Last fall God nudged me to try my voice again with podcasts.
I ran long and hard from His request. “Podcasts are too hard. No! I’m not good at that.”
But God had his own plans for my life.
A colleague, an online publicist, offered to set me up with various podcasters at a price I couldn’t refuse.
I paused. Maybe I could do it. But at the first sign of disaster, I told him, “I’ll be OUT!”
In December, I tied my running shoes and entered the race, properly outfitting myself mentally. Once I had completed a few podcast laps, I started to relax and find my stride. I used my iPhone for the podcasts, and they seemed to turn out alright. I even sold a couple of books! My message was getting out there. I started to enjoy my opportunities.
One podcaster invited me to participate in a LIVE interview, using a program called Zoom Meetings in conjunction with Facebook Live. But I needed to have a built-in camera with my computer. It just so happened I was waiting for a new computer and I learned I would receive it in time for the podcast.
The New Touch-Sensitive HP Computer
I received the computer from the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services. I had been anticipating it for three years. My technician hailed from Ohio. He suggested a low vision evaluation to find out what I needed.
Afterward, he sent me an email. “You’ll love this one!”
In was an HP beauty, highly recommended by the Veterans Administration. It came with a twenty-seven-inch screen, a built-in camera and mic. Plus, I had an external set of headphones for even better sound. With a new inclusive package of Windows 2016 installed, it contained everything I needed. I could use the mouse or touch the screen. The technician assured me it would be a dream for doing my podcasts.
What wasn’t to like?
The technician delivered and set up my computer on a Thursday. He installed ZoomText (a software program for the blind which enlarged all my icons) and Outlook, which would streamline my email programs.
But when I sat down to try it out, everything looked and felt different. The words seemed tiny across the length of the screen. The default font looked like it came out of a dot matrix printer.
I asked for that to be corrected. It hurt my eyes.
The technician said, “It might take some time. It isn’t an easy fix.”
“But I need a clear font to read. Surely, you can fix the font to make it more readable.”
He showed me now to pinch the screen to increase the size of the font. But larger did not make it easier to read. It still looked like dot matrix. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, so I let it go.
“We’ll get you trained after the podcast,” he promised. “Using Zoom Meetings is easy. You’re familiar with that, right? ” He gave me a few pointers on ZoomText, enough to get me by for a few days.
The changes disquieted me, and my confidence faltered. My palms sweated. “Just get used to it and it will seem normal,” I told myself.
The next morning, I had to text the technician just to remember how to turn it on. No buttons. In fact, the CPU for the on / off button didn’t exist. It was stored in the brain somewhere behind the screen. A tiny power button was located on the left-hand side of the screen.
On Tuesday, in the hours leading up to the podcast, I lectured myself. “Everything is going to go well. You have a new computer you can just touch. You don’t even have to use the keyboard. What is there to worry about? You have accessed Zoom Meetings before, remember? It went well.”
But the tension mounted. Why do podcasters never give me time to practice? Only a quick check before everything goes LIVE.
Watching the clock carefully, I tuned in at the proper time.
But something had gone wrong.
The host could not see or hear me. I couldn’t get the line off the picture of the video. It wouldn’t go away no matter how many times I clicked on it.
Why did I think I could ever do this by myself? I needed a technician! Panic.
The podcaster sent me a phone text telling me to leave the meeting and she would re-send the link. I couldn’t find the Leave button. I searched everywhere, with every second lodging more fear into the pit of my stomach.
Where are you, button? A couple of minutes passed. The next text said, “Check your email.”
I couldn’t get out of Zoom Meetings to find Outlook. Oh, Lord, Oh, Lord. Help me, help ME-E.
My hands trembled. What was I forgetting?
No matter what I pressed I could not leave the current application and connect to my email. I felt so silly.
Time ticked as I tried in vain to problem-solve.
“Um, just a minute.” I grabbed my iPhone, left the computer in my basement, ran up three flights of stairs to the old computer in the old office, found the correct Zoom Meeting link from my gmail account and clicked on it.
“I got the link,” I texted back joyously.
“Okay, are you in? Does it have a camera?”
What? I almost hyperventilated. My heart sank. I texted one word. “No.”
How could I have forgotten the reason for getting the new computer?
I ran the three flights of stairs back to the new computer and faced its foreign-ness again, determined to slay these electronic predators.
I couldn’t give up. No, not me.
Through sheer perseverance, I clicked out of program and into Outlook. I had to remember how to access everything in the unfamiliar email program. I don’t know how I did it but I clicked on the link to Zoom Meetings … and I was in.
Thank God. Thank God. Oh, thank GOD.
I heard the podcaster’s voice. My smile radiated. More than thirty-five minutes had passed. But everything would be all right now. My panicked breathing slowed to a manageable pace.
The host began the interview.
But just five minutes into the podcast, the face on the other end of the camera froze in mid-word. Thirty seconds later, the voice returned, garbled.
The host had obviously read my book and expected an answer … but to what? .
I answered the question the best I could.
That was adequate.
Then the freezing problem struck again.
The host said, “What do you think? Should we reschedule this interview? We’re having a storm here and it must be interfering.”
To my complete shock, I confidently said, “I’m okay, if you are. Let’s continue.”
Who was this imposter who claimed to be me? I wanted nothing more than to end this nightmare!
The radio host delicately said, “I’m thinking more of my loyal listeners. They don’t want to sort through a lot of frozen speech. Let’s reschedule.” It wasn’t a question.
“Oh, certainly.” How could I not think of the listeners?
After signing off, I put my head on the desk and felt like weeping. The tears wouldn’t come. They must be frozen too.
Then I remembered what the technician said, “With ZoomText, you have to scroll to the right, the left, up or down to see the entire application. It will only show you a portion of it.”
That’s why I could not see the LEAVE PROGRAM button. I didn’t know how to scroll on a screen that moved or expanded beyond from what I could see.
I hated ZoomText! Everything looked way too gigantic, my icons were six-inches high. It felt like I was trapped inside this awful screen.
I called my online publicist. “I want out of the contract. No more podcasts for me.”
He laughed, but it was kind and gentle laughter.
“I don’t want to do any more of ‘em.” I insisted.
He responded, “So this is what you do: you talk about the technical challenges of this show on the next show. It gives you a built-in conversation-starter.”
Was he insane?
In time, my rapid-fire speech slowed, and I ran out of steam.
His voice sounded calm and matter-of-fact. “These things happen. You just go on.”
“I don’t want to let you down.”
“You’re not letting me down. The host rescheduled, right? That doesn’t happen with everyone,” he pointed out.
Thinking back to our conversation, it seemed as if his kind words dripped like honey in an empty honeycomb, seeping into the gaps, where the wafer-thin walls of my insecurities stood.
Gratitude filled me.
Later that day, I laughed, remembering my clown-like antics running up and down the stairs to a computer that didn’t have a camera. It would all come into perspective. But right then, I needed that sweetness, the confidence, someone else’s belief in me.
This was a God-thing. Anytime we encourage another, it’s God speaking through us saying “Hang on, better is yet to come. Don’t give up and miss what I have for you. Even when you can’t see, I’ll let you know it’s there.”
It’s a promise worth working toward even when we don’t know what he’ll bring. God always seeks the best for us.
So, I’ll keep on my unstoppable mission with podcasting, giving God the glory each time.
How has someone encouraged you lately? Did their response change your mind about stopping an activity? Why or why not?