On Monday, 19FEB, the Olympic audience was introduced to a new athlete, Liz Swaney, competing in the halfpipe. She has stirred quite a bit of controversy and has a lot of haters. I’ve been surprised by all of the folks who have spent what they refer to as their “precious time” planted on their couches or favorite Olympics watching spots to insult her and be so mean to her.

Regardless of what you think, here are the facts as they are. She’s not just a talker – she’s a doer. In 2013 she decided she wanted to be an Olympic athlete and compete in the winter Olympics. So she came up with her strategy and plan and here we are in 2018 she has her goal accomplished, along with captivating the Olympics audience with nothing more than a ho hum run. How many of you have stayed the course on a goal you set in 2013 and can say you’ve accomplished it, or are still on course?

In the end, we can’t change what’s already happened so all of the haters might want to take a break and find a more productive way to share their time and energy. She did it – she competed in the halfpipe, showing great joy as she fist bumped her coach before dropping in, and some are still posting on social media about how much they dislike her. And to all of you who keep saying you can do better…then in the words of Judge Judy, “stop saying it – prove it!” As I like to put it, you can find goodness in any situation, so let’s talk about the goodness here:

– The halfpipe is getting a lot of attention. How many of you know more about the sport and are more interested than you were when the Olympics started this year?
– She had the points required and qualified to compete in the Olympics.
– Hungary accepted her on their team her grandparents are from there.
– She operated within her boundaries and stayed on her feet.
– She stuck her landing after the alley-oop.

I admit it – I’ve been more entertained by her run than impressed, but I still enjoyed it. I’ve even had a giggle or two listening to the sports folks and their commentary when her run was in progress. Many of you are saying she did it just for the attention. Well, she now has the attention on the world stage.

In a later story or most likely fake news, the company Armada, who makes her skis, has decided to pay her a lot of cash to never ride their skis again – probably inspired by all the social media negativity! As I see it, with this unexpected windfall, she is set to move on to her next cool adventure, and I can’t wait to see what she will be up to next. Rock on, Liz – you go girl!

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One important life lesson reiterated at D23 is don’t keep your head buried in your electronics. Look up, check out what’s going on around you…you never know who you might see or even have the honor of chatting with.

And while I certainly have my head in my electronics more than I should, I did try to take a minute – or a few – to check out all that was going on around me there. I certainly was blessed by it! While waiting for the Legends presentation to begin, I had the brief opportunity to have a quick chat with Marty. I also met Tom Nabbe -he was very friendly, and I think he was wearing one of the best ties I’ve seen in a while.

Earlier this week we went to Chick-Fil-A for breakfast. I am very guilty of spending breakfast catching up on the morning news. I did take a minute to look up, however, and I saw a girl milling around in the ‘to go’ area. When one of the fellas from the back came out and saw her, he ran over to her and gave her the biggest hug. They stood there for a little while talking and kept hugging – and he kept saying ‘it’s so good to see you.’ She also would lean in and say ‘I’ve missed you.’ I found myself just focused on them…and I was even moved. It was just so sweet! After a little while, I walked over and asked them how they knew each other. I told them that I knew it was none of my business, but if they were comfortable with it, I was interested. (I had to give them an out, didn’t I? What if they hadn’t realized they were making a little bit of a scene?) The fella told me it was no problem. He said ‘I haven’t seen this girl since she quit working here and I miss her every day!’ I replied, ‘well you caught my eye and your chat just looks so sweet. It’s very obvious to an outside person that you guys care a lot about each other.’ Almost in unison they said ‘thank you.’ I apologized for interrupting but thanked them for being so sweet and open about it. They let me know it was really okay, and the guy said it worked to his benefit because he was going to hug the girl right then and wanted all to see! Now, while they might not have seen each other in a while (two weeks is what they said), it was clear that they loved each other and were very excited to have these few minutes together.

So here’s my question – or rather my challenge – for us. There’s a lot of ugliness going on in the world these days. Why don’t we take a minute and think about the folks we should be hugging or reaching out to? It was obvious that sweet girl came in just to see that fella. When he saw her, he made a wild dash to just put his arms around her and give her a hug. By the way, it was just a few minutes after 6am when this was happening. She had made a point to stop by when she knew he’d be there.

Let’s think about it – who is it that we should be reaching out to hug, or picking up the phone to call, or sending a note? I don’t know about you, but when I get that unexpected hug, call, text or note, it makes my day – sometimes my week. How about we agree together that, over the next week, we reach out to someone – even if it’s long past due – and let them know how much we appreciate or just plain love them?

As I conclude my D23 series, I have to close with a song, don’t I? I’ve been trying to find a way to share one of the songs from the Alan Menken presentation, and I think this is the perfect spot. He sang a few songs that I really enjoyed. But in true Disney fashion, I want to close this series with a song that I think best suits it.

Happy listening, and take joy this week in the goodness of reaching out!

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D23 Live Action panel drew quite a crowd this year

The presentation that draws the largest audience during the week of D23 is the Live Action panel. I had lots of people ask me – and folks are still asking me – when I’m going to share what I learned during this presentation. Naturally, folks are really intrigued as during this panel, the Disney tribe […]

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Remembering Marty Sklar

Today the world has learned of the passing of the one and only Marty Sklar, a Disney legend and a man just full of plain goodness. Candidly, I’m having a hard time processing the news. I didn’t even know who he was until 2014, but he touched me deeply in both my head and my […]

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