I Guess I Should Tell You About My New Boyfriend (Giggle)

tedx peachtree I lead a fairly private personal life, which is by design. When you’ve chosen a life as I have that puts you out there and keeps you out there, you have to hold something back for yourself. Otherwise, it all just gets lost in the shuffle. There’s nothing left to call your own. Maybe some of you can relate.

Well, as people who have been with me on the wild ride that’s been the last couple of years – makeups, breakups, deaths, and other roads I never thought I’d take – it’s only right to let you know about why I really took the trip to Atlanta last week.

I’m a traveler and have never lived in one place for any great length of time since I left Houston back in 1996. I spent 16 years there, which was more a factor of not having a fucking car and having to do that whole “education” thing than actually wanting to be there. (Damn adolescence and the associated driving laws, right?) This year marks my third year in Denver, Colorado which is pretty weird in and of itself, as I’m well on my way to passing up Las Vegas on the list of Places I’ve Lived the Longest (3.5 years). The moral being, when I have the chance to get the hell out of dodge, I do. And last week had a bit of an ulterior motive. I hopped a plane to go see Ted.

I’ve spent the last year or so getting to know Ted and the process has been one that’s encompassed everything from unbridled hilarity to heartbreaking moments that have left me weeping. But none of it has been bad. Rather, it’s been a journey that left me with a better sense of who I am, what I want and more importantly, what kind of crumbs I’m willing to clean-up on the other side of the bed. Since losing Jason around this time last year, it’s been an ever-present question: what do I want in the person who will help me rise above myself? Who will challenge me and refuse to let me sink into that hole of complacency? Who will call me on my bullshit and make me own everything about myself instead of letting me make excuses?

The answer is, it’s Ted.

Ted – My New (Giggle) Boyfriend

Ted won’t mind if I tell you that we’ve never been intimate for more than 18 minutes. Ted also won’t mind if I tell you that he’s a fucking genius in every sense of the term and looks great naked. You can strip him down to the bare minimum or dress him up and he simply looks incredible.

And most importantly, he’s compassionate, caring, and doesn’t get embarrassed by the fact that I want to tell everyone I know about him (which is a fair departure from those in my life who felt that I was useful for “fun” and not meant for “sharing” or other modes of public consumption).

I went to Atlanta to spend the weekend with Ted.

I Can’t Believe You Haven’t Already Met Ted!

Yeah, I’m pulling your leg. I don’t have a new boyfriend, but I have built an incredibly meaningful relationship with TED. It boggles my mind when people tell me they haven’t heard of TED, which is why I’m writing this post today to get you introduced to one of the most meaningful relationships in my life.

What is TED? Launched in 1984, TED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ideas worth spreading. No, it’s not a relationship that will give you the clap or anything that requires an ointment or single-dose antibiotic to fix. The organization brings together people at its various conferences on local, national, and global levels and challenges people the world over to deliver the talk of their lives – and do it in 18 minutes or less.

WTF – only 18 minutes? Yeah, but I’ll tell you…unlike anything in the back seat of any car, this is 18 minutes you’ll remember. And if you’re really riled-up and ready for seconds (or even thirds – you saucy minx, you…) TED will be waiting. All you have to do is press play.

What can I expect to find at TED? Well, everything. TED talks are available translated into 82 different languages and span topics ranging from science, culture, design, sustainability and everything you can think of in between. You can expect to be moved. To laugh. To commiserate and cry. And you can expect to leave each TED talk with a perspective you never thought you would have on the world that surrounds you.

Explore a pianist who will take you on a journey through the creative process. HERE.

Gain new insight on how schools just might be killing (instead of fostering) creativity. HERE.

Understand why leaders become great – even when surrounded by those of exceeding talent and greater resources. HERE.

What I Was Really Doing in Atlanta

I was invited out by the organizers of TEDx Peachtree, an independently organized TED event, to cover the event and participate from a media standpoint. This meant that I got to meet many of the speakers and more importantly, spend an entire day in the midst of brilliance. TED was my guide for the entire trip and I left Atlanta with so much more than I had.

