Keep Yer Chin Up, Babe

Two Thursdays ago, I fell down the stairs.  Really!  There I was, happily carrying a discipline slip to the Deans on the first floor (yes, filling out those blue cards does fill me with a sense of justice).  I was wearing my favorite orange heels from Talbots.  Dressed impeccably (bien sur!), I was sure of winning Best Dressed Teacher for the day at school.  It was a wonderful day, beautiful weather.  And, I’d just received a note from an editor, asking for more!

Yes, it was a lovely day. Until my heel went out from under me on Step #1. It hit Step #2, slipped again and then (oh, misery!) slipped on #3. At which time my butt hit Step #1 and I threw my hands out, flailing against the cascade of events that was Ruining My Day. 

No dice.  I slid down three more stairs and ended up with one leg folded under me on the stairs (the trailing foot couldn’t catch up). That foot curled into a strange question mark in its oh-so-pretty shoe.  One hand was strained from trying to stop the “A is for Alice, who fell down the stairs” moment.  Nah, Richard Scary.  That girl’s name is Susan.

When it was over, I had a sprained finger and (this makes me feel so small) sprained Big Toe.  Today, nearly three weeks, later, I am in a pair of normal shoes.  My toe still hurts.  So does my finger.  But I am better, and I am on my way back to the healthy, snarky Mermaid we all know and love.

So, you ask, why am I telling this story?  Because, when it’s all over, Keep Your Chin Up.  Yes, it’s been hard to wear sneakers at work.  It was hard to creep to and from the train, up and down the stairs at work and home, to depend on other people.  It was hard to get a rejection after I’d made the re-submit and was waiting for the contract I was positive would be in the mail the next day.  How could I miss?  How could I miss that step?

And how does one go about recovering, both from a missed step and a rejection?  My plan for my foot is to keep moving carefully, and in sensible shoes!  Oh, that is a hard one to swallow, but it must be done.  My plan for my manuscript is a careful re-read, tweaking to address the flaws that seemed to stop this editor cold, and resubmit.

Which brings me to the question:  How do YOU handle those speed bumps in life?  Your illness or injury, or that of someone you love?  The surprise rejection of a manuscript you believe in?  What does it take to get you back on your feet or, in Mermaid-speak, back in the lagoon?  


About Susan Jeffery

I am loving the challenge (sometimes) of re-entering the contemporary romance market after a lifetime of raising two fantastic children (it never ends, btw). Just when I thought I was done with kids, I accepted a position as librarian to 900 boys in a Bronx private school. I'm a vintage published author, Harlequin American #206 Fair Game (1987). Winner of the Golden Heart, 1986. Currently exploring the possibility of indie publishing under my new pseudonym (see fresh name, above).

24 thoughts on “Keep Yer Chin Up, Babe

  1. Susan – love the attitude! I think if the goal is worthy, the chin will rise to meet and prevail against all those nasty speedbumps and steps. Glad you’re taking care – in sensible shoes and reviewing the MS – while you prepare to recover your fabulosity (which was never lost, really, just on hold for a few weeks).

    Well done!

    1. But, what do YOU do when there are speed bumps? I’m also as likely to pitch a fit as be gracious and gimpy.

  2. Lovely post, Susan-Mermaid! I have no idea how to handle life’s speed bumps. Not doing so well with that at the moment so I’m anxiously waiting to hear what advice other people have. Hopefully it will involve shoe shopping. Because I already know how to do that.

    1. Thank you, Kerri-Mermaid! I also am prone to shoe shopping at moments of deep misery. However, I am more prone to a Sephora run (never to be forgotten comment from Dear One: “Don’t you already have enough of that crap?” Uhm, no?_

      1. They never understand! You can never have too much of that crap! 😉

  3. Oh Susan! I’m so sorry you fell! I hope you toe and your finger feel better really soon. “Keep moving carefully” seems like really sound advice, for both your foot and your life. I quoted this Winston Churchill saying on Keely’s blog yesterday, but I’ll repeat it here (heard it in a graduation speech last weekend): “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” That about says it all, doesn’t it? Sometimes, the hardest thing you can do is keep going.

    1. “Keep on, Keep calm.” Very much the watchword, right? Thanks, Pin!

  4. Sorry to hear about your fall, Susan 🙁 . Hope all is doing better.

    I think heeding the advice of our fictional fishie sister, Dory from “Finding. Memo”, helps: JUST KEEP SWIMMING.

    For me it is sitting back down at keyboard and just writing. I get all the tension and frustration out then.


  5. Susan, the heart of the lagoon, I hope you are all healed up soon. That fabulous red bag of yours needs your tootsies in equally fabulous shoes!

    What does it take to get back on my feet? I never really figured out a physical process for dealing with setbacks like venting or journaling. So one day it occurred to me that since I’m one of those folks who lives in their head, I have to come up with mental tricks to shake me back on the right track. I find that the old “It could be worse, you could be…” works best.

    Now hold out your hand, I’m cyber tossing you some Sweet Tarts, the real ones this time 😉

    1. That’s right, Carlene, you are the only Mermaid to have seen the Actual Mythical Red Bag! AND to offer Sweet Tarts! Thank you! I am truly hobbling better, those high heels are cowering, and the orange ones will be going to the cobbler soon for new taps! – Yours ever, Heart Spice.

