a girl and the end of an era

When I was thirteen years old, my mother married a man from Orlando. I hated him. He was not welcome in my life. My biological father had left us a few years prior to this union and since he was a painful memory, as far as I was concerned, no man could ever be a dad to me. Not only that, this man was also taking my mother away from me! How dare he.

As an extremely overly dramatic teen, I threatened to run away; so armed with peanut butter jar in one hand and a change of clothes in the other, I stormed into the bathroom. The fear of not knowing what to do next changed my mind and I took the peanut butter back to the kitchen with defeat. 

In the midst of all my issues, I began to see that this man was the real deal. He loved my mother with crazy love. In fact, he cherished her. And in loving her, he loved her children. In spite of my hatred for him, he decided to make me his daughter, and I began to love him and call him “Dad”. (Pictured below is my dad in the 90’s – center – and all of us siblings! He went to his place of peace in June 2010. And oh how I miss him!)

pappy & family

One of the amazing things about my step-father (turned Dad) is that he worked at Walt Disney World, back when there was just Walt Disney World – as in what they now call “the Magic Kingdom”. No Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney Tokyo or any of that… Just WDW. Disney World. As a buyer, he was tasked with the duty of buying the materials to build Epcot.

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After a long day at work  he would come home with blueprints of the planned park and would ceremoniously roll them out on the kitchen table. All of us kids would eagerly gather around as he would point out all of the areas under construction, telling us what the buildings meant and how they were ideas of the future. Sometimes he would have samples of the building supplies that went into the building of the structures. I’ll never forget him bringing home plastic fish eyes. They were the eyes that would go into the animatronics for one of the shows. He had bought those eyes. I was so proud. 

The best project he worked on was Space Ship Earth. You know, the big ball in the front of the park? Well, each of those triangles are individually placed on the sphere and was at one time an element of imagination, measurement, purchasing and construction. My dad was the one who read those plans and blueprints, then worked with builders to create them. For some, this may be trivial, but to my family and I, it is a legacy. 

Another project he worked on was The Universe of Energy. This incredible, futuristic ride was an innovation in energy technology. It’s roof was covered with 80,000 photovoltaic solar cells that help power the ride. It featured a newly discovered Ellen Degeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy and was a thirty-something minute long wonder ride that included dinosaurs and creative filming techniques only to be seen in a Disney park. 

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I remember riding the ride before it opened to the public and the pride my dad had as he  explained what everything meant and how it was built. It truly was an amazing event… In the eighties. 

Time has marched on. It is now 2017 and The Universe of Energy still welcomes visitors with dreams of technological advance in the world of solar, hydro-electricity through tracing the history of our use of energy. 

Last month, I heard that The Universe of Energy would close its doors, developing a whole new ride experience, and although I had not been in the pavilion for over ten years, I was appalled! What? This is part of my childhood. It’s part of my legacy! My dad helped build that ride!

So, a week before it closed, I decided to visit The Universe of Energy one last time. To my surprise, there was no picket line. In fact, there was no line at all. It seemed no one was even interested in going on this ride. We walked right into the show where Ellen in all her fashionable eighties hair and style greeted us on a screen larger than a two-story building.

Somehow, I didn’t remember the acting being so bad and the fashion so dated. The storyline was flat. The futuristic technology had bloomed and was now the past, and the cinematography we once thought “before it’s time”, was no longer breath-taking. And you know the 30-something minute wonder ride I told you about? Well, it was 30-something minutes of boring! Outdated and obsolete. 

As I walked out of the building, I realized that it’s time had come. In fact, it was probably overdue. It is an era in my life, but it’s an era that severely needed updated. 

Life has a way of out-dating us, just as theme parks and amazing one-of-a-kind rides. We experience something and place the memory in a special vault, making it a legacy in our lives. Sometimes the memories are good, sometimes bad. We don’t visit it, we just keep it tucked away. Remembering it.

I recently had a conversation with a man who was innovating an incredible invention that could possible change so much of the way we do things in this era. He began to tell of a family owned company that was built by a fore-father and was stuck in the past of what the father and grandfather had invented. The company was suffering due to the lack of vision. They could only see what they had done in the past and were stuck on re-creating the grandfathers work instead of learning from the former and reinventing into something that was relevant for today.

This made me think about my own life and other women who I speak to-day in and day out. Am I holding onto something in my past that is keeping me from moving forward? Is it possible that I could let go of some things in my life and I could re-invent myself to be a better version of the past?

What is holding you back from being what you want to be? What memory or experience has created such a strong legacy, that you can’t move forward? We have such dreams of being “more than we are”, or “doing something bigger than me”, but where do you begin? How do you get there?

Take a moment to re-visit the memorial of an event, career, decision or even a friendship. Is the initial memory keeping you stuck in the past, unable to move forward? Maybe it’s time to, not tear down the memory, but evaluate and reinvent it into something better.

I am reminded of a lovely quote I read by Bryant McGill. “You have to make the decision to let go of the past if you want to move forward… If you look at today through the eyes of the past, you can never see what the present moment has to offer.” 

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Note: On July 15, 2017 Walt Disney Parks confirmed that the Universe of Energy will close on August 13, 2017, and be replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction.

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