Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Old Rusty Gate

I'm so excited to share with you an amazing story of how I wowed a huge crowd, giving an inspiring message to those in attendance, all while being completely relaxed and absolutely prepared for my audience.

I'm thinking that story will be shared after I do a few more speaking gigs.

You see, I'm rusty.

Like, really rusty. Rusty like an old gate in the back pasture, rusty.


Last night, I was able to attend the Women in Ag Dinner Series in Marshall, Illinois. While it was a long way from home, I was so flattered to be asked. It has been a long time since I was able to speak to a group without moving heaven, earth, and bringing along twin babies. The route we drove was familiar. I cruised past the church where Joe and I were married, my alma mater, the neighborhood I lived in as a single gal, the exit for the town where I used to teach.

I love memory lane.

Anyway, it was a nice drive, and one I didn't have to go alone. Evidently, when you're almost 38, a mother of six kids, and a (somewhat) professional, one's dad still worries about his daughter driving home late at night in fickle Illinois February weather. So, I had a chauffeur. Thanks, Dad.

As we rolled into town, my nerves started to settle in.
What if no one comes?
What if people DO come?
What if I don't stick to my notes?
What if I READ directly from my notes?

On and on and on.

So, with time to spare (thank you, good folks at OnStar!), I decided to take advice from the freshly minted Grammy award winning and beloved singer of my nine year old daughter, and Shook It Off. I steeled myself to be ready to take whatever was thrown at me.
Big crowd? No problem.
Little crowd? How intimate!
Lots of questions? Great.
No questions? I can talk to a brick wall.

So, as guests trickled in, I started to survey the land. It was a small group, so I decided to go unplugged, no power point, no handouts, just chatting, with my notes as a guide, but not the gospel. I'd let the conversation flow.

This is when I realized: I'm rusty.

While the talk itself flowed, and I think I hit most of my high points and allowed for the participants to determine the destination, to an extent, my after the fact nerves hit.

Did I make all of my points clearly?
Did I even really make any of my points?
Did I let them talk too much?
Did I talk to much?

Yikes. Overanalyze much? No wonder I'm exhausted today.

However, that's okay. Overanalyzation leads to excellence, right? Presentations that have to be adjusted on the fly are okay. Not always being perfectly perfect is PERFECTLY NORMAL. I may be like a rusty gate, but like that gate, I still can get the job done, even if it isn't pretty and seamless.

So to those sweet ladies in Marshall last night, thank you for bearing with me as I navigated through my first time back at it. Thanks for letting me get out for a night, wear heels and my new watch, and let me spend some time with my dad in the car...even if I did fall asleep for a little bit of the way home.

For those who have me on their books for the upcoming weeks: NEVER FEAR! The rust will be knocked off, and I will be as charming and amazing as you have me built up in your head.

Either that, or I'll be just as dependable as a rusty gate, and that's a good thing, too.

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