  6. Susan,

    We can be hobbled heel sisters together. I too am nursing a bad hoof, although mine isn’t as swanworthy as your dive down the stairs. I broke my toe doing gymnastics. Yes, you ask yourself.. why would a soon-to-be 40-year-old be doing gymnastics if there wasn’t a death wish? Believe it or not, it actually helps get through rejections. Which brings me to my next point. As with anything, like you said, keep your chin up and always remember it can be worse. And when all else fails, drink heavily while wearing high heels and traipsing down the stairs. If anything, you’ll have a good story.

    1. Masha, thank you so much. It wasn’t so much of a swan dive as a spread-eagled luge. I kept thinking “Don’t hit your head, don’t hit your head,” and knew if I tried to stand up, I would pitch forward, concuss, and THEN the fat would truly be in the fire (come on, aren’t mixed metaphors fun sometimes?). I think breaking your foot in a gymnastics move is far more interesting than just falling down the stairs. It’s a bucket list moment! Get well soon! I’ll look for YOUR story at your next post.

  7. Folks, I should also add that my lovely trainer Kim (retired NYPD detective, hard bitten yet lovable) congratulated me on my fall. Her words: “Your abs are so much stronger since you’ve been working out. That probably saved you from a much more serious injury.” Friends, are you working out so you can fall down the stairs, too?

  8. Keep on swimming, but keep your eyes open. Oh, not that it wasn’t 100% an accident that you fell down, Susan. Just as it will be 100% your accomplishment when you’re fully recovered.

    But with the rejections, it can help to look around and see what the landscape looks like as it swims by. I’ve been rejected by pretty much everyone RWA lists as a viable agent, and even after the Golden Heart final, I got rejected by a couple of them all over again!

    I didn’t get dejected, but I did ask some pretty important questions about the likelihood that I could get a traditional publishing contract for my contemporary romances about lawyers and judges. (Short answer: no.) So I’ll publish them myself and stop sweating the rejections. Clearly, the GH judges like my writing, characters, voice, etc., so while I know I can always improve, I don’t think I’m unsellable. I’m just unsellable to NY publishers.

    And eventually I’ll succeed on my terms. Which beats swimming in circles, which I’m pretty sure is what my “just keep swimming” looked like.

  9. In your pics, I notice an affinity for red shoes. Me, too! I guess it’s one of those “At what price, beauty?” moments. I once very severely sprained an ankle because of a completely gorgeous pair of red ankle-strap criss-cross pumps. My ankle eventually healed, but the shoes were never the same. *Sniff.*

    1. Do you notice the skyscraper height of those shoes? Sad to say, the ones that failed me (ha! I have something to blame!) were half that height. The tap skidded on the tread and we were off to the races (metaphors again!). In truth, I don’t know if it was me not being careful – I might have stepped out too far. But I’m blaming the stairs, AND I still love red shoes!

  10. I have become quite adept at skimming the speed bumps but once in a while when I am already low (not that anyone EVER sees) I am a little thrown. Most of the time I can wait until I am alone to lose it, but sometimes I rant. But that is all. No one ever sees me cry if I can help it. All anyone ever sees of me is my outgoingand bubbly personality. And that’s all I want them to see.

    1. Thank you, Ursula, for your response! When I got the rejection this last week, my first reaction was cursing. The long and solid curse that feels better for having said it two or three or even four times. It’s a speed bump I would have l-o-v-e-d to avoid, that rejection. I remain convinced, however, that I will prevail. So much better to rant and move on.

  11. Oh no! I don’t own a pair of sneakers. Well, I guess I do but they are red and quite fancy and not too comfortable. I’m not sure I could have handled that.

    1. When we see you again, we’ll make sure you have sneakers… and cowboy boots, too.

  12. Susan,
    I’m so, so glad I wasn’t there to see that. You might not want to hang around this mermaid anymore because I have a super big problem with laughing when people fall. Recently–at retreat–we discussed this horrible, horrible affinity I have for laughing at people falling. It’s really bad. I’m embarrassed to admit it.
    I’m glad you were okay, but I have to say I laughed really hard at your description, so you must be a fabulous writer. 🙂 I felt like I was there, watching it one awful step at a time. Thanks for the chuckle at your expense.
    God, that makes me so horrible. I can’t even believe I just admitted this…

    1. Kimberly, I confess — it’s a lot more fun to laugh at a stupid thing like falling down the stairs that cry over it. I wasn’t seriously hurt. If I’d tried to recover and stand up, things would be very different. Achieving a stair-based prat fall is the next best thing to not falling at all.

      Wait – are you laughing again? *throws fit, hides brownies*

  13. Susan,

    Life is full of missteps. I’ve had my share, and a couple of times, wandered off down some dead-end paths. We never know if these things occur due to fate, karma, serendipity, or some Greater Plan.

    It’s hard to be flexible, but a flexible mindset helps us adjust and keep moving toward our long-term goals. You know what I’ve found out? It isn’t always about the destination. It’s about the journey.


  14. I’ve sprained an ankle twice in my life – or is it three times? – going down stairs, so I’ve learned to be uber-careful. The most memorable was while I was in the UK on a work trip. My ankle swelled up so badly that I needed a temporary cane. I found a mop handle in the PX and the guys in the base fire station cut it to length for me. Yes, firemen! That memory might have made that particular sprain worth it, but on second thought, no…limping around London later that week was tough. Oh, the funniest part was the oven mitt I used to pad the handle. Just call me MacGyver.

Comments are closed.