Lessons from Disney’s “Pollyanna”: Getting Real


Confession time.

It’s hard for me to “get real.” I mean, I really and truly desire to be authentic with everyone, in all relationships, and now that I am writing more I am very determined to become more and more authentic in my writing.

However, I am wired to be a positive person – even a “Pollyanna” (the namesake of the Disney movie – an orphaned child with an eternally optimistic outlook on life) at times. It is in my nature to want to comfort and encourage people, lift spirits, inspire others, and make people laugh and want to enjoy life as much as I do.


In fact, when my dear friend, Kaylene from the Disney Parks Moms Panel, asked me to write a post about my favorite Disney Character for her amazing blog, Memory Maker Mom, a couple years ago, I chose Pollyanna. Here’s a link to that post:  “Disney Movie Lines – Cinema Sunday:  Positively Pollyanna” .  This article explains a lot about my outlook on life.

Be ye glad!
Be ye glad!

But in order to “get real,” I have to admit that there are times when I just can’t even inspire myself, much less others. And this is one of those times.

I’m coming off a 14-day illness that left me 19 pounds and a few handfuls of hair lighter, and without any answers for what caused it all. Now that I’m home out of the hospital, very happy to be in my own bed, and feeling so much better, I should be rejoicing in that healing (and please know, truly, I am – my God is my Healer, and I am so thankful!!!)

But, if I’m going to “get real” with you, I have to admit that I am weaker than a kitten and finding myself frustrated at my lack of strength and the lack of answers.


While in the hospital, I missed hugging my boys for 14 days. I missed getting to go purchase their back-to-school supplies and clothes with them, and I missed seeing them off on their first day of school. My dear husband handled it all, with help from our wonderful family and friends, and the boys are flourishing, and I should be rejoicing with gratitude that all is well with them…but I missed it. And if I’m going to “get real” with you, I have to admit that I’m angry I missed it and I’m grieving that lost time of enjoying the last days of summer with my boys and being involved in the back-to-school festivities.

My husband has shouldered so many burdens and responsibilities, and he is so tired – and all I want to do is to be able to lift so much of that back off his shoulders. But he never complains. He is such a servant-hearted saint. But I feel weak and helpless, much like during my two pregnancies with hyperemesis gravidarum. I am blessed by God to have this man as my husband, and should be rejoicing with gratitude constantly. But instead, if I’m going to “get real with you,” I have to admit that I am depressed at my inability to be his “help-meet” right now.

If you’ve ever watched the Disney movie, “Pollyanna,” which, like I said, is one of my all-time favorites, then you know that the story is about a young, orphaned girl who changes an entire town by her positive outlook and attitude toward life. (SPOILER ALERT! If you’ve never seen the movie, the rest of this post gives away the ending!) She always sees the bright side, and encourages others to play the “Glad Game,” taught to her by her missionary father before he died. This game’s intent was to turn something sad into something glad.

Pollyanna playing the Glad Game with a crotchety lady.
Pollyanna playing the Glad Game with a crotchety lady.

At first, Pollyanna’s “Glad Game” irritated the town-folk to no end, but eventually their hearts were changed. The town came together to hold a celebration to raise money for the town orphanage, and in the course of that celebration, Pollyanna was injured and crippled as a result. She became very depressed herself.

Bedridden, without knowing if there was a cure, Pollyanna found it difficult to accept the encouragement and support of all of the people whose lives she had so radically changed by her own inspirational outlook.

Pollyanna finally accepting some encouragement from someone she once encouraged.
Pollyanna finally accepting some encouragement from someone she once encouraged.

I remember watching that as a child, and thinking, “Pollyanna, don’t be so silly! Stay positive! Smile! Keep your head up! Don’t let it get you down – think glad thoughts and everything will be okay!” And I also secretly berated her for making all those folks feel down, too, when they were trying their darnedest to cheer her up!

People-pleaser, much, am I?

What a naïve perspective I had, and truly, have continued to have for a long time.

While in the hospital, I had the blessing of being cared for by the sweetest, most uplifting nursing staff ever. And I had the best friends and family members who took on all of my responsibilities so I didn’t have to worry, visited, called, wrote, texted, messaged, sent flowers and gifts, and prayed for my healing. It truly lifted me up and helped to change the course of my illness, I believe.  And now, I am feeling so much better – definitely on the road to recovery.

However, as much as I hate to admit it to you, I’m going to “get real” and say it: I am still feeling weak, puny, and down-hearted right now. It’s been a miserable time.  And I’m angry, and kind of scared, that we don’t know what caused this and I don’t have the faintest idea of how to prevent it in the future, for myself or for others.  It has taken every ounce of energy I have today to just hold my head up to write this blog post.

I know others have it much worse than I do, and I should focus on how blessed I am that I am in the healing process, feeling so much better, and all that. Truly, don’t get me wrong, I am focused on that, and I am thankful to God and others, and I am praising Him in this storm.

But I want to be real with you. You know why? Because I want you to be real with me. I think that’s what truly builds relationships, friendships, and a “community.”

When folks “get real” and share their lives – their whole lives – the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows, trusting one another with their innermost feelings, then lives can be changed. When we open up and express our vulnerabilities with one another, and are able to not only give encouragement and support, but to receive it, then we are truly friends, and we can truly change things together.

Let's join the club!
Let’s join the club!

So, there it is, folks. Fair warning: I’m a bit more of a Debbie Downer right now than a Pollyanna. But you know what?  I accept your love, your prayers, your messages, your positive thoughts, your encouragement, and your support during this time. I know I won’t be down for long, because I am so blessed by God and by so many.

And I pray that in the future, you’ll find it easier to “get real” with me, so I can return the favor.



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2 thoughts on “Lessons from Disney’s “Pollyanna”: Getting Real

  1. Jeanne

    Tron, when I was in 7th grade, I had a long illness. I ran a fever every morning for about a month. They thought it was mono, but that test was negative. I missed weeks of school! All I remember about that time, is how sweet my teachers were to me, and how they helped me. Mother worried for years, about that illness, because it was never diagnosed. But I have been healthy as a horse ever since. So do not stress about it…unnamed illnesses do happen, and you are bouncing back, and that’s the important thing. God may have wanted you to slow down for a bit, to gain something thru prayer time with Him right now. You & I both know (from the past) how we hate to be bedridden and weak….so thank the Lord it’s not HG! Love & prayers—-JK

    1. Tron

      Thanks, Jeanne…and yes, I’m thankful it’s not HG! 🙂

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