Disney Movie Lines – Cinema Sunday: “Learn From It”

“Life Lessons…one Disney Movie Line at a time.”

Everyone has moments in their past that they wish they could change. Hindsight is 20/20 and in retrospect it’s often easy to see how taking a different path, saying something different (or nothing at all), or listening to our parents would have saved us a lot of grief. Unfortunately, unlike a DVD player, life doesn’t have a rewind button.

In considering which Disney movie to focus on for Father’s Day, two of them came to mind immediately. They both help paint the picture of lessons learned.

Of all the Disney Princesses, I’ve always found that I could most relate to Ariel. As a strong-willed, stubborn teenager, I too thought I knew it all (and I resented anyone who tried to tell me otherwise). Like King Triton, my Dad always only wanted the best for me.

King Triton and his beloved Ariel - Photo Credit: Disney

I had been through a lot between my Mom’s injuries and another life-altering, unspeakable situation that was also not my fault (but that I suffered dearly for). Always “Daddy’s Girl”, my Dad was understandably over-protective in my teen years. I vividly recall being 16 years-old and thinking I had the world figured out. I was convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my then boyfriend and I were in love. “Nobody could ever love me like he did.” Gosh, I can barely type that without laughing now. 😉 I became defiant and downright obnoxious, causing a lot of headaches and heartaches for my Dad. Like Ariel, I was certain that my Dad was just trying to keep me from enjoying life. The thought that he was trying to protect me and keep me from making major mistakes never crossed my immature mind. Looking back, I know that he was extra patient with me because of the knowledge of what I had been through, but everyone has their breaking point. After countless sleepless nights and many tears, at the age of 17, I convinced my Dad to let me go. I moved over a thousand miles away and started my life on my own. I knew all I needed to know about life…or so I told myself. I’ll never forget what my Dad said to me just before I climbed into the car on that day: “There is nothing you can ever do to make me stop loving you, so you can stop trying. I love you with all my heart…unconditionally…and I always will.” Like King Triton, he loved me enough to let go.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t living a fairy tale and reality has a way of smacking you in face. Like scenes from a poorly written soap opera, my late teens and early twenties were pretty much a disaster. Senselessly searching for strength outside of myself, I repetitiously made the same stupid mistakes over and over. I trusted the wrong guys and as a result, my heart was broken a few too many times. With each lesson there was one guy who was always, unfailingly in my corner. He may not have always agreed with my decisions. In fact, I know he didn’t. However, I have always known, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my Daddy loves me. No matter what. About 20 years ago, it was often in spite of myself. I know my Dad isn’t perfect, and he has made his own share of mistakes. None of that matters to me and it could never make me love him less. His love for me…that’s what is perfect. He helped give me the strength I needed to become who I am today.

Within the lines of Disney’s Lion King are many fantastic lessons. I spent several years as a single Mom to my oldest 2 children. As I had matured and healed, I discovered that I wanted more for them. I had decided that being alone was better than staying in an unhealthy relationship. I knew that I wanted my daughter to grow up knowing how to expect a man to treat her and I wanted my son to know that it wasn’t okay to treat a lady with anything but respect. Somewhere along the line, I had all but given up on guys. My children were my priority and I focused on healing my heart and becoming strong. The Lion King had been released a year before my son was born and Jared watched it countless times as a toddler. I recall sitting on the couch with him one day and a line from wise old Rafiki jumped out at me.

Rafiki - Photo credit: Disney

It was as if he whacked me over the head along with Simba when he said, “Yes, the past can hurt, but the way I see it, you either run from it, or learn from it”.

My childhood and past did hurt, but it was time to stop running. I was ready to learn from it. I had long since discovered that men had the capability of hurting me deeply. Maya Angelo put it best when she said, “If someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I learned to be careful who to put my trust in, but needed to choose not to close out the world. Through it all, my Dad was there, even from thousands of miles away. He was only a phone call away and I used to ache for those calls. I needed to hear his reassuring words, reminding me how much he loved me…no matter what. Ultimately, I learned that I wanted to find someone who would love my children and I unconditionally…just like my Dad loved me.

My Dad and I at Epcot - April 2009

As time went on, in 1997, I met the most amazing guy. Not only did he love me, but he loved my 2 children as well. On our wedding day, after exchanging our vows, he got down on one knee and he made a separate vow to Sierra and Jared…

In tears as Steve vows to be there for Sierra & Jared - 10/9/99

He promised to always be there for them and to love them as his own. He has loved them faithfully, and unconditionally every since.

I was so very blessed on my wedding day. I married my best friend, the guy who possessed every single quality that I had learned to expect in a man…

Steve and I- 10/99

and my Dad was by my side to see his daughter finally find “happily-ever-after”.

My Dad and I - 10/99

Steve and I are now the parents of 5 beautiful children. He has been such an incredible Dad to all of them and we’re all very blessed to have him in our lives. We know that they are going to make a lot of mistakes in their lives, and that’s okay. Depending on which paths their lives take, they may look back and see that “the past can hurt”. We strive to help them choose to “learn from it”. We’ll be there, loving them unconditionally – no matter what.

Five times blessed - 4/11

Happy Father’s Day to my incredible husband. You are the very best Dad that our children could have ever asked for. May your year bring you countless memories that you’ll always cherish. I couldn’t have found a better partner. Thanks for loving us all.

In closing, I want to wish a very Happy Father’s Day to my amazing Dad…

Dad & I at Disney - 10/10

Thank you for the priceless gift of your unconditional love. Like wise Rafiki, you always taught me to “Learn from it”. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being that one guy that I have always and forever been able to count on. I know I’ve told you this before, but I’m sorry I was such an obnoxious teenager. Thanks for loving me anyway and understanding that I was lashing out because I was hurting.

Dad, on my wedding day we danced…

Dancing with my Dad - 10/99

…and I sang this song to you. The words still ring so true. Happy, Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I really wish I could be down in sunny Florida today to celebrate YOU on your day. Dad, no matter what challenges you face in life, just be sure to always “learn from it”. May you forever know how very much you are loved…unconditionally…no matter what. To you, Dad, with all my love…

Also, I want to give a quick shout-out to my Disney Moms Panel Dads – hope your day is as special as you all are. I’m sending all of the wonderful Dads out there wishes for a very Happy Father’s Day! May you have much patience as you teach your children to “Learn from it”.

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