Thursday, May 30, 2013

Simply Lead

What an amazing day and what an amazing opportunity.  It's taken me awhile to get this post done because I wanted to make sure I was doing it justice.  This was my first appearance where nerves really snuck up on me.  I would be speaking to a group of leaders.  A group of people who might expect me to actually know something and not be impressed with my title or the crown on my head.  Of course, everyone I speak to should expect me to know something, but preschoolers tend to be a little more impressed with the crown.  :)

Well, I was certainly glad during the Leadercast to hear Andy Stanley say: "Level five leaders don't feel the need to be the smartest person in the room.  They are willing to be the dumbest."  That relieved my stress immensely.  No one was expecting me to be the smartest person in the room.  All I had to do was be myself and share what only I can share.  I can do that!!  No one tells my story better than I do.

A big thank you to Lance for helping bring the Chick-fil-A Leadercast telecast to Kansas and for allowing me to set up my display and speak for a few minutes before lunch.  I didn't tell my whole story because I knew we all wanted to get to lunch, but I did share a little and I got to tell my story personally to people throughout break times the rest of the day.  I had such a great time meeting lots of different people and talking about my story and possible appearances throughout the year.  Kansas is full of amazing people.  That is my favorite part of this year--getting to meet such a variety of people and knowing we all have stories that connect us.  Kudos to Emily Evans, Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2012.  She had done a great job making SW Kansas aware of the Ms. Wheelchair Program.

 This was the perfect set up for me with my traumatic brain injury.  I got to experience the amazing speakers at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast, but I got to do it in a smaller, more relaxed atmosphere.  I got the amazing information without the brain overload that happens when I'm in a room of hundreds. (or thousands).  Thanks to Lance and the church for a great set up and wonderful food throughout the day.  You certainly know how to make us feel welcome.  I left the day full of new information to try to put into practice, a new book that I won, and a renewed desire to learn as much about being a leader as I could.  I can't wait to see what they have in store for us next year.

"The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant."
— Max DePree

Thankful thoughts for the day:
Educational Options
Social Media
Weather Reports
X-rays on DVD
Package on the Porch
Excitement about karate
My tall grown-up girl

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Right Age for Questions

Today I got to share my platform with the Fifth Grade.  They got to see my PowerPoint presentation on their Promethean Board.  It is absolutely amazing to plug my jump drive into the laptop and suddenly see my presentation appear on the white board at the front of the classroom.  I've only heard great things about these boards.  I am thrilled the PTO decided to work hard to supply them to the classrooms.  This class did not get to hear my amazing story books, but they still got to hear my story and my "secret."  If your heart is full of thankfulness and peace, there is no room for negative feelings.  "We don't give thanks because we are happy.  We are happy because we give thanks." from The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood
After the presentation, we had time for questions & answers.  I think I've found the right age for asking questions.  There were hands up all over the room and appropriate questions being asked.  And, they were listening to each other and the answers being given.  It was a great opportunity to share information about myself, my platform, and the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas program.  I was thoroughly impressed with the thought put into these questions.  There were wonderful questions I have not yet been asked, even by the adults I have talked with. 
While the q&a time was happening, my gratitude journal was circling the room.  The students got to write what they are thankful for.  The teacher even mentioned making that a part of their daily routine until the end of the school year.  I think we should all make that a part of our daily routine all year long.  I'd love to have you share it here on the comments.  :)

Thankful Thoughts for the Day:
Library Programs
Crock Pots
Education Options
Sonic Cherry Vanilla Coke
Cell Phones
Working Technology
2-Day Shipping

 "We don't give thanks because we are happy.  We are happy because we give thanks.
                                                                                           -- Douglas Wood

Saturday, May 18, 2013

We are Kansas

What an amazing weekend.  I had a table in the Statewide Mixed Communities/Statewide Attractions booth at the Kansas Sampler Fest in Liberal, Kansas.  If you've never been to a Sampler Fest, put it on your bucket list.  I had been to two in the past and knew as soon as I was crowned, that Ms. Wheelchair Kansas needed to be represented at the Sampler Fest.   I'm so glad I made that choice.  There were 4500 people at the Sampler Fest and many people who came by the table had never heard of Ms. Wheelchair Kansas.  It was a great opportunity to educate about the program and make some new connections.

Here are some pics of some of the fun, entertainment, and food available.  I was at my table during most of the weekend, but Eric watched it for a couple of hours on Sunday morning so I could check out some of the other tents as well.

Playing NW Kansas Spin the Wheel Trivia
WHEW--I got my question right!!!
Which Interstate runs through NW Kansas?

