A Little Backstory
I love Disney World. It’s no secret.
This is a piece of writing that I never thought I’d share with the world. I wrote it years ago. I wrote it purely because I had a lot of feelings and just wanted to get them out. I’ve shared it with my parents, my husband, my best friend and my friend Valerie, who is just incredibly easy to talk to and probably wishes I would shut up sometimes (though she never conveys that!). The few times I’ve read it out loud (to my dad, to Valerie), I’ve cried while I’m reading it. I can just feel the precariousness of my prior situation. One wrong move and I don’t end up here where I am so happy. God was there though, making sure I made the right moves. He led me the whole way.
I’ve edited this very very little. The headings are added because Google insists. Other than that, this is pretty much original. Here we go:
I Love Disney World
Some people think it’s weird how much I love Disney World. “You’re going again?” They ask. “Wow, you spend a lot of money at Disney.” “You are turning into Minnie Mouse!” But they don’t know my history with Disney.
I had worked for a big corporation for 7 years when I convinced my husband to take our then 3 year old and 18 month old to Disney for a week. He was not a Disney fan- and with good reason. I had talked him into going over two years earlier when our eldest was just ten months old and it was somewhat less than magical. It was my first trip as an adult and I had no idea the amount of planning that should go into a great Disney trip. We’d just showed up in the heat of the day and followed the crowds from place to place with no goals or plans in mind. It was hot, expensive, and we spent the day in line, mostly.
Two years later, I knew a little better. I did some research and found out that there was so much to learn and I enjoyed the planning almost as much as the trip. Like baking a cake, anticipating that moment that it’s iced and sitting on the table and everyone thinks it’s beautiful and enjoys it, and tells you what a great baker you are. Well, they don’t usually tell me what a great baker I am, because they don’t even know the thoughts that have to be thought to bring all that magic to them, but they know the cake tastes good, and that’s enough for this momma.
This trip, my second as an adult, was wonderful. It was smooth and fun and we didn’t wait much and when we did, I had toys and games to distract the kids. I had all the supplies we needed and wasn’t forced to buy things like $9 diaper rash cream (amazing how that still burns in my mind from our first trip.) We stayed in a vacation house and cooked a lot of our own food and swam in our own pool, right outside our door. It was wonderful. Some close friends joined us for a few days and we had so much fun with them. It’s become a tradition and we’ve met them at Disney since then and it’s always fun, but that first time it was pure joy.
Late at night in Magic Kingdom, after we’d done the go-home-and-sleep-in-the-middle-of-the-day-and-then-stay-up-all-night plan, the park was mostly empty. All the kiddie rides were like a ghost town. My three year old, Seth, was alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic and we were having a blast. We were running all over Fantasyland like we owned the place, riding ride after ride, anything he wanted. We stopped to get some late night food and then met up with our friends again. Seth wanted to dance with me so while the other adults were talking about what we should do next, Seth and I spun around and around singing Disney songs, in the dead center of Fantasyland, right next to the carousel. I remember yelling, “I love vacation!” It was one of the top ten moments of my entire life so far.
Back to Reality
The next week, I was back at work and back to hating my life. Only I didn’t know I hated it. I thought I loved my job. But I just didn’t know anything else. I had started working full time at 16 after high school and went to college at night or on the weekends, or I worked at night and went to school during the day, whatever worked. I worked as a waitress, a bank teller, and at a plastics factory. When I graduated college, it took me about two weeks to find my job with the big company. Though I was working 55-60 hours a week, it was less than 40 hours of work, plus 18 credit hours, plus homework, plus driving to school and work so my life was on an upswing. And the money… Gees.
But this wasn’t supposed to be my life story, was it? So I was working a lot, and pretty much always had, and thought that I always would and also that you had to- this is what life is like, isn’t it?
But that moment in Disney World, kept floating into my mind. I would remember how it felt to have friends nearby, to hold my son’s hand, to sing at the top of my lungs and have people just laugh and join in. I would remember my husband looking at us and laughing, my baby girl asleep in his arms. I would remember my son’s happiness. And I stared thinking, maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t wait a whole year to go back.
My husband had his own growing unrest about our situation. He hated how much I worked and wanted to live a different life. He didn’t care about the house, the cars. Mike didn’t care about the money. He just knew that I was too tired to talk- that I came home and sat in the chair and watched TV, just like his dad had done when he was a little boy. He didn’t want me to live that life, but how do you get your wife to talk about her being too tired, when she’s too tired to talk?
I continued to relive that Disney trip for a few weeks, writing about it. Putting it down on paper so it wouldn’t slip away. I took all the pictures and made a photo book and a puzzle and a calendar among other things. I really wanted to hang onto that joy. And I thought about my vacation time. I had a lot, but I wasn’t actually able to use it. You could take a day off here or there, but the whole week off? The most you could do that was once a year, and you were still going to hear about how irresponsible you were being. How could I get to Disney again?
My How Time Flies
I remember thinking about my kids, I was organizing those Disney photos again and again, and I saw how big they were. My baby was 18 months old. She was walking. I don’t remember her first step. Did I even see it? Probably not. I was probably at work. I remember holding those photos and looking at the kids and seeing my life slipping away. There was one photo of Ezra, my daughter, standing on a chair at the breakfast bar at the vacation home. She was smiling at the photographer (her daddy) and the sun was streaming in from the window behind her. She looked so beautiful. And I held that picture and thought about how big she was, she had said some new words on the trip. She was standing on a chair! Easily. She was growing up and I was missing it.
