When life gently hands me lemons, I’m pretty good at making lemonade. But sometimes the lemons just come too fast, one after another. It’s hard to get a grip on them, let alone chop, squeeze, sweeten, and stir. Sometimes, like…right now, I end up buried in a big ol’ pile of lemons.
I’ve written a few times over the last six months about the difficulties I’ve had since Lilianna’s birth. There was the hematoma, of course, and then the high blood pressure. Then came the D-MER and the DVT. Coupled with a lot of anxiety. All while trying to manage my GP. Most recently, I had a pretty scary and prolonged reaction to a medication, an experience that mirrored the traumatic allergic reaction I had back in 2000. After five trips to the hospital, one ride in an ambulance, and a few days of rest, my body is over the physical reaction but here I sit, exhausted and overwhelmed, holding a bushel of lemons.
So what’s one to do when find yourself at a the bottom of a big yellow pile? Here’s how I approach it:
- Take a breath. Really. Interrupt that frantic energy that has you searching for the “answer.” Because stressing yourself out isn’t it. Stop cursing the lemons. Whether you want to accept it or not, whether it’s fair or not (it’s not), the fact is that you are currently buried in a pile of lemons. So right now, do yourself a favor and just take a deep breath.
- Take responsibility. I’ve said it before: we aren’t always responsible for what happens to us, but we are responsible for how we handle what happens to us. You’re responsible for your choices, your attitude, and your actions. Be honest with yourself. Are you adding more lemons to your pile by not following your management plan, surrounding yourself with people who drag you down, or wallowing in self-pity? I’ve been there. But I know that I choose how I spend my time and energy and when I make self-supportive choices, I start to see the light through the lemon pile. (Note to self: a 20 minute walk is almost always a better choice than 20 minutes on Pinterest…)
- Take action. It may surprise you to hear that I don’t believe in positive thinking. Well, that’s not entirely true. I believe in positive thinking, but only when it’s coupled with positive action. Thinking alone won’t get anybody anywhere. (Positive thinking, or empowered thinking as I’d rather call it, definitely makes it easier to take action, though. Who’s really going to put in the effort to reach a goal that they don’t believe is attainable?) Meaningful action is what creates change, so you have to make lemon removal a priority. For me that means putting self-care first, acknowledging my limitations in this moment, and even backing out of commitments that would further exhaust and overwhelm me.
- Seek out the sugar. Nobody ever instructs you to make lemon juice with your life lemons. What’s the difference between lemon juice and lemonade? Sugar. And the good news is that life is full of sweet stuff. The Sun came up today. Sweet. Spring has arrived in western NY. Sweet. My baby is laughing. So very, very sweet. The more lemons you have, the more sugar you need. So seek out the sweet stuff. Look for it. Write it down. Celebrate it. Give thanks for it. This alone can turn your world around. I speak from experience.
Thankfully, life often throws you a bone instead of a lemon just when you need it most. This weekend, right smack in the middle of my lemon-fest, we had a pre-planned Blessing Ceremony and welcome brunch for Lilianna. At first the timing seemed terrible. But it was actually perfect. It was a beautiful day focused on the promise of the future, with an emphasis on responsibility, intention, and action. We were surrounded by family and friends who love Lily and love us. As everyone else filled up on brunch, I filled up on the “sweet stuff.”
I’ll need it to make my lemonade…