I recently read a Facebook status written by an on-line (and I actually got to meet once) friend that made me reflect just a little and ask myself … Why am I on this journey? Bob’s status updates are always upbeat and happy while also being reflective. He shares a look at life with his beautiful children and always makes us smile. This recent status was mainly about his morning with his little ones and how his day started, but it ended with these words:
Hug your kids a little longer today and enjoy your blessings.”
It was those last three words that made me think – “enjoy your blessings!” Three simple words that started me thinking about my journey over the last four or five years through cyberspace. Because I have become increasingly more unsettled, unhappy and unfulfilled with my journey, those last three words made me take a good hard look at my travels through cyberspace. My travels that have been a blessing and a curse.
I entered the world of on-line social media as a way to connect with long lost family and friends (a blessing for sure!) A way to have personal engagement with friends, both old and new. Without any doubt, it has been a huge blessing. Today, social media is less about the blessings. Over time my social media presence has turned into a tool and sadly, a chore. Likes, shares, clicks, algorithms, engagement, money made, posting, re-posting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat – I miss the personal engagement but rarely have time for it anymore. On a recent family vacation I made the conscious decision to be “in the moment” with my granddaughter. I made the conscious decision to leave my phone in my purse as much as possible, leave the posting for when we were back home and enjoy my family. I was happy I did. I over-heard my son say to my daughter-in-law: “Please get off your phone. You don’t see my mom doing that and it’s her job!” How many family trips over the last few years did I miss a moment because of this “job”?
I entered the world of blogging purely by accident. Five years after an early retirement (at age 50) I was bored to tears. My children were grown and had lives of their own. I needed more to fill my days – more then going to the beach, reading, going out to breakfast or lunch with friends, rescuing dogs – or anything else I could think of! Having met many on-line that shared my love of Walt Disney World, I began to share some of my Disney knowledge with others by contributing to a few of the Disney sites I followed. After a year of contributing to others I (
foolishly) felt I knew enough to go out on my own and “The Adult Side of Disney” was born. It wasn’t long before my little hobby began growing and taking on a life of it’s own. Sharing my love of Disney was hard work, but before I knew it, I was making money, being invited to events, going to conferences and tracking numbers. I was also working 8 to 10 hours a day, 7 days a week and staying up late to meet deadlines. I took on writers to help with the work load. I wrote a book – “The Adult Side of Disney” (I’m still amazed each month when I get a royalty payment!). It was all a huge blessing! Or was it? I was completely, totally and utterly frustrated and over-whelmed!
Fast forward three years and my frustration was showing more and more. I was more successful then I had ever imagined I would be, but at the same time felt I was limited because of my name. I decided to change my focus and with the urging of a friend, I re-branded hoping that the change of focus would get rid of some of the feelings of frustration . The Adult Side of Disney became An Open Suitcase. I wanted to concentrate on more then my Disney travels. I wanted to share all of life’s travels. Within a matter of weeks, my inbox was full of more invites and events and I was thrilled. My frustration was pushed aside for a while. Although my first choice will always be traveling to Walt Disney World, within 4 short weeks of re-branding I was invited to visit Kansas City, New Orleans, Texas and other (besides WDW) destinations in Orlando. My travel calendar for 2016 is full and I have trips scheduled right into January, 2017, as well as many conferences in various locations. It’s all a blessing! Or is it?
The blessings that have come along with my journey are many. I have met some of the most wonderful people that have become good friends. Friends that will be friends for the long haul. But …. here comes that blessing and a curse thing again! Along with the blessing of friendships have also come the disappointments and frustrations. Disappointments in people we foolishly consider friends only to find that the cyberspace person they are is very different from the real person they are. For each good friend made through this journey, there are at least 5 “friends” that hide behind a smiling profile picture waiting for your next mis-step. Cyberspace is full of people with a smiling profile picture that hides their true self and their nasty heart and along the way I have come across my share. Frustration that the rest of the world hasn’t seen the nastiness that lurks behind that smiling profile picture – disappointment that I let myself once again be taken in.
The invites and events are a blessing. I am always and forever appreciative when a destination or event invites me to attend. I have made wonderful connections, seen great locations and had some of the best experiences of my life. I also get to see some of those great friends I have made. But – and here it is again – along with those blessings come disappointment and frustration. For each event and invite we receive, there are at least 4 or 5 we aren’t included in. Disappointment when “THE” event you really want to attend doesn’t add you to their list of invitees. This disappointment is always made worse when many that you know are invited. Although you are thrilled for those friends that will be attending, that nagging feeling of disappointment is always there. Add to that the frustration that has you wondering, as human nature always seems to, what you could have done differently or better that would have gotten you the invite. A blessing and a curse because the excitement of your last invite has always worn off when the next round of invites don’t include you. It’s human nature.
By now I’m sure you’re wondering why I am sharing this journey. Recently I had started to overlook the blessings and seemed to be focusing on the disappointments, frustrations and curses. Sometimes sharing helps us see things more clearly. Sometimes reading a simple Facebook status written by a friend helps us see things more clearly. Sometimes we hope that sharing our journey will help others. Looking at where our journey has taken us, makes us re-evaluate why we started out on the journey in the first place. Blessings and curses go hand in hand. They always have and they always will.
From this day forward I will always be “in the moment” when it comes to my family and good friends. From this day forward I will try to only focus on the blessings when it comes to the friendships made on my journey. From this day forward I will try to only focus on the blessings when it comes to the invites and events that come to me on my journey. Changing my focus will, I’m sure, help change my unsettled, unhappy and unfulfilled feelings with my journey. I will go back to the beginning and try to remember why I started this journey – to share something I love with others and to engage with friends that I love. If it means fewer numbers, shares, clicks, likes or making less money and receiving fewer invites – so be it. I will enjoy the blessings of good friends made and destinations visited. I will enjoy the blessings and hope you will enjoy yours!
You can find my friend who reminded me to enjoy my blessings, Bob Aycock, on Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes just seeing the faces of his little ones is enough to brighten your day! When time allows, he also likes to make us smile at MagicalDaddy.com.