Love Your Life

February has arrived. How did that happen?  The past three months or so have absolutely flown by. I think my brain is still stuck in November somewhere. As we begin the second month of the year, I feel like, in many ways, I am getting a second chance on things that didn’t go as planned last year. The way the timing is working out with certain things in my life, right now is very similar to things that happened in January 2017. The biggest difference this year is that the things I wanted to happen a year ago are actually in the process of happening right now. There is action this year, not just all talk and ideas. A lot is currently changing in my life. As I mentioned in a recent post, I used to absolutely hate change. Right now, I am not only embracing it, I’m looking forward to it.

The beginning of 2018 was pretty much terrible in every way imaginable, but I have learned to not let things get to me too much. Life is full of temporary ups and downs. It was a minor setback on the path to getting things headed in the right direction.

The past week or so has been incredibly motivating and encouraging for me. I have been surrounded on a daily basis by people who are truly passionate about what they do for a living and how they get to live their life. These are people who have found a way to turn their passion into a career. The most motivating part of it for me is that I do the same thing these people do. It has made me stop and really think about how many people work a job just for money. It pays the bills. They don’t do it because they like it. I’ve never been that kind of person, and I’ve never understood why others choose to go through life that way. People need to make money, and I understand that fully, but far too many people just settle for any job instead of focusing their time and effort on the things they truly love to do.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they wish they could do something specific or how they want to do something different from what they’re doing. My question for those people is always, “What’s stopping you?” If you want something badly enough, you can and will find a way to make it work… within reason, of course. Too many people just don’t want to put in the effort to make their dreams become their reality. Some are scared of taking chances. Many people don’t know where to start when they set out to chase their dreams, but, if you go out of your way to tell everyone around you exactly what you want to do, you will eventually run across someone who does know how you can get started. Tell people what you want in life and surround yourself with people who want similar things.

I can’t take full credit for any of the great things I’ve had an opportunity to do in my life. I have always found myself in situations where I have been able to meet the right people. You have to put yourself in a position to succeed.

People aren’t mind-readers. If want something, you have to tell people you want it. You have to ask for it. Don’t be shy. That used to be my biggest problem. I always wanted things, but never felt comfortable asking for them. Part of it was a fear of rejection. But, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know the answer. I lacked confidence in myself for many years. I felt that I didn’t deserve certain things, because I hadn’t earned those things. An important lesson to learn in life is that you absolutely deserve the great things that life has to offer. Don’t ever let anyone (especially yourself) tell you that you don’t deserve better than what you have right now. While we all should be thankful for what we have, we should also constantly strive for better. Keep progressing. Keep growing. Keep improving. There’s no such thing as a perfect life. You can always improve your life.

I hope all of you take a moment to ask yourself what you really want in life. When you know your answer, then ask yourself what is stopping you from making it happen. Most likely, the only thing holding you back is yourself. Nobody is going to live your life for you. You have to get out and live it. We only get one shot at this journey of life. Why would you not want it to be the best it can be?

None of us are guaranteed another day. Make the most of today. Do what makes you happy. Live your life the way you want to live it, not the way others want you to live it. Don’t waste another day being unhappy. Stop wanting and wishing. Start doing. Do what you want to do in life. Love your life!!


See Yourself The Way Others See You

Quite frequently, I read or hear comments from people about how unimpressive they are, or how boring they are. Nearly every time, I ask myself, “How could they think that way about themselves?” A lot of times, these are people that I happen to think are really incredible people, for various reasons. I just don’t understand how they don’t see in themselves what I (as well as many other people) see in them. It just doesn’t make sense to me. And then I realize that I do the exact same thing.

The more I think about this topic, the more I realize how often I contradict myself. I am always very proud of the times in my life when somebody tells me I can’t do something, and I prove them wrong. I am very aware that people notice me and pay attention to the things I do. I stand out, and I know that I do. Yet, I am the kind of person who always thinks that nobody ever thinks about me unless we are currently spending time together or talking to each other. I tend to think that the things I do in my life go completely unnoticed, even though I have been told by countless people that they pay attention and keep up with everything I do.

