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Blazing A New Trail...

Mallory Hagan

I've never been one to conform. My entire life leading up to this point has been a constant rejection of societal standards, and I can honestly say that I have never been scared of change. On one hand, I think this mindset has served me well—after all, I have had some pretty extraordinary life experiences. On the other hand, my rejection of 'norm' has, more often than not, left me feeling that I am somehow inadequate; defending my every decision to a series of skeptics and sometimes even myself. I'm sure you can see how this could create quite the internal struggle.

It's become clear to me that I am never going to stop taking the road less traveled.

Essentially nothing in my life has happened on the rest of the world's timeline. From making the decision to leave Auburn at 19 and moving to New York City, to experiencing one of the most rewarding and bizarre jobs in America, my life has continued to find forks and turns and opportunities that take me away from the traditional road that most walk on.

I'm here to tell you that road (the traditional one) may truly be a wonderful way to move through life, but it doesn't have to be the only way.

So often I have had conversations with people in regard to school, work, travel, etc. and, especially recently, the look on their face most closely resembles pity. In many ways, the past three years have presented challenges that I was not expecting (some external and some internal), but I have lived a whole lot of life in twenty seven years (on my own terms), and let's be clear—I am perfectly content with the forks I have taken.

If I could tell you the amount of times I converse with young people (young women in particular) who say, "I could never just pick up and move," or " How did you find the courage to do _____?" you would be blown away. The pressure society has placed on all of us to conform—to fit—is truly baffling. What is the point of life if you don't live? Why is everyone so scared to step outside of their comfort zone and be different? I believe that the traditional path(s) to success is a guideline worth following, but it's not the only path to a happy, fulfilled and joyous existence. Is higher education important? Absolutely. Is work experience important? You bet. Is life experience helpful in the long run? For sure. Do all of those things have to fall in a certain order? Not to me. 

In the past eight years of living in New York City, including my short stint in Los Angeles, I have learned so much about the world and life. I have shaken hands with the likes of politicians from Mike Bloomberg to Hillary Clinton, waited on legends such as Beyonce and Bon Jovi, spent afternoons wandering museums that most only ever read about, had nights out that belong in movies, traveled to Africa for education expansion, danced my face off with Bruno Mars, completed an Associates Degree in Advertising and Marketing, won Miss America (a 10 year life journey), made countless friendships, impacted the state and community through advocacy and volunteerism, and had numerous experiences that most can only dream about. Life has been good to me, but New York City ran it's course, and about six months ago, I (sadly) knew it was time to move on.

At first, the potential of leaving New York City was terrifying. My initial concerns were, What will people think? Will it look like I have somehow failed? Am I disappointing people? Is this me giving up on something I want? And while I think these are all valid questions, they probably closely echo a lot of the concerns that anyone faces when deciding to make a life change. At the end of the day, though, the only person we cannot afford to disappoint or give up on is ourselves. We have the power to design our own course. Since we all know the definition of insanity, I decided that I didn't want to be insane. ;) Moving away from NYC right now seemed to be the best option for me and my career—that settled that!

So here I am, living back in Opelika, AL (truly a sentence I never thought I would utter), and eagerly awaiting my 7:00 pm (you read that right) bedtime to begin my new job tomorrow at WLTZ First News in Columbus, GA. Are you wondering how I got that job? I asked for it. I pushed aside any self-doubt and I thought to myself, If you don't ask for what you want in life the answer will always be no. Turns out, more often than not, the answer is yes.

I'm certainly not an expert on life, and I don't claim to be, but I am an expert at pulling myself up by my bootstraps and moving forward with gusto. In my closing statement during my Miss America interview I said, "I want to be Miss America so I can show other young women out there that you can take the road less traveled and still be successful." I truly had no intention of that being my closing statement that day, and I definitely didn't know it would still ring true now, but if there's anything I know it's that your life is your own and you deserve to live it the way you want to. What do you want to do?

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave {BLAZE} a trail. -Emerson

#loveandlight

-Mallory

 

 

 

Child Sexual Abuse: Let's Start the Conversation

Mallory Hagan

Well, April (Child Abuse Prevention Month) just turned in to May, but I would be remiss to let the month fly by without addressing an issue that haunts our nation and globe in a way that is truly alarming. I began writing this blog nearly three weeks ago, and put it down because the words I found myself writing were saddening to me. However, I just realized that means this blog is of upmost importance to share. Child Sexual Abuse is a problem, folks, and if we don’t begin to address it head-on, the 25% of college students that enter their Freshmen year of school on medication due to depression and anxiety will only continue to increase by leaps and bounds.

1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old.

That’s about 1 in 10 children. The sad part? Nearly 90% of Child Sexual Abuse cases go unreported; meaning this statistic is actually much higher. Want to know the craziest part? 90% of children who are abused know their abuser. So, yes, let’s keep talking about transgender people in the restroom. *rolls eyes*

Do you know 10 children? I’m sure you do. Think about their faces— their eyes peering up at you. Now, think about what it would feel like to learn that someone has taken advantage of the children you know because they were smaller and less powerful; their innocence forever stolen. I can’t imagine learning that my cousins, Camden and Cayson, experienced the abuse that has riddled our family for decades. Those two sweet faces would devastate me if I learned that they had been victimized, and yet, it is still a very, very real possibility.

Sexual abuse has blanketed my family for generations, and the subject is one that is never easy to talk about, but it must be discussed. The taboo nature of talking to children about their body parts, and the subject of sexual conduct, is all too common. The harsh reality about child abuse is that it has no boundaries. No socioeconomic status, race, religion, creed, or geographic location keeps our children safe. What’s the only thing that can keep our children safe? Us. Adults.                                                                                                                              

Child Sexual Abuse has a myriad of negative impacts on our society. Children who experience abuse or trauma carry it with them for years in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, anger, self-harm, eating disorders, teen pregnancy and worst of all, suicide attempts. In addition, children who have experienced sexual trauma are 3 times more likely to have a substance abuse problem specifically centered around alcohol. Aside from negatively affecting the human being that deals with their trauma daily, these mental health issues effect society, the healthcare system, our workforce, and, sometimes, a person’s ability to contribute positively to the community. In fact, the CDC estimated that the lifetime burden of child sexual abuse costs nearly $210,000 per victim from immediate care to potential productivity loss in adulthood.

