As a life coach, I always think I need to have the perfect life, that I need to be living my best life before I can help others live theirs. Well, I’m not living my best life, not by a long shot, and perhaps it’s all relative. But there is no perfect life, regardless of what you see on social media. It’s about the journey, and sometimes you have to make the best out of what you’re given….the proverbial making lemonade out of lemons.
At one point, I was working towards what I thought was my best life. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career…I was livin’ the dream! I did what all the other actors were doing: waiting tables, taking acting classes and sending out headshots and resumes. I went on auditions and got a few bites here and there, a few student and independent projects. Did you see me in anything? Maybe a dating show and some extra work on sitcoms. But it was a great time in my life. I was focused, and I felt I had a goal and a purpose.
Then my mom got sick and I moved back to Massachusetts to care for her. Had she not been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, I’d probably still be in California. Would I be famous? Probably not. But that dream has faded, and in the twenty years since I moved home, my life has been a roller coaster…with a lot more downs than ups.
In a way, I feel like my life was derailed and I’ve been trying to get it back on track. I’ve been searching for something, and only now starting to figure out what it is. I’ve moved back and forth between Massachusetts and Southern California six times since then, had a variety of jobs, and find myself back in my hometown once again, this time with my aging father. And each change was inevitably spurred by some setback, or a feeling that I was headed in the wrong direction and needed to reroute.
While it’s not the life I’ve dreamed of, the lessons have been priceless. Maybe it’s not perfect on paper, but I’ve been making the most out of difficult situations. My outer world, to me, has much to be desired, but it’s brought an incandescent light to my inner world. What’s happening inside of me feels like magic. Life’s given me a lot of lemons, but you could almost say the lemons have been guiding my way.
I don’t think I’ve ever actually made lemonade from scratch. I don’t usually drink lemonade, but when I have in the past, it was either frozen concentrate or a powdered mix. So, I googled lemonade recipes. There are quite a few variations, but just as I figured, it’s basically lemon juice, water and sugar.
A traditional homemade lemonade recipe goes something like this:
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
8 cups water
Squeeze the lemons, about 6 should yield a cup of juice. Discard the seeds, but keep the juice and pulp.
Take 1 cup of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Make a simple syrup by adding the sugar, and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature. Store in fridge until chilled.
Mix remaining water with lemon juice and add the chilled simple syrup. Stir in pitcher. Poor over ice in a tall glass. Sit down, relax and enjoy.
How does this translate to life? The lemons would be anything sour or displeasing: a grievance, an unfortunate life experience, a tragedy, or just an unpleasant feeling. Water is a cleanser and a purifier; it bestows mercy. And the sugar is a sweetener that takes the edge off and makes things pleasant. In life, it’s a sweet perspective, the blessing in disguise. This is my recipe for the lemonade of life:
Lisa’s Life Lemonade
1 cup sour situation
1 cup perspective
8 cups mercy (forgiveness, grace, love, compassion)
Juice the lemons. It’s easy to complain or go into denial about things. But really, the best approach is to squeeze the juice out, to make sense of it. Get the facts down and accept the sour situation. This doesn’t mean resign yourself to your circumstance, it’s merely acknowledging the reality.
The simple syrup is a sweetened perspective. If you just add sugar to the lemonade, all the crystals will sink to the bottom of the pitcher. The sugar represents a crystallized perspective. Sometimes when you look at the facts, you can point your finger and say, “I was wronged”. While it may be true, if you add it to the mix, it will just sink to the bottom and you will forever hold on to that perspective.
To make the simple syrup, take a cup of mercy (forgiveness works great in this recipe!) and heat it up. When you heat it up, you are activating a powerful force. Add the perspective. As it dissolves, think of ways that you were responsible, even if it’s only 1%. Taking some ownership of the situation helps to dissolve perspective. Think of at least one thing, one positive outcome or silver lining from this situation. If you can’t find one, take one from another aspect of your life, something for which you are grateful. And if all else fails, go to your neighbor and borrow a cup, sometimes it helps to get an outsider’s perspective. Stir until sweet.
Let the simple syrup chill. Sit with the sweet perspective for a while. More than just words, you must internalize it.
You’re left with 7 cups of mercy. I understand it may be difficult to muster up that much mercy, so start with love and compassion for yourself. If it’s been a great ordeal, take some time and take it easy. I never said this was instant lemonade! Mix the remaining mercy (heavy on the grace and compassion) with the sour situation, and add the sweet perspective. Stir well. Let it infuse your being with love and blessings.
You can sweeten and dilute to taste, and of course, it’s proportional. The bigger the sour situation, the more mercy and sweet perspective is needed. The more you make Lisa’s Life Lemonade, the more you will see the true benefits of lemons and a “sour situation”.
Life will always hand you a lemon here and there. Unfortunately, lemons have been getting a bad rap, so let’s show some love for the mighty lemon!
While I don’t drink lemonade, I have been drinking hot water with lemon first thing every morning for years. And according to Anthony William, the Medical Medium, it’s an excellent way to cleanse and hydrate the body! In his latest book, Liver Rescue, he says that lemons are a powerful healing fruit that work wonders to cleanse the liver by improving the production of hydrochloric acid and bile. Lemons are rich in vitamins C and B-complex, and loaded with minerals. The micro mineral salts help protect the liver’s immune system by breaking down pathogens. Besides boosting the immune system, lemons reduce inflammation in the body, and are beneficial for ailments such as colds and viruses, sore throats and coughs, fevers, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol…just to name a few. Shout out to the lemon!!!
So not only are lemons cleansing and healing, metaphorically they are a catalyst for wonderful outcomes…you just need to look for the blessings!
Challenge for the week: Make lemonade!
What are some sour situations in your life? How can you sweeten up your perspective? Where can you add a little more mercy? Think of some practical things you can do to make life more palatable.
For me, it’s this New England winter. It may be sunny right now, but it’s 24 degrees! I don’t like the cold and I would much rather be frolicking in sunny San Diego. But I’m juicing it. I accept that I’m here right now and nothing lasts forever. Spring will be here soon enough.
The sweet is knowing that this too shall pass. I have a roof over my head, indoor heating, and plenty of layers of clothes. And I am helping my dad. I’m taking advantage of my “hibernation mode” by going within. I am digging deep and hope to share what I learn with others. It’s allowing me to look at some limiting beliefs and allowing me to explore what I truly want in my life. It may be cold outside, but it’s warm in here.
Wishing you a sweet week! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below.