How would you use 13 minutes to tell the most important story of your life thus far? I am honoured to share with you the story of a champion and beautiful gentlewoman, Hayley Goleniowska, and what she did with her opportunity to give a TedX talk. Whatever situations we face, may the universe grant us Hayley’s grace and strength to find that part of our humanity which keeps us going… and inspires others to greatness. May it also bless us with the support and love of a family such as Hayley’s. Humbled at calling this woman my friend, here are her words and inspirational video which will move and challenge your thinking about Down’s syndromeEd, Melinda

Aside from a few festive round robins and a box full of dusty (but painstakingly hand-written) university essays that failed to ignite even my own interest, I realise that any notable word-cobbling I may have done has been since I started blogging in my 40s.

I guess it’s something to do with life throwing lots of writing prompts at us along the way, a developing sense of confidence to enable us to share those scribblings and the maturity to reflect on how experiences have changed us.

It’s true isn’t it, that once we find our voice, and the deeply-rooted passion and motivation to write, we’re off.

So imagine someone gave you just 13 minutes to tell the most important story of your life. 13 minutes to challenge their thinking on a topic desperately important to you. 13 minutes to create an image they could take home and keep in their hearts forever.

What would you say?

This is the question that filled my head for most of last year after I was given one of the greatest honours a blogger and speaker can have; I was asked to give a TedX Talk at our local TedX Truro event.

Excitement and pride filled my heart. Closely followed by petrifying fear, then a clothing dilemma.

And after all the drafts and editing and practice runs, it turned out that it wasn’t writing, but performing without notes or the safety of a podium that was the biggest challenge this post-40 blogger would ever face.

My head buzzed with words and anecdotes and vital messages, and coaxing them into shape was the biggest challenge I have ever faced. Telling our story so exposing.

But I wanted the world to know that Down’s syndrome is nothing to be feared and that our perceptions of the condition come from years of shaping by medics and society. The phrases of others tell us what to think, and mostly those others have no lived experience to hang their words on.

So here’s what I did with my 13-and-a-little-bit-more minutes.

What would you do with yours?

Here is the link to how I used mine.


Photo credit:
Verity Westcott Photography (
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