I lived in the bitch-about-it stage for a very long time. Why is my life like this? Why do things not work out for me? Why is this always happening to me? I'm so unlucky, permanent black cloud kinda shit.
I lived as though everything was happening to me and I had zero control. One thing was certain, I had to reroute this tragic mess or I was headed for certain failure.
There's this whole thing about life and it handing out lemons and what you're 'supposed' to do with those lemons. Society has a way of constantly pressuring the making of the proverbial lemonade.
But what happens when your lemons are rotten, you don't have a juicer and you don't even know how to make fucking lemonade. You stay there, that's what.
In your juice-less existence with rotting lemons, festering - fixated on the lemonade and your inability to make it. All you can think about is everyone else's lemonade - how perfect it is, how easily they made it, why does it have to taste so damn good?!
Okay, maybe you don't but I certainly did and festering is def the right word.
The lemons are (if it isn't obvious) referring to the shittiest shit that life hands us and if you know me, you know I've been served up a solid portion.
Yes, of course, I'm privy to the fact that plenty of people have it worse, but other people's experiences can't negate mine. Comparing myself to others, proved to be non-productive and toxic - it had to stop.
So, I ditched the - 'when something shitty happens, just compare it to something worse and get over it method'. Mostly because I discovered that it was failing me miserably and I wasn't actually getting over things at all, instead I was packing my drama away for later.
It manifests in so many fun (please sense my sarcasm here) forms - fits of rage, frustration, depleted self-esteem, depression, lack of motivation, bad moods - I could go on.
The small step to stop comparing was really a huge step and it lead to many other shifts. I didn't realize it at the time but that small step was my first squeeze of lemonade and folks were right, it's the best damn lemonade ever...
Y'all don't even know about MY DELICIOUS-ASS-LEMONADE!
I'm not here to tell people what to do.
Truth is that I don't think there's a specific life sauce that we can just pour on for everyone and get the same results.
We're all different as fuck (thank goodness) and we're gonna need our own lil personal concoction of figure-it-out but it certainly does't mean that it can't have a lil of someone else's goodness up in it.
Solera is a term used in the higher-end of the beverage industry.
It's a method for aging and blending libations where you incorporate small amounts from previous batches into new batches. The intention is to add depth and develop character and flavor - the end product often features many generations of nuances in one bottle.
I think about my lemonade as being a solera of sorts - taking years to come together - requiring constant attention and care, improving with the insight and experience of others. If end product has depth and character it will have been worth it.
This is absolutely an everyday mission for me, it doesn't happen over night - I work this shit on the regular and it is, without a doubt, changing the trajectory of my life.
Maybe you wanna put a lil of my lemonade in yours? Or just have a look at what I'm using? Read on, I'm happy to share if it'll help - I'm here for it 100%.
Or maybe you don't want anything to do with this and you come to me for food - no worries, duck out and know I have dumplings coming at you this week.
I came to the decision that I ought to cultivate balance in my life.
My foul language isn't a facade, I'm as rough around the edges and straight forward as I sound (def not for everyone, news flash - nobody is for everyone).
I grew up with brothers and a retired sailor/father - completely lacking any sort of softness or motherly touch.
I was taught to suck shit up, put my head down and power through like a man (wtf is that shit anyway?).
In an effort to balance my extreme, harsh, loud, intense tendencies tapping into someone on a different energy spectrum seemed in order - and it absolutely was this the right move for me.
I hired Krissy Leonard for business guidance and I chose her specifically. I chose her because she was seemingly the exact opposite of me and I was craving balance.
Truth bomb - I used to make fun of her. She was all the things that I wasn't and welp, jealousy is a very real thing and it manifests in its own super unattractive ways.
Grounded, soft, quiet, certain, calm, confident - everything I wasn't.
While I went to her under the guise of business guidance and certainly got it what I really benefited from was the soul centering aspect of her leadership.
It was not easy for me. I cried, a lot (I know, ew). I was embarrassed and ashamed but in a safe space to work through it with someone who genuinely cared.
You can't make proper lemonade without something sweet and I had a surplus of sour. Incorporating balance makes me a better human. Better for me, better for my partner and better for the world.
What's is even better is that I didn't have to put out my fire - I just needed to repurpose it - t's my lemonade secret ingredient - what's yours?
Yeeaaah about it. Being jealous is a normal thing we do, so are all of the things that transpire - the shit-talking and the minimizing.
Deep down, it never feels good. It was hard for me to see people reaping success when I wasn't and to be happy for them as they wave their success in my social media face? Even harder.
But it's actually not hard at all, I had just decided that it was. So I chose to stop the shit-talking and cut out the minimizing or at the very least, give it a go.
Instead, I made a personal vow to divert to a compliment every time I was on the verge of mentally degrading someone out of envy.
Connection and growth transformed my jealousy into inspiration and possibility. The people I was so threatened by, turned into allies, friends and collaborators.
Yes, absolutely I still get jealous but I stick to my method and it's been yielding kick ass results consistently -all the while pumping positivity into the world - something that I'd argue we need now more than ever.
As for the lemon analogy I've somehow weaved in - how much easier (plus, more fun) it is to squeeze lemons when you have help. Plus, think of how much you could make!?
