Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.
Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.

TEDx Wilmington Women Conference: My Gentle Barn: Learning to Listen

Ellie Laks - Speaking at TEDx WilmingtonWomen Conference

Being invited to speak at TEDx Wilmington Women’s conference on November 30th is a dream come true, and the process has been almost as delicious as giving the actual talk. Getting the invitation was pure elation as my head filled with ideas. It was as if each animal that I have ever known was floating to the surface of my mind and asking me to pick them. I imagined to myself what I would say about each animal and how I would describe their tale, and then one animal rose to the surface, took center stage in my mind, and almost demanded that I share her story. Karma is the matriarch of our bovine family and has an incredibly inspiring story, fitting to be an idea worth sharing.

As I went over and over the talk in my mind, in the shower, in the car, before I fall asleep at night, I got more and more excited. Ideas came to me as to how to begin or end the talk, and it’s almost like Karma and I were in partnership as I felt her silently guiding me and inspiring me. From writing the very first outline, practicing that first talk, receiving notes, and then redoing it for the finished product, it’s been nerve-wracking at times, but rewarding none the less. To me, the process is like molding a big chunk of clay. At first, it has no form and no shape. But then the chiseling begins and from nothing, something starts to take shape. Little by little more and more of it emerges until what the message is, is clear and bright. And once the main shape of it is vibrant, the fine sculpting and small details become the focus. In the last few weeks while the main vision of my talk is now clear, tweaking small sentences and refining timing has been my emphasis. And getting feedback from the TEDx Wilmington Women Conference team has been very helpful. It is easy to have a story or vision in our heads, but to make it clear, in focus, and meaningful to others is the hard part. When I watch inspiring Ted talks now I’m reminded of the effort behind the scenes that goes into that one great moment. And it is evident that in all great masterpieces and all inspiring, life-altering acts, tremendous refinements and practice comes first.

I am grateful to partake in this experience, not just the finished product, but each baby step towards it! As I spend time with Karma in the barnyard, stroke her soft fur, and gaze deeply into her soulful eyes, I pray that I do her justice, tell her story for the most impact, and change the way people see animals forever. The truth is, that it’s really Karma giving this talk, and I her translator. It is her message and her life, and I feel both elated and a deep sense of responsibility. May these final days ahead bring clarity and focus, and may I deliver justice to karma, her struggle, her pain, her life, her family, and all animals that are counting on me to be their voice!