The Nature of Surprises or Ditch the Drama

The Nature of Surprises or Ditch the Drama

It’s been a week of surprises. Some were a major headache, like that snowstorm that recalibrated some carefully crafted travel plans. Others were amazing, like the story below. But, as I have learned and experienced far too often: Life is filled with surprises.

There are so many things we can’t predict or control. All we can do is control how we respond. (But, oh how this plan-loving soul tires of relearning this!)

Anyway, as you may know, a few weeks ago I was devastated when Madison was denied a residential placement that I thought was the perfect fit for her. I was beyond surprised. I was bitterly disappointed and at a loss as to what to do next.

Would my daughter really have to go out-of-state to get the services she needed?

“You must first exhaust all the possibilities within the state of Maryland,” I was told. “Here is the link to the website.”

The four large geographic regions sported links to an alphabetized list totaling over 200 agencies.

The daunting list of blue lines overwhelmed me.

Each link led to a page of a detailed description. There was no way to sort or “google” the group for a specific disability or program.

BUT, most listed an email contact.

As I thought about these email addresses, the holders of the future of my daughter’s next home, I tried to envision their decision-making process. Three questions guided my approach:

What did I need to learn from them?
How could I make it easy for them to respond?
How would they determine if they could provide what Madison needed?

So I crafted an email with this subject heading:

Subject: URGENT: Opening for adult female for residential and day program? Y or N

In the body of the short email, I listed Madison’s needs in the language they understood, stating her matrix score, her staffing support requirements, and the need to manage a behavior plan.

For nearly ten hours on Saturday and Sunday, I read each listing, grabbed the email address, copied and pasted my note, sent it, and updated a spreadsheet I’d created to track my progress. My goal was to blast the requests out by Sunday evening and wait for replies to trickle in over the coming weeks.

Wrong! Oh my, how I was surprised!

Sunday afternoon, yes SUNDAY afternoon, I started getting responses, sometimes within minutes of my request.

At 2:38 p.m. I sent one email. At 2:47 I had my first positive response!

Many replies came with notes of encouragement when they could not provide the services Madison needed.

Unfortunately, we do not currently have any residential openings. However, we do wish you the very best in your search for the perfect housing for Madison!

I am really sorry but we do not have an opening at this time.

Good luck in your search for a new provider.

I know this process can be very frustrating for families and wish you the best.

We do not have an open bed currently but should have one within the next month. We are also willing to look at the possibility of renting a house to accommodate your daughter.

By Sunday evening, I had fourteen responses. Four were positive! I was not only impressed because of the responsiveness, but also of their heartfelt wishes.

They cared.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, they are in the business of caring, a fact that is easily forgotten when hidden behind that sea of blue lines.

By the end of the week, I had twenty-seven positive responses. Four agencies have visited her already and I will be visiting those locations in the coming days.

Maybe I should be grateful that Madison WASN’T accepted into that program. I would have never guessed there were so many possibilities for her.

I guess sometimes you just have to ditch the drama, stop trying to understand what happened, put it in gear, and Do. The. Work.

The results may be surprising.

How about you? Have you had to recover from a setback and face a daunting task? Were the results surprising? Tell me about it, I’d love to know.

My best–always,

Becky  (Nana B)

P.S. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for Madison and for me! I could not have made it out of the pit without you!

P.P.S. Most of you know by now, but my book is available for pre-order on If you are on Facebook, check out my author page. I’m also on twitter and Instagram @Chairwriter. Cute, huh?

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