The highlight of 2013 was my experience at being selected as a speaker for TEDx Bellingham.  The big event was held November 12, 2013.  But it began W-A-Y before that.  Interviews were held in July and August.  We were notified of our selection status in early September.  At that time, we were given some parameters we had to meet.  This included being assigned to a speaker coach, the commitment to attend an all day speakers training session, and a little more legalese to be signed off.

First, I met with my assigned speaker coach.  She is a local Toastmasters member.  She was very helpful as I wrote and re-wrote many renditions of the draft.  She helped so much with condensing of the idea.  I mean really, could you tell your life story in 12 minutes?  This is what I was asked to do.  And I did it!!!!!!

The training meeting was a glimpse of what was to come.  Here we met with the very awesome event organizers, fellow speakers, coaches, theatre folks, past speakers, tech folks….oh my.  I began to understand just how fabulous this group of local folks is!  We began to form a sort of family group.  I know this sounds impossible, but it is very true.  The power of the lives of these people left me in awe.  I feel humbled to be among them.

Then, we began to meet up on our own in various locations to practice, critique, suggest, cry,  and encourage each other.  We began to know we would be life long friends, forever bonded.   Speaker coaches continued to help us find our best.  I worked with 3 coaches.

Then, we all began to give our talks to anyone who would listen!  Seriously, I gave it to college classes, the employees, the goats, the women at the bank…I mean anyone who would be kind enough to listen.  With TED, you don’t get to use cue cards or prompts.  It is your talk, you know it, you own it!

The time rushed by to November 12.  The big day was here.  The experience was mostly surreal.  As I listened to the other speakers, I had admiration, awe, and respect flowing the entire time.  In fact, I still do.  I’m wishing I hadn’t had an echo of tech problems in mine, but I did.  So if I talk a little slow, and a little Texan, that’s mainly why.  Well, that and probably some nerves at work.  You’ll never know the 3 critical lines I left out…unintentionally.  I hope if you choose to listen to this, you will hear my message to you-Be Curious, Be Willing, Be Brave!!!

Rhonda’s TEDxBellingham talk
 link here.

Because in the end, this entire experience rates right up there with birthing my children, marriage, and college graduations.  An eternal smile of awe, humility, and gratitude.

Special thanks to our photographer:  Kaila Williams

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