What exactly is the Kansas Sampler Festival?  According to their website, it is: "like a living  brochure of Kansas.  Over 100-140 communities provide what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in Kansas."  Check out their website at and, even better, come check out the Sampler Fest for yourselves.  The next one will be May 3-4, 2014 in Wamego.  I plan to be there.  Hope to see all of you too.  :)

I was not the only queen at the Sampler Fest.  I had the honor of meeting Miss Liberal.  Miss Kansas was there as well and Eric got me her autograph, but I did not get to meet her personally.  I did have an amazing experience.  Because I am Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, they had me draw the ticket out of the hat at the stump--where people earn tickets by answering Kansas trivia questions correctly.  Well, I happened to pull my daughter's ticket out of the hat!  What are the chances of that happening!!!
My kiddos decided our year of traveling around Kansas had  been worth it since they knew the answers to lots of trivia questions throughout the day and ended up with several prizes from various places.

I was so thankful that the Sampler Fest had thought out accessibility issues.  They put a make-shift portable ramp right outside my tent so I didn't always have to go clear to the end of the road to get up the ramp and then manage the grass.  :)  They also put a wheelchair accessible port-a-potty right beside our tent so I only had to manage a few feet.  Then, when I was exploring and got to the tent across the street from the Statewide Tent, where my table was, they were nice enough to move the portable ramp so I could get off that side of the street and across to my tent without having to maneuver the grass all the way to the end of the park.  Thanks for all you did!  I offered to help the Wamego crew with accessibility issues as they set up for the next two years.  I'm excited to see how I can help.

Moving the ramp
I am a Kansas Explorer

Thankful thoughts for today:
Blog Comments
Time to catch up
Weather forecast
Auction lunch
Car horns
"Ingratitude is always a form of weakness.  I have never known a man of real ability to be ungrateful."

Try out this dance.  My try was an EPIC FAIL. 
See if you can do better.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Groovy Spring Fling at ILRC

My very first chance to use my table banner and set up a display with
business cards and gratitude journal
What an amazing day.  My PCA, service dog, and I made a quick trip to Wichita and back in about the same amount of time my children were at school.  (Well, we did leave about a hour before they did)  I got to attend the Spring Fling at the Independent Living Resource Center.  It was so much fun to see all the psychedelic, groovy, flower power type decorations all over the place.   It was even more fun to see the clients in the spirit of things and dressed up to match the theme of the day.  How often as adults do we get a chance to dress up in theme costumes?  I think that's why I love having our family dress up together at Halloween.  It is so much fun to get to express our creativity that way.  I'm not dressed up because I didn't know the theme until I got there and my closet was a little too far away to run and change.  :)
I was so excited to share my platform and PowerPoint and then get to answer questions and continue the discussion afterward.  It was amazing to get to meet so many personally and have so many write in my gratitude journal.   The idea was brought up that people should be able to write online instead of just in my gratitude journal the day I am there.  So, here's a challenge for each of you.  You can write your thankful thoughts online.  I do mine on each blog post.  I would love to have you each send me a comment with your thankful thoughts.  You can do it once or you can do it daily or as often as you want.  I look forward to reading all your thankful thoughts.  :)

One thing I learned today was that many people want human contact when they come to talk to me.  It's not enough to just provide kind words and a smile.  They want human touch.  I think that is probably true for most of us.  We long for human touch to know we really matter to someone.  So, as long as people are looking for human touch, I am more than willing to provide a hand or a hug.    We all have things to be thankful for and for me that includes all the amazing people I have a chance to meet this year.  Keep in contact with me through this blog and let me know what amazing things are happening in your life.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" er .. I mean
the dog under the table.
(My version of a quote from Wizard of Oz)

Thankful thoughts for today:
The smell of Spring
Sharing digital photos easily
Theodora nail polish
Chest freezer
Sous chef
Living a block from the grocery store

"She had found there was nothing she wished to say in her morning prayer except Thank You"  from The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim

Town Hall

Congressman Tim Huelskamp was in WaKeeney doing a Town Hall meeting.
He shared what is going on in Washington right now especially in regard to budget and economics.  After his brief presentation, the floor was open for questions and discussion.  The questions and topic of conversation definitely related to the current concerns of the majority of the citizens in the room.  There was a lot of discussion about agriculture and the current economy.  Given the news of the moment (the Boston bombing), there was a lot of discussion about immigration and how it impacts our economy.
I did have some questions up my sleeve, but never got around to asking them.  They just didn't go with the flow of conversation--they weren't about agriculture or immigration,  :)
I did have a chance to meet Congressman Huelskamp and have a picture afterward.  What an honor.  I also had a chance to meet my State Senator--Senator Ostmeyer.  It was an honor to meet him and we had a chance to discuss when he can introduce me on the Senate floor.  It is looking like I'll be making a trip to Topeka during the next legislative session.  That is a trip I am looking forward to.

