By: Sandy Churchill
I love the spirit of “positivity” and “making lemons out of lemonade”—and truly, the COVID-quarantining-mask-wearing-social-distancing world we are currently living in is an ideal place where a sense of optimism and hopefulness is needed.
A friend recently launched a “lemon-themed” Bible study in her newly-revamped garage-turned-girl-cave where she decorated a Christmas tree with real lemons, served lemon drops and lemon cookies, and prominently displayed a bowl of sunny lemons to convey her theme. Her take on the theme? She reminded all in attendance that while we cannot control the crazy world around us, we CAN control how we respond—our attitudes, hopefulness, sense of humor, and flexibility.
A delightful therapist who regularly helps me cope with stress and combat anxiety reminds me often how it helps to see our shortcomings through the lens of strength rather than weakness. For me personally, there is a history of impulsive, “seize the day” decisions to embrace fun, embark on new adventures, and try unchartered waters. (I literally once entered a relay race in middle school when my swimming skills were seriously limited to a pretty determined dog paddle—no points for style there!) This same sense of adventure took hold when I jumped into ziplining and white water rafting when I am not really a thrill seeker…
At times I have felt scattered, ADD-challenged with myriad projects, and overwhelmed when I struggle with focus and linear decision-making. It can be easy to criticize and judge myself for the shortcomings of not focusing on one thing at a time, or failing to conquer a project to its fruition without distraction. But the strengths-based lens flips this shortcoming to a positive: a gift for flexibility.
This love of impulse adventure and fun was manifest in a long-ago spontaneous party my then-six year old daughter wanted, called “Clown Day”. She conceived this creative just-because party with dress-wigs, make-up, and wigs, complete with instruments for a parade and my newly-mastered frosting clowns which adorned the cake I made in a decorating class. That party had no “reason” for being on the calendar. It was not a birthday, nor an expected event. In fact, the parents of the invited guests asked me repeatedly if they were supposed to bring a present, or anything—to this “just-because” celebration my daughter designed for her friends.
There were countless impulsive drives to author signings, outdoor concerts, camping adventures, and so on—that helped form amazing bonds and memories with family and friends. So how does this flexibility manifest right now, amid the masks and social distancing and “new normal” limitations of the COVID pandemic? It means kayaking down our town rivers, camping in state forests and our own yard, drives to glimpse foliage and walks along the shore. It means socially-distant campfires where elderly relatives can sit safely apart and still see families with limited exposure to health risks. Beyond Zoom calls and remote learning, we have tried to orchestrate outdoor games, art lessons in the park, and spontaneous picnics and outdoor movie nights. Walks—everywhere—have taken a steady spot in our daily routine, and surprise deliveries of notes, flowers, and homemade snacks have been a delightful jaunt to keep family and friends close to our hearts.
So how can you embark on your own “lemonade” outlook of positivity while COVID rules still reign? We cannot control the news on a grand scale, but we can choose flexibility and a sense of wonder when everything else looms beyond our power. How will you make lemonade in the months to come?