Sunday, April 26, 2015

Thoughts from Cloud 9 (quite literally)

Hello from some 26,000 miles above Virginia!  You are most likely aware by now that I attend school at High Point University in North Carolina.  New Jersians and North Carolinians alike often ask me why I continue to compete for Miss New Jersey when I spend a good portion of my year studying down south.  There’s a long list of reasons why I choose to compete where I do, but to simplify it for you, it’s because Jersey has been and will always be home to me.  When I talk about my travel plans, my flight to New Jersey is always deemed my flight “home” while my flight to North Carolina is just another trip to school.  I’m always excited to travel to a new city and to experience what our country has to offer, but New Jersey is the only place that gives me the warm heart, butterflies, seeing your puppy after a long day feeling (I’d also like to mention my bias for New Jersey drivers- we all know what we’re doing).  Plus, how could I leave a state where I get to compete alongside my friends?  This organization is a family and I will always have a place in my heart for the contestants, volunteers, and directors.  As I leave home to wrap up my semester, I’m reflecting on this past weekend.  I attended my third Miss New Jersey Orientation and was able to pack in a few important errands throughout my stay. 
            When I arrived Friday afternoon, I was greeted by my adorable yorkie, Zoey, and loving parents (if that isn’t enough to distress me from end-of-the-semester blues already, I don’t know what is)!  My mom and pageant sister Kelcie helped me decide what to pack and we were off for Ocean City, the home of the Miss New Jersey pageant!  We stayed with our pageant family, including our lovely directors, in a family shore house (thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Sykora!), and bonded over hummus and funny stories.  People may tell you that pageantry is stressful, but I can say that I am at my most relaxed when talking pageant world with my perfect pageant family.  After not enough sleep, but plenty of laughs, Kelcie, Sandi (Miss SJ Executive Director), Tracy and I were off to orientation!  We spent the day learning all about this year’s pageant and our new pageant sisters who are competing for the first time.  I cannot say enough how wonderful all of the contestants are and how much they inspire me.  Hearing about everyone’s passions and plans for the future reminds me that The Miss America Organization is a life-changing program that shapes women to be their best. 
Once we arrived in OC, we decided to pay a visit to Yianni's a restaurant that sponsors the Miss NJ contestants for a meal during pageant week!  If you're ever in town, be sure to visit.  Their hummus and pita is reason enough :)

Ready for orientation!

            Now for the exciting part- I am thrilled to announce that I am contestant number 20 in group B for this year’s pageant!  This means I will meet with the judges for a private interview Thursday afternoon, June 11th.  Later that evening I will compete in both Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear and Evening Gown/onstage question.  Friday evening I’ll perform my talent selection, a dance choreographed by Shae Sullivan, to “Don’t Forget Me” from SMASH!  As for the rest of the week, I’ll be portraying Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series in the Parade, “Pages Through the Ages.”  If you know me well, you should know that I am borderline (okay, fully) obsessed with Harry Potter and re-read the series constantly.  I’ll be modeling a gorgeous turquoise swimsuit, courtesy of our sponsor, Irene West, and modeling a gown that started in my head and was brought to life by the designers at Jovani!  Finding out my placement makes pageant week feel so much closer.  I am absolutely thrilled with how things are shaping up! 

 Selfies are always a good idea...thanks Anna!
Love these girls!
We love Richard, official photographer for the Miss NJ Education Foundation!

            Post-orientation, I traveled back to Gloucester County to support an extremely special little girl.  The Mantua United Methodist Church hosted a spaghetti dinner to raise money for Sophia’s seizure assistance dog.  I lead a singalong featuring plenty of Disney Princess favorites and met some truly talented little ones who took the stage by storm!  Later, I was able to have a personal visit with Sophia since she was unable to join the festivities.  I presented her with a crown from my own collection and was able to tell her how much we all care about her.  I wasn’t able to hang with her too long, but on my way out, I heard her exclaim, “this is the best day ever!” to her mom.  It’s events like these that remind me why I am part of this organization and how local titleholders can truly make a difference in someone’s day.  Thank you, Sue, for inviting me to join in on Sophia’s celebration!  I will never forget it. 
 The puppies who welcomed me to the seizure assistance dog benefit!
 My new singalong friends :)
 Got to catch up with marina, Miss Gateway's Outstanding Teen!
 Mrs. Reynolds remembered me from my preschool days at the Rocking Horse Ranch!
Love me some Mama Grabert :)
 Presenting Princess Sophia with her new crown!
Look for these cuties on American Idol- they've got some serious talent.

            Before jumping on this flight, I took part in a Duke of Edinburough pre-journey to prepare for our adventurous journey coming up, and had a training session with Ki at Training Aspects!  I’m so motivated to be my best at Miss New Jersey this year and make memories that will last a lifetime!  Stay tuned for more updates as I will be “home” for good oh so soon!  It’s sometimes stressful, mostly hectic, and always worth it. 

With lots of love,

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

For this 15th Day of April, I’m continuing my goal of using the 15th of each month to better myself!  This month I plan to focus on practicing more patience.  In life, I have learned that impatience is a weakness of mine, facilitated by perfectionism.  Working at a children’s developmental center for children with autism has challenged me to work in a way that I never have before.  While I’ve always loved children, I have never worked so closely with children in terms of helping them to grow developmentally.  There is quite a bit of patience that goes into fulfilling an autistic child’s basic needs and helping them to enjoy time with their typical peers.  In my pageant world life, I have noticed that patience is a virtue in that contestants can put everything they have into preparation, but it is up to a panel of judges to decide their fate.  With this lack of control comes a necessity for patience. 
I’ve always made it my mission to create my own success and to never wait for something to happen for me.  While this, in part, is a component of my successes, I’ve learned that I cannot always make all of my goals and aspirations come true without the approval of good old father time.  On this 15th day of April, I vow to remind myself when I’m feeling restless that there is a perfect time for everything in life and that I cannot control the workings of fate.  I vow not to wait for good things to come to me, but to do everything in my power to clear the path so that in the right timing, I can find good things.

I am particularly impatient when it comes to spending time with my pageant family.  Only 10 days until Miss New Jersey Orientation (but who’s counting?)!  This means 9 days until a slumber party with my sister queen, Kelcie, and our directors!  While I was home for Easter, Kelcie and I had plenty of appearances, gym sessions, and laughs. 
I was so honored to have been asked to sing the National Anthem for the inaugural Hero 5k in support of our emergency service providers of Gloucester County.  The money raised went to a fund for children of those providers who lose their lives in the line of service.  ((They also had a Dunkin Donuts truck which proved to be dangerous for me :))

We love our time together at Training Aspects, and of course we can't help but match wherever we go!

The Easter Bunny and I hanging out the Saturday before the holiday!  I loved watching my fellow Gloucester County residents come by to take pictures and talk with this icon!  Thank you, Duffield's Farm Market for having me!

As this day dwindles down, I am reminded by fate that the universe has some tricks up its sleeve.  My Mom and family members spent some time together to purchase Miss New Jersey pageant tickets when the online site opened.  Of course, I was already excited that the tickets go on sale on the 15th, but something even more surprising made me smile.  When my Mom reviewed the tickets she purchased, she found a lone seat, separate from all the others she bought.  She doesn't recall purchasing the seat and wouldn't have bought one by itself.  The seat happens to be number 15.  I'd like to think that my Nana, who would love nothing more to be with me these past few years, bought herself a seat ;)  Call it fate, call it dumb luck, or call it a gift from above!  I have some great angels and people surrounding me.  I plan to use this knowledge to keep my patience when I need it most.  At the end of the day, all that matters is that you've got people you love by your side.  

Until next time,