Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Sea of White

I’m a few days late writing this post about the Senior Boomer Expo I attended last week, but it has been a busy last few days – I saw my cousin Adrian marry his beautiful bride Cori, spent some amazing time with family, and even got to go fishing today with Jason, Heather, and the kids.

Last Thursday, the 26th, I had the privilege of attending the Senior Boomer Expo at the Civic Center in Dodge City. Rita Linnens of Kansas Truck Mobility out of Wichita had contacted me a week or so earlier mentioning that she would be showing one of their vehicles and asked if I would like to attend and spend some time at their booth. I quickly agreed and we made all the necessary arrangements.

I asked my Grandma Bea to go with me, thinking she would enjoy the Expo since it was geared to her age group. After she first shot me down saying “Emily, that isn’t really my thing,” I thought to myself, “Grams, you’re 86 years old, what kind of “thing” do you have exactly?”

Nonetheless, Grandma Bea came with me and when we arrived, Rita met us at the door and then showed Grandma and my Dad to where lunch was being served. She and I then went up on the floor to where the booth was. I was introduced to the crowd and then did a little mingling. It wasn’t much longer that the seats started filling up and a woman got on the stage and talked about insurance and Medicare.  Rita informed me I could head out about 1:30ish – the Senior Center groups were performing their skits and Bingo was up next…all the booths tend to shut down about Bingo time – the crowd gets pretty serious and doesn’t pay much attention to anything else!

It was an enjoyable day – I got to speak with numerous people, represent the Ms. Wheelchair Kansas organization, and most of all spend a few hours with my Grandma Bea.

No MWKS appearances this upcoming week – Bucklin’s Graduation is next on my list and I’m still in the process of writing my speech – hope to finish it up this week! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Takes Me Back

Have you ever heard a song that instantly take you back to a certain place or time in your life...where you remember exactly who you were with and what you were doing? I normally listen to Pandora throughout my day at work, but yesterday afternoon I had my laptop and had access to my iTunes…literally every other song made me “go back.”

I had thought about writing a blog about music and how it can take you back, but I thought how silly is that – then I heard Springsteen by Eric Church and his lyric “funny how the melody sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night” hit me like a ton of bricks and I knew it was a sign – I had to blog.

So here goes a few song and the memories to go with them…

Cover of the Rolling Stones – Dr. Hook: This song in general just reminds me of my father, but it takes me back to our family vacation to Michigan when I was in elementary school. We drove up there – got delayed in Des Moines for a day due to problems with our vehicle, but I remember us driving down the road, Dr. Hook in the CD player, and the whole family singing the Cover of the Rolling Stones...and you can’t forget Queen of the Silver Dollar.

She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy – Kenny Chesney: New Years Eve, my 7th grade year on the Giles Ranch. This night consisted of dancing on chairs and a washing machine, drinking a lot of slushy punch, eating puppy chow, burning Cheetos, and a dance routine to this song. I still may even to be able to show you a few moves =)

Back Where I Come From – Kenny Chesney: Sophomore year of high school.  I remember vividly sitting at the Legion (unlike our normal spot at the Station) watching a certain someone climb the water tower and duct tape ’03 for all to see.

Smooth Criminal – Alien Ant Farm: Once again during my sophomore year, three of us decided to take a late night road trip to Spearville. All I can say about this night is the Bullet got stuck, I walked about half a mile to use the restroom, and we were lucky the cops didn’t see us…all for Santa Fe Avenue.   

Yeah – Usher: Prom, Senior Year of High School. Dancing in my white and pink dress with the Ice Cream Man himself.

Wonderwall – Oasis: This song reminds me of a certain someone who holds a special place in my heart. I will never forget that after my accident, while I was doing my initial rehab at TIRR in Houston, I was laying on one of the mats during shoulder class on a Saturday when a family member of another patient brought in his guitar and began to sing….this was the first song out of his mouth.

Lips of an Angel – Hinder: On Sept. 7, 2006 I came home for the first time after my accident. Scott picked us up at the airport in Dodge City and we headed home to Bucklin. I hadn’t listened to the radio for about 2 months and when we going through Fort Dodge, right by the cemetery, this song came on. Why I remember this, I haven’t a clue!

There a million more songs that when I hear them, it sparks a memory, where I all I can do is smile and then send a text that starts out “Hey, do you remember when…” and ends with “…that was epic”.  I’ll always cherish these memories and I always look forward to hearing that certain song that can take me back!

