To live in harmony, I’ve had to make peace with the messes in my life. Yes, I’ve looked at them through the lens of bitterness and victim-hood, which did not serve my hope for a happy future.
Instead, I have chosen to see messes through the lens of gratitude and a believe that a Divine thread has woven them into the blessings that sculpted the person I am today.
So, as I shared with my fellow Toastmasters in my first speech this past week: There are three primary MESSES in my life that have made me who I am.
No one wants to ride the seesaw with a 100 pound kindergartner. Yes, you heard correctly.
Born a month too soon in 1963, Sal and Bette Costello weren’t sure I was going to make it! Hooked to tubes in an isolated area, four-pound me needed to reach five pounds to finally go home with mom and dad. When finally released, the need to feed was never a problem again. Getting me to STOP was.
…and there I was in kindergarten, 100 pounds. Twice the size of most of my classmates, I had to have special clothes and shoes made for me; I couldn’t run (without peeing my self) – but my mess became my message. I learned that what I could create between my two ears and come out of my mouth could build the bridges that my lack of looks couldn’t.
This mess birthed in me an empathy for the underdog; a sensitivity to those whose feelings might be hurt. It’s a mess that made me.
For mess #2, we must fast forward to age ten. My mother had long ago put me on a diet, so my weight was no longer an issue. I was in 5th grade, just starting to discover boys…and I was particularly excited for the annual roller skating party where I knew that Aldo Falasca would be and who I hoped would invite me to a couples’ skate.
We whirled around the rink, girls giggling and boys showing off…and I heard my name called over the loudspeaker. Had I won a door prize? I excitedly skated to the office and saw Mr. Coccaro, a friend of the family, with a somber look on his face.
I knew something very bad had happened.
Before a word was said, I blurted, “Was it Mommy?” He shook his head. “Daddy?””
At the very age I am today, one fatal heart attack stole him from our little family and with it, robbed me of so much security.
But eventually, my mess became my message. We all suffer loss in life – mine just occurred earlier than most. And what it taught me is to never take someone you love for granted, because their tomorrows – and yours – are not promised. Oh, I’d give anything to have that stolen time with my dad back, but what a valuable lesson to learn:
That love and gratitude reside in your heart to be expressed…and that if you live a life of love, you live a life with no regrets.
My third mess was the heartbreak of being single when everyone else was married.
My sister was married at age 20, and I had lived through ALL of my twenties and most of my 30’s with NO Mr. Right (and truthfully, very few dates.) I had, however, been in almost ten weddings (to my chagrin) and well-meaning friends encouraged me that, “When you least expect it…”
Ha! I went to every outing – including the grocery store or hopeful visits to Home Depot expecting…and expecting…and expecting. Nothing materialized.
Fortunately, I had a full life filled with friends and family and challenging work. In fact, in 2001 I was writing an annual report for the local government.
Printing companies from around the region competed in a bidding process to win the job and, once awarded, the vendor called to arrange a meeting.
“Oh, it’s not even ready yet. When it is, I’ll call YOU.”
The printing rep called again in a few weeks and by this time, under pressure to meet my deadline I responded with more agitation: “I will call YOU when it’s ready; please don’t call me again.”
You know how you create a mental image of a person you talk to on the phone? This guy was to me Danny Devito from Taxi. Short, gruff, tubby and probably with a cigar sticking out of the side of his mouth. I was not impressed.
Then the day came for the file to be picked up. And this was NOT Danny DeVito.
No, this was more like Tom Selleck from Magnum PI.
I couldn’t find my powers of speech. I fumbled to act professionally, while searching that left hand to see if it was adorned with a ring.
When I least expected it…
…three months later we were engaged.
Fourteen years later, I am still in love with that printing salesman.
My mess is my message: If it is in your heart, it is your destiny. Don’t waste time being sad because what you desire WILL eventually come to you, because I believe with all of my heart that desires are planted there to be fulfilled.
It’s the waiting, though, that makes you grateful when the dream is finally fulfilled.
In closing, is there something that might be a mess in your life today. Hold on, my friends. It could actually end up being your message.
And that’s how I ended my speech! Thanks for letting me share it with you, and I do believe that making peace with your past and seeing through the lens of gratitude makes for a much more HARMONIOUS life.
Drum roll please for the new Word of the Week!:
The scriptures say if we ask for it, we will receive it liberally. Here’s to huge doses of it for all of us this week!