When Life Doesn’t Go According To Plan: Guest Post by Debut Author Carla Laureano

My novel, Catch a Falling Star, asks the question: Is life about accomplishing plans … or wishes coming true … or something more?

Today’s post is the ninth in the “When Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan” Wednesday blog series, 11 guest posts by authors and writers, including Deborah Raney, Rachel Hauck, and  Susan May Warren, who explore the question: What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan? Today’s post is by debut author Carla Laureano.

 

 

 

 

Writing may be a lifelong love, but it certainly wasn’t my first. When I was a little girl, my deepest desire was to be …

A ballerina.

I realize that most girls go through the ballerina phase at some point, but I wasn’t one of those. My All-In-All-the-Time personality developed early. I didn’t just want to twirl around in tutus. I wanted to be a principal dancer with a major New York City ballet company by the age of twenty-two. I gave up Girl Scouts and track and field and every other leisure pursuit that was incompatible with ballet training.

I took every class available at my local studio. At the age of twelve, my mom started driving me the two hours to Los Angeles to train with a legendary ballet mistress, formerly of the Royal Ballet of London. At thirteen, I attended my first summer intensive at Ballet Aspen. At fourteen, my brave parents let me travel further afield for six weeks at the Milwaukee Ballet School.

And then disaster happened. Shortly after returning from Milwaukee, during rehearsals for The Nutcracker, I slipped on a slick patch of floor. I went down with a sickening crunch. My left ankle immediately swelled to the size of a softball. A trip to the doctor the next day confirmed my worst fears: ligaments torn away from the bone. It could be fixed with surgery involving a steel pin, and I could be back to dancing in six weeks. Or I could stay off it and let it heal on its own over the next several months.

Maybe it was burn-out. Or maybe it was God’s quiet nudging that He wanted me to move in a different direction. I chose the second option.

In the months that followed, first gimping around on crutches (which wasn’t all bad—the cute boy on which I had a crush carried my backpack for two weeks!) and then regaining strength, I rediscovered my love of writing. And at the age of sixteen, wrote my first novel.

It was that novel, terrible as it was, that helped earn me a scholarship to college. It was the realization writing was my true love that propelled me to study English. And it may have taken twenty years to get here–via a husband, two kids, a 1200-mile move, and more than one full-time career–but that tiny slick patch of floor is ultimately responsible for the fact I’m living my dream of being a published novelist.

Do I regret that plans didn’t work out the way I’d hoped? Occasionally. I still take ballet classes for fun and for exercise. I go to the ballet whenever I can afford tickets, and I count down every year to “So You Think You Can Dance” on TV. But most of all, I’m grateful for what I learned from ten years of training for a career I never achieved.

Anything worth doing is worth doing wholeheartedly. Dream big. And trust the One whose plans are much clearer and more comprehensive than our own.

What lessons have you learned from the detours in your own life?

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Carla Laureano has held many job titles—professional marketer, small business consultant, and martial arts instructor—but writer is by far her favorite. She currently lives in Denver with her patient husband and two rambunctious sons, who know only that Mom’s work involves lots of coffee and talking to imaginary people. Carla’s debut contemporary romance, Five Days in Skye, releases from David C Cook on June 10th.

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42 Comments

  1. June 5, 2013, 4:52 am   /  Reply

    “Anything worth doing is worth doing wholeheartedly.”
    That really resonates. Well said. Thank you for sharing how a small patch of floor led to big changes in your life. It’s amazing to see how that tiny rudder turned the whole ship. I was not the “all-in” type of kid. I was the “stay small, minimize risk, don’t get your hopes up, and stay out of the way of go-getters like Carla” kind of kid A crisis in my life was the rudder for me. God gave me the choice of keeping my head down and playing it safe OR following Him into the very risky, wildly unpredictable, terribly uncomfortable, glorious future He has prepared for me. To this day, only He knows where we’re going. But being with Him matters more to me now than the road ahead. Thank you, Carla, for a very thought-provoking post. And thank you for the reminder I need to live wholeheartedly!

    • June 5, 2013, 6:37 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Dave. You always make me smile. The problem with being an “all-in” sort of person is that God sort of has to go big to get my attention sometimes. But maybe that goes for all sorts of people! His plans are always much better than my own.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. June 5, 2013, 5:54 am   /  Reply

    It’s amazing where life’s detours lead, isn’t it. Maybe, for a writer, the more detours–the better?! Following God’s map with an open heart.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Carla. Congratulations on “Five Days in Skye”.

