Roll with the Punches.


“The key to success is often the ability to adapt.”
~Unknown

When I was a little girl – three, maybe four – my favorite phrase was “roll with the punches and make the best of things.” I apparently doled out that advice to anyone who would listen, which says a lot, seeing as how I was pretty much the quietest kid ever when I was around people I didn’t know. Fast forward more than two decades, and I find myself needing to remember that go-with-the-flow attitude more than ever. As a planner and a doer, that’s tough sometimes. After all, when you have your future mapped out and it’s just a matter of having all the steps fall into place, you want that to happen as soon as possible. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t the case. I’d be lying if I said I don’t wake up every morning and wish for it to be the day that changes my life.

But what about the changes we can never imagine? What about the ones that come out of nowhere, take us by storm, and alter the course we’ve been sailing along so steadily? We can’t always control the direction we travel – sometimes a burst of wind makes everything all topsy-turvy – but we can anchor the boat and steer it along a current of our own choosing. Case in point: my mother had a bad fall over the summer (an errant wave knocked her down in the ocean) and has been going to physical therapy for a fractured knee for nine months now. And, as fate would have it, it’s her right knee, which means she can’t drive. On top of that, my grandmom had an equally bad fall two weeks ago and ended up with three different fractures. Note to self: walk very, very carefully for … well, forever. My grandmom’s at an in-patient rehab facility for a few weeks until she heals enough to go home, which means lots of visits and pick-me-ups. It also means that I may as well just be living in my car these days. Between driving my mom to PT and driving her to visit my grandmom (keep in mind, this rehab place is thirty-five minutes away without traffic), I’m pretty sure that I could navigate the roads with my eyes squeezed shut. It is, of course, more than worth it – the look on my grandmom’s face when we walk into her room and the sweet gratitude that’s reflected in every word remind me that I’d drive to the ends of the earth if I had to – but it’s also an adjustment. An adaptation. A change to the schedule.

Does it mean waking up even earlier to squeeze in a few hours of writing time every morning? Yes. Does it mean printing out some pages to edit as I wait during my mom’s PT sessions? Yes. Does it mean wanting to bang my head against a brick wall whenever one of the employees there feels the need to whistle EVERY SINGLE TIME a new song comes on the radio? Anyone who follows me on twitter knows the answer to that question. I’ve refrained from launching into a speech about the work I have or the book I’m trying to concentrate on reading, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find another place to channel my frustration with the WHISTLING THAT NEVER ENDS. All I can say is, “careful, buddy, you may end up in my novel.” In fact, there’s a very, very good chance a similar character to him made an appearance in a scene I wrote yesterday. Hee.

Adaptation isn’t only about the day-to-day, though. It’s about being content to look at the big picture and realize that not every stroke will be painted the way you hope for so strongly. Life is messy. Lines criss-cross, colors blend together, the plot points we designate for our own lives fade, brighten, and take on minds of their own. That can be hard to deal with, very hard. But as much as we wish it was possible to box everything into neat compartments, schedules, and timelines, it’s not. Life doesn’t always happen when we want it to, dreams don’t always come true when we’re yearning for them. But life does often happen when it’s supposed to, when we’re truly ready for that change. Serendipity has its own schedule, and even though it’s impossibly difficult to be patient sometimes, it’s so important. I’m not saying we should just sit back and wait for things to fall into place, not at all. I believe that we make our own luck and create our own destiny. Absolutely, definitely, unequivocally. But sometimes life really does happen when we’re busy making those plans, and we have to adjust accordingly. We have to mold our lives, our loves, and our hearts to the unexpected – and, with a little bit of luck, that’s when the unexpected will change our lives for the better.

Adaptation has also been the name of the game with my current manuscript. When I began writing, I had every intention of it covering an entire year. In fact, that was the plan ever since I first got the idea for the book, back when I was writing Reflections of Me over the summer. The more I work on it, though, the more I realize that may need to change. Part of me is still holding tight to the original plan, but at the same time, I’m exploring so many other possibilities. I don’t know yet how much time this book will span – and I probably won’t for at least a bit – but I’m excited by all the options and looking forward to where one (or more!) will take not only me, but also Sofie and the whole cast of characters. See? Proof positive that change can be a good thing.

None of us can know exactly where the future will lead, but we can all roll with the punches and remember that sometimes the best really is yet to come.

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15 thoughts on “Roll with the Punches.

  1. First, you must have been a DOLL as a kid, if that was your advice at age four.
    Second, in reference to the Whistler in your new novel, AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
    That is all. :-)

    • Hmm … let me ask my parents about that and see if they agree ;-) And you know, I kind of felt like bursting into that same laughter as I was sitting in the physical therapy office today and he whistled over and over (and over). Little does he know that he’s just giving me more material for the book. Ha!

