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Have an idea? Why not TED Talk about it? [Senior Circles]

We have all heard that old saying, "You are never too old to learn." At a 60th birthday party for a friend, which I attended earlier this month, I learned something new while talking to Kate Campbell Stevenson, actress, singer and educator, who does a one-woman show, "Women: Back to the Future."

In her historical performances, Kate portrays women in history. I am always in awe of her talent as she transforms herself from Abigail Adams to Sacagawea to Eleanor Roosevelt, right before your eyes, through makeup and costumes.

I had better get back to what I learned. I asked Kate what was new in her life and she was very excited about her TED talk. I had no idea what TED is. I didn't want to show my lack of knowledge on the subject, so I decided not to ask, but to do some research on the subject matter at a later time, which I did.

 TED, an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is an intellectual forum started in 1984. With its slogan, "ideas worth spreading," TED is a nonprofit, which asks "the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers to give the talk of their lives."

The talks are limited to 18 minutes or less. With now more than 15,000 TED Talks on, you can expand your mind by gaining new ideas and exploring new topics. What a great way to spend some time.

First timers with TED Talks should go to The TED Primer lists 11 classic TED Talks on various topics. Watch these classics and learn about what TED offers. Then, go to and search the list of TED Talks or view a long list of topics alphabetically.

There are TED Talks related to technology, entertainment, design, business, science and global issues. Searching alphabetically, I saw talks on aging, computers, math, medical research, memory and mobility. If your interests involve art, architecture, music, education, jazz, literature, food, poetry or theater, you can find talks on all of these subjects, plus a lot more.

If you are a savvy technology user, you can even download the TED app onto your smart phone or tablet, so you can listen to a talk at your convenience.

TED Talks originate at a TED Conference and are then disseminated online in short videos. These conferences provide a venue for an open and accepting exchange of ideas. There is also the TEDx program, which is "designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level." The x indicates that it is an independently organized event.

Kate Campbell Stevenson was one of 12 speakers at TEDxBethesdaWomen Dec. 5, 2013, TED's "Women's Event" day. The theme of the event was "Sassy: Lively and Spirited." In her almost 17-minute interactive TED Talk, entitled "Make Your Own Kind of Music," Kate discusses the transformative power of music in our lives.

She said that music transforms and connects individuals and community, creating equilibrium and a sense of belonging. As an example, Kate spoke of a day she was leading songs at a nursing home. During the session, a woman in a wheelchair was placed before her. She said that the woman started to mouth the words to the songs and eventually sang along with her and the others. The younger woman sitting next to her had tears in her eyes and Kate asked her if she was okay after the singing ended. The younger woman said, "This is my mother and she hasn't spoken in a year."

As of Jan. 6, Kate's presentation is on YouTube. I watched it and was moved to bring more music into my life. Go to and search on Kate Campbell Stevenson. She has already had 983 views.

Listening to the ideas presented in TED Talks doesn't mean you have to agree with everything that is proffered. But, gaining new ideas could expand your mind and spark new topics for discussion, and subsequent connection, with friends, "in the spirit of ideas worth spreading."


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