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Event hopes to create momentum

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — If you’ve ever found sharing an experience makes life easier, a dozen brave women and one man are stepping up to the TEDx stage later this month to share their stories of hard-earned wisdom to inspire and entertain you.

DAVIS: Curator of local TEDx event

DAVIS: Curator of local TEDx event

Curator Kathy Davis, senior vice president and chief of nursing for Presbyterian Healthcare Services, says the TEDx ABQWomen 2015 speakers, who were chosen from 70 applicants, promise to offer innovative ways to build momentum, the theme of the event.

“It’s about how women explore their world – how they think, live and work today. It’s about connecting women in New Mexico to other women around the world,” Davis says.

The event will be simulcast to coincide with similar TEDx events all over the world. Like other TEDx events, speakers from diverse disciplines share their ideas about a common topic.

“It’s an opportunity to hear how people in adjacent fields think about similar problems. It’s a different lens,” she says.

She says the speakers will resonate with audience members. For example, Kimm Oostman will talk about personal growth through uncomfortable experiences and Taos artist Deborah Rael-Buckley will speak about transforming cultural expectations to blossom in unexpected ways.

Rael-Buckley says she shied away from speaking about her path to reclaiming her New Mexican culture and heritage through her clay sculptures, but eventually became convinced that she had ideas worth sharing. “I sorta didn’t want to do it,” she says. “I rarely talk about it.”

In life-size ceramic sculptures that take the shapes of dresses, chairs and other forms, Rael-Buckley, 62, tells her stories through clay, images and color.

She says she explores levels of memory and how people classify and organize them, in a process she calls the taxonomy of memory. She defines that as layering through the geology of the clay, the biology of DNA, through culture and ethnicity to personal details.

RAEL-BUCKLEY: Escaping tradition

RAEL-BUCKLEY: Escaping tradition

No one, including herself, could have imagined the day she would do her art or talk about it in front of 600 people, she says. Raised as the eldest daughter in a traditional Spanish-Catholic family in New Mexico, she was expected to marry and have children as her mother and grandmother had done.

When she was in high school in 1972 her counselor also encouraged that path, or a trade, certainly not college or fine art, she recalls. So she married and tried to fit into the mold.

“Family expectations and cultural traditions combine to create an especially heavy responsibility. Both can be suffocating,” she says. “Security comes with a cost. In desperation, I ran. Far away from my past, Debbie morphed into Deborah.”

In her 40s she graduated with honors in art history; in another five years she had a master of fine arts with work that explored her cultural history. She continues the work in her studio in Taos. “The same history that once suffocated, now liberated. Visual art became a medium for reintegrating my culture.”

In another TEDx talk, Oostman, 47, will describe her journey from the comfort of her couch to a master’s degree in communication, by challenging herself in unfamiliar situations.

OOSTMANN: Designing challenges

OOSTMANN: Designing challenges

She had been a stay-at-home mom, who after raising her three children, had worked herself out of a job. “I was having an identity crisis. I didn’t like the way I looked or how I was feeling.”

Although she had not been a runner, something about taking on a physical challenge appealed to her. “I needed to take on a challenge to redefine myself. If I chose not to do it, I felt I would still be sitting there in my funk.”

She begin slowly with a 5K and then expanded to a half-marathon, then a marathon and ultimately a triathlon.

“I didn’t know how to swim, more than keeping myself from drowning,” she says. Even though she trembled as she went to practice swimming with her son, she persisted.

“A little success or victory is really empowering. You build on that success and look around for what’s next,” she says. “Choosing intentionally to do something uncomfortable has rewards – a feeling of power, freedom and victory.”

In many ways, choosing to present at the TEDx event, became another one of those uncomfortable, but necessary, steps to her personal growth, she says. “It’s about figuring out your voice. What is my voice and what do I have to say? Is it important? If it is, then you definitely need to put yourself in the position of being uncomfortable and doing it. It’s different for everybody.”

Others with ideas to inspire momentum are:

  • Polly Ahrendts, a film documentarian, discovered the transformational power of handmade art through extensive volunteering.
  • Susie McLean, a wellness professional at Presbyterian, shares her story of transformation and how to find a path toward positive change.
  • Dr. Wendy Johnson describes how compassionate care at the community level can help change the lives for better of drug-dependent pregnant women.
  • Veena Patel talks about obstacles to success for women in science and technology, but explains how solving problems are what women innovators do best.
  • Jennifer Owen-White, refuge manager of the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, mentors a team of young women finding their place in conservation work for wildlife and their community.
  • Sustainability educator Amy Lin explains why everyone should care about composting toilets.
  • Brandy Montaño talks about standing up to society norms and expectations of masculinity and femininity.
  • Working artist Kelly Jo Kuchar shares the profound universal and lasting transformation that occurs through creating art.
  • Bianca Villani is professionally and personally dedicated to teaching and spreading the message that understanding and obtaining sexual consent is important for everyone.
  • Carolyn Flynn, author and assistant features editor of the Journal, shares the power of narrative to craft your life path. Through the heroine’s journey, women can see themselves as victors in their own lives.
  • Daniel Williams, father, writer, actor and educator, believes words we hear matter. In “Messages From the Heart,” he encourages his daughter Alana, and each of us, to be ourselves, and to parent – fearlessly.


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