My life creed during my early twenties went something a little like this….
When life gives you lemons, it’s time to whip out the tequila.
While this may not be the healthiest of attitudes, it has certainly taught me a lesson or two about life. And I’m all for some sage life advice.
- Just like a bad, tequila-induced hangover, you can’t run from life’s problems. If they exist within you, they will follow you wherever you go.
- Tequila may seem like a good idea at the time… but tequila is never a good idea at any time. In much the same way, compensating for misery and sadness with any form of alcohol, substance abuse, material possessions, exerting physical or emotional abuse onto another human, (insert other negative coping mechanism) begets more misery and sadness. When you try and ‘deal’ with life’s lemons by drowning it out through external means, rather than addressing the core emotions within you – you lose out.
- It’s ok to have fun and be stupid but don’t let that negatively impact another person’s life. Take responsibility for your actions and the consequences that will follow. Tequila can lead to some bad life decisions.
Life will give you lemons. And you know what, lemons can be great! Lemons can be used for all sorts of wonderful and useful things. Lemonade. Lemon meringue. Lemon curd. Lemon popsicles. Lemon pie. Lemon cupcakes. Lemon flavoured things. Lemonade. And did I say, lemonade?
While lemony situations come and go, many of which we don’t have control over, we do have the power over how we react to these situations. Do you choose to make a refreshing warm tea with a squeeze of fresh lemon, or do you hit the tequila bottle? You can see how one choice over the other is more conducive to your health and wellbeing…
These proverbial ‘life lemons’ can be very useful in teaching you ‘life lessons’ about the seasons of life. Just like the seasons of the year, our life flutters between seasons; seasons of happiness and expansion, and seasons of sadness and contraction. They are both natural and part of the ebb and flow towards maturity and growth. But it’s up to you to choose how you approach and respond to these seasons and ‘life lemons.’
So why am I sharing all this?
It’s rather ironic we have over 3 crates of lemons sitting in our bathroom (for lack of storage space) from a recent harvest considering life has handed me many lemons in recent weeks. These series of unfortunate lemony events have started to encroach and impact on my work, my relationships and my internal dialogue with myself, leaving me feeling less than stellar. As ecopreneurs, farmers, sustainability advocates, you name it, I can’t over-emphasise the importance of maintaining a self-care practice for the sake of sustaining our very own health and wellbeing. How can we expect to do ‘the good work’ if we don’t care for our own well-being?
In reflecting on my wayward ways as a young twenty-something year old, I must say, I have come a long way. In recent years I’ve been more proactive in adopting healthier means that don’t involve tequila to get me through tough seasons. These are practices I’ve had to actively work on and develop over the years, even when I thought I didn’t need them. Practices of self-care, like eating well, practicing yoga, journaling, keeping fit and able, maintaining meaningful friendships and so forth. Yes, they are practices. Things that you can’t forgo when the going is good because when the going gets tough, these are the practices you need to fall back on to get your through those lemony times.
During times of external chaos, it’s far simpler to fall back onto a tried and true practice built on an internal foundation of love. You can’t control your external environment. Mother Nature doesn’t work like that. You can, however, control your internal response. If your internal practice is sporadic, scattered and shaky, that external chaos will only amplify the internal chaos. Don’t you ever wonder why control freaks are often the most internally messed up people? It’s their attempt to maintain control over their external environment because they are so unsettled within. Control for them is a soothing mechanism. A blanket of comfort. A false sense of security.
I’ve pulled myself into question this past week as I’ve been called back home for family reasons. And it’s given me time and space to think away from the distraction of the farm.
Time away I didn’t realise I needed until I had that time away.
It’s not that I’m worn out from the farm. Not at all. We are still in the ‘start up phase’ but being Winter, things are a little slower than usual anyway… myself included. No, but it’s not that. It’s not that I’m bored of the farm. No, certainly not that. Even for this globetrotting gypsy, the greatest adventure lies in the unpredictability of being at the mercy of Mother Nature. No, it’s not that. It’s not even that things have gone pear-shaped. Things are actually going quite well. Our brand is getting out there. Customers are responding positively. In fact, all systems go. So no, it’s not that either. The hardest part over the past 2 months hasn’t even been the physicality of the farm work.
What I’ve come to realise, that all that stuff pales in comparison to the emotional, mental and spiritual struggle of daily living, and especially those things coupled with the experience of a tough season in life. Unfortunately, the emotional and mental drain has made a lot of the physical stuff near impossible. Where one lacks internal motivation to even get outside, it can quickly corrode the will to do anything at all.
