Road construction, re-routing of a highway, sudden illnesses, computer crashes, new business competition – they all happen, and are usually  are not in our plan for our business or our everyday life. It is often these very things that can either break us or make us better than we were before.

As the saying goes, it’s not what happens to us, but how we deal with what happens.  I learned this in many ways over the past few months as life has taken its course and thrown me some curves. I felt I had dealt with the ups and downs rather well and was moving along full speed. Then, on July 21, in the wee hours of the morning (2:32 a.m. to be precise – that’s when the clock stopped), a storm hit where I reside and work.  A storm like we had never seen before packed winds of 70-90 miles an hour for over 40 mins.  It left in its wake hundreds of downed trees, power lines, phone lines and a great deal of damage to various things in the way of the falling trees.

For me, no structures were ruined and no one I knew was physically hurt, so in reality, all we experienced inconvenience.  For the first day, there was no moving around without a chainsaw, no power, no phone service, no internet and no cell signal.  For 9 days  there was no power. If you have ever experienced no power, it not only means no lights or refrigeration, it also means no water.  As of today (August 9), still no phone (which also means no internet)

We work day in and day out, taking for granted everything that we do. Our frustrations center around such issues as a slow sales day, an unhappy customer or late product arrivals, to name just a few.  But what would you do if for nine days (or more) you had a challenge appear out of the blue that you just couldn’t do anything about?  That’s where being independent, creative and positive can help us not only overcome the obstacles before us, but offer the chance to learn new ways of doing things, appreciate aspects of our environment that we often overlook and find ways to actually find positive results from a negative experience.

What did I do while the power was out?  Talked more, cooked less. Got up with the sun and went to bed when it got dark. Found innovative ways to deal with what we were missing – lakes abound where we live so water was available.  Hooray for the hotspot option on cell phones! Bears Worked together with neighbors we often don’t see to clear the trees from paths and roads.   And for the store we own – which is a northwoods furnishing and décor store – we found an abundant supply of wood to have our chainsaw sculptor turn into inventory to sell!  In the spirit of turning lemons into lemonade – we turned downed trees into wooden sculptures.

Think of a challenge facing you today, right this very minute, whether big or small. How might you turn that challenge into an opportunity?


Sue Warfield is the Director of Member Relations at ASTRA. With more than 30 years of experience in the retail and toy business, Sue offers insight into industry trends and tips and works to connect the retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliates in the specialty toy retailing arena. Contact Sue at