Thursday, August 20, 2009
Taking a break
On August 7th I gave the keynote speech at the Easter Seals Crossroads Assistive Technology Conference. There were about 500 people in attendance and the conference was fantastic! I hadn't spoken about anything other than the Chrysler/GM bankruptcy debacle for some time and I have to admit that it was refreshing to change focus for a while. Before my speech I was awarded the Assistive Technology "Inspiration" Award. The original plan for the keynote was to have an interview style presentation between myself and Wade Wingler (the Director of Assistive Technology at Easter Seals Crossroads), but at the last minute I decided to wing it on my own.
For some reason, even though I've had plenty of experience with public speaking, I was a bit intimidated when I was first asked to do this speech. Perhaps it was because I would need to stick to about 20 minutes, instead of rambling on about myself for an hour. Perhaps it was because it would be the first time that I would actually speak to an audience from a stage at the convention center. For whatever reason, when Wade offered an interview style keynote I was a chicken and took the out he was offering. However, in the days before the conference I started thinking about Assistive Tech, how beneficial it has been to me, and ultimately decided to drop Wade from the presentation and do my own thing. So far the reviews have been positive, and I think it was the first time that I've ever received a standing ovation!
A special treat was to have my Mom and my Uncle Mike present for the speech, and they attended the one hour session that I ran afterwards. I kept thinking about how important it was to me to have Uncle Mike home so much in the days after the accident. (For those of you who don't know, my Mom's brother is the Director of Orchestral Studies at Georgia State.) When he's not teaching he's traveling around the country, or the world, with other orchestras, so the fact that he dropped everything and came home was extremely special. I know he was a huge help to my parents, but for me it was special just to spend time with him. I got more quality time with him in those weeks than I think I ever had in my life! But, I digress...
The fact that Mom and Uncle Mike were in the audience was so special to me. While Dad and Sarah have gotten to hear me speak to groups, no one else in the family has ever been part of my audience. While I was on the stage I found myself thinking "this must be how Uncle Mike feels when we come to one of his concerts!" After the keynote I led a one hour question and answer session. I was completely comfortable with this because it was so similar to speaking to classes at IUPUI and UIndy. I had warned Mom and Uncle Mike that I wouldn't censor my answers because they were there and wanted them to be prepared if a topic that we had never discussed came up. They both assured me that whether or not we had discussed some of the more sensitive issues, they certainly knew that I had dealt with them.
Since the conference I have had several visits with patients in the Burn Unit and have been busy with other more "normal" day to day activities. I had a great visit with my new Prosthetist, who is convinced that with some new sockets, alignment adjustments to my legs, and a lot of work on my part that I will be able to walk without the crutches. We'll see...
Oh yeah, the day before the conference I was interviewed by the Indianapolis Star about how "healthy living" has helped with my recovery. The author took a one hour interview and turned it into a really nice short article. A few things got lost in translation, but I really like how it came out! Ever since that article ran people keep stopping me to tell me how inspiring I am. I still have issues with that, but it's nice to know that I'm having a positive impact on people!
I have to admit that I also became obsessed with watching the final season of Battlestar Galactica, which was recently released on DVD. Perhaps that's how August 20th crept up on me so fast...
We are glad to hear that your shedule has slowed down a bit in the last few weeks. It was great to see you at the reunion. We would like to have visited more with you then but are glad that we were able to catch a bit of time between the hecktic trips to DC. I know it meant a lot to you to have Mike and your mom at your presentation. We hope that things will continue in a more moderate fashion for you.
Harry and Lilla
Glad to hear the Easter Seals speech went well. I would love to see you speak in person. Keep us up to date on your speaking schedule.
Are you still taking classes?