Merry Christmas Disney Friends!

I hope this post finds you well and full of all the season’s happiness and magic.  You, the friends I’ve made within the Disney fan community, are dear to me in a way I could not have imagined when I started this blog over three years ago.  Some of you are fellow bloggers and podcasters, but all of you are Disney fans like me.  Through social media, I’ve been able to see and hear about the adventures you’ve had on your Disney vacations, I get your take on movies, restaurants, resorts, and Disney news.  We may not always agree on everything, but our friendly discussions are part of the fun.

I started this blog as a way to cope with the major life-changing event of becoming an empty-nester.  I’d spent 23 years raising two amazing people in a home full of near constant activity.  Raymond and I encouraged our kids to pursue their interests and we did our best not to miss a single ballgame, dance recital, taekwondo tournament, or school event.  Suddenly – all of that stopped on a dime.  I wasn’t sure how life would be.  I’d heard horror stories and, while I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be thrown into a midlife crisis over it, I did realize I’d have an awful lot of free time on my hands.

That’s where you guys came in.  Suddenly, I had a community.  It started with Tips from the Disney Diva and Devos where I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a writer and was welcomed by the other writers with open arms.  Then I started Living a Disney Life and poured my love for both Disney and my family into every article.  In 2015, two of the best friends I’d made in the Disney fan community, Nick Maglio and Dave Hodges, were kind enough to team up with me for The Disney Exchange Podcast and they’ve kept me laughing every week for the past two years.  I’ve been blessed in a million ways, great and small, all along the way.

Merry Christmas, Disney Friends!  You’ve given me your friendship, your advice, and your care and concern through the ups and downs of life.  You’ve shared your stories, your vacations, your families, and your hearts with me – all gifts beyond measure.  May the peace and joy of the holiday season be yours and may 2017 be a healthy and prosperous year for you and your family.

All my best…Lisa

Pulling My Disney Comfort Closer

This is the first post I’ve written all week – I still love you guys and I still have a lot to say about Disney and my love for all the joy and magic I find in it.  This week I’ve been distracted by a few things, not the least of which has been the hate-filled rants and incredibly vicious attacks I’ve seen all over social media related to our American democracy and the process of electing the people who govern our country.

Pulling My Disney Comfort Closer

I treasure my own freedom of speech and believe we are entitled to speak our minds.  I love a good debate between open-minded adults who can argue a point without making personal attacks on those with opposing views.  DCL Norway Raymond and LisaIf you’ve ever met me in person, you know I possess no shortage of opinions on a wide variety of topics and am never afraid to express my feelings.  I speak my mind…sometimes too quickly, sometimes too passionately, but not with the purpose of tearing down another human being intentionally.  On social media?  I choose to post family events and happenings, the occasional humorous meme, and lots of pictures of my dog, Junior.  Disney Dog Henry Jones, JuniorI also post a LOT about my love for Disney.  It’s not that I don’t have strong feelings about religion or politics, I’m simply choosy about when and where I express those particular opinions and with whom I’d like to debate them.  I believe one should never email, text, or post on social media anything one would not say face-to-face – hiding behind an online identity to be hateful is the sign of a coward.

I didn’t unfriend or unfollow a single person, but I was shocked and dismayed by what I read on Wednesday morning.  I’m not a person with delicate sensibilities, but the vitriol!  The utter disdain for fellow citizens and their right to their own beliefs and decisions was shocking to me!  Complete strangers hurling horrific insults at one another, spewing poison with no respect, no compassion, and no reason!  And what purpose did it serve?  Why would anyone want to show the world the very worst version of themselves they have to offer?  Is that who they really are?  If so, then we do indeed need to fear for the future of America – her citizens have chosen anger and hate over respect, tolerance, and love.View of Cinderella Castle from Main Street U.S.A.

Then I figured out why I was so surprised.  Remember this post about the Disney fan community?  I follow (and am followed by) thousands of fellow Disney fans on social media.  Overwhelmingly nice people in general who are brought together by their passion for Disney vacations, movies, characters, collectibles, and more.  Some are fellow bloggers and podcasters, all are very geeky about Disney.  The ugliness on social media was not coming from these people.  They were, like me, disgusted enough to politely ask, “Why can’t we all get along?” before taking a break from Facebook and Twitter to ride out the election aftermath watching movies or planning a vacation.  Once again, I am reminded how special my Disney friends are and how much I appreciate being part of such a loving group of humans.Disney Movie Collection

I’ll be back next week with more Disney topics to share – in the meantime, thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

What Happily Ever After Really Means

R.B.-Estelle2This is a tale of true love…not a fairy tale or make believe, but the absolute truth about two people.  Two of the best people I’ve ever known – and how they lived happily ever after.

Like most love stories, this one began with two young people.  It was the spring of 1938 when he, a strong and confident 21 year old, happened to meet a shy beautiful girl of 16 at a cake walk.  She arrived at the event, held at the home of the young man’s parents as a fundraiser for some badly needed baseball equipment, with her sister, future brother-in-law, and an unknown suitor.  As with all the best stories, it was love at first sight when our young couple met and he, not her date, drove her home that day.

