In my opinion, it’s the strongest people that can take what life has thrown at them and turn it into true good. I know it sounds pretty generic—but when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. As I have grown up around my family, I have seen my family make not only lemonade, but turn the lemons of life into beautiful success and happiness. That reassures me every day, that in the words of Bob Marley, every little thing, is really gonna be alright.
Something that angers me more than anything is when people complain about the problems in their life and make a decision to do absolutely nothing about it. People that consciously choose to accept a problem as defeat. People who take the lemons and stare at them though they know exactly what could change their sour stigma.
Ever since I was brought into this world, I have been surrounded by “lemons,” as all are, but I had a unique opportunity to see one of the biggest “lemons” I have yet to see another person overcome.
Let me set the scene. You are driving with your friends to the Mayfield drive-in, singing, laughing—doing everything that a normal 16-year-old does. Your friend is driving too fast, the car flips. Your life is changed forever in an instant.
You wake up and you are in a hospital bed. You find out that you would never walk, nor write, ever again.
This is the story of my aunt Elena.
How would you feel if you were my grandma? If you were my sister or a brother or a friend. When tragedy happens, its effect is immense on all who surround that person.
Though I say and know that this is a tragedy, what my aunt, family and I have taken from this experience is the greatest lesson of my life. If you walk into my aunt and grandmother’s house, you read on the wall, “God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is a lesson that resonates through my entire upbringing and how I feel all people should approach life.
My aunt Elena rehabilitated for a year and went on to attend John Carroll as a communications major. She was one of the first wheelchairs to be rolling down the quad. Because she couldn’t write, she memorized and spoke all of her tests. She attended classes with everyone else every day, and six years and a lot of lemons later, she was a certified psychotherapist.
She has since had a successful practice out of her home, where I have watched her help hundreds of people with their own personal battles. From the time I was getting rides on the back of her chair singing “The Little Mermaid” to our first drive to JCU, she has taught me the world through her example.
I have also seen my grandmother, aunts and friends be at my aunt’s side through it all. I have seen them dedicate their time and concern to my aunts conditional needs—whether it be helping her to drive around, to cough, to eat, to sleep—little lemons that they have helped my aunt overcome through care and love.
I’m not saying that everyone is going to have to deal with problems of this magnitude. People are always going to be faced with lemons—whether giant lemons or small ones. Regardless, when presented with any problem, I feel that it is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable for someone to let a problem consume one’s life.
Many people use these issues as an excuse to prevent them from succeeding by admitting defeat and letting themself go, surrendering to the ongoing battle of life.
When I find myself ruminating over something, and there are plenty of things to ruminate over, I give myself 10 minutes a day for a given problem.
In this 10 minutes, I let myself go and allow myself to feel and express whatever is bothering me. After these 10 minutes are up, I move on.
I’m not saying that problem will be resolved in 10 minutes, but holding onto the problems in your life is nothing but baggage stopping you from living out a potentially happy day. Seeing my family and what they have overcome, I am given power each day to know that this is possible.