Just this last month, I had the opportunity to join the Baltimore Children’s Center to lobby their state Senate on behalf of Erin’s Law. Believe it or not, people are truly against adding Child Sexual Abuse education in to school curriculums, but as stated above, what if the abuser is in your home? What if you sleep next to them every night? Learning of Child Sexual Abuse in school gives children yet another opportunity to hear the message that their body is theirs, and that they have a safe place to turn should they feel they are experiencing trauma at home. My Mother once said, “If I had been taught in school that what was happening to me was very wrong, I would have known that I had an outside source to talk to and confide in. That outside source could have saved me many years of enduring things that shouldn’t happen to a little girl…it wasn’t until my twenties that I was able to recognize that it wasn’t something I brought upon myself.”

No child should ever feel that someone taking advantage of them is something they brought upon themselves. We can do something about this. You can do something about this. Its all about having the conversation in your home. I guarantee that the level of discomfort you feel by describing the difference between safe/unsafe touch, and establishing a safe place to turn should something happen, is far less scary than the words, “Mom, _____ touched me.” Don’t you think? Prevention is possible. I know it is. We just have to start the conversation. We owe it to our children, and the future of this country, to keep them safe.

If you need help having this conversation with your kids, feel free to reach out to me. There are also several resources out there. Here are some great books to get you started:

Some Parts are Not for Sharing

My Body Belongs to Me

Its MY Body

Is your child too old for those? Have you experienced sexual abuse?

These sites offer guidance, too:

Child Abuse Prevention Program

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stop it Now

Darkness2Light

 

Would you like to donate to Erin’s Law?

Erin’s Law

You Are Worthy.

Mallory Hagan

If we are Facebook friends, you may have seen me re-post a blog from a while ago about the Extreme Weight Loss Edition with Brandi. In my post, I referred to this past weekend of dress shopping, and the body-shaming to which I succumbed myself based on a couple of silly sizes. Totally not my brand, huh? Over the last couple of months, in true Mallory fashion, I have spent time and energy on things other than fitness. While I like to think that I take health in to consideration most days, the truth is that I don’t always, and these last few months are no exception.

I was extremely grateful last summer to be chosen to participate in the BeachBody CIZE test group, where I worked out five days a week with an awesome group of uplifting people (and occasionally ShaunT), and consequently, maintained a healthy diet regime, too. In total, I lost roughly 18 pounds, and, for the most part, I felt like a million dollars. My goal is always to feel my best, and to be proud of what I see in the mirror. I think we often lose sight of how to stay within that goal, and stop focusing on the little things like whether or not our thighs touch or our arms jiggle. By the way, mine do both.

Yesterday I got on the scale, officially fed-up (yet again) with my lack of attention to health. I have gained 10 lbs since January! I blame my discovery of Shake Shack “Chicken Shack,” and our thriving Hell’s Kitchen social circle (I’m lookin’ at allllll of you). Kidding. Kidding! Yesterday, I spent a millisecond being mad at myself for said weight gain. But yesterday I also reminded myself that I am worthy, and my weight, once again, does not define me.

For the longest time I used to self-sabotage, and it was my mother, in fact, who once pointed it out to me. The question, “Why don’t you feel worthy?” sticks with me, and it’s something that I had/have to answer for myself.  I mentioned in a Vlog once that my dear friend Tommy introduced me to the ‘5 Why’ system of getting to the root of an issue. Since then, I have used it often. Why am I neglecting my health? What are my priorities? What can I do to improve? Now, it’s about acknowledging that some changes need to happen before I deem it “too late.”

In the fall, I was excited to have the opportunity to share my speech about being #bodypositive at a Women’s Health Conference in Minnesota.  The theme of my speech was The Pendulum Swing: Reality vs. Expectation. The basis? What we expect, of ourselves or even others, is very rarely reality. Some times we focus heavily on health or family, and others we may focus on faith and relationships. Our personal pendulums swing in one direction or another, and that’s o.k.  

So today, I just want to remind you that you are worthy. Whatever obstacle or self-doubt you are facing… stop. You deserve to be the best version of you, or to live the life you have imagined, and if you think no one else thinks so… you’re wrong. Whichever direction your pendulum is currently swinging, so be it. But if you want to change, you have the power to do so.

Feel free to contact me for a pep talk. <3

Until next time,

Mal

The Entrepreneurial Mindset

Mallory Hagan

As an (almost) eight-year New Yorker, I find that the day-to-day tasks of living in New York, hustling, working and #adulting can cloud your judgement and, on occasion, make you feel a little jaded. Every once in a while, though, I take in how incredible this crazy city is, and how, at every corner, there are people with hearts for service, doing great work and doing even more good. In that same vein, I also take in the people of this city and note that they aren't where they are out of luck, or happenstance. The people who thrive and succeed here do so because they work their asses off. Attending the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Global Showcase this past week was the perfect reminder of both.

The NFTEmission is "to provide programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to stay in school, to recognize business opportunities and to plan for successful futures." You can read all about their history here!

The Showcase was held at the famous Cipriani space all the way downtown, and the venue was buzzing with energy. With booths set up around the parameter, each “Young Entrepreneur” had the opportunity to share their business idea, sell their product, or share their mission. I saw everything from bracelets made of bamboo from California, to shirts made specifically for break dancers from Hamburg, Germany. And while some of the products were more specific or involved than others, the sense of pride that came from each student was unbeatable.

As a young woman who has successfully co-founded a business, and is currently joining the ranks of another start-up (FashionShow.com), it was such a reminder that nothing beats hard work, dedication to something and a whole lot of hustle. Taking on new and growing business adventures has been a little scary, and has led to some seriously reflection on what I am personally capable of doing. Seeing these young entrepreneur's drive and ambition was a reminder that, in my short time on this earth, I have accomplished quite a bit. However, there is so much more to be done, and I feel like attending this NFTE Showcase lit a fire under me like never before.

As a part of the program, Chelsea Clinton and Troy Carter held an open discussion led by Lee Hawkins of the Wall Street Journal. When asked what his definition of entrepreneurship was, Troy Carter, who attributes his work ethic to watching his mother work early mornings and late nights at Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania, said,

“To be an entrepreneur… it takes a lot of resilience. It takes a lot of grit.”

Agreed. What an awesome and timely reminder. If kids from all over the world, with less than ideal circumstances, can thrive through an entrepreneurial mindset... then so can we.

 

 

Living Unapologetically

Mallory Hagan

The world we live in makes it difficult to drown out all of the ‘noise.’ We are forever being told what’s new and on the rise and there are a plethora of “How To’s,” lists, and opinions to comb through on a daily basis. The internet is a land mine, and marketing is sometimes our greatest enemy. At 27 years old, it takes daily practice and constant reminders to remain true to who I am, what I believe and to remember where I'm from. I sometimes fail. We all do. But, I take pride in remaining as authentic as possible. I’m not perfect and neither are you. If I only project perfection in to the world, am I really being myself? Of course not.  Being your most authentic self takes work—a lot of work—and getting to that place of peace requires some serious self-assessment. Living unapologetically is the most liberating feeling. Here are my tips to living life as the most authentic version of you possible. 

