Monday, May 7, 2007

If life is a lemon, how sweet is your lemonade?

Have you ever felt as if all life was serving up was a bunch of lemons? Anyone who has encountered the heady aroma of a grove of lemon trees in blossom will understand why nothing could be sweeter! Years ago, while travelling in Greece, I walked through a lemon grove and was in awe of the aroma. Pure delight. Sweet, succulent, refreshing. My entire being felt kissed with the nectar of the gods. I felt grateful, in awe and inspired by the moment. It is a scent I carry with me in memory, an aroma that continues to inspire me today, whenever I ask the question, Why me?

Why not me?

If this is the lemon, can I sweeten the juice? Can I create value from the perceived negative, turn the dark into light? Instead of asking, why me, can I ask instead, What can I learn from this event?

Victim's ask, Why me. Victor's ask, What can I learn.

Life is not a guarantee for happiness. How we live it increases our chances of tapping into the joy of living, but it's up to us to ask the questions that strengthen our journey, and give us direction.

When I focus on why life is so hard, why life is getting me down, why life is so unfair, I am letting life get the better of me.

When I focus on learning from every circumstance in my life, I am getting the best from me and my life. I am creating lemonade from lemons.

A few days ago I was driving to meet my two sisters and mother for lunch. My eldest sister had emailed me the directions which I'd printed off -- and left beside my computer at home. Just before leaving my office, I quickly looked up the address for what I thought the name of the place was and set out into the pouring rain. Unfortunately, I had the name wrong. The only thing my address had in common with the actual location of where I was supposed to be was it happened to be in the northwest quandrant of the city -- oh, and it did include Bow in the name!

As I headed towards where I thought I was going, I came to an intersection where I clearly remembered my sister telling me to 'turn left'. I looked at the address I had written down, looked at the left turn and turned right. My address was not to the left, it was to the right -- a long long way to the right, I might add!

In that right turn I committed myself to a path in the wrong direction. Even though I knew where I was going should have been on the left, I chose to follow where I thought I should go because my information was faulty. As I travelled north, in the complete opposite direction where I wanted to be, I kept thinking, "hmmmm, this doesn't feel right." But I'd look at the address I'd written down and think, "Well, it should be out here somewhere."

Eventually, I phoned and got the right address. Sure enough, I was miles north of where I should have been. It took me forty-five minutes to take what would have been a 10 minute drive -- even in the pouring rain. Fortunately, I had given myself an extra 20 minutes so I was only 15 minutes late!

What a great lesson.

A map. Directions. None of them make an iota of difference if I don't know where I'm going to start with.

Just like life.

I can have an idea of where I want to go, a sense of what I'm heading for, but if I don't have an actual, and accurate, address, I'll never get there. And, if I don't pay attention to the details, use coordinates unrelated to my destination, I'll always be leading myself astray.

There have been other moments in my life where I have ignored what I knew to be right and driven myself into the wrong direction because I trusted information that was wrong for me. Having survived 4 years 9 months with an abuser, I can tell you, everything he told me was an untruth, from hello to good-bye, I love you to I hate you, You're beautiful to you're ugly, it was all a lie.

Yet, while I was with him, I wanted to believe him so badly I clung to his lies as if they would lead me to the truth.

Truth is, only I know what path I need to take to live the life of my dreams. Only I can choose my direction -- and sometimes I make mistakes because my information is faulty, or I didn't pay attention to the details. It's okay to make mistakes as long as I learn from them and make appropriate adjustments to my course so that I can get to where I want to go.

Like last week when I turned right instead of left. Eventually, I realized it was time to turn back and head in the opposite direction. I found where I was supposed to be and had a delightful lunch with three awesome women.

When I was in that relationship, however, I never turned back. I kept travelling the road of lies and deceit because I could not admit I'd turned in the wrong direction; that I was on a path leading me into danger.


It can drag me down if I don't keep my eyes focused on where I want to go in my life.

Today, I cultivate a lemonade mind. There's no negative in life -- it's all positive as long as I learn from every situation. Along with keeping me focused on my goals, my lemonade mind lifts me up with the sweet aroma of laughter. Last week, with rain streaming down my windshield, the roads slick with oily water, I started to laugh. One of my favourite sounds is rain pummelling the metal roof of a car while I'm inside it. I love that sound! And because I was lost, I got to experience it longer than I would have had I gone directly to my destination. Cool!

When bitterness is pouring like lemon juice in your life, laugh! Laughter will sweeten even the darkest day.

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