Life is a journey… filled with sparkle

Florida US Retro Swim Shoot

Photo by Afif Cherif at Studio Primetime

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” – Oprah Winfrey
May 4, 2015

I posted this particular Oprah quote to Twitter the morning of the live part of the pageant. I went into the weekend telling myself that no matter how I finish, as long as I know that I have given it my best then I have done everything that I want to do. There’s no way that I can be disappointed in myself if I’ve given it everything that I have.

Sorry if this blog post is more lengthy than you would typically read… but I wanted to make sure that I covered everything because it was a great weekend. I’m also going to be posting a variety of inspirational quotes in this post because I spent a lot of time reading them while I was up in my room listening to the ocean.

My view of Flagler Beach My view of Flagler Beach

I also wanted to wait a few days to see if I would have any of the photos from the competition to post and show you but I still do not have any yet. However, I promise to share those with you as soon as I do!

“You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.” – Glenda

I had less than two weeks to prepare for the pageant from the time I confirmed that I was going to participate. Thankfully, my friend TJ was kind enough to help me sort out my nutritional woes a few weeks prior so I had already started adjusting my diet just to live a healthier lifestyle and get rid of the useless carbs. For my fitness, I typically do not exercise seven days a week but in order to prepare as much as I could with such a small amount of time, I didn’t take a single day off. I was starting to get burnt out from that but I kept telling myself that it’s not about today, it’s about tomorrow and being the best me I could be for the future.

Day 1: Stress can be one of those things that sneaks up on us or pounces on us all at once. I needed gas in my car and I was running a few minutes behind. Wouldn’t you know that the machines were not working at the gas station that I pulled in to?! I told myself to keep calm because I had no control over what was going on, and it was just a little tiny wrinkle in the scheme of things. It took about twenty minutes before the car was gassed since I had to wait in a line to talk to the one attendant on duty. Then as I was driving I realized that I forgot my toothbrush at home. Well… all I could do was laugh. I have no idea how I did that. So, I pulled over to the first CVS I could find so I could buy a new one quickly before I jumped on the interstate. As I continued driving, I couldn’t help but to also recall forgetting my eye glasses. This second moment of forgetfulness actually came back to bite me because my contacts were not playing well with my allergies and made one of my eyes red the entire weekend. I stuck to wearing just one contact (don’t tell my eye doctor) so I could still see and also try to give my other eye some healing time.

When we got to our host hotel, we had our orientation for the weekend. It was filled with all of the information that we were going to need to make us all feel comfortable going through the process. After orientation was over, I darted out to the closest CVS to get some eyedrops. When I got back, I began getting ready for our contestant gift exchange and reception. It was a really fun evening! I met a lot of interesting women from around the state who had all types of crazy experiences in their lives. Among the different stories were a woman who lived on a farm growing up and became a vegan because of her experience seeing animals slaughtered and then another woman who lived in a small country doing volunteer work; just really fascinating people!

Orientation Reception

“Love yourself first and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

Day Two: I had to be up before sunrise to start the hair and makeup process for our photo shoot. I had purchased a really cute vintage swimsuit for the occasion and I could not wait to wear it! The vintage theme was not mandatory but many of the girls participated in it since it was a fun option. We took photos with some older vehicles and then made our way across the street to the beach for photos on the rocks and in the water. Pretty sure I messed up a lot of my photos when the waves were hitting me because they were ICE COLD. Being from Florida, that’s not something that I have experienced much in my life. Which really begs the question, WHY WAS THE WATER SO COLD?! ;o). Regardless, Flagler Beach is absolutely stunning. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to look around at the view and it made it extra exciting to see my fellow contestants dressed in their vintage wear. Everyone looked fabulous! The fifties must have been a pretty neat time to be beach-goers.