Be Here for YouThis is not an endorsement of selfish behavior, but rather of self-awareness. In the world of social media and constant connection, we all know that everyone has an opinion. And since we choose to share our lives online, others feel as though they are entitled to openly criticize our lives and our choices. You are not here for anyone else.  The internet age has encourage a society where everyone feels like their opinion in your comment section matters (and it does…. if you ask for it!). You can't make everyone happy, and sometimes your life choices whether in person, or online, will come with scrutiny. So be it. 

Accept Your Strengths and Weaknesses— Every. Single. Person. is different. We have all heard that a million times in our life, so why is it still so hard to wrap our brains around? Any psychologist can attest that a sense of belonging is not only necessary, but sought after. We don’t want to be different, because if we are different, it is a signal to us that we are some how less than. I can assure you that is not the case. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? How do they contribute to the world around you in a unique way? We cannot all be the best and/or brightest expert on all. things. ever. You—every single one of you— possess individual traits that set you apart. The sooner you identify, cultivate and hone those traits, the more confident you will be in what you bring to the table. Focus on what you are good at and allow your strengths to outshine your perceived shortcomings. Your newfound confidence will lead to more authenticity. The assurance you feel will be based on what you know to be true.

Court Your PassionsHuman beings are evolving creatures. In the same way that our fashion taste and our Netflix interests change, so do our passion points. It is truly difficult to live a life of personal fulfillment and comfort if you have not taken the time to figure our where your inner spirit thrives. Once you have evaluated what your strengths and weaknesses are, use them to focus your energy on something that makes you feel alive and happy. You simply cannot project authenticity and magnetic energy without passion. People have to see and feel your enthusiasm for life, and for the world around you. Join a club, pick up a sport, learn to cook; do something that doesn’t involve friends, work or going out. You’ll be surprised. 

Keep Learning and Growing- Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” Not to be cliche, but knowledge is power. When you actively seek ways to exercise your emotional, spiritual, physical and academic self, you increase your level of awareness and expand your global perspective. In life, it’s so important to continue asking questions and seeking answers. Living in the mindset of ignorance only breeds insecurity and complacency. Often, we find ourselves around others who are content with where they are. Those people are dead weight. Surround yourself with others who also invest in personal development and growth. Their progress will only enhance your own. In order to grow as human beings and dream bigger dreams, we have to continually see the world around us through a new lens: curiosity. 

Do the Best You Can– At the end of the day, none of us are perfect and none of us should apologize for that– so long as we’re doing the best we can. Cut yourself some slack. Just know that, if you’re trying, then you’re giving it what you’ve got. 

“Life is just a bowl of cherries, so live and laugh, aha!” 

What's your Focal Point?

Mallory Hagan

When my mom sent me the popular devotional, Jesus Calling, earlier this fall, I was grateful, but (to be honest) I didn't think much of it. I told myself I would open it daily upon waking up, and that I would do my best to let the words on the page and the Scripture included to start my day; make me better. As i'm sure you can imagine, that did not always happen. Sorry, Mom. ;) 

If you know me well, you know that the last few years have been met with much despair, depression, anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and confusion. My highs have felt, at best, mediocre, and my lows have been beyond any words I can, at the moment, string together.  I'm not sure why talking about depression is such a taboo topic. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, roughly 14.8 million American adults suffer from depression, and a majority of those are women. Depression feels like a falling in to a well and knowing that if you yell at the top of your lungs for help, no one will hear you. So what's the point?

If you have experienced any sort of emotional stressors, you can attest that they stop at nothing. Friendships, love, work, productivity, happiness, forgiveness... they are all at the mercy of this powerful, vast wave of paralyzation that is Depression.  I am so lucky that I am surrounded by many people who did not let my obvious unhappiness affect their love for me, but I cannot say the same. I have truly been someone I do not recognize for a long, long time. 

Slowly, but surely, over the last six months (or so), I have been climbing out of that well. It began with my transformation during the Beachbody Focus Group for CIZE, and has continued since. But, with no ladder, climbing out of said well feels, somewhat, like inching with your back to one wall and your feet pressed against the other. When you begin to see the sunlight grow, so does your hope for exit, but there's no guarantee that you won't get tired on the way up...or slip.

The things I have experienced over the last two years, I wouldn't wish on anyone, but I'm glad they happened because I have (thankfully) learned so, so, so, many life lessons about anger, emotion, kindness and, frankly, sanity. In my effort to return to 'normal,' I have done a lot of focusing on myself through journaling, diet, exercise, etc. It's amazing what placing energy in your own life, as opposed to focusing on others, can do for your well-being. I think I have always held generosity in the highest regard. People who are not generous with their time, energy, money and kindness, are low on my totem pole. However, I see now, more than ever, the importance of focusing on yourself and on God. That is the answer to whatever is ailing you. I feel like "Mallory" again; the version of myself I knew three years ago: motivated, forgiving, strong, happy, hungry, fierce ...unstoppable. 

Today's devotional says:

Make Me the focal point of your search for security. In your private thoughts, you are still trying to order your world so that it is predictable and feels safe. Not only is this an impossible goal, but it is also counterproductive to spiritual growth. When your private world feels instead and you grip My hand for support, you are living in conscious depends on Me. 
Instead of yearning for a problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence. In the darkness of adversity, you are able to see more clearly the radiance of My Face. Accept the value of problems in this life, considering them pure joy. Remember that you have an eternity of trouble-free living awaiting you in heaven. 

 

This morning I woke up at 4:00 am, unable to go back to sleep, so I opened my devotional and began to seek guidance. Today's words spoke to me so profoundly that I began to cry (something I used to never do, but seem to be an expert on lately...it's amazing what allowing yourself to feel emotion can do). I'm continually in awe of what happens when you open your heart and mind to God and truly pray for direction. I mean, "Instead of yearning for problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence." Boom. A lot of removing yourself from Depression is re-wiring your thoughts...one by one. This morning I journaled that I vow to see the world from this focal point of positivity as often as possible. Will you? He does not give us anything we cannot handle. And if I have learned anything about myself, it is that I. will. prevail. 

Always.

 

"So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine"

Hillsong United

 

Until next time,

M

 

Re-Blog: How to Crush Self-Doubt Before it Gets the Best of You

Mallory Hagan

I know as well as the next person that self-doubt can be an incredibly crippling thing. Even the most confident people sometimes struggle with the idea that they, somehow, are not good enough. Even when your rational brain fights against those crippling thoughts, on occasion you can find it hard to move past that pesky inner-voice. 

