Bluebird Lane Blog
Bluebird Lane Blog

Finding Your Lemonade

by Lori Albrough

One of my clients was filling me in on her ongoing training with her young Fjord gelding (she is doing an awesome job with him!) and she used a phrase that I really liked and wanted to share with you.

As she introduced her horse to new experiences, outings, and adventures, if things didn’t go quite the way she had envisioned they would, and consequently didn’t measure up to her expectations, she told me, “I had to find my lemonade”.

Her phrase refers to the old aphorism, “If life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” and what she meant was, “How can I find a way to translate (or view) this outcome in a more positive way?”

When her planned “positive first outing” with her horse turned into a challenge-a-minute for both horse and human, and not quite the young-horse-friendly first outing she had thought she was taking him on, she did not get down on her horse or herself, but instead found the lemonade in the situation:

He loaded and unloaded great. Although overwhelmed, he ended up really getting it together and doing all the obstacles. While he really didn’t like the tarp – he was trying to avoid it or jump it a bit – by the time we got done he’d walk across it and stand on it. He crossed the pedestal, and he didn’t care at all about the big huge inflatable horse soccer ball (which I dribbled on his back!) He also didn’t care about the “garbage pit” (a corner marked off by rails filled with empty plastic jugs and things that you walk the horse through), and he walked under the “fringe” (hanging noodles). He did all this at a strange place, with strange people and strange horses. And when we got home he just unloaded very quietly and was happy to be back with his “homies” in his paddock!

When she enumerated all that had gone well with their outing, she could see that despite the challenges a lot of positives had been achieved, and she could feel good about a situation that hadn’t felt the best at the time.

I think we’ve all been in the situation at one time or another of coming away feeling disappointed, or let-down, or not-cut-out-for-this, when things don’t go the way we envisioned in the training pen (or, life in general). Finding a different point of view, or translation, for the situation will be a life-changing practice if your default position in the past has typically been doubt, despair, or shame. By “default position,” I mean the first place your mind and thoughts go when a “mistake” has been made, when an expectation wasn’t met, when criticism was received, or when some situation sends you into a fall-back position of negativity.

In the process of re-translation, the trick is to not let your mind go into a negative reaction mode and start building a story along the lines of, “Oh Jeez. See? I’ve done it all wrong. What was I thinking that I even thought I could do this? This is God’s way of telling me I should just quit horses and take up crochet.” This line of thinking is going to leave you feeling powerless and helpless.

Instead, you want to learn to stand back and view the situation without the story, minus the drama. You want to see what is positive, and where the learning opportunities are. You learn to say “Huh. What do I need to learn here to break through? What is the lesson this challenge is trying to teach me?”

You know, it seems to me that the difference between happy people and unhappy people is in how they translate the events of their lives. It’s also the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people, although my definition of successful person is basically equivalent to happy person, so there’s really no need to differentiate. If there is one thing we can learn from the success-gurus however, it’s that there is great wisdom in the act of shifting how you translate your life situation. Stephen Covey once said, “How you handle the situation IS the situation.”

I like to take that one step further, and say, “How you translate the situation IS the situation.” Choosing to find the lemonade when things haven’t seemed to have gone your way is a very powerful way to live.


One Response to “Finding Your Lemonade”

  1. Suzanne Dicks wrote:

    Lori- I look forward to your newsletter every week. Even though my horse time has been limited the last year and a half due to knee problems, I am reading your articles for when I am able to get back in the saddle. I have a 7 year old fjord gelding-very personable and I think he’s ready to get under saddle again. We wi definitely be taking it easy to start! Keep your articles and inspiration coming!
    I really enjoy the pictures of your fjords and their stories too.
    Thank you and happy riding! Suzanne Dicks

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