Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a TED Junkie. I watch TED videos regularly while I’m on the treadmill and dream of standing on that red carpet. So when I was invited to be a guest blogger at TedXStanleyPark I jumped at the opportunity and have been counting down the days for months.

When I arrived I was told, “You don’t look like a blogger” I guess people are used to seeing me in hiking boots with a kid or two on my back. I wonder if I missed the memo from my fellow bloggers on what the industry dress code is! It was pretty funny and made me laugh.

The theme of TedxStanleyPark was “Ideas to Action.” Roger Killen was the producer and MC the event and his goal was to serve up a legendary intellectual variety show. Mission accomplished Roger! The day was spent listening to a variety of compelling speeches, ranging in topics from leadership to beekeeping, myths of masturbation to the reality of texting and driving. Business leaders were challenged to ask themselves about the true value of money and individuals were tasked to build stronger communities. At times I felt intoxicated with information and I am excited to take these ideas to my family and community.

I was able to steal the amazing Roger Killen for a on stage #selfie!

I was able to steal the amazing Roger Killen for a on stage #selfie!


One of the challenges in going to something this big is that there’s so many wonderful ideas that they often get lost. You leave knowing you learned a ton but only can truly recall a few special pieces. I spent the day taking notes and have spent the week digesting them all. Here are the top five highlights of my TedxStanleyPark  experience:

The stage looked Spectacular! Photo Credit:  Jessica Jillings Photography

The stage looked Spectacular! Photo Credit: Jessica Jillings Photography

Peter Legge is an accomplished speaker and a leader in the business world. When he took the stage it was clear he meant business and he filled us with inspiring quotes and recommendations on how to go from having ideas to taking action on those ideas and making them a reality.

“If you’re going to win the race you have to be a participant” – Peter Legge

This quote that he presented though about participation really stuck with me. Isn’t it the truth that so many times we don’t even try something because we assume we know what the outcome will be? Or we spend time knowing that it won’t work out, but fail to recognize the possibility that something really great could still happen.

Reminder to self… put yourself out there. Every time. No matter what.

John Nieuwenburg rocked us to the core with a very personal and emotional story about suicide and mental health. He wasn’t the only one that was brought to tears as he shared his very real story about “surviving” suicide. His willingness to shed light on the topic and bring awareness to mental health was truly inspiring. He said, “Happiness and sorrow are just chemicals in your brain and I want to be the chemist that controls them.” And “Mental illness is a flaw in #chemistry not a flaw in #character” Time to break the stigma. The love, support and compassion that was showed John while he was going through his journey and while he was standing on the stage was a powerful reminder of how important real friends and family are. I thank John for his willingness to go to a very difficult place, to share his story and to bring a very important subject to the forefront. While his speech was magnificent and moving I hope that there will no need for such stories in the future.

Rumana Monzur made us rethink everything as she shared how 15 minutes of horror changed her whole life. Her husband beat her so badly that she was left physically disabled and would never see again. However she graced the stage with a beauty and a presence that was warm, and welcomed. She stood strong as she shared her determination to end domestic violence. “I have lost my sight but I have gained my vision” she said with pride. I hope her passion for change and her ability to share her story will help in changing the way we view domestic violence and lead to a change for ours and future generations.

Matt Young came on stage to talk about physical literacy and I was immediately on the edge of my chair. Really, he was speaking my language, but he had so many quotable quotes that I can’t even decide which ones to share… “Childhood obesity is preventable and unacceptable.” Yes! Thank you! “Are we sending them off to succeed?” (as he talked about the importance of healthy breakfasts and the amount of sugar kids consume in a day) “How can our kids succeed in our presence so that they can succeed in our absence? Let’s set them up right”. Matt is an advocate for physical education in schools and developing systems to get kids engaged. Sure, we all know it needs to happen but who’s out there making sure it’s being done? Talk about taking ideas to action!

David Knapp Fisher started off his presentation with an excellent quote, “Everyone must choose one of two pains, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” Jim Rohn shared a sentiment that we all know too well but don’t exploit on a daily basis – “do it now.” After his son was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy David reframed his life so that his able bodied son could live his life and go on as many adventures as possible while he still could. “Our goal was to take an adventure every day” This was never more important than when they took a couple months off and travelled across Europe… only to arrive home two weeks later to have his son confined to a wheel chair – forever. “If we hadn’t have made the sacrifices to pull together and make that trip happen at that moment, it never would have happened.”

David’s passion for adventure obviously resonated with me and seeing him put it into action to raise a strong, smart, amazing child, well – that’s an idea turned into action!

Jacky ignited the stage at TedXStanley Park! Photo Credit: Jessica Jillings Photography

Jacky ignited the stage at TedXStanley Park! Photo Credit: Jessica Jillings Photography

The day finished up when Jacky Yenga ignited the stage. Her slow, confident swagger as she entered the stage left you curious about what was about to happen. Her beautiful yellow, black and white traditional African dress was worn with pride as she gracefully greeted the crowd. Her smile? The biggest one I’ve ever seen. Contagious. Powerful.

Jacky’s story was inspiring. She talked about what it was like to grow up in a village. About how “We didn’t have one mom, we had a lot of moms” “We had brothers, and sisters. Lots of them” She talked about how they played, sang, and most importantly danced.

Jacky was moved to Paris at the young age of 9 and her transition out of the village was a culture shock beyond comprehension. Now she shares her story about the power of the village and how we’ve lost it in western society and how we need to get it back. She talked about the importance of family and the value of friends. “To be without a friend is to be poor indeed.”

Jacky had more to teach us than time would allow and I look forward to learning more about her experience and her wisdom that she has to share.

It all looks so official!

It all looks so official!

Thank you to the amazing presenters at TedxStanleyPark. Thank you to the organizers for coordinating a fabulous event. Thank you to all the sponsor who donated thousands of dollars’ worth of fabulous prizes. And thanks to my mom, for sharing in such an inspirational event with me and for cheering me on as she saw my name on the screen.

Thanks for joining me at an awesome event mom! Photo Credit: Jessica Jillings Photography

Thanks for joining me at an awesome event mom! Photo Credit: Jessica Jillings Photography

The official countdown to 2016 has begun!