How to Make Metaphorical Lemonade

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a very special guest. Here, today, we have…a dinosaur! Yay!

Please welcome Rarasaur! Or, as I refer to her, Rawra. Rawra is one of my most favoritest bloggers. She is an excellent writer, blogger, and person. Above all else, she is one of the most positive people I know. Her personality shines as bright as the sun, if not brighter.

As always, folks, I humbly request that if you don’t already follow Rawra (if not why the hell not?) that you head on over to her blog and click the follow button for hilarity and positivity delivered straight to your inbox.]

Team Awful - 100, Team Awesome - 3

Team Awful – 100, Team Awesome – 3

It’s human nature to notch our bedpost with the nightmares we suffered, rather than with the dreams we’ve created. These metaphorical notches are little imprints in our brain that add up quickly as we age, giving many of us the feeling that life was mostly bad times littered with glimpses of good moments.

In almost all cases, that’s just not true. It’s an understandable world view, but an unbalanced one.

In the case of any unbalance, whether you’re talking diets, finances, or perception– the key is to either increase the good stuff, decrease the bad stuff, or both. Want to get fit? Eat less junk, burn more calories, or both. Want to get rich? Make more money, spend less money, or both.

Want to be happier? Have less bad times, create more good times, or both.

Of course, happiness is a little different from financial stability or fitness. We don’t have much say in the awful things that happen to us, which is part of the reason they feel so awful. Making good times is a bit easier, but because of the notch system, it takes several good memories to override the scars of a bad time.

I know all this talk of happiness makes me sound like a princess in a golden tower, waxing poetic on a distanced academic principle… but I have known hard times too. Terrible stuff happens, kids, and ain’t nobody gets out of life without singing the blues.

Through the hard times, I’ve held to my belief in the basic principles of balance management.

Sometimes though, I feel like I can’t stop the nightmares being notched on my bed post. There are moments when I don’t think my good memories have the strength to fight my bad ones.

On those days, I ignore the two obvious choices and move to Option 3– I try to make lemonade from the lemons I’ve been given. Instead of avoiding all bad in the future, or stressing about making good, I turn bad memories into good Unshittyβ„’ ones.

Here are 4 methods that work for me:

Kill the soundtrack.

It doesn’t matter how much you like a song. It doesn’t matter how innocent the song is. It doesn’t matter if the song actually reminds you of the good times before the bad. If it sets you on the path of digging that notch deeper into your bedpost, get it out of your life.

Seriously. The $.99 you paid for it is not worth the havoc it causes to your soul. If you have a CD, cut it into tiny pieces or cover it in glue and glitter and make it into an ornament. If you have a record, put that thing in the oven and fold it into a bowl. It used to be music– now it’s just one more thing you’ve survived. Let it go, let it die.

The Lollipop Tree, by Burl Ives, didn't make my husband a diabetic and throw my life into chaos for several years, but it reminds me of the times.

The Lollipop Tree, by Burl Ives, didn’t make my husband a diabetic or personally throw my life into chaos for several years, but it reminds me of society’s sugar fetish and bad times. Now it’s not music. It’s just a thing.

Burn stuff.

You don’t have to go full Waiting to Exhale on your household items, but get rid of the stuff that reminds you of your suffering. You know what it it is. It might be something big and expensive, or small and unassuming, but whatever it’s worth– you are worth more. Your health, your mental health, and your happiness is worth more. It isn’t your job to be the keeper of things. It’s only your job to be the best you possible. So do that, and burn the rest.

Goodbye, medicine that didn't work.  Goodbye, doctor's bills that nearly didn't get paid that I only save because I'm paranoid.  Goodbye, remnants of medical equipment that I can't throw away because it cost so much even though it no longer belongs to anything.  Goodbye, hospital bracelets that always end up in my beauty supply drawer for years because I never clean that thing out.

Goodbye, medicine that didn’t work. Goodbye, hotel lotions that remind me of being homeless. Goodbye, school pamphlets on grief and a cashmere coat that I thought I’d one day be able to wear without crying. Goodbye.

Name a drink, or cookies, after your suffering.

