This morning I made a dish I have made thousands of times—well tens of times, anyway, enough that I no longer need to look at the recipe. I opened the last ingredient…and found that instead of diced tomatoes I had purchased crushed tomatoes. Seems like a minor deal. But the first, tossed with olive oil, would result in a lovely roast vegetable dish, suitable hot or cold or folded into omelets for tomorrow’s breakfast. The other is sort of a puree that resists being tossed with anything. Bummer.
But then I reflected that this is just the sort of thing that constantly happens in real life...and even more frequently in the roller-coaster world of caregiving: You plan for one thing, but something completely different happens instead. Generally, there are two choices: totally bum out that things aren’t going as planned. Or figure out what fabulous thing to make out of the mess.
Fortunately for my family, I am a decent cook and my specialty is leftovers—transforming odds and ends into something fairly appetizing. But I readily admit that resilience and inventiveness don’t transfer into my daily life. Yet.
My 2011 New Year’s Resolution is going to be to embrace the adage, ”When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Or maybe a nice lemon pie, which I prefer. Or maybe I’ll just twist the peels into a martini—that’ll cheer everyone up.
There are a lot of clichés that deal with this topic. When one door closes, another opens. Every cloud has a silver lining. Yadda, yadda, yadda. But the reason the clichés exist is because they are true.
Here are five scenarios I might face this year—and the spin I plan to give them:
- If my business doesn't work, I will see what other doors the process may have opened—and reflect on all the things I have learned over the past 12 months.
- If I can’t go dancing any more, I’ll take up the hula hoop. I was a state fair hula-hoop champion once; why not again?
- If we need to move, we’ll get something all on one level and I can quit hauling suitcases up 5 flights of stairs.
- If my mother and I can’t take walks, I’ll sit on the bed and finally put together those photo albums. The snap shots should spark lots of conversations.
- And if I have to mourn, I’ll try to use all that energy to fuel something truly wonderful.
Stay tuned to see how I do. Meanwhile, remember that if the ingredients life hands you aren’t quite what you expected, you can still produce something wonderful—you just have to adjust your approach. What’s your plan?