I’m gonna tell this story completely Sophia Patrillo style.

Picture it. Orlando Florida. November 5, 2019. Back in February, I had made plans to do the “Eat to the Beat” with my oldest son, for the Boys 2 Men Concert. I had completely forgotten about it, until two weeks before, when I got a reminder email. And when I got that email – I was soooo stoked! You know, it was like a little gift you got yourself, but you had forgotten about it. It was awesome.

*Backstory – Eat to the beat is a dining experience at Epcot here in Orlando. You go have a nice dinner at one of the Disney Restaurants, and then you get preferred seating to the show. For Boys 2 Men, that’s a big deal.

I tell/remind Tariq about it. He is excited, but not to the extent I am. He is more excited about eating at the Spice Table in Morocco at Epcot than the concert. He’s only 20, remember this. Anyway, we leave work around 2 pm, and head out to Epcot. And let me tell you – I am super excited. Like super excited. We walk around, and then show up at the Spice Table for our 4:15 reservation. And it was amazing.

The food – delicious. The company – impeccable. I mean, everything was fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. We had a seat sitting at the lagoon, which was super cool, too – we watched the boats go back and forth, people riding over – it was great.

Once we are done, we walk over to the American Theater, and get in line for the show. It’s the 6:45 show, so it is dark. The gates open… and we are in. And can I tell you – I literally had the best seat ever. It was perfect.

Then, It begins to sprinkle. And then, a full on monsoon. Did I mention that the American Theater is an amphitheater? No? Well, it is. Luckily, I was one of like 5 rows that were covered. We watch, while people are scurrying to get covered up in their ponchos, shopping bags, or whatever they could find. Then we hear the announcement.

GREAT SEATS!

Ugh. I felt for the soaking wet people. This happens for about 10 minutes. Then… the whole crowd starts singing… “End of the Road”. And it was awesome. Some of the guys (set up guys) come out on stage and are filming this crowd singing in a complete monsoon. It was kinda great. A group of strangers united, and sung together, just from their heart and to get through the storm, (and I’d say the physical and emotional). Just as another announcement begins to start, BOYS 2 MEN WALK OUT.

THE CROWD SINGING IN THE STORM!

Ok, One of the best moments ever in life. Shawn, Wanya, and Nathan walk out. And what are they singing? End of the Road. And it was amazing. Wanya looked at me one time while he was singing. My son was cracking up because he saw his 42 year old momma being a fan girl. And the night was now in full swing. Until the end of the song, that is. And Shawn says, “I am so sorry guys, Disney has cancelled the show, but we had to come out and sing one song for you guys.” B.L.O.W.N.

But then, my son was like, “That is so awesome that they came out and did one song! I get why you love them so much! The are so talented, and that’s so great that they came out in a storm for their fans! I am a Boys 2 Men fan now!” To be honest, his positivity was a touch annoying to me, but hey – I wasn’t going to make it worse by calling him out on it. So, we start our hike out to the car. And it’s storming.

Key info – the American Theater in Epcot – is literally the farthest point away from the gate. So we had a hike to go. And it was storming. And it kept storming. More and more. Once I got to Spaceship Earth, I was falling out of my shoes. So, I had to carry those. So yes, I left Epcot – soaking wet. Makeup running down my face. Barefoot. I literally did a walk of shame out of Disney.

We were at that point, where you don’t even walk fast anymore. You just walk in the torrential downpour that you are in, because it won’t help. And I wanted to cry. I was disappointed. I wanted to see Boys 2 Men. I wanted to have some great memories with my kid, who is a grown man. The older he gets, the more I cherish these times- because I know how fleeting they are.

We get in the car, and my eyelashes have literally fallen off my face. Not my originals… LOL…. the fake ones. I look over at my son and he cracks up. And he says, “This night was great! I will never forget it!” And it hit me. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

What did I want? A great dinner, a memorable night, to see Boys 2 Men, and go home happy. What did I get? Just that. And when I reflected back on it – it was nothing what I thought it would look like. It was even better. My son gained an appreciation of one of my favorite groups ever – because they came out and did a song when they weren’t supposed to. My dinner was great. I will never forget walking soaking wet through Epcot barefooted. It wasn’t how I pictured, at all. But it was great. Life seems to be that way.

