Friday, March 28, 2014

Heading Home on Fire

All the pressure of the week is over and the new Ms. Wheelchair American 2014 has been crowned.  Now, it is time to get together for the Queen's Breakfast, say our good-byes, get one last gift that will remind us forever of this week, and head home.  What an amazing time to get to see all these wonderful ladies one last time in Houston before heading to our separate states to continue our work as Ms. Wheelchair title holders in our respective states.

Our gift was a crown necklace that I have worn almost every day and especially when I have appearances.  It reminds me of the amazing sisterhood I have established nation wide and the important work all of us have done and will continue to do.  I lost my necklace in January and almost had a melt down.  Thankfully a store clerk found it, knew it must be important, and saved it for me until I retraced my steps and found it.  Thank you to that store clerk and to my cousin for heading into that store and asking about it for me.  It's hard to think about an inanimate object being so important, but it's really about what it represents.  This has been an amazing year and I love the tangible reminder of all that the Ms. Wheelchair America program does for this country.  I'm proud to be a part of it.

Now, it's back to Kansas and back to work.  That is really why it took me so long to finish my posts from this week.   I hope my previous posts will show that I came back and didn't rest.  I took my job as Ms. Wheelchair Kansas seriously and my mission to spread my platform of "Maintaining an Attitude of Gratitude" around the state.  I left the Ms Wheelchair America weekend with a renewed mission to get my platform to as many Kansans as I possibly could.  I saw a sign in a rest stop on the way home that said, "I am the Queen of my neighborhood."  That has been my mission.  I am Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2013 and I have a job to do.  I am heading home on fire!

Thankful thoughts for the day:
Moving forward
The Voice
People to help  when needed

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
                                                                     Thornton Wilder

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Night You've All Been Waiting For

Nothing like 8 months late, but here it is . . . the Night You've All Been Waiting For.

The day was filled with primping and pampering.  Speech night was over, so speech practice was also over.  In fact, nerves were pretty much gone.  I faced this night knowing I had done the best I could to let the judges see the real me and shared my passion with the nation the night before.  Now, there was no real preparation to be done.  If I am chosen in the top five, I answer the judges' questions honestly on stage and just hope I don't throw up.  :)  We are eating dinner before hand after all--maybe that's why I seemed to pick at my dinner.

My pampering was quite an adventure this time.  My make-up artist did a great job of listening and doing just what I asked.  My hair was another story.  I asked my hair dresser to leave my hair at least part way down and work with my natural curls.  The hair dresser pulled out a straightening iron and straightened my hair.  When I commented about "I thought we were going to work with my curls?"  I was told they would curl my hair after it was straightened.  Didn't make sense to me, but I guess whatever.  So, they straightened my hair, and then curled it, and pulled it back and made a row of cinnamon roll type buns around my head.  It was a little too adventurous for me.  So, I looked around the room and found another contestant's hair that I like and asked my hair dresser to copy that.  So, she did and here is the final result.

Then, the night arrives and we all look beautiful.  And, the hotel room was gorgeous.  Check out the pictures of the glamour we all got to experience.  It was during the pre-crowning ceremony that I really felt like a national pageant contestant.  We all got to vote for Miss Congeniality.  I remember as a little girl, that was my goal--to win Miss Congeniality at a National Pageant.  Well, I didn't win, but I sure had fun getting to vote. Congratulations to Ms. Wheelchair Alabama, Paula Montgomery Rodney.

The crowning ceremony begins.  They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so here we go:
Little Miss Wheelchair Texas
Lining up

Introducing myself, my state, and my platform

The top five:  Ms Wheelchair Tennessee, Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky,
Ms. Wheelchair Washington, Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts, and
Ms. Wheelchair New Jersey

And the winner is . . .

Ms. Wheelchair Washington
Jenny Adams!!!

Congratulations Jenny!  I was privileged to get to spend time with Jenny during the week.  We were speach practice partners and I spent time enjoying meals with her and Lindsay with my family.  We all love you and were thrilled when you were crowned.  Come visit us in Kansas sometime.  :)

Thankful thoughts for the day:
Power chair
When it all comes together

"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.  It will change your life mightily."
                                   Gerald Good

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Texas Hospitality

Now I have never experienced another Ms. Wheelchair America, but I was so impressed by how it was handled in Texas.  The helpers were always available when you needed them and always very friendly and at least pretended patience.  Thank you Ms. Wheelchair Texas program, Angela Wrigglesworth, and all other Texas volunteers for making this an amazing week.

We even got presents every morning at breakfast.  Now, if there was an edible part, it is most definitely gone, but I wanted to share pictures of some of what we got and the amazing stories that came with them every morning.  Now, I don't really remember exactly what we got each day, so here they are in no particular order.  :)

Our gift at check-in.  It got us all ready to wear a hat to
Cowboy night if we didn't already have one.  :)
The Cowboy Bandanna
Getting us ready for Mexican night.
The chips and salsa are long gone.  :)
Learning a little more about the
Lone Star State and its flag
This one came with a cupcake.
Also, long gone.  :)
My favorite.
It also came with a Dr. Pepper that was
gone quickly.  :)
An amazing memento from the Museum
We also received amazing crown necklaces at the Queen's Breakfast which I don't have a photo of.  You can see it around my neck at appearances after Ms. Wheelchair America and see it in person if you are at the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014 Crowning Ceremony.