3. Self Acceptance , dare I say love
Accepting myself for who I am, how I am and allowing whatever that is to be enough was a completely foreign concept to me. Even just thinking about that, never really crossed my mind and it kind of made me want to throw-up.
I am very much still learning. (And yes, I made fun of this too)
To accept all of me. Exactly how I am, every single day - my body, my abilities, my emotions, my hair, my skin, the overwhelming sadness in my life, etc.
I have a habit of being extremely critical of me (ahem, show of hands) and when I stopped to listen to the things I was saying to myself, it was awful - 'I'm so stupid, I'm such an idiot, omg why can't I just figure this out, what's wrong with me'...
I was awful and mean to myself and saying this kind of shit all-of-the-damn-time and yes, of course, I sometimes still catch myself.
I made an effort to try to stop the self-berating and stop apologizing for things that don't truly warrant an apology. It's amazing how often I would catch myself saying 'I'm sorry' for something I had absolutely no control over.
Sometimes things don't always go as planned. You don't have to give up just because the first swing didn't go well (maybe ease up on expectation?).
With less self-hate in my head I have more clarity and I feel less defeated - I get more shit done.
Once I got this down a bit, I took it even further with the help of my friend Sarah Quinttus, owner and operator of Quinttusential Yoga. Sarah's classes are mental and physical nourishment and I cannot express how much they've reinforced the psychological work I've put in.
Early on in one of her classes at Soulshine we laid on our mats and she had us say, out loud "I love you Rachel" - each person saying their own name obviously.
Completely unexpected, my entire soul cracked open and tears came, I'm talking zero control - flood gates wide open kind of tears. I'm even teary as I type this because I knew without a doubt, that not only had I never told myself this before, I never even thought to.
Well, because it simply wasn't true.
It still isn't sometimes and that's okay.
I'm getting closer and I'm continuing the work to get myself there. I didn't have someone who snuggled me, told me they loved my relentlessly, and smothered me in affection growing up - we don't all get that.
Love was assumed (or maybe not even thought of at all?) and really never talked about in my childhood.
And well, you know, what you know. And you can stay with that or you can change that - you do have a choice, just like me.
For all the confidence that you think you see in me, know that there's a massive inner struggle, far less visible for you.
It isn't pretty but it's part of me and I don't want people to see my Instagram life (it's a marketing tool, friends) and think for a second I'm not as human as the rest.
At the start of every single day, in the wee hours of the morning, I lay in my bed, staring at my ceiling, practicing pranayama (who am I?) and I set the tone and continue on the journey to learn to love myself - for who I am, how I am, knowing I'm giving my all and putting out my very best.
Some days it's easy to commit and other days it's hard but instead of judging myself I just take note of how challenges wax and wane in my life and make adjustments as I can.
Your lemonade is an easy sell when you genuinely love it. Sometimes that means going back and tweaking the recipe - we change, our taste changes, our ingredients should change too. Maybe that means going back and checking in on past lemonade, the old, buried lemonade, seeing why it was so sour or just acknowledging that it was, understanding that's it's okay that it was, it can still be used.
I'm still tasting through the years. It's gonna take some time and I'm here to do the work.
I used to have a surplus of sour milk and now I have a bit of lemonade. It took an ass load of work but it didn't take long at all to pour out the sour milk and start a fresh mix - you'd be surprised how many folks will show up to squeeze lemons if you just tell them you're ready to make some lemonade.
I lost a good friend, some years ago now. He was full of love and light and served up the most amazing lemonade there ever was, the kind of person you should never have to say goodbye to.
In his death, I silently promised us both that I would strive to make lemonade as good as his and share it with my people - I've focused on it since. I sit with him each morning after my meditation and have a glass. He's finally stopped spitting it out so I think I'm on the right track.
I know and trust it will only get more delicious as it goes and my goal is to try to enjoy the process and be okay with it sometimes tasting questionable - trusting and knowing that I have a solid base and can get it back to good in no time, giving way to the process and leaving expectation out of it.
I hope you have your own glass to pour. And if you don't, I hope this helped you in some way to see that we don't all have to make it the same way, that you can start squeezing today and you don't have to do it alone.
If you're stuck in a place where hating yourself comes easy, don't let that be where you stay, you deserve better and maybe trying one of these small shifts will offer some light toward that, it certainly won't hurt.
Everyone deserves to be happy and to live with peace. But it often requires change.
Think about it - if a person continues to do things exactly the way they have been and are unhappy - they can't really expect different results than what they're currently getting unless they change something, right?
I'd love to hear about you and your lemonade - maybe you wanna add to my solera? I'd love that, let's link up on social. Thanks for being here and thanks for helping me make my 🍋 ade.
Next week on...it takes a village... lol
Cheers to a tasty new year full of life friends. Thank you for supporting my dreams and lighting my path. I am more grateful than you can know.
Big love to my incredible community, near and far and a massive shout out to my soulmate for being the most thoughtful, dedicated partner I could ask for.
Having a solid support system is vital and I am fortunate. Plenty of struggles 2020 but all in all life is good - trusting the work and doing the work - bring it 2021.
Photo by Ben Hudson Photography