Here’s a sampling of what my 8.5 hours spent with TED yielded:

  • A primate researcher demonstrating how beings truly do want to collaborate and share – animals are amazing and the talk inspired me to seek more ways to collaborate and leave “selfish” behind.
  • A life long autism researcher who took the audience on a journey through autism in terms that everyone can understand, dispelling the myth that it’s a psychological disorder. I met him after his talk and thanked him with tears in my eyes, as my nephew is autistic and I felt that he was the first person who had ever explained my nephew’s struggle in an accessible way. It also reinforced what an incredible person I see my sister to be, having guided my nephew on his journey so far.
  • An immigrant who gave a startling speech on her perspective of the American Dream, smashing myths of entitlement and replacing them with perspectives on gratitude that are clearly missing from much of today’s American culture.
  • A PhD who shared insights on how our minds truly can control things outside of our bodies. If you know of Randy Pausch, she’s one of the many who was fortunate enough to be one of his students. I spoke with her after the event and can I just say day-yum? What a smart cookie – and on top of that, she’s vibrant, human, and passionate about what she does. And it shows.
  • An education researcher out of Northern California who discussed how education needs to change and that more technology in our classrooms isn’t the answer. As a girl who was always bored in school because I was a nontraditional learner, this really hit home and I look forward to seeing what inroads they can make in changing the way our classrooms welcome children of all learning types. As today, we mostly only accommodate one type, which leaves entirely too many lost in the din of “traditional” education.
  • A former FEMA leader who demonstrated how hyperlocal focus will be the most powerful tool for future disaster-stricken communities to recover. FEMA’s resources are limited – the onus is on us to help our communities instead of asking how the government can help.

So, yeah – these were all ideas worth spreading and I wish I had the bandwidth to share everything I heard last Friday. But every talk at TEDx Peachtree reminded me why I’d made the trip to go hand out with TED, even if we only got to spend 18 minutes a pop with one another until the next talk came along.

So Now, You’ve Met TED…

Maybe you’re a little pissed that I linkbaited you into today’s post by saying I had a new boyfriend. If you are, you really should know better, as I’ll write anything in that damn subject line to get you into my world (and you know this). But what I’ve hopefully done is introduce some new people to TED, a very meaningful relationship in my life, and give you a new source for inspiration.

I’ve committed to myself to watch no fewer than two new TED talks each week. This week so far, it’s been a neuroscientist’s journey through her own stroke (made me cry) which I mentioned above and a Portuguese woman’s talk on how legal documents should be written in “plain English.” Next week? I can’t wait to see what I discover from TED.

Sure, TED isn’t just mine, but he has helped me in incredible ways through my journey over the past year. TED helps me better understand what kind of crumbs I’m willing to clean up on the other side of the bed someday and what I want in that magical person who will share my life’s journey with me. So, yeah – TED’s my boyfriend. For now. Inspiration, compassion, laughter, and challenge – TED gives me everything. And I can’t thank the TEDx Peachtree team enough for making me a part of their event and for every one of the speakers and participants – including the Atlanta Music Project and CORE Performance Company – for giving their time and sharing ideas that were definitely worth spreading.

PS: If you’re bummed about not having made it to a TED event yet, why not bring one to your community? Check out TEDx – your chance to bring ideas worth spreading to your community.

37 comments
Timothy Brucke
Timothy Brucke

I don't get to watch TED often but when I do they are great. I just need to make time everyday to watch at least one talk.

Al Smith
Al Smith

Red and Ted ?  who woulda thunk it.  ha !  I know I sent an email to you, but forgot to comment.  this is a great post, Red.  You really captured it.  It was so nice to finally meet you in real life.  Thanks for sharing this with the world.  The TEDx peachtree was a great experience for me, as well.  can't wait to attend the next one.  Take CARE. Al

Al Meyers
Al Meyers

Erika,  I am so glad you enjoyed your experience at TEDxPeachtree.  On behalf of the entire team of volunteers, I wanted to thank you for joining us last Friday, and truly hope you will venture out to Atlanta when this rag-tag group of Atlantans tries to make a day of magic, once again. Al Meyers Founder, TEDxPeachtree

Marc Sirkin
Marc Sirkin

Literally can't wait to see the Ami Tedx talk - he spoke at a recent meeting at Autism Speaks and I was blown away as well. The video should be up at some point soon! > A life long autism researcher who took the audience on a journey through autism in terms that everyone can understand, dispelling the myth that it’s a psychological disorder. I met him after his talk and thanked him with tears in my eyes, as my nephew is autistic and I felt that he was the first person who had ever explained my nephew’s struggle in an accessible way. It also reinforced what an incredible person I see my sister to be, having guided my nephew on his journey so far.

