Let me begin by saying that I’m incredibly lucky individual. I grew up with a certain amount of privilege, provided by my father who figuratively worked himself to the bone more often than not. To that end, I often felt like I rarely saw my father when I was really young… and that’s a pitfall that I’m very conscious of repeating with my own two boys.
With that said, my parents took my brothers and I to Disney World quite a bit when we were kids. It got to the point where it started to feel like a second home to me, and it felt incredibly warm, safe, and comfortable. I loved everything about it, especially the theming and the detail… But I truly loved Epcot, and Future World in particular.
When I was 12 years old, my parents, brothers and I visited Disney World with my Grandma Jo and Grandpa John – my Dad’s parents. My Grandma Jo was a wonderful soul, and for as much time as I missed my father when I was growing up, I spent that time with my mother and my Grandma Jo. I remember sitting in Future World talking with my mom and my grandma, somewhere near World of Motion or Horizons. It was such an incredible day, and while I had been to this place many times before, it was all the more special because this time I was here with both of these two women who I treasured so very much. But on this day, we had a conversation… And that conversation involved how very wonderful it would be if we could do this all over again later on in life when I was married and had children of my own.
I’ve always been ambitious, but as a 12 year old this felt like an outlandish goal… but I chose to take it on – and I promised them both that I’d personally make it happen.
Several years later, we quite unexpectedly lost my Grandma Jo shortly before Christmas. I was a Junior at Michigan State University.
Years past, more trips came and went, and life does what it has a tendency to do… it moved right along.
I made mistakes, and I had wins… but regardless of my own personal scoreboard, this promise never left my mind.
Fast forwarding quite a few years, I inadvertently turned my wife into an absolute Disney fanatic (talk about first world problems). We honeymooned in Disney World and just kept going back, making our own sets of entirely new memories. However, the more we went back, the more I realized that it would be extremely difficult to pull this type of a trip off the way the parks are set up now unless we bought into Disney Vacation Club – just because it’s really the only way to get access to the types of rooms we’d need to pull it off.
So we bought in.
Now if you know my wife, you know that she is far more organized than I. After a couple of trips, she basically let me know that it was going to be almost impossible for us to do this trip that I’ve been planning for based on what we had with Disney Vacation Club… so yeah, we doubled down.
And so now, here we are… well over 35 years since my first visit, 30 years since a promise was made, and 4 years since we initially jumped into DVC. But we are here, and it’s happening.
While none of my grandparents are with us anymore, I’m blessed that my family is able to take this time and come together in this way, and in this place.
We have much to celebrate… my Mom and Dad are great, and have each battled their own health issues to be in a great place. My brother JC proposed to his longtime girlfriend Katie just a few days ago, and so we are adding a wonderful new soul to our family. My brother Josh and his lovely wife Karen were quite recently blessed with their second child, a beautiful little girl named Audrey. And Claire and I feel like we are the luckiest two human beings on the planet, with two of the coolest, most loving and wonderful little boys that we could have ever imagined.
Sadly, Josh & Karen and the girls can’t come because Audrey is just too young to travel safely (5 weeks old – what are you going to do)? I miss the hell out of him, and I so wish that we could all experience this together.
Still, the simple fact is that this all feels like a capstone, and the fulfillment of a lifelong dream… and the satisfaction of a promise kept.
And so why do I write this?
It’s not to brag. It’s not to pat myself on the back.
It’s because everybody in this world shares something very personal… And that’s pain and struggle.
Look, it’s a hard freaking world out there. Expectations are high, rules are fluid and changing, and we’ve never been so connected and disconnected at the same time.
Personally, I’ve had massive wins, soul crushing defeats, and plenty of bouts with the darkness.
But Claire said something during our podcast last week that really resonated with me… and I didn’t see it coming.
“Take time to kiss your trophies”
It’s profound – at least for me – because I don’t. I’m learning to.
It’s so damn easy to get lost in the minutia and focus on putting out fires… cause there are alway fires.
Having the courage to authentically kiss your trophies requires just that – courage.
And so in this time, that’s what we are doing… kissing trophies and celebrating life.
My hope and wish for you is that you find the time and courage to do the same, and live your truth.
And, thanks for reading.