Kirsten Haglund shared this article to her Facebook page, and I thought it deserved a good re-blog. Enjoy. 

How to Crush Self-Doubt

More coming soon,

M

She Is More Contributor

Mallory Hagan

Hey Hey Hey!

Welcome back to my blog (?!).... it's been...a while...

It's been a year. 

Sorry about that! :P

Anyway! This weekend I'm thrilled to be headed to Minnesota and speaking about women's issues at the Tri-County Women's Day Out. I recently signed on to be a contributor for the online women's magazine, She is More, founded by Miss USA 2009 and model/writer, Kristen Dalton Wolfe. I figured since I am adding to and rearranging some of my speech this week, I would share the first piece I did for her growing website. 

I absolutely love She is More and have truly missed writing, so I look forward to this growing partnership. I know it will inspire me to blog more, too. A two for one! 

Six Tips to Becoming a Boss Public Speaker... 

Be back soon! 

Mal Pal

Its All in the Journey

Mallory Hagan

 

I can’t believe that in two days, I’ll be loading all of my worldly possessions on to a moving company truck and wrapping up this ‘adventurous journey’ I have had in LA. When I moved to the West Coast I had high hopes for what I would be able to accomplish here, but also no true expectations. After all, they don’t call this la la land for nothin’. ;) 

Since passing the torch last September, I have had an array of feelings ranging from relief to sadness to anger to contentment. In true Capricorn fashion, you never really know what you’re going to get. Ha! All of those feelings have stemmed from several different factors, but a majority of them from the unknown. Being here in LA was an opportunity to meet people and make connections; thrive. I thought being Miss America coupled with the forces of William Morris Endeavors, I would be headed for success in no time! I mean…I am headed for success. Just… via  a different route. 

As I have mentioned before, one of the things I remain most grateful for here in the land of la la is my newfound relationship with God. This past Wednesday’s “Midweek” sermon (preached by Hank Fortener) at Mosaic was one I will never forget. I attend church alone (I like to) so that I can really immerse myself in the praise and worship, and this week I was thiiiiiiiiiiiis * * close to not going, but God pushed me out the door and with each word that rolled off of Hank’s tongue, I knew exactly why I was there. 

The sermon was based upon the verses John 4:1-38. My favorite passage is as follows:

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of waterwelling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus met this woman at the well because he knew it was the one place he would find her, day after day. Hank brought this passage to us because he is challenging us to be more persistent in asking God for the things we need in life, but to stop thinking so small. When she turns to him and says: 

You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

Basically she is saying “Bah! Where is your bucket, dude?” 

Jesus isn’t thinking in buckets. He’s thinking in rivers and oceans. 

Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of waterwelling up to eternal life.

So often we scoff at God after showing up to the well once or twice. I am as guilty as the next person in doing just that. How many times have you shown up once or twice and said to yourself “See, I knew God wasn’t listening!”

He is listening. But, we have to stop thinking in buckets when God is trying to send rivers and oceans of blessings our way. We have to keep going back to the well. 

To me, moving to Los Angeles was something I had to do. If you know me, I’m pretty good at setting my mind to something and making it happen (I don’t know where I got all of my never-ending courage from, but I’ll absolutely take it). LA was no different. I’m so happy that I made the decision to move and I am grateful for my time as Miss America because without it, I financially would have had a much different experience. However, New York is where my heart lies. 

I can’t wait to get back to school, have a routine, feel productive and be with my friends. As much as I have enjoyed all of the amazing travels I have had in the last ten months, I look forward to spending some much-need time in one place. I also know that I can capitalize on the relationships and resources I created for myself in New York as I continue on my journey in life and it doesn’t hurt to be moving in with my favorite person ever. 

I’m going back to my well. 

Mallory

Extreme Weight Loss, Brandi

Mallory Hagan

Last night’s episode of Extreme Weight Loss was about a woman, Brandi, who ultimately decided to give up on her dreams. Focusing heavily on her childhood desire to become Miss America (who surprised her and did a great job), Brandi spoke about standing on stage at pageants, time after time, being told she ‘needed to lose weight,’ a sentence I’m all too familiar with. When Chris showed up at the Miss Atlanta Elite Pageant (which he misquoted as a Miss America Circuit Pageant, but we’ll forgive him) with his tried and true scale, Brandi weighed in at 329 lbs, approximately 175 lbs overweight. The entire episode of is riddled with psychological issues of self-esteem and confidence in herself.

Now, I know each ‘story’ on television is exaggerated, I can’t help but wonder if all of this started with what seemed like a simple pageant. I once was quoted as enjoying (as a guilty pleasure) Toddlers and Tiaras, but as my relationships with pageants, body-image and self-confidence has grown (in good and bad ways), I’m starting to think the real story will be those T&T girls in 20 years. It all seems like fun, games and good entertainment right now, but what will these girls be dealing with in 20 years? While I wasn’t reaaaaallly in child beauty pageants, I certainly have had my fair share. I was little Miss Lee County Fair Queen once or three times over the course of the years. The friends and family I grew up with were always involved in on-stage activities and pageants were no different. I got involved with Miss America at 13 and at 14 I was told (and I quote) “If you would have lost 10 pounds, you would have won.”  For so many girls, myself included, every day is a battle of the body. It’s exhausting. 

 

Giving up my title as Miss Chattahoochee Valley’s Outstanding Teen. I was 16 and I “needed to lose 10 pounds.”

We often discuss the effects of the entertainment industry on young girls and their need to be thinner or more beautiful. Feeling inadequate is nothing new for most of us, and talking about Bulemia and Anorexia are common, but what about how those same feelings can be what leads to Obesity? I’m here to say I know exactly how Brandi feels. Even the most confident person believes what people say about them. “She’s fat” when she’s really not can do wonders on a young woman, in the same way telling someone who’s suffering from anorexia “You’re so skinny” can be detrimental to her progress. I can’t tell you how many times the thought ‘Well everyone already thinks i’m fat, anyway’ has popped in my head before ordering pasta instead of a salad. On the other end, the times i’ve heard a girl say, “I just wish I could have a few french fries” is alarming. Life is supposed to be able finding a balance that works for you. Unfortunately, as a nation, it seems we are far too polarized. 

There’s a whole ridiculous group of people who say if you enter a pageant, you are opening yourself up to criticism in that arena. I’m going to respectfully disregard you right now, because that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. 

