We all get handed lemons in life from time to time. Sometimes they come to us in easy to handle, bite sized chunks that can be fixed with a good slosh of gin, tonic and ice. I like those kind of lemons….they add zest to life, give a good story to tell and keep us on our toes for some personal growth. But then there are those big, waxy, mean lemons. You know the ones, they sidle on up to you when you least expect it, when you are happily skipping through life, face to the sunshine, smiling like a child whilst singing Bill Withers ‘Lovely Day’ at the top of your voice. Then damn it, you are unexpectedly floored with an eye full of lemon juice, surrounded by slippery pith and with your knickers on show. THOSE kinds of lemons are the ones I’m talking about.
I have had my fair share of those lemons in the past few years. Just your ‘run of the mill’ stuff one goes through, at least that is how I like to palm it off. Just a couple of run-away grooms, a flooded house, loss of a loved one, loss of career and the odd wobble here and there as I waded through it all. Come to think of it, those freaking lemons were the size of grapefruits and quite frankly I do believe they were being thrown repeatedly at my face like some bizarre version of human coconut shy. Anyway, more on that story another time, I am digressing from the lemons.
So, I was chatting about the above fruit bowl of disasters with a dear friend of mine the other day and yipping in excitement as I described my plans for the future and wiped the pith from my skirt. She said the most memorable line I have heard in a long time ‘wow, you really are making lemonade from your lemons’.
You really are making lemonade from your lemons
Doesn’t it just sum up life perfectly? Yes, we all have lemons and yes the big ones floor you. But we can all do something to turn our lemons into a more palatable experience or maybe, dare I say it, to make our lemons the start of something truly fantastic. So here it is. My guide to how I have made my lemons into lemonade.
a) Slice and dice
No-one can eat a lemon whole without choking, as far as I am aware, and I am no exception to this. To cope with big lemons I need a bigger knife. Manageable chunks = the way forward for crisis survival without losing your marbles. Sure it’s not original and neither will that phrase ever sell a book but it is true. Call it Baby Steps, call it One Day at a Time, call it anything that works for you. The important thing is the slicing. Go, slice your mental lemons and stand back. Look at what they really are….pathetic slices of sour fruit that you can cope with. Yes, your heard me, you can cope with. Label those slices as each of the issues that you need to tackle, one at a time, to get your world back together. When dealt with one slice at a time they are still sharp but they make a mighty fine gin and tonic to help you along the way.
b) Mix it up
Your world is one big fat lemon. Been there, been on my knees and have come close to giving up entirely. Haven’t we all. But you know what, I have come to realise that there is always something to smile about if you look hard enough. Some of my funniest moments have occurred during my darkest hours and the laughter at those times pulled me through. I assume it was laughter but then maybe I was losing the plot and becoming hysterical? Either way, even if it is just for a moment and is no more than a twitch in your facial muscles or is a raucous belly laugh at the moon – go and find someone or something to make you smile today and remind you why life will get better in time. Why every lemon can be mixed with some decent ingredients and made into a cake. And if you can’t find anything to make you smile, just smile anyway and annoy everyone with how well you appear to be coping. That in itself is very therapeutic and satisfying.
You see this is where I run out of sensible ideas. That was it. I appear to have survived on (a) and (b) alone, which doesn’t exactly make a survival guide for anyone. Evidently I won’t be writing a self help book anytime soon.
I will offer you these words instead though: If all else fails I suggest you duck as the lemons come flying at you, run like hell in the opposite direction and hide. Wait it out with a big glass of red wine and a vast bar of chocolate. Remind yourself that there is always someone worse off than you doing exactly the same thing. And if it helps, I spent Valentine’s Day 2009 having a romantic ‘dine at home meal for two’ all for one. I’ll be damned if I am missing out on those deals. There is nothing like an entire bottle of pink cava and a three course gourmet meal to make one feel better.