Local speakers will pivot the paradigm about courage, commitment and intimacy

Author Terry Sidford put together Paradigm Pivots, an evening of presentations that will enlighten and educate audiences, as a way to help speakers practice for TEDx and keynote speeches. Sidford’s talk is about courage.
Photo by Deb DeKoff

What: Paradigm Pivots When: 5-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 27 Where: Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave. Cost: Free

Terry Sidford wants to help change people’s perceptions of issues that may hinder what they want to do in their lives. To do this, the Park City resident and author has organized Paradigm Pivots, a night of presentations that will address topics such as courage, commitment, perseverance and relationships.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will run from 5-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium. The talks are appropriate for an adult audience, due to explicit content.

The speakers will include Sidford, a certified life coach at Create Your Life Coaching; Kit Allowitz, an author and motivational speaker; Kirsten Henry Fox, Fox School of Wine headmistress, executive sommelier and CEO of Uplift Gifts and the Culinary Wine Institute, and Sam Cullinane, author, podcaster and public speaker.

Courageous beginnings

The idea for Paradigm Pivots is to educate and challenge the audience to see their lives in a different light, Sidford said.

When I read their stories, I just cried because these stories were so powerful and courageous…” Terry Sidford, Paradigm Pivots organizer

“The people that are speaking all have relevant messages about changing perspectives and making a shift that could change the reality of the way you look at you life,” she said.

Sidford will talk about courage, something she addressed in her 2015 book, “One Hundred Hearts: Inspiring Stories from the Women Who Lived Them.”

During her research for the book, Sidford surveyed 100 women and asked what made them courageous.

The responses surprised her.

“It was like pulling teeth to get the women to fill out the survey because they didn’t think they were courageous,” Sidford said. “They were more embarrassed about things they had done in their past. But when I read their stories, I just cried because these stories were so powerful and courageous.”

During the writing process, Sidford found she also didn’t associate herself with being courageous.

“Like the women who took the survey, I thought about things that happened in my life that I was ashamed of and never wanted anyone to hear about them,” she said.

Those experiences included being forced to leave her alcoholic mother, whom she loved, to live with her father and initiating a divorce from her first husband.

“The thing about the divorce was I wanted to be a whole person for my children and for myself and I couldn’t do that in that marriage,” she said.

As Sidford wrote the book, she found that women could see themselves as courageous if they only gave themselves permission to be courageous.

“I found they could make a shift by looking at past experiences where they felt they were embarrassed or ashamed, and acknowledge that they survived those experiences and situations,” she said. “Instead of being embarrassed or ashamed, they could start to see themselves as courageous.”

Four months ago, Sidford gave this presentation as a TEDx talk in Twin Falls, Idaho.

“The response from that was so exciting that I decided to change the talk into a keynote speech that I could use to inspire more people,” she said.

Chicken of committing

Kit Allowitz’s speech is titled “Don’t Pull the Chicken Switch,” which happens to be the title of his 2017 motivational book.

He came across the term “chicken switch” in 1995, while listening to a fighter pilot’s talk.

“A chicken switch is the ejection chord in an F-16, and pilots train long and hard to avoid pulling that chord,” Allowitz said. “They learn only to pull it as a last resort.”

Allowitz uses “chicken switch” to describe the situations when people come up with excuses, or when they do things that will sabotage following through on a commitment.

“We all do that,” he said. “We all chicken out on promises that I make to myself and others.”

The secret to not pulling the switch boils down to discipline.

“It’s about having the discipline to follow through after you experience the emotion of making the commitment in the first place,” he said.

Another factor of keeping a commitment is having the desire to do so.

“If your desire to eat right is ranked between one through seven, it’s not high enough to ride the storm,” he said. “The desire has to be between eight and 10 in order for you to find the will power to go through with something.”

After people build up the desire to commit, they need to educate themselves about what kind of commitment they are making, according to Allowitz.

