September 2008 kicked off a 9 monthprocess that would challenge everything I knew and begin a change in the way I looked at my community. Those few hours I spent with a new group of people at CetaCanyon left me wondering what was this all going to be about? Was I here for networking, learning, sharing or just because I wanted a day off work each month to hang around some new people? Well, what I would find out in the next few months is that I was there for so much more than anything I could have imagined.
Our time together actually started off at Gray’s Studio on 6th Street in August. A meet and greet event so we could mingle, eat, drink and listen to our guest speaker. It was also a time where we could get our feel for this class and see what the heck this was all going to be about. I was excited about this but really couldn’t tell you why. I just knew I was supposed to be there at this time and really wanted God to show me what He had for me.
As our opening retreat got closer and closer, I started to get anxious about all of this. As many of you know, when I get anxious, I start asking questions and thinking about everything. I also like retreats because it takes me back to my childhood I guess. But being in a retreat atmosphere is great and I was just ready!
I was still wondering how this would turn out and why I was so anxious but as I arrived at Ceta Canyon, my anxiety turned to excitement. The only thing I didn’t was a snoring person in my room! Our first few minutes together was great because like in any new place, people were allowed to hide behind a light breakfast and a coffee cup or juice glass. This little “ice breaker” time allows people to get a feel for the retreat and to me, it’s the best part. Looking around the room at everyone, you can get a feel for who is ready for the weekend and who is ready to get out and run away.
But as the morning turned to afternoon and then to evening, I started seeing this whole experience in a whole new light. I knew at that point, this group was going to be special to me. After a few bumps and bruises, the opening retreat ended and we all went our own way. But over the next few months, something bigger than any of us was going to take place and it was going to be a change in our hearts and minds that would transform us forever.
Over the next few months, we found out what it was like to be a member of the House of Representatives, from election to re-election. We got to hear from Secret Service agents, FBI agents, Congressman Thornberry and have an Amarillo Police Department ride a long. We got to be broke, I mean dead broke and lose everything. We toured the prison and gained a whole new respect for the men and women guards who work there. We learned that walking behind a horse won’t make him kick and neither will pulling his tail. As a matter of fact, we learned that you have to treat some people like that horse; pull it’s tail just enough to get it’s attention and eventually, he will go where you want him to go. We learned most of us couldn’t build a home out of paper and tape if we had to. We also learned more about each other on a culture walk. When you are asked about gay marriage, religion, music and politics and have to be honest about where you stand, it’s hard and it hurts at times. We learned that the teenagers in this town are amazing and just want our support in everything they do. We learned that white people are colorful, not black people and that no matter where you come from, we all have some prejudice in us. We learned more about this city and the businesses in it. From Boys Ranch to Bell Helicopter and every place in between. This city is great and it just needs us to support it any way we can.
But through everything, we learned about each other and how if we come together through the building of relationships, we can accomplish anything. I am very glad for the opportunity I had in Leadership Amarillo & Canyon and I appreciate everyone who made it possible. Sharon, Liz, the LAC board, many volunteers and especially my mother in law, Susan Wenger.
People look at what they think life is too seriously and don’t look at what is seriously needs to be done in life. We have to come together for the betterment our community.I am better for what I’ve been through the past few months and it makes me smile when I think back on our time together.
From Gail’s first bruise to her last, we grew together. First out of necessity, then out of a common goal and finally in friendly love for each other, even though we only saw each other a few hours a month. We came to our opening retreat at CetaCanyon as individuals and left our closing banquet at AQHA as a family.
So, my question is, why can’t this be done on a daily basis? I believe if we put all our differences in work, schools, religion, church homes and culture to the side and build each other up for the common good, Amarillo and Canyon would be a much better place that would change Texas, then the entire nation and then finally, the entire world. Give it a chance people and remember we are all in this community together so let’s get to work to build up our community, not tear it down.
That’s what I learned in LAC over the past few months. If you are interested in knowing more, please feel free to contact me or visit: www.leadershipamarillo.org.
I love you all!