Today I am pleased to introduce you to Heidi, warm and welcoming, a bright light at just the right time.
As I walked through the exhibit hall that second afternoon of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) convention, I was admittedly uninspired. Maybe my intense continuing education schedule paired with the Georgia inspired box lunch of fried chicken wrap, three bean salad, and blueberry cobbler was the culprit?
Then, I looked up.
A light blue sky with a little bee in my line of sight. And a smiling woman with an orange dress. And a crowd.
Little Bee Speech, the sign said. Apps not a part of my current therapeutic repertoire, I had not even taken a second glance at the other app exhibits. But this? This one was different.
Drawn to the blue skies and the cute little bee and the blonde with the orange dress, I couldn’t help but walk right over. I knew this was something I’d
I exclaimed to the woman with the orange dress that I really identified with the exhibit and wanted to hear all about their product. After a warm welcome and introduction to the company, she showed me the app titled Articulation Station Pro. Simple. Adorable. User friendly. Kid friendly. Fun. Real photographs. Adaptable. She took a picture and showed us how the app will soon have an option to add custom photographs and target words.
I was sold! For a while, I’ve had my mind set on purchasing an app to replace my articulation cards. This was the one!
A swarm of others gathered around, so I thanked the woman in orange and moved out of the way to make room for another demonstration.
Just to the right, a man behind the booth. I grabbed a bunch of brochures and verified procedures for purchasing. I asked the man if I could take a couple of the cute ladybug pins from a bowl on the table for my kids, explaining they would expect a souvenir when I arrived back home. Responding with his contagious smile, he so kindly asked how many kids I had and what age, and added his kids like them too. I couldn’t help but envision me and my husband chatting the night away with these people at dinner.
Before turning the corner, I grabbed every business card I could. A husband and wife team! Heidi Hanks, M.S., CCC-SLP, speech-language pathologist, creator of the Articulation Station Pro, and blogger at Mommy Speech Therapy. Chris Hanks, her husband and Little Bee Speech User Experience Designer. And this woman in orange, I do not know, but she was simply lovely.
Around the corner was Heidi, busy speaking with customers. When it was my turn, I approached, explained who I was, shared that I find their exhibit to be a light in this place, and asked if I could feature her on my blog. Heidi warmly thanked me and agreed, clearly full of gratitude. I planned to take a picture of Heidi, or Heidi with her husband and the woman with the orange dress, but instead, she invited me to be in the picture and found someone to take it. Point, click, we had our shot. A moment in the light had been expressed and captured.
As the convention came to a close, I thought of my encounter with Heidi, her husband, and the woman in the orange dress, and I was overflowing with gratitude. Before I knew it, three days’ worth of moments in the light started rushing in…
Maya Angelou, her voice, her prose, the way words flow right out of her. Inspiration as a great, she had to let us know we are a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
A woman presenting a poster reminded me of Rachel from Glee. The sparkle in her eye, her energy, her exuberance, her depth, her striving to be who she was created to be. The words on her poster came to life as she explained. An expressed mutual understanding of material, that mysterious chemistry of friendship you feel when you just know someone could become a great friend under different circumstances. Later, recognition of one another at a restaurant, smiles and a wave in passing.
Ami Klin, Ph.D., renowned researcher in autism, Director of Marcus Autism Center, his work narrowed to a mere two hour session. Writing furiously, grasping each word, documenting for later review, nearly in tears twice at the stunning findings of his research and the very real possibility of a medical device for screening infants for autism someday. Hope for families, hope for children. Phenomenal was the word.
Overby, Flipsen, Rvachew and another. I found myself in this group of five in close at a poster session, “three here” Overby exclaimed outloud “are experts,” as she realized the group in front of her. (I, the least of these, and NOT one of the experts!) A semi-circle of thought around this research on childhood apraxia of speech. I happened upon it, and once I knew the circle I was in, soaked up the opportunity to listen, participate without reservation. Dignity and honor was expressed through eye contact and ears open to my clinical observations within the framework of the research.
David Ingram, well known and regarded child speech and language professor presents his research in progress. Practical, interesting. Clearly a down to earth, genuine, and gentle man, I approached with a comment after the seminar. I had barely begun, and he quietly flipped my name badge over in an effort to discover who I was. A kind gesture of genuine acknowledgement from a man who didn’t have to care at that moment.
First American to orbit earth, Senator John Glenn lovingly introduced his wife Annie. Arm in arm, a wink, a tease, true honor in 69 years of marriage. A reminder that despite all of mans’ greatest achievements, what matters most is love.
And congresswoman Gabrielle (Gabby) Giffords, recipient of ASHA’s prestigious Annie Glenn Award, hand waving in front of her, restricted motion but unbridled emotion, exuding gratitude to an audience of therapists in ovation. A precious, indescribable moment experienced uniquely by those present. A brief heart-felt speech that we all supposed required weeks of practice, and her husband Mark Kelly held her from behind to ensure she didn’t fall as she leaned over the edge of the stage to greet and thank her therapists in the front row. A woman choosing hope. gratitude.
All lights. All rainbows in the clouds.
Heidi, Chris, and that woman with the orange dress – A warm and welcoming place.
The others – Authenticity. Connection. Hope. Dignity. Acknowledgement. Love. Gratitude.
All these things we welcome.
All these things we give.
Our greatness lies not in our personal or professional accomplishments and achievements. Rather, our greatness lies in our ability to lay down our lives in service to others in honor of our mighty God. Grateful we are able to give. Grateful for all we have been given.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31