What happens when your New Years Resolution calls your bluff (hint – the universe laughs)

What happens when your New Years Resolution calls your bluff - www.alliepottswrites.comThe 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.

My public speaking coach is an author too. (image is an affiliate link)

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.

You Should Experience Change At Least Once In Your Lifetime And Here’s Why

I don’t know how you choose to celebrate the new year, but at my house, we watch the Rose Parade. It is an event which takes place in Pasadena, California each year. Similar to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in terms of network coverage and national tradition, the parade features marching bands and the occasional musical act, but unlike its northeastern relation, this parade relies on drivable “floats” decorated using only botanicals rather than on the same reusable balloons.

As I watch the parade coverage, I am constantly amazed by the amount of detailing that goes into each of these floats. Groups spend a year or more designing these displays, planning the look to the last petal. There might be a dragon that can bat its eye or a giant bicyclist who can tip his hat. You never know what you are going to see until it makes its way down the boulevard. Which is why I’ve gotten frustrated over the years with the trend in network coverage to skip floats in order to have more time to promote their Spring line-up or break for the millionth commercial.

So this year, I decided to do something different. I decided to watch the Funny or Die / Amazon Prime’s coverage (affiliate link) of the event hosted by Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon under the guise of their fake personalities, Cord Hosenbeck and Tish Cattigan.

The coverage was a satire, though the joke was on hosts like themselves rather than parade participants and what made me chuckle the most was a bit they did on New Years Resolutions.

At the beginning of the parade, they talked about the resolutions they’d set for themselves for 2017. Tish’s, for example, was to “put herself out there and let the universe be her guide.” They talked about their relative success. Tish’s felt she’d really taken that risk and grown as a person by attending a wine class. Then at the end, they announced their resolutions for 2018.

They were EXACTLY the same, delivered in a blissfully unaware deadpan voice.

Were Amazon to bring these characters back next year, you can imagine only too well they would be discussing the same resolutions as well as the same results year after year. We can imagine it because when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, that’s the sort of thing so many of us in real life do too.

We resolve to lose the same 15 pounds or eat less of the same junk. We resolve to spend more time on our personal interests or travel more as if by the stroke of midnight on Jan 1st, we can suddenly invent more hours in the day or money in the bank. We tell ourselves it didn’t work last year, but it would this time because this year was different – we were different.

It’s not entirely a lie either. We ARE different. However, the difference usually comes down to one thing – we are older. The rest is pretty much the same. Thus ensuring that the next time the end of the year comes around we will find ourselves in the exact same place we are at its beginning.

Which brings me to my point. In order to truly be anything other than simply an older version of ourselves, we have to be willing to make a significant change at least once in our lifetimes.

I’m not talking about a change in hairstyle or taking a new route to the job. Something significant. Something that challenges what you’ve done before and what you think you know. Something that involves a risk and is guaranteed to make an impact.

Whether that impact will prove to be good or bad, only time will tell, but one thing is certain – you will not just be older after trying, you’ll be wiser too.

To that end, I’m making a few changes of my own this year.

For example, this year, I am inviting other to occasionally add their stories to this site and have added a page under my About menu detailing my instructions for those interested in participating as guest writers. It is my way of saying thanks to those who have similarly helped me by way of paying it forward.

If you have a story in you about a risk taken, a new venture, or an event that set you on the path you find yourself on today, I would encourage you to reach out in the coming weeks.

Because big changes aren’t as scary when we resolve to make them together.

So here’s to trying new things as well as a happy new year.

 

 

 

A Holiday Address From Her Royal Highness – 2017 Edition

A Holiday Address from her Royal Highness - www.alliepottswrites.com
Her Royal Highness fell asleep while posing for this year’s royal portrait.

It gives us great joy to address you on this, the shortest day of the year. Though this means the longest night is upon us once more, We say joy, because from this point on, darkness will only grow shorter.

While winter has begun, blanketing half the world in cold and gray, We take comfort in the knowledge that the season, for all its cruelty, is in a state of retreat at its very beginning, and that summer is present, if only on the other side of the world. While winter may yet show its bite, the growing days are the constant reminder that winter’s worst is never more than temporary.

