Making Lemonade

As a young child I frequently got earaches. Often during the summer months, it was swimmer’s ear since I lived in the pool in our neighborhood. I vividly remember one day sitting on the back patio after a day of swimming, drinking lemonade. Each time I would swallow my ear would pop and ached. In my young mind, I equated lemonade with earaches. For YEARS, after that when people would ask me if I wanted lemonade, I would tell them “no” saying I was allergic to it and that it gave me ear infections. People would give me a strange look, but it didn’t really register to me because I was convinced lemonade=earaches. As embarrassing as it is to admit this, it wasn’t until much later, like into my young adulthood, that I realized the ridiculousness of that belief and have enjoyed lemonade since pain free. And in fact, its’s one of my favorite drinks, I crave it, especially on warm summer days (and with or without blueberry flavored vodka depending on my venue and company).

Perhaps because of my love of lemonade, I find myself frequently using the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” (in all honesty, I actually just use the simplified version saying “make lemonade”). There have been numerous opportunities in the last year for us to “make lemonade”. Obviously, the pandemic comes to mind first. Especially those of us working in and around the field of education have had to be flexible, roll with the punches and make the most of each situation as it presents itself.

To say we have had to make lemonade over the last year plus is an understatement. I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t had some type of challenge to overcome during these unprecedented times. It could have presented itself professionally, adapting to remote learning, addressing the increasing mental health and academic needs of students, and/or attending to their own emotional needs. Or perhaps there were personal life needs; physical health challenges or fears, financial difficulties, and uncertainty and/or social isolation. Or like most of us, it was some of both!

On that note, I’ve had plenty of chances to make lemonade in various situations. Recently, I planned a once in a lifetime experience that ended up completely different than what I had initially intended. When I first realized things were playing out differently, I felt irritated and grumpy. I had a mini internal temper tantrum (which means I just get quiet). After several walks, some journaling, shedding tears and processing with my tribe, I was able to come to a place of acceptance and resolve. I allowed myself to feel my feelings and then remembered my commitment to Living S.L.O.W. and that the “W” is about waiting and watching. Which for me means, trusting the universe has everything under control and works things out for the good. So, I changed my expectations and decided I was going to make lemonade. Ultimately, the end result was great! Things did work out the way they were supposed to and looking back it was better! Funny how that goes, right?

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a project recently that provided school administrators a space to talk about their resilience through these times. My colleagues and I convened several focus groups of school leaders across the state asking them to identify the things that went well since the pandemic and social justice occurrences. It would be so easy (almost default mode) to only talk about all the difficulties and challenges, but we intentionally wanted to look at the bright side and ways they were proactive. It was uplifting and inspiring to hear and learn from them, their humility, intentionality, and determination. I’m excited to share the reoccurring themes publicly. It was impressive.

As we revel in some down time during the summer break, my hope is that we continue to build the resilience muscle we’ve been conditioning for the last 16+ months. That we hold onto the good that we’ve created, remember there are silver linings, look for them and celebrate them. Even in hard times, there is good. It may not be immediately obvious but in time it will become clear, and chances are we will be better off! So, kick back friends, and enjoy your fresh made lemonade this summer (with or without vodka)!