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Archive for June 2016

And Then This Happened – 40 Under 40

Posted on June 25, 2016 by under Confessions, Events.    

Last week was a super busy week. The day after the Orpheum’s Celebrity & Chef Cookoff was the 40 Under 40 awards dinner. Yup. No break last week. We had bowling league at the Alley on Monday, Celebrity & Chef Cookoff on Tuesday, 40 Under 40 on Wednesday, I took Nickira to the waterpark on Thursday, and then in-laws arrived in town on Friday.

Before I post pictures from the 40 Under 40 event, I have a confession to make. I actually applied for 40 Under 40 last year and didn’t make the cut. I wouldn’t have been as bummed about it had it not been for the fact that I was the only person nominated from Westar Energy, which meant our company didn’t make the list.

Last year when Don asked me how I felt about the company nominating me for 40 Under 40, I was super excited. I’d always wanted to be part of that group, I just didn’t know how you go about getting nominated for it and getting selected. As an eternal optimist, I’ve always approached everything with that thought that I can do something (anything) until I fail miserably. I thought I would get nominated and then I would get selected and then I’d get invited to the dinner and we will have a ton of fun and that’s that. I had no idea how truly competitive the process is and that you don’t just get selected. It’s not that simple. Maybe for some people it is. I wasn’t so lucky.

After the rejection I was like, “What’s wrong with me? What are others in my age group doing that I’m not doing? What goals can I achieve? How else can I make a difference?” I really had to do some serious reflection.

Earlier this year Don asked me how I felt about being nominated again. I remember the conversation well because it moved me to tears. I said, “It would be an honor to represent Westar Energy in the Wichita Business Journal‘s 40 Under 40 but are we sure we want to do this? I mean, I didn’t get in last year.” There’s a fine line between insanity and perseverance.

You know how when you get rejected for something or there’s something that you think you can’t have, you actually want it even more. I confessed that I really want to be part of the WBJ 40 Under 40 so I’m happy to be nominated. I’ve known some friends, Wichita State and Leadership Wichita classmates who have previously been selected for 40 Under 40. However, at work Don Sherman is the only person I know who has been part of this elite group but he received the honor before joining Westar. I won’t tell you what year because then you’ll know how old he is and he doesn’t look that old.

I digress..back to the conversation. I said, “I am very honored to be nominated again but I’m also a team player. Is this truly the direction we want to go? If there is someone else within the organization (I had a specific person in mind when I said this because I knew she would be a shoe in to get selected) who we think has a better shot at making 40 Under 40, let’s go with that person. I will gladly step aside to ensure we are represented on the list this year.” I’m no fool. I know they are recognizing individuals for their contributions to the community but it’s also about Westar building a presence in the community. Having a Westar employee on that list puts the company’s name out there. It shows we are involved in the community. It helps our brand.

“I’ve talked with Terry and Jeff,” he said. “The leadership team has decided and you are our pick. I just want to make sure that you are okay with it.” He added, “I know you’re not used to getting rejected” or something like that. I was like, “They can reject me all day long. It’s not going to stop me from trying. Rejection doesn’t bother me. I just don’t want to disappoint you guys. As long as you feel good about nominating me, then I will apply for it again and I will do my very best to get in.”

I was overwhelmed with emotion knowing that Don and our leadership team believed in me enough to risk not making the list again. And so began my mission. I had to make 40 Under 40. I could not fail again.

I started the process of securing letters of support right away. My first ask was to Mark Ruelle, our CEO. Although not required, a letter of support from your company’s CEO is highly recommended. But I couldn’t just ask for a letter of support over email because that’s simply not my style. I was asking for a letter so I sent him one.

Here’s what I wrote him:

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I don’t think many people appreciate writing and receiving letters as much as I do. I really enjoy writing letters and wish I had more people to write to. LOL.

But letters are pointless if they don’t achieve their purpose. This one actually worked. Shortly after sending the letter through our interoffice mail, I received a phone call from Mark. It’s the first time the CEO had ever called me. I remember thinking, “OMG. OMG. OMG. The CEO is calling me. Don’t say anything stupid. Don’t say anything stupid. Don’t say anything stupid…” And then I answered the phone.

Our conversation was brief. He gave me some words of encouragement and said he would write me a letter of support. I secured a few more letters of support for good measure. All of them were meaningful and special to me. I almost didn’t want to turn them over to WBJ because I wanted to keep the originals forever. I felt so blessed to have all of these people in my corner. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m getting emotional now just thinking about it.

