— Life —

Reduce Stress, Squeeze Lemons

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My, how times have changed.

There are two budding entrepreneurs in my neighborhood who occasionally have a lemonade stand close to my house. I always try to stop by, encouraging them with my words and my money. I’m not sure how much they actually sell, as we live in a pretty rural area, but these elementary-age ladies are showing early signs of the creativity, risk-taking and drive that makes self-starters successful.

However, when I stopped by over the weekend, there was something new on their table. When I asked what they were selling, the “boss lady,” who is probably 10-years-old said, “stress balls.” Stress balls? There on the table was a lineup of brightly colored balloons filled with cornstarch.

When did we transition from a cup of lemonade that brightens our day to needing therapy through squeezing a stress ball?

Me: “Stress balls! Well, that’s creative! How much are they?”

Boss Lady: “ We have two sizes. Fifty cents for the small ones, and a dollar for the big ones. We have several different colors to choose from.”

Me: “Well, give me a big one. That orange one is really pretty. I have lots of stress!”

So here we are, teaching our young girls about stress at an early age. Instead of witnessing us enjoying life, they watch us as we’re overwhelmed, crabby and exhausted. Instead of seeing us taking life in stride, they discern we’re overstressed and overworked because we can’t say no; we view our busyness as badges of honor, and we seldom indulge in a bit of pampering. As entrepreneurs, they’re solving a problem they perceive is widespread, perhaps believing the stress ball business will be more profitable than lemonade. After all, aren’t all adults stressed?

Is someone watching you? Are you modeling a life that needs a stress ball, or a cup of lemonade? What would serve you better right now as you take a five-minute break?

I encourage you to create a lemonade-filled life, one that enjoys a slower pace with more white space on your calendar. Yes, there is so much to get done! But it will all be there tomorrow, and the next day and the next. As the old adage says: Every day is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.

The next time I see these young ladies on the corner with their stress balls, I’ll stop and say, ”My life is so great that I don’t really have stress! But here’s a dollar for your business anyway. Don’t ever stop creating! And remember to enjoy life along the way.”

When life gets stressful, squeeze lemons, make a pitcher of lemonade, and invite a friend over to enjoy the refreshment. It’s much more fun than squeezing a stress ball!





  • Brenda Coffee March 27, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Susan, It’s an alarming reflection of our times when 10-year-old girls switch from selling lemonade to stress balls. Who’s watching us, indeed! xoxox, Brenda

  • Susan Tolles March 29, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Brenda, we can’t even imagine what it will be like when these girls are adults! I hope they find sources of refreshment and renewal in ways other than squeezing stress balls as they are multi-tasking.

  • Jen March 29, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    My kids make those too. Must be something they teach at school now. Sign of the times!!

    • Susan Tolles April 2, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Well, if they are learning about stress balls at school, they are certainly learning from a source that NEEDS those things! Teachers are some of most stressed people in the workplace. They need more than balls to squeeze! Maybe something “special” in their lemonade.

  • Esther Zimmer March 30, 2017 at 11:46 am

    This is frightening, but not surprising! When will not just parents, but each of us, finally learn that it doesn’t only matter what we say – but also what we do? Children pick up on everything, I think so carefully about the life I model to my nieces – but I’m sure I could still make vast improvements! Esther xx

  • Susan Tolles April 2, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    Esther, I have become keenly aware of how true this is now that I have a 4-year-old granddaughter. She is a mirror of her mommy and me! I try to infuse everything I say with kindness and grace. So far, so good! But I shudder to think what it will be like when she starts school and hears all sorts of language from her classmates–even in elementary school.

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