How a new book inspired me to re-connect with my forgotten inner child

2017-05-02
Forget cornflakes, the cereal bar, or even a banana, Laura Jane Williams is inviting us all to take a scoop of something different for the most important meal of the day. Ice Cream for Breakfast is a book about finding ways to deal with those ‘bullshit adult problems’, through re-discovering your inner child, something which many of us have lost sight of. The lessons taught in this book are universal, but I’d argue it makes for an ideal companion for any gay man. It’s not even been a year since Becoming, a memoir about what happened after the man Williams thought she was going to marry, dumped her and married her friend. She’s since gone on to write for various national magazines and newspapers, is Marie Claire’s #BREAKFREE ambassador, and has just finished a stint as Grazia’s dating columnist. The story of how Ice Cream for Breakfast came about makes this book particularly special to Williams. From the outside, she was on a career high after the launch of Becoming. The recognisable pink cover of her memoir was popping up on bookshelves across the globe, with many praising Williams for her brave and honest account of what happens after heartbreak. But the truth was, Williams had burnt herself out and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety; the career that she’d worked tirelessly for had come at a harsh cost to her mental health. Her life then took a turn in a different direction. After seeing a job advert for a part-time nanny, Williams swapped the keys of her laptop for the keys to the lives of three children. Over nine months she played, laughed and cried with these children. She began to rediscover the lessons that she’d learnt as a child, yet somehow had forgotten under the cloud of adult life. The stresses, responsibilities and dullness of being a grown-up had stopped her looking up at the sky, or asking questions, or dancing in the aisles! How we deal with our anger, saying thank you, setting boundaries, learning to love our bodies – you name it, this book’s got it! When was the last time we shook off our own self-conscious thoughts and enjoyed ourselves without a care for how silly we looked doing it? What if that bubble bath became an ‘event’ to look forward to, rather than a necessity? Will the world end if we told somebody we didn’t like the way they spoke to us? Do we feel able to ask for help? For many gay men, the thought of childhood brings back memories we’d block out: bullying, struggling to come out to our families and friends, and trying to ‘fit in’ at school. The challenges we faced during our formative years may have left many of us with the feeling that we somehow missed out on some of the important lessons Ice Cream for Breakfast brings to light. Of course, it’s never too late to learn and this book gives you the perfect opportunity to do so. Divulge the 40 chapters of this book as you would a tub of your favourite frozen treat: a slow binge in front of Netflix, or dip in and out by taking a few scoops at a time. This book reminded me to plan something to look forward to at the end of the day. It can be easy to get caught up in a busy week, without actually spending time to just have fun. Sing along to Little Mix, dance around the kitchen in your underwear, or write a short story about the unfortunate demise of your ex… Ten minutes of fun is nothing in a day filled with poorly punctuated emails and aggressive commuters – just find something that makes you smile! Ice Cream for Breakfast is an essential read for all of us. It is a reminder that life is there to be… lived! Forget the ‘five year plan’ for five minutes and embrace your inner child. Be ready to laugh, nod in agreement, and send quotes from the book to your best friends. And if all that sounds a little too daunting, eat a scoop or two of ice cream for breakfast, the rest will follow. Words by Hadley Stewart (@wordsbyhadley)