Texas Our Texas
Monday, May 07, 2012
This week honors a profession near and dear to my heart, National Nurses Week.
Having worked in the profession for 17 years in a variety of positions in the areas of surgery, pediatrics, intensive care, administration and teaching, I was honored to help patients during those years, from those taking their first breaths to those taking their last.
My husband likes to call me “First Nurse,” and it’s a moniker I’m proud to wear. Healthcare has been in my blood since I was a little girl, and some of my fondest memories are from my teenage years of helping my father, the country doctor, in his office. I knew early on that my preferred profession was nursing.
Perhaps it’s not uncommon for nurses to feel the calling, the passion of nursing at an early age. I’ve heard a number of times through the years of people who aspired to be nurses when they were quite young.
Caring, nurturing, hard working, flexible, strong interpersonal skills...these are characteristics shared by nurses. It’s certainly not an easy field to pursue so it takes a person who is dedicated and committed. I have great admiration for nurses, who make a positive difference in so many people’s lives every single day.
Fittingly, Nurses Week concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
It’s been described by many as “life changing” and when I hear that it’s music to my ears. I’m referring to the Texas Conference for Women, Texas’ largest personal and professional development event for women.
It’s only six months from now and it’s not too early to register. Early bird registration opened this week for the 13th Annual Texas Conference for Women, which will be held at the Austin Convention Center on Wednesday, October 24, 2012.
Nationally recognized speakers and leaders from Texas and across the nation will share their wisdom and expertise on a wide range of topics including career advancement, money management, health and wellness, small business and entrepreneurship, social media and branding and more.
In years prior, attendees have benefited from the talent and wisdom of such trailblazers and nationally known trailblazers and experts. The 2012 speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.
In addition to the keynotes and dozens of breakout sessions, attendees can attend Local Leader Meet Ups for the chance to have one-on-one conversations with local businesswomen and community leaders, and Expert Exchange sessions offer a focused discussion with industry veterans. Conference attendees also have the opportunity to participate in the popular Career Pavilion, featuring free resume reviews by human resource experts, Mentor Match (one-on-one “speed mentoring” sessions with local career coaches and executives), workshops on communication skills and social media, and much more.
The Conference Health & Wellness Pavilion showcases speakers and companies dedicated to improving women’s health, while an onsite Exhibit Hall boasts hundreds of organizations and companies with products or services that appeal to women.
An early bird rate of just $125 per person, $1200 per table of 10, $230 for a group of two and $60 for students is available through May 24. To register or learn more about the 13th Annual Texas Conference for Women, visit the Web site at Texas Women’s Conference Website , follow the Conference on Twitter at Texas Women’s Conference on Twitter , visit the Facebook page at Texas Women’s Conference on Facebook , or find us on Pinterest at Texas Women’s Conference on Pinterest How’s that for being plugged in!
I hope you’ll join us for a day that promises to be inspiring, motivating and just plain fun!
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
As a nurse, I’ve seen the impact that underage drinking can have on young people, through death, injury, or problems later in life. As a parent, though, I know both how hard it is to have the discussion with your children about alcohol and how important that lifesaving discussion can be. Alcohol is the drug most commonly used by teens, but three-quarters of all kids say parents are the number one influence on their decision to drink or not to drink.
That’s why I’m proud to support PowerTalk 21® on April 21st—the national day for parents to talk with their children about underage drinking. MADD’s Power of Parents™ program, created in partnership with Pennsylvania State University’s Dr. Robert Turrisi, provides guidance for talking with teens about the dangers of drinking before age 21, and is based on research proven to help reduce underage drinking by as much as 30 percent.
You can download a parent handbook free of charge. This handbook provides tips and conversation starters and can help you answer the difficult questions your kids may have about alcohol.
On April 21st, please start the conversation with your kids about underage drinking, and help keep the next generation of Texans safe.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Most people associate springtime with longer days, budding trees and the ubiquitous wildflowers along the roadways. As First Lady, this time of year wouldn’t be the same without a Main Street tour. It’s an annual ritual I look forward to, meeting enthusiastic and energized people who are committed to preserving the authenticity of their community. Yesterday I visited my 42nd Main Street city. Congratulations to Victoria!
A Texas Historical Commission program, Main Street helps Texas cities revitalize their historic downtowns by using preservation and economic development strategies. It takes a huge commitment on the part of a city or town to be designated a Main Street city.
The program was founded in 1981. Since 1994 the annual First Lady tour has been sponsored by the Independent Banker’s Association of Texas (IBAT). Today there are 84 cities participating in the Main Street Program and they’ve made a difference in so many ways. Over the years, these efforts have contributed to more than $2.4 billion in economic reinvestment. It’s led to more than 27,000 new jobs and the creation or expansion of almost 7,100 businesses in Main Street districts.