There are times, that we don’t see how awesome something really is, because it isn’t what we thought it would look like. I am not where I thought I would be at 42. But I am learning, that this is exactly where I am supposed to be, in this moment. And just because things are not what “your plan” was, doesn’t mean that where you are isn’t exactly where you need to be to project yourself to best potential.

So, Boys 2 Men, you are still my fave. And, I will make it to see you again – but it will be hard to top this memory.

And hey, I’m gonna own my Disney Walk of Shame.

Love Fully. Live Fully. Shine on.

Sat nam.

As a relatively new Floridian, I have only been through one hurricane.  And that was Hurricane Matthew.  And for those that are in Central Florida during Matthew, it didn’t seem much more different than a regular summer thunderstorm, it just lasted longer.  So, when the news started talking about Hurricane Irma, I wasn’t scared – I wasn’t nervous – I was just like… “I’m sure it’s not gonna be that bad…”

Well, first of all, I will openly admit when I am wrong.  I WAS WRONG!  I WAS SO WRONG!  COMPLETELY WRONG!  Now, people are gonna ask why I stayed.  Here’s why.  This is my home.  This is where I live and work.  I was never in an evacuation zone, had I been in one – I would have went.  But when I started getting nervous – and feeling like I might should leave, I couldn’t.  I mean, I could have – but that was scarier.  There was a gas shortage.  Traffic for days.  And the thought of getting stuck in a town, during a hurricane, not knowing where to go to – or getting stuck on the side of road stranded and unable to get gas – was much scarier than just staying put. 

And, I want to educate anyone who hasn’t been through something like this – because I didn’t know it until I lived it – but guys, a hurricane is expensive.  So all these people you see going through this – don’t just think about the damage to their homes, there I a lot of money that goes to prepping.  And prep properly.  If you board up your windows, figure about $20.00 per window.  You need 20 sandbags?  Add another $50 to $100.  Now, plan on a week without electricity, water, and having food to eat.  Prepping for a hurricane can cost up to $1000 or more.  Depending on the level of prep – and the size of the family. We aren’t even talking about the clean up, deductibles, time of work because your job is out of power – etc.  This can really, really hurt people’s lives, and knock them so far down on their feet they can’t get back up.  I was blessed in this aspect.  But I see it all around me everyday since.  And it’s so sad.

This hurricane was the absolute scariest thing I have ever been through.  When you have three kids all looking to you for assuredness that everything is gonna be okay, that’s a lot of pressure.  Especially when you are scared yourself, and have to act like you aren’t.  It was at it’s worst in my area from midnight to about 4:30 am.  That is a long time of wind screaming.  Trees bending sideways.  I was sure, that when I went upstairs, there wouldn’t be one.  Water coming in from the floorboards.  And pitch darkness.  It was worse than any horror movie I have ever been in.  And all the while, I had friends texting me – checking to make sure that I was okay. And I was doing the same back.

And then, the sun came up.  And destruction was everywhere.  Shingles littered the ground like French fries in a McDonald’s parking lot.  It resembled a war zone.  People out walking just stunned.  Neighbors I haven’t seen outside before are out and talking.  People are hugging, and asking if you need anything.  When the sun came up – the outpouring of love of my neighbors, my friends, and gratitude came with it.

We were without power for 3 days.  And that was awful.  But not near as awful as the people who still don’t have power.  I never realized how much I depend on electricity.  And here is an FYI also, no electricity – no cell phone towers – signal was blah.  Just trying to call someone was a nightmare.  Our houses are built to be energy efficient!  Which keeps the house warm in the cold months and cool in the warm months – IF YOU HAVE POWER.  If you don’t… your house becomes Satan’s playground.  Your home smells weird, from lack of air circulation.  Your dirty clothes pile up.  You can’t vacuum.  Inside starts looking like a war zone, too.  And then the day that you get glorious power back.  It’s a huge relief.  HUGE. 

So here is what I have learned.  I hate hurricanes.  I never want to ever go camping.  I love electricity.  But most importantly – I am so grateful that God had his hand on me and my family and friends – because he is the one who protected us.  I am so thankful for my amazing work family  and friends – who all texted me throughout the night, just checking on me.  I am so thankful for my friends who did the same.  For everyone who offered me a place to stay when we were powerless.  But I also learned I am a true Floridian.  I love this place.  I love the people.  I love my neighbors.  I am madly in love with the people I have met here.  I have also learned, if they ever call for a hurricane that size again, this girl is out.  But, I will come back – because Orlando is home.