Bad things happen and even though they feel like singular, exceptional experiences each time, they usually fit into a major subcategory of “types of tragedy” — Attacks, Bad Choices, Illness, etc. You’re already going to remember those moments forever, so the least you can do is remember them as something edible or drinkable. It’s a way of expressing what happened without reliving it. It’s a way of acknowledging that it’s part of your life now without dwelling. It’s a method of establishing control over it. So name it, make it, and drink it – because you’re the boss and your suffering is only what you make of it.

The story goes that Persephone had to spend 6 months in Hell because she ate 6 seeds that Hades offered her.  Her mistake was one of too much trust.  I call this one the Persephone.  1 oz gin, 8 oz sierra mist ruby splash zero, 6 blueberries

The story goes that Persephone had to spend 6 months in Hell because she ate 6 seeds that Hades offered her. Her mistake was one of too much trust. I call this one Persephone’s Hell. 1 oz gin, 8 oz sierra mist ruby splash zero, 6 blueberries

Find a joke about it.

And last, but not least, find a joke about it. The internet is a vast resource, and we tend to use it to look up horrible things. What’s that rash on my arm? How many other people have suffered from this situation? Did you see that page of adorable animals looking sad?

Instead, look up funny things related to your woes so when you have to re-tell your tale, some part of your mind will be giggling.

A man is falsely accused of a crime, after a brutalizing trial where he runs out of money to defend himself, he is put in jail.  In a fit of desperation, he escapes at 9am with the changing of guards.  He sneaks quietly around the city and tiptoes into his house.  His wife says, "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! The news says you escaped HOURS ago!"See? Being falsely accused is something you move past-- being heckled and nagged stays with you forever. ;)

A man is falsely accused of a crime. After a brutalizing trial where he runs out of money to defend himself, he is put in jail. In a fit of desperation, he escapes at 9am with the changes of guards. He sneaks quietly around the city and tiptoes into his house at noon. His wife says, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! The news says you escaped HOURS ago!”
Moral of the joke? Being falsely accused is something you move past– being heckled and nagged stays with you forever. πŸ˜‰

See? It’s not so hard. Help yourself to a glass of metaphorical lemonade, and tell me– what do you do with the lemons life throws at you?

Help yourself, there's enough for everyone.

Help yourself. We always seem to have a surplus of lemons ’round here.

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About Twindaddy (334 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

46 Comments on How to Make Metaphorical Lemonade

  1. When I’m having a rough time, I like to go on a cleanse. Not with cayenne pepper and ginger ale or anything like that, but typically with writing. I just write it all out, every twisted, pity me, ugly, nonsensical feeling until I’ve essentially sucked all the poison out through words. Though, setting things on fire has helped in the past.

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    • A metaphorical cleanse is a good idea… though I’d stay away from the cayenne and ginger ale, that just doesn’t sound like a healthy combo, haha! πŸ™‚ I like the idea of sucking the poison of an experience out through words– it’s fierce and reasonable all at the same time. And I guess fire is always good as a back up plan. πŸ˜€

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  2. Excellent advice. A couple of years ago, I bought a garden refuse burner (a modified version of one of those old-style metal bins that featured in ‘Top Cat’) and made myself burn MASSES of old paperwork (not recycle as lots of it was confidential e.g. interview transcripts, fieldnotes, etc). Not all of it was associated with negative stuff, but some was. It was hard to start as it represented so much work, effort and time – but boy did it feel good once it was gone. Literally as if a big weight had come off me.

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  3. You’re worth zillions more than even $1.29, so I’m glad that song is gone! πŸ™‚ Now you just need to find a song that reminds you of recent achievements and successes to replace it. πŸ™‚

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  4. I love your ideas. They are worth a try! πŸ™‚

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  5. Burning stuff and killing the soundtrack are great ideas. Just today, yeah, in March, I thought about a Christmas ornament given to me by my late sister that makes me cry every time I see it (which is only at Christmas time). I may take your suggestion.

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  6. Thanks for the awesome post, Rawra! As to your question, when life throws me lemons I dodge. Most of the time. Every once in a while one hits me and knocks me over, but I get back up and keep on truckin’.

