Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Finding Your Beauty

Sometime last weekend a friend of mine told me that I had "found my beauty." Now, quite honestly, at first I wasn't sure how to take the comment (though, knowing that everything this person says is in good taste, I had to take a moment to consider her words). We have all, for certain, heard of others finding themselves or maybe discovering their true talents...but finding their beauty?

My mother has been telling me for years (as a mother should) that I am beautiful. And, somewhere in college, I truly began to believe it. As the years have gone by my definition of beauty (isn't that a pageant question??) has evolved. It has encompassed the idea of feeling comfortable in your own skin; the idea that true beauty is not seen with the eye, but felt with the heart; and beauty to me, has been, making others feel beautiful as well. Tara Wheeler always said, "Beauty is as beauty does." But, most recently I have found another source of beauty: true joy.

Now, joy and happiness - to me - are not exactly the same; but, for the sake of this entry, I'll just say that joy is a deeper type of happiness that comes from within. My own joy, comes from the love of my Heavenly Father and knowing that no matter what trials and temptations I face, He is with me. If I have learned anything in the past year, it has been that there is always a way and that I must be patient, because things will happen when and how they are suppose to.

My move to Northern Virginia (NoVA) technically meant I could "start over," "reinvent myself" and no one here would know any better. But, I like me and realized that without my usual group of friends and acquaintances I would have to come to really love me. So I focused on feeding my needs: finding a church fed my spiritual needs; joining the gym for my physical and mental health; and, starting a Mint.com account for my financial well-being. But then, why not be spontaneous (in a sense) and try something totally new? So, I joined the flag-football team at work (I shocked everyone at home because I have never played on a sports team in 23 years of living), I forced myself to prepare a few meals (I don't cook - see my 8/7/12 post, "Feeding My Inner-Fat Lady"), and I started buying things I liked - without wondering if someone else would approve of them. All together, the happiness I felt from being in control of my life and the sense of calm I got from knowing that ultimately God was really in control began to transform my outlook on life. And apparently, this new feeling is showing on the outside...

This past weekend was Hampton U's Homecoming and I thought long and hard about what I was going to wear that weekend; who I was going to see; and what I was going to do. But in the end, I could only "do me" (do what makes me feel good). After the weekend was over, one of my girls texted me, she told me she was "proud of me." Which caught me off guard. When I asked why, she said, "you just looked so fab and seemed so happy." I remember smiling, and thinking about it for a moment: "I am happy," I told her...

I guess I have found my beauty.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Closing Statement

During your 10-minute panel interview in the Miss Virginia/Miss America Organization you are given the last 30 seconds to finish answering the question you were given, or to conclude the interview with a closing statement. Rarely do I have predetermined remarks that I would like to make; but, today I will make an exception. My interview was not 10 minutes, but 11 months. And it wasn't an easy interview, but I couldn't have asked for a better one. The job of Miss Hampton-Newport News was fulfilling in every way.

I took the time in the week leading up to the 2013 Pageant to post on my Instagram (if you aren't familiar, it's much like Twitter, just with pictures, instead of words) some of my fondest memories and thoughts about my reign, and here they are for my readers:

Saturday I "pass on" the title of Miss Hampton-Newport News to the 2013 winner. I've had a great reign! ... This was my crowning moment - after trying for 3 years. I am so blessed.

This is, by far, my favorite picture of my past year. I was able to participate in the annual Hampton Holly Days parade in downtown Hampton & it was on tv!

My favorite appearance this past year: The International Children's Festival in downtown Hampton. Lots of cultural activities, smiling children, and food!

One of the best things about being a titleholder? The amazing young women & young girls you meet.

Another great part about being Miss HNN is randomly feeling like a celebrity, Julius is always ready with the camera.

Oh, boy, do I love community service! Get out there and make a difference. What is your legacy?

And the tears begin...Thank you to everyone for such a beautiful year. I get to crown Miss HNN 2013 tomorrow. Xoxo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Cyber-Version of Me

Fun Fact: When you search for my name (at least on iPhone's Safari search engine) it auto-populates as result #3!

I was reminded this past week of the influence of social media. It made me think that some people may not know you, but feel that they do because they see the cyber-version you. I think of my Facebook "friends" many of whom I have not met (we may share similar interests or affiliations, many are pageant girls from other systems in other states), my Twitter account is "open" access (@MissHNN2012), and even this blog is open for public viewing. Public...millions of people have the potential to see my thoughts (don't worry, I don't think even 100 people know this blog exists, but it's got potential right?). The point is: I have to be aware of the image that I am portraying of myself... no matter which outlet I choose to express myself in.

It came to my attention that a few of my co-workers had done some homework and searched for me on Google (I believe this occurred before I officially became an employee). All of the beautiful pictures that Julius has posted (dating back to 2008) are available for curious eyes -- even the swimsuit ones! Newspaper articles, community service programs, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Blogspot...all there. Now, I have always been careful not to post what some consider "too personal" of information or anything embarrassing of myself or others. When I was younger I considered if my mother would be pleased to find that I had posted this or that.

I have to say, aside from maybe an unflattering picture or two, I am quite pleased with my Google results. (Are you able to say the same?) My results show that I am beautiful - inside and out. You can see that I know how to have fun. I am portrayed as an involved member of my community and I don't shy away from a camera!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Are You So Angry?

I was talking with a co-worker today and realized that people get too angry and too worked up over things. I was once told that getting angry because of something another person says or does means that they have power over you.

I tend to see a lot of anger on the road (many of you know I don't stay still very long, so I'm often in the car, heading somewhere). This past weekend, for instance, some drivers in Waco, Texas failed to understand that the left lane is for passing - not for going the same MPH as the car next to you in the right-hand lane. This went on for a few miles as the number of anxious drivers behind both "slow" cars grew. Finally the driver on the right side edged up and we followers all weaved our way around them. As I glanced back in my review mirror, I saw a guy in a pick-up truck extend his arm out of his window and he proceeded to give the bird to the slow driver in the left lane. And, for some reason, that made me mad.

What was the point? Did he feel better about himself or the situation after retracting his arm back into his vehicle? Did he feel like his middle finger would somehow encourage the slow driver to speed up next time? Or was he looking to feel in control, as he hoped that the driver would see him and feel some type of way about his crude behavior?

Yes, I know that sometimes we have to express our anger/frustration/angst in physical ways to relieve stress, to feel a little bit better about the situation. But to what extent? I felt that the driver could have cussed to his passenger if he needed, or truly, just taken a deep breath. Because, quite frankly, wherever he was going I'm sure if he was already late, he was still going to be late; and, if he was on time, a few miles at the speed limit wasn't going to make that much of a difference.

In situations like these I try to put things in perspective. Say there's a slow driver, or someone who is riding their breaks...ever consider that they're new to the area, and aren't sure where to turn next? Haven't you been in that situation before? Or the driver who cut you off, maybe they misjudged the distance between your car and the next one? Or they were distracted and realized they needed to get over quickly? Oh, that's never been you? (Yeah, right.)

Take a moment. Breathe. Say a prayer for them to get to their destination safely. Take that control back.

I'll leave you with a challenge an old principal gave me: "Make it a great day, or not: the choice is yours."