When Life Hands You Lemons… Be Thankful

Yellow Lemon in the handLike many of you, I’ve had a challenging year. A separation, a divorce, two moves, a sick child. A ‘new’ old house which makes me wish Bob Villa made house calls and I’d won the lottery.

My mother died.

Those of you who know me well see how these events have worn me down to my bones. My symptoms of grief and overwhelm include fatigue, irritability, apathy, anxiety bordering on panic’s edge, and (most concerning to me) difficulty in giving a damn—about anyone and anything that extends beyond my narrow perimeter of home and hearth.

I don’t like the new me.

I need a re-do.

This realization came to me last night (actually early this morning, as my neighbor’s car alarm blared through the dark) that I am a lucky person. A fortunate person. Yes, life’s been hard. Life IS hard. I’ve had my fair share of crap. But it’s all in the framing:

Lemon: I left my home and husband of many, many years. It was hard to move to a rental, deal with the landlord from Hell, make a home, not once but twice, for my kids.

Reframe: This was my choice. I learned a LOT. My kids call me home. I breathe easier, on so many levels.

Lemon: My child’s tick-borne illness. What more to say? Any parent with a sick child worries. And worries. And worries.

Reframe: She graduated from high school a year early, is at a nearby university, and she’s doing… good. She is growing, learning, creating her social family. She wears her new independence well, which is the most I want for my children.

Lemon: My new house, a 1900 row house perched on the edge of Federal Hill Park and the Inner Harbor, is a classic money-pit: new roof, rebuilt chimney, HVAC x 2, failed boiler, water damage. As soon as one thing gets fixed, another takes it’s place.

Reframe: I can afford this home and its repairs. Many do not have homes. Many cannot fix their leaking roofs or rotted floors or failed heating systems. Best of all, my son helps me with the physical and emotional demands of caring for this old house.

Lemon: My mother died.

Reframe: Still struggling with this reframe. I miss my mom, every day, especially around dinner time when we’d have our daily chat. I miss my father, too; their marriage was a model few couples achieve. But I’ve come to believe my anger and regret and ennui is grief, not yet manifested. And that is my challenge—to accept and express grief in my loss.

I’m tired of getting sucked down the vortex of negativity. Again, this has been my choice. my early New Year’s resolution: to face life’s challenges, accept them, and work to fix them, without the accompanying stink of pessimism.

So dear friends, please, when you hear me whining about crazy contractors and home-buying remorse, when I provide excuses about why I am not present in your life or haven’t done what I said I would do, when I remind you more of Eeyore than Winnie, please, please, please, whisper “lemon” in my ear. Ground me to gratitude. Because I have so much to be thankful for if only I remain present to my life.

And I’m happy to reciprocate. Because we sure could use a happier universe.

Happy Thanksgiving. And peace…

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