The older I get, the more I am starting to realize the importance of just being myself. Hopefully others are realizing the importance of being themselves, too. Throughout my life, I have had literally hundreds of people randomly walk up to me and thank me for being me. They have told me that I just give off positive vibes and they can sense it when they’re around me. Hearing things like that always makes me smile, yet it leaves me completely confused. I am who I am and do what I do. I don’t try to draw attention to myself in any way. I’ve noticed that being in the presence of the people I’ve looked up to the most in my life has just had a different feel to it. I can feel that I am in the presence of a truly great person. I suppose the people who have made those comments to me notice something similar in me when they’re around me, but I have honestly never considered myself to be special or great in any way. I’m just me. Perhaps the people I look up to would say the exact same thing about themselves. After all, we are all just human beings, not superheroes.

It’s easier to see things from the outside looking in than to see it in yourself, but I think we would all benefit from trying to look at ourselves from a different perspective. Instead of blowing off really flattering comments from others, pay attention to what they are saying to you. If you hear it repeatedly, it’s not just a random compliment and it’s not a coincidence. Don’t let it go to your head and start thinking you’re greater than you actually are, but don’t be afraid to accept the fact that you have the ability to change people’s lives for the better. You have greatness within you. I truly believe that we ALL have greatness within us. We just need to find it and let it shine.

This past week, I attended the PGA Merchandise Show here in Orlando. Several thousand people were at this event every day. On the second day, a complete stranger came up to me and said, of all the people around us, I stood out and she had a feeling that she needed to meet me. I smiled and said “hello” and introduced myself. She started crying and hugged me. She said, “You love life, don’t you? I bet your life has been pretty great so far.” I said, “I really can’t complain. Life is good.” Within 10 seconds of meeting, she said she will never forget my positivity and my natural happiness. I was sitting silently by myself watching golf on TV when she approached me. I smiled as a reaction to a great shot I saw on TV. The lady’s first impression of me was that I was smiling the first time she ever saw me.

You don’t need to go out of your way to get noticed. Be yourself, and people will notice you without you realizing it. You are special to someone else, whether you think you’re special or not. You have something to offer that is unique and really great. If you don’t already know what that “something” is, pay attention to the things people say to you. Pay attention to the compliments you receive. Pay attention to the way people act around you. Certain things will start to stand out.

I am somebody who is able to lead by example. As I said, I think of myself as being “just me”, but others see me as someone who is happy and positive 100% of the time and somebody who can always find ways to overcome the things I face in life. I have fears and doubts just like everyone else, but, if I saw myself the way many others see me, my confidence level would be sky high. Do yourself a favor and look at yourself the way others look at you. You have the ability to change lives for the better. Why not use that ability to improve your own life, too? Embrace the person within you that others look up to, and realize that you really are somebody special.

People Make The Difference

Over the past couple of months, my mind has been racing. I always take time at the end of each year to look back on the things I experienced that year, but this past year I found myself looking back at previous years, too. The last few years have kinda blended together for me. Things that happened in one year, seemed to be unresolved until the next year. I guess you could say New Year’s Eve ended with a “To be continued…” feel in a lot of ways.

When I think back to the greatest memories of my life, the first thing I remember is who was there, or who was involved. As memorable as the event itself was, the people are what stand out the most in every situation.

In the years that I spent traveling across the country, I had the opportunity to meet a ton of people. I visited a lot of places that I never thought I would get to visit. Those are memories that will stick with me forever. I really did get to live my lifelong dream. I remember when I was younger and attended concerts on a regular basis with my mom, there were a lot of times when the artist we were watching perform would make a comment about how happy they were to be in our city, or they would mention something from a previous show they had played in our city. I remember always wondering if they actually remembered that stuff, or if they just made it up, since most people wouldn’t know the difference anyway. While I suppose both of those scenarios are very possible, I know which ended up being true for me. I still remember every single place I visited over the course of 6 years and over 600 concerts. Some of those places I only visited once, but the ones I got to visit repeatedly are the ones I could tell a lot of stories about. More than anything, it’s the people I remember from those places.