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  7. Changing the soundtrack is a very good idea. I now have some upbeat tunes which I listen to when things are normal and OK, and because they have normal and OK associations, if I’m finding that the black hole is calling my name, I give it a metaphorical finger and put on a bouncy tune, and ideally go for a walk to see the sea. If I’m really cross, getting out and marching down to the sea helps get rid of the excess energy and it gives me some good exercise too.

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    • That’s a great idea! Yes, I’ve found that it’s really easy to sink, especially when you’re surrounded by stuff that reminds you about why you’re upset and listening to music that dredges up those emotions. And of course, the healing power of the sea never hurts! πŸ˜€

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      • The sea is awesome. It’s good because it reminds us that there are things out there that are bigger than our little problems. It’s good because it reminds us that what goes around, comes around. And it’s good because, well, we have a sandy beach in Whitby which is fantastically pretty.

        I got rid of a load of stuff (as opposed to stuphβ„’) to move to Whitby. When joining a religious order there’s a limited amount of things one is allowed to bring. So I had a jolly good purge just about 12 months ago, but stuff breeds and I’m probably due having another purge. And I can actually legitimately burn things here, because the room that is the novices’ study room has an open fire in it, which gets used semi-frequently!

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        • Hurrah for being able to actually burn things! Like the sea, fire has cleansing power all on it’s own… for a lot of the same reasons. We’re so small in the face of elements! πŸ™‚

          I had a sort of forced purge of things in the last few years, and that’s when I noticed how truly beneficial getting rid of things can be. I would have kept those things forever had circumstances not forced me to take action. Now I try to do regular purges— they’re good for the soul. πŸ˜€

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          • One of my friends was amazed at how much stuff I was just getting rid of – but then I did have nearly a decade of living in my own place to get sorted out! I have three dresses, a dressing gown, four boxes containing books, CDs, DVDs and VHS at my parents’, some yarn stashed with the friend, and then everything else I own is here with me, and it’s some clothes and my laptop, my flute, my ipod, some music (for playing/singing). Some of the rubbish I threw out I’d moved house with twice, which was ridiculous. I’m going to be selling my flat soon (I hope; got to get it on the market) which will be another big thing gone (and will also mean I can have a paperwork purge and another bonfire). I don’t own any furniture anymore and a whole bunch of my stuph was passed on to people who could use it.

            It’s not surprising that earth, air, fire and water feature in so many religious ceremonies. Thinking to what I know, that is, Christianity, we have the symbolic candles (fire), holy water, funerals & ash wednesday (earth – ashes to ashes, dust to dust) and the Holy Spirit kind of is sort of air-like. Which is pretty cool if you ask me.

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          • Hinduism and Buddhism are much the same! Heavily based in the elements. πŸ™‚ It does make sense. πŸ™‚

            Good luck selling your flat!!

            Yes, that was the nice thing about getting rid of our stuph… it seemed like all of it went to people who were really going to use it, not just stick it in a closet. πŸ™‚ Isn’t it crazy how much we amass just by having enough space to put it?

            My clarinet is still with me, though. Gotta keep your priorities straight, even in the midst of crisis. πŸ˜€

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          • Yup, music is important. My guitar and violin I left at my parents’ – because they’re only beginner instruments really and I know that here at the Priory there are others of equal quality knocking around if I want them. And there’s a cello here which is begging for attention – I just need more hours in the day!!

            Music is one of the best things ever, but at the same time one of the worst things ever. Don’t talk to me about plain chant just at the moment, I’m really struggling to get my head around it. Plus, I find that any of Ludvico Einaudi’s music is a mood magnifier – if I’m happy, it’s great, but if I’m feeling low then it makes it worse.

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  8. You know it’s an awesome post when it encourages pyromania πŸ˜‰

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  9. Oh my gosh! This was brilliant! I love the idea of naming a drink (or a cookie) after one’s suffering. I have a tendency to give my suffering little cartoon-ey names, and that seems to help, but I can’t wait to change it up with a drink (or some sort of baked good). Thanks for this great post Rarasaur πŸ™‚

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  10. I think I might just give the naming a drink or cookie after my suffering a try. I do like cookies

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    • And you’re getting so pro at making them! πŸ™‚ I like eating suffering-cookies. It makes me feel like an actual dinosaur gobbling up everything in sight! πŸ™‚

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  11. I agree with the sentiment, but instead of burning, can you suggest recycling? Much better for the environment.

