who + what + how = a better world

Someone, sometime back told me the difference between an Optimist and a Pessimist's view of an event. 

An Optimist is never surprised and always disappointed. Whereas, a Pessimist is never disappointed and always surprised.
— A Pessimist

That definition bugs the heck out of me. It makes being an Optimist feel like a sorry state of being. Why? Because of that word "Surprise." 

Who doesn't love a surprise?

Who doesn't like to be surprised?

 I can not tell you how many times I've pondered it, wondering if being one or the other is wiser. My conclusion: Even if I am sometimes disappointed, I would rather be optimistic. To that end, I'd like to share with you one of the most inspiring things I do for myself each day. 

TED Talk

TED Talks are short--15ish minute long--presentations by dynamic doers, thinkers, speakers sharing ideas on a huge range of topics of global interest. Contrary to most other talking we hear, Ted Talks are informative, interesting and almost always positive. Those I have listened to feature people trying to make our world through science, social interaction, literature & art, better. I've listed a few of my favorites below. For a complete list of talks click here: TED Talk Topics

Parents, Teacher, Librarians:There are also TED Talks for Kids!

TED Talks are FREE!

You can watch TED Talks on your phone, Ipad, Computer, or listen to them on your commute (although I must mention that many include visuals worth seeing, so some things do get lost with audio-only.)

What is TED? 

TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.
— https://www.ted.com/about/our-organization

Get this! There is even a TED Prize! (I just learned about this incredible Million Dollar prize!) "The TED Prize is awarded annually to a leader with a creative, bold wish to spark global change. By investing $1 million in a powerful idea every year, the TED Prize accelerates progress toward solving some of the world's most pressing problems."




The heart of the TED Prize is the wish. It’s worth investing time to refine it and push it further. At its most basic, a wish is: who + what + how = a better world. Who are you going to engage? On what issue, and in what way? For what kind of impact?
— https://www.ted.com/participate/ted-prize/nominate/nomination-tips

Winner of the 2017 TED Prize is  Dr. Raj Panjabi, Founder and CEO of Last Mile Health, most notable for his work on the ebola virus. Dr. Panjabi's wish is to train locals to provide heathcare in remote communities. I couldn't find a TED Talk by Dr. Panjabi yet, but he will be revealing his plans for fulfilling his wish at a TED conference in April. 

And, to hear past winners of the TED Prize and be inspired and excited by them and their WISH, click!

It begins with a Wish! Don't you love that? A Wish for our planet! A Wish for humanity! A Wish for a cure! For a solution! A Wish for the future!


That "difference" between Optimists and Pessimists noted above, might be true. Maybe Pessimists are surprised more often--surprised by what Optimists dare to WISH!

Cue Jiminy Cricket: "For when you wish upon a star your dreams come true..."


Finding MY Way Back

Two things happened last week that smacked me down and left me wallowing in a murky pit of miserable. . .

Trinidad Mud Volcano kind of murky

Trinidad Mud Volcano kind of murky

  1. Flew back to Trinidad after a California Easter and a stop-over in New York with my family.
  2. Opened a letter from Candlewick Press saying my heart-project DAD AND POP was going out of print.
Dad and Pop 2010.jpg

Then, email brought news of a third, tragic event that dwarfed any issues I might have: A friend’s husband died suddenly—no warning at all. One day he was here, all be it, feeling peckish; the next gone.

Knowledge of my friend’s loss made me recount my largess But, instead of snapping me out of it in that what-the-heck-are-you-moping-about-for-be-grateful-and-get-on-with-it way, the realization of how tenuous it was, how in an instant—any instant—I could lose all I hold dear, sank me.

A TED TALK saved me.

Completely unmotivated to even try to “Get over it, and get on with it,” as my friend Beverly always says, by doing something productive (say unpacking, cooking, or going for a walk), I’d pulled on my fuddiest wallowing clothes, plopped down in front of the computer, and gone Facebook surfing—which depressed me even more as every post seemed entirely too jolly, successful, oozing with cheer—so had moved onto email. As I subscribe to TED TALKS, new lecture notices are delivered to my email. I don’t always listen to each talk, but I think about it. Having reached the end of the new mail, I had a choice to make: sift through junk mail & spam or listen.

I've heard other TED TALKS by Elizabeth Gilbert and found them engaging

I've heard other TED TALKS by Elizabeth Gilbert and found them engaging

life preserver.jpg

The TED TALK was by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and recently The Signature of All Things. (As it happens, I’d recently finished the latter, which was pleasantly, surprisingly, nothing like the former—probably the reason I clicked “play” rather than “delete”.)

Gilbert’s talk was titled "Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating."

In the midst of her talk, Gilbert threw out the fully inflated life preserver I needed.

She described how extreme success and extreme failure feel the same to our sub-conscious. Although polar opposites, in terms of the havoc they wreck on us physiologically—both elicit extreme emotional responses—success and failure feel the same to our sub-conscious. They both have the ability to unbalance us, much the way one lemon too many on either side tips the scales.

Via my interpretation of Gilbert (Listen yourself for more) When we are dangling helplessly, from one end or the other of our balance poles there are two choices:

#1 Quit and just hang there until we fall


#2 Head down, eyes open, set a course for HOME and start walking/working our way back.

Simple really, right? 

Sure. If you’ve got the ruby slippers, know how to use them, and where you want them to take you. . .

But, before we can fight our way back HOME, we must discover/uncover/recognize:

What is HOME?

For Dorothy, it took a tornado; for me a TED TALK.

Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself.
— Elizabeth Gilbert

That’s why I was so miserable. My Home, that to which I as Gilbert defines it “Can dedicate [my] energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential" is comprised of two things: my family and my work. In the past week, I’ve registered both success and failure.  And my friend’s loss was a threat reminder of how easy it is to lose one’s HOME.

 All I wanna do is find my way back. . .    Way Back into Love from Music & Lyrics

 All I wanna do is find my way back. . . Way Back into Love from Music & Lyrics

One wrong wind is all it take. . .

For me finding my way back HOME, meant scheduling time with my family. And, even though I didn't have the energy for it--getting back to writing.

Dang in Elizabeth-baby wasn’t right! It didn’t take long before I began feeling more centered. I knew it for sure when, part way into this blog, a song popped into my head. I'm not in tune--yet--but at least I’m singing again.

Where’s your HOME? Could you find your way back?

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