Before we fast-forward to the end of this story, I want to share one more dorky photo.

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I’d been spending a lot of time in Topeka because of our CIS implementation project (currently on hold but we were fiercely working on it at the time) so, instead of getting my letter of support from Mark via interoffice mail, I asked his executive assistant Nancy if I could just swing by his office and pick it up. As luck would have it, almost all of the company officers were out of the office for spring break that week so Nancy was able to give me a grand tour. She even took a picture of me at Mark’s desk (above). I was told I’m not the first one to do it. Apparently it’s a thing that happens when he’s gone.

Believe it or not, this was not my idea. I didn’t even have my phone on me. Nancy suggested it and even took the photo with her phone. I just gladly went along. LOL.

Sidetracked again..back to the story. I could not afford to fail my company again so I didn’t want to leave anything to chance this time around. In addition to sending my nominee survey/application by email, I also made a hard copy and hand my very handsome husband hand deliver it. Brian looked so dashing in his suit and tie that Elisha at WBJ thought he was delivering his own application for 40 Under 40. Brian who is now 42 was super flattered naturally. We actually joke that the main reason I made the cut this year is because he hand delivered my submission for me.

Now that you know the backstory, here are some pictures from the event.

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Brian with Don’s wife Denise, who has also been instrumental in my professional development. She was on the Leadership Wichita board of trustees the year I went through the program.

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My teammate Sunni with Jim Ludwig, retired Westar exec (former VP of Public Affairs and Consumer Services), who mentored me in his final year and who continues to mentor me today (we just don’t see each other as frequently).

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Jeff Beasley, VP of Customer Care, with Nykole, Shanda, and Gwen.

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They gave us all copies of the paper with our honoree profiles. They totally published how old we are and everything. I was relieved to find out I’m not the oldest honoree. There were a few others older than me.

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Here’s the dinner menu for the event.

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And, predictably, food pictures will now follow…

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This would be the salad.

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These are arancini balls.

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Our entrée.

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There were various desserts. We had mousse. Other tables had carrot cake. I think overall Brian was pretty happy with the dessert we got at our table. He doesn’t like carrot cake. Dinner was actually delicious, as these things go. Considerable thought and planning went into the event and it showed.

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Our group photo.

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This year’s 40 Under 40 honorees.

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And, this is me. Brian picked out my dress to go with my walk up song, “Walking on Sunshine.” My dress is quite yellow, like the sun. It’s apparently so bright that I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

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Great picture of Amy Delamaide. I met her through Twitter eight years ago. She’s one of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees as well.

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This is my friend and Leadership Wichita classmate, Dan Lawrence. He picked the Super Mario Bros. video game theme song as his walk up song. How fun!

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Landon Plumer is another Leadership Wichita classmate.

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Landon is a lot younger than Dan and me. He’s not even 30 yet!

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This is Patrick Todd, owner of Oz Endurance. If he looks familiar, it’s because we see him every year at the Labor Run.

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There were so many interesting, accomplished people in this group. I felt truly honored to be among them. You can read up on everyone here.

The photo on the right is the picture they used with my writeup, which you can read here. I think my answers were kind of dull compared to everyone else’s answers. They were all so clever and creative. It kind of made me wish that I had put more thought into responding to my honoree profile survey.

You can check out, and purchase, the rest of the honoree picture here. The two days that they scheduled everyone’s photos fell during a week when I was in Topeka all week (probably for the system integrator interviews) so I had to swing by the WBJ office on a completely different day to get my photo taken. I’m super grateful to Kellen being so flexible and accommodating. He also did a fantastic job on all the event photos, which you can view and purchase here.

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I found out that I’m also getting a plaque like this one. I’m not really sure where I’m going to hang it yet because I have ginormous whiteboard in my office at work that takes up a lot of room. There’s not really anywhere good to put the new plaque.

I know my limited blog readership pretty much just consists of family so if you’re reading this, and you would like one of these for your home, let me know. The cost is $215 for each plaque so I’m not getting a bunch of them made. I’m only ordering one for you if you really, really, really want one.

I did get an alternative design proposal from Walliez for about the same price. I declined for now because I really don’t know where to put the first plaque let alone a second one but, if anyone wants one, let me know because I’ll be happy to purchase extras of these to give away as Christmas presents. I’m just narcissistic enough to do that. LMAO.

