If Life Gives You Limes, Make Margaritas

If Life Gives You Limes, Make Margaritas

I had an ethical dilemma about 5 years ago that was solved with one simple Facebook response.

I used to workout at 24-hour Fitness in my then neighborhood where garage parking was limited, so I'd do street parking, which put me only a block away from the gym, but directly in the path of a bountiful lime bush that hung over the homeowner's property line and onto the sidewalk I passed to get to my workout. This was a problem for me because I'm a fool for fresh citrus and anything else I can pick and eat.

The temptation was too much. I'd hurriedly pluck 4 or 5 limes off the bush before speeding away trying to look innocent--happy that the homeowner didn't step out on the porch in time to catch me mid pluck. I felt like I'd stolen, but I also felt justified. Technically, the bush spilled over onto public property, the sidewalk owned by the City of Houston and designated for public use, so anything in its path was fair game, right?

Convince myself with all the pseudo legal talk as I might, I still had a twinge of guilt for picking limes off of the bush. I wondered if taking them was unethical, even if technically legal, so I did what 21st century people do. I took the matter to Facebook to ask all 500+ of my friends. 

You never know how things on Facebook will turn out, so imagine my surprise when I got a simple, yet profound reply from one of my good friends.

She simply said, "Life has given you limes. Make limeade, dammit!" The "dammit," no doubt, to emphasize how difficult I was making this come-up.


She couldn't have cared less about the circumstances, technicalities, or any legal mumbo jumbo surrounding the limes. If turning limes into limeade is a matter of turning something supposedly bad into something good, then the point was, I had limes at my disposal and in my possession to do something with, dammit!


In life, metaphorical limes (discontentment, a raggedy area of your life, challenging circumstances, or plain ole problems) are a little different, though just as sour. First, you don't get excited about them. Second, there's no good recipes on Pinterest for them. And third, there are no life hacks for avoiding them. If I may...metaphorical limes suck.

Sometimes we pick life's limes by making mistakes or bad decisions. And sometimes a bushel of limes gets dropped in our laps. Whatever things we have going in our lives (that we wish were not) and whatever things we don't have going in our lives (that we wish were), can leave a bitter taste in our mouths.

I won't encourage you to act like sour isn't sour when it really is, as if to suggest that we should ignore pain, disappointment, or discontentment. I wouldn't think of asking you to not flinch at the sharp first taste, as if to suggest that we shouldn't react to things that are jarring. 

If we are to turn limes into limeade, then I believe the first step is acknowledging what we have on our hands in the first place--an issue. Shit gets rough sometimes and negating any measure of pain or disappointment with disregard is like acting like lime juice ain't sour. I'm not talking about complaining. I'm talking about just being honest with yourself enough to say, "I don't feel good about this situation. It sucks and I wish things were different."

After acknowledging the situation, it's time to go to work in the lab. To, like a chemist, change the composition of the formula. Yep, you got stuck with a lime, but it's time to take that lime and make it work for you.


According to Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur, Author, and professional cusser of the sailor variety, complaining is a loser's game.

The wiser I become, the more convinced I am of that. I find myself doing less complaining (it never helps anyways) and more manipulating problems so they work in my favor or more acting to mitigate discomfort associated with the problem.

  • Have to drive to work everyday in traffic?
    Buy audio books and get smarter.
  • Work stressing me out?
    Leave early or take a day off.
  • Haven't had a date in a while?
    Hop on a dating app to make it happen.
  • Feeling drab?
    Shave my legs for goodness sakes.
  • Overwhelmed with responsibility? 
    Prioritize, then say "yes" to what's important and "no" to what's not.
  • Tons of goals and not enough time?
    Accomplish one goal per month for a huge end-of-the-year win. 
  • Don't have the job I want?
    Figure out what to do to get it.
  • Out of shape?
    Dedicate 30 minutes a day to sweating.

The point is, I've found that by doing something positive and progressive about the things in my life that I'm least happy with, the composition of those issues, along with my perspective, changes little by little. And that's a relief.

Even though limeade isn't my drink of choice, I understood my friend's message. So when life gives me limes, instead of worrying, complaining, or ignoring the issue, I acknowledge what I have, then squeeze the limes, add triple sec and tequila to make a margarita. Dammit.


Photo credits: Andy via CC Flickr & Hoach Le Dinh via Unsplash