Monday, April 25, 2016

More On My TED Talk

Here's my TED Talk Experience Part Two.

Well, the video of my Talk finally arrived and I posted it on Facebook and Twitter and showed it to everyone.

I mean everyone.

First of all I hate watching myself. Hate it. I see all the mess ups that only I can see. It's like the way only dogs can hear dog whistles. Having said that, did I mention I've watched it about a zillion times?

Smile and shrug.

You know the story. I was up at six, at the venue at nine, we began at eleven. There were 18 speakers in all and yours truly closed the show, speaking at 4:45.

That's a long day for anyone but especially for a stroke survivor. Every survivor can tell you that time is not a friend. The later it gets the more things fall apart. And the harder it gets to hold things together.

I sat in the audience all day and watched each speaker.

I thought over and over, "Man, they're bringing some heat." After the first six we had a lunch break. I ate nothing. Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie Stay Hungry? More like stay empty. I never want to have a full stomach before I go on.

More alert that way.

Six more speakers and another break for coffee and a snack. Okay, okay, I had a few grapes and maybe a banana for some energy. I hadn't eaten all day and I thought I should have something.

More speakers and then they called my name. That followed my sitting in a chair, getting up and pacing, then sitting right back down in the chair.

Anxious, people.

And before I knew it I was in the wings, getting mic'ed up, about to go on. When you're in the audience you can't see how many people there are backstage. Technicians, stage managers, mic guys, power point women. It wasn't exactly a thundering herd. But it was close.

I was introduced and came out onstage.

The place was packed. You see the audience but you don't see the audience. You're busy focusing on what you want to say. For me, I talk to one person in the crowd but to this day I couldn't pick a person in the audience out of a lineup.

Stroke is a furrowed brow kind of thing, by nature it's heavy and dark. In the words of Mary Poppins, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." If all you talk about is the heavy and dark, you can see eyes glazing over. But. If you can make them laugh while you're talking about it, they're all ears.

I began with a story about stroke that is true and funny. And guess what? They laughed. I talked about beginning my career as a rock and roll disc jockey, transitioned to being the weatherman on CBS, talked about how my career changed when I did the entertainment as well.  How I covered the Oscars and the Grammys. How I covered three Winter Olympics and ran with the Olympic Torch. How afterwards I came to Orlando to anchor.

And then I talked about my massive stroke.

About having it on a jet as I was coming home from Maryland, about being in a wheel chair at the Orlando airport and left by the skycap, curb side, by myself. About being in a coma for two days, being in the hospital and rehab, rehab, rehab. Remember the spoonful of sugar? I had some laughs in there but it was time to get busy.  I talked about obstacles in life, speed bumps I called them. When you hit one, as we all do, you can't let it bring you down, you have to fight back.

You have to.

About, even though I'm right handed, learning to do everything with my left hand because my right hand doesn't work like it used to. About being in bed, wide awake, in the middle of the night, mind racing, thinking I can't go out this way. Thinking I have to be here for my kids.

That'll help you to keep coming back.

I talked about persevering and then I showed a picture of me and my twins in a bubble bath, and told the audience they were my reason for going forward every day. I made the audience laugh one more time, said thank you, and left with saying, "Don't give up."

I walked offstage.

Can you be exhausted and exhilarated at the same time?

You can.


I was talking on the phone and telling my brother about how a friend of mine, Tom Couch, said he didn't know anyone who had done a TED Talk. I told him I didn't either. My brother said, with a smile in his voice, "I do."

And that my friends is my TED Talk Experience Part Two.

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