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.

Law and Order: Snowman Victims Unit

Snow day in Canada

As mentioned previously, US Southerners do not handle snow well. The mere threat can send entire cities into chaos. In my hometown we usually see one or two winter storms per year consisting of the occasional flurry, but freezing rain is more the norm. This year we saw several storms back to back. The snow from one storm would melt only for the weather to double down on its next hand. Schools were closed (again). Garbage service was cancelled. Those restricted to a milk and bread diet were in danger of starving.

You might say it has been a trying month.

After being housebound off and on for several days, my family decided we had to escape. Bundled within an inch of our lives, we faced the cold and valiantly made our way down the front steps. The most recent storm had resulted in a sticky snow, perfect for making snowmen. We did just that. Soon our snowman was close to my height, which is an impressive snowman height for our part of the country (though not so impressive for a human), and was positioned proudly in the front of the yard for all the neighbors to see.

The next day, temperatures (finally) began creeping back up and the snow began to disappear from the rooftops, but most snowpeople were still standing. Most, but not our giant. Its three sections lay in pieces like large white bolders on the lawn. My sons were disappointed, but they understood that all snowmen eventually melt (Valar Meltghulis). I told them he was too big to last. Then 6 pointed out that there were words written in the snow at the base of our yard; “R.I.P Snowman.”

snowman crime scene
Image by Robert Donovan via Flickr

I suddenly realized that our snowman may not have met his end through natural causes. He might have been murdered. Cue the Law and Order gavel sound.

But why? What possibly could have been the motivation behind such a crime? Did my snowman make eyes at some other snowman’s snowoman? Did the local architectural review board deem our giant an eyesore? (They don’t take kindly to additions in the front yard without proper permits.) Did the roving pack of wild dogs deem our snowman a threat that had to be taken down? None of those theories explained the presence of the note.

Ultimately, I was forced to conclude that the culprit was likely some kid trying to impress his or her friends. He or she probably thought they were hilarious as they scratched their message into the snow. I’ll never understand why some people go out of their way to destroy something that they didn’t create, or otherwise spoil another’s experience as a mere whim.

There is nothing quite like muttering under your breath about those darn kids to make you feel old.

I have chosen to interpret this experience as a compliment. Out of all the snowmen on the street, they choose ours to destroy. Therefore it had to be special in some way. It caught an eye. It stood apart and was therefore worthy of notice if only for an afternoon.

As Dr. Seuss put it, “don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

The neighborhood kids might have taken our snowman out (and gotten away with it), but they won’t take us down. We did something right once. We can do so again. We will rebuild, we will make the next one bigger, stronger, or at least mightier than before, but…hopefully not until next year – I am so over this winter.