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A close-up of a newly opened delphinium flower (Summer 2013).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Of Lemons and Lemonade

Lemons. Lemonade. Lemon cubes in a glass of steeped green tea. What could be more refreshing than a glass of iced tea as you relax and take a break?

I have high praises for lemons. I buy them often at Safeway so I could use them when cooking fish and red meat (beef steak, for example). Aside from its many uses as food condiment, I also convert them into iced lemon cubes for a refreshing cold tea during summer afternoons.
There is another way of understanding lemons–- as a metaphor for the tough, painful aspects or events in one’s life. If you have a slight cut in your finger and lemon juice gets into it, the result is a painful, stinging sensation. That is what we sometimes experience in our lives–some painful experiences. If we use the metaphor of the lemons, we could honestly say that life throws us a bunch of lemons regularly:).
What do we do if we are hit in life by a pack of lemons? The sure answer is obvious–make a lemonade!
I remember lemons were thrown in my direction when my first supervisor decided to retire abruptly in 2005 when I was a Ph.D. student at the University of Calgary. If you have been a graduate student in North America, you will agree that your supervisor is the most important person in the world until you finally get your diploma.  
My first supervisor was to be credited for helping me with the conceptualization of my research topic on connectedness as well as the making of my survey. He was so good with brainstorming with me. Just when I was in the process of doing my preliminary statistical data analyses, he abruptly retired from the University of Calgary and went back to the US with her also American girlfriend whom he later married in the Carribean. Afterwards, my supervisor and I tried to come up with a system through email wherein he could check my progress and edit some of my chapters. After trying for more than a year emailing each other, we both became frustrated and we decided I better find another supervisor who is based in the university and is currently teaching. I found a new supervisor in late 2006, an excellent one who has published more than two hundred journal articles and some books. After reading a couple of my chapters and writing comments on them, he just became inaccessible–he didn’t answer emails and my chapters were put in hold for many months.
My new supervisor didn’t get back to me after 6 months, around June of 2007. By this time, I had learned how to create beautiful Swarovski bracelets, just by reading books on jewelry-making. Some of these bracelets were sold at a Brentwood jewelry store, some have been given to my daughters-in-law, my grand-daughter, and a few to close friends. So when my new supervisor got back to me, I was a different person–I had learned something new! This was how I dealt with the lemons thrown at me when I was a graduate student. I have always had this belief that for every negative event or situation in our lives, all that we need is to come up with something positive. There are always new lessons to learn from even in the most terrible of human condition.

I am grateful to my two supervisors. I might have taken longer to finish my Ph.D. but they helped me figure out how to turn lemons into lemonade.
Have you received life’s lemons lately? Then for goodness’ sake, make a lemonade!

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