You know those major milestone moments that sneak up on you when you least expect it? The ones that, without warning, shake up everything in your life and leave you feeling like you somehow survived a category 5 hurricane?
Welcome to my life.
But before you pass this off as an invitation to some pity party, allow me to introduce myself. I am Michelle Dempsey, content marketing strategist and entrepreneur, mother of a toddler, and all around grab-life-by-the-balls enthusiast.
You should know that I welcome chaos with open arms.
In my short 33 years on this planet, I can confidently liken my existence to that of a tornado chaser. While I may not necessarily be actively searching for the next impending disaster, I somehow find my way into it — whether I like it or not — bracing for impact like some sort of expert, every single time.
And then you know what happens? After each set back, heartbreak, road bump and lightweight existential crisis? Each time I think I couldn’t possibly pick up myself up off the ground, yet again, and pull another empowered reinvention out of my sleeve?
My lemonade stand reopens for the season — and I start pumping out juice by the gallon.
It’s like I have this little, teeny, tiny Tony Robbins living inside my soul that screams, “Don’t let them see you sweat, you strong, gorgeous, accomplished woman. Get up and keep it moving.”
So, that’s exactly what I do.
As fate would have it, and as my story so predictably goes, I just found myself in yet another sour situation. With this setback, it seemed as if more lemons than ever arrived at my front door step. Actually, if I’m being totally transparent, it’s as if the universe decided to chuck a whole case of them, at my head, all at once.
I’ll spare you the details — all you need to know is this was a real earth-shattering occurrence.
Should I be crying on my bathroom floor screaming, “WHY ME?!” through gasping sobs? Yes.
Will I be doing that? No way.
Here’s what I’ll be doing instead to ensure that this new batch of lemonade is my sweetest yet.
Self-love, that is. There is no greater time for self-love than when you’re feeling down and out. It may sound counter-productive, to love yourself and make yourself happy when all you feel is anything but, however, I swear by this approach to getting over whatever it is that causes your woes. For me, I make sure to engage in at least one activity per day that makes me so ridiculously happy, that I have no choice but to smile. You can’t be happy with or around anyone else until you truly learn to meet your own needs and put yourself in charge of your happiness factor — so start self-loving, asap.
Watch that show you’ve been dying to watch, with your cell phone powered off. Treat yourself to a massage, a little time on the beach, wine on the couch in your sweats on a Saturday night. Do what YOU need for you, not for anyone else. Nothing feels better than knowing you gave your soul exactly what you needed — it’s like an extra spoon of sugar in the lemonade.
If you’re not already exercising, this is the perfect time to test the whole “endorphins make you happy” concept. They do — trust me. If you’re in a situation that has hurt your heart or damaged your spirit, get physical. At any given moment, you can find me taking my aggression out, er, I mean, working through the pain on a kickboxing bag. And when I’m not doing that, I take my cardio sessions outdoors — for fresh air and sunshine to cure me of what would otherwise make me want to cry. Getting stronger while staying healthy and moving past my issues? Yes, please. I didn’t want to have to say it, but looking good really does feel like the best revenge — not necessarily against the person who hurt you, but against the situation that brought you down. It’s almost like a giant middle finger to the universe. Whose lemonade is sweetest now, universe?!
3. Say Thank You
We could also call this step the one of forgiveness, which is always the hardest one for me. It truly is. But as you’ve heard a million times before, you cannot move on from a situation, whether brought on by a person or an unfortunate event, until you make peace with it. For me, this has always helped me shift my train of thought from “WHY ME” to “Thank you, Universe!”. You see, I’ve been through enough setbacks and hard times to know that these things, as awful as they may be, certainly happen for a reason. Your heart breaks only to heal and grow stronger. Your body seems to fail you only to rebound and surprise you with its strength. You lose what you once loved so deeply to learn the true power of love, what it brings to your soul and to make space for more of it in your life.
So, for whatever it was that just chucked the lemons your way, thank the messenger, make your peace, and move on. The sweetest batch of juice is around the corner.
4. Act as If
Fake it ’til you make it. Smile through the pain. Whatever you have to do, just get up and do it. The world doesn’t stop turning just because you fell flat on your face. Your job still needs you. Your family still needs you. Bills still need to be paid, and quite simply, you still need to breathe.
My tried and true strategy for turning lemons into lemonade? Act as if.
Act as if you’re happier than ever. Act as if you’re ready for the next unknown adventure heading your way. Act as if you are more ready than you’ve ever been to take life on. Act as if you have already found your strength.
It’s in there — you’re still breathing, aren’t you?