I’m sure you’ve heard the expression before, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It’s definitely a cute phrase, to say the least; but there is also so much truth to it. Wouldn’t you agree?
People have said this expression for years, but of course, Queen Bey (Beyoncé) re-popularized it with her award-winning album, Lemonade, in 2016.
When Life Gives You Lemons
Simply put, the expression is a proverbial phrase used to encourage positivity and optimism when facing difficulty and adverse circumstances. Most fruit are characteristically known for being sweet; yet one of the most popular varieties is known for its sourness, due to their high citric acidity. Therefore, the lemon, in the expression, represents the sour part of life and life’s misfortunes.
The juice of lemons is too acidic for prolonged or straight consumption. Likewise, most of us prefer not to ever have to experience the trials of hurt, loss, sickness, or other difficulties; and if we do have to experience them, we would definitely rather choose to shorten their effects.
Add some sugar
By adding or “aiding the lemons’ juice with the preferred amount of sugar and water, we are able to change the fruit’s sourness into a pleasant and tolerable drink known as lemonade. So then, now understanding the idiom, taking lemons and making lemonade . . . You turn something sour and intolerable into something manageable, positive, and desirable. Of course, we know in life’s situations the process isn’t that quick and easy, but the concept is spot on. Another way we could put it would be . . . “Make the most of what you have been given.”
In Beyoncé’s case, she used the knowledge of her husband’s infidelity and processed her hurt and anguish (her lemons) into writing a chart-topping album that not only became an anthem for other women all over the world who had similar experiences in relationships, but it was also a therapeutic process for the singer/songwriter and made her millions of dollars (her lemonade). She exposed her truth, expressed her grief, and chose to stay in her marriage.
If we think about it (and most of us don’t have to think about it too long), we can all think of times when we felt like we were handed a bag of lemons; whether it be in school, on our jobs or businesses, in our marriages and relationships, with our children, or in our health. We’ve all faced some difficulty to give us cause to become bitter. No matter our age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status, none of us are exempt from experiencing difficulties, or have the ability to control how or when they come. But, we can control how we respond and process through them. In any case, our goal should never be to become bitter…but to get better. Make lemonade.
To make lemonade is what I personally chose to do almost four years ago now when I faced what is still one of my greatest challenges to date. In fact, creating Dawn of a New Day 365 was not only a part of me making my lemonade, but also me taking the lemonade I made and sharing it with others. Who doesn’t like a fresh, cold glass of lemonade?
Usually, when we partake of a refreshing glass of lemonade, we don’t even think about the process it took to make it. We’re not thinking about the number of bitter lemons that had to be bought or delivered to contribute to this now sweet beverage we’re ingesting. We just know it tastes good.
Personally, when I go to the grocery store, I don’t usually buy lemons; unless I need to make something specific that calls for them. I’ve learned, however, that lemons should actually be a staple to the household much like buying milk and eggs. It is said, lemons are not only good for cooking, but they’re good for cleaning too. That’s probably why so many cleaning products have a lemony fragrance, I guess.
Not Just Bitter
Aside from the lemon’s bitter taste, there are also other properties of lemons that make them unappealing. From a negative perspective, the acid in lemons make them difficult to digest. Direct consumption is not suggested, due to the fruit’s high citric acid content. Because of the high acidity, lemon juice can cause skin and eye irritation; as well as erosion of the tooth enamel. However, despite their negative attributes, when used carefully and properly, lemon is actually extremely beneficial.
In cooking, the lemons acid cuts the greasiness and heaviness of certain foods and gives them a fresher scent and flavor. Have you noticed you usually have a sliced lemon atop your fish in a restaurant? Makes sense now, doesn’t it? The lemon can absorb some of that fishy smell. So, now when we think about it, we can apply the lemon concept to both making life’s lemonade and changing some stinky situations.
For certain foods, lemons can alter their texture. The juice of a lemon can soften berries and even tenderize meat; because the acid in lemon breaks down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. So then, the lemon can also be considered a change agent. In this instance, the lemon is able to take those foods that are tough or rough and tenderize them to make them more manageable to consume. Anybody need some lemons? It’s not that you can’t handle the situation, but if you could at least break it down and make it more manageable to process, that would at least make it a bit better.
In another instance, people actually use a little lemon juice to keep peeled apples from browning; so that what was cut, the acid in the juice will prevent from turning. Some would refer to this browning process of the apple as “going bad.”
Similarly, some of the circumstances we face in life definitely make us feel like we’ve been cut or stabbed. Who knew we could apply the same lemon concept to prevent us from turning into our worse selves? We don’t have to “go bad” just because we’ve been cut. The sprinkle of lemon concept shifts our mindset.
Then still, using lemon juice is a great way to prevent lettuce from wilting or to refresh it. Well now, isn’t that a nice spin on the lemon concept? We can use it to perk us up, to refresh and restore us when the busyness of everyday life seems to weigh us down. Even when nothing terrible has happened and it’s just the regular ole stuff (that which is familiar and routine) that begins to drain us and wilt our being. Wouldn’t it be nice to just add some lemon? Don’t we wish it could all be so simple?
It’s All Good
I don’t know about anyone else, but I had a lot to learn about lemons. In fact, the entirety of a lemon, both the inside and outside, can be used. Isn’t that affirming?
The outside of lemons gives them their zest – scent or flavor. The zest of a lemon contains the flavor as well as its oil and fragrance. The zest is what adds a hint of extra flavor when cooking; but not just of the flavor of lemon, the oil of the zest adds a flavor of salt. This is why lemon slices are often used as a garnish in dishes. It’s a flavor enhancer and helps minimize the need for lots of salt, which could be a detriment to the diet.