I haven’t really written much on Positively Rolling Through Life about my time on the road yet, but I will get into it more over time. I am so focused on the present these days that I don’t really stop very often to look back to that time in my life. But, when I do look back on those times, it’s the people that I think of first every time.

I never really wanted to get too far ahead of myself back then. I knew that I was living my childhood dream, so I made myself a promise that I would enjoy the moment while it lasted. I never wanted to look past anything or take anything for granted. The band’s schedule was confirmed several months in advance at all times, but I rarely looked more than a week ahead to see where we were going. The show that mattered the most to me was the next one, wherever it may have been.

I was very fortunate to meet a lot of really wonderful people back then. I am still friends with many of them. We don’t keep in touch as much as we used to, but we do still keep in touch, and I always love hearing from them. They know who they are, and hopefully some of them are reading this. I sold the band’s merchandise, so I was definitely not the person that people were coming to the shows to see. When I decided to leave the band and move across the country to start a new chapter in my life, I wondered if anyone would miss me. I wondered if anyone would know I was gone. Although the majority of the people who came to the shows throughout the years probably didn’t notice when I left, it meant a lot to me that the friends I made in a bunch of my favorite cities sent me messages after I left and told me they missed me. It was a great feeling to know that I had some kind of lasting impact on them.

Looking back even further, I remember a lot of random things from when I was young. People I haven’t seen in 20-25 years still cross my mind from time to time. They may not remember me, but I remember them. I still remember the person who took me to the driving range to hit golf balls for the first time in my life. I was about six or seven years old at the time. I haven’t seen that guy in well over 20 years, yet that memory has stuck with me. It has become an even more important memory for me now that I teach golf for a living.

Fast forward to the present. My life is very different now from what I did previously, yet it’s very similar in a lot of ways. I am in a position to meet a lot of new people on a regular basis. We don’t see each other frequently, but we do get to see each other occasionally. The people who play a recurring role in my present life are people I associate with certain places or events, just like I used to do on the road. I know that when I get to visit a certain place or be a part of a certain event I will see those people again, and we will get to catch up. It’s something I look forward to every time.

Living so far away from my family and friends that I grew up with, it’s nice to have some familiarity in my life. I enjoy seeing familiar faces as often as possible. Whether I know the people or not, I just really enjoy seeing someone who is familiar to me. It’s a comforting feeling. Being able to have brief interactions with people who are familiar to me is what has always kept me from getting homesick, especially since I haven’t been able to go back and visit my hometown in nearly two years now.

There are certain people who have no clue how much I appreciate them and how much I look forward to seeing them. I wish they knew, but I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to tell them. I spend as much time as possible at Walt Disney World, specifically Magic Kingdom. I have gotten to know a few people who work there, but most are just strangers who are familiar to me. Once again, whether I actually know them or not, those people are the reason my favorite place has become even more special to me. It truly is my happy place.

As I have mentioned in a couple of my recent posts, 2018 got off to a brutal start for me. Nothing seemed to go right for a few weeks. Slowly but surely, things are getting worked out. Things always find a way to work themselves out over time, and a few of the things that were stressing me out are now closer to being resolved. The difference, not surprisingly, has been the people I have dealt with recently. I like to be in control of the situations I am in, and I hate the feeling of having to just wait and rely on others to help me. In situations like those, you have to just hope that eventually you will find someone who is in a position to help and is willing to do so. Not everyone who is able to help is willing, but I have been fortunate to find the right people when I have needed them.

If all of you who are reading this take a look back at your fondest memories, I think you will also find that you will tend to remember the people more clearly than certain other details from those situations.

