I’ve Got You… aka Ordinary People Can Change… Everything.

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As I get older I like to think of myself as a bit more wise as I managed to gather nuggets of wisdom as the years pass. The kind of person who learned her lessons early enough in life so that I’m confident I can pass down said nuggets on how to avoid pitfalls to others growing up in this very arduous time of social media and number of likes, shares and friends. (side note: I cannot even imagine what being a teenager would be like now. I don’t know about you… but I’m glad everything I said and did isn’t available via Google search – and of course… I digress.)

But… as the great scholar John Lennon pointed out, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination”.

No matter how old you get, life can still resemble a middle school playground with all the usual cast of characters. The best friend, the bully, the pretty girl, the nerd, the jock, the social climber… etc.. etc.. etc. After years of exposure to all kinds of playground antics its easy to become jaded and assume everyone only cares about their own agenda therefore wall building becomes a necessity to social survival. In just the last few months I was reminded there are those who are quite capable of turning themselves into anyone, a chameleon really, to cozy up to those who have something they need or want under the pretense of friendship just to further their own agenda or boost their ego. It’s not the first time (just ask me about my own personal ‘Oswald Story’ some day when I have a cocktail in my hand…) and it most likely will not be the last because the middle school playground is indeed alive and well in your 40’s, 50’s and beyond….or so I am told.

Despite the disappointment we have likely all felt on life’s journey, the universe has an uncanny way of equalizing itself. Creating a balance where logically, at least when you feel a tad betrayed, none could possibly exist.

I truly believe things happen for a reason. You are put in specific places at certain times to learn lessons and connect to people who will lift you up and offer unconditional support.

To say “I’ve got you.” and truly mean it.
ie: Love you 3000, I’m with ya till the end of the line – all those delicious Marvel quotes.

If you are truly lucky in this life you have, not only family, but you will also encounter people that will always have your back, always be there when you just want to complain about something that means very little to them but they listen with genuine concern anyway. Always answer the phone when you call or reply back immediately to a text when you feel like you just needed a few seconds of positive human contact.

Don’t get me wrong… this is not intended for you to feel sorry for me for the times people have disappointed me, because in all honesty I have been blessed to have been given the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to meet quite a few people that if I needed them, they would be on a plane and cross the country to be at my side. They understand my quirks, and if necessary, would forgive any of the crazy things I may say or do just as I would for them – we are all human after all. I am blessed to have several of those angels in my life and they know who they are… and that includes the Disney communities like the WDW Radio Family who are indeed, like a family. It has given me the closest thing to a little brother I have ever had… complete with all the needling, and his wife who I simply adore like a sister. Or like my self proclaimed big brother Mike who has been a rock and a mentor and I don’t know what I would have done without his calming influence at times. These are all people who I can go without seeing for months and yet when we get together, its like not a day has passed.

But there is one person in particular who I do want to call out…

I have known Chris Eliopoulos for around 10 years now and while he is well known for his talent, he is one of the most humble and sincerely kind people I have had the pleasure of getting to know. I am proud to admit he has been one of my BFFs … a person I trust, a person I lean on, a person I chat with on those oh-so-long flights across the country.  And you KNOW you have a true friend when they stop what they are doing to keep you company for a few hours on a flight when they have a do to list in front of them. Chris had my back from the day we met, and I am grateful for that day. Grateful the universe balanced itself and gave me friends like him and his amazing wife.

He drew my Super-me logo on this blog… and he is also the one who reminded me recently that there is value in not wrapping yourself up in your wall.

How did he accomplish that on this most recent occasion?

He made me cry.

with this….

Chris is one of the most talented people I have ever met.  He has won awards for his various skills in the comic world, authoring his own titles and is now enjoying incredible success as the illustrator of the Ordinary People Change the World‘, a children’s book series he and Brad Meltzer have created. If you haven’t heard of the books, they detail the lives of some of our most beloved heroes telling the tale of how they grew up to not only be great at their chosen profession but also how they grew up to become great human beings. (Personally I think they should be required reading for every adult  — we would be living in a much better world if we all could learn these lessons at the most basic level.)

As a Disney crazed uber fan…  I was eagerly waiting for the  I Am Walt Disney and I was beyond elated to see that he had drawn me into this amazing book that meant to much so me. (Actually I have shown up in others including playing the part of a Einstein’s science teacher in I Am Albert Einstein …    (See mom??? I did amount to something after all!! )

Im the one in the red on the right….  apparently trying to get the attention of Mike, Michelle and Len… Maybe contemplating tossing popcorn at them?   (someday I may get the okay to tell you about what was supposed to be on my shirt… ohhhh inside story of the Easter egg that never happened! I LOVE those!!)