    • June 5, 2013, 6:47 am   /  Reply

      Thanks for the nice words, Anne! I know I never expected to be where I am now, but I think you may be right– I’m in a season of my life where every little thing I’ve experienced, as nonsensical or unimportant as it seemed at the time, is all coming together. God CLEARLY has a better plan for me than I do. So glad you dropped by!

  3. June 5, 2013, 6:42 am   /  Reply

    What a great change-of-plans story and especially w/ a good outcome. I haven’t been to Skye, though a friend brought me a gift from there, but its departure point, Oban, is one of my favorite places on earth. Best wishes with this and future novels.

    • June 5, 2013, 6:51 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Delores! I’ve only done the Kylerhea crossing on the old manual turntable ferry or gone over the Skye Bridge, but that part of Scotland is definitely among my favorites. Thanks for your lovely wishes.

  4. Andrea Cox
    June 5, 2013, 6:50 am   /  Reply

    Hi Carla!

    I’m sorry your dream of becoming a ballerina were crushed so drastically. I’m glad, though, that you’ve chosen to see God’s beautiful design in it all. He wanted you to be a writer. 🙂 I love the cover of your book and will be keeping my eye out for it on local bookshelves!

    Blessings,
    Andrea

    • June 5, 2013, 7:11 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Andrea! (I love that name by the way… it’s the name of my heroine!) Sometimes the lesson is learning to deal with disappointments, but you’re right… God always has a design. Thanks for the cover compliment – my publisher did a great job!

      • Andrea Cox
        June 6, 2013, 12:57 pm   /  Reply

        Oooh! I HAVE to read your book now! It’s always fun for me when the heroine has my name. 😀 I usually picture myself as the character.

        Have a blessed day!

  5. June 5, 2013, 7:44 am   /  Reply

    Recently, things in life went so horribly wrong that I questioned the choice I made, 20 years ago, to follow an academic career. It led to disaster, and a blank wall.

    However.

    Along the way I met and married a wonderful woman, and we have adopted 24 dogs who had nowhere else to go (24 living now – there were others who’ve since gone to the Rainbow Bridge).

    I realized that when I damned my past choices, I consigned my present into the rubbish tip as well, and that seemed the height of ingratitude.

    The academic career’s over, but there are other things to do, and loving hearts with which to share them.

    For that, I am profoundly grateful.

    • June 5, 2013, 9:31 am   /  Reply

      I love that perspective, Andrew. I think you’re right: regret is often a waste of time. Even the bad stuff shapes us into the people we’re meant to be. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found the good in the situation. And my… 24 dogs! Wow!

    • June 12, 2013, 5:44 am   /  Reply

      Andrew, I flipped your words a little to say, “When I dam my past choices, I consign my present into the rubbish…and that seems the height of ingratitude.” When I build a dam to hold back what could flow and only let it trickle into my life, I’m writing a thirsty future. Your thoughts prompted another for me. I’ll be musing on it for a long while.

  6. June 5, 2013, 7:51 am   /  Reply

    Love this post, Carla, and your story. I usually find that when I’m on a detour, I’m not on God’s best path for me–whether I’ve been distracted, persuaded, misguided, or befuddled when I make that choice. And when I recognize the detour for what it is, I move on to a better place/path. So I’m grateful for what I’ve learned along that particular arc, but am usually better off getting off it! Sometimes, it takes a while…

    Can’t wait to read FIVE DAYS IN SKYE!

    • June 5, 2013, 9:34 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Lisa! You are so right. I often wonder what the more difficult of those “full time careers” I’ve mentioned were supposed to teach me. I’m finding the good things I learned along the way help me in what I’m doing now, and the bad things make for really interesting details for my characters! Beware of making a writer mad, right? You never know when you’ll end up in a book.

      Seriously, though, your support through the publication of this book has meant so much to me. 🙂

  7. June 5, 2013, 7:52 am   /  Reply

    “Anything worth doing is worth doing wholeheartedly.” My parents drilled something similar in my head: anything worth doing is worth doing right. I can remember making and remaking my bed until a quarter bounced off the tucked-in sheet. But it is good training. As was your training in dance. You learned self-discipline. You sit and write when you’d probably rather be somewhere else sometimes. 🙂

    Just preordered your book and can’t wait to read it!