Beyond economic numbers, however, I love the Main Street Program because it demonstrates, time and again, what a community can accomplish when they pull together and work hard to achieve a goal, exactly as the dedicated people in Victoria did.
I also have to mention another important award that honors Texas communities. Today, I was proud to present San Angelo with the 2012 First Lady Texas Treasure Award. This honor goes to communities that enjoy an ideal combination of culture, preservation and vision in protecting and promoting their hometown legacies. That combination is very evident in cities like San Angelo. The program is only a few years old but each year I’m impressed to learn about the cities that apply and receive the designation.
As we concluded the whirlwind day I was thankful to be part of the celebrations in both cities. The people in both Victoria and San Angelo did a fabulous job of representing their communities and hosting me. I appreciate their hospitality and enthusiasm.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Perseverance. Pride. Hard work.
Those are some of the characteristics Texas’ early Spanish and Mexican settlers possessed, and the same holds true for the organizers of the newest monument on the Texas State Capitol grounds, the Tejano Monument.
Today was a historic day, as thousands attended the unveiling of one of the largest monuments on the Capitol grounds. The Tejano Monument has been 12 years in the making, beginning in 2001 when legislators passed and the governor signed legislation establishing it. Countless Texans and state leaders persevered for years to obtain funding and make certain the monument would accurately depict the rich Hispanic history of our state’s early explorers and settlers. Sculptor Armando Hinojosa of Laredo worked for years on the life-size statutes which make up the monument, including a depiction of a Spanish explorer, a vaquero on his mustang, a longhorn bull and cow, and a family of settlers. At 525 square feet, the monument is quite impressive.
As the Governor said at today’s unveiling, “This important monument reflects a larger truth about the origins of Texas, about the contributions of so many Hispanic citizens to the creation of the state we love and the lives we share. These contributions are ongoing with Latinos providing political, business and spiritual leadership in communities throughout Texas. The future of our state is tied directly to the future of our Hispanic population, and I believe we have a glorious future ahead of us.”
It’s another reminder of my pride of being a Texan and our rich, interesting history as a state.
Friday, March 23, 2012
In case you missed our recent announcement, the 13th Annual Texas Conference Women is returning to Austin on October 24th at the Austin Convention Center, so be sure to save the date. The conference was held in Austin from 2000 to 2007, and has been held in Houston for the last four years.
I hope you’ll join us for networking, professional development, personal growth, and stories of wisdom and inspiration by nationally recognized speakers and leaders from Texas and across the nation.
It’s always such an empowering and inspiring event, and I look forward to seeing so many Texas women given the power to realize their dreams and positively impact lives, their communities and the world.
For more information on the 13th Annual Conference, please visit http://www.txconferenceforwomen.org.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
In the last few years, researchers have made significant progress toward understanding and treating the cognitive issues associated with Down syndrome. Studies now provide hope of biomedical therapies for improving memory, learning and communication in individuals with Down syndrome, offering the potential for increased life opportunities. It all sounds very hopeful. In recent decades, improved health care, education and community opportunities and the support of families and advocacy groups have improved the quality of life for individuals with Down syndrome. The life expectancy of those with Down syndrome has more than doubled over the past 30 years.
Interestingly, associations between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease have been identified, which open encouraging paths for treating both Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s. In addition, a decreased incidence of breast and colon cancer has been reported within the Down syndrome population and this finding offers additional clues, which may prove to be useful in developing treatments for these conditions. I applaud First Lady Christie for bringing attention to Research Down Syndrome and the great work this organization is doing.
Closer to home, we’re blessed here in Texas with Down Home Ranch, a working farm and ranch, where about 40 adults and children—including 28 with Down syndrome and other disabilities—live year round. Founded by a family who had a baby with Down syndrome, the parents “learned quickly that this baby—like their other children—was first and foremost a person, worthy of love, friends, and the joys, sorrows, and opportunities open to any other,” to quote its website. Down Home Ranch also welcomes 160 people with disabilities to summer residential camps. What a beautiful contribution Down Home Ranch makes to countless families by giving their children opportunities they may not have otherwise.
Friday, March 16, 2012
As a nurse, mother and a person who wants to live a long and healthy life, I’ve been interested in nutrition for a long time. Healthy eating not only provides fuel on a daily basis, but also impacts our quality of life well into the future. I’m reminded of one my mother’s favorite sayings, “If I would have known I was going to live this long, I would taken better care of myself!”
I learned recently that the month of March is designated as National Nutrition Month by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Wanting to learn more, I visited the organization’s website, and even for a person who prides herself on a good amount of knowledge about healthy nutrition, there was plenty of information for all ages and all levels to read and digest (couldn’t help myself!).