And my son? He was like a little man- a partner in crime in Disney World. He was always game for whatever and was tall enough to ride most of the big rides. How did my 10-month-old turn into a big boy? And why am I only able to notice my children growing at Disney World? Perhaps because that’s the only time I could slow down and pay them any never mind.
The Moment My Life Changed
One day, two months after the trip, my husband said he wanted me to watch a short YouTube video. I was tired, had just come in from work, was opening the mail but I said ok, planning to only half watch while I finished opening the mail, as was customary for things in my life- to only half be aware of them. He started the video and I started ignoring it. I was opening my Chase Disney visa bill (wondering how I would afford it) when I had the strangest sensation. I was made to look at the video. God or an angel or something put their hands on my ears and turned my head to look at the video and held it there so I couldn’t look away.
After a second, I didn’t want to look away. The video was about a different way of life. It was about not working. It was about not listening to the way our culture wants you to live and doing what you want to do. There before me was a way to stop measuring my life in months instead of days, to see my kids every night, to tuck them in, to read to them. It was a way to choose how to spend my time. And, yes, a way back to Disney World.
I Wish the Secret was More Impressive
The way was not glamorous. It’s not a big secret. It’s only profound in its simplicity. The way to choose how to spend your time is to keep your expenses under control and find a way to bring in enough residual or passive income to meet those expenses.
Despite my discovery, the next trip to Disney was more than a year later. I had to wait for our third baby to be born; I didn’t want to go to Disney World pregnant.
There is a film in Epcot. It’s in France. It’s showing all the different ways of life in France.
The film is amazing, a true work of art. You feel like you’re there.
There are two moments in that film that again pushed me to live the life I want. In one, there are several people skiing across a beautiful snowy landscape. The winter before, I had gone on a small ski excursion with some of my employees. They had invited me and in an effort to show solidarity with my team, I went, despite the fact that I had no idea how to ski. They spent the first hour or so teaching me how to stop and go and the trip was one of the highlights of my employment. I loved the feeling of gliding over the snow, fast, faster.
Disney World Speaks
When I saw the film and the skiers flying across the mountain, I remembered the experience. I could feel the cold on my face. Do they pipe that in, or was it my imagination? I remembered how I had enjoyed skiing and had said to myself that I had to do it again. But I hadn’t done it again, had I? No. I was working too much. I was tired. The film ignited something in me.
And in the other scene, there is a man uncorking a bottle of wine. He is standing in solitude in a winery, big barrels on racks nearby. The timing of that clip is what makes it. He’s twisting the opener and twisting it and twisting and you’re waiting for the pop or for the clip to fade to the next, wondering which is going to happen first. And the last second before it goes to the next scene (and I swear the clip is just 1 second longer than it feels like it would be) you hear that little pop.
That clip stayed with me. I liked that he was alone. I liked that he had a purpose and was crafting something. And that he was doing something that he wanted to do. No one was paying him, he just loved making wine. Obviously, I took some artistic license here, but that’s what I saw.
I left my job. And I moved to another state, 7 hours from home and any family. I lowered my costs and started a company and raised my income to cover my expenses. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
And I started following the rabbit trails of dreams. There’s not a lot of skiing down here, and I was never interested in wine, but there were things I always wanted to do and never did. And I started doing them.
I bought Annual Passes and started going to Disney more often.
On one trip, a one-on-one trip with my by then 5 year old son, the pilot asked him if he wanted to see the cockpit (yes!) and we struck up a conversation. I told him how I’d always wanted to learn to fly a helicopter. He asked me why. Then he listened. He asked a couple more questions and then he said, “I would think about getting my private pilot’s license if I were you. It’s a lot less expensive than learning to fly a helicopter and it’ll serve you better for what you want to do.” Hmm. I did a little research and he couldn’t have been more correct.
I bought a share of an airplane and started taking lessons. I’m a pretty good pilot now. Not credentialed yet, but if I have to I can get you to the ground in one piece, probably.
Thank You, God, For This Life and For Disney World
There’s a moment I count on a few times a week. When I park my car and walk to my hanger and there’s dew on the ground and I unlock the door, see my plane, it’s so pretty, but that’s not the moment.
The moment is when I push the big hanger doors open one at a time. I’m there in solitude in the morning light, and no one is paying me to make wine. I just love doing it.
A note from the LJ of today (April 19, 2017):
This is why I’m so passionate about moms. I have been in a place where I was marginalized for being a woman. I’ve worked too much. I have held up more than my share of the burden and been valued less just because I’m not a man. I’ve been set aside because I’m a mom. I have missed my babies. I’ve known there was so much more inside me dying to get out. I KNEW God had a better plan for me than to work and die. Belle sang in my voice when she says, “I want much more than this provincial life! I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand to have someone understand, I want so much more than they’ve got planned.”
This is why I want to help moms. Disney World is my medium, but my heart is to find a way to help more moms live the life they want. Whatever that means to them.
If you wonder how I afford to go to Disney World so often, check out this link: http://bit.ly/DWwithinReach
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