    • June 5, 2013, 9:36 am   /  Reply

      Definitely. And the rejections inherent in the dance world definitely prepared me for the tough times in publishing. Thanks for preordering… I can’t wait for your release either!

  8. Beth
    June 5, 2013, 7:53 am   /  Reply

    “Are you dreaming BIG and having faith in God who understands all things?”

    I am going to write this out on a slip of paper & tape it to my computer! What a wonderful reminder 🙂

    Beth

    • June 5, 2013, 9:50 am   /  Reply

      I’m so pleased I could inspire a “tape-worthy” reminder! I think I need to do the same thing for myself, on those days when the dreams feel a little TOO big. 🙂

  9. June 5, 2013, 8:09 am   /  Reply

    Carla I loved reading your story. What a great glimpse into the heart of who you are. 🙂 I’m with those who have already mentioned it, your line, “Anything worth doing is worth doing wholeheartedly.” resonated with me. I tend to tread new waters cautiously, sometimes missing out on the joy to be had in abandoning myself to a new pursuit.

    Detours in my life have taught me that God is faithful. Even when His plans are different from mine they are not only good, they are better. I’m learning to lean into Him and trust Him wholeheartedly.

    Loved your post today, Carla!

    • June 5, 2013, 9:58 am   /  Reply

      Thanks, Jeanne! You have a great perspective on things. It’s much easier to be brave when you know that God will reward any step taken in faith, isn’t it?

      It looks like fun things are happening for you on your writing journey, too! So excited for you!

  10. June 5, 2013, 8:36 am   /  Reply

    Carla, I love this post. It is so true that often the tragic moments when our dreams don’t work out are the catalyst for God helping us discover the deeper dreams–the dreams He has for us.
    Also, I just started learning ballet 6 months ago, and I’m loving it! At 25, I’ll never be a professional dancer, but I’ve enjoyed it so much. It is a great way to keep in shape. And it is so beautiful. I’m addicted. 🙂

    • June 5, 2013, 10:06 am   /  Reply

      Hi Teryn! I love the fact that as writers, we have been also given the ability to turn bad experiences into insights for our readers… so he not only illuminates His will for us but other people as well. It’s humbling when you look at it that way.

      You shouldn’t have told me about the ballet… I’m dragging you to a Saturday class! (Don’t worry, former training or not, getting back into it is going to be painful and ugly. LOL)

      • June 5, 2013, 4:36 pm   /  Reply

        Haha, I don’t mind! I’d love to take a class with you. I’m sure you could give me great tips. 🙂

  11. June 5, 2013, 8:39 am   /  Reply

    Hi Carla! 🙂

    I’ve learned detours in life are moments to be brave, moments to depend and trust. And moments to take a breath and see scenery that I wouldn’t have before.

    My favorite doll was a ballerina.

    • June 5, 2013, 10:11 am   /  Reply

      That’s a lovely image: “take a breath and see scenery that I wouldn’t have before.” The funny thing about detours… we can be so focused on getting to our destination, we forget about the joy in the journey. Seems particularly relevant for us writers, doesn’t it? I need that reminder often. 🙂

      And my favorite doll was a ballerina, too.

  12. June 5, 2013, 9:20 am   /  Reply

    Carla, I loved reading your post. It always makes me smile to hear about your ballerina days, because the fist time I met you in person you were wearing some insane stilettos and I was so impressed! You obviously perfected the pointe during ballet. 🙂 You are beautiful, inside and out, and it has been my pleasure to get to know your heart. I am so excited to see you travel the road God has ordained for you. And the best part is that there’s so much more to come.

    This quote is really speaking to me these days, “To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; To seek him, the greatest adventure; To find him, the greatest human achievement.” ~Raphael Simon

    *lifts tea cup to you and others on the road* Here’s to the journey.

    • June 5, 2013, 10:14 am   /  Reply

      Ah, Brandy, my sweet friend. The journey wouldn’t be nearly as fun without you. And thanks for reminding me about where our true focus should lie. It’s all too easy to get focused on the less important stuff.

