I wrote this four years ago but the lessons still hold true.
Tonight, I stroll on the beach, with my straw hat pulled over my brow hoping to get some relief from the triple digits. But not a breeze in sight as sweat drips from my forehead and pours out of my armpits, soaking me like I was fresh out of a shower. I can’t help but wish for a little ice cream or gelato to cool me off.
Ironically, this weekend was Gelato Festival in my new home town but as I passed by the tables, I did not allow for creamy colors of the rainbows to lure me in.
Why? Because I was too busy doing what adults do: being adults, prioritizing life over fun.
With each step I took on the mushy shore, I contemplated this. Why did I lose my fun nature for the routine of responsibility?
My mind drifted like the waves and pulled me back and found a simpler me, sitting on the stone wall of a little Italian town.
I recalled laughing with my mouth wide open, indulging on lavender and blackberry gelato stuck to my teeth. My daughter, thinking it was hilarious,made it part of her Snapchat story.
Seeing the video, I giggled too; embracing the image of spontaneous silliness. Later that night, sitting on an a cobblestone street in San Gimignano, I replayed the video and laughed at the seeing the fifty year old me, feeling like I was sixteen; messy and all.
Messy is good. What was my “messy”?
Fifteen years ago I went through a divorce and months later my ex became a paraplegic. As a single mom,I could not afford a McDonald’s twisty cone for my kids let alone a trip to Italy indulging in the World’s Best gelato.
In the last fifteen years here’s seven things I learned:
1) Be real. Your family, your colleagues, your clients, don’t need and don’t want perfect – they want real. Share your shortcoming. Be vulnerable to show your “ugly food stuck-in-your -teeth” smile.
2) Timing is everything. When the kids were little, I saved for their college, even sometimes as small as 25/ month and our fun was free concerts at the park with a McDonalds twisty cone for a treat. Only now, after years of sacrifice and knowing that their college is paid for, did I finally indulge in the big treat; Italy.
3) Admit your faults. I love food, but I am a messy eater. I don’t do pretty. But it’s funny, my friends know this and are willing to offer me a napkin and help me clean-up. Yours may too but you have to be willing to accept the help, from co-workers, friends, and family.
5)Smile a lot . Hard to be mad or disappointed when someone offers you a smile or a gelato cone.
5)Laughing is contagious; enthusiasm is too. On a hot Summer night, ice cream lines are long and get longer because of the excitement of eating together. Not as much fun, eating alone a big bowl of delight, is it?
6) Embrace the ugly. Life is not perfect. Sometimes you may need a napkin to prevent the dripping, but the next sweet taste could be around the corner. Take the bite
7) Do life like you mean it. Italians eat because they enjoy it! Kids eat ice cream with their full mouth. No tiny licks.
Are you really enjoying your life? Your work? Your relationships?
I remember my first boss at Van Kampen Investments now Invesco said I me some thirty years ago, “Don’t burn out. Find the little victories and celebrate.” My celebrations always included ice cream. Heck, my first boyfriend worked at Baskin Robbins. Back then, I would choose my cone based on the prettiest color in the case. My favorite was Daiquiri Ice – kind of like gelato. I guess the girl really hasn’t changed much except to switch from ice cream to gelato.
So tonight, as I strolled on the mushy shore of Butterfly Beach, I tipped my straw hat and thought, I am the sixteen-year-old girl trapped in a fifty-year old body. I am the best Lisa; silly, messy, and needing a friend who can offer me a napkin.
Choose with your eyes. Commit with your heart. Life, work, and relationships are messy. Embrace the messy and the kid in you; buried in an ice cream cone or gelato. The choice is yours. Let’s have the contagious joy that children have just like Jesus intended .
” Let the children come to me… ” Matthew 19:14