A Bowl Full of Lemons

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

A friend shared this list with me from Buzzfeed that basically was ‘ten things to do to make it appear that you have your shit together’. We shared a good laugh and quickly moved on with our conversation.

However, a few days later as I was putting the groceries away, and I found myself standing in my tiny kitchen holding a bag of lemons, that stupid Buzzfeed list came back in my head. Except this time I didn’t think it was so silly. That list told me, to appear that my shit is together I should have a bowl of lemons on my table. And damn it that is exactly what I did. I pulled out a plastic bowl that is usually for my late night popcorn binging and plopped those lemons in it. I put those sons-a-bitches on display to show the world that today I am winning as an adult. My shit is so together that you can’t even imagine! Those lemons sitting in their glorious not so fancy bowl made me feel like I had done something right.

I have a few things that I try when the world is overwhelming me, and I feel like I’m failing at ___ (fill in the blank).

Of course, lemons in a bowl in no way reflects how organized you are, or how adult you are. In fact they really do not say anything about you, except that maybe you like lemons. But isn’t it funny how something so meaningless can seep into our subconscious without really any participation on our part.

We are constantly bombarded with things that tell us how we are supposed to look, feel, act, dress, decorate, behave...and the list could go on and on. If we let these outside influences creep into our daily lives the result can be devastating. Not living up to the requirements society puts on us can lead to depression, relationship problems, low self-esteem, and a slew of other harmful things. So how do we stop this deluge of standards thrown at us daily? How do we protect ourselves and our kids from feeling like less of a person because they don’t have a bowl of lemons sitting on the table?

I have a few things that I try when the world is overwhelming me, and I feel like I’m failing at _______ (fill in the blank).

1) Mindfulness: taking in the current moment.

Just stop. Stop everything you are doing and take a deep breath. Look around and take in the present moment, not just the good things and not just the bad. Take in everything, without reaction. Just look around see the dishes in the sink, the laundry in the corner, the toys everywhere. Notice the kids laughing, the roof over your head, the food in your pantry. If a feeling arises when you look around accept it. Whatever the feelings are accept them. Do not dwell on anything. Now go back to whatever it was you were doing, but now go back with mindfulness. If you are turning back to that sink full of dishes and you know they make you feel angry or exhausted, accept it and turn your focus on the fact that clean water is running out of your faucet and that you have a soft rug under your feet. Feel the warm water on your hands and the way your toes feel against the floor. Bring your focus to one single easy fact, "I am washing dishes." If you continue to practice this pretty soon dishes will just be dishes. They will stop being resentment that you don’t have a dishwasher, or a house-elf like those kids in that book, by that author, you know the one who will from here until she sees the light will be referred to as the one who shall not be named.

2) Turn off the phone/computer/tablet.

I have a love hate relationship with my phone. Love it because it keeps me connected with friends, and provides entertainment. I have apps on my phone that give me recipes and the news. Social media is amazing in so many ways. But, I also hate my phone. I sometimes hide from life by scrolling through an endless newsfeed. Pinterest gives me a thousand ways a day that I could be a better mom, wife, gardener, architect. I have actually felt bad because I can’t build bunk beds for the kids??? Why do I feel bad? I have no idea. I am a nurse. I was not taught how to build things out of wood in nursing school. Pinterest, however, has successfully made me feel like less of a mom because I can’t fit carpentry into my general knowledge. I also love my pinterest because the ideas are endless and sometimes you really can find a great gem of advice.

But when I shut off my phone for the day, and hour, or even 15 minutes I become connected again. Being without a device that we depend on so thoroughly is a freeing experience. I am free to spend time doing other things whether it be playing with the kiddos or reading an actual paper book (which is so nice sometimes), or going for a walk, or just sitting in silence. I feel free and happy. This in turn helps me to live with more mindfulness, which shows me all that I have to be grateful for. I do not feel so desperate to be something or have something just because of what I read or saw in a facebook post. Turning off my phone helps me to open my eyes and see the beautiful mess that is life.

3) Practice gratitude.

I try to be grateful, to look at all the good things around me. When I’m having a good day and living mindfully gratitude is easy. Other days I completely forget to be grateful. These are the days I can be grumpy and angry and impatient. Honestly I struggle with this. Sometimes it takes hubby or one of the kids to snap me out of my selfishness to be able to see all the amazing things around me that I can forget about so easily. Some people write down three things everyday that they are grateful for. They use these as a mantra throughout the day. I love this idea! It helps as a reminder on the hard days. On the days you feel inadequate taking five minutes to find things you are grateful for can change your whole perspective. Gratitude is also a big boost of happy on the good days!

So whether you have a big bowl of shiney lemons in a beautiful bowl in the center of your table or a few hard dried up green ones in the back of your refrigerator doesn't matter. What matters is the present moment, because you are alive. The connections we have with those around us, our tribe, the ones who make life easier and love us just the way we are. The ability to be grateful and find a happiness that goes deeper than the presence of lemons on your table. That is what truly matters. So suck on those lemons buzzfeed! (just joking I love you buzzfeed )

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