Over 70% of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks and 75% of girls with low self-esteem reported engaging in negative activities like cutting, bullying, smoking, drinking, or disordered eating. This compares to 25% of girls with high self-esteem. Is this what we want to be doing to our society? We have got to do better, be better and live better for our next generation of girls (and guys). Can you imagine someone (a judge) telling your six or seven year old daughter that she needed to lose weight? If I were a mother, that person would give a swift kick in the ass face (that would hurt more). 

For the first time ever in my life, I discouraged a young woman (not too long ago) from competing in a pageant because she was consistently being told to lose weight. She. Was. Stunning. To me, walking away from that sounded like a much better option than a lifetime of self-doubt and feeling like she’s not good enough. Who knows, she could have ended up feeling just like Brandi. I don’t wish that on one single soul. I’m not saying pageants are bad, or they don’t stand for many wonderful things (including learning to live a healthy lifestyle). I’m just saying… being told that you’re fat sucks because words hurt and they stick with you forever. Whether you are or are not. End of story. Choose them wisely. 

Because this is fun to read while you’re on the road, traveling, giving, lonely… 2 votes or 69. It doesn’t matter.

That being said, in order for us to live better, we have to make better choices. These past couple of days i’ve been working with a girl who is competing in local pageants in California. As we began to develop her personal platform, which encourages children to live healthy, I learned startling facts about our health as a nation, but especially the health of our children. 1 in 4 children in the United States will develop diabetes, but that number increases almost 30% for African, Asian and Latino Americans. 1 in 4. Cancer/Smoking/Automobiles Heart Disease is the number one killer in America and it’s only getting worse. I’ve watched several documentaries in the past 48 hours and I am truly alarmed that we are not FIRED UP about our health, the FDA and the CRAP that is on the shelves and in our schools. I digress. 

Brandi had an incredible transformation, but most people don’t end up on Extreme Weight Loss with a hot coach and an entire nation watching. Even then, the psychological issues she was facing didn’t disappear. Her relationship with food wasn’t broken. Most people are working, studying, parenting, tired and plagued by the machine that is marketing in our country. I don’t know how many times we have to say,”enough is enough!” I am as guilty as the next person, but it doesn’t mean it’s all impossible to change. 

I am happy to have watched Brandi succeed, but I am sad that a childhood of pageantry and self-doubt lead to an adulthood of insecurity and pain. Those words…”she needs to lose weight” have been sitting on her shoulders since childhood. We have to do better. 

Where to Begin? (BERLIN)

Mallory Hagan

The last I shared with all of you I was in Copenhagen and about to embark on the journey that is “international travel.” I HAD SO MUCH FUN!! The best part about all of it was spending two weeks with my long-lost, best friend, but aside from that, we took in so many cool things in that short time-frame and I loved it. My waist line may not have, but whateves…

The day after my last blog, Ashley became deathly ill. She had a really high fever and was coming down with something intense. While that was not ideal for our upcoming adventures, I will say it did give me a solid look into the reality of their healthcare system. Ashley called the doctor, we walked down the street, they scanned her card. We were in and out of the office with a prescription in less than 20 minutes. No lie. No paperwork. No waiting…. None of it. Ashley went to the pharmacy, got her antibiotics (or whatever) and we were good to go by the next day. BOOM! Aside from that, the  rest of my visit in Copenhagen was an absolute blast. We had the chance to go to the wake-boarding competition called “Copenwaken,” do the boat tour I talked about, enjoy the end of Distortion and try some of Ash’s favorite restaurants before heading off to Germany. Oh wait. I forgot to mention that I got hit by a bus on that damned BIKE. I told you guys!!!! Luckily it was more comical and less scary, but still..I knew it was all a bad idea from the start. Of course… Ashley thought it was hysterical.

Berlin was crazy! We stayed on Raumerstabe Street, just a little North East of Berlin “proper” in a really cute, but very HOT studio apartment. I mean. Fire pit. The neighborhood was really nice and there were tons of restaurants and coffee shops nearby. We were really set on not wearing ourselves out with too much “touristy” stuff, so we mostly just spent time exploring with sight-seeing sprinkled in. We had a chance to go to Check Point Charlie and visit the museum as well as take a Segway tour around the city for some all-inclusive, ‘here it is’ sights. We’re really low maintenance…. this became clear early on. Both of us were like..”Cool. We saw it. Okay… Bye.” Haha I will say, though, that learning about the intense history in any city/country is so fascinating. Standing at the Berlin Wall it was hard not to imagine the hundreds of thousands of people who, in that very space, fought tooth and nail to find a way back to West Berlin. That same wall! That IIIII touched! We also met two recent Georgia grads at the wall when we offered to take a picture. We bonded over The South and Football, and (no kidding) then RAN IN TO THEM later that night at one of Berlin’s fun bar/clubs, Club der Visionare. As if the world didn’t already seem small, our new Georgia friends knew Miss Georgia 2013, Carly Mathis! Might I remind you I was in Germany.

From Berlin to Paris, we explored the city of lights with a casual schedule. Much of our time was filled with sight-seeing and Rose (Don’t judge me. It’s summer). We did everything from the Lourve (I die.) to the Arc…. Versailles to Notre Dame.The history in Europe is just so vast! Versailles was probably my favorite experience, even if we were packed in like sardines. Seeing extravagant and ornate room after room was fascinating. We ate our way through Paris like the best of them, with our last meal culminating at Le Terrioir Parisien.

While that tiny recap I just gave you was nice, it certainly does not do my Europtrip any justice, but let’s face it…that was a while ago. So much is happening now it feels like I am on a roller coaster! When I got back, I had the chance to emcee the Miss Arizona Pageant and then attend the Miss California Pageant all before heading to New Orleans to Speak at the National Exchange Club Convention about Child Sexual Abuse. Being Miss America has afforded me so many opportunities to continue to travel and experience new things this year, and for that, I am so grateful.

When I traveled to the National Exchange Club this past week I realized it’s been since (nearly) September that I have really had a chance to stand up and speak about Child Sexual Abuse. For several reasons I have shied away from the topic of CSA since becoming a ‘forever’ in September, but it was really such a wonderful opportunity to share my family’s story and light a fire of passion with several Exchange Club Members who, otherwise, may not have thought twice about it. It didn’t hurt that being in NOLA gave me chance to eat some southern Creole food, see my girls Lauren and Candice, and experience a wonderful dinner in celebration of Lauren’s mom, Michelle, at my favorite restaurant ever R’evolution.

In the midst of all of this travel and adventure I have been working diligently to tie up loose ends in LA and get things settled in New York. I’m excited to say that Claire and I have found our apartment and we can’t wait to move in! Scheduling the movers, figuring out how to get my car back to Alabama, buying plane and train tickets, and even finding a new tenant in LA to take over my lease has just been one. giant. pain. I can’t say how much I am looking forward to the idea of just getting to New York and being settled. Well…settled and with all of my frannnnnnds!

