Hi everyone! I hope your weekend is going well! Today’s Saturday Evening Interview is with Danny Ray from Dream Big Dream Often. If you’ve been blogging on WordPress for awhile, you’re probably familiar with his popular blog. Danny offers great blogging tips, monthly Meet and Greets and so much more! Danny’s lived an interesting and productive life. In this interview, he talks about his blog, playing professional golf, being afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis, etc. If you’d like to take a look at Danny’s blog, you can look at it here. Please give Danny a warm welcome here on Life of an El Paso Woman!
ME: How did Dream Big Dream Often start? For those who don’t know your blog, how would you describe it? I started the Dream Big blog after one of my friends read a few of my Facebook posts and suggested I start a blog. I signed up to WordPress and had no idea what I was doing. I really didn’t start off planning to be a personal development blog. I only planned to purge my thoughts. But soon after I started, I found myself writing about how to learn to become a doer and a person of action instead of simply hoping and wishing for success. So the personal development niche just kind of happened. Most bloggers realize that a blog can be a live, growing entity and sometimes it takes on a personality of its own. Such is what I found with Dream Big.
ME: What expectations do you have for your blog this year? A few of my goals for this year are to surpass 20,000 followers and transition to a self-hosted platform. I also set a goal to begin writing for LifeHack.org which I have started doing. I hope it will help drive traffic to my page. And then of course I want to continue to help bloggers connect with one another. One big practice I have learned from a few blog friends is to work to help connect and build a community around my page. I will always work hard to achieve this goal.
ME: I’ve always liked that you help other bloggers succeed and network here on WordPress. Why do you do it? How did you come up with your Meet and Greet idea? What else do you do in order to help bloggers? I first started working to connect bloggers back in July of 2015. I had watched other pages that had huge followings and I noticed they all worked hard to create a community of readers. So when I went on a Florida vacation, I decided that I was going to conduct a Meet and Greet for the entire week; and it was a huge success and resulted in some of the largest visit numbers I had seen. I am not sure where I first saw the idea of the Meet and Greet, but it was not an idea original to my page. In addition to the Meet and Greet I publish a Featured Bloggers segment each night where I post 10 links to other blogs for my readers to click and network. Along with that Featured segment, I also publish a post each Thursday in which I discuss blogging tips, advice and strategies I have found help me and “mistakes” I see other bloggers making.
ME: What advice would you offer up and coming bloggers? I have simple advice for new pages: produce great content, do tag searches in your niche, use Grammarly and get out of your small corner of the world to network. The most important of these? Produce content that people are interested in reading!
ME: Based of what I’ve read, you have a very interesting life story so far. Please tell us about your role in the PGA (Professional Golfer’s Association of America), along with some of your other important life moments. Having been a PGA Professional is one achievement I am extremely proud (of). I worked in the golf business for over 20 years managing private and resort-style golf courses. I also had two stints playing professionally: 1998-2000 and 2002-2004. My experience playing golf and traveling was one that taught me a lot about life and struggling. Many see the life of a professional golfer as Ritz Carlton hotels and steak (and) lobster when the reality is more like Sleep Inn and peanut butter sandwiches. But I was able to do something that few others get to do so that was cool.
ME: You were afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms back in 2007. What was this like for you and your family? What exactly were you feeling and going through back then? Wow, this is a good question. My memories of being diagnosed are vivid. I remember sitting in my neurologist’s office in June of 2007 and hearing the words for the first time. I recall that the entire event seemed to happen in slow motion and at first it didn’t register. I didn’t know much about MS and immediately thought it was a death sentence. I stepped out of his office and cried. I would soon learn that most people live long lives with MS which relieved me and turned my mind to fighting back. I have always been competitive so it was natural for me to view fighting MS like a game; and one I wanted to win. So I started investigating treatments and best life practices to give me the best chance of avoiding a wheel chair. I was scared, but hid it behind fighting. It would take me many years to actually identify with the reality of having MS and this occurred mostly because the disease started progressing at a much faster and aggressive rate. I am now classified as secondary progressive which means my symptoms are present daily and do not go into remission. Overall, I say MS saved me a bit because it has forced me to focus on what is truly important in life: my body, my mind and my spirit. Too often, adults think they have everything figured out and are reluctant to admit their weaknesses. Well, MS is a humbling disease and has created in me a desire to do whatever I can to be healthy for my family. Which means focusing on living a healthy lifestyle, exercising my mind and prayer/meditation for my spirit. These are the truly important things in life.