**Please forgive me for being discreet with names in this post;
 I would hate to incriminate anyone. =)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Farm Girl at Heart

About a month ago I got an email from an old friend from high school asking if I would be interested in speaking at a Kansas Agri-Women event in Hays. I happily agreed – agriculture has been a part of me ever since I was born and I became really excited for this event. When I told Carrie about this speaking engagement, I remember her asking the question, “What exactly will you talk about at the Ag Event?” I’m not certain if I actually ever answered that question for her, but I knew that I could easily tie agriculture into my platform of defining yourself.

So yesterday we hopped in the vehicle and headed North to Hays where I had the amazing opportunity to talk with 15 or so members of the Kansas Agri-Women. (I have to admit, I was a little more nervous about this appearance than all the others on Wednesday – I think that was due to the fact that my audience was over the age of 11 and actually understand everything that I had to say.)

I began with my normal introduction and then talked a bit about my platform and how I hope to empower young girls to define themselves and not let others do it for them. While I usually target young girls, I think it is message that can be relatable for people of all ages and especially women in agriculture. When society hears the word agriculture, I think they automatically think that it is a male-dominated field, which is far from true - there were 236,269 farms operated by women in the United States in 2002. For all the other farms in United States that are operated by men – I would almost guarantee you there is a woman in the background somewhere! I’ve always chuckled at this, but a lady, who is very near and dear to me, has mentioned numerous times that she must work a “real job” to support her husband’s hobby of farming!

I also think that many people who are not from the Midwest and rural communities do not know the benefits of growing up here. I am a firm believer that kids who are involved with agriculture learn respect, responsibility, and commitment at a young age. Those who are involved with groups such as 4-H and FFA (as well as family operations) often have the responsibility of caring for livestock and crops. In turn of having that responsibility, kids usually learn to have a good work ethic - being able to manage time, money, and other resources.
Kansas Agri-Women Annual Conference
Kansas Agri-Women (KAW) was formed in 1973 by a group of farm women who were concerned about a threatened meat boycott and bill before Congress which would have rolled farm prices back. Their focus is to educate and promote agriculture and its importance to the economy and the environment; work in areas of legislation, regulations and consumer relations; support and encourage research that benefits agriculture; and sustain a network of women of all ages and professions of agriculture.

Accepting my KAW shirt
I was absolutely delighted to speak with these women and share my story yesterday and felt completely honored when they asked me to become an honorary member of Kansas Agri-Women. I cannot wait to get involved more with the organization and I hope to represent them well!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

KU Basketball Has Nothing On This

Most of you all know that I am a K-State fan…Bill Snyder is awesome, I dig the color purple, and who doesn’t love Aggieville? However, I learned yesterday that I am a K-State fan with a VERY soft spot in my heart for some elementary school students from Lawrence, KS. Yesterday, while in town for a Community Resource Expo, I had the privilege to visit two groups of the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.

After just one missed turn and only a few blocks of backtracking, we made it to Woodlawn Elementary School where I was able to speak with the 4th and 5th grade girls in the Boys and Girls Club. They were all playing outside when I arrived so when they walked into the art room where I was waiting for them, I think they were quite surprised. Earlier in the week, I had emailed their director asking if the girls would make a list of what makes them unique. We went over their lists and talked about how our unique characteristics are often the root of insecurity. I think insecurity is something we all deal with, no matter how old we are, but it is such a hard thing to face as a young girl; especially when they are trying to fit in with their classmates and peers. The 4th and 5th grad girls at Woodlawn are absolutely amazing; they are unique in the best way and are extremely talented girls.

4th and 5th Grade Girls of the Boys & Girls Club at Woodlawn

My next stop of the day was at Quail Run Elementary where I had the privilege to speak with the entire Boys and Girls Club of Quail Run. After telling my story, we spoke about the importance of respecting both others and ourselves as well about how a positive attitude can affect your life in so many ways. 

Girls and Boys Club at Quail Run

After speaking with the whole group, I had the chance to speak to the 4th and 5th grade girls by themselves. Like with the girls at Woodlawn, I spoke on how we are all unique. I think that if we know our differences, insecurities, and what makes us vulnerable gives us the upper hand you know how to handle adversity and any negative comments. The entire Girls and Boys Club group at Quail Run were great and the 4th and 5th grade girls were wonderful. They listened intently and had some really good questions.

