By Yaya Rudo
Every day we wake up to negative news around us and around the world. If the negative news is not affecting us directly, then it is affecting a cousin, a neighbour, a friend or a colleague. It is easy to drown in the negativity. The world needs a brand new type of citizen, I call them Lemonade Makers!
When life throws you lemons, you have to be prepared to make lemonade. Lemonade Makers are not in denial, they are very much aware of the mayhem and brokenness around them, but they are determined to find ways to make the pain work in their favour.
I am excited to introduce the Lemonade Makers column to you all. I have no clue what life is throwing at you right now. May be you were doing all the right things but the struggles continue. May be the pit you find yourself in today was self created. A few bad turns and poor choices and you are gone. It is possible the current not so jolly settings are a true reflection of past decisions; a grand total of a life lived with no wisdom at all. You are not beyond salvage; you too can be Lemonade Maker.
I shall be sharing personal anecdotes, stories, experiences, words of encouragement and small steps you can take to unleash the diamond inside of you. I must warn you if you have always been the perfect one making great decision all the way, emotions in check, kind, giving and forgiving, hitting all the right notes of life – you may not find this column enhancing. It is a column about real people, real stories of adversity and a real heart driven to be a Lemonade Maker.
Now to those of you who are not familiar with the metaphor behind making lemonade. When someone says life has given you lemons make some lemonade , they are accepting and acknowledging that life has been tough on you, you have been through a rough patch but they are also challenging you not to sit and complain or look for someone to blame. You have to find a way of turning things around. Find a way of turning the bad experience in to something positive.
I learnt this expression early in life from my mother. She was a retired nurse and well respected in the community where she lived. She had one answer to all the problems that were brought to her, “Life has thrown you lemons make some lemonade.It will all work together for your good.”
It did not matter how simple, complex or sophisticated the problem was her answer was always the same. Going through a divorce, being fired, failing an important exam, your company is relocating to Equatorial Guinea; it was all the same to her. Of course it varied slightly depending on the problem, but the underlining message was, “find a way of making some lemonade somehow”.
In July 2011 a day before my birthday my family experienced a very traumatic armed robbery at our house. That was my first time to look in the barrel of a gun, my first time to have three guns in my head; I mean literally resting on the scalp of my Afro. We lost pretty much everything. I mean EVERYTHING these robbers stole detailed items like cutlery – really spoons!
They stole irons, bed sheets, pillows and even my washing powder to say nothing about the real valuable stuff including my unopened birthday presents. Although we were not physically harmed, I was left extremely traumatized, I felt really bitter and angry. I wanted some kind of revenge. I was not going to heal until I had gotten my revenge.
Despite all the counselling I received I found it particularly difficult to forgive the robbers for stealing my wedding ring. My ring was priceless it had some serious sentimental value. It was not an expensive ring but my husband had saved for it for months, I valued that beyond imagination.
I found it hard to understand why some stranger would just put a gun to my head and rip off my ring, but then again if robbers were sentimental they would not be robbers in the first place. I could not get over how they had tied up my whole family including our then four year old son. One of them had threatened to rape our daughters who were 13 and 9 at that time if we did not show them where we were hiding our money and jewellery.
My mom listened attentively to my story as I vented, at the end of it she sighed, smiled and gave me the same old over used line of hers “You can always make lemonade.It will all work together for your own good.”
I speak and write English as a third language, up to now I do not have the English adjectives to describe how I felt when mama gave me the lemonade line. I was LIVID, I was MAD that was not what I expected from her. She was giving me her standard ordinary line to my very unusual traumatic experience. I screamed, “How am I even going to start making lemonade? I lost everything”.
I will never forget her exact words “No you have everything ,you have life in you, start applying yourself fully, when you apply yourself you will realise all your strengths and you will be able to use them to turn the horrible experience in to something positive. Do not waste this pain. Make this pain work for you”
I remember making a list of all my strengths and trying to figure out how I could use the robbery experience in my favour. I just could not figure it out. Maybe I was too bitter and angry to think properly. It was at my Toastmasters club that someone suggested I make a speech out of it.
I went along with it, and soon realized that the more I spoke about it the more people shared the lemons in their life. The lemonade speech is my most successful speech to date, it got me to the finals of the Southern African Championship of Public Speaking in 2013, although I did not win, I came third, it marked the beginning of my speaking career.
As I won all the early rounds leading to the finals, I felt I had finally gotten my revenge. As a family we went on to publish a kids book to teach kids basic values like sharing and caring so that they do not end up in crime. The kids’ book was all my children’s idea as they looked for closure. If I had not decided to make lemonade, I would not have a speaking career to speak of and I would never have written a children’s book. I did not even know I could write for kids.
The truth is we have all had lemons thrown at us in our marriages, our relationships with our kids, siblings and in-laws. There are lemons in our businesses, jobs, careers, finances, lemons are everywhere. The question is, how are you turning the situation around?
What exactly are you doing to make lemonade out of a bad situation? Oh, by the way apparently having lemons is not enough to make lemonade, Oh no there are a lot of small things you need to add to the lemon juice to achieve the quality of lemonade you do not mind paying handsomely for at Woolworths or Pick an Pay.
I once checked the back of a Lemonade container. There is 1 gram of this, a pinch of that and 0.023gm of something else. All essentials to making good quality lemonade. It is exactly the same with all our various challenges, we have to start with the small things. The good news is that to start making lemonade you do not need to be rich to get going , it is simple things we need to do.
-learning to forgive those who hurt us, even when they do not ask for forgiveness
-to just let go of past hurts
-being able to genuinely say sorry
-it could be about working on our foolish pride
-making deliberate efforts to put others before us for a change
-pray and grow the spirit man
Would you not want a chance to start all over in some areas of your life? Would you not want to be forgiven after all those years of hate and bitterness?
I hope this is not just a feel-good session, but something you can try and apply in small steps . As you finish reading, YES, your lemons will still be there, but you will for the first time look at them differently. You will apply yourself fully this time and your bad experience will work for you this time!
Let me know the lemons you are facing what small steps can you take today to stimulate the lemonade making process. Make the healing choice by refusing to remain the same. I raise my glass to all Lemonade Makers out there !
2019 Powered by grace and mercy!
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