Lessons from “Calm Down”

I have been watching Inside Out with my toddler girl–or, as she has renamed it: Calm Down–for the past few days and I am finding that, while I am trying to teach my daughter lessons about emotions and feelings, I am learning and relearning some important ones myself. While one can learn to be emotionally awake and mature, I believe that there are always lessons worth revisiting as we grow through life.

*It’s okay to not be okay, even when people ask or want you to be okay.

*Just because you’re sad about something, it doesn’t mean your feelings are wrong.

*Just because you forget something or don’t think about it anymore, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t beneficial or important or that it didn’t do you any good at the time.

*It is entirely possible to feel two things at once and have both of them be “right”.

*Crying is OKAY! Sometimes we just need to cry, and it really does help.

*It’s all right to not have all the answers.

*It’s all right to be scared and sad when what we have loved ends for whatever reason.

*It’s perfectly okay to look for the fun and to try to find the joy in situations if that is what you need to do in order to cope.

*There is no shame in your personality, interests, hobbies, etc., changing as your life goes on. It’s part of growing.

*It’s also okay to not be willing to look for the fun and the joy in a situation for a time. We need to feel sadness, too.

*It is all right to need someone just to be there.

*We can sit on the bench with someone and not try to fix things or make things better. Sometimes someone just needs their sadness to be heard and felt and their tears shared.

There is so much that we as human beings are still learning about ourselves, our feelings, reactions, relationships, and growth, even as adults. Our personalities shift and expand and deepen. Our interests vary. Who we are and who we choose to be may change and that is all right. The truth is that we never stop growing, learning, feeling, or changing. And that is okay. We are okay. YOU are okay.


(Disclaimer: Inside Out and its images are the creation and property of Disney/Pixar. None of it belongs to me.)


An Attack-Hug, Disney Style!

I can definitely say that Disney (or at least its extensions) have helped to better a week that started out rather with difficulty.  The greatness started when I decided that I needed to email someone and thank them. Namely, Mr. James Monroe Iglehart, the portrayer of the beloved Genie in Disney’s “Aladdin” on Broadway:

Dear James,

I am sitting in my kitchen, listening to my “Aladdin” channel on Pandora and what should come on but the “Genie Medley”? I cannot explain to you the happiness that you bring to my heart. Your effervescent joy in what you do, the energy and life and pure magic that you bring with your love for theatre and especially all things Disney. I have been a Disney baby from the beginning. “Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood” and “Mousercize” in the mornings before school, “Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers” and “Duck Tales” after I came home. The first film I even remember going to at the cinema as a child is “The Little Mermaid”. Disney is in my blood and to hear and see (on Youtube) the magic that you and the cast bring to “Aladdin” (my husband’s favorite Disney film, by the by) makes me indescribably happy and I dearly hope that I will get to see the show live before it closes (hopefully) long from now. I want to thank you. Thank you for the smiles, the beauty, the jubilant triumph that have me cheering and applauding in my car after the finale of “Aladdin”. Thank you for the hours lost in the music and the joy of singing for and dancing with my toddler daughter. Thank you for all that you have done to make a beautiful tradition in our family fresh and alive and new and so absolutely joy-fillled. Thank you! It seems such a small thing to say but I absolutely mean. Cross my heart and double pinkie-swear. Thank you!

Indeed, I felt much better for the writing of it and pouring all that feeling out. I continued on with life, not really expecting to hear anything in return, what with the popularity of the show and all. But then I got a great surprise in my Inbox! Mr. Iglehart wrote back, and, for a moment, I turned into a sixteen-year-old groupie, bouncing and squealing. Finally, I settled myself down enough to sit and actually read his note, which was really sweet. We shared memories of favorite cartoons and “first” Disney movies and it was really nice. It absolutely made my day and a trip to NYC to see “Aladdin” is definitely pushing ahead in the choices for our tenth anniversary trip.

Then, yesterday, after picking up my mother for her visit, we went to the mall and met up with a friend of mine and her gorgeous infant son (who always gives me the greatest smiles). We went to the Disney Store and, together, my friend and I sang freely along with “For the First Time in Forever” and I felt that joy born of all the precious Disney memories bubbling up again. No one told me to be quiet and I truly didn’t care if I got weird looks or not. In fact, one of the associates working there came and sang along with us for a moment as she made her rounds in the store. My daughter got to run around one of my favorite stores and found herself some plushies of beloved “Doc McStuffins” characters. All in all, it was an absolutely fabulous time.

Thank you, Disney and all of your “family” members, for being such a blessed and happy part of my life. Thank you for the magic of memories and I cannot wait to continue sharing them with my husband and my daughter as she grows.

James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie in "Aladdin" on Broadway.

James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie in “Aladdin” on Broadway.

“A Love Affair with Disney”

I have grown up on Disney movies, tv shows, concerts, trips, toys, etc. Even now, as a woman of twenty-nine, and especially as I am pregnant with my first child, I am in love with Disney. Whenever we pass the Disney Store in one of the bigger malls in Indianapolis, I have to pull my husband inside to look around. Of course, Disney now owns practically everything – from Power Rangers, to X-men, Captain America, etc., but I still find extreme pleasure in moving around the store, smiling and admiring the loveliness of the costumes, dolls, toys, and clothing that are laid out. So much more intricate and elaborate now than when I was a little girl and longed for such pretty things. But now I find that it is far more nostalgia for me and a sweet nostalgia at that. This past Christmastime, we went to the Disney Store and, when I spied a cute little Stitch in his Christmas pjs and bed slippers. I picked him up and he was so soft and adorable that I fairly started to cry as I held and cuddled him. I didn’t purchase it, however, as the hubby had already bought me a lovely Cheshire Cat and Stitch for our 5th wedding anniversary.

While Disney has sanitized many of the old fairytales, placing in happy endings where traditionally there were none, only fearful, heartbreaking, and sometimes bloody lessons to be learned, I still find a sweetness and joy in watching them. I enjoy remembering when I was a little girl and longed to a heroine. Not necessarily a princess, I think, but a heroine nonetheless. I remember when “Beauty and the Beast” first came out and I watched Belle with her books. I marveled that there should be a heroine so much like me, with a love of books comparable to mine, as I knew no one in school or in my community with such a love and obsession. Therefore, I found a comrade in a fiction when there was no such one in life. Also, like Ariel, I felt that my father didn’t understand me and I longed for experiences, for places to explore and discover.  However, along with that, came a rather romantic spirit but I soon puzzled out for myself that the sort of princes in the Disney fairytales were not the sort of prince I wanted. I didn’t want someone to save me but someone to work alongside me, someone who would get to know me, understand me. Honestly, in all the Disney stories, I do think that “Beauty and the Beast” is the relationship closest to what I wanted. Belle and the Beast were together for a long time, perhaps close to a year, getting to know each other, helping each other, learning each other. None of these whirlwind loves like Ariel and Eric (three days, really?) but a true friendship start to their love. A friendship that fostered understanding and loyalty. That is what I wanted. And that is what I received with Ben.

So, in a way, I suppose, Disney has helped me decide what I did and did not want out of love and relationship. So, thank you, Disney. Thank you for that.