Thanks again Texas for making us feel so welcome and providing a week I will never forget.  :)

To see other MWA posts check here:;;

Thankful thoughts for today:  
Crossing items off a list
Dr. Pepper

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
                                                                     Thornton Wilder

Preparing the Army Part 2

Another basic training preparing the army.  Only this time, it was on a much larger scale.  I will leave this week in Houston with a much larger group of soldiers from across the country I can call on when I need them.  We are all in this army together.  Check out my blog post about my first basic training for this "army."

I can't even begin to tell you all the amazing learning and bonding that was happening this week in Houston.  As I got to know the girls a little bit better and got to meet some of the presenters, I spent my time learning just which soldiers I could call on for which needs.  It's nice to have an arsenal at my disposal that stretches across the nation, not just in Kansas.  

It was during these sessions that I got to hear from big name people in the disability community--those who are working hard to see that our rights continue to be upheld.  It was during this time that I was encouraged to develop my own YouTube channel to let people know what Ms. Wheelchair Kansas was up to every week or so.  Well, I came home on fire and started my YouTube Channel.  I'm a little embarrassed to report that I did let it fall by the wayside.  I think that is not my form of communication.  That's my excuse anyway.  :)

I was a very proud Kansan to hear a session by our own Ms. Wheelchair Kansas Coordinator, Carrie Greenwood.  She talked about the history of the disability community.  History has never been my favorite subject, but I learned a lot and loved hearing from Carrie.  

It is also during this week that I was reminded the I am a queen.  I have a crown.  I can effect marvelous things in my state.  And, that is just what I plan to do.  Not just this year, but every year for the rest of my life.  As Juliette Rizzo reminded us in the words of Delta Burke from Designing Women, "Once Miss Georgia, always Miss Georgia,"  So, once Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, always Ms. Wheelchair Kansas.  And we should all be proud of our titles and never stop representing our state and this amazing program.

To see other MWA posts check here:;;

Thankful thoughts for today:
Power chair
Shellac Manicure

"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.  It will change your life mightily."
                                   Gerald Good

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We All Share Our Message

We have arrived to what I consider the most important part of the week.  No, we're not at the Crowning Ceremony yet, that will come later.  We are at Speech Night.  We are at the night that all contestants get to share what they are passionate about and what they will be sharing with their state and with America should they get the title Ms. Wheelchair America 2014.  And, both big events are available on the Internet, so we will all be sharing our platform with the nation.  I will not just be speaking to the room full of audience members and other contestants, I will be speaking to listeners across the country.  This is the opportunity to share what is on my heart with my largest audience to date.
Some of our cowboy escorts.  Mine asked me, "Ms.
Kansas, do you know Dorothy Gayle?"  He seemed impressed that
I knew who that was and knew that there was more than one
book about Oz and am currently reading Book 4.
We did have time to practice our speeches before the big night.  I am honored to say my practice partner was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2014.  I'll tell you who she is in my post about the Crowning Ceremony.  Her speech was amazing and really shared her passion of Inclusion Revolution.  I remember the most nerve wracking part of the whole experience was the timing.  I practiced over and over to say what I wanted to tell the world in 2 minutes or less.  I even paused for a count of 2 seconds to let them really focus on the challenge I had just given them.

Waiting to give our speeches
Now that I've been home, I've been hearing about those who joined in listening.  I'm sure there were listeners for every contestant.  But, I know for sure people listened in four different states just to cheer me on.  It sure helps to have friends and family across the nation.  :)

One of the best parts is getting hair and make-up done for the event.  And, I'm pleased to say they listened to what I wanted and did a fabulous job.  They even did a great job including my peacock barrette.

 Following the speeches, we got to enjoy dessert and conversation time with the audience.  We also had a chance to have our photo taken on the red carpet.  :)  I felt like such a celebrity.

To see other MWA posts check here:;;

Thankful thoughts for today:
BBQ RV parked in town

"I am thankful that the is no success gained without hard work and sacrifice."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Time to Let Our Hair Down :)

Ms. Wheelchair America week is not about all work and no play.  There were time just about every day to relax and focus on fun and just getting to know each other.  Here are some pics from our "themed" nights--fun times at the end of the day.

Cowboy Night--Western Themed BBQ Dinner where we all wore our cowboy hats.  :)  After dinner there was even time for a little roping practice and some dancing with a live band.

Mexican Night with delicious Mexican food and mustaches. :)  I didn't get a pic of the mariachi band.

