When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned :: Making Lemonade from Lemons


Every year, my husband and I have the privilege of taking a trip through his work. The destination changes, but the outcome? Always the same — precious time for the two of us to escape the day-to-day grind. We relax and enjoy one another’s company. And we look forward to it immensely. 

This year would be no different. This year, we were heading to the desert. To Arizona. 

We were set to arrive a day before the event officially started so we could have some time to ourselves. Having picked out our excursion (horseback riding), we looked forward to this year’s disco-themed party. We love the BeeGees and Saturday Night Fever. In fact, when we first started dating nearly twenty-three years ago, we listened to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack relentlessly. No shame in our disco-loving game. 

And to prove it? When our groovy costumes from Amazon arrived, we paraded around the house in our disco attire — like any good parents would do. We made our little ones giggle and our tweens want to cover their eyes in embarrassment. Lucky for them, they didn’t have any friends over. 

The costumes fit. The excursion booked. The sitter confirmed. The plane tickets ordered. All set for take off. 

10, 9, 8, 7, 6 . . . Houston? We have a problem.

A few days prior to departure, we received word of my nephew’s influenza diagnosis. Oh, no. Number one? Oh, no for them. They had already been through a steady stream of sickness and did not need this. Number two? Oh, no for us. With three out of our four children struggling with asthma and other lung issues, this was a no-brainer. We couldn’t send our kids there. 

I immediately got to work making calls in an attempt to find back-up. All to no avail. We had no choice. I was going to have to stay home.

Houston? It looks like I will not be lifting off after all. 

No more one-on-one resort time with my hubby. No more horseback riding. Disco party? Forget it. No more Arizona. I had a plane ticket, but I would not be getting on a plane. Cue the tears.

I was bummed. Super bummed.  

And now I had a choice to make. I could continue to be pouty and upset about something that was completely out of my control, or I could choose to look on the bright side. (There usually is one to find — if only you look hard enough.) Every cloud has a silver lining, right? I decided this was worthy of some solid pout time, but I was determined not to get stuck there. 

I planned to take those lemons life handed to me and find a way to make some lemonade. 

My husband changed his flight to Sunday morning. The early departure no longer seemed necessary. (Sniff, sniff.) The bright side? This meant we could now go as a family to see my daughter’s artwork being displayed at the Frist Center. We received word a couple of weeks prior that her work had been chosen and were disappointed we wouldn’t be able to attend the Open House. That problem? Now solved. 

We spent a fun, relaxing day together as a family. No, it wasn’t a date day in Arizona with my man. But as far as days go? We made it a really great day. First lemon officially squeezed. 

The next morning, my husband left bright and early. He left before any rooster even thought about crowing. I woke up and had a moment of sadness. Then I thought about all of that lemonade I wanted to make. Time to look on the bright side. 

So that’s what I did — or at least I attempted to do so. 

For the next few days, I made it my mission to seek out joy. I stopped to take notice of the things that made my heart happy. I may not have been in Arizona, but that didn’t mean there still wasn’t a lot of joy to be found. A lot of fun awaited us. 

I took time out of the day to journal, read, do yoga, and write. I bought fresh flowers and put them around the house — just because I love them. And I ate Thai food — for breakfast. After the kids went to bed, I watched a sappy movie by candlelight. I squeezed lemons all over the place. 

Before I knew it, my hubby came home. 

Yes, we planned to go on this trip together, but that didn’t work out. And life turns out that way sometimes — especially life with kids. I learned early on in my parenting journey to make all plans loosely. You never know what a day will bring. 

I didn’t make it to Arizona this year, but I didn’t let that rob me of my joy. There’s next year’s trip to look forward to. (And the sitter? Already booked.) 

I may have been handed some lemons, but do you know what those lemons gave me? New perspective. Since my husband returned, I still practice the habit of seeking out joy. I also try to pay attention to what brings joy to others. I make it my goal to spread some cheer throughout the day.

It’s funny. Sometimes we think we are just getting lemons. But do you know what? A glass of lemonade cannot exist without them. 

making lemonade from lemons when life doesn't go as planned

And I love lemonade. 


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