11 Aug Life Is An Ice Cream: 3 Lessons I_ã_ve Learned About Living the Life You Want
Guest Post – by Emily Dash
Last year, my friend Julie and I saw Legally Blonde: The Musical. It was a great show…but the memory of it has stuck with me for a rather different reason. During interval, we decided to get some ice creams. Sounds simple, right? Except I forgot one crucial detail – it’s not easy to feed someone ice cream without making a very big mess. So there we were, laughing and trying madly to wipe half a Choc Top off my front before the lights went down again.
Julie told me she admired my determination in eating that ice cream. Always the philosopher, I suggested that our misfortune with the ice cream was kind of like my life. When she asked what I meant, I said: “It’s often difficult, sometimes messy, but always enjoyable”.
I’ll come back to the ice cream story a bit later. For now, let me tell you a bit about me. Living with Cerebral Palsy and being in a wheelchair affects my whole life, and gives me my fair share of challenges. And it can get me down. I’m a naturally happy person, but I’ve still had to work really hard to stay positive through the tough times. I refuse to let my disability stop me from having fun and striving for my personal best.
Things haven’t always been easy for me, but I love my life. And truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way. To my mind, there are three important elements of an “ice-cream” life.
First and foremost, it’s about being thankful for what you have…and taking responsibility for where you are in life. It’s very easy to just give up and say “my life is just too hard. I don’t want to do anything”. Believe me, there have been many days where that seems like the best option – and I’m sure there will many more to come. But the way I see it, spending too much time thinking like that is a waste of our precious time. If you look, there are plenty of reasons to be grateful.And the smallest things are often the most powerful – a butterfly, the sun, a warm smile, a kind word.
I also think setting goals is a really important and useful part of an “ice-cream” life, because it helps us to know what we’re working towards. To stop myself from getting bored in my last year of uni, I kept a list of everything I wanted to do once I was finished and it gave me more direction when the time came. I’d always wanted to get more involved in the arts, so I started looking for opportunities and came across a contemporary dance class for people with disabilities.
The best part of going to that dance class had nothing to do with the dancing itself, or even the wonderful people I met along the way. It was more about the challenge of it, that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I opened myself up to something new…and it paid off, more than I ever thought possible. Even though I’d never done anything like that before and could think of a million reasons not to go ahead with it, I did.
Afterwards I told Margot, the teacher, that I was hoping to find more artistic opportunities – and that my disability always seemed to get in the way. Then she asked if I had ever done drama. This caught my attention.
Acting fascinates me, but I’d never found a way to do it so I was happy to sit and watch. But here was Margot, explaining that she’d just taken a job as a support worker for Ever After Theatre Company…and they were looking for two new actors with a disability. I asked her to send me the information, and went for an audition.
And the next day, with no experience and only three months rehearsal time, I was cast in a show called Social Network Stories. Doing that show was the scariest and best time of my life, and I made lifelong friends. We also had our own dressing room, just like in the movies, which I thought was pretty cool.
I made my big dream come true. Have a think about what yours might be, because I’m sure you can make it happen somehow. A word of advice though: try not to let people convince you that you can’t do something. Sometimes even those closest to you might try and stop you. My mother is my biggest supporter, but when I told her I had signed up for dance class she was more than a little hesitant. She told me I had strengths in other areas, that I should focus on those. She didn’t want me to get hurt if it didn’t work out. She loved me. But it meant so much to me, and I kept going. I’m glad I did too, because otherwise I never would have done the show. Imagine…what could you do in your life?
I believe there’s one more secret weapon for building an “ice-cream” life…and that’s friendship. Everyone has a different definition of friendship. But I think good friends are the people who make you happy, who celebrate with you in good times and lift you up in hard times. They are the people who accept you for who you are, but inspire you to be whoever you want to be. These friends are often found in unlikely places, so keep an eye out and take care of them.
I hope I have encouraged you somehow. To be grateful. To think big. To set a goal that means something to you…then chase after it with all the passion in the world. Find your people, and cherish them. But most of all, just get out there and enjoy your ice-cream!
Emily Dash is an emerging writer, actor and motivational speaker based in Sydney Australia. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EmilyDashWriterActorSpeaker and on Twitter @EmilyDash2. She also has a WordPress blog: http://emilyldash.wordpress.com