Inspiration Musings

Food For Thought: If Life Throws You Lemons Turn Them Into Lemonade

What I love about meeting people through this blog is that we all have similar stories about how photography has shaped our lives.

Today, I'm delighted to share a guest post with you from one of my very first readers Saxon Templeton from Thirty Summers.  Whilst Thirty Summers is not a food photography blog, we have similar philosophy's about 'Escaping Ordinary' and I just love the idea behind it. I know a lot of us have similar realisations in life and are striving to do more of the things we love.

So take it away Saxon!


Perfumed lemons. How things can change!

Up until about two years ago I had a fantastic life in every way. I hadn’t encountered many, if any, speed humps along the way. I’d been very lucky. I wasn’t rich materially you could say but if ‘lifestyle’ was a currency I was very wealthy indeed. I had a very successful marketing career in the travel industry enabling me to travel extensively, a wide circle of dear friends and a wonderful young family.

Food for thought. If life throws you lemons turn them into lemonade

Then one day – Boom! I developed a condition called Chemical Sensitivity. And everything changed. I mean everything and pretty much overnight. A complete life transformation. But not in a pleasant Namaste kind of way.

It impacted, and impacts, almost every aspect of my day-to-day life. Think of this condition as an allergy response to many common ‘petro-chemicals’. Things like inks, solvents, paints, nail polish, cleaning agents, shampoos, deodorants etc, etc… you get the picture. Now pause for a second.

Think how you would go trying to avoid these in your normal daily routines. Hmmm… how would you do?

It got to the point where going to work everyday was making me sicker and sicker. I was a marketing manager for a very large travel firm and 80 percent of our workforce was female. Trouble was their perfume was making me so ill. It was all-pervading and unavoidable. Many of the scores of chemicals in perfumes simply serve to amplify aromas. Fragrances of course are made to be smelled. It’s is their raison d’etre.

Nasty chemicals in perfumes and I just weren’t getting on. So one of us had to go.

And the one that went was me.

Did you guess correctly? Well done. Gold star and smiley face for you if you did.

So there I was a work-a-holic without work. Nasty paradox that one. However I got to thinking. Was my situation all bad? Could I find some positives? Pleasingly I could. In fact I found many. The more I pondered the more I discovered.

Food for thought. If life throws you lemons turn them into lemonade

Reframing my priorities.

Only after leaving my job could I actually see how my career had been enveloping me. Worse still I saw that it was also validating me. I was defined by the number 000s on my pay-check and the job title on my business card. I assure you it didn’t feel bad. Life was grand. Or so it seemed.

If you had asked me back then to talk about myself it would have been one hundred percent about my corporate achievements.

Certainly no talk of how gorgeous the dimples on my son’s face are. No recognition of how precious and fleeting it is being able to still hold hands with my beautiful eight-year-old daughter before I become even more uncool and “totes embarrassment” to her.

My family is everything. Lucky then that I have a simply marvellous one. Well 99.98% of the time.

We also seem to spend a lifetime aspiring to material benchmarks don’t we. Keeping up with the Jones’. But little, if any time, being thankful for what we have. I’ve heard it put nicely as…

You can have what you want – or – want what you have!’

Food for thought. If life throws you lemons turn them into lemonade

“Black dot it”.

Many years ago I learned a little about Taoism during a conference I was attending. I know weird right?! It had a huge impact on me even though things were superb in life and love at the time. The main take-out for me was to do with their religious iconography. Yin and Yang. (Did you know that this was a Taoist symbol? Yes – well then, another smiley face for you)

Food for thought. If life throws you lemons turn them into lemonade

When your life is mainly good (the white side of the symbol) there may be irritations or frustrations that impact you. You may even let them grow out of proportion. These are represented by the black dot.

I often used to use this sentiment as a verbal mantra. For those things that you knew you shouldn’t stew over. Mere flies in the ointment. I actually used to say “Just black dot it” and move on. It’s powerful and it works. Try it!

Alternatively there will be, for all of us, times that are truly bleak that test and challenge us. The black side of the circle. But look closely. There is a white dot. Within the chaos you can find calm. Search in the ‘white’ and you will find opportunity. A Leonard Cohen lyric touches on the same sentiment with this wonderful line

“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.

For sure I’m in the darker side of the circle right now but my white dot is growing and growing and growing!