While I still have a ways to go to feel truly comfortable in my current life situation, key pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall into place one by one. If/When everything finally does work out, I already know for sure that I will look back and will remember the people who played the biggest roles in making things happen. We can’t get through life completely on our own. We always have people helping us out along the way. Prove to people that they can believe in you, and they will likely put in the time and effort to help you succeed. More times than not, if you can help someone, then they will help you. People helping people is what makes this world work. I just wish more people would realize that. Making enemies and going out of your way to make life difficult for others is just unnecessary. In any great success story, the people involved along the way make the difference. Remember that. When you’re able to do so, make a difference in somebody’s life. You never know when you may need someone to do the same for you.

Life Happened, Because Life Happened

When I was younger, I absolutely hated any kind of change. I wanted everything in the world to stay the same forever, and I just couldn’t understand why anything ever needed to change. Although I got a bit carried away, I think people, in general, struggle with change. We struggle to adapt and get used to things being different from what we’re used to. Comfort zones play a big role in life, and most people never take the chances they need to take to really bust out of their comfort zone. But sometimes life happens and you don’t have a choice.
In recent years, my life has changed more than I ever could have imagined. All things considered, I feel like I’ve handled things surprisingly well. I’ve grown a lot as a person, and I continue to grow more every day. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that you can handle anything life throws at you. If you ever feel like you can’t handle something, then you are trying to handle the situation with the wrong mindset. You need to take a step back and give yourself time, then try again.
I have gone through a lot of ups and downs in my life. The great times have been almost unbelievable. The bad times have been brutal. I have experienced highs that I never would have dared to dream of in my wildest dreams. On the other hand, I have experienced brutal lows that dragged me down into unimaginable depression that seemed like it would never end. What I have learned from all of it is that it’s just part of life. Life happens. Nothing lasts forever.
When I was in college, I felt like my life was about as normal as it could be. I was trying to figure out what to do with my life and how to make it happen. I had no clue that my whole world was about come crashing down on me.
On January 21st, 2008, 10 years ago today, my mom lost her nearly 18 month battle with colon cancer. Anybody who knows me at all knows that I’m a mama’s boy. I always have been, and I’m damn proud of it. I never in my worst nightmares could have imagined I would lose my mom when I was 22 years old.
Although I didn’t fully understand it until after it was too late, basically everything I have ever done in my life was and is for my mom. I went through life doing what I wanted to do, but never stopped to think about why I was doing things that way. Years later, I realized it was all because of my mom and the things I learned from her.
My mom was the kind of person who made friends easily. Everybody who knew her loved her. It’s always easier to see things from the outside looking in than if you’re right in the middle of it. I never fully understood the impact she had on others and how many lives she touched until after she was gone.
Everybody has their own way of grieving. What works for somebody may not work for others. You have to find the way that works best for you and give yourself as much time as needed to cope with losing someone close to you.
When my mom passed away, my family spent a lot of time together, but there seemed to be very little talking. I need to talk about things. I can’t just sit silently and then magically feel fine. The rest of my family may have benefitted from that time spent together, but I needed to get away from everything. To this day, I feel bad for putting my friends through this, but I started going to my friends when I needed to get something off of my chest. I never asked if they minded, I just started talking… sometimes for hours.
Over the last few months of my mom’s life, she wasn’t comfortable sleeping in bed. She slept in the recliner in our living room. When I came home at night, the first thing I did every single night was look into the living room to see if she was still awake. If she was still awake, I would sit on the couch and talk and watch TV with her until she fell asleep. Many nights, I would stay in the living room after she fell asleep and I would just watch her sleep. I knew that it was something I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do for much longer, so I wanted to spend every possible moment with her. Looking back, I’m glad I did that.
In my last post, I wrote about certain things in life that need to happen before the rest of the pieces of the puzzle can fall into place. Although I would give absolutely anything to have my mom back, my life is what it is right now because of losing her. The greatest, most unthinkable tragedy of my life has led me to where I am today. When you’re in the middle of trying to deal with a loss like that, you’re pissed off at the world. Nothing makes sense. You cry, scream, have meltdowns, and just want to wake up from the nightmare that you are living. But then life goes on. One day, you wake up and start to realize that things have been changing gradually over time, without you realizing it.
