Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Life's Little Moments

Each and every day, I am reminded of the wonderful blessings and opportunities this job brings.  There is never a day wasted, and every single chance I get, I thank the good Lord for all he has given me.  September was yet another jam-packed month of events, fundraisers, pageants, and experiences.

At the beginning of the month, I was able to speak at the Jefferson County Board of Education Leadership Meeting.  This appearance meant more to me than I can ever explain.  As a daughter of an educator, I have always had the utmost respect for each and every individual who gives their time and service to any aspect of the educational process.  I was honored to be able to speak about my mother and her legacy that she left not only with her students at school, but her students at home as well.  It was an incredible opportunity to see some familiar faces of the people who have shaped me into the young woman that I am today.  I did not feel worthy to be able to talk to them about leadership, seeing that they mold the leaders of the future day-in and day-out.  It was a wonderful way to spend my September morning, and I am blessed to have been a part of such an event.

Immediately following this appearance, I jumped in the car and drove to Dothan, AL to spend the night with Walter and Melanie Hill.  Walter invited me to come along on the Wiregrass United Way 5 County Tour.  It was an absolute blast.  The crew of  9 of us or so rode in a party bus from location to location. We stopped at 5 different counties throughout the Wiregrass and met so many wonderful people along the way. I was able to speak briefly to each group about community service and my experiences while working with various organizations.  The theme of this year's campaign is "Think WE before ME" and the Wiregrass United Way helps with the funding of over 30 agencies and organizations in the area.  One of the stops just so happened to be the Ozark Boys and Girls Club, which was awarded the Best BGC in Alabama last year.  These wonderful people really embraced me and helped me see the wonderful work they do on a daily basis.  I was thoroughly impressed with the generosity and motivation of the citizens of the Wiregrass community.....Oh to have more people like that in the world.  Thanks so Walter and the whole United Way gang for showing me such a good time for a great cause.

The icing on the cake of this wonderful day was the chance to ride in a Horse and Carriage around downtown Dothan before coming back home to Birmingham.  Sam, our horse showed us a lovely tour of downtown Dothan.  Just a day on the job :-)

Children's Miracle Network holds a very dear place in the heart of all the lovely contestants of the Miss America Organization.  In Birmingham, 103.7 theQ, does an annual "Music & Miracles Radiothon" benefiting this wonderful organization.  I was able to come be a part of this event.  Miss Alabama contestants were sitting on the other end of the phones all day long hoping to take the next contribution for the Children's Hospital.  I am so honored to be able to speak on behalf of CMNH in Alabama.  I could not think of a better partner for the Miss America Organization than one that contributes to the health of the children of this country. Keith with 103.7 theQ invited me to speak a little bit about my involvement with CMNH and my Miss Alabama journey thus far.  The day was a success and we got some great funds for a wonderful cause.

There were 3 pageants I had the pleasure of emceeing in September;  Miss Smiths Station, Miss Wiregrass Area, and Miss Hamilton.  Being a former Miss Smiths Station, it was a treat to be able to go back and spend the day with the wonderful volunteers and committee members of the pageant.  It was also on the 10th anniversary of 9-11 so it was an extremely special program for everyone involved.  It is always nice to know that once you are a Miss Smiths Station, you are always a Miss Smiths Station.  I loved spending my Sunday afternoon in Lee County with my extended family.  Miss Wiregrass Area was another wonderful experience.  They really like to keep it in the family at Miss Wiregrass Area... the whole pageant is run by the members of the Janasky family.  They are such wonderful people and it is truly evident how much they care about this organization. The new Miss Wiregrass Area is truly in for a wonderful year filled with wonderful people.  Miss Hamilton was a unique experience in that all of the contestants had never been in a prelim before.  It was encouraging to see such new and fresh faces. They were all as sweet as they could be and truly represented themselves well.  The committee was so proud of each and every one of them.. It was an honor to be able to witness their first steps of their Miss Alabama journeys.  I strongly encourage them all to continue pursuing their dreams because good things will come of that. 

Alex Swader is on of our Miracle friends who has been a big inspiration to myself and all the he has come in contact with.  He is a tap dancing cancer survivor who puts on a the "Tapping Out Childhood Cancer Gala".   I met Alex way back when he was a young boy, and he was a force to be reckoned with then.  NOW, not much has changed.  He is a hard-fighting soldier who has a tremendous outlook on life and his infectious zeal is to be admired.  I was invited to dance for and mingle with the various participants on a Sunday afternoon at the Gabrella Manor.  The venue was incredible and the turnout was even better. I met so many people who have left such an impact on my daily life.  Alex invited many friends to entertain throughout the afternoon.  One little girl I met was Carley.  She had a rare cancer of the sinus cavity.  She is now in remission and is dancing her little heart out.  She danced to "She Is a Butterfly" by Martina McBride.  Her dad told me that a butterfly to a cancer survivor is a symbol of freedom and new life.  (Sidenote: My mom started calling me her little butterfly a couple of years ago at Miss Alabama because she said that I had blossomed.  She said the first couple of years I was preparing in my cocoon and now I was her beautiful butterfly).  You can imagine how much of a tear jerker Carley's performance was.  I am honored to have been a part of this event and will cherish this experience always. I LOVE MY JOB!

