When I was little, one of my dreams was to dress in a grey power suit and carry a briefcase to my office in a huge New York City skyscraper overlooking Central Park. Doing what? I had absolutely no idea. I was 7, that’s as far as my attention span went.
Now that I’m 47, my attention span hasn’t seemed to improve all that much, however, my dream job looks very different. It’s amazing how one can be on a collision course with fate and not realize it at first, but as soon as you do, it will leave you breathless. There are lessons to be learned at each phase of our life, whether they be painful, tearful, uneventful, hurtful, beautiful or awful, every one of these lessons add up to who we are and who we will become.
As a military family we move frequently. Over the past 25 years Connecticut, Charleston, San Diego and Hawaii have all been called home. In June 2015 our family relocated once more. This time to South Carolina. This wasn’t the only change. I lost my mother 3 weeks before we arrived. Just one of those reminders that life is short and we need to appreciate every moment.
Maybe I should count this as Event # 1.
I took a job with a wonderful local non-profit as a community outreach coordinator. I was able to meet many incredible people of all ages during my time there. More importantly I was able to connect with people and listen to the adventures of their lives and their needs. I’ve always been drawn to people, I love hearing their stories, connecting with them and helping in any way I can. While attending a community training 2 hours away, I met a woman who would later become my friend. We were paired together for an exercise. One of her first comments to me was, “You wear your scars well…. but you won’t be here long.”
My first thought? Oh-my-God-Crazy-Lady-Alert. And then? Holy crap is this for real? Am I about to die? Is this some kind of Final Destination garbage? Who ARE you anyway?
She went on and on about my life at the same time I was struggling to focus and complete the exercise we were supposed to be doing. Needless to say, I was distracted. At one point I honestly thought that maybe I had met her before and shared every single personal detail of my life.
And then? My brain went on overload. Ok, ok crazy lady, you win. I unofficially freaked out and mentally waved a white flag.
My scars? My scars were like fight club and we all know the first rule of fight club.
I’ll call this Event #2.
Later that night, I couldn’t sleep. I flopped down on the couch, kicked my feet up on the coffee table, and clicked on the TV. Steve Harvey was on. I LOVE Steve Harvey, even with his Miss America malfunction. He was talking about his friend who started a landscaping business in Los Angeles. His friend wanted to make a million dollars, Steve told him that he first needed to figure out how to make 5 dollars. His friend was afraid to try. Afraid to venture out on his own.
Steve then told him, “Sometimes you just gotta jump.”
That’s it. Off went the TV. I was tired but the phrase, sometimes you just gotta jump, kept playing over and over again in my brain.
I’ll call this Event #3.
Later I was sitting in my friend’s boutique in Clemson, SC trying to pick a game day outfit, but really loving her company more. Her boutique is like the Steel Magnolias of Clemson. You go in for an outfit but come out with a lifelong friendship and hugs. Lots of hugs.
I was feeling lost in my job, I still loved it, but I felt like I needed to do something more. I just didn’t know what that “something more” was. She told me, you need to do your own thing. Ok, well, I replied, what is that?
She answered me back, “You’ll figure it out.” Event #4
Fast forward 2017. The New Year had just begun. We had just witnessed our son’s football team win a National Championship, and then heard him announce that he’d be leaving the program that we had come to love and know as our family. Devastated does not even begin to describe how I felt. I was crushed, but I smiled and supported my son because, of course, he’s my son.
As high as you are high, you can be as low as you are low. Still the band plays on. I was giving a Healthy Relationships presentation to freshmen at a local high school, we were discussing stereotypes and “boxes” people can sometimes be placed in. I gave what I thought was a resounding speech on “you can do anything you put your mind to, the sky is the limit!” So to speak. Then from the very back of the room a 15-year-old girl raised her hand. When I called on her she stood poised in her ROTC uniform and brilliantly and so eloquently challenged everything I had just said. I was shook, but I couldn’t show it. My response was simply, “I hear you and your argument is valid, however if you believe you are defeated then you are.” That’s it, that’s all I had. After the class left, I cried. What if she’s right? What if I’ve been standing here telling these young people things I’m not sure I believe myself? Two weeks later, after just having purchased our first home, I left my job for a regional manager position with another non-profit.
