Friday, April 27, 2012

This is what I get when I try to prove my mother wrong...

I have just spent the last 16 months on the most fantastic journey of my life! Being Mrs. Oklahoma, United States 2011 and spreading my message of modesty and morality in young people was an experience that brought me so much happiness. It also enlightened me to the person I am and made me proud to be the woman I have grown up to be. I may not be perfect but I give my all at trying and I understand, wholeheartedly now, exactly what that means. I have more confidence in myself and my abilities now than ever before!

So, how did I come to these life-altering conclusions?
I listened to my momma. She's only been trying to get me to see these things in myself for, oh, the last 32 years. But it took her and my husband pushing me (quite literally, it seemed at times) to try out for something I would NEVER have done on my own accord. In fact, I fought their insistances tooth and nail, clawing and hissing each time the phrase "You know, with all your talents and accomplishments you should really try out for the Mrs. America pageant. You'd win, for sure!" came up in every. stinkin'. conversation. My eyes instinctively rolled back in my eye sockets, a heavy gust of breath spewed out of my nose and mouth and my arms tensed into a tight bow across my chest. "No, mother. No, dear. I don't do pageants."
But I used to. I was in them all the time as a little girl and loved them!! Actually, won Girl of the Year in 1985 (oh wow, that seems so long ago to say that out loud) and placed in several others. I competed in one later in my senior year of High School and won Miss Talented.
I think I just grew out of them. One day, I became a mom and all that frilly, girly stuff flew out the womb with my placenta and my firstborn, forever to be bestowed upon her, should she so desire.
She never desired.
And that was ok! She wanted to do piano and band and choir and tennis and everything else that makes you an accomplished young lady. Pageants never crossed my mind again.
One day I got a call from my mom and boy, was she was on a mission. She had decided I needed to try out for the Mrs. America Pageant and was going to convince me I was good enough to do it. By the end of this 30 minute conversation I was completely exhausted and entirely out of reasons and excuses for my mother's convincing to just let the topic die peacefully and with some dignity. I hung up with her and called my husband to laugh at how "my mom actually thinks I should try out for a pageant!"
He didn't laugh back on the other end. Instead, he agreed and told me I should look more into it and just do it.
Just do it?! Since when did his opinion get endorsed by Nike?
Ha! Fine, I thought.
And with all the spite in me I could muster I researched all the Mrs. pageant circuits I could find. Mrs. America already had their delegate for Oklahoma so I looked up the United States circuit.
And that's where I locked my foot in the shackle and threw the key far out of reach. The Mrs. United States pageant was still looking for their Oklahoma delegate. This circuit didn't have a Pageant director for my state so, the constestant would be chosen "at large" by a panel of 5 judges. This meant I had to fill out a big long questionaire about myself, my family, my community involvement, any past experience in pageants (and it just so happened that I had TONS of past pageant experience. Go figure), my accomplishments, my goals, and why I wanted to be Mrs. Oklahoma. I didn't want to offend anyone with a half-hearted answer to that last question, so I gave the best I could and sent the form in along with my headshot and a full body shot left over from a photo shoot I modeled in for a college girl's portfolio earlier that year.
Yeah, yeah. It was all a little too coincidental. The next thing I know, I get a fancy letter in December stating I had been chosen to represent the State of Oklahoma in the 25th Annual Mrs. United States Pageant in Las Vegas.
WHAT?! This had to be a mistake. They can't pick me. I'm supposed to be proving my mother and my husband wrong right now. I'm supposed to be calling them, rejection letter in hand, saying "I told you so!"
But, that is not what God had in mind for this little Durant native gal. Instead, He put in me all the excitement from my past pageant years and I became the crying screaming girl that all pageant contestants are reduced to once their name is read as the winner.
And in that instant, my life changed and I didn't even know it yet. I started formulating plans, goals, ideas on what my platform would be and how I would touch and change lives in the next year. This year of my reign was NOT going to go to waste.
In July, I flew to Vegas with my husband and competed in the Mrs. United States pageant. It was just as daunting as it sounds and I was scared to death at times looking at all these extremely beautiful women around me who seemed to have their game on. I would look at myself in the mirror at night before bed and, surprisingly, speak nice to myself. I pep talked myself to sleep. I woke up and smiled in the mirror. THIS was my accomplishment. I didn't need anything else.
But I will admit I wanted that crown. ;)
So, I tried my best and gave my all.
But, even with my best efforts, I did not place in the Top 12. My journey for that title was over. But I still had my title as Mrs. Oklahoma and a very unique platform that has never been done before.
When I came home, back to life and reality, I started receiving phone calls from people - a woman in Chicago, a pastor in Alabama, another contestant from Maryland, all wanting me to speak to their youth about my platform.
The lightbulb came on.
I didn't need a bigger crown and a double rhinestone trimmed banner with the title Mrs. United States on it to get my message all over the US. This message spread itself and I was simply the vessel.
And so grateful was I to be.
So, to my mother and my husband: I'm so glad you believed in me more than I did myself. I'm so glad you didn't give up fighting for me even when I, myself, was fighting against me and you.
I'm so glad I threw the key to that shackle out of reach and didn't turn back looking for an escape. I pereservered and became an even more accomplished woman.
Thank you.

This was the photo for the program book.

This was the photo for the Modesty Billboard I had for a year!

Getting ready!!

Backstage with Mrs. New York (center) and Mrs. Nebraska (in far back). This was the shot chosen for a promo ad for the Pageant Network.

Opening number with the gorgeous Mrs. Pennsylvania, Kate Mack, on my right. I was completely horrified by these little dresses we were all forced to wear that were a completely mockery of my platform. I begged to add length and some cap sleeves to it, but was denied. 

State Costumes.

Evening gown competition. Mine was not the fanciest, by far. But it was my own design, it was modest and I was quite proud to wear it.

Swimsuit competition. I was docked 3 pts. per judge (15 pts total) for wearing a one-piece. THIS is why I did not make Top 12. Not the judges' rule, but the pageant's rule. The judges absolutely loved my platform!

Interview suit.

All of us on GNO!

Swim shoot. I'm back row center.
The following are some of the appearances I made while I reigned.

At Sertoma with Derrick Mason.

The Boys and Girls Club Gala.

Special Olympics with Brian Hicks.

Homecoming Parade.

At DIS speaking to the 4th-6th grade boys and girls.

My Dunk the Queen Booth at Magnolia Festival.

Somewhere in there I cut off 10 inches of my hair and donated it to Locks of Love. Because I did it, it inspired my 11 year old to do it, too. So cool of her!!

I hope you have been able to see how very much I enjoyed being Mrs. Oklahoma despite how much I fought accepting the thought of it in the beginning. I wouldn't have traded this experience for the world! Thanks to all those close to me who helped make this journey sweeter with your contributions of time, money, talent and prayers. You all helped shape and mold me into the new person I am now.
Thank you!


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