• author
    • Cathy Speck

      Columnist, Photographer
    • January 9, 2015 in Columnists

    Taking the stage in hopes of ‘Better Days’

    It’s been a long time since I wrote an iPinion column — yup, too long. If you don’t know my backstory, I suggest you read my brief bio before you jump into this column.

    Okay, enough about you, let’s talk about me. It’s always about me.

    In November 2014, I did a TEDxUCDAVIS at the Varsity Theater in delightful downtown Davis, California. The theme for that event was “Roots of Inspiration,” a perfect set-up for me since I’m a Davis native, and I’m told that I’m very inspiring.

    “What do I do now?” was my talk title, but I don’t know if anyone in the audience understood the connection, or if they even noticed the title. Of course, I’m not criticizing the audience at all — they laughed and cried at the appropriate times.

    I bet that some folks who don’t know me at all might have been speechless when I rolled my fabulously blinged-out walker up to the microphone. I was wearing a bright blue cape with bright red letters — all in caps — that spelled “STOP ALS. ” I was also wearing a tie with my stiff, white button -up shirt.

    The stage didn’t have a ramp, so four of my friends helped me and my walker onto the stage. Just that show of support was enough to get the audience intrigued — who is this person and what is wrong with her?

    Before I launch into my story, you should know that all TED TALKS are limited to 18 minutes, and that TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. Or maybe it’s Technologically, Especially, Dumb.

    While I was preparing for this talk that could possibly change my life forever, I — well, I — never prepare for my talks, I just open my mouth and let Chatty Cathy take it from there. And then there’s that oft-heard phrase, “change my life forever.” Well, everything changes our lives forever — that’s what life is: change. We are always changing, and nothing is permanent, never, ever.

    Since this was kind of a big deal, I did prepare, I wrote and rewrote for hours, days, and then I changed my perspective. What did I want the audience to remember forever… Ha! When I woke up Saturday morning, the day of the TEDxUCDAVIS, I pretty much threw my preparation out the window and into the recycling bin. (Can’t say threw it in the trash in Davis.) Like Sinatra crooned, ” I did it my way.”

    I had a blast bantering with the audience before I got to ” the meat” of my talk (yes, I’m a vegetarian). But then I noticed that the stage manager was holding up two fingers, which meant I had only two minutes left on the stage.

    Gosh darn it!

    I didn’t have to think on my feet since I was sitting down.

    During the last two minutes, I quickly prefaced my lyrics and then I sang one verse and one chorus from my loss and healing song, “Sweet Beyond.” Before ALS, I was a performing singer, songwriter and emcee. This song was on our first Duval Speck CD (which you can hear at www.duvalspeck.com). When I watched the YouTube video of my talk I cringed when I heard myself try to sing. Ego be gone! Away ego, step away. You only bring me pain.

    Ennyhoo, I had so much fun while I was talking that I completely forgot to say that now I have cancer too: metastatic neuroendocrine carcinoma. I even have a great scar on my torso that I could’ve flashed to the people, but no, I never even thought about the cancer.

    If you want to have fun vicariously, check out my TEDx talk.

    And, if you’d like to hear all the stories I didn’t have time to tell at my TEDxUCDAVIS talk, I invite you to attend “Better Days with Cathy Speck: An ALS Documentary Benefit,” featuring Cathy Speck, with an extended version of her inspirational, standing ovation 2014 TEDxUCDavis talk, and Nadine El Khoury, director, producer and writer of “Better Days: the ALS Documentary.”

    The benefit takes place on Saturday, Jan. 31, 4-6:15 p.m. at the Davis Community church Fellowship Hall, 421 D Street (look for bright yellow smiley face helium balloons to enter the hall.) Doors open at 3:45 p.m.

    The suggested donation price for tickets are whatever amount the donor wishes to give, from $1 to $ 100 or more. Advance reservations are recommended, as seating is limited and tickets may not be available at the door. To reserve a seat or make a donation, go to http://www.gofundme.com/ddbn0k to donate, then click on “contact” near the bottom of the page to reserve seats.

    Thanks for reading my whole column, and if you come to the show on Jan. 31, please come introduce yourself to me.

    Cheers !



    • I can’t be there but I sent a donation. You are my shero and I loved your TedX talk. You just did it your way and it worked.



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