Mel with the Shingle Flat trail crew after their project on National Trails Day. Living vicariously through volunteer energy is another way she is making lemonade!

By Melanie Vining, ITA Executive Director

My summer recently took a hard right turn. On Wednesday, May 15th, I had a calendar full of ITA trips, hiking trips, trail runs, and outside projects at my house. On Thursday, May 16th, I was lying prone on a stretcher, bound for Boise on Life Flight with a broken pelvis after a fluky horse wreck just a quarter mile from my house (I think I reinforced the car-wreck-close-to-home version of some statistic there).

By the following Monday, I’d had surgery and was the proud owner of a major collection of Home Depot-looking hardware holding me together. The surgeon’s orders: twelve weeks of non-weight bearing on my right leg, then a slow progression of physical therapy to get back to my normal activities. In the blink of an eye my summer calendar became about doctor visits and a giant circle around August 12th, when I could put some weight on my right leg again.

Lemons. That’s what I felt I’d been handed a super-sized order of. But then people showed up with flowers, books to occupy my time, well-wishes, offers to help wherever we needed them, dinners for our kids, a pile of lotto tickets for me to scratch (because your friends know your vices). My husband and my mom never left my side. My high school and college-aged kids held down the fort at home in addition to taking finals and working. Two weeks in the hospital flew by because I was overcome with gratitude; my lemons became lemonade.

How could I not feel positive and optimistic about recovery with so many people supporting me? How could I not look at the lessons in perseverance and patience and empathy to be learned through this trial? Sure it sucks- who wants to be injured- but, challenge accepted.

I haven’t always been a “bright side” person. I am a worry wart and can dream up all the ways something can go sideways if I’m given enough idle time. I can think something to death. But I have always been a “doer”. Action keeps my mind quiet; making a plan and executing it feels good. That’s the mindset I am nurturing through this summer. Of course there are hard days, when it feels like progress is going backward, pain is unmanageable, and I feel exceedingly sorry for myself. My husband, in these times, has been the rock I can lean on until I “get my mind right” again. My kids are a light each day and remind me to be resilient and have grit.

And so, I foster a “lemonade mindset”. The recipe, for me, has been allowing myself to lean, literally, on my family and friends (I need “Melsitting” 24/7 right now in case I fall from my walker or some other mishap), focusing on what I CAN do (So many little exercises from the physical therapist! Reading! Knitting!), creating a calendar of milestones, and filling myself with gratitude for all I have vs. what I don’t. Nothing new or revolutionary, just being proactive.

Your recipe for lemonade when life delivers a truckload of lemons may be different. But do you have a plan for how to turn a bleak situation positive? How to focus on the full part of the glass? Have you practiced this thinking? For us outdoor types, who draw our strength from Nature, adventure, the trail, this can be difficult. It requires finding new ways to fill our tanks, new sources of peace. But our love of these pursuits can also drive us forward through challenge, make us find Nature’s beauty and small adventures on our own back porch, feet from our limited-mobility noses. That’s where I’m at- watching the hummingbirds feed and bees alight on June flower beds as I complete tiny leg exercises-  and I hope sharing this helps someone else who finds a pile of lemons in their lap.