20 Years with American Pageants

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

2019 National Titleholders - photo by My Heart's Desire

20 years.


Besides a few friendships, 20 years is the longest I’ve ever committed to anything in my life. 2 weeks ago I was at the 35th Anniversary of American Pageants, formerly known as Miss Teen of America.


My affiliation with the program was in 1998 when my Mom convinced me to be in this scholarship program called Little Miss of SD. From contestant to honor court member in the Teen division, I went on to choreograph, emcee, judge, direct at the state level, and then at some point recruited judges for our state, regional, and national pageant.


This program has been my consistent and familiar long after leaving my parents home, it’s the 1 thing I’ve taken with me on the journey of a dozen zip codes from South Dakota (minus my car, but even she was put to rest in November).


The program took a break with the transition of leadership and I won’t forget in April of 2016, getting a call from our President that she wanted me on the team. I had just quit a job I hated and moved to my dream city San Francisco while I shared a home with 4 other people. I was hustling as much as I could on the side and in my work as a Fashion Design Advisor to live in the most expensive city in America (We had just surpassed New York City - Manhattan). This offer was a piece of home that to me in a space I was just easing into.


It is easy to list off the reasons why I love this program. From recognizing all girls and women for their achievements, the lifelong friendships, teaching girls/women that we are not each other’s competition - that we are our biggest competition,  the life skills - interviewing, resumes, and personal development...all fundamentals that are evident everywhere in our pageant’s history and present. That’s just the shortlist.


But I think it’s more than what’s on our social media, it goes beyond how it prepared me for a college essay or a job interview, it's prepared me for womanhood:


I text our President a week after the pageant that if it weren’t for some of the advice I had gotten from her and the friends I’ve made in this program, I would have settled in my life - in every aspect. I think I would have taken the first good life that presented itself. But that first path was not meant for me at 18 when I graduated high school, at 22 when I moved to Los Angeles, or at 24 when I finished graduate school, or now at 29 - where I am just feeling like life is just getting started!


This pageant has kept my character accountable. It’s really easy to cut corners and to copy/paste what’s out there. It’s easy to not be original and to replicate what’s been done. I would have made very different life choices in college, in relationships, and in situations that I could have taken an easier path, and no one would have known. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying. On this same note, it also taught me to take RISKS. To explore, discover, to find what works for me. There are so many paths out there, that this pageant family no matter what decision I've made (even if they disagreed) has supported my journey of becoming.


Finally, this pageant taught me to CELEBRATE. We get so caught up in achievement, that achievement becomes the benchmark in all that we do. It’s why I’ve felt devastated after break ups, dissolving friendships, etc. Because I’ve been trained my entire life that achievement is what matters, and everything including things related to the human heart has a formula for winning…and obviously finding out that couldn’t be further from the truth. And by all means, achievement matters, it’s just not the only thing that matters. This pageant is a reminder to pause, and to recognize how far we’ve come...and that we can achieve, list out everything on a resume, and so forth, but what value is that if we can’t appreciate ourselves?

My trophies, plaques, tiaras, and sashes sit with dust at my parents house. But everything I’ve mentioned here are the most valued things someone can say about me - that I don't settle, my character matters, & that I celebrate the achievements of others and myself.


American Pageants & our AP fam, thank you for a decorated 20 years. I love the way you’ve shaped my womanhood in every possible way.

American Pageants, 2 years in a row has been named Top 10 Teen Pageant & Top 10 Best National Pageant by the Pageant Planet.

Death & Birth

Friday, November 30, 2018


While November started off as a total sham...Let me bullet thy ways.

  • Got into a car accident, had to buy a new car, got a $1200 tow, and a parking ticket
  • Grandpa died, bought last minute plane ticket to South Dakota for funeral (It was cheaper to fly to Ukraine)
  • Found out a friend got cancer and then their little brother died...in the same 24 hours
  • One of my best friend's dog died, who was her whole world
  • I had 3 rounds of meds to get rid of my 2 month Pneumonia...to finally get better before Thanksgiving, only to now be sick again and breathing through my mouth like a Jurassic Park dinosaur...you can make fun of me, I know I am

Am I ready for November to be over? Uh yes. But with death, and well, adulthood - I can say that my life is truthful, good, and exactly where I want it be. And frankly, although November was a sham, it could have been much worse. Death has manifested itself in many forms in this transition, but it's also birthed a life I had never anticipated. A life that's been a subtly sweet surprise.

Here are some of my reflections from November, a month of death & birth:

Love
I thought I loved X, but I loved the idea of X. I thought I loved Y, but I just had mad love for Y. I tell Z I love Z, but that love has had so few hours on earth that only time will tell if that love will last.

Church
I reconciled the ways of how I do Church & love God a long time ago. But today? Today, I love the way I do Church...in nature, in relationships, in solitude, in journaling and prayer. In long conversations with those of us who grew up in Church, but have later reclaimed our relationships with God in a very personal and deep way that only God can really understand.

Priorities
Unless you are my Home Team, Hustle(s), Spiritual Rhythms, & Rest, you matter, but you are not a priority in December.

Address Changes
This week, I finished changing all of my addresses from California to Washington. Erasing CA from my address has felt like changing my last name. Knowing the best is yet to come, but leaving a part of your identity in your past - is a sad & seems like a too soon goodbye.

Decision Making Committee
I don't make a big life decision without mentors, home team, and essentially my decision making committee. But lately, I've learned that some decisions are best decided alone in a quiet room. I am my first relationship and I'll be my last relationship, best to make decisions that's best for her.

People I Don't Deal With
Shauna Niequist's book, Bittersweet talks about making a list of THINGS I DONT DO...and as counter intuitive as that is, it also helps me re gain insight to my priorities. But this month, I also wrote out people I don't deal with, because I refuse to do others emotional or intellectual labor, and this is separate from empathy and grace. But reality is that some people are looking for layers of me that I shed a long, long time ago. 

Practicing Hospitality

Sunday, November 4, 2018


There have been many perks about living in a larger space, and with a roommate (Cher bear) who also values the practice of hospitality. I learned hospitality from my parents, specifically my Mother. She is the hostess that makes a full course meal, makes your bed with love, and greets you in the drive-way even in a blizzard. 

In a season of recovery and rest, Cher bear and I wanted to provide that same experience for our loved ones while visiting...and we absolutely love it. 

Whether it’s our mismatched towels freshly taken from the dryer, grabbing blankets that have many stories attached, late night airport runs, getting people’s favorite snacks, bringing home fresh flowers, the smell of brunch filling our home, or the excitement of writing WELCOME _____ on our white marbled marker board...we love exercising the practice of loving others and doing it well. 

Our Midwestern and Southern roots have felt so watered welcoming, by the end of next week our 20th visitor since July. Twenty people who we have gotten to fill our bellies with laughter with, exchange mutual love with, and created some new memories with.

Our home, truly is your home. 

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