Yesterday I was a Star! At least that’s what my Personal Assistant said. And he’s my sharpest (though loving) critic.

The e-mail had said: Search for Speakers for TEDxYouth in ABQ. I’m not a performer but I am a showoff, and I love speaking. I could do that, I thought.

So I sent in an application suggesting I could talk about volunteerism. After all I have been volunteering every since I came to Albuquerque, some 27 years now, for myriad organizations.

Nothing happened and I thought that was it. But then another e-mail asked for a short video explaining what I would talk about.

I got my PA to take a minute of me um-ing and stumbling on my ‘dumb’ phone; he suggested doing it again, but I just sent it off thinking that would be the end of it; what a sloppy effort, they would think.

But no. To my surprise I was invited to come to a coaching session. And another and another. We had them three times a week and Sunday too. The coaches – there were five of them – were so encouraging and supportive, always praising any improvement first before offering helpful hints and suggestions.

Over the weeks I gained confidence and stumbled less and then it was Dress Rehearsal time. The other speakers were young persons, and they had a host of different topics to share, from poetry and music, to hard lessons and successful projects. And here was this old lady on the program.

The TEDxYouth theme was Zoom In, Zoom Out (though I’m not sure I quite understand that) and finally we were in the spotlight. It was an exciting day, and lots of wonderful people came up afterwards to say how much they enjoyed my talk.

My PA only complained that I had left out the one line he liked best: “I’m 80 years old, but volunteering keeps me young.”

I’ll make sure to include that next time.


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