My second year in the Kingsley Heritage Parade, and of course I was on foot and in heels because “Girls can do anything, and we can do it in heels!”. I love these parades where I am able to stop and take photos and meet the people in my community. At the slower pace of walking, I am able to say my little phrase repeatedly and it is always well received. Women connect to it and respond with such enthusiasm and encouragement that it really affirms the message itself. Women are asked and expected to be on par with all aspects of being a man, work/family/finances/fitness/etc, but we also have ridiculous appearance demands we are expected to meet and make look effortless at the same time. We have to do it all and in heels.
Whether you are a beauty queen in 5″ platforms, or a working mom in a matching track suit, you had to put thought into your appearance today. We all do. Some of you may know the exact mom uniform to which I just referred. Even on the playground, moms are judged by how well we are put together. I call attention to this cultural norm in my catch phrase because I want to remind women that just because we are taking on the world and doing in while constantly working on ourselves, doesn’t mean we can’t do it. We can rock the boardroom and the classroom. We can be everything we want to be. It is a lot. It is overwhelming. And yes, it is exhausting. But we can do it. We can find balance and take care of ourselves so that we have the energy to be Wonder Women.
I talk all the time about conquering your fears and trying things that scare you. I finally faced mine and ran a solo race. I run all the time and did Girls on the Run with my stepdaughter, but something about signing up for and running a race by myself really intimidated me. I was afraid I would fail, I would embarrass myself or… get eaten by a wolf? I don’t actually know what scared me! I just knew I was scared and I avoided doing it, even through I really wanted to. I think we all avoid trying things that interest us because it’s intimidating or scary. Perhaps we don’t even know we are avoiding them because we invent reasons not to do them.
The first half mile my fears came true. I was dying. I couldn’t set my pace (I’m used to running inside with digital feedback of my speed), my lungs were collapsing, my muscles were on fire and the EMS was following closely behind me. As though even they didn’t believe I could do it. I thought about hiding in a bush until it was over. Then I realized that quitting was the only way that I could actually fail. The only thing I would truly find embarrassing. No one cared about my time but me. Finishing was the only thing that mattered. So I pushed on. EMS stopped at their destination; they weren’t following me after all. I sucked in some air and cranked up my music. I decided this was my moment to prove to myself I could do anything if I was willing to push through the hard part.
My goal was to beat the 43 minute time Elly and I got at Girls on the Run. I secretly hoped to be under 40 as this time I wouldn’t be discussing Shakespear as I ran. As I came around the corner and saw the finish line, I chose my finish song (Work B!t@* by Britney Spears) and sprinted the final stretch. I finished in under 34 minutes. Heck, I FINISHED.
I was so proud of myself I felt I could fly. I realized that all the obstacles in front of me were really inside me. That I was the only thing ever holding me back. My training is there. My fitness is there. My body will do what I ask of it (complaining like a teenager, but it will do it). The same is true for Mrs. America. I have been living in fear of not competing at my best. Afraid that after a decade of working towards my goal that I would fall short and let myself down by not performing to my fullest potential. I’m not afraid of losing. You can’t lose when you finish, just like my 5k. I was afraid of something I now know cannot happen. I am not going to hide in a bush or need a ride on the back of the emergency ATV. I am going to finish. I am going to rely on my training, promote my message and trust in myself to do what I know I can.
I posted a video on facebook after my race. I admitted how scared I was to run and make myself vulnerable through total honesty. I hope talking about conquering my own insecurities inspires you to look at what negative self-talk is holding you back. I hope you will try something new and discover strength within yourself.
Oh- and I’m signed up for another race this Sunday. You never know what passion is hiding behind fear until you push through.
One of my favorite events, the Gaylord Alpenfest is the highlight of the year in our little Alpen village of Gaylord. Last year my family attended and I befriended the queen, Kelly, and her court. I saw these girls at events throughout the year and they even watched me compete for Ms. America online. The did such a great job representing our community, it was a real honor to see them crown the next court. The pageant was beautifully executed, once again. The whole event is just so much fun, and I was honored to be recognized during the show.