I was especially interested in reading the section about popular diet reviews. Who hasn’t read about the latest trend diet and thought, this may be just the way to take off those stubborn, extra 10 pounds? The section offers reviews by experts on how to spot the most recent craze from the nutrition plan that could be a life-changer. For their reviews of diet books, experts looked at the following: claims made by the author; details of the diet plan; nutritional weaknesses and strengths; and the registered dietitian’s assessment of the books.
Perhaps the most worth-while read, is section 25, Healthy Snacks for Kids. It’s full of creative ways to keep children wanting to reach for healthy choices, like making snack kabobs made of low fat cheese cubes and grapes on pretzel sticks or healthy ice cream sandwiches made of frozen yogurt, graham crackers and slices of banana. I personally think those snacks sound great for adults too!
For more information on healthy eating and National Nutrition Month, please visit http://www.eatright.org/.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Dick Wallrath. It’s not a household name but maybe it should be. Dick’s story is nothing short of amazing. It’s what movies are made of—and are—in this case. I had the pleasure and honor of attending the movie premiere of “Deep in the Heart” at the Paramount on Wednesday night. The movie is Dick’s life story.
What a fun evening. But more importantly, what an inspiring evening as we watched an incredibly moving and touching story about determination, forgiveness, redemption and generosity. Dick has single handedly changed untold numbers of lives through his generous donations for scholarships. Actually, no one has ever given more financially to the Texas 4-H and Texas FFA Scholarship Programs than Dick Wallrath.
After battling demons of substance abuse Dick found strength through his faith that made him realize the importance of family. He realized that love and family relationships are the true measure of success. Dick and his sons built a successful business and then went on to “give back” in the form of supporting Texas 4-H and FFA. The movie has a great cast—Jon Gries, Elaine Hendrix, DB Sweeney and Val Kilmer. It opens this weekend. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed. And, it’s always nice to see a fellow Texan share his success so generously.
Congratulations and thank you, Dick!
Monday, February 06, 2012
One of the best parts of this job—my volunteer role as First Lady—is getting to extol Texas’ many virtues. Today I found myself particularly reflective as the Governor and I were interviewed by Shannon Bream, a reporter with Fox News Channel. We, Texans, have so much to be thankful for...our healthy economy, our natural (and varied) beauty, our plethora of fun activities and events available in Texas just to name a few.
Perhaps what I’m most thankful for in our great state are the great people. This state is full of loving, generous people who want to serve their country, their community, their fellow friends and neighbors. In the busy-ness of life, sometimes it’s easy to forget the most obvious blessings we have—the blessings of faith, friendships and family. I’m always appreciative for the opportunities that remind me what’s most important.
By the way, the interview with Shannon will air tonight on the Special Report with Brett Baier and also on Sunday, Feb. 12, on America’s News HQ with Shannon Bream.
Friday, January 20, 2012
I get a lot of questions about what makes Texas’ economy so strong and why it’s such a great place to live, work and play. These people see the accolades our state earns, and notice the continued national recognition for our impressive job creation record. Recently, for example, Texas earned the “Best State for Jobs” ranking by Forbes.
It’s no accident Texas gets such recognition. While the credit for our economic strength rightfully goes to the hard-working employers and employees of Texas, the Governor and his economic development team do what they can to help, taking a proactive role in touting Texas’ business assets. For instance, when Washington state was recently considering a tax increase, some 90 companies in Washington received letters from the Governor inviting them to take a look at the Lone Star State.
A number of publications have given Texas kudos this past year for our economic strength. Site Selection Magazine, DCI and Area Development Magazine each recognized our business climate. USA Today wrote that Texas moved past New York as the nation’s second largest economy, and the Wall Street Journal credited the state’s low taxes and employer-friendly environment with helping make Texas the job creation capital of the nation. Very impressive!
Since economic development is an initiative I spend a considerable amount of time on, I’m always thrilled to hear when others recognize our desirable business climate. A healthy economy is good for all of us, and building and maintaining success like we’re enjoying takes teamwork, with our economic development team including people from across the state who work in economic development corporations and chambers of commerce. They all do an outstanding job of serving as ambassadors and salespeople for our great state.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
During the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holidays, I try to make time for reflection a priority. It helps keep my sanity during this exciting, frenetic time of year.
As I reflect on 2011, I think of my family’s many blessings. What a joy and blessing for Rick and me to each have both of our parents. They’ve guided us, unconditionally loved us and instilled in us values and morals that made us who we are today. I am so very thankful we are still able to share our lives with them. We are grateful for all of our family . . . our children, our siblings, extended family and even the furry, four-legged Perry family members. They provide us with lots of laughs!
What a blessing to live in a free society and country. We owe a debt of gratitude to all who wear the uniform to protect our liberties. My prayers are with the soldiers and their families always, but especially during the holidays when their families and friends feel their absence even more.
I hope you and yours feel the spirit of Christmas and enjoy Christ’s blessings now and throughout the year.
The Perry Family wishes you the merriest Christmas and a peace-filled, successful 2012.