I grew up on Disney. If you know me at all, you are most likely very VERY aware of that. I've been reading a few articles regarding how parents shouldn't raise their children with Disney movies and princesses. Not being a parent myself yet, I am not entirely qualified to dish out what you should or should not do. I'll leave that to the mom blog mafia that is currently raging about whatever hot topic has angered them this week.That being said, I have some thoughts.The other night, I came home after improv class and my husband had made tacos and put Beauty and the Beast in the DVD player as a surprise. We had just seen Finding Dory this week and the live action Beauty trailer looked marvelous on the big screen and he was feeling nostalgic. It is also one of my favorite Disney animated features and by far one of my favorite princesses, Belle.I cry at the library scene every time. Every. Time.After it was over, I had a moment. I had been reading several articles that had popped up on how damaging being raised on Disney princesses can be and this princess syndrome creates spoiled teenagers and adults, mostly in women. I've been appalled by these blogs/articles and I don't know what children are like today but here is my experience with the Mouse being the backbone of my childhood.I believe in my dreams. I believe with enough faith, trust, and a little pixie dust, I can achieve almost any thing. Sure, you can tear apart Ariel for changing herself for a man. However, I grew up seeing it as Ariel wanted to be a human and she fell in love with one in the process. She needs to learn to read a contract and maybe not be so hasty in her decisions but that's why she's portrayed as a teenager and that's the big lesson she learns. Also in the original fairy tale, she kills herself to save the prince so in the end, the little mermaid is quite noble. She just wanted to walk on the sand.I never viewed any princess as pursuing a man as their dream. Rapunzel wants to get out of her tower and go see the magical floating lights. That's it! Belle wants a fairy tale life and one more exciting, like in her books. Okay, so she sort of stumbles upon it but she always believed there was something more out there for her and held tight to that belief. Jasmine...well, Jasmine just wants to make her own choices. That's reasonable. And her choice is to marry who she wants. Also reasonable. Tiana works her ass off to save money to open her own restaurant. Mulan...do I even need to say anything? I mean, come on.Snow White and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) all have unfortunate circumstances to overcome and they do! Yes, they marry princes but they are kind, patient, and sweet to everyone, even those wishing to harm them. Cinderella is the same way. She only falters when life takes a turn and seems hopeless. She had believed for so long and her hideous sisters tore up her dress and took away her one night when she was going to feel like one of them. That's a major bummer. She needed that extra fairy godmother push. To me that story says if you are kind, grateful, and hopeful, even if your dreams start to fade, fate can step in and see you through.I wanted to be a princess. Okay, I still do. I mean, it's kind of hard not to want that. Princesses have horses and castles and pretty dresses. They wear crowns and go to balls and have lots of animal friends. Is there something wrong with imagination in today's world? Is it bad to let your children dream a little bit for fun? I can't imagine a 5 year old pretending she's Elsa grows up and continues to demand free coffee or else she'll create a snow monster. If she is demanding things in such a manner that comes off as rude or spoiled, I don't think singing "Let It Go" every day for a year when she was little is the cause. Maybe that's just me...About Finding Dory. Oh, guys. That movie. Damn. Finding Nemo was incredibly beautiful and full of all the lessons but Finding Dory is special. Really something special. It is one of the best portrayals of bravery and the faith you can do anything. It reminds us that there is always a way and you just have to focus and believe and you'll find it. Even though Dory forgets mostly everything, she's a hero. She's still smart, caring, determined. She never gives up even when it seems like she's close to doing so. Dory takes a fish breath and starts again. And just keeps swimming.Just keep swimming. That's the tagline of this blog and it is of great significance to me because of Finding Nemo and Dory. My best friend even quoted Dory's line about home in her maid of honor speech. Family and friends are important. Home is important. Never giving up is important. Disney characters don't give up. They swim.Or fly. Or ride their horse.I love myself. Not every day. On days I don't, I can think back to a character like Belle who knows she is different and maybe some days struggles with that as a town sings about it behind her back. She totally hears them, guys. But she goes on living her life because she's happy being her, differences and all. Mulan is terribly confused about who she really is and who she is being told to be. I learned from them in that struggle we all have to find ourselves, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.I know the value of friendship. I gave all my wedding party Winnie the Pooh books because the friendship of those animals and Christopher Robin consumes my whole heart. They never give up on each other and they celebrate their uniqueness, their fears, their hopes, Pooh's preposterous love of honey. Even Eeyore, with his sadness, is included in adventures and birthday parties because even though he's grumpy, they still love him. My friends are everything to me and I learned a lot about appreciating them from Disney films. I learned a lot about them from the princesses who always made sure to go back for Flounder or Abu.Let me be clear that I learned this all from my parents first. OBVIOUSLY. These films and these characters helped me solidify those teachings and assisted me in understanding the lessons I was being taught. I learned how to make mistakes and correct them. I learned that being selfish was wrong and that you should apologize for hurting someone's feelings. I learned that sometimes breaking into song helps you feel better when you're lost and afraid.I learned to value how much my parents love me. That's an easy one but sometimes when you're a bratty teenager, you forget. They loved me even then. No matter what. No matter who I am. They are there to support me, to always keep a light on for me, to keep me believing and wishing on stars. They are my guiding light. My Jiminy Cricket, if you will.I still sing Disney songs when I'm sad. Somehow the connection I've made with them helps me cope with certain events in my life. If I can't find the words, I think of a song and hum it or sing a few lyrics. It's healing for me. It's like visiting an old friend. It feels like home. The value of home is so precious to all these characters. Some are seeking it, some have it and take it for granted. Some find it in the characters they meet along the way. It is always available in one form or another so even when you feel like you are wandering alone in the dark, home is just around the corner. Fairy tales are crucial to me. They are a marvelous way to teach how the world works. Some are darker than others. Some don't end happily. But the stories woven in them stay with you. They may be a warning of not going into the woods late at night and talk to strange wolves. They may be what Disney is: following your dreams and always believing in yourself even when it seems impossible. It's pretty fun to do the impossible. I can understand to some the concept of a princess is a spoiled, rich girl with a big dress. To me it's seeing the little girls in princess dresses in Disney World lit up like Christmas trees because they feel strong and beautiful and confident. It's the mother who creates costumes for her daughter to wear in Disney World to help her get over her shyness. I follow her on Instagram. They are remarkable and her daughter has become quite the personality. Or it's the most recent story of the women who dressed as princesses to comfort a little girl during her adoption process in a court house. The power of the princess is real, friends, and I think it's magical.It's a remarkable thing, isn't it? How it all started with a mouse?