Vintage Swim

After our swim photo sessions were finished for the day it was time to get ready for our interview with the judges. I’ll be honest, since I had not done a pageant in ten years, I was feeling really nervous about this part. I’ve realized that as I’ve gotten older, the more I cry over little things. When I came out of my interview I headed up to my room and I found my eyes watering. I wasn’t upset or anything like that, but I felt that I did a great job during my interview so I was just really proud of myself. I didn’t let my nerves get to me and just tried to be myself–bad jokes and all. I suppose that I teared up over it because I knew I did well and overcame my nervousness–a small victory in the scheme of things… but an important victory at that. I felt satisfied. It’s always been said that having a fantastic interview is often times what wins someone the crown. My parents arrived about an hour after my interview was over. They came up the night before the live competition so they wouldn’t have to spend their entire Sunday sitting in the car and then at the venue. Plus, the view at the hotel was amazing so they were excited to see it!

Saturday evening we had another mixer with all of the contestants and were entertained and had the opportunity to do some karaoke. One of the contestants had a friend that was recently diagnosed with cancer and had brought some t-shirts she asked us to take photos with to try to uplift her friend’s spirits. I was honored to be part of that and hope that Amy pulls through her chemo and treatment successfully! We’re all rooting for her and hope we provided her with a smile from our weekend.

Team Amy

“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think.” – Buddha

Day 3: Pageant day! As I packed my car, I was able to see the sun rising over the Atlantic, and it was definitely a sight to see. Arrived at 8am to the venue and started setting up all of my things. When I had the opportunity to walk out to see the stage and how everything was set up, I felt at home. I know people probably get tired of listening to me say that I miss being on a stage–but that moment was just so fulfilling to stand there and look out at the empty seats. There’s nothing like that view in the entire world. I know my fellow performers can attest to that. Our rehearsals were several hours long and I kept switching back and forth between my heels and my Converse–really trying to save my feet for the evening.

Sunrise Post Rehearsal

The opening number was to the American Authors’ song, “Best Day of My Life.” Then “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars was for our bathing suit portion of the competition. I thought it was the perfect song for that! It provided a really fun vibe and beat for everyone to walk across the stage and model our swimwear. For evening gown, there were some really slow songs playing. One of the contestants and myself kept calling them “Disney Songs” because they were similar to something you hear walking around Disney–they just made everything feel magical. I absolutely loved my dress. I actually fell in love with it via the internet and had been searching for it in my size for a really long time. Low and behold it popped up on eBay about a month before I knew I was even going to compete this year and I took that as a sign that I needed to get the dress. Good thing I did! The dress itself is a gorgeous sapphire blue and the lining is a lighter blue/teal color so when you walk you get a slight hint of more color. I felt like such a princess walking across the stage in it because it was so flow-y and had great movement. Another gratifying moment from the weekend.

Home. Evening Gown

“Have faith that things are moving at exactly the right pace for your journey.”

After the competition concluded we had to wait a little while for the tabulations. I felt good about how I did. More than that, I felt immense pride in the fact that I had not competed in a decade and was happy with how I modeled and interviewed. At the very least, that is everything that I had hoped to accomplish. Sometimes it is hard to tell how well you did when you are stacked up next to so many other talented women and don’t know how their interviews went, or how they performed on stage… so it’s really just important to focus on yourself rather than looking at anyone else as competition. You’re competing against yourself, essentially.

When we went back on stage I felt at peace with everything. They started calling the court: 4th runner up, 3rd runner up… then I heard “Our second runner up is Ms. Southwest Florida, Megan Washington,” and I felt like I was on cloud nine. I was so happy that my parents came and that my friend Megan and her mother were so kindly able to make it! That meant so much to me that people rearranged their schedules so they could be there for me. I was so glad that I got to share the special occasion with them. I feel incredibly blessed to have people in my life that care about watching me accomplish my goals.

Stage Family

After the pageant we went out to dinner and my friend Megan is a super sneaky SnapChatter. I received a notification from her and checked it out later that night just to see myself indulging in a brownie with ice cream–unknowingly being filmed. I thought she was trying to take a photo of the dessert since it was so amazing so I jumped back in the video when I noticed. She got me, good. Thanks, Megan! haha so I had to snap a photo of it. Just proof it happened… and a reminder that she’s due for some SnapChat retaliation next time :o).


… so how about that. I finished 2nd runner up at the Ms. Florida United States pageant. A week later and I’m still on cloud nine.

“Be content with what you have. Rejoice in the way things are. When you realize that nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Laozi

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