The same perspective could be considered about life. When things aren’t going as well as we would have hoped (when they’re not yielding the right flavor), rather than being “salty” let’s go for a lemon instead – a shift from trying to add too much to fix it (that you could stand the chance of ruining it) to adding just to make it unique and memorable. But enough about the flavoring of the lemon; let’s move to how the lemon aids in cleaning things up.
Clean it up
As a cleansing agent and natural bleach, the acid in lemon juice has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. The oil in the lemon’s rind helps to clean and shine surfaces. In other words, a lemon has the capability to purify, disinfect, and restore. These are great facts to consider for good housekeeping.
When I moved into my first home, I acquired my grandparent’s dining room table and china cabinet. In our home, we use the china cabinet as an enclosed bookshelf in the study, and the table is in the dining room. We have deliberately positioned them there, not only because of their sentimental value (the dining set is believed to be over 100 years old) but also because these pieces are crafted from REAL WOOD, not the fake stuff. Their weight makes it impossible to relocate them to any other part of the house beyond the door.
Because the pieces are so old, I have to use a special lemon/oil-based solution on them that will soak into the wood and restore the shine.
You can probably imagine that the table (which, again, is over 100 years old) shows evidence of its age. It is reminiscent of the marks from the feet that have rested beneath it, as well as the number of times it has been moved. Needless to say, it has some scars. I keep it covered with a tablecloth, but if you lift it up and take a peek underneath, you’ll see the evidence of what it’s been through. But when I give it a good coat of the lemon-oil blend I use, it restores its finish and reminds me of the shine I would see as a little girl when my grandmother would allow me to polish it up just before Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
Restoration for the Soul
My point is two-fold here. Yes, adding the lemon and oil are great facts to consider for good housekeeping, but they’re also great to consider for good living. In this natural life, trials and difficulties are inevitable. I’m sure that if I were able to talk to everyone who sat at my grandparent’s table, they’d have some unfathomable stories of hardship to tell. Despite the hardship, there was still hope. We still had our family, memories, and testimonies to share around the table.
With intentionality, we can again apply the lemon concept and clean and restore some life issues that were messy or scarred. Just like with my grandparent’s table, it doesn’t mean the scars aren’t still there or weren’t there…but what is still there, though scarred, still has purpose.
As I first mentioned, usually, when we partake of a refreshing glass of lemonade or even when making a cleaning solution, we don’t think about the process it took to make it. We just know it’s good for what we need. In everything I’ve gone over, it’s goes without saying that the lemon is beneficial for us; but did we consider that we cannot only learn from what the lemon is able to produce, change, clean and restore, but we can also learn from the lemon’s own process?
To maximize the potential of a single lemon, you need to scrape it for its zest and cut it to access its juice. However, cutting the lemon alone won’t release its juice. No, to extract all of the liquid from the fruit, you must roll and squeeze it, being sure to remove any seeds. It has to go through what we would (in the natural sense) consider hardships and difficulty to bring out its very best and to be able to multiply its individual worth.
It took me three weeks and three separate attempts to write what I felt would be right for the anniversary blog for Dawn of a New Day. Though everything I wrote made sense and seemed to make good points, nothing seemed to settle well within me. I would write for as long as I could, and after becoming frustrated, I would either venture off to my backyard or to some retail therapy.
During one of my many trips to the dollar store, I ran across a delightful set of lemon-printed dishes, glasses, and dish towels. Printed on the dish towel was the expression, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I didn’t particularly care for the towel, but I got a set of dishes for myself and my mother-in-love. I also called my aunt and told her about them, because she usually likes pieces with character like these.
After I purchased the dishes, it seemed like every day something came on television or on the internet about lemons or the lemonade expression. Right when I was having another frustrating moment of writer’s block, my aunt texted me a picture of her new lemon set in her kitchen; and then all of a sudden…IT HIT ME. “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” That was it! That’s what I had been waiting for. In thinking about how I would describe my journey of Dawn of a New Day 365, I could only best describe it by simply saying… “I USED MY LEMONS”
Now, after understanding the benefits of the lemon, I’m all the more confident and grateful for the process of the scraping, the cutting, the squeezing, and the bitter moments I’ve gone through in life. Realizing they were all necessary to bring out the flavor, the cleaning, the restoration, and the assignments that have taken place and are present in me at this time. Yes, I’ve made my share of lemonade with the circumstances I’ve faced . . . But, I now have a better understanding of how my lemons were actually making me.
Through the DND365 Facebook group, I never could have imagined I would connect with the number of women that I have; nor the connections and new friendships I’ve made through Instagram, and the level of success my blogs have garnered on Pinterest. For it all…I am grateful.
As I have mentioned before, and I will continue to state, I appreciate each of you for any part you’ve played in joining me on this journey of Dawn of a New Day 365. I pray that you have gained enrichment and encouragement along the way, and I look forward to maintaining this relationship in the future.
Thank you for every COMMENT and SHARE, and every Direct Message or text that has come to me to express how something I shared resonated with you. I’m grateful for our candid CONVERSATIONS about topics that mattered to us, and all the EXPERTS and PANELISTS who made those conversations possible. I couldn’t make all of this possible without other extraordinary women in my circle. Thanks for partaking in my lemonade and for sharing yours with me. I love you and I mean it. ~Dawn
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