A special event at the end of September was the Linley Heflin Fashion Show. The Linley Heflin Fashion Show is an event to raise money solely to send young women to college, what a wonderful event to be a part of.  Luckily, I had the opportunity to spend some time with my Miss Alabama sisters Liz, Ashley, and Amie Beth at this event.  The clothes were breathtaking from Gus Mayer.  I don't think it is possible to ever be let down with any garment from Gus Mayer :-)  The last segment of the show was filled with dresses from Rene Ruiz, an incredible designer from Miami, FL.  He was such a joy to work with and a pleasure to get to know.  This afternoon was a blessing and a wonderful opportunity to meet some of the most incredible people Birmingham has to offer.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE MY JOB?

September was an experience all in itself.  I am humbled when I slow down to enjoy life's little moments.  Yes lfie is hectic most of the time, but the only way to get to the next day is to slow down, breathe, and enjoy life's little moments.  They are what make the world go 'round.

From the writings of Dale Carnegie: "Let's not get so busy or live so fast that we can't listen to the music of the meadow or the symphony that glorifies the forest.  Some things in the world are far more important than wealth; one of them is the ability to enjoy simple things."

Thank you, Lord for your many blessings and the opportunity to represent this incredible state.

There's more to come, so stay tuned.

Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Better late than never, that's what they say

Well it has been 2 months since my last post, and for that I am so very sorry.  I would get started on the next post, and then I would be called to do something else. That is the life of Miss Alabama, always on my toes. August flew by, but it was full of wonderful experiences and blessings.

A special appearance I had in August was Miracle Treat Day at Dairy Queen.  I felt so privileged to meet so many patients and families of patients on this appearance.  Children's Hospital is such a gracious and life-changing establishment and it is easy to do philanthropy for such wonderful people.  This was an excited and SWEET appearance.  Although I couldn't indulge in a Blizzard myself, I was happy to see the turnout for such a worthy cause.


August was full of excitement.  Every day we got closer and closer to the Miss American's Outstanding Teen Pageant.  I knew how excited Mi'a was about competing and meeting all of the other girls.I couldn't wait for everyone to see how wonderful our teen is.  She had a blast and did a magnificent job.  As you all have heard by now, Mi'a won a Talent preliminary award and was named 2nd Runner Up to Miss America's Outstanding Teen.  I cannot tell you how many people came up to me telling me how impressed they were with Mi'a and her performance all week.  I knew she had it in her, and I am so proud to call her my own.  I love you Mi'a and am so proud of the young woman that you are.  You make us all strive to be better individuals.

While I was in Orlando, I was able to meet all of my sisters from the Miss America Class of 2012.  Everyone was very gracious and cordial.  I can't wait to get to know them more during the week of Miss America.  While I was in Orlando, I was able to record a video for promotional purposes about why I should be the next Miss America.  It should be up on youtube sometime soon :-)  We were also given a private morning at Walt Disney World, which wasn't too shabby.  I got to meet some Princesses and characters right in front of Cinderella's castle.  It is always a good time when you are in the most magical place on Earth! 


One day, we went to Downtown Disney to have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe.  We met Leigh Sherer and her 2 beautiful sons for lunch.  It was so nice to finally get to meet her and  spend some quality time with a sister Miss Alabama.  Her sweet spirit and contributions to this wonderful organization are to me admired. 

After finals, there was a reception for family and friends to hear the awards given out to the very deserving teen contestants.  I was honored to be able to present the scholarships awarded from Auburn University to four lucky contestants.  I was able to snag a picture with Teresa Scanlan too.  All in a day's work for her I suppose. 

Orlando was an absolute blast.  I am honored to be able to be a part of such a wonderful group of girls
competing in January.  America will definitely be represented well for the next calendar year.  I am blessed beyond belief to represent this wonderful state.

Another opportunity that I had in August was to speak to the G.i.G.i Ministry at First Baptist Trussville.  They have started a Mother/Daughter ministry for young girls and I was priviliged to speak at the kickoff.  I was able to share my story about my bond with my mother and the influence that she had and still has on my life on a daily basis.  Roxanne from WDJC was there to speak to the mothers.  I also got to meet another fellow Miss Alabama sister, Resha Riggins. It was my honor to be a part of this wonderful occasion.  I love my job!

That sums up August.  It was a whirlwind of fun and something that I will cherish.  I will leave you with a note from my devotion yesterday:
"Accept each day just as it comes to you, remembering that I am sovereign over your life.  Rejoice in this day that I have made, trusting that I am abundantly present in it."

Take time to slow down, count your blessings, and remember that He is in control.

Have a blessed afternoon!

Isaiah 40:31