This past weekend I drove myself, my three kiddos, my nanny, and her boyfriend down World Center Drive and through the main entrance of Walt Disney World here in Orlando, Florida. For the first time as a Disney Vacation Club owner and for the first time since COVID, we were heading to a Disney World resort. As is tradition now any time we drive on property no matter what the reason, we blast “Happily Ever After” by Jordan Fisher and Angie Keilhauer- the theme song from the Magic Kingdom fireworks show.
As we blasted the song (on repeat) for the better part of 20 minutes, the words started to resonate with me.
Every step we take brings a new hope, a new day
Every choice we make helps us find our own way
Every wish that we pull into motion
Diving in with our hearts wide open
The story comes alive when we look inside
A new adventure there in your life, there in your life
It’s just beginning, feel your heart beat faster
Reach out and find your happily ever after
Skip forward to early this morning, when I got a message from a friend on social media in response to a picture I posted of my three kids with the caption, “How did I ever get to be so lucky?”
Her message said something along the lines of “You lived through hell and went and took your happiness.”
It really made me think. I’ve certainly not forgotten about the hell I lived through, but I never really thought of it in terms of going and grabbing happiness. Yet as I look back on some of these blog posts over the last two years, and I reflect with the friends and family and professionals that have nurtured me through this time, that is exactly what I did.
I’ve never been one for entitlement. I don’t think happiness is mine because I deserve it. I don’t think love or luck or money or a promotion or anything else is something that I should get as a result of what I’ve been through, whatever “what I’ve been through” has been at various points of my life. I believe that it’s important to find happiness wherever we may be- whether its in the highs or the lows, that it’s important to create happiness when it’s otherwise missing, and that it’s important to share happiness with others, especially those that are experiencing tough times.
I was in a job interview last year and the hiring manager asked me to talk about a job that I had that I didn’t like. I won’t lie to you- I have LOVED every single job I’ve ever had from the time I was 15 years old when I started working 20+ hours a week. From serving residents at a retirement facility to moonlighting as a cocktail waitress after my 9-5 the summer before law school to the year I had to work as a glorified secretary because I was trying to break into an in-house legal role outside of the traditional law firm first approach. I loved it all. I had fun doing it all.
I told the hiring manager that I had had lots of things I didn’t like about various jobs, but I’ve not had a position that I’ve not loved, let alone actively disliked. Every single one of my jobs over the last twenty years has taught me so many things and prepared me for the next role, ultimately leading me exactly to the place where I am now. I know they thought my answer was a cop out, but it wasn’t, it was absolutely true.
I really think life is about perspective. You all know I have had a rough go of it the last seven years or so. There have been so many difficult things that I’ve had to deal with. So much pain, so much trauma, so much betrayal. Yet, almost incredibly, when I look back at my life during this time, I don’t remember ever once thinking that happiness wasn’t around the corner; that I wasn’t one small decision away from the life that God wanted me to live.
Do you know what I mean, friends? Have you experienced something that has brought you indescribeable pain? Unbearable loneliness? Earth-shattering fear? Have you felt like your hopes and dreams were shattered and that you were falling down an endless hole of despair?
I understand your pain.
And that’s why I want to tell you that happiness is there for you, too.
No matter what your story is, we’re always one step away from the rest of our lives. One closed door from an incredible opportunity. One phone call from news that could change our lives. One conversation away from a big break. One night’s sleep away from a rested soul. One positive pregnancy test away from a long dreamed about child. One dream come true away from our wildest fantasies becoming reality.
No matter what your story, it’s possible to have a happily even after: happily even after a bad breakup, happily even after getting fired, happily even after trauma, happily even after a big fight, happily even after a bad night, happily even after making the wrong choice…
Happily even after means that you have a perspective that is beyond the moment you are in right now. Happily even after requires knowing that the future is out there and that it’s yours for the taking.
So come on, friends… as the song says (and as my baby girl is doing below), “reach out and find your happily ever after.”