The Urgent Need to Rise—A Message from TEDx Pasadena Women

Today, we wake to news of the nation’s latest mass shooting—at least 50 dead and 400 wounded in Las Vegas. When is enough enough? How do we as a nation mobilize to stop violence and make a positive change now?

I am not the first to ask this. But in light of this weekend’s TEDx Pasadena Women’s conference—where 500 women and men gathered at The Huntington Library to gain inspiration and insight on how to do this—I feel morally obligated to act.

Here are the top insights that I need to apply:

  1. Rise now. Inspirational conferences are a double-edged sword. They are both empowering and terrifying. The people on stage are not like me. So what do I do now? I met at least a dozen people to team up with—that’s a tribe.
  2. Focus. 15-year-old Amanda Southworth’s story is one of rising above mental illness and suicide attempts to create apps that save lives. Lisa Strohman showed us terrifying brain scans of what technology addiction does to the brain—shrinking the capacity of empathy and increasing the likelihood of depression and suicide. Amanda and her team have another app that they are looking for support on. I can bring together the right group to help. We’re setting up a meeting for the third week of October.
  3. Self-reflect. Carri Twigg, Valerie Alexander and Jenny Watts challenged me to examine my own unconscious bias, understand how it may be an obstacle, and to actively imagine the unexpected so that I’m not sidelined by surprises. One of my biggest areas for improvement is trusting others to follow through. While others may painstakingly process what’s necessary to complete a task in excellence, I often race through planning, under estimate risk and timing to completion, and have totally unrealistic expectations. Going forward, I need to better value the cognitive diversity of those around me and exercise more benefit of the doubt—that what I perceive to be a lack of action may be more of a symptom of me expecting too much and not thinking it through.
  4. Follow through. Naturalist Lila Higgins helped create a garden in the middle of a Los Angeles elementary school parking lot that helped reduce disciplinary problems and increase test scores among the students. Steve Elkins’s 30 years of persistence uncovered Honduras’s Lost City of the Monkey God. Amara Barroeta can never go back to her home country of Venezuela, but brings the country to Pasadena through Amara Chocolate & Coffee Café. Photographer Ryan Pfluger used his camera as a therapist to help heal the broken relationship with his father. Nothing gets done unless you follow through.
  5. Bounce back. Joyce Ruygrok, Hui-Wen Sato and Grace Killelea gave important guidance on daring greatly and what to do when experiencing the inevitable fall. When Joyce fractured her femur at 84 years old leaving her right leg 1 1/2 inch shorter than her left, she had her exquisite shoes stacked to make up for the shortfall. As a critical care nurse, Hui-Wen taught herself to channel grief into resilience. Grace skydived into her year of no fear after losing more than 200 pounds with a modified landing—on her bottom and bouncing.
  6. Risk it. Pulitzer prize winner Mei Fong took an incredible leap when transitioning from journalist to mother. She and every TEDx speaker reinforced the universal lesson that you’ll only regret the risks you didn’t take. I’m using that reflection to push myself further out of my comfort zone and truly engage others in making an impact together.


Want to join the journey? We’re rallying around the banner of #BelongingAtBolton. Send me an email and you’ll be included in the events and support.


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