Kellie Brooks
Kellie Brooks

That's one of my fav talks, Brett! Good for your son - may he be inspired to start an education revolution!

Kellie Brooks
Kellie Brooks

I hope I don't ruffle your feathers, but I'VE been starting my days with Ted for quite a while now. I hope you don't mind sharing ;) BTW, I actually got to meet Mr. Swoontastic himself a couple of weeks ago - Simon. His talk is even more palpable and impactful when you're IN THE SAME ROOM with him! Brought me to tears... Love your writing, Red!

The Redhead
The Redhead

I approve this message. Start them young! TED swings both ways :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for the link! Headed over to view now.

Paul Corsi
Paul Corsi

Been peeping on TED for a while now. Impressive to say the least.

Janice Tanton
Janice Tanton

Well DAMNIT! Seems we've all been sleeping with him. Have loved every minute of it, and had a wonderful time attending TEDxCalgary - once, totally inspired as a participant, and the other....shaking like a virgin when I did a talk. LOVE you, and happy to share my "man".

Patrick Reyes
Patrick Reyes

Love the fact that you're involved with TED!  I was on the board for TEDx Detroit and can tell you how inspiring these talks continue to be!  Nice work, Erika!  Hopefully we can get you to Detroit next September!

SL Clark
SL Clark

Red's TED, batteries not included. Why do women use bait & switch? Why are men so silly to fall for it? There's must be a TED video that explains this! Outstanding post, *again*, -Steve

Star Zagofsky
Star Zagofsky

Nice work on the subject line. I'm a new reader, and it had me fooled.

JackieDotson
JackieDotson

TED is better than, well, you know (insert the name of something people look at on the internet compulsively, I don't want to write the word cuz it causes spam problems). Simon Sinek's talk is my favorite (not just because he's a total hottie). I also love Barry Schwartz work as well. TED is DA BOMB!

PJ Mullen
PJ Mullen

I watch TED speeches on my Roku box, always good stuff.  BTW, the first thing I thought of when I started reading this post was the awkward transition Barney Stinson uses to help Ted Moseby pick up women. "So, have you met Ted?"

Shannon W.
Shannon W.

Bitch. You totally had me tearing up at "what do I want in the person who will help me rise above myself? Who will challenge me and refuse to let me sink into that hole of complacency? Who will call me on my bullshit and make me own everything about myself instead of letting me make excuses?" I feel so used. ;-) And also, YAY TED - we have a couple versions here, and they are an amazing contribution to our community. 

Marcia Polas
Marcia Polas

I had my first non-virtual date with TED this fall. I take the stage for the first time on December 1. (It kind of feels like he's introducing me to the parents.) How did you know I needed TEDrolled as I write, delete, write this morning?

Marie Rotter
Marie Rotter

You slut! You'll do anything to get people to look at you, won't you? :-0  It's funny. I was reading this and the whole time thinking, "Wait, didn't she Tweet she was at Tedx? Wait, she's seeing a guy named Ted, too? That's weird. Who named their kid Ted 30-40 years ago? And HOW can you think 18 minutes of 'intimacy' is OK?!!!" Ya got me.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for having me, lady - and I have no doubt I'll be back VERY soon :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

He was truly incredible and I can't wait to share his message with those both inside and unfamiliar with the struggle of autism.

Brett Bee
Brett Bee

Me too - isn't Sir Ken brilliant?   Funnily enough we got a call from the school this afternoon.  Apparently the revolution has already begun...I can't wait to hear what the principal has to say in our meeting tomorrow!  I might take a copy of the talk with me ;-)

The Redhead
The Redhead

TED really gets around, doesn't he? :-/

The Redhead
The Redhead

Say the word. Would LOVE to come out. I've never been to Michigan :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

I also think Simon Sinek is swoontastic. And not just because he can spout of stats. Which is hot. I'm going to take a cold shower.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Great to see you PJ - and thanks for letting me TEDroll ya :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Are you speaking at TED Women in Boulder? If so, I'm one of the hosts for the event :)

Marc Sirkin
Marc Sirkin

once we get the video, we'll post it everywhere, especially to our almost 1 million fans on Facebook :)

Shannon W.
Shannon W.

Only in the best possible way, of course!