Personal Growth

My First TEDx Talk (And How I Got It) – A Detour is Not a Dead End

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From a happy-go-lucky musical theatre teen, to surviving sexual abuse, a coma, six years without food or drink, and 27 surgeries, it’s been a very long, detoured journey, and it still isn’t over yet.

But what makes the journey meaningful, and ultimately rewarding, is the ability to share, and know that you can possibly help someone through their own “detours.” Something I’ve learned over time, is that a Detour is Not a Dead End – which was the title of my first TEDx Talk!

I gave my TEDx Talk this April, and finally…it’s out!

Giving the talk was a thrilling experience.  Even being such a shameless musical theatre ham that I am, this was the most nervous I’ve ever been.  Actually, I didn’t realize how nervous I was until I was done…and I started basically hyperventilating!

“How do you get a TEDx Talk?”

Many people have reached out to me and have asked “what it takes” to “get” a TEDx Talk.


Something I’ve learned along the way, like everything else, and I hate to say this, but there is no “quick easy way” to get a TEDx Talk…or anything else, to be honest.  When I make up my mind I sort of take on an all or nothing mentality.   Moderation is definitely not my forte!

Getting” a TEDx Talk took hours of googling calls for speakers for a few months, then writing a ton of essays – an application for TEDx is basically like applying for college. You have to write many well-crafted essays and it’s really not just about being a good motivational speaker with an inspiring message.

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Although difficult to finally “get” a TEDx talk, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I’ve learned, through over a decade of medical crises, that we are able to heal when we tell our stories. And that is precisely what I did.

A TEDx talk tells a story.  Like their catch phrase says, TEDx is all about “ideas worth spreading.”

Who is TED?

ted tals talks

Ted is not a person, although I’m sure he would be a very intelligent person. TED actually stands for Technology Entertainment and Design.  TED Talks are all about ideas that are worth spreading, to better ourselves and our world.

My idea worth spreading? That someone who follows life’s unexpected detours and searches for the flowers along the way to make their journey meaningful is, in fact, a Detourist.

Detours Worth Spreading

I felt that this idea was worth spreading, simply because when I started to approach my personal journey as just a detour in life that I could navigate myself, it really made the bumpy ride ahead of me a lot easier to manage.  Suddenly, I felt like I had control of the unexpected path.  Being a Detourist empowered me with a sense of ownership, at a time when life felt very uncertain.  (You’ll have to watch the talk to find out more!)

If life's taken you down an unexpected path, you're a Detourist

So I figured it could help other people too.

Detours in life can be tough to navigate. That’s why I call myself a Detourist.

Why I’m a Detourist

My stomach exploded. (Seriously – it’s in the talk.)

My life didn’t go exactly as I planned it – but does anyone’s?

A Detourist travels along detours – simple enough.  But in addition, a Detourist embraces those unexpected routes as opportunities for growth, change and self-fulfillment.  I hope to serve as living proof that a detour can lead to unexpected blessings.  Because of my Detour, I’ve learned so much about myself, my world, and the strength I never even knew I had.


Detours Keep Going…

As the nature of detours go, after I gave this talk, my life took another detour – in the shape of a very unexpected and upsetting divorce.  So although the talk has an “unfinished” ending, that is truly the nature of detours – by trusting our path, one foot in front of the other, with time, we eventually find our flower.  Sometimes, you don’t really “love” your detour. But you still can trust it.

I still feel that through sharing our own detours, even if they’re not so great in the moment, makes us all stronger. So that’s why I share. Moving forward, trusting our detours, one day at a time.

Hope you enjoy the talk, and feel free to share – the more we share our detours, the easier they are to navigate.

What is your idea worth spreading?

Watch the video here.

All artwork was created by Amy on her detour. Learn about her speaking, or catch her touring Gutless & Grateful, her one woman musical, to theatres, colleges, conferences and organizations nationwide.   Learn about her mental health advocacy programs for students, and find out how to take part in the#LoveMyDetour movement, and learn about her upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour at


My First TEDx Talk- A Detour is Not a Dead End


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  1. Very interesting. I had never done one of these before. I too had my life detoured after a horrible car accident. It changed my life, but actually it was an improvement.

  2. I have never heard of Ted before, but sounds like it really gives you something to think about. I love what you said about detours…just got to keep going!

  3. Congratulations! A Tedx Talk is a great accomplishment and your message can reach so many. You’ve faced more than most people can think of. It’s an inspiring story.

  4. great information. i think all our lives take different paths many times during our life. i know mine has for the better and for the worse.

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