“You have to study and learn about what you want to do,” he said. “After you gain enough knowledge you feel is necessary, you have to make a choice, a well-informed decision to do something. From there you work on accountability.”

Allowitz’s presentation is his TEDx talk that he plans to give in the near future.

“I had applied for the Salt Lake City TEDx event, but my theme didn’t fit, so I applied to some other areas,” he said. “My goal is to tell people that I gave a TED talk.”

Getting back on track

Kirsten Henry Fox has had her share of challenges. She has survived a plane crash in the Arizona desert, breast cancer and setting up and running her own businesses.

Her presentation is titled “Resilience: Five Tools to Get You Back on Track,” and she said she looks at resilience in a different way than other people.

“Many times when we hear about someone being resilient, we compare ourselves with them, but in my opinion, resilience isn’t a competition,” Fox said. “I believe if we feel like we’re facing a challenge, it is one, and we need to use our own skills to get through it.”

Fox got involved with Paradigm Pivots after Sidford asked her to speak.

“(Sidford) was at a Park City Women’s Business Network meeting where I did a presentation on resilience,” Fox said.

Since that meeting was held on Sept. 11, Fox originally wanted to talk about the resilience of survivors of the 9/11 attacks.

“Since the motto of the Women’s Business Network is about connecting authentically, I realized that talking about other people’s resilience wasn’t what was needed,” she said. “I realized it was me who needed to step up, be vulnerable and tell how I am resilient when I’m smacked down.”

Fox’s presentation isn’t going to be a TEDx talk, she said.

“I majored in public speaking in college, and I really enjoy talking,” she said. “So by me standing up and talking about the tools that have helped me get through these challenges, maybe I can help someone who is facing their own challenges.”

A sexy perspective

Sam Cullinane’s speech, “A Case to Put Out,” is about a topic that everyone thinks about, but is afraid to talk about — sex.

“I will talk about how the way I look at sex has changed, and how that has changed my relationship with my husband, Patrick,” Cullinane said.

Much of the talk has been culled from “Bigger Love,” a book Cullinane wrote with her husband.

“The book is pretty revealing about our lives and relationship, and that makes it easy for me to talk about our relationship,” she said. “We were married for 10 years and then signed divorce papers. We were apart for a year and then ended up getting back together. So I’m happy to share information if it will help someone else’s relationship.”

Cullinane considers her presentation a counterintuitive approach to sex in long-term relationships.

“That’s because the more I think and learn about the things I was taught about sex over the years, the more believe they were wrong,” she said.

The reason why Cullinane believes these lessons are wrong is because most of them are taught from a male point of view.

“The reality is that men’s and women’s bodies work differently,” she said. “Most of the sexual research that has been done has been done with men’s bodies. It’s only been in the last 50 years or so that the research has turned to women.”

So, people, especially women, feel there is something wrong when they don’t respond to their partners like men do in regards to sex, Cullinane said.

“That can have a detrimental effect in how you perceive and engage in sex,” she said.

Religion and culture are two other variables that have influenced research about sex, according to Cullinane.

“You end up having all of these ideas that aren’t scientifically true,” she said.

One of the concepts Cullinane disputes is the idea that people have to be emotionally in sync and in the moment to experience physical intimacy.

“Mismatched libidos is very common in long-term relationships, and that can negatively affect a committed relationship,” she said. “When one person doesn’t say yes, the other feels rejected. And the one who isn’t saying yes feels guilty. So my epiphany is that physical intimacy can lead to emotional intimacy.”

Sidford hopes Paradigm Pivots will strike a chord with the audience and open doors to a second or even a third event.

“I had a lot of people who wanted to participate in this one,” she said. “So if it works, we’ll have plenty of speakers who want to inform and challenge the community.”


Scene Happenings: Sept. 30 and beyond

Ziegfeld Theater Company continues its two-weekend run of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” from Sept. 30-Oct. 1, and Oct. 5-8 at the Egyptian Theatre.

See more

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.