Jokes aside, I’m super thrilled to be among the WBJ’s 40 Under 40 honorees. After reading about everyone, I know I’m in good company. And, it was really tough to get selected so I’m truly honored.

And, for those who weren’t able to join us for the awards dinner, Brian took a video of my 15 seconds (slightly longer because Wichita Business Journal’s Bill Roy had a good ol’ time making fun of me). Enjoy!

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Fun Times at Celebrity & Chef Cookoff

Posted on June 23, 2016 by under Events.    

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Brian and I had a great time at the Celebrity & Chef Cookoff last week. Thanks to our friend Jimmy for the tickets.

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Lily Wu did a great job of emceeing the event. The celebrities who competed this year were Eric Fisher (Eric Fisher Salon & Academy), Andrew Gough (Reverie Coffee Roasters), Mike Grbic (Select Homes), Dr. Patricia McDonnell (Wichita Art Museum), Lela Meadow-Conner (Tallgrass Film Festival), Sierra Scott (The Brett & Sierra Show), Dr. Anthony Vizzini (Wichita State University), and Aaron Wirtz (CurveBreak). The chefs were Paul Freimuth (Harvest Kitchen), Ben George (Savor at Intrust Bank Arena), Paul Guerrero (Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro), Jeremiah Harvey (Candle Club), Luciano Mottola (Luciano’s), Jeremey Pacacha (Eurest Dining Services), Jennifer Reifschneider (Kansas Star Casino), and Jeremy Wade (Siena Tuscan Steakhouse).

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The teams were announced just shortly before the cooking commenced. Our friend Aaron was paired with Ya Ya’s Paul Guerrero. It was a great pairing. They ended up taking first place. Second place went to the team of Dr. McDonnell and Candle Club’s Jeremiah Harvey. Sierra Scott and Siena’s Jeremy Wade finished in third.

There seemed to be fewer tasting tables this year than last year but it was still a fantastic even overall. Kudos to the organizers. Brian and I love this event. It’s one of our favorites. We were really bummed the year that we celebrated Brian’s 40th birthday in the Dominican Republic because we missed the cookoff that year.

I hope we get to go again next year.

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Uno Mas

Posted on June 21, 2016 by under Food and Drink.    

Pictures from my first Uno Mas experience. I tried them a couple of weeks ago. I believe it was their first time at the ICT Pop-up Urban Park.

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I’m not sure if they’ve been back at the park. I haven’t been by because it’s either raining cats and dogs or it’s way too hot to walk over. That’s Kansas weather for you.

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They gave me a sample of agua de melon while I waited for my to-go order. It reminded me of the melon juice we used to drink in the Philippines. Except we put actual strings of cantaloupe in ours. The familiar flavor brought back fond memories.

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I really wanted to try the jalapeño cilantro fries but it didn’t look like you could order them separately. From looking at their menu, it looked like the only way to get them is to order one of the two sandwiches. I really didn’t feel like eating a sandwich that day.

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I wanted to try their tacos. I got one barbacoa (shredded beef) taco and one carnitas (braised pork) taco. They were a pretty good deal for only $3 each. The tacos were on the small side (compared to the tacos I get from Funky Monkey Munchies and the Flying Stove) but they were packed full of flavor. I definitely get why they named their truck Uno Mas. After eating the two small tacos, I definitely felt like I eating one more.

Fortunately for me, I got my order to go so I couldn’t get another taco without having to walk back to the park. I say that’s fortunate because, while I was craving one more taco, I really didn’t need it. LOL.

Looks like they were back at the ICT Pop-up Urban Park yesterday. I’m not sure where they will be the rest of the week. I highly recommend checking them out, though. You can follow their Facebook page to get updates about where the truck will be next.

Judging from the recent pictures, it looks like portions have gotten bigger since opening week. That’s a good thing because I eat a lot. I’ll be seeing you again soon, Uno Mas!

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Pando Initiative

Posted on June 20, 2016 by under Events.    

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We took some fun pics at the Pando Initiative 25th Anniversary Gala at the Wichita Scottish Rite Center. This event was a couple of weeks ago but I’m behind on the blog so I’m just now getting around to posting these.

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Here’s a picture of our group.

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Misty and Lindsay filled in for Dorian and Liz.

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Brian and I were super tired from the day’s activities. I taught a couple of Zumba classes in the morning and then we had the CRC picnic in the afternoon. We were pretty beat but were both glad that we attended.

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The event was super fun and included a performance by the world famous illusionist Reza. He was really entertaining and funny. You can check out videos of some of his illusions here.

