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how to make kick-ass lemonade

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Hi there - Nice to see you again.

You know when the world seems to offer you a whole lot of weird lemons?

My word this week is widdershins. It was one of my "A.Word.A.Day" words last week, thanks to

What is widdershins, you might ask? It means “in a direction contrary to the sun's course”, or counterclockwise, and it’s considered unlucky.

This past week offered all kinds of widdershins. And, you know, everything means nothing, or everything means something, depending on how you look at. I prefer something, which meant that I considered this week ripe with opportunity to make some kick-ass lemonade.

Making lemonade is pretty easy in theory, right? You take some lemons, you mix in some sugar, and there you have it. However, when life continually brings on the lemons, it can feel hard to muster up enough sugar to temper the sour: You don’t always make a batch to your liking. Nonetheless, you keep on trying, because, as I heard this week in a documentary called Heal:

Choose and focus on the possibility of what you want...We have the power to heal...Put it into action: Fall down, get back up. Fall down, get back up...Never give up.

That documentary reminded me of the first tip when it comes to making kick-ass lemonade:

#1: Get out of the way.

In other words: Keep the faith.

Heal is a documentary about the power of the mind and the body’s ability to self-heal. As stated toward the beginning of the film:

It’s not just that disease starts in the mind, it’s that everything starts in the mind.

Or how about this one:

Every organ can heal itself...We just have to get out of the way.

Interesting idea, right? And so much truth there. Fear and resistance close you off, but faith keeps you open. Sometimes you have to just make a deal with yourself to keep on keepin’ on through the widdershins – to get back up when you fall down, and to go through the muck that you don’t want to go through because it’s uncomfortable and vulnerable and a reminder that maybe you are still a work in progress, after all. Faith creates space for awareness, compassion, and some kick-ass empowered lemonade.

#2: Sometimes you have to just pull the pork.

My sisters and I had a cocktail experience last week that just got more and more bizarre. We met at The Aviary, though the plan was to meet at The Office – a speakeasy attached to The Aviary. As Sum later said, there was a lot of smoke and mirrors going on.

First, the process: Leah and I arrived first. We didn’t have a reservation, and we had absolutely no idea how to actually get to The Office. The first hostess we spoke to directed us toward two other hostesses about ten feet away, whom, after learning that we had no reservation (but just wanted drinks), deliberated in hushed tones and ultimately led us to a The Aviary. We were more than a little confused. As Leah put it, “Maybe it’s one of those places where, if you have to ask, you don’t get in?”

The waiter finally arrived...then disappeared for about twenty minutes. Luckily, we needed about that long to make any sense at all of the menu, which was full of what we presumed were $20+ cocktails, yet had descriptions like, in the case of the Wake and Bake, “pillow, orange, everything bagel, coffee, rye”.

Was it a drink? Food? A drink and food? We had absolutely no idea (a running theme of the evening), but we all ordered one. Sum opted for Bring Another Smurf!, which included something called “butterfly pea powder”. I went for what seemed relatively basic – How Does Snoop Dogg Use Lemongrass?, which included “ginger snow” and “swizzle”. We also asked the waiter for a snack recommendation.

A few minutes later, two waiters arrived with what appeared to be some sort of table centerpiece – a square glass vase with odd, tan, plant-like (?) objects – along with a small plate of what looked like hummus and a big round vial that looked like herb-infused olive oil, except that it was cold.

We had absolutely no idea.

Well, as it turns out, the supposed centerpiece was, in fact, the pork skins we ordered. It just looked like...a skin. A big skin, right there in the middle of the table. I wish I had captured a photo of the expressions of all four of us when we realized that – but the image is forever burned in my brain.

The other three all had one bite and said, “I’m good.” And there it sat. Sum asked if we could get some bread for the dip.

Then the drinks came. My sister’s came in what looked like a tall glass teapot, with something on top. The waiter instructed her to eat the tasty morsel in the coconut shell, then blow into the spout to “mix” her drink.

As it turns out, the waiter was apparently confused by my drink order and brought me what we thought was the olive oil instead. I mean...two of us got the same drink, so we had three drinks total, and he messed up one of them. Call me judgmental, but come on, dude: You have one job.

The pork was still just chilaxin’ on the table, being it’s weird self. We contemplated putting it on the floor, so we didn’t have to look at it. Luckily, our waiter soon came back with my correct drink order, and we asked if he could “pull the pork”.

My glass contained an angled pile of what was presumably the “ginger snow”, with some jalapeno slices on top. I was instructed to pour the vodka from the accompanying vial into the glass, then use the lemongrass “swizzle” to stir and, thus, dissolve the snow.

It all just seemed like more than was necessary, and not in an interesting kind of way, but in a ridiculous kind of way.

A different waiter came over, popped a thoughtful waiter squat, and asked with sincerity if we didn’t like the taste of the pork. He said that they had never had this issue before.

To which Sum’s friend replied, in honest seriousness, “’s actually the size.”

The rest of us completely lost it. We were officially that table of, well, completely normal people, who couldn’t help but laugh in wonder at this entire situation, all of which seemed to make absolutely no sense at all.

There was so much widdershins, but we made some kick-ass lemonade – much better and much cheaper than those $20+ cocktails.

Sometimes you have to just pull the pork.

#3: Wallow, write, and work with the widdershins.

D and I were supposed to head to Florida last weekend for an all-paid, annual company retreat in Miami. But...false alarm: Our flight was cancelled four hours before departure, and there were literally no other possible flights until Sunday afternoon.

Friday night was rough. I wallowed a bit, I wrote a bit, and then I slowly pulled myself together. Together, D and I decided to work with the widdershins and have a staycation. We went out to two dinners and a brunch, we went to a random comedy club two blocks from home, and we even went to a first birthday “Red Egg and Ginger” party in Chinatown (look it up, it's an interesting tradition) – complete with live music, hula dancers, and Chinese dragons. We schlepped to IKEA for a new rug and pillows. We had coffee in bed with NPR, we walked through Central Park to the museum planetarium, we explored a Grand Bazaar Sweet & Spicy flea market, and we watched the Oscars. D even used his handyman skills to fix my phone case and build me a tiny shelf for slightly-better organization under our bathroom sink. We had a beautifully stress-free weekend of F-U-N fun.

You know what? You can always choose, and we chose to make some kick-ass lemonade from a sky pelting us with lemons (and a whole lot of terrible weather).

So, there you go:

  • Get out of the way.

  • Pull the pork.

  • Wallow, write, and work with the widdershins.

What’s your kick-ass lemonade recipe?

Thanks for stopping by. And keep sharing your stories, because someone wants to hear them.


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