When I was a little girl growing up in a beautiful little country (Croatia) nestled between Italy, Austria, and Hungary, I dreamt of someday visiting America. At 4 years of age, it wasn’t about the opportunity or freedom, or even the spirit of courage and bravery, it was one word: Disneyland.
I wanted to go to Disneyland so badly that I wouldn’t eat my dinner until my dad promised me that, someday, he would take me there.
Disneyland to me wasn’t Mickey Mouse. It was Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, and Mary Poppins. It was music, stories and beautiful pictures (even the scary scenes were beautifully and artistically created). It was hope and courage and happy endings and ‘love-always-wins.’
It was magic.
A magical place was where I wanted to be.
But I couldn’t wait for my dad to fulfill his promise; I wanted it right then and there.
I’m sure at first it was just a childish notion to ‘pretend’ and play princess – and a childlike mind that doesn’t yet distinguish between imaginary and real. But I got good at this.
I had music. I could come up with stories. I could close my eyes and see the most beautiful pictures. I had hope, I believed in Love – there were plenty of people around me who showed me that love was real (and also plenty of people who showed up as mean wizards and jealous stepsisters and tried to stop me and crush my stubborn optimism – but I didn’t listen to those people).
If something didn’t have a ‘happy ending’ I’d just declare it wasn’t an end yet, and kept going.
Even as I was growing up, I kept believing that each of us gets to create a world we want to live in.
But I was so intensely focused on building a dream life, a magical life in which I was the hero (at least from my own perspective) that I cut out all the bad stuff I had experienced. I was creating a fairy tale and shoved all the bad scenes under my ‘editing’ desk.
When I moved to New York City, I began to learn more about the courage and bravery and freedom of the American spirit – which had built Disneyland, developed technologies to deliver those magical animated movies I was so moved by, and produced amazing discoveries, innovations and humanitarian efforts.
And the longer I lived here, the more I also saw something that I didn’t want to (or had the ability) to see before:
Outside of the walls of the Magic Castle, outside of the movie we all loved to escape in to, away from anything that didn’t fit OUR version of the success story, there was despair, injustice, hurt, pain, poverty, loneliness and abuse. Just like my box of life’s ugliness that I wanted to push away.
And it wasn’t until I took each of those ugly moments, defined them for what they were, took responsibility, acknowledged the bullies who tried to turn me to darkness, and tried to understand that fear was behind much of it – that I healed and began to FULLY LIVE a magical life…
A life in which I didn’t want to be a princess any more, but a sower of seeds who gets up at dawn and walks with hundreds of others along the narrow rows, patiently placing each tiny seed one by one gently into the ground.
One in which a Magic Castle, the heaps of gold and shiny diamonds, sparkly gowns and tiaras lost its appeal, and dancing out in the fields with workers and travelers breaking bread and toasting to life became the world I wanted to create.
We won’t be watching fireworks this year with hundreds of other people ooh-ing and aah-ing over colorful bursts of light. Instead, we will sit on the edge of the meadow in our neighborhood and watch the fireflies.
I won’t stop believing that love wins in the end.
And I won’t stop believing in the American spirit that is willing to be brave to look at all that’s ugly, take responsibility, and with courageous humility commit to heal – starting from examining our own anger, hurt, resentment, mistrust, sense of entitlement, and expected place at the table; and then bringing that same commitment to healing and creating a better world for everyone. And I mean everyone.
(For my birthday, I raised money for Nashville Peacemakers – as a part of my own commitment to support programs that help those stuck in generational poverty and violence. If you feel compelled to do so, here is the link.)
Have a Happy 4th of July!
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Tatiana “Tajci” Cameron is an award-winning music artist, published author, inspirational speaker, and certified transformational and spiritual life coach.
She has many passions and is dedicated to helping others while also creating an enriched life for herself and her three sons.
When Tajci is not on the road performing gigs, she volunteers with local organizations dear to her heart, spends time with loved ones (often involving music!), and collaborates with other artists to bring creative projects to life.
Tajci’s most recent projects include a meditation CD, an annual retreat & sea cruise in Croatia (that she organizes and hosts), and a multimedia CD/book (Un)Broken: Songs My Father Taught Me.
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