A Tale of Two Mice: Bryan Joseph Might Finally Get on a Plane

I often get invited to speak at conferences around the country about the programming language Elixir. I have spent the past several years learning and writing Elixir. I love it so much that I founded and host The Big Elixir in New Orleans annually in November.

But I was never willing to travel too far for these conferences because up until recently, I had a fear of flying. Here’s my story, and I attribute it back to one of Revelry’s Core Values: Fear is the Mind Killer.

This is the Tale of Two Mice: Two Disney World trips, roughly 5 months apart.

October 2018: The Hurricane Fund Trip

My wife has always been the vacation planner in the family. She enjoys it and she’s good at it. But living in New Orleans, we have to be prepared with a Hurricane Fund.

Seeing that it appeared the hurricanes would spare us this season, she was free to plan a Disney trip. For us and for our extended family.

So, 10 of us hopped in a van and headed for Orlando, Florida.

Google Maps said this would be a 9-hour trip. We did it in about 11. This was a pretty exhausting ride, but we still made it. Yet, I felt a fear kindling inside of me over what 11 hours in a car might be doing to my back.

I had been dealing with back issues for a while, causing extreme pain and some numbness in my legs. After checking in to our hotel and hoping to settle in for a good night’s sleep, typical Disney World jitters mixed with the anxiety of chronic pain.

We may have escaped hurricane season, but that long car ride and tomorrow’s long walk in the park looked like it might create the perfect storm of pain.

That Moment When Your Wife Knows You’re Struggling

Day One: Epcot. Before coming to Disney, I had intended to grin and bear it if that old leg pain set in.

And then that old leg pain set in. I was not in a good mood. And my wife wasn’t happy, because she could tell. This is exactly the situation I was worried about.

On top of that, it rained. A lot. Making things just a bit worse.

We did this three more times. Disney World is a big place. Bear the pain, bear the rain, feel my wife wishing I could really enjoy myself.

It wouldn’t be a Gulf Coast trip without some interference from a hurricane. We stayed an extra day because Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle, causing lots of damage and blocking our route back to New Orleans.

I felt defeated, hopeless, and very much like a curmudgeon. Because of my back issues, I was not able to give my family the best of me on vacation. My wife was upset and I don’t think she understood.

Making Modifications to Get on the Road to Wellness

My back has given me trouble for a while now. I had been seeing a chiropractor and working with my doctor to figure out the cause. I started to believe it would be like this forever: pain and numbness when walking long distances, back spasms from uncomfortable chairs. I was getting depressed.

But I wanted to go back one day and conquer Disney.

I like to stay active, and for years, kickboxing has been the perfect way to get fit and stay focused.

But honestly, I was doing more harm than good. I’d throw myself out of alignment every time I kickboxed, and my chiropractor would just put me back into place, again and again.

For months, both my doctor and my chiro told me to give up the kicking, but keep the boxing. I finally listened, and my back issues eventually got better.

I could get out of a chair without limping. The numbness started to fade. I got into physical therapy and learned how much work I needed to do to strengthen my back.

After they told me this for months, I listened.

It’s a journey. But I’m on the road to wellness.

Er, now I can get on a plane to wellness.

March 2019: Surprise, We’re Disney Season Ticket Holders!

So, apparently, my wife bought season passes during our October visit. And she aimed for us to return in March.

Was I ready? To travel? To walk? To face the crowds?

Bonus: she aimed for us to fly there this time.

Time to face my fear. Fear of flying has been one of the biggest hurdles both in my marriage and in my career.

Fear: No Longer A Mind Killer!

You know what, I wasn’t even nervous when March rolled around and I got on that plane. I had one of the smoothest flights ever, and I was excited to do it again.

When we landed I could feel a sense of accomplishment overtake me. But I got my composure. I celebrated internally!

The three days we spent at Disney were awesome! No rain, no going through multiple pairs of socks per day, and (drumroll) I had no back issues at all!

And we did lots of walking. I was able to enjoy a family trip with my wife and daughter and give them the best of me.

Listen to Your Doctor(s)!

What did I learn from this trip? I learned that I kind of like flying. I learned to listen to my doctors. When two doctors tell you a thing, you should listen!

My wife loves traveling and now we can think about traveling more. I have already planned where we should go next.

So, tell me about a conference I should visit. I’m ready!

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