Is it any wonder then, the word following the beginning of winter, the world solstice, is so close in form and sound to solace?

And so we fight back against the approaching cold with blankets, cookies, and candles, confident in the knowledge we have the upper hand. We refuse to give into the darkness and instead, celebrate the joy that is this season by opening our hearts and homes to strangers as well as those held most dear.

Winter may represent the end of the year, but with it also, a beginning. It is a chance to start over, to forgive, to change, to add more pillows, or address past mistakes.

So go forth, and do not be afraid of the darkness that surrounds, for it has already lost. Cherish the traditions that brought you this far, but dare to do something different from time to time. Make this coming year everything you wished the previous year could be. For our time in the summer’s sun is all to short and winter will return again.

Therefore always remember to look for the joy in the everyday, whether that day be winter, spring, summer or fall. Know that all days have within them the potential to be shiny and bright. The only difference is the season.

Warmest Regards,

HRH, The Princess Royal V.C. Potts, the first of her name


Although this is my last regularly scheduled post for the year, I do have one more post planned – the conclusion to the short story mysteries series I’ve been running on Saturdays since November. If you’ve missed them, you can read the first in the series here. Fair warning – they have absolutely nothing to do with the holidays, so do not expect warm fuzzy feelings.

I’ll still be checking in from time to time, but will be spending most of the next few days deep into mugs of hot chocolate (with the occasional eggnog) while I plot and plan for 2018.

I hope each of you also gets some time for rest and relaxation as well however you choose to celebrate the changing of the year.

-Allie

Reflecting on 2014

Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug – John Lithgow

It’s New Years Day. Another year has come and gone. I was fortunate enough to have the week between Christmas and New Year off from the day job and had been looking forward to this extra time since Thanksgiving. It was going to be time for me to spend time with my family, make a last-ditch effort to complete some of my 2014 goals, and of course reflect upon the last year.

I was able to do all of these things, and at the same time recognized one singular truth: I don’t pay the woman who watches my toddler nearly enough.

I thought this after our toddler snuck beside his dad in the bathroom and tried to ‘catch’ the stream. (Oh yes, my son – that one is going down in your permanent record). After spotting the lovely ‘snow’ made up of shredded tissue paper that materialized in our foyer during the nanosecond I wasn’t paying attention. (I blame you, coffee, for this one – you should not have taken so long to get into my cup that morning… There, there. Don’t worry, I can never stay mad at you long. All is already forgiven). And again during the entire day the toddler ran from me screaming if I so much as got within a foot of him because he was convinced I was going to put him to bed (he was only right a couple of those times).

My eldest had his fair share of moments as well. Although perhaps I share some of that blame. Looking back, when I said, please don’t come into the bonus room as it is where we are currently storing the boxes for the Christmas decorations, I clearly meant, why yes, I would love for you to turn each box over in there and spill the packaging materials out. I should be thanking him for reading my mind.

My holiday wasn’t perfect, but it was wonderful all the same. For each of the moments that made me want to pull my hair out, there were those I want to relive over and over. Like the watching my boys’ eyes light up as they glimpsed the pile of cookies set aside for Santa. Seeing that look of pure joy on their faces as they noticed the packages which magically appeared overnight around the tree. Listening to them belt out Christmas carols with half remembered lyrics. Those were the moments that made me wonder if my day job pays me enough to keep me away from my guys.

My time off between Christmas and New Years was very much a reflection of my entire year. There were some pretty stressful moments, moments that easily could have brought me down, but early in the year I had decided to focus on the positive. If I was only able to keep one resolution, I am glad it was that one. Because I was always on the lookout for a reason to be happy, some silver lining, I can now count at least as many accomplishments as I can failures. As a result, while I may not yet be a household name, I can still consider 2014 a resounding success.

Here’s to 2015. May it be just as rewarding!

while the video is not a scene from my house, it easily could have been…enjoy!