Smiling at a random stranger, saying hello, and asking how their day is going could brighten their entire day. You never know what the people around you are dealing with in their life. You never know how badly they may need a simple nice gesture to put a smile on their face or to revive their faith in humanity.

I am a very fortunate person. I tend to meet a lot of great people. I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences, too, but I often times cross paths with really great people. We all rely on others in some ways to make it through life. Next time you need to rely on someone else to help you in any way, just remember that somebody in this world is relying on you just as much.

I make a point of going out of my way to do nice things for people as often as possible. Whether it’s something minor or something significant, I enjoy helping people. It’s just the kind of person I am. The happiness of others brings me joy. I don’t ask for any kind of reward or recognition. I usually don’t tell anyone else when I’ve done something for someone. The smile on that person’s face and knowing I made a difference is reward enough for me. I believe in karma. I believe that, if you are a good person, good things will eventually come back to you. My life is far from perfect, and I really hope certain things fall into place for me soon, but nights like tonight remind me that the things I’ve been wishing for will eventually come my way if I keep going.

Earlier tonight the battery in my car died in the parking lot of a grocery store. I had no way of charging the battery or jumping it by myself, so I had to just hope that somebody would be generous enough to stop and help me out. Immediately when I opened the hood of my car, a nice lady stopped and asked if I needed help. The battery in her car was in a place that was hard to get to, so she was unable to help me jump start my car, but she got the attention of somebody else who was walking by. This person happened to be an off-duty sheriff’s deputy. He was willing to help, and we got my car started quickly. Both of these people could have easily just passed by and not paid any attention to me, but they we were very willing to help. Both people refused to accept any kind of compensation for their time and help, and they both refused to even tell me their names so I could thank them by name. They were both just really nice people who wanted to help someone in need. When my car started, the deputy said, “Don’t thank me. If I can’t help others, then what good am I? Of course I would help someone who needs me.” The world needs more people like that. Anyone who would selflessly take the time to help someone in need is a hero.

The actions of these people who stopped to help me are things anyone could do. It doesn’t take much effort to hook up jumper cables to the battery of a car, but the fact that they took the time to help me when they didn’t need to is what made them both heroes in this situation. If nobody had stopped to help me, my car would still be sitting in that parking lot, and I would probably still be sitting in the car. You don’t need to donate large amounts of money, you don’t need to risk your life, and you don’t need to do anything life-changing. Smile at people as you pass by them. Say hello. Ask how their day is going. If you see someone in need, ask if you can help them. Something that takes a few seconds or minutes could make someone’s day better. You may not always be able to help in every situation, but help whenever you can. You may start a chain reaction of kindness that impacts the lives of several people. Whether that happens or not, you will know that you at least helped one person. Leave the world better than you found it. Make every situation better than it would have been if you had not been involved. And really, just be a good person. The good you do for others will find its way back to you eventually. Just believe and do for others what you would wish others would do for you. That’s how simple it is to make a difference in the world.

Enjoy What You Have Right Now

Life is unpredictable. One moment, things can be completely normal, and the next your life can be forever changed. It’s easy to focus on the things in life that we wish we had, but you may not have any control over whether or not you are able to actually get what you want. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we need to focus on what we do have. We all need a reminder once in a while that there are others who are less fortunate than us. They would give anything to have the things that we sometimes take for granted. This is a lesson that I didn’t learn until I suffered the greatest loss of my life… the loss of my mom.

I have been thinking about my mom a lot lately. I always think about her even more than usual during the holidays. The last Christmas I got to spend with my mom was 10 years ago. It’s hard to believe that it has already been that long. Christmas 2007 was the last Christmas that my family got to spend with my mom. We knew she wasn’t doing well and that she didn’t have much time left, so I think we all made sure to enjoy that Christmas a little more than we had before. What we didn’t know at that time was that Christmas would also be our last with our grandparents. My mom and both of her parents passed away within 10 months of each other in 2008. Needless to say, it was the worst year of my life.

The more I have thought about my mom lately, the more memories of past Christmases have come back to me. Every year, I looked forward all year long to spending Christmas Eve with my family. It was myself, my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, and nephews. The older we got, the busier everyone became throughout the year, so Christmas Eve was one of our few chances every year to get everyone together at the same time and just have fun. I looked forward to opening presents every year, but when I look back now, I remember very few of the presents I received. The memories that have stuck with me were just the memories of getting to spend quality time with my family.

When my mom passed away, all three of my brothers were married and had kids. My mom was the person who always really held my family together. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind when necessary. After we lost her, my family still got together on Christmas Eve, but it just never felt the same to me. Everyone had their own ideas for how we should celebrate Christmas, and I seemed to be one of the only people who wanted to keep our traditions exactly the same as they had been for as long as I could remember.

Over the next several years, Christmas started to feel more and more like just another day of the year to me. As much as I had always loved celebrating Christmas, it became a day where I started to look back every year and remember the great memories from the past, instead of creating new memories. To be perfectly honest, I started to feel like I was sitting there watching my family have their Christmas.

When I moved away, I attempted to revive some of the traditions that I loved while growing up, but it’s just not the same when you’re celebrating by yourself. Christmas 2015 was my first Christmas since I moved, and I spent it alone. I cooked a big meal for myself, drank wine, and watched TV. It was 86 degrees and sunny. Back home, that would be a hot summer day. In Florida, it’s just another day. Although I was happy to bring back some of the traditions I had been missing for the past few years, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just still didn’t feel special to me.

Last year, my dad flew down here to spend a few weeks with me. He was here for my graduation from Golf Academy, and he stayed through Christmas. Once again, I made sure we continued some of our old traditions that I had revived the previous year. Since it was my second Christmas in Florida, things started to feel a little more normal this time. My dad, however, had never experienced a Christmas without snow and freezing cold temperatures. He thought a hot, sunny day on Christmas was just weird. haha

This year, once again, my dad is down here visiting and spent Christmas with me. Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were lazy days for us. We ate way too much food, and just relaxed. While we were watching TV tonight, out of nowhere, it hit me that today had finally felt like Christmas to me once again. I wasn’t sure why, but something about today just felt different from the past 9 Christmases.

After giving it some thought, I realized that I was just happy to be spending Christmas with my dad. The rest of my family was 1,500 miles away, but I was enjoying a relaxing day with my dad.

For the past decade, I had been so focused on trying to keep things the way they had been in the past that I completely failed to just enjoy the moment. I failed to be happy with what I had. I do still wish Christmas could be the way it used to be, and I especially wish I could still celebrate Christmas with my mom, but life changes constantly. You can’t stop things from changing. You have to adapt and make the best of every day.

Hopefully someday I’ll have a family of my own, and I can continue some of my favorite childhood traditions with my wife and kids. Until then, I will cherish the new memories I get to create with the people who mean the most to me while still keeping those old memories alive.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!! I know that not everyone who may be reading this celebrates Christmas, but, whether you do or not, I hope you enjoyed a day filled with love, peace, and happiness. That is my wish for everyone, every day. Enjoy the great things you have in your life. Spread happiness to everyone around you. Love one another. 😀

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