Texas Our Texas
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.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
This week I was honored to host the former first lady of Pakistan Sehba Musharraf and a group of Pakistani American women for a delightful, interesting and lively discussion over lunch. It was fascinating to learn of some of the geography of Pakistan. For instance, I had no idea parts of Pakistan are as beautiful as Switzerland with majestic, snow capped mountains and rivers running through scenic valleys. Actually, hearing about the diverse scenery sounded similar to the varied landscape we have in Texas.
I also enjoyed hearing about the women’s backgrounds and families in Pakistan. They represented diverse careers, from an economics college professor in Houston to a small business owner in Austin. As we talked and shared information and anecdotes about our families and values, it was apparent, what is most important to all of us is providing a good life for our families, the vital fabric of all cultures.
Friday, July 01, 2011
I recently came across this quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower which is poignant and so very true:
Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.
An interesting historical tidbit . . . on July 3, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Adams’ prediction was off by two days. From the beginning, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the Declaration of Independence.
Coincidentally, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
As we celebrate our nation’s freedom with family and friends, let’s not forget the brave, courageous and selfless men and women who continue to fight for our liberties.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
We’ve done it again! Texas is pretty consistent about being at the top of the list, whether we’re talking about business, basketball, or our wonderful people. This past month is no different, as we topped Forbes Magazine’s annual lists of Best Cities for Jobs. To quote Forbes, “...No place displayed more vibrancy than Texas. The Lone Star State dominated the three size categories, with the No. 1 mid-sized city, El Paso (No. 3 overall, up 22 places from last year) and No. 1 large metropolitan area, Austin (No. 6 overall), joining Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood (the No. 1 small city) atop their respective lists.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Congratulations, fellow Texans! This chart-topping tendency isn’t a bad habit to have.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
The Texas Conference for Women yesterday announced that a few keynoters have been added to the lineup and that registration is open. The Conference will be held on Thursday, November 17 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, and so far our speakers include life coach and O, The Oprah Magazine, columnist Martha Beck, Longhorn sports legend and Hall of Famer Jody Conradt, Emmy Award-winning actress from TV’s “Ugly Betty,” America Ferrera and writer and director Lisa Niemi Swayze. Also speaking will be children’s health care advocate Cindy Hensley McCain, who has worked closely with Ben Affleck’s Eastern Congo Initiative.
The theme of this year’s Conference is Live Fearlessly, so check out five reasons to attend here.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
So many women, especially over the age of 50, are checking in on their careers, looking into new opportunities and revisiting where they’re headed. This week, I was invited to speak at a Texas Women in Business Conference devoted exclusively to this very topic. What a day! My own path has taken a few turns over the years, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that we have to keep an open mind and not place limits on ourselves. At every age, we get better in different ways and have different strengths. Sometimes we have to tune out the noise and refocus on where we want to be and what that looks like – and it’s never too late. So much of success starts with the way we see ourselves, so we have to keep recognizing our strengths – and making them work – at every age. Each year matters.
Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Let’s keep making the most of them!