4th and 5th Grade Girls of the Boys & Girls Club at Quail Run

After my speaking engagement at Quail Run, we made our way over to the Free State High School where the Community Resource Expo of Douglas County was being held. I spent most of the Expo cruising up and down the aisles visiting other booths and with all the people. There were a lot of booths and a lot of great information.

Ms. Wheelchair Kansas Booth at the Community Resource Expo of Douglas County

We arrived back in Bucklin around 11pm and I was exhausted, but I would not have it any other way. It was an amazing day and I enjoyed everything about it – especially all the kids in The Boys and Girls Club! Hopefully I’ll be able to make it back to see them soon!  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Full Steam Ahead

After a weekend full of storms and bad weather, I was happy to see the sun shining this morning and hear that it is supposed to be in the 60s and 70s all week!

I’m really excited for this week as I will be able to don my crown and sash for multiple appearances throughout the state. On Wednesday, I am off to Lawrence where I will be talking to the Boys and Girls Club groups at both Woodlawn and Quail Run in the afternoon and from 4-6 PM, I will be at the 12th Annual Community Resource Expo at the Free State High School.
This Saturday I will be heading back to my alma mater in Hays, KS to take part of and speak at the KS-Agri Women Annual Meeting which is being held on the Fort Hays State campus.
I look forward to meeting and speaking with all these groups this week – I know it’s going to be a great experience for all! Now…if I can just get rid of this head cold!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Instant Gratification

“I want it…and I want it now!” Sounds like something a four-year old would scream in the toy aisle when a mother tells them they can’t have the Mickey Mouse doll that sings AND dances, right? I’ve certainly seen this happen a few times, but today I’m referring that statement to the mindset of so many young people today.

I am 100% aware of the fact that I am only 25 years old and still very green, but I look at my generation and the generations below me and think to myself – we want instant gratification and expect  it as well. We want to win every football game, ace every test, and make triple figures right out of college. All of which are possible, if one exerts some effort and is willing to work hard, but I think that’s often the problem.

Now, please don’t get me wrong – there are definitely kids and young adults out there with great attitudes and work ethic, but it often seems to be as if those characteristics are fading a bit. It was instilled to me at a young that if you wanted anything, you worked to get to get it. That even applied to supper at our house; I vividly remember my mother saying “This is not a restaurant, if you want your food, you have to come and get it yourself!

In order to achieve your goal or get whatever it is that you want, I think you must do the following things:

1) Respect – You must have respect for whatever it is that you are doing or want. Want   to be a winning football team – respect the game, the coaches, and your teammates. Desire to make good grades – respect your teacher. Want to get a new car – respect that car, knowing you will treat it well and not tear it up.

2) Care – Along the same lines as respect – you must care for what you are doing. Having passion and heart takes you to another level and it makes you work that much more towards your goal. When you are in a team setting, be selfless and care for your teammates. It creates a mutual respect for each other than will elevate your game.

3) Work Hard – You must make an effort and put everything you have into your goal. Attend and work your butt off in practice, study hard, and work an extra shift. Hard workers are always noticed and usually rewarded.

4) Listen – Take advice and hear suggestions. You have coaches, mentors, and bosses for a reason – they are in their position because they chose to be and want to help you grow and better yourself.

With this all said, I’m not sure I can say it any better than the Rolling Stones with, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you just might find, you get what you need.” 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good Things Come in Pairs

As a kid growing up, I was asked, “You’re an Evans aren’t you?” and as soon as I replied yes I got another question, “Which one do you belong to, Ricky or Ronny?” After replying Ron, I always got some story that started similar to...”When your dad was in high school, me, him, and Rick…”  
I’ve grown up on these stories and probably have learned more about my dad’s (and my uncle’s) extracurricular activities from other people. For some odd reason, Dad will not tell me a lot of stories of the good ‘ole days – I always get told “Let’s just say I was lucky to not get arrested ever.” I have gotten a few out of him though…certain road trips taken, putting so-and-so’s car in between 2 trees, and perhaps an incident or two with the Hearne boys.

It seems as if my Dad and Uncle Rick have always been a bit ornery, providing comic relief whenever necessary. This still stands true today, but when it all boils down – they are two of the most kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet.
For those of you who don’t know my dad or Uncle Rick, they are identical twins. Growing up, you couldn’t tell them apart…and now the only way some people can is to know that Rick has a beard and Ron doesn’t. However when my Dad does grow his beard out ever January for the Living Last Supper play, it really confuses some...even my Grandma can’t keep them straight.

