Have you ever been stuck? I mean really, truly physically stuck. I had one of those moments on a cold, dark, January-in-Minnesota night.

For almost 5 years, I traveled all over the Twin Cities doing in-home kitchen demonstrations as a Pampered Chef rep. Because of the referral based nature of the business, I ended up with a streak of bookings almost an hour from my home…. in the winter.

This was before GPS’s and iPhone maps. I printed directions to my host’s home and relied on reading them, in the dark, while driving. Taking a wrong turn was common.

On a very snowy night, one such unintended turn led me down an unlit, scarcely inhabited, poorly plowed road. I slid into a ditch.

With disgust, I tried maneuvering my van out of the snow. When that failed, I got out and tried to physically shovel, with my hands, the snow around the tires wearing light gloves, dress boots, and dress pants in knee-deep snow.

It was clear I was going nowhere.

The clock was ticking. People were waiting for me to cook for and feed them.  And I had no way to get ahold of my host. I was going to be very late.

Panic started setting in. There were no cars in sight and no homeowners around to see my plight.

Salvation finally came when a large pick-up truck rambled up next to me. A true God-send! With not a whole lot of effort, the driver attached chains to my van and yanked me back onto the road. Relieved and grateful, I thanked him and waved goodbye as he drove off.

Then, I did the most ridiculous thing ever.

I got stuck. Again.

I was still facing the wrong way. Instead of finding a driveway to make an appropriate turn, I tried to u-turn it in the middle of the road, landing myself stuck in the other shoulder. My “salvation” was long gone.

Dumb. Just dumb.

Eventually I worked my way back onto the road, fortunately less stuck than before. I arrived at my show five minutes before start time with soggy pants, socks, and ego.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Have you ever shaken your head in disgust at yourself?

Here’s what I learned about being stuck:

  1. Don’t go too fast. I got trapped in the ditch because I wasn’t navigating safely. I was in unknown territory. The road was dark and I wasn’t proceeding with caution. I knew the danger, but I ignored it. My impatience won.
  2. Don’t be afraid to accept help. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t get yourself out of a tough spot. Even when it looks bleak, there’s always someone to lend a hand. Swallow your pride and welcome the tug.
  3. Don’t make it worse. When you do get unstuck, don’t repeat the same mistake. Use the experience to make a better choice the next time you encounter the same obstacle. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again… and expecting different results.
  4. Don’t be unprepared. I was ready for my show. I was not ready for digging a car out of a ditch. Sometimes you encounter unexpected challenges on the way to your intended destination. Expect it and be ready.

We all get stuck. Whether we land there by our own poor decision making or by road conditions beyond our control.

We can’t always control when or how we get stuck.

But we can choose a better path than the ditch.

Question:  What was your most ridiculously stuck moment ever? 

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