Jessica Latshaw

musician. writer. dancer.

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I taught a 5:50 am class this morning.

And as I walked from the subway to the studio in the Flatiron District, this is what I saw.

A quiet, peaceful, slumbering city.

An unprecedented moment of stillness in the city that never sleeps.

It was magical, actually.

And I am quite impressed by people who take class BEFORE six am.

Because, believe me, you wouldn’t see me in a class at that hour.

Unless, of course, I am the one teaching it.

It’s amazing what we humans can do. I am continually impressed by our resilience and rise-above-ability, when we choose it.

There is a woman who came into my class the other day with a prosthetic leg. There are people who don’t do much with their two whole legs; and here is this woman who won’t let something like that keep her from living the life she wants.

Another woman came into the studio the other day and asked to speak to an instructor. She was young, maybe twenty-five or so.

“I just finished my last chemo treatment,” she said, lowering her voice so as not to let the world in on such a big fact before they even know one little fact.

“Congratulations on finishing, ” I told her, matching her quiet volume.

“My doctor cleared me to exercise, and I am so excited…”

“Of course you are–that’s fantastic.”

And then we talked about what kind of exercise would best suit her, and if Fly Barre was a contender.

And there it is again. That resilience. That fighting spirit. That desire to survive–the will to move on, to take the one half stale lemon we’re left with and, by God, turn it into the best and most sought-after lemonade the world has ever seen.

It’s good because we’ve poured our heart and soul into it. Because it can’t be bought at the grocery store, nor is it a powder that can be mixed with water and served in a jiff. No, this lemonade was made with years that we will never get back. It tastes so sweet right now because we drank all the bitterness, leaving none. Drank it down, and then found that we were still alive, and nobody was more shocked by this then us. We cried tears that we thought nobody saw or cared about; then we read somewhere that God cares about them, puts them in a bottle, even. Didn’t know there were bottles that big; didn’t know that tears are used to make some sweet, sweet nectar, given the right mix of time and grace. Thought they were nothing but a side effect of the bitter pill we had swallowed. Excessive tears at night, the bottle had read. This is normal, the therapists had said.

Which is why we smile inside when people ask us for our lemonade. When they see us pour ourselves out and marvel at any and all beauty that pours out, too. Because we know the truth. They see just a little bit of the story. They taste the wine without seeing all the perfect grapes first trampled by a thousand feet. But you cannot have one without the other, it seems. And so we learn resilience and trust that the arc of the story will swing up, always up, and the lemonade will come once again, from the lemon we find in our lap.


  1. Michele Poplo January 30, 2013

    God bless you, Jessica! I love you, and I know He does too!

    • jessica January 31, 2013

      I love you, too, Michele! 😉

      (and thank you for the always welcome reminder!)

  2. Bruce Latshaw January 31, 2013

    Some exquisite writing here. A consistent theme of your musings is that Romans 8:28 truth–how the Divine Lemonade Maker performs his magic on those lemons in our lives. I wonder how many ways in your bog you’ve re-worded that sublime reality that clearly is central to your life. Perhaps yet another career awaits you: motivational speaker! 🙂 Again, beautifully crafted writing!

    • jessica January 31, 2013

      Thank you, pop!

      And haha I cannot resist quoting you here: “I wonder how many ways in your bog…”

      YOUR BOG!!!

      That made me smile.

      I’ve done it many ways in my bog, I am sure 😉

      But thank you for your kind words; it means a lot.

  3. Rob, the first. January 31, 2013

    It takes a particularly adroit writer to transform an overused cliche like “turn lemons into lemonade” into a solid, inspiring, and poetic essay on life. Well done! Consider it bookmarked;)

    • jessica January 31, 2013

      And it takes a particularly well versed person to employ the word “adroit.”

      And thank you for using it in reference to my writing; I appreciate that very very much:)

  4. Robert February 2, 2013

    Beautiful piece of writing here. Entries like this are what keep me coming back to this place, and always put a huge smile on my face. You really are quite the wordsmith. I truly feel for that young lady. Finishing chemo is no small feat. That’s something i’m more familiar with than I’d like to be. So many people in my life have been affected by Cancer. Some survivors, far to many have not been. What I have found, is that survivors have a new zest for life that you often don’t see in people that haven’t faced such hardships. It’s too bad that it takes such an awful experience to wake some people up to the beauty that is life, but it’s also heart-warming when they finally reach that place. Also, I think your Pops is right about the Motivational Speaker thing, or something along those lines. You’re a healer, Jessica, and sharing that gift is possibly the finest thing one person can do for another. God Bless!

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