The term bomb cyclone began to trend as the mercury began to fall. My phone rang. The number flashing on the screen could mean only one thing. I let it go to voicemail as if by not answering, I might somehow change the message. My phone rang again as it received an incoming text from the same number. My other phone rang. An alert flashed across my computer screen. The truth was no longer something I could avoid. My hand was dealt.
It was … a snowday.
Only there wasn’t any snow.
It was cold outside to be sure, but the skies were clear and the roads dry. Nonetheless, the schools would be releasing students early due to hint of winter weather (fairly typical response where I am from), which, while an inconvenience, wouldn’t have been a major issue except for one little thing. I was scheduled to give a live presentation on my experience with publishing and what happens after you type the words, ‘The End.’
I’d agreed to this talk in a moment of holiday merriment. One my husband’s friends had just survived a major heart attack and there was an undercurrent in the room of what might have been as well as a call to seize the moment while we can. So when I heard that there was a need for a speaker as well as interest in something I enjoy talking about, I accepted the offer without thinking.
But that was before the holidays. I’d had plenty of time to think since then. Plenty of time to think of all the ways, despite my planning, in which my talk could go terribly, terribly wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy talking, especially about books, but even so doubts began to gnaw at me. I found my confidence as uncertain as the weather. What if no one showed up? What if they did?
I’ve met so many people who have considered writing a book one day. Did I really think I had anything new to offer? What if I was boring? What if I overwhelmed? What if I stumbled (figuratively or literally), rambled, or stuttered?
Maybe postponing my speech wasn’t the worst thing that could happen, I told myself. I could blame the snow, get the kids, and revisit my speech later. I’d feel more prepared by then, I rationalized, as I turned back to my computer to revisit my now-oh-so-seemingly-inadequate preparation work. I considered folding.
A blog post caught my eye.
It was my own.
(I’m pretty sure I heard the universe laugh out loud).
Words about change and the need to do something even if you don’t know the outcome stared back at me in black and white. My words. My resolution. My most annoyingly positive self, urging me to shut the heck up and get out of my own way.
Man, I dislike me sometimes.
But I had to admit I had a point.
I looked at the clock. I did the math in my head, calculating my kid’s revised estimated arrival time. I realized not only could the show could still go on, it must go on.
I stuck my tongue out at my screen, but I gathered my things and went anyway determined to do my best no matter how things played out. I arrived at the venue equipped with a handful of books, bullet points burnt in my brain, and a magnetic card reader (affiliate link) for my phone (just in case).
I was both dismayed and delighted to see a full room.
I felt my doubts rising as the guests greeted me individually to say how much they look forward to my talk. It had been pitched to the group as “the best presentation they’d heard all year.” No pressure (even if it was the first meeting of the year).
Then my name was called and the time for doubts was over.
My New Years Resolution had called my bluff, but I wasn’t about to lose the hand.
So I rose from my chair, I walked to the podium, and I looked out at the sea of faces. I saw more than one smile in the crowd.
Yes, I stuttered and rambled once or twice (or maybe more), but I left with fewer books than I brought and less uncertainty of what I could do too. Not only had I conquered my nerves, I even found myself hoping I might be asked back to do it all again someday.
Then all there was left to do was pick up the kids and plan how best to entertain them for the rest of the afternoon as I still had work to do.
It turned out, as my floors, cupboard, and even the dog will attest, giving a talk to a group of adults proved the least of my fears that (lack of) snowday.
What happens when your New Years Resolution calls your bluff?
You put your cards on the table and continue playing because though it might start as a bluff, you might just still end up winning.