Making Lemonade

This weekend my mom and I were talking and she asked how I was doing. She was expressing concern about my mental wellbeing and it took me a minute to comprehend. I’m going through a lot right now, some stuff you are familiar with and some stuff that will remain in my private life (yes, even bloggers have them). My first though was, I’m fine. What are you talking about??


And then it hit me. For the first time in many, many years, I have learned to focus on the positives in my life. Years ago (high school, college, early 20s) I wasn’t the happiest person in the world. I’m pretty sure my glass was half empty and I probably wasn’t the nicest person either-at least this is how I saw myself.

I will 100% admit to being in therapy on and off for the past eight years. I am a firm believer that everyone needs it. I think it is truly what changed me and gave me self confidence to love the person that I am and to learn to see the glass half full. I don’t go nearly as often as I used to go (in the beginning it was twice a week) and I only go now when I am really, really struggling with things.

So back to my convo with mom…

I could focus on the ankle sprain and my time away from running, the assault, the stress of a new job, too many diagnoses of cancer in my family to speak of in the past 6 months, and most recently my upcoming hip surgery.

BUT…my thoughts have all been positive. Not to sound egotistical, but I love who I see in the mirror. I’ve lost 8-9 pounds since January, I LOVE my new job, I’ve paid off my credit cards, I have a job I love (even if it’s more stressful), and more loved ones that care about me than I can even mention. I’m truly blessed.

I will admit, I burst into tears when she said it. I think I put on a happy face a lot, push forward and really think on the bright side of things 99% of the time. But I finally let it all out. It felt good to release the fears and the anxiety, but it also make me realize how different I am. I’m proud of the woman I’ve become and happy to admit when life throws me lemons, I choose to make lemonade.

I’m leaving you with a pretty well known inspirational story that I think not-so-randomly made it on my facebook feed this weekend. Another quick reminder that I needed to see. I love this story (see below) and had forgotten it.

A little self reflection: Is your glass half empty or half full? When life throws you lemons, do you make lemonade? Are you really thankful for what you have? 

The mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions – and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

“The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house and your car.”

“The sand is everything else – the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and enquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.

“It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

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  • I LOVE THIS! You, my friend, are one tough cookie. I tell Brad every time I talk to you that I can’t believe how strong and positive you are being through everything. I know there are “moments” but you will come through everything stronger (and running faster!) than before. xoxoxo

  • Elizabeth! I love this! You are such a tough cookie, you have shown an unbreakable spirit and beautiful poise while going through some really tough crap this year. I think about you often and hope to channel your strength next time I’m stuck in the muck. Hugs to you!

  • I’m so glad you had that release. I think it’s important to focus on the positive but it doesn’t mean you don’t accept when things are a bit shitty too and let them work through you. The trick is just not holding onto them and you have done so good at that.
    So thinking on the other side…what 2014 marathon are we qualifying for Boston at?

  • Catching up on everything now. I’m so sorry that you are struggling with so many things at once, but I truly admire your perspective. You are an incredible, strong person and it’s refreshing to read a post by someone who recognizes that about herself. I love that story and I love your outlook on life. Of course it’s good to have a big release now and then and I’m glad that you were able to unload on your mom…and then go on making lemonade 🙂

    Best of luck with your surgery and your recovery! I hope everything goes well.

  • What a great story!!! I totally agree with you too. I think everyone needs to have a few therapy sessions every now and again to let some of those inner feelings out that we tend to bottle up. My glass used to be pretty empty, but I’m learning to look at things a lot more positive these days!

  • What a fabulous story. So glad you are focusing on the positives naturally when stressors are present. Hugs. I have my MS in counseling, so I of course believe everyone should have an outlet/resource like therapy. And, how did I miss your new job?!!

  • You are amazing! Love the story, sometimes it is so easy to only see the bad in life and forget to focus on the good. I just started taking yoga at Agni Studio on North Highland and love it, it is giving me a chance to really stop and reflect on the positives in life.

  • Oh man! I’m so sorry to hear about all of this. Life seems to just throw so much at us but I was always told it’s only what you’re capable of handling.

    That story is awesome and I feel like all these bad things are what makes us remember what’s truly good in our lives! Keep that positive attitude. And I’m dying to know what your new job is.

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