Today, I want to talk about LEMONS.
Lemons? Yep, that’s what I said…
Lemons came into my life this past winter as a magical sign, a reminder, and a game changer.
How, you may wonder? Well, where do I begin…
Have you seen the show “This Is Us”? So this is the best show ever, ever, ever and you should definitely check it out if you haven’t. There are so many pieces of wisdom woven into this show’s writing regarding marriage, parenting, and life.
So just after Christmas, I was catching up on episodes of the show and there was one episode “The Big Day”, that stopped me in my tracks. I cry during almost every episode but this one had me sobbing, reflecting, and completely moved.
This episode goes back in time when Rebecca is heavily pregnant with the triplets and feeling huge and b#%^&y. It’s her husband, Jack’s birthday but she forgets as she is overwhelmed with being uncomfortable and preparing their home for the babies’ arrival. She kicks Jack out of the house so she can have some alone time. Poor Jack goes over to see his BFF Miguel who suggests golfing. They go golfing where a bunch of men reveal that golf is their way of getting away from their wives and children. What a bunch of a$$^@*%s, right?! Anyway, Jack ends up saying that even on his wife’s worst day, he loves to be around her and he can’t wait to have kids so he can spend time with them….yep, he sure did. And listen, I don’t care what you say, there are Jack’s out there. They exist. They are not unicorns. And one day I am going to find me a Jack…if you know of one, feel free to send him my way.
Okay, so back to the story line, as this is all happening with Rebecca and Jack, Dr. K’s story line comes into play. Dr. K has just recently lost his wife of many years and is absolutely devastated. The love he had for his wife is just so heartbreaking and beautiful. (Sigh) He is struggling to find purpose and motivation to move through the day, without her, while carrying this immense grief.
Back to Rebecca and Jack…she realizes it is Jack’s birthday, so like a lady boss, she duct tapes shoes to her feet because nothing fits on those cinder blocks and she walks her big a$$ to the store to get cake ingredients for her man. She walks back with Twinkies and a muffin. Jack returns home, she apologizes and then offers to do her annual naked birthday dance for him. Then, whilst in the mode of trying to get down and dirty…her water breaks. They go to the hospital where their lives are intersected by Dr. K who becomes their delivering physician because their regular physician is dealing with an appendicitis. Rebecca loses one of the triplets in the delivery. After, Jack and Dr. K have some deep conversations regarding the coinciding grief they are both experiencing and in these conversations, Dr. K says, “When life gives you the sourest of lemons, make something resembling lemonade.” Jack takes this advice, adopts a little baby that was left at a fire station and brought to the hospital on the same day the triplets were born and so completes the family. As Jack is able to absorb this piece of lemon advice from Dr. K, Dr. K is also able to see the glimmer of purpose in his life again after helping this young family.
The episodes continue to show this theme of “making the best out of trying circumstances”, throughout the entire season. Jack grew up with a less than desirable relationship with his own father but chose to be a different man, a good husband and an attentive father to his children. No matter what challenge or unplanned circumstance arises for the family, Jack with the help and support of his wife, is always turning life into something beautiful, memorable and joyful. And that my friends, is a respectful and magical partnership – once again, I am certain beyond certain that this exists.
Which brings me to my self-reflection…
In that moment, while I am sobbing my face off…I hit a turning point. I wondered about my own life. Was I the type of person who made the best out of every situation? Did I make lemonade out of sour lemons? Even when things didn’t go as planned, did I improvise and try to make the situation as joyful as possible?
Up until this point, I had been surviving. The past year had knocked me down hard, and don’t get me wrong, I was standing. Sometimes I was hobbling through the days, but damn it, I was standing with the weight of so much worry and so many unmade decisions balanced on my shoulders. I had a 2-year-old and a 4-month old baby that I devoted all of my attention to. The day was a blessed routine. Methodical, predictable, and task orientated. It allowed me to focus on the next step and remain somewhat numb by submerging myself in diaper changes, feeding, dressing, bathing, and taking my kids to activities. The evenings were lonely but I would read, text friends or watch episodes of “This Is Us” and cry. Sounds fun, hey?
When I finished this particular episode, as I sat on the couch thinking about my life and the life I was going to create for my children, I knew that I absolutely wanted to be a woman who took whatever life gave me and created something wonderful from it. I believe that one day, I will meet my “Jack” and he will share this way of life with me – someone who matches my desire to make the best out of each day, each obstacle and each opportunity and this partnership will compound my own efforts in the creation of a beautiful life.
Nevertheless, my actions and my way of life will be independent of my partner’s contribution. I choose to show up as my best self and create a happy life for MYSELF. It was in this realization that I started to shift from survival mode to thriving mode. I started to take that extra step to be present in my life. Rather than smile a smile of reassurance for myself and my kids, I started to engage in life and to notice the little things. My smile changed from one of hope to one of genuine happiness. When I played with my son, I started to be goofy with him, to dance with him, to genuinely laugh with him. When I felt a surge of love in my heart, I started to lean into it, running to my babies to kiss their pillowy cheeks over and over. I don’t hesitate to scoop them up in my arms and hug them so tight, eagerly willing my adoring energy to transfer to them, so they can feel the big love I have for them. I began to try new things, challenge my fears and I began to show up, rather than sitting on the side lines waiting for life to happen.
I don’t know what the future holds but what I do know is that I have a CHOICE to take the lemons handed to me in this life and make something sweet and so very satisfying. And that is what I intend to do every day. I choose to be an example to my children, of a woman that embraces what life hands her, a woman that proves that if you take it one day, one hour, one moment at a time and focus on the next step ahead of you, nothing is impossible. I will teach by my example, that if you choose to look for the silver lining and the sweetness life has to offer, you will most definitely find it.
And I am telling you, choosing to thrive rather than simply survive, it’s like living in technicolor.