Don’t you hate that phrase?
“When life gives you lemons… make lemonade!”
You’ve just lost your dream job. Or found out your partner slept with your best friend. Or your kid has contracted a serious illness. And some well-meaning moron tries to infuse you with their glass-half-full approach to life – when all you want to do is scream “Fuck off!” to the world.
You’re going through a shitty patch.
So you bury your face in a tub of ice-cream. Or drown your troubles in an ocean of booze.
You moan – to your friends, to your colleagues, to the spotty teenage checkout boy at the Co-op, who innocently asked you the rhetorical question “How are you today?”.
And you get so wrapped up in your wretched situation that it runs circles in your mind, keeping you awake at night.
My first hard time
When I was 14, I developed anorexia.
For 2 full years, I found comfort in the relentless cycle of calorie counting that would circle like a hamster wheel in my mind – not allowing space for thoughts or feelings of any other kind.
I would raid my parents’ kitchen for food to chew, savour and then spit out down the sinkhole. When my willpower wasn’t strong enough, I would methodically tear food into tiny morsels, throw them in the bin and douse them with washing up liquid. Every Saturday, I would fast completely – so I could go out that night in a crop top that revealed an empty washboard midriff.
It was a lonely and introspective time.
When I was 16 – skinny and almost broken – I decided enough was enough. I don’t know why. I woke up one day and a knowing voice in my head simply told me “Jodie – enough”.
It took me 4 years of quiet courage and unwavering discipline to reset my mind and eating habits.
By the time I was 20, no remnant of that behaviour remained. I was confident, strong and boisterous – and ready to take on the world.
The upside of suffering
Anorexia was the single best thing that ever happened to me.
Suffering and recovering from the illness. Dragging myself out of that deep dark hole. It shaped me.
As an adult, my life has been dazzled with wonder and pockmarked with shit.
I’ve backpacked the world, danced on stage to rapturous applause, had a career I adore, a fairy-tale romance and 2 wonderful children. I’ve been ruthlessly bullied, physically abused, callously betrayed, lied to and stolen from.
Each bad experience battered me in its own unique way.
But each time, I emerged a little bit stronger and more multifaceted.
This year, Covid crushed the events industry that I’ve worked in for 2 decades. My projects were cancelled, leaving me with no income. And just as I was getting up off the mat, aplastic anaemia hit me again.
Maybe Covid has knocked you down too.
If it hasn’t, something else will. That’s just life.
Am I saying you should embrace shitty times?
But only if you’re not afraid to burst your bubble of comfort and take a look at what’s outside.
“But Jodie, you well-meaning moron,” I hear you shouting, “I’ve dedicated years to building up this business and now it’s on its knees.”
“I loved my life just the way it was.”
“I don’t have the money to move. I don’t have the time to re-train. I don’t have the family support to take that leap.”
Take a breath.
What is, is.
2021, year of fortune
Opportunity is born from calm. It’s born from crisis. It comes when you expect it, and it comes when you don’t. Opportunity is everywhere.
But strength and resilience… they are born from immense challenge. They are born when you dive into a cavern of despair, see what you’re really made of, and climb out.
You don’t need to be elegant. You can clamber out like a baby learning to crawl. But you need to make it.
This year, I’ve undergone weekly transfusions, invasive tests and sick-inducing chemo.
Just when I thought I’d sailed through the worst part of the transplant, I caught an infection that spiked my temperature above 40°. It made me shudder so hard that I ripped all the muscles in my legs and back. I hobbled around like a geriatric for days.
Even as I sat there, languishing in a pit of nausea and deep fatigue, I knew that aplastic anaemia was the second-best thing that had ever happened to me.
Today, 3 weeks after checking into hospital, I am going home!
I have big plans for the year to come.
Will you join me?
If ever there was a moment for us to collectively peel away the Covid-infested skin from all the lemons around our feet, squeeze out their tart juice, and concoct a delightful fizzy drink – I think that this is it.
Let’s ring in 2021 with homemade lemonade.