Growing up, just a few of the memories I will never forget are “driving” Dad’s white Dodge through the pasture as he’s in the back pitching hay, falling in the lake while fishing with Dad and the boys, and riding combine with both my Dad and Uncle Rick during harvest.

Like many fathers and daughters, my Dad and I have a special bond. We have always been close and can tell each other anything and everything. He knows how to push my buttons and make me smile at the same time. However, we cannot watch TV together, unless it is MASH or Hogan’s Heroes. Him and his commentary about drive me crazy.

I wanted to dedicate this blog post to my Dad and Uncle Rick as today is their 58th Birthday.
Happy Birthday you two! I love you both more than words can even describe!

(Perhaps when you’re a little older and a bit senile, I’ll finally hear some of those stories…maybe find out exactly what happened in that pink trailer, Uncle Rick)  

Monday, April 9, 2012

For the Love of the Game

As I sit here watching the Voice on television, I have a few thoughts running through my head. 1) I’m glad Cee Lo is not wearing that wig again, 2) Christina Aguilera looks so much better without the hair extensions and not having her breasts one sneeze away from popping out. 3) I wish I could sing like this, and 4) these competitors have so much passion for what they do…it’s amazing!

I cannot carry a tune to save my life…the only time you’ll catch me singing is in the car.  Although I love all kinds of music, it was never my thing. I never took vocal in junior high or high school, sports was more my thing. Specifically, volleyball. It caught my attention at an early age and it still is something I love.

I played all through high school under the coaching of Mr. Wyrick – I learned how to be both a good player and a good team member. In my four years of high school, I think we had a winning season every year, won Regionals a time or two and almost won Sub-State. We always had a good group of girls who trusted each other, worked well together, and kicked some butt. I learned a lot from my teams and coaches in high school.
BHS Volleyball
After high school, I had opportunities to play at a few junior colleges and KCAC schools, but chose Pratt Community College under Coach Hall. That man taught me so much in a short time and the girls I played with are still near and dear to me. We didn’t have a great season so-to-speak, and I was plagued with a back injury...but we had heart, a love for the game, and we had a lot of fun as well.
PCC Volleyball
I didn’t get a second year at Pratt or another season anywhere else because of my accident. Throughout all my therapy, I was known as the volleyball player from Kansas, but I felt nowhere even close to being that girl…I was so far away from it – it almost made me sick to think about. I would never feel the slam of a ball off of my hand again; I would never have that camaraderie of a team.

That all changed in the spring of last year when Mr. Wyrick approached me to help him and Bev coach high school volleyball. I accepted his proposition in a heartbeat, but I had my doubts…How am I going to be able to coach when I’m in a wheelchair? Are the girls going to think I’m a joke? Will anybody take me serious in this chair? …I had tons of questions of doubt running through my head. The doubt quickly left as soon as I wheeled into practice the first day. All of the girls disregarded my chair, listened intently to what I had to say, and accepted me as part of the team immediately.
2011 BHS Volleyball Team
As the season went on, I quickly found myself leaning towards the logistics side of the game with stats, rotations, and what not. Obviously, I couldn’t demonstrate plays and drills, but was able to explain what was in my mind and what needed to be said. This team brought back a love for something that I didn’t think could exist anymore.  The girls were absolutely amazing and they totally kicked butt on the court. The Lady Aces ended up the season 23-18 and were the first BHS volleyball team ever to make it to state.
State Tournament 2011
I may not ever be able sing like these people on the Voice, but my passion and love for the game of volleyball is plenty for me.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Not Just Any Friday

No meat today…small meals…no snacks. No, I am not going on a diet, it’s just Good Friday. Wait, JUST Good Friday? The word just should not be in that statement, just as the perception of Easter is all about bunnies, candy, and egg hunting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great and fun family activity, but it is not what Easter is about.  Good Friday is the day we commemorate the death of Jesus Christ and Easter Sunday celebrates His resurrection. I truly think that society has shadowed the true meaning of such an important holiday.

Now, as I step off my soapbox, I must say that I read an article today that had the quote “We live in a Good Friday world, but we are Easter people.” The writer went on to explain that a Good Friday world is a world full of suffering, questioning, unfairness, trouble, mistakes, losses and grief. The explanation fit in perfectly of what Good Friday celebrates and while he didn’t go on to what he meant by Easter people, just think about.