  2. THE WHISTLER! I’d been hoping he’d show up in your story. I can’t wait to read it! And i’m completely there with you on making adjustments to your original story plans. You know all about my overhauling of certain scenes. :] but it really does make you feel good when you change it for the better!

    • Okay, so I’m sitting there at PT today, quietly reading a book, and he starts again. Then he does it over. And over. And over. I swear, it’s like he somehow knew that I’d created a character based on the whistling and decided to get his revenge by driving me up a wall even more than usual. The scene I wrote was just Lily mentioning him to Sofie – but Sofie, being the spunky, devoted friend she is, offered to go with to an appointment and do some whistling of her own to make a point. I’d been saving that scene for awhile, but after today, I think it needs to be written ASAP. Take that, Mr. Whistler ;-)

      I agree 100% about feeling good (and productive) when you change the outline for the better. It’s like an unexpected bonus to an already invigorating process. I know I’ve said this before, but your willingness to change things up/switch things around completely inspires me. Thank you for the reminder of how much freedom there is in the writing process!

    • Thank you for the kind words! Goodness, I certainly don’t feel like I have that strength sometimes (or, really, most of the time), but I try really hard to keep pushing for my goals. Having that focus gives me something to strive for and love at the same time.

      My mom’s getting better slowly. It sounds cliche, but it has honestly been one step at a time (literally and figuratively). The orthopedist and physical therapist are hoping she’ll be back to normal within a year of the accident, so fingers crossed for that happening by July. Thanks so much for the good thoughts!

  3. Shari,

    Could you please share some of your incredible passion and focus with the rest of us? ;) You absolutely astonish me.

    I hope your Mom and Grandmother continue on the road to restored health!

    HAHA at the Whistler :)

    And did I mention that you leave me in AWE constantly? :)

    • Then this is a perfect time to mention that your perspective and faith inspire that same awe and inspiration in me :-) Seriously, if everyone lived their lives with even a fraction of the hope and passion that you do, the world would be a better place.

      Thank you so much for all the good thoughts. It’s been a very long process with my mom (especially since the original diagnosis – which was totally wrong – said she’d be fine within six weeks) and it’s been pretty overwhelming with my grandmom, too. She (understandably) doesn’t like being at the rehab facility and just wants to come home, so we’ve been spending as much time there as possible. I kind of forget what it’s like to have a day that’s actually normal. The important thing is that they’re improving, though – that’s all that matters.

      And the whistler! I came THIS close to telling him today that he’s driven me to the point of having to write a similar character in my book. One of these days, when I hear him whistling for the fifth time within fifteen minutes, I’m going to just go for it and speak my mind ;-)

  4. Ha! Your threat to put the whistler in your novel made me laugh. I’ve inserted particularly annoying people in my novels before. It can be surprisingly satisfying. And good luck with figuring out the direction of your book. The time line is arbitrary, so I say go with what works, even if it’s not exactly a year. Most of all, have fun (and I know you will)!

  5. Oh my gosh, SO satisfying. I wrote a follow-up scene today where his counterpart gets a taste of his own medicine, and I’m pretty sure I smiled through the entire thing. It just might have been the most fun I’ve ever had working on a scene ;-) And I have to ask now – what kind of annoying personality quirks have you inserted in your novels? I think we need to add a discussion about this to our emails!

    I’m truly having a blast with this manuscript. It’s hard to know just yet where it will end up or how much time it’ll cover (which is different for me – I usually have a very set timeline, especially with the predecessor to this one), but I’m finding that I actually like that. It’s helping me even more to let the characters take me along for their journeys!

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  7. After quite some time away, I stumbled back upon your page .. and I’m so glad I did since I really needed to hear the “roll with the punches” theme to basically give myself a kick in the a** lol .. things change so quickly and when you’re not expecting them at all and it’s in the way you deal with them that really show your true nature and personality…thank you for the reminder and all my best for your mom and grandma’s path to recovery; (I have my own health journey with family members that I’m going through so I know how tough it can be)

    • Eve!! How are you? I miss our chats … it has been way too long.

      I absolutely agree 110% – things change on a dime, usually when we’re expecting it the least, and the way we react to that is such a true reflection of who we are and who we hope to be. It can be really tough to roll with the punches sometimes (somehow I don’t think my four year old self was aware of that), but I think we can all do it if we try hard enough. I hope whatever’s going on for you straightens itself out soon and that everything starts to go much more smoothly.

      I will send along your well wishes, and please do the same for your family. I hope they continue to improve and that they’re feeling much, much better soon.

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