Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

My Happy Place

Written by: on November 20, 2023

When my daughter was growing up, she had a new favorite Disney princess just about every year. Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Merida, Rapunzel, Elsa, Moana, Pocahontas – they all made the rounds in her list. She takes after my husband who has a new favorite song or movie every other week. I tend to find my favorite and stick with it. My favorite Disney Princess is Belle and she has been my favorite for over thirty years. I love her independence, ingenuity, kindness, and ability to see beyond the outward appearance of others. Plus, she loves to read. Belle remains my favorite, but I enjoy immersing myself in the other stories. I love the songs, the characters, the magic of it all. I call Disneyland my “happy place.”

Five years ago, my husband was out of the country and it was just my daughter and I at home. On November 7, 2018, there was a mass shooting at a local bar, Borderline Bar and Grill. The next day, we found ourselves in the path of the Hill Fire. We evacuated to a nearby hotel only to be evacuated once again in the middle of the night due to the Woolsey Fire. So, what did we do? We donned our tiaras and went to Disneyland for several days. In his book Spellbound, Daniel Z. Lieberman talks about the impact of reading Fairy Tales on the unconscious mind. He writes, “The altered state induced by stories has been compared to meditation and has some of the same benefits: less stress, greater self-esteem, and lower rates of depression.”(1)

My daughter and I went to the perfect place for us to reduce our stress. That is until we decided to watch her favorite show, Fantasmic!. I forgot about the pirate ship, the smoke, and the cannon shots. As I was watching, I could feel a panic attack coming on and I had to get out of the crowd. I told my daughter where to find me after the show and went to sit down and work on my breathing. Once the show finished, she came and found me and sat with me until I was able to stop crying. Then she said, “I know what you need. You need to go on Small World.” We went to my favorite attraction and by the time I got off the ride, I was over my panic attack and in my happy place once again.

What is it about Disneyland and fairy tales that captures my heart? Why do I still, as a woman in my late forties, dress up and don my tiara any chance I get? Lieberman writes, “Fairy tales aren’t like other stories because fairy tales speak directly to the unconscious.”(2) He further writes, “An intellectual interpretation of fairy tales is not the same thing as actually reading them, and the reason for this difference is that there is something special about the way stories affect the brain.”(3) When I go to Disneyland, I am immersed in the fairy tale. I am able to come to a place of child-like joy. I am reminded of the beauty and possibility in the world.


At the beginning of his book, Lieberman asks the question, “What if we could learn how to recognize the influences of the unconscious, and make it an ally in helping us become who we were meant to be?”(4) I think that embracing my love of Disney and fairy tales has helped me to recognize these influences. I am learning to let go of the opinions of other people that for so long held me captive. I view the world through a different lens. As I have learned, I have leaned into who God made me to be and I am finding that I can love myself.

“The knowledge to be gained is not about the outer world, but also ourselves; the wealth to be unlocked resides within.”(5)

[1] Daniel Z. Lieberman, Spellbound: Modern Science, Ancient Magic, and the Hidden Potential of the Unconscious Mind. (City: Publisher, 2014), 141.

[2] Ibid., 122.

[3] Ibid., 138.

[4] Ibid., 1.

[5] Ibid., 143.

About the Author


Becca Hald

Becca is an ordained Foursquare minister, serving as the Online Community Pastor at Shepherd's House Church. She has over twenty-five years of leadership experience both inside and outside the church. Becca has served her community in many capacities ranging from Administrative Assistant and Children’s Ministry Director to Secretary and President of multiple school organizations. She and her husband, Andrew have been married for over 25 years. They have two adult children, Drew and Evelyn. Her great passion is to equip others, to raise awareness about mental health, and to help reduce the negative stigma surrounding mental health issues. In her free time, she loves going to Disneyland, reading, sewing, and making cards.

10 responses to “My Happy Place”

  1. Becca,

    Great post and ending quote. Well done and Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Tonette Kellett says:


    I love the way you ended…

    “I am learning to let go of the opinions of other people that for so long held me captive. I view the world through a different lens. As I have learned, I have leaned into who God made me to be and I am finding that I can love myself.”

    I’ll just add an amen here. That’s what each of us needs to do in our own lives. Great post!

  3. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Great application of Liberman’s work. It speaks to your own awareness and how to navigate the different challenges around. It is amazing how these fair tales (and Disney’s interpretation and addition to them) really do speak to the deepest parts of ourselves. When my daughter was younger, she would watch one of the movies then say, “Dad, what was the lesson in that movie?” We would talk about it and I was amazed at what she was able to pick up on through the story. She was able to absorb some complex ideas because of story. They really do help us become who we are meant to be.

  4. mm Daron George says:

    There are so many lessons in Disney fairy tales. In your experiences, how has immersing yourself in the enchanting world of fairy tales and Disneyland helped you navigate through challenging times, and what insights have you gained about the power of these stories to affect our unconscious mind and overall well-being?

    • mm Becca Hald says:

      Great question Daron. I think about how Jesus said that we should come to Him as the little children do. I remind myself that I am a child of God. To see the world through the wonder of a child is an amazing thing. When a child visits Disneyland, the characters are real to them. They are not meeting someone dressed up as Cinderella, they are meeting Cinderella. It is the faith that all things are possible. God has blessed me with many magical moments at Disneyland, reminding me of His great love and how He longs to lavish His love on His children.

  5. Becca – Your blog reminded me of of how Lieberman and Friedman both focus on the importance of individualization – being who we were truly made to be without carrying the expectations that society puts upon us. It seems as though you’ve grown in this area and that is wonderful! I pray you continue to have many “magic moments” in your life whether at Disneyland or elsewhere. It’s a gift that you are so aware of the things and experiences that bring you joy.

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