From the time I was a little girl Disney has always played a part in my life, in my imagination, my childhood adventures, my dreams and the deepest parts of my own internal magic, optimism and hope. Now that said, you're probably thinking it's time to back away from the computer screen, put down your hand held technology and simply un-follow this crazy woman and her blog. Trust me friends, stay with me. I promise while I will not disagree I have been known to lose a marble or two from time to time today is not the day!
Those who know me or my family understand the word “Disney" is always just around the corner when our names come to mind. From the time I was small I was brought up in a "Disney" family so to speak. I had dreams of princes, flying elephants, pirate ships and falling down rabbit holes to places where un-birthday parties were the norm. Sure while other girls were singing how their prince would come, I was dashing around figuring out the how to's of not only sailing a ship but figuring out how to set it sailing across the sky. I loved all my tea parties with my daddy as much as I enjoyed our swashbuckling romps around the house with sticks in our hands, fighting off Captain Hook and his crew. The truth is my childhood was amazing. I never knew pessimism, I only understood hope, my primary language was pure imagination.
Now let’s get this straight, even though I can recite and sing through most every Disney animation film known to man, I wasn't brought up to think pixie dust would straighten out any self-wielding trouble I might find myself in! I definitely was set straight about any knights in shining armor snatching me up and bolting off into the sunset with a happily ever after and a song. BUT, let me be clear I never doubted I was secretly a princess! As I've said before long before it was cool I was taught to be brave, kind, full of courage, to live a bit on the odd side while definitely keeping true to my feisty red hair and Scotch-Irish roots. The kicker, by all get out, it better all still be done with grace and humility.
Life Lesson #27: Creating happily -ever- after isn't as easy as bippity-boppity-boo! It’s no surprise then being a princess doesn't always come with a fairy godmother either. Sometimes you just have to take life by the horns and create your own happily-ever-after!
Many of our family’s major life milestones have developed within the borders of the Disney Kingdom. I was five when my eyes first laid sight on Cinderella's castle inside the Magic Kingdom at the end of Main Street USA. It would be another six years before I saw the wonders of Epcot and some five years later when we celebrated my 16th birthday. My husband Johnny and I continued the tradition in late 1997 when we took Joshua for his first birthday. For those who don't believe magic exists, well there was no doubt in our minds on that particular Thanksgiving day as we both watched Joshua take his first steps inside the Disney Studios. Then again, just after September 11, our hearts took pride in our Nation as we watched our beautiful American flag raised to full staff once again inside Magic Kingdom. Then in 2006 we made what we feared was our last trip as a family to that most magical of places in our hearts. One more trip, one more spin in the tea cups, one more flight across Neverland, one more take off with Dumbo, just one more adventure and of course a few more memories as I underwent chemo treatment for breast cancer.
I still can't think of our 2006 trip without tears welling up. Right now even as I type, tears are falling down my face, Our Disney trip that year was absolutely the most magical of Disney trips ever! My heart skipped, sang and prayed as I watched our boys run, laugh and smile. They were so little still and there was still so much of life yet to share with them, so much magic, so much laughter yet to experience. I was so aware of each moment, not taking a single one for granted. It was a beautiful but late night on Main Street USA, closing time, as folks exited the park. It was not quite the stroke of midnight, but this princess was already fading. I watched as everyone pushed past us, seemingly without a care in the world, and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders in those moments. My optimism was slightly faded, I was tired and even a little bit afraid as I said goodbye to Magic Kingdom that warm June evening. It was my mom who wouldn't let me give up in those moments as she both cried with me and held me close. Before I knew what was going on I'd found a second wind in my fight against this cancer which wanted all of me, to consume me and discard me. As I stood there watching our boys running out of the Emporium, giggling and smiling the castle was giving us her goodnight kiss, when you wish upon a star was piping out into the streets and I suddenly felt warm tears falling down my face. I knew then and there just like Hercules, I could go the distance, I knew I had to go the distance if for no one else but Joshua and Micah.
I won't disagree with anyone that Disney is part of our fabric, our storyline, of our greater picture. I realize for many we may seem unusual, a bit odd as a matter of fact but the laughter we share as a family comes from a place of true innocence and joy, a deeper well where real magic still exists despite our age. To us, this magic in our hearts that some may question truly keeps us grounded, allows our imaginations to soar, enabling us not only to feel young, but to keep our memories alive and pure. Sure some may say it's what makes us unique while others may believe it's what makes us appear mad as a hatter. I like to think the truth sprouts from a kinder place, a place where our childhood fantasies, dreams and hopes if grown properly, fed and pruned periodically can inspire and give us wings. A place where our hearts can soar with courage, where boundaries are not as defined as every day life but just so, just enough, where we're able to reach our goals without sprouting fiendish, destructive giants from a wildly overgrown beanstalk. How will your tale explode across the pages of your life? Will you find creativity, invention, vision, flair? Will you be a catalyst, a muse or an example of ingenuity and imagination or will you leave vast amounts of pages blank and unspent? At the end of the chapter, when you turn the final page of this book we call life, how do you want it to read, how will your story end? With grand tales of years spent looking for love, life and family or days spent happily, content, enjoying this beautiful life you've created together full of laughter and real magic?
So the answer is no, if you were thinking of asking, I wouldn't trade one minute of one day of any year of my life for the memories I have with my family. These memories we have will last a lifetime and then some. I pray just as my parents have made memories with me, with my children, as Johnny and I have etched memories alongside our boys, we can look forward to doing the same with our grandchildren one day. I guess you could say we are a real bunch of Disney nuts right off the tree, we love our Disney side and the truth is that's how it always will be. From movies to theme parks, each memory is etched into my heart and while I don't live and breathe Disney every moment of every day, come on now I do have my limits ha-ha, I'll take a un-birthday party any day any day of the week. Besides being a princess doesn't always come with a fairy godmother. Sometimes you just have to take life by the horns and create your own happily-ever-after! My only wish, my only hope, my only prayer is just to be side by side, making memories together with those I love. After all, it's not just the magic but the time we share together and the love we experience in the process which creates the memories we carry with us.
Go on, get out there, find what inspires you, make it yours, create your own happily- ever- after, Disney or not!