In two days I’m off to Orlando to judge the National Princess Pageant and then I’m back to the West Coast once more to pack up and head out. By the time I’m back in New York and ready to get the ball rolling with school and work, it will be time for Miss America. It seems crazy that all of that hoopla was already almost a year ago. I ain’t mad. ;)

Anyway! Sorry it’s been so long. Here’s some pictures I made public from Europe. Enjoy!

 

Mal

I'm Totally European!

Mallory Hagan

Uhm. Excuse me, Copenhagen, but I already love you. It’s so beautiful here!!! I mean. I certainly, at least, fit in with the blondie crowd. While I haven’t even been here for 24 hours, I just have a feeling this trip is going to be so much fun. And expensive. Holy moly- $16 for a bagel and latte this morning. Jesus take the wheel! My flight over was….. intense. In an attempt to get my body clock ready for the 9 hour difference from LA (Mind you I had been on Central time the three days before that), I stayed awake the first ten hours of my flight. Sitting still, in one seat, for any length of time is always challenging for me, but most flights are equipped with a screen or a movie, or something. Nope. Not this flight. Thank GOODNESS I downloaded an entire season of Hart of Dixie. People. Do. Not. Fly. Norwegian Air. Holy Guacamole…. in the twelve hours we were in the air, the sky-team came around exactly twice. The first time they came by (about an hour in to the flight), they offered some version of food and a drink. We didn’t see them again until exactly two hours before we landed. That. Is. All. I was so parched! #firstworldproblems, I know.

Thank goodness for the brooks I brought. I don’t know if any of you have read White Girl Problems by Babe Walker, but if not, GO BUY IT NOW. It’s so ridiculous and completely absurd it will have you laughing for days (and quoting lines for life). Well, I read that book an eternity ago, but now Babe has a sequel called Psychos. Uhm. Equally as hilarious. I’m pretty sure I looked psycho on the plane because I was belly-laughing hysterically among a sea of sleeping people. Oh well. I’ll never see them again. Regardless, I read the whole dang thing before starting in on my TV show and now i’m sad it’s over. Guess i’ll finish up Thrive now. :D

Pure, ridiculous, fantastic entertainment.

Once at the airport, I realized I had ripped out my contacts on the plane on account of my eyes driving me bonkers. Imagine my surprise when I get inside the terminal and realize not only can I not read Danish, but I also can’t see. After taking a pit-stop to replace my eyes, I headed to baggage claim (uhm…………30 minute wait) and exchanged my monies for some Krone. 1 Krone= .18 US. Seems fine until they are like “That’ll be 88!” for breakfast. At any rate, I was totally surprised to see Ashley waiting for me waving the Denmark flag like a nutcase outside of the exit. Thank goodness, though, because originally the plan was for me to take the metro to her house, but (even being the amazingly savvy New Yorker that I am) I’m sure I would have been lost. It was so exciting to get to Ashley’s apartment though. It’s so BIG and absolutely beautiful.

This week is one of Copenhagen’s biggest music events, Distortion. I had no idea, but apparently that’s on our nightly agenda. YAY. I’m so glad I brought my brand new, white Chuck’s to completely ruin by stomping around in the beer filled streets. Woohoo!!! Haha, okay I actually don’t care, but I did find it hilarious that these were the one pair of closed-toed, tennis shoe-like things I brought. Anyway, upon arrival I was instructed (yes, instructed) to shower and “hurry up!” Distortion ends at 10 pm. By the way, 10:30 pm looks like 3:30 pm which, I can imagine, will reek havoc on my body clock in the next few days. I’m already a night owl…now i’m chasing the night? Lord, help me.

 

In the midst of Distortion

After getting ready, Ashley hands me my bike key.

Now. Riding a bike in my neighborhood back home as a kid and riding a bike on a street with 4,000 other bikers….very different. Might I add that the last time I rode a real bike (like..not SoulCycle) I was MAYBE 12. Ashley is trying to kill me. Let it be known now, if I die on this dang bike, that I love you all. No really. If I had a camera following me around, last night’s attempt at bike-riding would definitely have been the highlight of this European episode. Also- bikes make you sore.

Anyway! Distortion was fun, but we got there pretty late so I only got to experience about 45 minutes or so of music. Afterward, we got a nightcap and then went to bed. Ashley had to work today and I had some work to catch up on, so I’m just hanging out at a cafe down the street. It’s cute!

Joe & the Juice Cafe

This morning I had the chance to just sit down and do some more reading. Thrive really is such a great book. Today I started in on the last of her four elements in the Third Metric: Giving. Continuing to read her book now is so timely for me as it’s all about disconnecting from the world and truly taking time to nurture your own mental and emotional self through meditation, thought and recharging. Although I plan to continue blogging as much as possible while here, not being able to connect to my phone is going to be so freeing these next two weeks. I’m trying to become hyper-aware of my cell phone usage and how it hinders my ability to actually take in a remember the experiences that I am having. I love the fact that I don’t even have a choice this week. I sat in a window this morning and just watched people for a solid 45 minutes. I loved every second of it. Being here brings out a sense of wonder and uncertainty. Although most everyone here speaks English fluently, it is really interesting to have such a “fish out of water” feeling. It makes me a little uncomfortable and a little insecure, but I like it. I like being pushed out of my comfort zone and I look forward to what I’ll learn about myself and the world in the coming days.

In today’s passage that stood out to me, Arianna says:

Forgive yourself for any judgements you are holding against yourself and then forgive your judgements of others. Then, look at your life and the day ahead with newness and wonder.

 

And so I shall.

I’m looking forward to this afternoon. I’m heading to meet Ashley at work in a few hours and then she’s granting me one tourist wish: A boat tour! I can imagine it will be lots of fun and then we will head back to Distortion tonight with some more of her friends.

Wish me luck with this bike thing….. hahaha

Until next time,

M

Travel, Travel, Travel...and more Travel!

Mallory Hagan

Hey guys! It’s been forever….sorryyyyyyyyy. I’ve just been so busy! The past month has absolutely flown by. After my trip to North Carolina I was happy to spend a little bit of down time in LA hanging with friends and even spending a beach day with our current Miss Arizona, Jen, and her sister, Kalynn. We had a blast catching up in the sun before they were back on their way to Arizona. I also had a chance to head to a Dodgers game with Brittany and even read to her preschool class.  We had such a good time…all of the preschoolers tried on my crown!

