“Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome!” This phrase means oh so much to me. It has become my mantra. So much so that I often wonder if I should have it tattooed on my butt cheek in block letters. “This body is property of the Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome way of life!” I couldn’t tell you where I first heard the phrase but I come from a family filled with Veterans and Servicemen so I’m sure it came from one of them. Regardless of its origin, it has permeated my life.
Half of your staff has called out sick and its not even lunch time? Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome! Babies are sick? Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome! You have a funeral to go to in the middle of the day and your sitter is sick? Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome! Can’t get to the grocery store and only have weird shit left in the fridge/pantry to eat? Put all those hours watching Chopped to good use and Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome! I say it so much that even my staff says it now.
I don’t always want to. Sometimes I want to throw myself on the ground and say screw it I’m not going to do anything put pout and eat chocolate. Sometimes I wander around like that guy from Office Space who keeps getting his stapler stolen and mutter about burning things down to the ground. I get tired of coming up with plans B and C. But that’s the life of a working mom with a thousand kids isn’t it? When you have hundreds of moving parts the machine is bound to break from time to time no matter how well you run it. There is beauty in the chaos though when the day is done and the dust has settled.
The phrase “deus ex machina’ enters my head often as the craziness unfolds. It’s a Latin translation of a Greek phrase that means “a god from a machine.” Merriam-Webster dictionary explains it as “unlikely saviors and improbable events that bring order out of chaos in sudden and surprising ways.” You can dig deeper into the definition here. My life seems full of unlikely saviors and improbable events. It is in these that I see God at work. God who in my mind takes the form of a sassy, kind woman who teaches lessons with humor and the patience of an old, loving grandmother. As I Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome I am reminded again and again that despite the insanity of day to day life I am blessed. Even in the darkest moments when I hate the world and want to give up I am reminded of the strength given to me by a past filled with opportunities to Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.
My great grandfather used to say that “Education is never wasted,” and I believe that he was right. It doesn’t have to be in a classroom though. Sometimes education can be the craziness of a week with sick kids and not enough hours in the day. What matters is that you continue to look for your Deus Ex Machina and keep your resolve as you Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome. Once you’ve conquered your hill be sure to look back and see what you’ve learned. You never know when you’re going to need to Macgyver your way through life again.