As with the seasons of nature, there are down times in life. Lulls. Moment of contraction. Where your body, mind and spirit, need a chance to recoup. I’ve only come to acknowledge this past week, I’m going through such a season.
Change is exhausting. And it’s not the physical change that wears one down. It’s the emotional, relational, and mental pain that tires you the most. Even though I’ve had plenty of ‘downtime’ over the past few months, my mind and my emotions have not stopped ticking. So much change has occurred in my life in not just the past few months, but the past few years. I think we all need to take stock every once and a while and check in with our mental health and ask, “how are we really feeling” because overwhelm, burnout, you name, it creeps up on you. It’s a silent villain that can hijack your life if you don’t take heed to the warning signs.
In the past 2 years alone, I’ve been around the world twice over, a real life gypsy looking for a place to call home and without an inclination about my future, to now, starting up a farm and business in one of the most remote communities I’ve ever been to. In the past 2 months alone I’ve had to face up to a family death, a family crisis, personal breakdowns and breakthroughs, business uncertainty, relationship challenges, financial stress and all the demons that arise in between these varying states of vulnerability… I feel there’s nothing that hasn’t been thrown my way. Day to day living I’ve been able to somewhat space myself from through travel over the years. Not that I was ever actively trying to escape them, but yes, there’s a degree of distance you experience from these things in life, that somehow find a way to amplify when you suddenly slow down.
It’s all rather coincidental to the movement of the recent Sagittarian full moons and being a Sagittarius, I take it as a big fat sign from the universe that I need to be uber conscious of how I react to life right now. My conservative Christian upbringing meant that any talk to do with the stars, moon, zodiac and cyclical patterns of nature were off limits. New age voodoo jargon. The more I live in line with the cycles and patterns of our planet, the more awareness has come to me that these were created by God above and it’s ignorant for us, as dwellers and co-inhabitants of this planet, to be ignorant of them. The more in tune we are to our place on this planet and the cycles of nature, the more in line we are to the greater presence of God in every aspect of our lives. I see God working in my life and I take this as a kindly reminder to see these challenges in life as an opportunity to mature and grow.
So here I am, taking stock of the seasons in my life. There are times when we are called to step up and perform. To expand and to give of ourselves wholeheartedly. Where we are called to grow, and reach out and help others grow. Where are roots dig deeper beneath the soil, stabilising ourselves. Above ground, our branches mimic this pattern; stretching out and flourishing with leaf matter, providing shelter to those around us.
And then there are the seasons in life where we are called to contract. To shelter ourselves. To whittle down within ourselves to focus on our own heart and soul. To stop and listen. To rest. To enact on our practices we’ve been practicing during those times of sunshine. The age old saying, ‘make hay when the sun shines’, couldn’t be truer. So when the cold sets in we have our practices to fall back on to see us through when the times are not so good. This is why we practice. This is why we must care for ourselves,; our spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health at all times. Because there will be seasons in life when you will be challenged and you will have only but your training and your practices, to call on. Such a season in life when you WILL be tested. When your commitment, loyalty and passion will be brought into question. When you will be given the choice to stand strong, or to run away.
This is such a time.
I’m being called on to gather my lemons. To recognise within myself that there is more to me than the tears. That there is more to me than the brokenness of my heart and soul. That there is more to me than the fragments of my mind. But without those parts, I cannot be who I am. That those things are still a part of me and just as valuable as the rest of me. Without the rain, there can be no rainbow and there can be no harvest. Sadness has a place too and it can’t be ignored. I’m gathering my life’s lemons and I’m going to use them, even if I don’t know in what capacity yet. I know someone with a great lemon curd recipe though…
Take time for the seasons in your life. To let the rain come and allow the water to seep into the fields so you can better appreciate the sunshine when the clouds pass and enjoy the bounty of harvest when the time comes. For there will come a time. So long as you tend to your garden, your soul and your spirit and sustain your practice, there will come a time for abundance once more. This is the joy of life. When you can be in the deepest puddles of life’s challenges, and still see a rainbow and a harvest on the horizon. Knowing that so much good is to still come from life. The clouds will pass, as they always do. That even in the midst of feeling bogged down, you know you are loved and you still have the capacity to love and that you are lovable. There is no greater joy.
Life will give you lemons, but it’s your choice what you do with them.
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