By: Sandra Stanford
It is one thing to know you are loved and another to deeply feel the love that is poured on you. I felt that love this past weekend. The story began in May when I started searching for a new tea room to celebrate my birthday with my friends in February. Our favorite tea room in Mt. Dora had closed and we were eager to continue the tradition of visiting a tea room, laughing, and sharing stories. Thus, I found the tea room at the Grand Floridian in Walt Disney World. For those who know me, I am a huge lover of the mouse and his property. My daughter, Anna Beth, got engaged there and we have annual passes. It’s a place that makes me put aside my adult self and tap into my inner child.
However, one of the frustrations is that I am not the only mouseketeer who is interested in going to the park and in making a reservation for that tea room. To my surprise the reservations are made about 4 months in advance. I am a planner but I knew it would be difficult to get a commitment from my best girl friends that far in advance. So although I told them about this treasure, I gave up the idea of a tête-à-tête with them at this place.
About a month ago, my friend, Alexis, asked me to block-out a few hours on Saturday February 28th on my calendar as she wanted to take me out for my birthday. I didn’t wait, but immediately marked it in my agenda book. Anticipation is a feeling I love and for a month I wondered where were we going, what would we do, how should I dress? Would my bathing suit be needed? How about my long johns for a drive up to see snow? Maybe I should take out my pretty new dress in case we go to see a play? No matter how much I asked her, she wouldn’t give me a clue. So that morning I put on my regular jeans and a cute shirt and drove over to her home so we could head out on this adventure of being loved and celebrated.
She headed toward the interstate and much to my surprise we exited and I saw the familiar sign that said Walt Disney World. “Are we going to Disney?” She just grinned. The next thing I know we are turning into the Grand Floridian driveway and she is telling the guard we have reservations. Hmmmm….could it be? Still no indication from her as to what restaurant we would be visiting.
I ask her “If you tell me which restaurant, I can show you the way?” “Nope” she said. “I will find it.” We walk around the opulent, yet warm lobby and headed over to…..did you guess? The Garden View Tea Room. The hostess walked us inside and I was looking around, in case there was a princess to meet. Then I spotted the table and 3 of my other girl friends were sitting there grinning at me. I felt overwhelmed, shocked, and very, very loved. It occurred to me how many months ago this day had been planned. And the love I felt cannot be put into words but it was a full feeling. And I allowed myself to feel every ounce of the love that had been poured out on me for this event.
We had an amazing time. There was delicious food, tasty tea, and great conversation. As we were driving home I sat in the fullness of the day. I realized something….
For years I have known of the love these ladies have for me. And I have felt the respect we show one another. But that day, at the Garden View Tea Room, I felt something deep. It was as if a new dimension came into our already fertile friendships. I admit that I have a great love for myself. It has come about through hard work, counseling, forgiveness, and changing expectations. But the feeling I felt the most was that these friends love me as much as I have grown to love myself. We love me, Sandra B. Stanford!
This is something I desperately want everyone to feel. But to experience it, we must open our hearts to what others want to give us. It takes vulnerability and risk. It requires grace and an open heart. It’s an adventure. A journey. I invite you to travel this path of self-discovery and love with me. It’s a route worth taking.
Sandra B. Stanford, MS