Life is unpredictable at every turn. Instead of trying to manipulate its unforeseeable trajectory, time is better spent by living it. Thus, last December when my life was unceremoniously upended, it took me a moment to stabilize and regenerate.

Out of nowhere, a few days before Christmas, my husband was jobless. While nostalgic holiday music bombarded the airwaves and frenzied shoppers and travelers jostled to check off their lists, my family watched in longing and dismay. Our last paycheck was due mid-January, and then we were on our own. Anguished emotions intensified, since soon after that paycheck hit the bank, our car crashed, taking it off the road for months to come. As a result, we huddled in the suburbs with no transportation, and without a job to alleviate the situation. Fortunately, kindhearted friends rescued us throughout the crisis.

In times like these, one can easily fall apart. Fortunately, my survival mode went into overdrive and I determined to overcome each hurdle no matter how painstaking. Life bombarded me with a bucketful of lemons, but instead of making lemonade, I chose to crush the yellow off of them.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Crush Them!

When Life Gives You Lemons, Crush Them!

In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself astray in a dark wood where the straight road had been lost sight of.

– Dante Alighieri

Flying high

There are times in our lives when we soar. During those moments, you’re flying high; you feel untouchable. This makes it excruciating to regain your footing when disaster strikes. However, it is not an impossible task if we baby-step through the debris to find solutions.

A few years before all-out calamity struck, I was flying high and living the dream life in Tokyo, Japan. Living was incredible. My husband’s job gave us the ability to travel between Tokyo and the USA. Numerous miles were racked up from our trips, so we often flew first class; a six-figure salary allowed us to enjoy life in ways we never imagined. Sadly, no sooner than this miraculous lifestyle began, it was over.

The beginnings of the 2008 financial crash unfolded before our eyes as seasoned expat families lost their jobs and scrambled to return home. Since we arrived in the later months, our time was cut short. Just as we became accustomed to Japanese customs and culture, we faced a quick, unfortunate repatriation.

A couple years after our return to the US, the economic crisis hit, causing us to eventually file for bankruptcy. These unfolding events were complicated by a series of job losses, school bullying, a cancer scare, accidents, and family hospitalizations over a ten year period. Eventually, we accepted welfare while foreclosure loomed. Yet, amidst it all, I focused on the sliver of light ahead. Encouraging my family to do the same, I decided to buck the downward trend.

Bucking the downward trend

Bucking the downward trend

Even as I pen this piece the chaos continues; my father-in-law passed away at the end of July after a long illness. Although I was not close to him, the loss is agonizing. I’m witnessing my husband grappling with the internal struggle of the loss a loved one inevitably brings — it cuts to the core. There is not much I can do but let him know I’m here. In the midst of this moment there is stillness, yet I feel the rush of uncertain movement as life chugs on.

Nowadays, life throws a curve at every second; there is little time to catch our collective breaths before another conundrum presents itself. Every day, in order to counteract the all-consuming, heaving sludge, I strive to buck the downward trend by raising my life-force. In order to master the art of crushing life’s lemons, I clear my mind and internal space with focused meditation; I use my practice like a sword and shield to stave off the incoming conflicts. The same method applies no matter the size of the problem. No matter the size or level, I place every issue before my higher power.

How to crush your own lemons

Sadly, problems will arise no matter how much we try to circumvent life’s pitfalls. However, at the heart of every enigma, a sliver of light awaits. In the end it is all about our attitude. When faced with the difficulties of life, what is your stance? Are you filled with fear? Racked with anxiety? Or are you bristling with the determination to barrel through the obstacles?

Determinedly, I strive to surmount each and every crisis, but this does not mean every battle is winnable. Yet from my perspective, as long as I’m alive, it isn’t a loss – I’ve lived to fight another day. If you are struggling or dealing with an untenable situation, quiet your mind and focus on the task at hand. No matter the situation or impasse, a ray of light awaits. Buckle in and prepare to crush the yellow off those lemons!

A few ways to crush

  1. First be honest about the situation.
  2. Find a focused practice that works for you to help you face the situation.
  3. Reach out to find support.
  4. Care for your health.
  5. Find an exercise regime that fits your lifestyle.
  6. Care for your internal health by eating healthy foods, finding ways to de-stress like watching your favorite shows or reading your favorite books.
  7. Keep talking-do not be afraid to share your story
  8. Spend time in nature.