Thankful thoughts for today:
Good first impressions
WW Drilling
Gorgeous MWKS Bag
Satin Hands
Thirty One

"Pride slays thanksgiving…a proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves."                                                       --Henry Ward Beecher

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sharing A Secret

I got to do something very fun that I will be repeating lots of times over this year.  I got to share my "secret" with three amazing classes of kids.  I will be sharing this secret with everyone I meet, but sometimes groups get to hear this amazing story book that explains it perfectly.  (Thanks Mom for finding it)  In case you don't know, the secret is that giving thanks brings happiness. 

As always my service dog was the star of the show.  In fact, during the question and answer time after the stories, the questions were mostly stories about their own dogs.  I wonder when you learn to ask questions?  Preschool and Kindergarten were more interested in telling stories than asking me anything.  So, I answered the teacher's questions, listened to a lot of great stories (mostly about dogs  :)), and just shared some stories of my own.  I get to read to Second Graders next week so I'll update this blog post then and let you know if they have any thought provoking questions.  The kids did feel the need to tell stories about seeing me and my dog around town.  Good to know that my wheelchair is part of their normal, everyday life and they recognize it as just part of who I am.

Two of the classes also got to hear Mama Zooms which I learned about during my very first experience with Ms. Wheelchair Kansas.  What an appropriate book for my family.  The preschool para even mentioned seeing me "zoom" my son around town.  Before he got too heavy for that, we used to "zoom" together everywhere. 
These are books everyone should read at least once.  Maybe someday if you catch up with me at a story hour or happen to be around when I'm reading to a class, you will get to hear me read them to you.  :)
Thankful Thoughts for Today:
Efficient meeting
Tech Support
Staying Caught Up
Running into Friends Unexpectedly
"We need deliberately to call to mind the joys of our journey.  Perhaps we should try to write down the blessings of one day.  We might begin; we could never end; there are not pens or paper enough in all the world."
                                                                                              George A. Buttrick

I got to read to Second Grade today.  Same stories, slightly different response.  They seemed to enjoy them and had appropriate questions.  They even laughed in all the right places.  It was fun to get to read to my son's class and get to share with his classmate why "Mama Zooms" has been our story.  I got to tell stories about us "zooming" all over town.  His classmates remember seeing us do that.

Is this the age where they really begin to understand the concept of questions?  They didn't always listen to the answers so I had many of the same questions over and over.  Their teacher managed that response and reminded them that part of asking questions was listening to the answers even when their classmates ask questions.  So, I have still not found the right age for questions asking--I'll keep looking.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Birthplace of a Platform

This was a weekend I have been looking forward to for months.  Ever since I attended Women of Faith in Kansas City this fall, I have been so intrigued to try a different format.  I loved the more relaxed feel of this weekend and loved getting to speak to artists personally.  After Ms. Wheelchair Kansas weekend, I was even more excited to attend this event.  It was after hearing a speech by Ann Voscamp during the fall event, that my platform began to take shape.  It was that speech that prompted me to really take a look at the role of gratitude in my life and I felt compelled to share it with others.  I was excited to get to share my story and the role Women of Faith had played in the birth of a platform.

This was the largest event by far that I have attended as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas.  Although there were some bumps at the beginning getting appropriate wheelchair seating, at the end of the event, it was one of my favorite experiences ever.  For some reason they had seated us up the stairs.  Well, you all know that would never work for me.  :)  But, they quickly got it taken care of and we ended up with excellent wheelchair seats.  I'm thankful that was an easy fix.

I loved getting to meet all sorts of women and tell them all about Ms. Wheelchair Kansas and my plans for the year. I got to hand out several business cards and even talked about possible future appearances. What an amazing weekend and what a positive response overall!

 Probably my favorite part of the weekend was getting to meet Selah. Their song "You Raise Me Up" has been important to my life since the accident.  I was thrilled I got to talk to them and share my story and the importance of that song in my life.  I was even more thrilled they are genuinely nice people and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.  Some artists are not as nice as you imagine when you meet them in person.  I must say, Selah certainly did not disappoint.  I am an even bigger fan now than I was before I met them in person.  The memory I will carry with me is that of hearing my name from the stage.  They sang "You Raise Me Up" and said, "Angel, this is for you."  My Grandma was so impressed she was telling people afterward that Angel was her granddaughter.  :)

So excited to see their sign . . .
Even more excited to meet them in person.  :)

All in all, this was a very successful weekend.  Personally, I got to share how Women of Faith had impacted the birth of my platform and I got to meet Selah.  For Ms. Wheelchair Kansas I got to bring awareness and talk to several different people about the program and make potential contacts for future appearances.  I was exhausted when I got home, but thrilled.

Thankful thoughts for today:
Connecting with friends
Support from unexpected places
Day off
Finding out you make a lasting impression

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessing."
                                                                             Eric Hoffer