When Life Hands You Lemons… by John Erickson

“When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to make applesauce.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about something my grandmother would always tell me: “When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to make applesauce.” I know, it sounds crazy, but life right now appears to be more on the crazy than the sane side.

We’re all in a state of uncertainty right now. The news is scary. Twitter is scary. Heck, even TikTok is losing parts of its humor. Everywhere we seem to turn, it’s more information about COVID-19, new cases, new lockdowns, and new things that we shouldn’t do for the foreseeable future.

During these difficult times, people turn to their community to help get them through. However, what does community look like when it’s forced online and the things that we rely on the most (hugs, high fives, and being within 6’ of each other) are no longer possible?

LemonsI’ve written a lot about the LGBTQ community and people that create their own community in the absence of our normally defined bonds that bring people together. Specifically, if there is one thing that I find amazing about people during times of disaster is how we often take lemons and turn them into applesauce. Even when we think that we have all the ingredients to get the outcome we need, life has a delicate way of reminding us that sometimes we have to roll with the punches and be ok with an outcome we never expected (read: applesauce).

My community right now has been my work, my activism, being a leader (albeit from my home) for the organizations I currently am at the helm for, and my friends. As a person who has suffered from asthma my entire life, it’s become quite an obstacle to not be able to go outside and to remain isolated out of fear for my actual life.

While it may be scary, life must go on and we must fight for the causes (and people) we cared about and fought for pre-COVID-19. We must not forget that President Trump knew about how much of a pandemic COVID-19 would become in January and didn’t want to alarm the public out of fear it would hurt his election chances. While he had blood on his hands before, he now has to deal with an actual pandemic where he will prioritize his re-election chances over the lives of our grandparents and those that are at high risk for COVID-19.


I don’t want to remind people about the atrocities our country (and the world) have faced under President Trump. Although we’re in a global pandemic, that doesn’t mean that we can forget about the men, women, and children being held in cages at the border. We cannot forget about people impacted by the justice system, people being incarcerated and imprisoned, people experiencing homelessness, students who now taking classes online and many who won’t get to experience graduation ceremonies and gathering with their friends and families to celebrate their incredible accomplishments. Most importantly, we cannot forget to stop fighting for each other.

While I’ve never been much of a prayerful person, I’ve found myself listening more and more to the advice my grandmother gave me and taking these lemons and turning them into applesauce.

I urge you all to do the same thing during this stressful time. I urge you all to keep sending letters to your elected officials pressing them to keep fighting for the right causes no matter what is happening in the world. I urge you all to keep attending meetings (albeit via Zoom) with your friends and organizations to make sure the fight doesn’t stop and I urge you all to never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.

And last, but certainly not least, wash your hands and stay home.

John Erickson holds a Ph.D. in American Religious History as well as two MA’s from Claremont Graduate University. John served as a commissioner on the California Commission on the Status of Women. He is President of the Hollywood Chapter for the National Organization for Women, a Planning Commissioner for the City of West Hollywood, President of the Board for the ACLU of Southern California, the Legislative Action Chair for Stonewall Democratic Club, and a board member for the National Organization for Women.  

Author: John M. Erickson

Mayor Pro Tempore John M. Erickson was elected to the West Hollywood City Council on November 3, 2020 with the commitment to uphold the city’s founding vision for a forward-thinking, diverse and tolerant community. Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson first planted roots in West Hollywood in 2010 when he was selected to intern for the City Council. The internship set him on a path that connected his work for social and economic justice with his passion for public service. He went on to become Council Deputy to former Mayor Abbe Land and then served as City’s Community Affairs where he advanced policies and programs to increase awareness around LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, the environment, and civic engagement. After leaving City Hall, Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson served as a Legislative Representative at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) and is currently the Interim Vice President of Public Affairs, Communications, and Marketing at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. The immediate past Vice-Chair of the City’s Planning Commission, Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson’s priorities on the City Council include: overcoming COVID through sensible health practices and economic recovery; creating more affordable housing and protecting renters’ rights; reducing traffic through alternative transportation strategies, fighting climate change and making our city more sustainable; and implementing policies that make the city truly free of prejudice and welcoming to all. Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson has earned a reputation as a fearless, tenacious and effective voice for those who need one. His advocacy work includes serving a National Board member of the National Organization for Women and President of the ACLU Southern California. In 2017, he became Governor Brown’s appointee to the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and served as an organizer for both the Resist March and the historic Women’s March, Los Angeles that year. He serves on the Board of the Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson was part of the End Statute of Limitation on Rape (ERSOL) Campaign, which overturned California’s statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault in 2016. Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson received his Ph.D. in American Religious History from Claremont Graduate University and a Dual-Master’s Degree from Claremont Graduate University. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a B.A. in English and Women’s Studies.

5 thoughts on “When Life Hands You Lemons… by John Erickson”

  1. John, bravo! Excellent post, especially that you remember your grandmother. Yes, indeed, we need all the applesauce we can get nowadays. We’ve got plenty of lemons, especially the almost totally dysfunctional government in Washington, D.C.–let’s grind all those guys up and add appropriate spices like kindness and efficiency, and turn them into applesauce.

    Thanks for writing as cheerfully as you could today. Yes, let’s all stay home and read good novels or watch DVDs of shows we love. And stay safe and comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading articles you write John are like a breath of fresh air… Like you, I too am at high risk and have to travel… It is important that everyone knows that Trump SUPPRESSED this pandemic – and we must do what we can to support one another and get that news out – it might help defeat him… However, there is more – scientists have known about this threat since 2015 and written/ PUBLISHED papers (2017). They were ignored as were the Climatologists who have been telling us that with Climate Change pandemics were going to be an escalating threat – No one has been listening and so culpability belongs to the people as well. We cannot continue to destroy our planet in such egregious ways without consequences…. what about the billions of animals? – not to mention trees – they count too. And just now in isolation the latter comprise my community.

    Liked by 1 person

Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: