This picture has been taped to the kitchen door in my house for several years. It is one of my favorites.
It was an advertisement for something that I can’t remember – lemon zester, juicier, or some sort of magazine maybe. I don’t know. But it was one of those things that hit me just as the right moment, so I kept it.
That moment was several years ago. I was the NHS sponsor at my school, and the committee had to finalize selection for the group. As always, some students were not selected, and their parents were very unhappy about this. Somehow, every year, it was totally MY FAULT that their child was not selected, usually followed by their reasoning that I did not like their child. Yep, because I am totally in charge of selection and there is no committee involved and the sponsor gets to choose only his or her favorites to be inducted…NOT. For those of you not familiar with the process, there is a committee who makes the selection and the NHS sponsor has zero voice in the voting or discussion. But since my name was on the paperwork, I was the one that the parents called, emailed, demanded meetings with immediately despite the fact I was teaching class, met with the principal and headmaster about me, or followed me in the halls demanding an explanation as to why I did not like their child. And they could get very nasty and personal, no matter how logical I was. This one year was particularly rough, and I was quickly getting to the end of what I could tolerate and still be civil.
And then, just to have five minutes to think about something else, I picked up a magazine, and there it was:
You will not be brought down by uncooperative citrus.
I laughed until I cried.
I would not be brought down by uncooperative citrus.
There was nothing I could do to change the situation or their reaction to it, but I could change my reaction. And I could use it as a teaching moment, for them and for myself. I refused to let that big lemon life was handing me sit on me and take charge. I had to refuse to let them take charge of my emotions by simply reacting; I had to act.
There have been many more times since then that I have had to deal with the uncooperative citrus of life. I am no longer teaching high school or an NHS sponsor, so that is not the issue. But there are so many time when things happen that I simply cannot control – events running late, students who refuse to follow rules, administrative decisions, traffic, weather, the loaded bar that won’t go up or squats that don’t happen in CrossFit, the dog getting sick on the floor, people who blame me for things that are not my fault – but I can control my reaction to it. Sure, I react to it and feel anger or frustration or hurt, but I am just stubborn enough to not let that get the best of me. It is what I do on the other side of that moment of frustration or anger or hurt that makes the difference. I have to act.
It is perfectly okay to be upset, sad, frustrated, angry, or hurt, but it is what you do on the other side of those that is the most important. How do you pick yourself up and get going again?
How do you refuse to be brought down by uncooperative citrus?