Microadventure #17: TEDxUSFSM

TEDx event at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus

I love TED Talks! I don’t know how long I’ve been watching them, but I’ve blogged before about how TED Talks add to my happiness.

A few weeks ago I was exploring the beautiful Selby library in downtown Sarasota and saw an item on the bulletin board that advertised this TEDx event. The event itself was free, but you needed to fill out an application to be in the audience, I guess because they needed to limit the number due to Covid.

Selby Library in downtown Sarasota

I got my acceptance as an audience member last week, but because applications to be in the audience were closed, I couldn’t invite anyone to go with me. Since my self-imposed requirement of a microadventure is that it be with other people, I decided that I’d have the additional challenge of meeting someone at the event.

I introduced myself to the man sitting next to me and it turns out he teaches conversational Spanish at the North Sarasota Library for free! That’s the exact thing I want to get better at! The class is 5 Saturdays starting March 26 which are just the exact final weeks I’m going to be out here for the season. (A very serendipitous meeting!)

The presentations were very interesting and, of course, all the speakers were articulate and seasoned presenters. Giving a TED talk is a very big bucket-list stretch goal for me. I’ve participated in Toastmasters to up my game with public speaking and maybe some day I’ll actually audition for a TEDx event, but for now, I’m much happier to be in the audience.

The theme for the night was “Doing Good.” The presentations were unique with a wide variety of topics from the perspectives of soccer referee to day-care provider to congressman to professor to name a few.

After the talks, there was a meet-and-greet networking opportunity with the speakers and volunteers.

Networking with one of the speakers, Dr. Tom Becker, his wife, and Dr. Giti Javidi.

The natural introvert in me would have just left after the talks were over, but I wanted to challenge myself to meet others, so I joined a table and introduced myself. I met Dr. Giti Javidi, a professor of Cybersecurity and her husband who also taught at the University of South Florida. We were soon joined by another professor, Dr. Tom Becker, one of the speakers at the evening’s event, along with his wife.

The group was very friendly and welcoming. Dr. Becker’s presentation had been about tenure and the pressure it puts on graduates to publish. I remember hearing about that from Matt & Stella.

It was exciting to be in a University atmosphere around students and people like me, who loved to learn. The event reminded me that I wanted to explore the University more and really take advantage of all the wonderful ways there are to be a life-long learner!

Microadventure #6: Bird-Watching at Oscar Scherer State Park

This week’s microadventure has been every bit as much about the “who” as the “what” and “where.”  Yes, bird-watching at Oscar Scherer State Park was a new, unique experience for me. I’d never really been exposed to the world of bird-watching, and Eva is quite a serious birder! It was interesting for me to learn about the “Big Year Challenge” in which birders find and log as many different species of birds in a particular area during a year.  That kind of thing is SO up my alley.

On this hike, we were in hot pursuit of the Florida scrub-jay, which, unfortunately, we were not able to find. 

Though we didn’t find the illusive jay, Eva still captured some worthy bird photographs. She recently started a new business, evasbirdsiview.com with her wonderful bird photography captured on shirts and greeting cards.  She even gifted me with the pretty pick-me-up Pelican greeting card. 

As I said, though, this microadventure, was extra special because of the women who I shared it with. Becky had invited a group of girlfriends, Eva, Felicia, and Georgette, to spend the weekend with her. These ladies have known each other and been close for over 50 years, though they’ve been geographically scattered.  Eva and Felicia are cousins and they are all as close (or closer) than sisters and their love and support for one another is apparent.

They all share a love of singing and I enjoyed an evening of untethered joy on the first night of their reunion as Eva and Becky got out their guitars and sang together. 

On that first night, Becky’s sister, Susie, joined the reunion, singing harmony.

But the highlight of the weekend was hearing and recording a song that Georgette and written long ago, “Any Way She Can” and she and Eva had put to music. The lyrics of this unique love song are a powerful testament to the long-time love and friendship that all these women share.  Eva’s daughter is in the music business, so I hope she’s able to get this in front of the right people. Both the music and lyrics are enough to make me tear up whenever I hear it.

So, again, this week’s microadventure was much more than a hike in a park..  it was about being accepted and welcomed into a special sisterhood weekend, giving me a peek into the lives of these unique, talented women who have gone “any place, anywhere, any way they can!”