But more importantly…  near the back page.

I turned to this page after taking in the story and much to my surprise I found this….

… it touched my heart.

This very extraordinary gesture changed me.

What a wonderful expression of friendship. Honestly, it would have had just as great of an impact if he had written it on a napkin and mailed it to me. Just the fact that someone so dear to me shared that feeling without an agenda or expecting anything in return. How refreshing after that more  recent experience. I don’t think Chris has any idea how much that simple call out, that declaration of friendship meant to me. I tear up even now…

This ordinary man — or at least that is how he would see himself — has so many stories to tell of how he has had an impact on others. And many of the most remarkable, are the little things.

For example — I know a certain podcaster  who has said one of his best days ever was seeing his name lettered in an issue of Spider-man. (and yes…. I will take a very small piece of credit for that happening…  insert evil laugh here…) That gesture  is to blame for causing a smile that will last decades – that’s quite an accomplishment!

Or  the time Chris and I were walking around in Epcot before IllumiNations and he stopped a custodial cast member who was drawing familiar shapes on the ground with the water from his pail.  Chris asked if he could borrow the tools. The cast member hesitated a moment before handing the mop over with a very perplexed look.., as a small circle of people started to gather wondering what this guy was up to.

Lines and shapes began to emerge and in a few strokes, Chris had drawn who else but Spider-man.

I’ll never forget the look on the cast member’s face when he was done. He had an ear to ear grin and praised Chris on his artistry. Chris being the guy he is, didn’t start listing his resume that included lots of professional Marvel cred…  instead he smiled, said thanks, and we continued on to find some grand mariner in the UK.

Ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things.

Walt Disney lived a difficult life in his childhood. Failed at several steps along the way before realizing his dream.
Abe Lincoln showed compassion and stood up to a bully in his youth and grew up to support and defend tens of thousands.
Chris Eliopoulos has written stories that inspire our kids and us big kids too – to be better people. And made a girl cry … tears of joy. (Thank you for always being a true friend…. and yes… even for making me cry.)

There are countless others who may not be famous or have resources to make a difference on a large scale, but they take the time to invest themselves in the well-being of others and show care, concern and compassion. With today’s technology, even a comment on a Facebook page of support or understanding can make a real impact on a person.

We all have the power to make a difference.

Think about it.

What would the world look like if we all asked…
What can I do today to make a difference and be extraordinary to someone in my life?  To make a bad day better. To bring a smile or just show a little forgiveness, understanding or support?

It only takes one small gesture to change a moment, a day, or even a lifetime for someone.

As for the others who I hold close to my heart?  They know who they are, and will likely end up mentioned here in a post in the future because they are part of my life. Part of me. And because I know if I ever need any one of them… All I have to do is reach out and say the word.

Because I know I’ll hear the tone on my phone with a text that says

“Ill be right there… I’ve got you.”

Beci Mahnken is Chief Magic Maker at MEI-Travel & Mouse Fan Travel. With almost 20 years in the travel biz, she is a frequent guest on many travel and Disney community podcasts including WDW Radio, Mousetalgia, LaughingPlace.com and All About The Mouse. She was also recognized by Travel + Leisure magazine as the Super A-List Agent for Disney travel and has served two terms on their Earmarked Advisory Board.. Beci has long worked with the Disney fan community to help support fan efforts and create high profile events and has a passion for supporting deserving charities with a special emphasis on animal welfare efforts. She has a love for exploring history, ocean cruising, river cruising and served on advisory boards for the prestigious GTM event and TravelAge West Magazine. Beci's dedicated to her craft of sharing the magic of travel with anyone who will listen.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. This is very beautifully written Beci.

    I find that the more I simply slow down the happier people around me are. If it means slowing down and letting someone go ahead of me, or slowing down and actually listen to what they are asked or speaking about allows me to comprehend what they are saying and answer appropriately. Even slowing down and taking time read other people’s blogs or listen to their podcasts. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to get things done ASAP that I’ve ignored others around me. This is something I’ve been working on improving an am finding I’m happier and so are those around me.

    If you’ll excuse me I’m off to share Chris’ book I am Jim Henson on my Muppet Facebook group pages.

    • Stan… You certainly made a difference for me today! You stopped and read these words and that added some nuggets of wisdom yourself. Thank You!!!

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