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    • Haha, well, it’s metaphorical burning. Like the lemonade. πŸ™‚ There aren’t a lot of things that you can actually burn without accidentally burning down your house … which would cause suffering… which is an endless cycle of craziness. πŸ™‚ I just wanted to indicate that you don’t have to re-use it or give it to a friend– just make it completely and totally disappear.

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  12. I don’t even know where to start!!!! First off, Rawra is what one of my old best friends used to call me, so the minute I read that I went AWWWWWWW !!!! =D =D =D one Rawra to another, helloooooooo! ❀

    The songs. Feels funny to say it out loud, really, but I had a specific set of songs, back whn I would self harm. I stopped listening to all of them, some consciously and some subconsciously. The sound-memory association is remarkably strong. I mean, even if I accidentally hear them at someone's place or in public, it still jars me for a monent.

    And well, burning. Again, there was a few years which I wanted to erase completely, completely and pretend they never existed. All the poems and stories I wrote then, went up in flames a long time back. Sometimes inwonder if I shouldve kept them, but I know its probably better not to have.

    And yes! I should send you some of my cheesy chicken cheers! Swap a dish for one your lemonades? Woot woot! =D

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  13. Sound advice. Just last week I finally made myself go through my closet and get rid of things I know I will never wear again (or fit into) I donated a huge bag of clothes and felt good.

    It’s strange how we tend to hold onto things from the past, whether objects or clothes that only serve to bring us down. We really are in control of our well-being and have the power to start over and think positive.

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    • We really do. It’s not always easy, of course… but a lot of times we think positively, and say positively things, but then we let these third party items like salt-shakers and 90’s music hold us back. It’s a little like self-sabotage. I think once you get in the habit of being on your own team, though, it’s a habit that sticks. πŸ˜€ Congrats on your closet-purging! Here’s to better things!

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  14. First reaction (the dj in me) – but, but, but… the record! What did you do to that record?!!!! The horror!!
    Second reaction (the jester in me) – there is always something funny in every situation if you take the time to look for it. Plus, I can totally get into that burning thing.
    Third reaction (just me) – love me some lemonade. πŸ™‚

    Great advice, as always, Rara!

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    • Haha! πŸ˜€ The record bowl thing is actually one of my favorite craft projects, but I’m not really a music person. I imagine if someone was breaking a functioning computer to make something I’d cringe, too. πŸ™‚

      Hurrah for funny things and lemonade! (It sounds like we both eat like kids, haha! πŸ˜€ )

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  15. I’m not sure if I told you this already, Rara, but one of my friends told me to make lemonade when life throws lemons. I asked him what to do if life threw rotten lemons. “Make chutney,” he said as if it was a no-brainer.
    Love this post. I would combine Katie’s idea with yours and write out all the poison then burn the writing. Wouldn’t it be great if we could burn documents, pages. photos that were on the internet?
    Great post. Thanks for hosting, Twindaddy. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

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    • Haha, I love it! I guess there’s always something edible to be made from bad times. πŸ˜€ You’re right– that’s a great combination! I can even even imagine a program where you can type in words and watch them virtually burn to ash. A symbolic sort of moving forward. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by, Kozo! πŸ˜€ *hugs*

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  16. I burn stuff and then I let it go. If it’s something that doesn’t have burnable items, let’s say anger or pain or just plain sadness, I write it out then burn the pages and let it go that way. If that doesn’t work or there’s just too many lemons dropping at once I look for the funny side of the whole thing and run with it. Excellent post! I’m going to add cookie naming to my arsenal! πŸ™‚

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    • There always seems to be a funny side, thank goodness! πŸ˜€ I like your process, it sounds orderly. I usually take things on a case by case basis, but that usually results in a sort of paralysis for a week while I work out which is the best strategy. Next time, I’ll just try to go down the list in order! πŸ˜€

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  17. It’s like you heard my daughter saying, “When life gives you lemons…squirt it in the eye!” Then she gives the old Popeye squint and muscle flex. That’s my girl

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  18. When I’m having a tough time I just remember that it’s only temporary, I won’t always feel like this. Then I go get myself some wine and some friends to drink it with.

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