My sweet helper, Mayowa 

Jen, Me and Kaylnn on in El Segundo

After so much fun in LA, I was excited to get to New York and enjoy the warm weather. I was asked to co-chair at the 2nd Annual New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Fund ‘Kick off to Summer’ Benefit and attend the BTIG Charity Day  again this year, so I was off to a busy start in the Big Apple. I had a chance to see so many friends, attend the Miss NYC Organization’s ‘send-off’ party and even celebrate Claire’s birthday during the first week. My second week in New York was devoted to honoring my good friend Kim at the 2014 Women in Business event held in Queens, then contributing to The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, my Miss America sister, having dinner with a few more Miss A sisters and then Miss New York 2014 in Staten Island. So. Much. Happened.

I was happy to be able to spend so many special moments in the city with all of the people who I love most and it just reminded me of why I fell in love with New York in the first place. It could have also been the weather. :P  Being at the Miss New York pageant for the fifth year in a row was certainly the highlight. I love my Miss New York family and I am just so glad that I got to see and spend time with them before this crazy summer! Honestly, it was an honor to be back in Staten Island with the many, many sponsors and volunteers who have supported all of us these past few years. I even had a chance to catch up with one of my former judges and this year’s auditor, Joe Naughton, for dinner (thanks Joe!) before the Saturday night show. Lets be honest, I loved being the emcee, too! Congratulations to my girl, Kira Kazanstev, on her new year-long journey and trip to Miss America!

On my way back to LA, I made a pit stop in Vegas. Now. I have been to Vegas to win Miss America and I have been to Vegas (once) as Miss America (which was totally fun… ;)  ) so technically….I’ve never been to Vegas! Brittany drove out to meet me and we had a blast staying with my Miss Nevada, Randi (thanks, lady!). It was great to relax for a couple of days in the sun and even run in to some people we know. My two days back in LA were short lived, though, and now I am in Alabama for my Mom’s 20th dance recital. It’s hard to believe that twenty years ago she opened the doors to Make Your Move and now we are celebrating with the #2LEGIT2QUIT concert. I’m just so proud of her and I am so happy to be home for a few days before heading off to….EUROPE!

Which brings me to French. And Fitness, too. Both have been quite the failure in the last couple of weeks, but interestingly enough my attitude the latter has changed drastically. French…well….that’s just been me not making it a priority, but fitness? So. Over. It.

 

Okay- I’m not over fitness, but as many of you in the world of pageantry know, the idea of “fitness” turns in to a ridiculous obsession even post-pageant. We go through this “my body looks terrible” phase and  just completely beat ourselves up for not looking like we did on the Miss America (or Miss State) stage and frankly…I’m just sick of beating myself up. These past eight months have provided enough hardship- who needs to add another mental battle to the already present ones? I’m starting to realize the less I think about food, the less I obsess over it. I’m also starting to realize that I wear a size 8. And you know what? Whatever!! Ha

As I have continued to read Thrive (albeit slowly), there are so many passages I love. In the pages about stoicism, Huffington includes this awesome quote by Andy Warhol:

Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say “so what.” That’s one of my favorite things to say.

So what! So many of us have written our thoughts and feelings about weight and food and fitness and what it means to actually be healthy, so I won’t bore you with all of that here, but if you want to see what many of us had to say, you can check out Miss New York 2012, Shannon Oliver, in her blog post here. It really is all about a change in attitude and I think I have finally had mine.

At any rate, I have been missing the gym. I found myself placing higher priority in sleep and social life in New York than working out, but we all go through phases and I happen to be in my travel, travel, travel one. I’m excited to spend the rest of this month exploring Europe and then finish up the couple of appearances I have in the summer months before I….

MOVE BACK TO NEW YORK!

Thats right. And I’m stoked. School starts August 25th and I’m thrilled to say I’ll be returning back to The Fashion Institute of Technology this fall. Whoop Whoop! I am just excited to get back to New York and get back on the grind. I know I’ll miss California a LOT. I really do love it there, but I’m the kind of girl who likes to hustle and, to be honest, there’s just too much ‘chillin’ on the West Coast. ;)

So, it’s likely my next blog will be a Europe/ Miss Arizona update. Hope you enjoy this one!

Hugs,

Mal

Achoo!

Mallory Hagan

Pollen was in the air in North Carolina, y’all! I had the best weekend traveling to be with the Miss North Carolina Organization. Friday morning I packed up and made my way to the airport for the long haul. I tell you what, this whole West Coast to East Coast and back again flight is taxing! It was well worth it, though. I was greeted by my host,  Miss North Carolina 2003 and make-up mogul, Dana Evans, at the airport and then the weekend was off. First order of business? That pajama party I was telling you about. I was quite proud of my cute pajamas I found on sale at Bloomingdales and I wore them in public with pride! I mean, when will I ever get to go to another appearance where pajama’s are the only requirement? I signed a zillion “Miss America” pillowcases and then posed for pictures with all of the little ladies before I finally got a chance to boogie down. There were over 120 of the Carolina Princesses and no shortage of ice cream and cookies. Boogie turned in to more of bouncing….off the walls. I had a chance to meet so many sweet girls, but perhaps the most touching was a 7 year old named Abby. We had so much fun at the party together taking selfies! 

 

 

Abby wanted to sit down cross-legged for photos in front of the back drop. Bunny ears commenced! Photo by: Lenn Long, http://www.PageantPics.com

Photo by: Lenn Long, http://www.PageantPics.com

After the party on Friday night I had a chance to hang out with my host, Dana, and one of the Miss North Carolina Board Members, Neal, for a while. It’s always great to sit and chat with people who are a part of the Miss America Organization from another state. I learned a lot about Miss North Carolina and was able to use my new knowledge on Saturday as I spoke to the Teen and Miss contestants. 

Before the dinner, though, I had a chance to visit with the vendors who came to be a part of their Work Weekend during the day. There were so many local businesses there! Each vendor had something unique and fun to present the contestants so it was really great to have a chance to see what they had to offer. I may or may not have left with a few sets of earrings. I can’t help it. I’m a girl (and a pageant one at heart!). 

The evening approached quickly and it was really an honor to see how the Miss NC Organization goes about their contestant lottery. They adopted the Miss America style this year and we had a blast watching the girls, one by one, pick their placement for this summer’s pageant. In addition, this year is the 25th Anniversary for Miss North Carolina 1989, Kelly Fletcher. We were honored to hear her speak about her successful branding and marketing business based out of Atlanta. She gave a wonderful Prezi encouraging each young woman to find her “Lovemark,” or uniqueness in the world of pageantry. I loved hearing her speak! I, then, had the opportunity to share with the girls what I thought (in my experience) made an effective and successful title-holder. After the lottery was over, I had a chance to meet several of the contestants and I was so impressed by them! Many expressed their concerns with competing, their hesitations for “trying again” or their stories of how MAO has positively influenced their lives. I am positive that NC has a great group of young women and one of them will make a fantastic state representative. 

