When Life Gives You Lemons

When Life Gives You Lemons

This chapter is really are about Life in General – What life throws at us…

You have all heard of the term When Life Gives you Lemons – Make Lemonade. I looked up its origins and there are a few theories: The phrase was initially coined by Christian anarchist writer Elbert Hubbard in a 1915 obituary he penned and published for dwarf actor Marshall Pinckney Wilder.[1] The obituary, entitled The King of Jesters, praises Wilder’s optimistic attitude and achievements in the face of his disabilities:

His was a sound mind in an unsound body. He proved the eternal paradox of things. He cashed in on his disabilities. He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade-stand.”[2]

Although the expression was coined by Hubbard,[3][4][5] many modern authors[6][7] attribute the expression to Dale Carnegie who used it in his 1948 book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Carnegie’s version reads:

“If You Have a Lemon, Make a Lemonade.”[8]

So whoever came up with the term, we have all experienced some really awful and difficult situations and managed to turn them around or turn it into something positive.

How many times have you listened to a person’s story and been amazed at how positively they handled a situation or life experience. They are not always sad situations, they can be fortunate situations too. An event, a chance meeting an opportunity.

An unusual; example might be buying a pink note book to write a few lists and things resulting in a fabulous group of women, connecting through story telling. That’s exactly what happened to me. Life had thrown me a blooming great big lemon being my mum dying, coupled with the fact I had to leave my family in the UK and my fiancé to come back to Australia for my work. So I was grieving, lonely and living in a cheapy hotel in NSW with a shared bathroom. Life was pretty grim. While I did feel a bit sorry for myself, I also knew I had to get my head in order which is when the Pink Book Club was born with the purchase of the note book.

Well I have had a bounty of lemonade as a result of that life event and made friends and grown this club as a result of it.

So a situation I touched on the other week was the fabulousness of failure.  Several years ago, my husband and I were building a property portfolio. We had 5 properties including the one we were living in and we also were underway with an off the plan inner city apartment. I thought we were proper lemonade drinkers!

I was very wrong. The off the plan unit was completed to the tune of an additional $70k the developers sprung on us all. And almost overnight property prices crashed, tenants moved or wrecked the places we owned and we were in a pretty dire situation. Quite a few lemons were thrown at us and we went into damage control selling properties as fast as we could. Another few lemons were thrown into the mix in the form of a burglary while we were home, our marriage broke down and a $28k capital gains tax bill oh and I technically had no work. Sleeping had become a thing of the past and anxiety became the new norm for me!

Although I got my first sip of lemonade in the form of taking up running at the age of 40! That helped me deal with some of the stress levels and my poor trainer was almost like a therapist to me as I trained for a full marathon.

I was totally ready to throw the towel in financially and looked at Bankruptcy as the remaining 2 properties I had were in negative equity plus $10k arrears. A big fall from grace of drinking Limoncello a few years prior with over $600k equity to being flat broke with a whole stack of debt sucking on lemons!

Somehow someway, I managed to negotiate payment plans and secure myself some regular work coupled with some MLM income which kept the wolves from the door. I sold old jewelry and went to markets to sell stuff to get those extra dollars and lived rent free for several months with a friend. I undertook some house sitting gigs to save a few more pennies to pay my way. It was a very humbling time and took many years to claw myself back.  It may have been easier to declare myself bankrupt although I think not. This was a fabulous failure for me that taught me so many valuable life lessons about money management, negotiation, risk assessment budgeting and lots lots more.  At the time I felt like I was eating lemons daily, and the wonderful power of reflection I can see how much I grew in this time because and I was drinking life lessons lemonade.

So what are some of the lemons that have been thrown at you and you have made lemonade? What about Elisha’s story last year at our event Wine Nibbles and Chatter? At 13, she found out her father had murdered 5 people. Her story is incredible in that she turned that situation around, wanting to make a difference and becoming a Lawyer and later on a Foster mum to 2 aboriginal boys. She has recently had a baby of her own and has certainly made lemonade of what is an awful situation.

Then Sonia, like me group up in an alcoholic household. Her Dad became homeless because of his lifestyle and she never gave up on her Dad who has been sober for decades and they both enjoy a wonderful father daughter relationship. Her outlook on forgiveness and compassion is incredible.

There are just so many stories of how people get thrown a curve ball or curve lemon in this case and take it in both hands and without knowing what the outcome will be, they change their landscape for ever in a positive way.

As I often say, each and every one of us, has a story or something we can share to inspire other people. We so want to hear more of your stories.

To finish off

When researching the term about lemons and lemonade today, I found this little poem which I have changed from a male to a female.

“Life handed her a lemon,
As Life sometimes will do.
Her friends looked on in pity,
Assuming she was through.
They came upon her later,
Reclining in the shade
In calm contentment, drinking
A glass of lemonade.”

So ladies – when life throws you lemons keep sharing those lemonade stories

Thanks for tuning in.

Nic xx