A couple of instructors from Care to Dance also performed a tango. They started by making a dramatic entrance from the grand staircase and then danced their way to the stage. It was pretty cool.

Brian and I had a blast at the party despite being completely exhausted. I hope Karen invites us to attend again next year.

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First Ever CRC Picnic

Posted on June 17, 2016 by under Events.    

Amy and her helpers threw an amazing picnic a few weeks ago at Cessna Park. The most memorable part about it is that I got to play kickball for the first time. Ya’ll know I’m always up for learning and trying new things and so I did. Except, I had no idea what I was doing. I just learned the rules as we went. Every time I would do something that I wasn’t supposed to, they were always quick to tell me and razz me about it.

I was actually worried about playing kickball because the day of the picnic happened to be my first day of teaching my Saturday morning Aqua Zumba. So I had my 8:30 AM Aqua Zumba class, my regular 10:30 AM Zumba class, kickball at the CRC picnic, and then a benefit dinner that same evening. It was going to be a busy day.

I was most worried about being too tired to play kickball, though. I talked to one of my coworkers about it the a couple of days before the picnic.

“I’m worried I won’t have enough energy to run all the way back to home base,” I told her. She reassured me that I wouldn’t have to worry about it because people usually only run one base at a time. She found the idea so absurd that she actually told me that she would pay me $5 if I kicked a double.

She was so right. Home runs were very few and far between. And, I never did make my double. Needless to say, I didn’t get paid. I had a lot of fun though, despite being made fun of the entire time.

My first mistake was when I kicked, ran to first base, and then started walking back to our team dugout because I thought I was out. Carmen was like, “What are you doing? Go back to your base. You’re safe!”

And then there was another time when I ran to second base, touched the base and everything, and then they told me I was out. I guess you are supposed to stay on the base and not run past it. I had no idea. Nick picked on me of course, “How do you not know the rules? You’re almost 40 years old! Have you never watched baseball?”

I have but I guess I never paid attention. I don’t watch baseball on TV for one because I don’t have the attention span for it. And when we watched the Red Sox play at Fenway a few years ago, I just did the fan participation part and didn’t really pay attention to the game (which was fine because they lost).

Brian was quick to join the “make fun of Ching” bandwagon as well. He was completely amused that (true to my geeky self) I was worried about the bases being the correct distance from one another. He was like, “Most people would be worried about tripping, falling, missing the ball, getting hit by the ball, looking stupid. You’re worried about the accuracy of the location of the bases.” I had to explain that the bases needed to be the appropriate distance apart because I stood to make $5 if I kick a double. I may not make it if they’re too far apart. LOL.

As it turns out, I didn’t have to worry about it because I never had the opportunity to run to second base on one kick. Oh, well. At least now I know the rules of the game so I’m ready for it next time.

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Here are some pictures from the picnic…

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Joe Montiel, who has quickly become the unofficial official photographer of the CRC, took a bunch of amazing photos at the picnic. My favorite one is below.

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I love this photo because of the amount of amusement it brought Amy. I walked by her desk when she was looking at the photos a couple of days after the picnic and she was laughing so hard. “What’s so funny?” I asked. Then she shows me my photo. She’s like, “Look at your face!” Then she showed me several other photos of people running to base. In every instance, the runner had a look of fierce determination and her I was just laughing my ass off to base. She found it completely hilarious. I did too because it reminded me of our good ol’ swordfighting days.

Everyone always had this fierce, angry look when they were fighting each other. I was the only one who was laughing and smiling as I tried to beat the crap out of people. So Brian decided to paint a smiley face on my fencing mask. It was so fitting.

I’m a happy person. I can’t help it. LOL.

When my friend Faith and I used to facilitate our Service Mentor training training together and we would role play, I always sucked at pretending to be an irate customer. I always sounded like a cheerful, angry customer. Anyway, we quickly figured this out so, whenever we did training, we always had Faith act out the different customers. She’s a far better actress than me, specially when I have to pretend to be upset or angry.

Speaking of, my project is on hold so I started helping Darcy and her team with testing our automated phone system (IVR). I’m still finishing up some project stuff but I gotta make myself useful somehow. Anyway, I’ve had to do a few tests now where I have to cuss at the IVR. That’s always funny because my cussing is not very convincing.

But I digress… The picnic was super fun. I am truly blessed to work with an amazing group of people who are a lot of fun to be around. I hope you all take the time to check out Joe’s photos. I can’t wait until the next picnic!

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