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Friday, July 12, 2013

A Busy Time

Recently, I've dealt with a bit of anxiety. I've been anxious about the coming week's competition. You would think that after four years competing in the Miss Arkansas Pageant it would become routine to work through those last minute preparations and packing. But this simply isn't the case. In fact, it is quite possible that because of my past experiences I recognize just how important this next week is going to be. The way I see it, my blog is my personal space dedicated to keeping you updated and to keeping me sane by providing an outlet for my thoughts. That being said, I want to be honest with you going into this next week. It's tough!

There I said it. Competition is difficult. For starters, have you glanced through the other 44 girls competing this year? Take a moment and do so on the contestant page of the Miss Arkansas website that I'll conveniently link, here. These truly are some of the most impressive young women in our state. If you think that isn't enough to make me a little nervous, well, then I'll share a little more about my preparations as of late.

About two weeks ago, I discovered some issues with my talent selection. Nothing major, but these issues resulted in my needing to learn nine new measures of music only a couple of weeks before competition. Then, to top off my musical woes, my flute suffered a broken spring during pageant bootcamp. Needless to say, I was a wreck! Luckily, I've devoted more hours than I can count practicing on a flute I had repaired immediately following that week, and I can honestly say, I'm starting to feel that it is all coming together. There are a few other things that have occurred that I won't bog you down with. Overall just know, that we competitors put in a lot of hours practicing our talents, working out, and serving our local communities. 

Finally though, I'd like to share that the coming week is important to me for so many more reasons than just the crown and those few moments on stage. I recognize, after four years of competing, that the job of Miss Arkansas is going to be full of good days and bad days, but on all days Miss Arkansas must be prepared to act as a fully committed, energetic, creative, and personable, goodwill ambassador of the state. This is a daunting task and I'd be lying if I wasn't a little afraid of living up to the task. Of course, then I realize that most of the fear is just coming from my nerves, and the rest, the part that is a humble respect for the position, well, it serves to push me into becoming the best me that I can be. I work to improve myself so that if next Saturday night I am that fortunate girl who hears her name called when the scores are tallied, I will be able to step into that role fully prepared (with the help of some pretty amazing volunteers, family, and friends) to serve my home state and represent the Miss Arkansas Organization well. I do it, so that if I am not the girl chosen, I can walk away having gained invaluable life skills with my head held high fully in support of whomever becomes Miss Arkansas 2013. Because that is the kind of young woman that this program produces. 

Don't worry! The week hasn't been all stress. In fact, last Saturday I attended the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant. My mum and I traveled together and made a stop in Little Rock to look for shoes for my interview outfit. We got lucky at DSW and found a great, surprisingly affordable pair of heels that compliment my new dress nicely! We made the trip on to Hot Springs in the afternoon and I had the privilege of helping collect tickets at the door with a few other Miss Arkansas contestants. The pageant, as usual, was phenomenal! The production team we have here in Arkansas is top of the line. A beautiful new Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen was crowned, and one of my sister teen queens was first runner-up. It was an incredibly exciting night! The remainder of this week has been spent in the gym, at dress fittings, practicing my flute, on an impromptu trip to Blytheville, last minute planning, packing, whew!, and even enjoying a slight bit of rest!

Amy Crain and I after the pageant (LOVE this girl!!!)

Such a sweet friend! Molly and I stage right

Now that you know the goings-on of my past week, I'll share the verse that has spoken volumes to me in the last few days.  

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
                                                                                               ~Matthew 6:25-34

I'll be heading to Hot Springs tomorrow! Thank you for all of your love and support! 


Friday, July 5, 2013

A Pageant Girl's Bootcamp

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the fitness craze of "Bootcamp." Allow me now to introduce you to an even more intense, sometimes weight loss inducing, but primarily fun inspiring, Beauty Bootcamp!!!

We started the week with an on-air interview with Diana Davis at KAIT8 in Jonesboro. One of my favorite things is getting to share more about the Miss Arkansas and Miss America Organizations. I am so grateful to Diana for allowing us to tell the community more about the scholarship opportunities and community service hours that define this program. It's become almost a tagline in this system to say "I am debt free from college," but can you imagine a better tagline?! For me, this isn't just promotional material, it is what has allowed me to become the first person in my family to graduate college. And not only did I complete two degrees, but at 24 years old, I owe nothing in student loans! <--that deserves a round of applause especially in today's economy...

The rest of the week was spent in Blytheville where we managed our time between on-stage practice, mock interviews, and community service. We were invited to speak at the Lions, Kiwanis, and Rotary Clubs during their weekly lunch meetings. While there, we each thanked them for their support and performed a preview of our state talents. One club member was so impressed, he wrote a scholarship check on the spot! To wrap up the week we also performed at Westminister Village, which is a retirement community, and for our final event we gave a wardrobe preview for our family, friends, and pageant board members.

Now this next photo needs a little explaining...

See what I mean? Yes, that is pink lipstick all over our faces. We thought it enhanced our extremely fashionable wardrobe selections. You see, on our first night in Blytheville, we enjoyed a fabulous dinner prepared by Miss NEA's ED, Abby Houseworth Whitener. This amazing meal was followed up with Weight Watchers Ice Cream. Fast forward to our final night and after the long week we were really desperate for more of the delicious desserts! We, of course, decided that showing up on our executive director Marrietta Jerome's doorstep around 10:00pm in these outfits performing our rendition of "Dream Girls" was the best way to go about achieving our goal of weight watching ice cream! As you can see from the photo, it worked!!!

The Gaggle

To top off such a wonderful week, Shelley Kelley of Clark's Bridal in Jonesboro, and Dr. and Mrs. Fletcher, also of Jonesboro, hosted a send off party for all of us NEA girls! They welcomed us into their beautiful home, served us delicious food, and most importantly overwhelmed us with their support and encouragement going into our state pageants. We are so lucky to have such phenomenal supporters in Northeast Arkansas!

For those keeping count, the Miss Arkansas Arrival Ceremony is just eight days away!!! Hope to see you there! Until then, if you're in Hot Springs, come out to the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant this Saturday. I'll be there along with the rest of the young women competing for Miss Arkansas 2013!