Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The day has come. It's been nearly a year since Betty Cheeley called me up and asked me to speak about my book Lessons with Love to the 3 C's Book Club of Coeur d'Alene.
If all goes well, by shortly after 10 a.m., I'll be standing at the podium in one of the conference bays at The Coeur d'Alene Hotel. A potentially large number of women, many of them Coeur d'Alene's shakers and doers, will be sitting there looking back at me with expectations.
I anticipate several trips to the bathroom before that moment. And, Betty knows to plan her Oly and Lena joke to synchronize with the last time she sees me head off for the john.
It's what I do before speeches, and it never gets any better. Every time someone invites me to do a presentation, I ask two questions of them: is there a bathroom within a convenient distance of the podium, and, if I'm not in view when you start introducing me, just keep talking. I'll be there.
So far, I haven't been able to get out of any of these jobs because of my internal physical disability to keep my internal plumbing under control.
Usually after assuring me that all measures will be taken to assure my comfort, I hear a common comment: well, you don't seem like you're nervous. To which I say: outwardly, you're right, but inwardly, there's a war going on in there.
I've spent a lot of time preparing for this presentation, especially after Betty said she scheduled me for December as a "gift" for the group. No pressure!
Betty's a hard taskmaster too. She taught first grade for 40 years, and her simple answer to my comment about nervousness after seeing that room so filled with women during last month's meeting was "Get over it."
So, I'm working at that. Actually, the experience should be fun once I get started. It's the waiting that drives me nuts, and I'm really glad the day has come.
I'll be really glad if the roads with new coating of snow on ice allow me to get there on time, or even early, in one piece.
Today's speaking experience will be all the more special because I have a really special person following Betty to the podium to introduce me.
That person's identity will remain a secret until after my speech cuz I don't want to take a chance that anyone in the club reads my blog before going to the meeting.
Only hint: a former student of whom I'm very proud. That narrows it down, doesn't it?
I also practiced the speech with another former student who's laid-up with a broken leg. Fortunate for me, she couldn't get up and leave because of boredom, and she did laugh a time or two. That would be Jeralyn, who's known for a good belly laugh.
Jeralyn was a much better audience than my usual guinea pigs----oops, they aren't guinea pigs---they're horses. Yes, I have been known to practice my speeches in front of the horses, but they're so noncommittal that it's hard to get a read on how well I'm doing. The plus side is that they're also not judgmental in any way.
My overall goal today is to put on a good enough show that the ladies are glad they came out in the cold to attend.
The 3 C's are an amazing organization. They have other branches of interest besides their book club, and they raise a LOT of money in the Coeur d'Alene area for good causes, especially cancer-related.
To say I'm honored to be invited for this event today is an understatement. To say, I'm nervous is equally an understatement, but I plan to make it a fun for them and hopefully fun for myself.
When it's all over around noon, and I'm once more knowing the joy of cathartic relief, I'll wonder why I worried so much. It just goes with the territory of public speaking.