ME: Let’s fast forward to now. You’re an advocate for MS. When did you become involved? As an MS advocate and what role/roles do you play? When my MS started progressing last year, I realized I was in for a fight. And honestly, it was the first time I identified myself as having MS. Up to that point, I was in a bit of denial and didn’t realize this fact. Then last summer, I was contacted by the National MS Society about partnering with them to help raise awareness; a role I gladly accepted. My work with the Society revolves around speaking to groups, businesses and at fundraisers to help raise awareness, but also to show those living with MS that life does not end at diagnosis. I am listed as a Movement Ambassador which is their title for speakers. I also attend business fairs, luncheons, college events, etc. to help educate and bring attention to what the National MS Society is trying to achieve,which is a world void of MS.
ME: If you had to describe yourself using only one word, what would it be and why? Driven. For most of my life, I viewed myself as an underachiever. I always thought I was capable of more, but couldn’t quite put my finger on what I really wanted to do. It wasn’t until I started my blog that my life truly began to focus. My passion is helping people and writing. I love working my blog, I love getting emails, I love the comments, I love working on my book and I love public speaking. When I am talking to a group, it is one of the only times in life that I feel alive. It is like someone has hooked me up to an external power source and I am in my element. I just love it.
ME: When you’re not blogging or advocating for MS, what would you be doing? I have a few things I love doing. I enjoy reading and studying early Christian origins from an academic perspective. My professor from college is one of the world’s leading experts on 1st century Judean studies. I speak to him occasionally about putting the historic puzzle pieces together. I also enjoy spending time with my wife, Evelina. We enjoy going for walks and simply sharing time together. I also will enjoy an occasional round of golf. I try to play a couple times per year.
ME: Tell us more about your hometown. What’s there to do for fun there? Evelina and I live in a great little town called Pineville, NC (North Carolina). We moved here in 2014 and just love it. The town is a small suburb of Charlotte, located south of the city. We have a small park and a quaint downtown area with a café/coffee shop, barber shop and clothiers. I have joked the town is so small that when I call the local electric company number, they know my name when I give them my address! It is a neat little town.
ME: Who do you look up to in life and why? I look up to people that have achieved tremendous success against overwhelming circumstances. One such person is Edwin C. Barnes. He was a poor man that jumped a freight train to meet Thomas Edison and offer him the opportunity to become business partners. Edison was so impressed with the Barnes’ tenacity, he gave him a job sweeping his floors. Barnes worked that job for nearly 5 years until he took an offer to sell Edison’s business machine and made both of the men multi-millionaires. I respect Barnes a lot.
ME: Who are some of your favorite writers and why? I don’t read fiction often so my favorite writers tend to be academics. A few of my favorites are Paul Tillich, James Tabor, Thomas Merton, John Shelby Spong and Sam Keen. Sam Keen helped me tremendously many years ago in the midst of a personal spiritual crisis. He wrote a book called “Hymns to an Unknown God”, which mapped his journey of finding himself and his “new” God following the reality that the God that existed years ago doesn’t hold up to scrutiny in our modern world. It still is one of my favorites. Dr. James Tabor was my professor in college and I love his approach to life and history. He has a great mind and presents many new theories and insights about the early Jesus movement. It is mesmerizing!
ME: What are your likes and dislikes in life? I love this question. Likes: sour candy, kind people, laughing, writing, showing compassion, cheeseburgers, my dog Bentley, Evelina (of course!), honesty, soft sheets, cool pillows and spending time in the Caribbean.
ME: Anything else you would like to add? I have enjoyed this interview immensely! I appreciate the opportunity and hope everyone has a great day, life and achieves fulfillment!
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