Today I did something I have not done in over 20 years.
I ran 6 miles in less than 60 minutes.
The last time I ran that far, in that time, I was in my early 30’s.
That was before the house fire that relocated us to Montana, before the miscarriage, before the business venture failed, even before my mom passed.
So many difficult “befores”.
So many “lemons” that were dumped in my life to distract, discourage, depress and even devour me of hope, of happiness, of joy.
Yet today, 20 years later…
I am in the healthiest I have ever been.
I am woven into my community and I have grown to love my Montana “Home”.
I have an amazing rainbow baby, (who today is a 16-year-old, very driven, young woman).
I run two successful businesses.
I carry the cherished memories of my mom with me every day.
I write these words as a testament that tough times WILL come into your life. But those times do not need to define you, nor limit your future.
You CAN make Lemonade out of the Lemons that life throws your way.
6 miles. 20 years. Many hills and challenges have been overcome during that time and I am only stronger and more resilient as a result.
Another woman who had incredible adversity and thrived was Charise. Below is her inspirational, lemon crushing story. May you be moved by her optimism to find good in challenges.
Optimism in the face of challenges: Charise’s Story
“There were many things to be happy for and many things to grieve.
When the economy tanked in 2008, my husband and I were hit hard. We both had successful, high-paying jobs in the mortgage industry. Very quickly, with the downturn of the economy, went from two great jobs to none, and a baby on the way. That was the beginning of a series of hard events in my life. “
The beginning of a series of hard events
“To make ends meet, my husband and I decided to move from Denver to Northwestern Montana where I could be a stay-at-home mom. We could be a one-income family. Things were tough that first year, but my husband had found work, and we were establishing ourselves in a new state. We enjoyed our first child and were trying for our second.
About a year after our move, our family had a car accident.
On a wintery day, we hit a patch of ice and flipped the car with the three of us in it. No one was seriously hurt in the rollover, but we totaled the car, and in the aftermath, we realized that I was pregnant at the time.
The joy turned to sadness when I miscarried a few days later. The stress of the accident, the excitement of the pregnancy, and then the huge disappointment of the miscarriage, was emotionally draining.”
“Shortly thereafter, I became pregnant again. During this pregnancy, I had complications that needed monitoring. I was cautiously optimistic.
Six months into the pregnancy, unexpectedly, my mother passed away. She had just had a successful surgery and was healing at home. I talked to her in the evening and later that night, she died. No warning. No goodbye.
My husband and I did not even have enough money to pay for getting to my mother’s funeral. We were grateful when a friend gave us his credit card and told us to use it for gas and hotels for the drive to and from Denver.
That act of generosity has had a huge impact on my life.”
Healthy choices despite incredible hardship
“Our second baby was born healthy and happy, but I had not yet healed emotionally. So much trauma over the prior two years was weighing on me, especially losing my mom when I was only 28. As a new mom myself—I desired her advice and wisdom.
I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, and the doctor wanted me on medication for up to nine months.
During this season, I started to pick myself back up with a routine I call self-care. I made healthier choices, eventually lost 65 pounds, and was able to get off the medication far sooner than the doctor had anticipated.
It was hard to find the new normal for my family and me. So much had happened during the previous years. Losing our careers, moving, accidents, miscarriages, and losing mom. There were many things to be happy for and many to grieve.”
A total surprise came with a crisis
“Then as a total surprise, I became pregnant again. I entered this pregnancy with energy. I hand-picked a midwife and was incredibly proactive to have a healthy pregnancy and birth and avoid postpartum depression.
The pregnancy continued smoothly, and we welcomed another precious little girl. However, when she was only five-days-old; crisis. Her little hands and feet were cold to the touch when I was about to give her a bath. She warmed right up in the bath, nursed, and went to sleep, but just a few hours later she was not okay.
I raced her to the nearest hospital. Then in a whirlwind of 24 hours, my little baby and I had been whisked away on a life flight to Seattle Children’s Hospital, where the two of us spent the next eight weeks. During that time, my little baby had two open-heart surgeries along with many other medical procedures. My husband was 600 miles away with our 4-year-old and 21-month-old, and I was standing guard by her crib in a neonatal unit day in and day out.
A single act of kindness
“God sent an angel that first day I was at the hospital. I entered the waiting room of the neonatal unit a mess of a mom. I had just delivered days earlier; I had woken up in another state, and now was hundreds of miles away from home, my husband, and my daughters.
I didn’t even have as much as a hairbrush with me, and my newborn baby had just been whisked away by a circus of medical professionals. While I am standing there bewildered, a mother comes to me. She comments that she and her son have been at the hospital for seven weeks already. She asked if she could pray for me. What a blessing to know that even in our greatest times of chaos, we can have comfort in knowing that God is in control.
That single act of kindness was incredibly touching for me.”
Life did not get easier, but continued on
“When we finally were released to come home; life did not get easier.
I went from having a team of nurses to help with my daughter to just me. Back at home, we had to have a germ-free protocol in the house. I had to manage between 4-6 doctors’ appointments a week, and deliver her complicated medicines, as well as meet the needs of my two older children who greatly missed my attention and my husband.”
In the face of adversity, she endured
Reflection: “Do you wish your adversity had never happened; or are you grateful it did?”
“I honestly say it’s amazing I did not have a nervous breakdown during that season of life. Today, five years later, we have a healthy, happy daughter, with a very strong heart. She has endured and thrived through many life obstacles.”
Charise’s Lemon Crushing Characteristics:
Charise’s story spanned economic hardship, relocation, the trauma of car accident, miscarriage, depression, losing her mother in a sudden and unexpected way. Then the trauma of their million-dollar-newborn who had two open-heart surgeries by eight weeks old.
In every situation, Charise chose her attitude. She faced the situation in front of her and instead of lamenting her lot in life, looked for the good.
She comments that her story is one of HOPE. If she can be hopeful despite the challenges she has endured, then others who have faced challenges can be hopeful as well.
For more on making Lemonade Out of Lemons you would love Pearl’s book Lemon Crushers; A Working Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Adversity! There are stories about the qualities for success and overcoming your challenges. You’ll be ready to start crushing lemons after chapter one.
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