We live in a world where there is total devastation all around us – it is the man who has terminal cancer; the military jet that crashed into an apartment building; the girl who became paralyzed; the car accident; the parents who lost their baby boy too soon; and the soldier on his 4th tour. These situations and all of our troubles can be heart wrenching. We suffer, we question, we grief. 

We are Easter people. We have hope that our troubles and our devastations will resolve. We pray for the courage to get through the tough times and devastation and we pray for an eternal hope. We have faith that God will help us through our time times and present us with new.

When I had my accident, I questioned why this happened to me…I’m not sure I’ll ever know and that is okay (see My Plan or His), but I always knew I would be okay. When my brother pulled me from that river and held my hand while I laid on the shore waiting for an EMT, I was calm. I didn’t know what had happened to me and I knew I couldn’t move my legs, but I was calm. When I was laying in the Emergency Room in Tulsa, I was calm when that doctor told me I’d never walk again…in fact I responded back and told him I thought he was wrong.  I had a feeling come over me…I knew I was going to be okay. I continued to pray and I hoped for my healing, for my resurrection.

The story of Easter week did not end on Friday, the hope lies on Sunday.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

If only I was 17 again...

I am a Pinterest fanatic. I spend entirely too much time “pinning” clothes I can’t afford, recipes I’ll most likely never make, and hairstyles I’m not even capable of doing!  Alongside of all my wishful projects and pins, I have created a board called “Words of Wisdom” and it currently has over 50+ quotes and phrases that relates to life in general. Yesterday I pinned a blog post from Kate Elizabeth Connor titled “Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls” to this board and it has had me thinking if I had ten things to tell teenage girls, what would it be?

Well here it goes…My list of Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls  

1)   Do not post every single aspect of your life on Facebook or Twitter. Nobody needs to know every boy you’ve kissed or dismissed or if you are feuding with your friends. When you post these statuses, you are drawing negative attention to yourself and creating a reputation for yourself that you most likely do not want. 

2)   Respect your parents, especially your mother.  I know you think they are out to get you and embarrass you at any chance possible, but trust me that’s not true. They care about you and want the very best for you.  They know more than you think and have been exactly where you are. They deserve your respect so give it to them. Also, know that one day you’ll realize that you can’t live without your mom…she will become one of your best friends. 

3)   Please do not revolve your teenage years around boys.  I’ve read that only 5-10% of high school relationships turn into marriage. You have plenty of time to fall in love so enjoy these years. Spend time with your friends; participate in as many activities as possible, and most of all have fun! 

4)   Never be ashamed of who you are. There will always being someone judging you and sometimes what they say will be harsh. Do not let other peoples’ words tell you who you are and how you feel about yourself. You are wonderful – don’t ever forget that. 

5)   Don’t do something just for the sake of “being cool”.  I’ve been there…I’ve thought if I don’t drink this beer, flirt with this boy, or partake in toilet papering houses (whatever the situation is) my friends are going to think I’m not cool and “too good” for them. Trust me, this is not the case. If you want to do something, do it, but don’t do things just to impress another or to “be cool”. 

6)   Whether you like it or not, you are a role model. There is some little girl who looks up to you and aspires to be like you.  Be conscious of your words and your actions – they are paying more attention to you than you think. 

7)   Learn to manage money. Start learning to save now. If you have a job, put back a certain percentage each paycheck.  Think and plan purchases, do not buy things on impulse. 

8)   You, and only you, are responsible for your future. Set goals for your future and work hard to complete those goals. You’ll be faced with numerous situations and decisions in life (some you can control, some you can’t) – I suggest you take plenty of advice and suggestions and do your research, but do not let anyone make your decisions for you. You are responsible for your actions, thoughts, and decisions in life – don’t rely on someone else to plan your life! 

9)   Embrace your age. When you’re 13, you want to be 16…when you turn 16, you want to be 18, and when you are 18, you wish to be 21. Please stop trying to look older than you are. Enjoy your teenage years…one of these days you’ll will you were 18 again! 

10) Being unique is wonderful. Do not try to fit yourself into a cookie cutter mold. Society will tell you that you’re not thin enough, you’re too tall, your teeth aren’t white enough, or how you need to dress. Embrace your body, your hair, and how you look – being unique makes you stand out from the crowd. 

Teenage girls are often all over the place. I know I was a little bit wild, a little bit defiant, a lot boy crazy, and gosh knows what else. I was young and I had a lot of fun, but I needed to be aware of a few of these things!