The rule of three.

One of my best friends counselled me early into this journey about something that he “lives by”. I found it profound. But don’t dare tell him ok! Our relationship is pretty damn blokey. It’ll be our secret. He said he believes everyone needs:

  • Something to do
  • Something to look forward to
  • And someone to love.

Amen to that! And guess what I have all three and in spades. How lucky am I!

Food for thought. If life throws you lemons turn them into lemonade

Something to do.

Whilst I am recovering I am ticking off many of the creative pursuits that I know I would have never been able to do without this profound change in my life. Key among these is photography.

In particular I love street photography and have alway loved social anthropology. That’s the posh term for people-watching. I have always been fascinated by what people do and even more-so with why they are doing it. I think that’s why I love travel so much.


Food for thought. If life throws you lemons turn them into lemonade

Gestures and facial expressions are a universal and genuine language. Much more so than words which can be contrived. I love trying to capture that innate candour in my photography. At least that’s the plan.

In the words of that doyenne of women’s publishing – Carine Roitfeld, former editor of Paris Vogue

“I don’t take photographs, I tell stories”

Food for thought. If life throws you lemons turn them into lemonade


In Summary.

If life if good right now – GREAT! Savour it. Be in the moment and for those pesky little things – just ‘black dot’ them.

Conversely if life is tough right now. Fight hard. Hang in there. Look for options and outlets. Reframe everything. Find the ‘white dot’. Believe me it does exist and it can help.

All the very best


Saxon Templeton Thirty Summers

Founder of lifestyle blog Thirty Summers, a place for people to come and Escape Ordinary with a focus on travel and photography. Lover of innovation and innovators. Loather of details. Visual Storyteller.

How are you reframing those lemons in your life? What’s your white dot?


Related: Experiencing Life Doesn’t Happen Through Your Lens



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  • Reply Rachel Korinek June 30, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I think one great takeaway from this Saxon is that there are going to be things in our lives that happen that aren’t in our control, and so feeling sorry for ourselves doesn’t help. Life doesn’t really owe us anything, so reframing ‘want what you have’ is a really powerful. Be grateful everyday and take those moment of pleasure and happiness however fleeting. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Saxon July 1, 2016 at 11:14 am

      Thanks for having me over. I forgot to wipe my shoes before I came in, sorry about that. Yup – the only constant in life is change. Cheers

  • Reply Laura | Wandercooks June 30, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I love that mantra Saxon. It’s really important to keep those black dots in perspective and not let them overwhelm all the good things in life, so I’ll definitely be training myself to use this mantra going forward. I wish you all the best as you recover and adapt to this new way of living. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Reply Saxon July 1, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Cheers Laura. Yup ‘Black Dotting’ things is really empowering. I haven’t been able to make them work for parking tickets and inspectors yet though 😉

  • Reply Sarah @ Wandercooks June 30, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Saxon! Awesome post – absolutely love your positive outlook on life. Ah – and the people watching. While I love taking photos of food, capturing those unique and spontaneous moments of people overseas is simply captivating.

    • Reply Saxon July 1, 2016 at 11:09 am

      Thx Sarah. Never tried food photography. I am very unsuccessful at cooking the stuff so I would imagine I’d be useless at photographing it. NYC and France are my fav places to visit mainly due to the people and the street photo opportunities. Happy snapping whatever is in front of your lens 🙂

  • Reply Marisa Franca @ All Our Way June 30, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing, Saxon! When something touches my heart and mind I reread it! After I write this I will think about what you said and then I’ll reread the post. I’m sorry for what you’ve had to face but I’m glad that you are finding your lemonade. The last two weeks have been tough but I will get through, hopefully smarter and stronger. Journey well!!

    • Reply Saxon July 1, 2016 at 11:10 am

      ‘White Dot’ Marisa. White dot! It exists 🙂

  • Reply Nataša November 9, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Great post! Indeed, I love all of the post on your website, so much useful information, thank you so much.
    I am to happy to see the first photo, it’s from my country 🙂 🙂 The place is called Bled and it’s really beautiful.

    Cheers to Australia from Slovenia,

    • Reply Rachel November 15, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Hi Natasa! That’s great isn’t it. Looks very beautiful. SO glad you’re finding it helpful.

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