I fell off the red TED carpet dot, quite literally and figuratively.
No, really. I fell off of it—or rather my heel did—when I gave my TEDx talk in Sedona last November. (You can see my slightly-embarrassing blunder in my video below around the time I talk about being a reformed people pleaser. I mean, who falls off the dot!??! Oh, that’s right…me!)
And now, 7 months later, I stepped off the dot on purpose. It was never something I thought I’d have to do when I put my application in to grace the TEDx stage, but it became something I NEEDED to do this past week. I simply stopped trying to get my TEDx talk out of TEDx corporate jail.
But first, let’s go back in time a bit.
It’s June 2018 and I decide to throw my name in the hat for the TEDx Sedona event being held last year on November 3. I knew it was a long shot because I was going to talk about intuition among other things like healing from abuse but still, I had hope.
And then the email came! I was being considered but they needed to see a five-minute video of what I was going to talk about. I got right to work on the video and sent it within a day or two. Then came another email about now sharing MORE on video. I had to give them more of my talk so Scott and I spent the day filming clips. This kind of back and forth went on for much of July and August. More videos submissions were suggested...... (click READ MORE below on the right to continue)
Then, on September 9, 2018 (my birthday), I got the call from the organizer saying they love my story and only have a spot or two left but wanted to see how to make it better fit the TED template and suggested things to edit. And a TED Talk coach (who was wonderful and supportive) to connect with to talk about restructuring the content of my speech, but not actually remove anything. I excitedly jumped all over their suggestions and started retooling. A few days later, I resubmitted my revised talk for consideration and I held my breath.
And then I waited. I figured no news was good news, at first, but then I started to think maybe they decided that I just wasn’t TED material. On September 30th, I reached out just to confirm that I indeed wasn’t chosen and thank them for their consideration and enthusiasm about my story. I’d done a little research and knew that they needed to choose their speakers two months prior to event itself to give everyone enough time to prepare and we were now one month and two days out so I thought I didn’t make the cut.
I received a message later that day that said, “No, that’s not the case at all. You made the speakers list.” And then they apologized for forgetting to tell me I made the speaker list.
I was blown away that I really did make the cut and started practicing like crazy. I was a month behind everyone and with short term memory issues, I knew this would be one of the hardest things I’d ever do just from that perspective alone but I was determined. Memorizing anything isn’t my bag.
I tackled my prep like I tackle everything—with tenacity and persistence. I practiced day and night when I wasn’t working.
Throughout the process, I got push back but I stuck to my guns. This was nothing new for me. It happened with Shark Tank, too. I ultimately decided to trust MY OWN intuition and refused to cut out the parts where I talked about my intuition & working with cops and grieving parents. It’s not easy to push back but I knew if I didn’t trust my own intuition on a talk that involved intuition, I couldn’t live with myself for not practicing what I preach. Plus, it’s an integral part of my healing journey. I knew I had to keep it in, no matter how many people I freaked out or how many people I ticked off. It’s my true, real experience and nothing can change that.
I was overcome with emotion the day of the event. My husband and kids proudly sat on the front row and my dear friend, Theresa, made sure she was in the audience that day, too. In addition to all of the love I felt from my family and friends, I was acutely aware of my friend who had passed away earlier in the year after leaving an abusive marriage. It felt like she was there on stage with me.
Despite some tech difficulties with sound (the microphone going in an out for many speakers) and a temperamental slide show clicker, I managed to give the hardest talk of my life without forgetting much of what I’d practiced. I teared up once, which surprised me because I’d practiced it so much, I didn’t think tears would flow when I talked about being a childhood sexual abuse survivor. But I did.
After I left the stage, multiple people came up to me in tears thanking me for being so vulnerable and open. Some of them were abuse survivors as well, and I was in tears hearing their stories. Many hugs were exchanged between random strangers. And then there were the hugs from the organizers thanking me for not giving in to their suggestions to take out the whole first section of my talk. I felt vindicated and proud. I’d done it!
Now, all I had to do was wait for it to be put together professionally by TEDx. They manage the whole video editing process so I haven’t seen even so much as a small clip from the one they’ve been putting together. Based on what happened last year, it looked like it would take 3 months for the videos to be uploaded to the TEDx site and then linked on the TEDx Sedona webpage.
I waited with so much excitement in my heart.
Other talks were being uploaded yet I wasn’t hearing anything so I sent a couple emails to the Sedona organizers as well TEDx headquarters on the east coast trying to find out if my talk had sound issues like a few others, or if something else was keeping it from being uploaded. I found out that it was sent to TEDx corporate for review 4 months after the event.
In April, I finally found out that TED headquarters had a problem with my talk. They felt it didn’t meet the content guidelines. I was confused because, a.) I’d gone through so much and submitted so many videos and had the approval of the TEDx Sedona and, b.) I knew there were other talks on TED that covered the same topics of intuition and abuse so I couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong with mine.
The waiting game continued.
On May 8th, I finally got a call from TEDx Sedona saying that TED wanted to continue to edit the video “because of a few words I used in my talk.” What words? I didn’t know what that meant specifically. They instructed me submit my written script to them and they would turn around and tell me what they took issue with so I immediately sent it back through TEDx Sedona to get it to headquarters.
Can you guess what happened next? More waiting. I would let a week or two go by and then I’d reach out to TEDx Sedona to see if they had any updates. Nope, nothing. But they promised they’d poke the bear.
I decided to write to TED headquarters last week using their postevent email like I’d done before that seemed to spur some action. I wanted to know if they’d had time over the past 3 weeks to take a look at the script I shared with the team who was in contact with TEDx Sedona. A gentleman who wrote me back didn’t know anything about what was happening with my talk and assumed I’d written in to get my script approved for an UPCOMING talk. I replied letting him know that NO, this was about a talk I gave 7 months ago. Then came another email but this time from Sedona asking me to please stay out of it because I was making it worse and possibly hurting their relationship with TED.
There it was. 7 months. No real answers. No end in sight with a “butt out” message, to boot.
I had a decision to make. Do I continue to play the game and accept the bully tactics and silent treatment OR do I go rogue and just post my own amateur video and take my power back.
Guess which one I chose? You guessed it!
I grabbed the video that Noah recorded on the day of the event and I taught myself how to use iMovie. Noah did a great job filming me on his iPhone (it’s hard film someone on a phone for 15 minutes without a tripod) but it’s still a video from a phone. As for the professional one that TED has an issue with, I’ve never seen it because it has always been in the hands of TEDx Sedona….and now, it’s in TED purgatory or as I call it, casually banned.
Over the past few days, in between working an event for entrepreneurs in Arizona, I worked on adding subtitles, fades and slides to Noah’s video. I did the best I could and I’m forever grateful that my family captured video and photos that day. It will always be one of the best and hardest days of my life and now, finally, I can share it with you all as well.
I can’t help but think that this is all happening the way it should even though I never thought I’d walk away from the opportunity to have my talk published through TED. But that’s exactly what I’m doing.
By “stepping off the red dot,” I’m practicing standing up for myself and my intuition (again) and I’m stepping through fear (again) to honor what I know is right and just —— ironically, these are the very things I talk about in my TEDx talk. :)
UPDATE: TEDx published a heavily edited/censored video of my talk without my involvement on July 23, 2019. Here's the link to the official TED talk. Parts of it don't make sense because of the editing that was done but the core of what I wanted to share about repression, wounded attachment, and healing from abuse is there.