It’s our FOUR year Florida Anniversary! #liveyourdream

Four years ago today, we crossed the border into sunny Florida to make a new life for ourselves.  FOUR years already.  Back then I was a nervous wreck, in complete and total disbelief that we were actually leaving Michigan and moving across the country.  Sometimes I’m still in disbelief, truthfully.  Change is hard.  Very hard for some like myself.  I knew that The Main Street Mouse couldn’t be properly run from Michigan, and if we wanted to make a real go of it, that Florida is where I needed to be.  We threw caution to the wind, and took a huge leap of faith. It’s surreal.

That first summer I think we were in vacation mode. We were adjusting to our new surroundings, getting in Disney time, and trying to make this new life feel like home. It was exciting for me to be able to cover events at Disney, like Frozen Summer Fun, and not rely on someone else to send me photos and such. We were able to do it all ourselves. It was good. The first year was hard though, I won’t lie. I struggled with so much, between missing home and seeing how tough the Disney community was down here, I almost gave up. Many times. I’m so thankful that I didn’t. Being in Florida, I was able to finally meet some of the people who have supported TMSM over the years, we had meet ups, got to experience the different holidays at the parks, all good things.

Year two was good. It had seemed like we were on a better luck streak than 2014 had for us, and 2015 was making up for it. We got to experience so much. We were going to media events, trying out activities in the Orlando area that weren’t Disney related, like zip lining over alligators at Gatorland for example. Crazy, I know. The 2015 TMSM Meet Up was amazing. It was even bigger than the previous year, with about 150 people in attendance on and off throughout the day. To say I was humbled and grateful is an understatement. We had made great friends through the site, and getting to spend the day with our readers as well was awesome. Yet another thing I couldn’t do from Michigan. Yes, I missed home, but it was getting easier, and I felt like I had purpose here.

Now 2016 and, well, I don’t like to talk much about it, but it’s part of the story. As wonderful as 2015 was, 2016 was a beast. The first half of the year was a time of loss, and it made me go back to questioning everything again. By June one of our good friends and supporters, Chuck, had passed away suddenly. For me personally, I lost a baby at the same time. Hard times reveal true friends, and we lost people in our lives as well. The blows kept coming, and I wanted to go home. We did go home for a visit in the summer, and it was what I needed. I needed to be with family. When we got back to Florida, about a month later I was approached by a publishing company to write our story. The book wasn’t just supposed to be about relocating to Florida, it was about the Disney life, facing fears and overcoming. I was at a low point in my life, but the book gave me the boost I needed. I wanted to make a difference for people by sharing my story, the good and the bad. The 2016 meet up was great, my best girlfriends came to town like they do every year. My staff was here, and our readers, old and new. It’s something I always look forward to. So, the year started off terrible, but got better by the end. Thank God!

The three year anniversary reflected on early 2017, it was a roller coaster. I couldn’t wait for 2016 to end, in the hopes that the next year would be better. It started off harder than I could have imagined. One of my BIGGEST supporters and closest friends, Fran, passed away at the end of January. Losing her was a huge blow, she was a part of my daily life, my biggest cheerleader, and she loved my family like we were her own. My book was done, and I was waiting to get the edited copy back. I was so thankful that I told her about the book when I saw her at the end of November, she was so proud. The publisher sent back my copy to give the final approval, and I asked him to add something about my Fran at the end. I already had Chuck in the book, but losing her was so sudden, I felt it was important. And he did that for me, she’s there too. My book, Moving to Main Street, U.S.A. came out towards the end of March, and it’s been doing so well. What a true blessing. All those hardships we have encountered, all the ups and downs, it was all written down as honestly as I could do it, and people love it. Again, thank you God. Also that year, we had been invited by Disney to cover various events, like Pandora and D23 in California, and I was so appreciative of that. We’ve worked HARD for 7 years, and pushing TMSM forward is so important. Doing things the right was isn’t the easy way, but it’s how it should be, and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished and thankful to my staff, family and readers for sticking by us no matter what. I can’t ask for more than that.

The past year also had it’s ups and downs, but mostly good. We were able to get out to Disneyland FINALLY, which was a huge goal. Covering the D23 Expo last July was a dream come true. Seeing Disneyland and California Adventure was a huge check mark on my bucket list. We absolutely loved it. More media events kept coming from Disney World, and each time I’m humbled that they invite us to attend. Being on that list is something I never take for granted, It’s a huge honor. I get to see things from a different perspective, and it’s amazing. Our family had changes once again. I gained my first nephew, he’s precious. My Grandma turned 90 and we were able to celebrate with her. Our household took another sad hit, with the loss of another baby on Thanksgiving morning. We finally bought a home of our own, it’s more than I could ask for. There are always hardships to overcome, but we do try our best, to learn from them and try to make the future better if possible. In January, Disney invited us on our first Disney Cruise, which was a much needed blessing at the time. We celebrated our birthdays Disney style, worked some conventions and met some awesome people, and I’ve been to Toy Story Land three times already for a sneak peek at the new area. All in all, it’s been good, and I’m thankful.

So, today, on our four year anniversary….. here’s what I want to leave you with. If there’s something in your life that you’ve always wanted to do…. please do it. Fear defeats us before we even try. People say I’m brave, but I assure you, it’s not easy for me. I don’t feel that way. If I can face fears head on, you can too. If I can keep getting back up after being knocked on my butt, yep, you can too. Life is a crazy journey, we never know what’s going to happen from day to day. For me, I wasted years of my life, being stuck in one place, because I let fear and self doubt keep me down. Don’t be like me, don’t let your insecurities keep whispering in your ear that you can’t do something, because that’s a lie. Flat out. You indeed can. I don’t know what the future of TMSM holds, but I can promise you that I’ll always give you my best. I’ll never stop working towards making our family, friends and readers proud. TMSM isn’t just a random site about Disney or news, it’s a community. It’s a family. It’s our Disney Ohana, and I thank you for being part of it. So here’s to another year. Hopefully on July 17 2019, I’ll have good things to report, God willing. Either way, you know I’ll give it to your straight, we’ll talk it through, and we will do as Walt said, we’ll keep moving forward. Thank you all so much, from the bottom of my heart, for believing in me, even when I couldn’t believe in myself. Thank you to my family for loving me enough to let me go. Thank you to my husband and kids for being my port in the storm, always. You all matter more than you know, and I love you for it. Thanks for reading…… see ya real soon. xo Michele

To read our entire story, check out www.movingtomainstreetusa.com

Author: Michele

Michele Atwood is the Owner/Editor of The Main Street Mouse and it’s subsidiaries and author of the book “Moving to Main Street U.S.A.” Michele also contributes Disney news to the Joe Kelley Morning Show on 96.5 WDBO in Orlando. She and her family made the move from Michigan to the Orlando area to pursue their Disney dreams. Michele is a life long Disney fan, and has two sons who have followed suit, each going on their first Disney trip before their first birthday’s. Part of the goal Michele has for The Main Street Mouse is not only to keep members informed, but to create somewhat of a Disney Family by relating to others through personal experiences and opinions. Also, Michele is making it a priority to share stories of inspiration and hope to other Disney Fans in an effort to share the Magic and hopefully make a difference in the lives of others.

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