When life throws you lemons, make lemonade – then dish it out!
The lemons of my life are mostly stories from my journals over the past 18 years and many of my memories from childhood.
These are stories I wrote down to never forget, some that were just so good that I wanted to always have those reminders, and mostly every story has a lesson I learned, a form of self-discovery with some good memories along the way.
The story “Burning Journals” will explain where the other years of journals “disappeared” to.
Please enjoy the lemons of my life as much as I have been enjoying reminiscing about them.
A LESSON FROM SOME STINGING NETTLES
Tears streaming down my face, shouting at the top of my little lungs…
My little bare feet running so fast and screaming and crying “Granny” to take away the pain, as if screaming my grandmother’s name would heal the stinging ache rushing over my skin.
I can’t quite remember where it was stinging the most, my hands, my arms or my bare legs. All I knew is that there was a rash suddenly everywhere and my little 8-year-old body was on fire.
I was having so much fun that day. I was the only girl, running the fastest and proving it, until I tripped and fell into an entire bush of stinging nettles. If I was running the fastest before the fall, I can only imagine the fear on those four boys’ faces when they were faced with my rear running even faster to get to my grandmother. I am sure they must have thought they were in huge trouble that day (I still have a little giggle at this memory).
It was some time later that week that my grandmother took me for a walk. We walked past the pigs, past the cow crawl, past the chicken pens, passing the narrow wooden fence, and then, as if it was completely natural, she walked off the path into the veld (bush/open field). She walked straight up to a bunch of those dreaded nettles, bent down, picked one and said “See, it does not have to hurt you if you handle it the correct way, now pick one, Mouse “ (my nickname, interesting considering my nickname today is “Cat).
As quickly as the tears came to my eyes, I swallowed them; if the grandmother I hero-worshipped could do this, then I could do it too.
Once more she bent down to show me, “like this”, and as if her bravery had rubbed off on me, I took a step closer, knelt and picked one, then two, and before I knew it we had an entire Checkers bag full of these nettles. I remember I got a little sting on the fingers of my right hand again, but I was feeling so brave and good that it did not really bother me, despite still having red welts all over my body.
Later, I found it so much fun going and getting these nettles, because I could do something better than the boys could. My little ego loved this showing off! Thinking back, the boys did start avoiding going anywhere near where a nettle might grow.
For years I have referred back to the story of stinging nettles and life lessons.
The thing about the sting is that you feel it, you know what it is, and just the sight of those nettles reminds you of the burning pain.
This is like life, isn’t it? The hurt we feel causes us to assume the worst.
Those nettles made me cry, they hurt me and made me feel afraid. What I learned that day in the veld with my grandmother was truly valuable: you may be stung in life, you may get a rash and burn from the pain, but if you go back and face that hurtful thing, you learn that any situation can give a different result if you are prepared to approach it differently.
Those nettles were not only the cause of my pain- they also helped my grandmother to alleviate her pain; she would cook them and make herbal medicines for her arthritis, and this is where healing comes from.
Pain is inevitable, it affects all of us as humans. It is how we look at the pain, how we face it , and the choices we make to deal with it that differentiate one person’s experience from another’s. If we can learn from our life experiences, we can help others. Just as my grandmother taught me one of her life lessons about a weed in the field, I too learned that out of a bitter situation can come love and healing and goodness. It’s just how you look at, and treat the situation, that matters.
I will forever be grateful for being “hurt” by those stinging nettles. I got more than was taken from me: the beautiful memory with my grandmother, the learning about herbal medicines. I got a lesson about pain and how to look at it- my goodness I even got to stroke my little ego. I got more, and I am grateful, even if I did get hurt.
I may have hated those weeds for a couple of days, but now I know they are healers and have a place and a purpose in this world, like all of us. The purpose may be unknown, but life is a journey of finding our own way.