A few months later our lovebirds married on the front porch at the home of the local Justice of the Peace – they had lots of love…and not much else.  The newlyweds moved in with his parents and began their life together.

This man, R.B. and his young wife, Estelle, very honestly started with nothing but love, and love was all they needed.  R.B. worked a government job during the day and, with the help of family and friends, built their first home after work and on the weekends.  During the next year they moved into their new house and welcomed their first child, a daughter.  R.B. believed in hard work and providing a safe haven for his family.  Estelle devoted her life to loving R.B. and their baby and making a comfortable home.  He was boisterous and opinionated, she was his biggest supporter.  Together, there was nothing they couldn’t do.R.B.-Estelle-Child

World War II came and separated Estelle and R.B., but their love endured.  Before long, they welcomed a second daughter and picked up life again with each other after the war.  R.B. built a bigger house for his growing family and by the time they moved there in 1956, they’d welcomed two sons.  R.B.-Estelle-ChildrenThis love story continued and, with the passing of time, this loving couple watched their children grow up and start families of their own.  Soon R.B. and Estelle became Papa and Tootsie to eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren and their love for each other grew along with their family.  Papa passed along his strength, wisdom, and work ethic.  Larger than life, he was a super hero who never ran out of energy or good stories.  Tootsie fussed and worried and offered comfort and encouragement – her gift was in making each member of the family feel special and cherished.Family-Shirts

By 2016, R.B. and Estelle had been married for 77 years and were 99 and 94 years old.  They were constantly together, but growing tired.  They had unfailingly honored the commitment they’d made to each other back in 1938, by remaining steadfast in their love for each other first and foremost.  The power of this love, so strong and enduring, was a shining example to their family…there was nothing they couldn’t accomplish together.Family-Trip-Louisiana

In their final days, R.B. and Estelle sang to each other and each encouraged the other with words of love and support.  Surrounded by family and friends in the home they’d shared for more than 60 years, they left this earth just 12 hours apart on April 24th and 25th.  He, in his usual manner, led the way and she, as she’d done for three-quarters of a century, followed.  They loved so well, their love for each other spread to all who knew them.  I know because R.B. and Estelle were my mother and father-in-law for 27 years – I will never find a more perfect example of everlasting love.  I will always be proud and honored to have known them and been part of their story and I will do my best to carry on their legacy with my own family.Family-Trip-Arkansas

Of course, the most important part of this story is that from that very first day…

They lived Happily Ever After. R.B.-Estelle

Living a Disney Life – 2015

You guys are the best!  I don’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you.  Another year has come and (nearly) gone – it’s hard to believe it!  2015 was incredibly busy and also full of life’s joys and sorrows.  I know sad times are necessary for us to truly appreciate happy ones, but that knowledge doesn’t always make those tough times easier to bear.  What did make a difference in my life in 2015 was all of you.

Through this blog and the Disney Exchange Podcast, on twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – you and I have formed friendships.  In many cases, we’ve shared life’s challenges and successes and cheered and supported each other along the way.  Our common interests brought us together and the kindness of the Disney fan community is humbling and amazing.

Living a Disney Life – 2015

In February, I ran in my first three runDisney events and you were there via social media with words of encouragement.  From the Frozen 5k (very appropriately named as the weather was certainly freezing) to the Enchanted 10k and the Princess Half Marathon…I shared my view along the way tweeting pictures as I ran and your responses kept me going when I got tired.  Thanks for that!Princess-Half-Main-Street

In June, family tragedy struck.  Just before The Fam and I sailed through the fjords of Norway on the Disney Magic, I lost my mom after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.  This blog would have gone dark for weeks if not for my Disney friends’ help.  Mike and Gary from the Por Favor Podcast, Keith and Sean from Enchanted Tiki Talk, Andrew from The Mouse for Less, Curt from Geekin’ on WDW, and of course Nick and Barbie from Disney Musings all provided entertaining and informational Disney articles for your reading pleasure.  They also offered me kind words of friendship and support during a difficult time in my life.  That meant more than I can say.Mount-Floyen-Selfie

In September, Raymond walked Megan down the aisle and suddenly our little Princess became a grown-up married woman and our family of four became five.  The entire pixie-dusted wedding was as perfectly perfect in every way as any of our imaginations could have dreamed up.  We are as proud to call Grant our son as Joseph is to call him brother.  After a honeymoon at Walt Disney World, the newlyweds have settled well into their new life together.  Thank you for all the well-wishes and kind words during that time.Father-Daughter-Wedding

The year is coming to a close – Many months ago, Raymond and I decided that we couldn’t let 2015 end without one last visit to our favorite vacation destination.  In a year packed with hellos and goodbyes, we consider ourselves blessed with the very best family and friends any two people could ever wish for.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!  We love you guys!  We’ll be back with more Disney adventures in 2016 and we hope you’ll be along with us again!  Wishing you a very Happy New Year – LisaDCL Norway Raymond and Lisa