These are Events# 5, 6, and 7.
My new position had me traveling constantly all over the state but I told myself I enjoyed it. I was on an early morning drive to a staff meeting with one of my favorite co-workers who always had the best ideas for businesses and life in general. She started telling me a story about an ice cream shop.
Ice cream shop? At 5:30 in the morning?
“You should open one. You should open an ice cream shop!” she said.
I never laughed so hard in my life! Me? I can’t possibly do that! I wouldn’t even know where to begin or even how. Or even want to.
That was Event#8
At my job I absolutely adored my new team. I was surrounded by intelligent, motivated, hardworking and supportive women from all walks of life. This is it! This is awesome! I thought.
Not so fast.
Within seven months, all of those women would jump to move on to become Executive Directors of a non-profit, start their own businesses, pursue graduate and post graduate degrees.
I was the only one left. And then?
I too jumped.
This was Event #9.
I was sitting at the kitchen table with my husband, who was about to retire from the military after almost 30 years. He was working diligently on his resume, one chicken peck at a time. I poked fun at him and asked “How’s it going to feel not being the boss after all of these years?”
His facial response clearly showed that this was a novel idea to him.
The words: “We need to open our own business” came out of his mouth.
At first I took it as a joke.
What?? What was he saying? Who is this man? What kind of business are WE going to open? Have you met us? HAHAHAHAHAHA.
Oops. He was serious.
So, I said the first thing that popped into my head, “How about opening an Ice Cream Shop?”
We will call this Event #10.
After that began the hours, days, weeks, months of researching ice cream, ice cream shops, supplies …ALL the things we had absolutely no idea about. We live in an adorable, picturesque, rural, small town in Upstate South Carolina. I chose our home here because it reminded me of our hometown in Upstate NY, just with less (or zero) snow. We looked at locations in other towns for our ice cream shop but there were two available buildings 1.5 miles away from our home. Why not one of them? I was so tired of driving all over. I called the number posted to inquire about one of the buildings for rent and my friend answered. I thought I had the wrong number, but no, I sure didn’t.
She and her husband owned the building. Coincidence? I think not. Voila! Event#10
A chance encounter at a checkout line resulted in one of the cutest ice cream shop murals ever and a new friend to boot!
Yet another coincidence? I call it Event#11
Panic set in a few days before we opened.
We’d invested everything we had in an ice cream shop. What if no one showed up? What if people hated us?
What if. What if. What it. What if.
Doubt, dread, debilitating uncertainty took up full-time occupancy in my head.
The doors opened and people showed up and showed up and showed up!! Our friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, teammates, schoolmates, shipmates and so many new friends! People from all over drove hours to visit.
Success was as sweet as the ice cream we served.
Fast forward December 2018. Year 1 is almost in the books.
We are planning our first anniversary party and summer season. We’ve been able to give back to our community. A community who embraced us and our business in many different ways. We’ve been able to create a fun, caring, family friendly, stress-free environment (unless you’re a staff member making one of 200 freakshakes for the day).
What this experience has given us is immeasurable. Our customers have allowed us into their lives of trials and triumph, love and loss, hope and hopelessness, victory and defeat…..and we couldn’t be more grateful to them.
Would this event be number 12? I think so. An even dozen.
As you see I numbered the events that took place which led us to this point. None of it was planned. It was a series of events, interactions, connections and coincidences that led us here. I believe everything and I mean EVERYTHING, happens for a reason and in its own time. I see it as God’s plan and timing. I had wanted many of these things earlier in life, but I can see now, I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t gone through the necessary process of growing. That’s when it hits you: all the struggles, the NO’s, the disappointment, the happiness, the success and the failures happen in the way they are supposed to in order to shape you into your BEST you.
When this moment strikes, be warned, it’s the most INCREDIBLY overwhelming feeling ever! It shakes you to your very core. Be patient, trust the process, listen, even when you don’t want to, and (most importantly) DO NOT GIVE UP.
Interestingly enough, one of my mom’s favorite indulgences was a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream. I never gave it much thought until now. I’ve always been a chocolate ice cream lover. Since opening our shop my taste seems to have changed. What’s my favorite go-to?
Hershey’s Vanilla Bean ice cream.
I am my mother’s daughter.