I remember watching my first TED talk. I sat mesmerized for 20 minutes as I listened to Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, describe the experience of studying her own stroke from the inside as it occurred. It was unbelievable.  I was inspired, excited, and moved to tears as I watched in awe of her story and her delivery. I was hooked on TED. I was elated after being asked to be one of 7 speakers at the inaugural TEDxMileHighWomen event. However, my elation quickly dissipated as my reaction went from “Oh my gosh, I’ve been asked to give a TEDx talk!” to “Holy #$%!, I have to give a TEDx talk!” Panic set in. In the months before my talk the stress continued to build. First, how was I going to condense a topic on which I had just written a 250-page book into a 15-minute Talk? Then, how was I going to remember a 15 minute talk in front of 500 people? Finally, how can I get out of this? After countless rehearsals in the shower, the car, on walks, and in front of anyone I could get to listen, the night of the talk arrived. In my Talk, I compared the stress response triggered before giving a TEDx Talk with the stress response triggered when encountering a bear in the woods; and I was not kidding. It was a terrifying and exhilarating experience. I remember sitting in my seat just before I was introduced, certain that the entire room would be able to hear my heart beating through the microphone. I thought it might explode out of my chest. Ultimately, it was my nine year old daughter’s advice a day earlier that got me through the talk, “Mom, I know you are nervous, but all you need to do is what you’ve been telling us kids to do all along, take a deep breath, remember your mindfulness and enjoy the moment. Do that and I know you’ll do great!” The stress response that I experienced prior to giving this Talk was not unlike the experiences so many of us encounter all the time before big events. Kids experience it before a big exam, an important athletic event, or a performance. Adults encounter it before an important work presentation, or job interview. It is one thing to prepare the content, but another to prepare to handle the stress, nerves, and fear that can accompany these events. I had a wealth of tools to use on the day ofTEDxMileHighWomen; including breathing, meditating, and staying in the moment.  Many people have heard of the same ideas, but if we don’t practice using these tools during times when the stress response is NOT triggered, they are far less effective when we really need them. Take two four year-olds: one who practices mindful breathing every morning at school, and one who doesn’t. They both are going to experience the same stress response when their sibling breaks their favorite toy.  However, if you tell each of them to take a deep breath and calm down, the one who has practiced will be able to use this tool and the one who hasn’t will likely scream louder! My daughter reminded me that day that I not only taught these tools, but I practiced them. Was I still terrified moments before the event? Absolutely. But my ability to breathe and stay in the moment prevented me from “screaming louder” and allowed me to perform my best. We are all going to experience events that push us to our edge, challenge us to the core, and perhaps terrify us just a little. A practice like mindfulness prepares us for the big stressors and the little. Allowing us to succeed, when we never thought we could. Have you been able to apply lessons from Kristen’s talk in your life?     Kristen Race Ph.D. is a parent of two young children, as well as an expert in child, family and school psychology. Dr. Race is the founder of Mindful Life, which provides brain-based solutions for schools, businesses, children and families as they try to become more resilient to modern day stressors.