Despite the fact that TWO people took phone calls during the competition (yes two- and older gentlemen at that! I thought that generation had better manners), it was a great event top to bottom. I got teary at the Queen’s farewell, only because she made me so proud over the last year. Good luck to you girls, out-going and in-coming. Life has so much more to bring you. Be ready for the next adventure!
Michigan Blood teamed up with Bill Marsh Auto to raise money for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization and save lives doing it! One hour saves three lives. It’s the easiest way to *literally* give of yourself. As I say all the time, I am a huge proponent of blood, tissue and organ donation. We are a network of organisms that must rely on the help of one another to survive and thrive. We cannot succeed individually while we fail collectively. This fundamental principle is what is at the heart (no pun intended) of donation. Realizing that we must take care of one another and do things that don’t just benefit ourselves.
Donating blood takes about an hour. The actual donation takes about 15 minutes (I can fill a bag in about 6, but who’s counting). I donate every 8 weeks, even when it’s not ideal for me. I was run down and this last donation put me down for a few days, but I don’t regret it one bit. Who knows who was helped with my donation? The difference I could have made far outweighs the inconvenience to me.
I am still on the wait list to donate a lobe of my liver and of course, I am an organ donor. Check your driver’s license. Is there a little heart on it signifying you have a good one?? If not, go to the DMV today and register as an organ donor. It makes no difference to your life. They do not come to your door looking for organs. Once you are gone, you are gone. There is no reason to try to take those body parts with you!
So, yes, that was me on the side of the road waving a sign to get donors in! Thank you to everyone who stopped. Your donation saves lives- twice!
So my mama comes to town and I make her volunteer. Sounds about right. She wanted to see what my Michigan life is like, so I showed her! My life is based in service and so I took her with me to volunteer at the State theatre. The State is almost entirely volunteer run and I volunteer in crown and sash to call attention to the awesome organization and volunteer opportunities available.
That is the point of wearing the official garb, right? To bring attention and awareness? Some of the volunteering I do in crown and sash probably isn’t typical (cosplay anyone?), but I feel that the crown is a spotlight that I have the ability to shine on things that make my community and the world a better place. I do the things I do because they make me a better person, it contributes to my community and it creates a kinder world to live in. By doing these things in my full regalia, I am encouraging others to do the same and also calling attention to opportunities of which many people are not aware. Like volunteering at the historic State Theatre. Thanks for being a great sport, mom!
Cherryland Humane Society gave me my start here in Michigan when I didn’t know anyone. They gave my new life purpose and connected me to some amazing people. Because of my work with CHS, I got back into pageantry and competed for Ms. America. So when they need a helping hand, I come running!
The day of the Cherry Royal Parade, I helped draw attention to a volunteer opportunity with Cherryland Humane Society by volunteering to work as a parking lot attendant and their fundraising event. It was only a couple hours of my time but I helped raise over $100 for the shelter. I know a lot of people don’t volunteer because they don’t feel they have the time, but even a small amount of time donated can make a big difference. I was hot and tired and standing in the sun right after walking in a two mile parade wasn’t the most relaxing thing I could have done, but it was time well spent and worth every minute. Whatever cause is important to you, find time to further it. You’ll get more than you give, I promise!
The main event! Our biggest and longest parade- the Cherry Royal Parade is two miles long. As always, I did the parade on foot and in heels, because “girls can do anything and we can do it in heels!”
This is what I get to say all along my parade routes as people comment on my high heels. Due to an unusually long break in the parade where I was the only one on Front Street, a whole block of people heard me say this and cheered me as I walked down the street. Not only a truly incredible experience for me, but it was great to see who that female empowerment resonated with parade on-lookers. It is an amazing time to be a woman as we are all being called upon to step up as warriors. There are girls now who only know the Ghostbusters as being women, the Princess Bride as a warrior and Princess Leia as a General. Women are strong and strong is beautiful. Hearing people react with such approval and encouragement was a great memory I will treasure from this fest.
A special thank you to Z93 for sharing your parade slot with me. You guys have always been so supportive of my campaigns and I was honored to share the street with you. Even though you left me in your dust and sent me running down the street in heels.