“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

I am a huge fan of lemon. Lemon anything and everything: lemon candy, Spaghetti al Limone, Thai Lemon Chicken, lemon bars, lemon vinaigrette, lemon gelato, lemon cupcakes, lemon popsicles, and my very favourite – from Paris of course – the Tarte au citron meringuée! 

I actually squeeze lemon right into my mouth. I could go on all day, but I think you're getting it. 

So when life whipped a thousand lemons my way almost two years ago, it was my family, his family, our friends, the dog, a therapist, a doctor, a life coach, a spiritual healer, mentors, colleagues, and even strangers (basically, an entire village!) who helped me to make some pretty sweet lemonade. 

I'm writing this for those readers out there who are, perhaps, in need of a little inspiration themselves – for those in need of their own lemonade.

Experiencing an emotional breakdown is a lonely place to be, but believe me – you are far from being alone. If you feel like reaching out to someone who has been there, done that… please feel free: info@mybeautifulparis.com

Without getting into the devastating details, the gist of it is that my marriage fell apart. And it was a relatively young marriage, to boot. There really are no words for the amount of sorrow and humiliation that I experienced, so why dwell. (By the way, I used to think that Diane Keaton's crying scene in As Good as It Gets was hugely overacted. NOPE! She got it right. All of it!)

What I do dwell on is this new person who very slowly crawled out from a dark, horrible place and emerged into someplace pretty fantastic.

Who's that, you ask?


"Norma: you have been handed an enormous gift here," said Carla Coulson, my life coach. "You just don't see it yet."

I see it now. The benefit of being broken is the chance you have been given to rebuild. It's a makeover that money can't buy. And in a bizarre way that I only now understand, I am thankful. I desperately needed the shake-up and can admit that life was too easy for me. Everyone and everything is far more precious to me now. Gratitude has a whole new meaning.

The hardest piece of advice I kept hearing was "time heals." I HATED it! I was feeling every minute of every day, so time was not on my side. My favourite time of day was going to sleep, and my least favourite time was waking up. This went on for well over a year. I wanted to sock the next person right in the face who told me, "time heals." But in the end, eventually, it was time to heal, and my biggest piece of advice is to use this medicine wisely.

Two random things that made me smile during my worst moments were: Googling kittens and smiling at strangers. I know, it sounds silly. But try it.

Writing in my journal (I'm now at over 100,000 words!) and travelling, though both were difficult to do, also kept me sane.

The first time I travelled after the breakup was on a road trip to Pittsburgh and to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house. The itinerary was created by a friend who quite literally forced me to go. "Go do something!" he said. So he took my little pup Oscar for the night and off I went in a state of zombieness on a 14-hour car ride. I quickly discovered that pushing yourself out of your comfort zone was key to rebuilding. That Pittsburgh trip was the beginning, and a significant part, of my healing.  

The people who helped me through this deserve so much more than a sentence, but for now, please be assured that is the understatement of the decade to say I couldn't have done it without you.   

I'm ending off with a plate of pancakes! Why? Because they are lemon!

They are lemon ricotta pancakes from the Four Seasons in Florence – where I am headed to next. In early May I will be Florence bound for an exciting collaboration with the Four Seasons Firenze. I am super excited about this one and will fill you in as we get closer.

As far as my marriage goes – well, it's not over just yet. There is still a whole lot of mutual love there. Only time will tell. Gasp! There's that word again…


Image credits:

1 - via http://mykugelhopf.ch/

3 - Photographer Unknown