Finally, pajama party night.  A time to relax a be girly girls.  Eric didn't go to this one with me.  I took my daughter instead.  :)
Sorry there aren't more details.  That's what happens when you have TBI.  I got a little busy doing Kansas events when I returned and didn't get these all finished in July/August.  So, I hope you enjoy the pics.  Keep watching for more MWA blog posts.

To see other MWA posts check here:;;

Thankful thoughts for today:
New glasses
Enthusiastic Employees
Lessons Learned
Increased AR Level

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."
                                                       Cynthia Ozick

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Final Adventure--Just the Beginning

Well, it finally arrived, my final appearance as the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Kansas.  I got to be the guest speaker at the March meeting of the Norton chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma.   How appropriate that my final meeting would take place surrounded by those who have supported me not only this year, but also through much of my life.  It always makes me a little nervous when I speak in front of those who have known me since childhood.  It is also nerve wracking to speak in front of your teachers--the very people who used to grade my writing and speaking ability.  :)  Good thing I wasn't getting a grade today.

I got to share my platform presentation, "Maintaining an Attitude of Gratitude." and then my favorite part:  just getting to talk and answer questions.  I got to share about the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas program, my experiences during the year, my time at the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant, the educational choices for my children including online school for my Middle School age daughter, and what I myself have been learning about "maintaining an attitude of gratitude"  during this year.  We talked about my struggles during the past couple of months and how I've been applying what I learned.  We talked about how to "maintain an attitude of gratitude" even during the long struggles.

I found myself almost in tears a few times.  I realize my story can be emotional, but I've gotten to where I can share it without tearing up myself.  I've trained myself not to look my audience directly in the eye when I speak, because if they are tearing up, I will be shortly.  But, this time I was getting chocked up occasionally.  I don't know if it was because I was in  a room of people I've known most of my life, or if I was a bit sad that this was my final official appearance before crowning Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014.    Whatever the reason, it was an emotional night.

Am I sad?  Maybe a little.  This has been an amazing year.  Change is always emotional.  But, I am very excited to meet Ms. Wheelchair Kansas 2014 and thrilled she will get to have a year filled with amazing experiences.  And, I am not done.  I have appearances scheduled for the future.  I am not done sharing my story.  Things are just about to change and change is always emotional.  Even when it is good.  :)

Thankful thoughts for today:
No wind
Wellness Center
Power chair

"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life.  And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law, the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."
                                                                        Sarah Ban Breathnach

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Townhall with Kansas Politicians

During my final weeks as the reigning Ms. Wheelchair Kansas, I was so excited to learn that I could attend a Townhall meeting at the WaKeeney Public Library with our state politicians: Senator Ostmeyer and Representative Hineman.  I loved seeing them again this time on my home turf.  We got to hear updates on what is going on politically at the State.  Being in Western Kansas, there was a lot of talk about agriculture, water, etc.  We also got to hear about other state issues like budget and education and the possibility of naming a State Fossil.  It was fun to hear all about what is happening at the state level.

My memory might be a little unreliable, but I think this may have been the coldest appearance yet.  Fortunately, the Townhall itself was inside the library, but getting there was so cold.  I know all I had to do was get from the house to the van and from the van to the library, but I am thankful that was the only time I had to experience outside.  I never would have imagined the coldest event would happen in March.  I guess this is Kansas and it is the beginning of March--in like a lion and out like a lamb.  Weather is unpredictable in Kansas and I'm just thankful this event was in my hometown.  :)

I also had the opportunity to talk to community leaders making the Fairgrounds more accessible.  I offered to continue to be available to help in whatever capacity I can. :)

Thankful thoughts for today:
Amazing Race
MWKS Coordinator

"When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around."
                                                                     Willie Nelson

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Youngest Patients

I was thrilled to work out a last minute visit to Wesley Medical Center Pediatric Unit to meet patients and read stories.  Thanks Jo and Megan for your help.  The only bad news is that it was on the trip where I left my camera at home.  So, no pictures of this great event.  If anyone out there has photos from my time at Wesley Medical  Center, please comment and let me know.

Only a couple of patients with parents or staff came to hear the stories, but I did get to talk to other staff and patients during my time at Wesley.  I also had the chance to leave business cards and brochures about Ms. Wheelchair Kansas so maybe other patients, visitors, etc. can learn about Ms. Wheelchair.  I had a great time and hope future Ms. Wheelchair Kansas queens will take the time to go read stories and interact with patients, families, visitors, and staff.   Through this year, I love to interact with kiddos and read stories.  I love sharing my platform, "Maintaining an Attitude of Gratitude" through the medium of books.  I always tell kids they are lucky, because they get to hear my secret through the books and adults just have to listen to boring old me talk.  :)  Maybe all ages should be getting the stories.

I was so excited to meet the WSU Shocker mascot on my trip to Wesley Medical Center to plan my visit the next day and get my photo taken by cell phone.   Go Shockers!!!

Thankful thoughts for today:
Fresh air
Crossing items off my list

"Life is full of give and take.  Give thanks and take nothing for granted."
                                                   --Linda Poindexter