      What I want to know is: English Breakfast or Earl Grey? 🙂

  13. June 5, 2013, 9:28 am   /  Reply

    “But most of all, I’m grateful for what I learned from ten years of training for a career I never achieved.” Not many people would be able to say that with integrity. That oozes from a heart that longs to follow God’s plan more than their own. Thanks, Beth, for allowing Carla to bless us with her words today. I know one thing for a fact: if God had not detoured my life in His direction, I would be eternally lost.

    • June 5, 2013, 10:20 am   /  Reply

      Thank you, Donna. Sometimes I haven’t immediately seen the pattern in the plan, but I know there is one. I’m just grateful that even when I am not faithful, He is. Thanks for sharing!

  14. June 5, 2013, 9:50 am   /  Reply

    I certainly did not expect to have a baby 3 months before I turned 40. Noooooooo, I did not. At one point, we had a child in elementary school , one in middle school, one in high school and one in university. I did not expect the stares my 13 year old daughter got when she’d push the stroller in the mall. Nor did I expect the “ohhh, you’re the grandmother?” looks I got when picking up #4 from kindergarten. Next December plays hot to my 19th consecutive elementary school Christmas concert. The thrill ended at about #8.

    Would I take back one single moment of being an ‘older’ mom? Heck, no!!! God knew we needed a walking party, and he lights our world like nothing else.

    • June 5, 2013, 10:34 am   /  Reply

      I love your perspective on things! “A walking party.” That makes me smile. We have one of those, too. Though somehow I think you bring your own party with you wherever you go! Thanks for sharing, Jennifer… you’re another one that makes this writing journey even more fun. 🙂

  15. June 5, 2013, 10:42 am   /  Reply

    Such an awesome post, Carla. And while I’m not happy you were injured, I AM happy you’re writing now…I get to reap the benefits. Can’t wait to read your book!

    Some of the most random detours in my life have been the most amazing. Probably the biggest surprise detour came shortly after college…took me awhile to bounce back on that one, but oh my goodness, I praise God today for it. And I don’t know why, but I have this restless sense that maybe another detour is coming up…ever get those? The cool thing is, God is teaching me more and more that what looks like a detour to me was his perfect path all along…I just gotta stay buckled in for the ride! 🙂

    • June 5, 2013, 12:53 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks, Melissa! And I understand just what you mean about that restless feeling… they have resulted in deciding to have children, moving halfway across the country, and just “seeing what I can do with this novel on the shelf.” 🙂

      And I can’t wait to read YOUR book. I’ve already preordered and everything!

  16. June 5, 2013, 10:43 am   /  Reply

    Well, Carla, I’m just going to say…what everyone else said! They’ve said it all so well and I have nothing more to add except to add my thanks for a wonderful post and wish you wel on your debut novel. That’s always such an exciting time and the culmination of a dream come true. I’m really looking forward to reading it, but wasn’t sure if it was going to be print AND ebook. Will it be both? Many blessings to you…let the fun begin!

    • June 5, 2013, 10:47 am   /  Reply

      And forgive my typo! Eating while typing (and on my lunch hour) doesn’t always work so well. Blessings!

    • June 5, 2013, 12:54 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks, JoAnn! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you through this blog series. And in answer to your question, it’s digital first with the exception of some POD copies… but we’ll see what happens. 🙂

  17. Kay
    June 5, 2013, 12:15 pm   /  Reply

    As I look back on my life, God has led on paths I might not have chosen. He has led me through experiences I would have avoided–without Him. I try to remember each day that He has a plan and I give my schedule over to Him.

    • June 5, 2013, 12:56 pm   /  Reply

      I couldn’t have said it better myself, Kay. That’s a really good reminder for me, since my schedule is getting really packed these days! Thanks for giving me a thought to dwell on!

  18. June 5, 2013, 1:06 pm   /  Reply

    Carla,
    Thanks for sharing your story today — it is inspiring so many different people! I am so thankful we have become friends along the writing road!

    • June 5, 2013, 6:29 pm   /  Reply

      Thank you, Beth! You are an inspiration and an encouragement to me. I feel so fortunate that we met when we did!

  19. June 6, 2013, 6:18 am   /  Reply

    I absolutely love your story, Carla. Ballet was my first love too, although I didn’t train as diligently as you did to get there. What an encouraging post about twists and turns in life. Thanks for sharing.

    • June 6, 2013, 6:48 am   /  Reply

      Thank you, Kim! I didn’t know that! Appreciate you stopping by!

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