The best way to describe how I dealt with the loss of my mom is, I ran away from home and started to spend more time away from the life I had lived before. I spent more time with friends. In the process, I made more friends.
I started to realize that I was able to feel better by talking to myself when there was nobody around for me to talk to. I realized how much music helped me to clear my mind. I started to drive around more and listen to music. I started traveling greater distances to go to concerts when a local band that my mom and I loved was playing. The better I got to know the band, the farther I traveled for their concerts. I didn’t want to leave after the concerts were done, because I didn’t want to go back home to the thoughts of my mom being gone. I started offering to help the band pack up their gear after the shows, just so I didn’t have to go home for a little while longer.
I got to the point where I would let out the emotions I needed to get out while driving to concerts, then would have fun at the concert, help out after the shows, and then would let everything out again while driving home. It became like therapy for me. Eventually, I ended up spending six years traveling across the country with the band selling merchandise for them. I always wanted to get into the music industry when I was younger, and it eventually happened… because of the greatest loss of my life.
My mom always told me I could do anything I wanted to do in life, but I know that she would have wanted me to earn a college degree and get a good job. Although she did get to see me on stage with the band one night, and I could tell it made her proud, I’m not so sure she would have been very happy that I eventually dropped out of college to travel across the country in a van with the band for six years.
When the time came for me to start growing up and make some changes in my life, I quit the band and moved to Florida to attend a golf school. If I hadn’t lost my mom, I can almost guarantee I would have graduated from college and found a “normal” job in North Dakota. I would have always wondered what I could have done if I had taken some crazy chances. I would have hated it. I hate the “What if…?” situations in life. I would rather try and fail than not try and have to wonder what could have been.
While I still have a lot left to figure out in life, living in Florida and being 1,500 miles away from my family and friends that I grew up with has given me the chance, for the first time, to start to realize why life is happening the way it is. I now have a college degree and teach golf. I work with kids. Specifically, I work with special needs kids. I was born with a physical disability called Spina Bifida. I met a lot of kids while I was growing up who had special needs, whether they were physical or mental. My mom taught preschool for 20 years. I never realized it until I started teaching golf, but just being around my mom while growing up, I was learning every day how to be a teacher. I was learning how to treat people. I was learning to make a difference in other people’s lives. I was learning to be patient and understanding. Because of my own fear of missing out on things, I was teaching myself to not exclude anybody. I taught myself that everyone deserves a chance to do the things they want to do in life.
My mom taught me that people are people, regardless of who they are. Nobody is any more or less important than anyone else. Everyone deserves equal respect, kindness, and fairness. Everyone should be treated the way you want to be treated.
If you had asked me 10 years ago what I had learned from my mom, my answer most likely would have been, “I don’t know.” Today, my answer to that question is, I don’t know that I can narrow it down, because there is too much to list everything.
Looking back, it doesn’t seem possible that my mom has been gone for 10 years now. She is every bit as much a part of my life now as she was back then. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. I miss her every single day. I still dream about her. I still want to pick up the phone and call her when something significant happens in my life, or even just to talk, in general. I still feel her presence in everything I do and everywhere I go. I know that she is still with me in some way and that she always will be. I hate the thought that I needed to lose my mom for my life to really begin, but that does seem to be how things worked out. I know that she would be proud if she could see how my life has turned out so far. The things I do from this point forward will be a continuation of the things I learned from my mom.
On a day-to-day basis, very little seems to change. You have to look back at the big picture to realize how much progress has been made. I am amazed every day when I realize how much has happened since that night 10 years ago. Life happened, because life happened.
I love you, mom!!

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…

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.”

Clearwater Sunset 2

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!!


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!!