Photo by: Lenn Long, http://www.PageantPics.com

The next day was Sunday and a chance for me to relax with Dana and her family. Dana’s parents, the Earp’s, made a phenomenal lunch of stuffed flounder!! We had a great time together just laughing and having fun before I was off to the airport. Now, I’m back in LA and relishing in these next two weeks of being still. The travel that’s coming up is about to be enough to make me crazy and I came back from NC with a fierce allergy cold. I haven’t stopped sneezing ALL DAY. That, and I feel like my head might actually explode. Praying that my Claritin will do the trick soon. 

Today I started reading Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, and I am hearing her loud and clear. I had a chance to meet Arianna on several occasions in Washington, D.C. last year and I was always just blown away by her. Reading her book, it’s as if I can actually hear her speaking. The introduction (duh) of the book is simply an overview of why she chose to talk about well-being, wisdom and wonder, but there’s so much information about our society and our inability to live a full and complete life that it’s alarming. She says, basically, that ‘burnout’ is our civilization’s disease. It seems crazy, but it’s true. So many of us are just running on fumes and wishing for more time. I certainly don’t feel that way lately, but to be honest, I’ve never known anything but that. It makes sense that now I am suddenly less fulfilled than before. I’m used to being busy 24/7! The whole first chapter of her book is about the ability to listen to your body and it’s stress levels. I have a feeling, when this book is over, I’ll be glad I read it in my mid-twenties instead of fifteen years from now. Regardless, it seems like a message most people need to hear. Although it is essentially geared toward women, I can imagine it would be beneficial to men as well. It kind of reminds me of Sanburg’s book. I wish they hadn’t marketed Lean In so heavily toward women….men could really, really benefit from her message. I encourage you to pick up the book and read along! 

Tonight the current Miss Arizona, Jenn Smestad, and her sister, Kalynn, got in to town. I’m excited to have them here and show them around L.A. a bit! Tomorrow, I think we’ll find our way out to Santa Monica for a little sunshine action. The weather has been beautiful! 

That being said, I’m aware that the weather across our country is not. I’m incredibly saddened by the recent tornadoes in the South east area and am praying heavily for those who have lost their loved ones and homes. Tonight, my hometown and family are under tornado watch. Natural disasters are always a swift reminder to be thankful for each day and those you love, because nothing is guaranteed. I hope you all are safe.

Until Wednesday….

 

<3,

Mallory

Uphill Battle

Mallory Hagan

I haven’t been writing because I was feeling as though I had nothing to say. Something in my mood drastically shifted during my travels to New York and I have spent the last two weeks trying desperately to feel upbeat again. Some days thats feeling like an uphill battle. I think traveling, in general, has a way of wearing you down. When I’m on the road, I no longer have any sense of normalcy or a schedule, so it leaves me feeling a bit down. I think, after a time-period like Miss America, it’s important to take the time to develop an established schedule, BUT…so many things are coming your way, it can be hard to pass up the opportunities. I am thankful for the many, many appearances and speaking engagements that came rolling in post-September, but after the conversations I have had lately, I’m thinking once I am done with my travels in June, I’ll be staying put for a while. I need to dig my heels deep in Los Angeles and try my best to create an environment and friend-base that makes me feel at home. My trip to New York was intended to be a quick weekend at The Actors Connection hosting workshop and, instead, turned in to one that lasted (what seemed like) forever. For so long I have insisted that I miss living in New York City, but I do have to say that after this trip, I am sold on LA. New York has a way of just wearing you down and I really felt it when I was there this go-around. I found myself wanting to stay inside and cut off all communication with the outside world. I just couldn’t muster the energy to go anywhere or do anything, and that’s just not a fun feeling. BUT, while I was in the city I did have a chance to sit down with two of my Miss America sisters. It was great to talk through my feelings about post-pageant life and hear that those feelings are normal and absolutely valid, but it also (in some ways) only furthered my frustration. Hearing how long it took them to feel “normal” again made me feel a bit defeated. I know that life is a journey, and so far mine has been an incredible one. I guess I just want to know now what to do next.  Patience is not my strong suit! God is testing mine.

Speaking of, I finished The Artisan Soul. I wish I had been able to finish it with the congregation at Mosaic. I loved hearing his sermons on each chapter, but I am happy that the book is helping to shape my relationship with God. Before, that relationship was non-existent and a source of much inner turmoil. I am so grateful that Mosaic has given me a place to turn when I need my spirits lifted. Being introduced to Erwin’s thoughts on how we are artists in the things we do and the lives we create has definitely helped me in my thought process as I embark on each day. I’m not saying it’s easy to remember 24/7, but when I stop and reflect on the things that God has done through me and my experiences, I feel compelled to imagine the future I want and then try my best to figure out how to create it. I definitely think a part of me just expected things to happen (which is dumb). If I look back on the journey I took to becoming Miss America, it was a loooooong one. Four tries as an Outstanding Teen contestant and then, ultimately, four tries as a Miss. Being Miss America didn’t just happen for me, so I’m not sure why I am being so impatient with this next phase in life. So much of me is trying to sit back and enjoy the time “off,” the transition and the little things. But, the reality is, the women who succeed in the Miss America Organization, whether at the State or Local level, are women who have high expectations for themselves. Those expectations don’t change when it’s all over! I have high expectations for the things I want to accomplish and the life I want to lead. Now it’s just about creating that path. Erwin said:

Greatness never emerges outside of hard work. … The combination of talent and passion funneled through the crucible of discipline and determination resulted in an expression of skill and execution that was later deemed greatness and genius. pg. 126

 

In the sermon that Erwin preached on Craft, he said, “We cannot sit idly by and expect others to create a future for us. We have to see our future, declare what it will be and then act on it.” Now, these are things I know, but hearing it in the context of The Artisan Soul was such a reminder. This particular sermon said so many things that resonated with me, but the best (in my humble opinion) was “When we live our lives apart from God, we lose sight of our creative assets. Together, we can imagine a future that could never be created alone. Always remember, you’ll never run out of the resources of love, compassion or hope.” In my last blog, I shared some concerns I had with religion and faith. The Miss America Organization has given me so many things, but I am most  grateful that I was introduced to some of the most loving, kind and compassionate women that I now call friends. Leighton Jordan, Miss Georgia 2012, reached out to me after my last blog with some answers to my questions in regard to why God allows so much pain and suffering in our world. Many of you have reached out and said that you, too, struggle with those questions in your faith. It can be hard, I think, to continue on our journey with God if you can’t get some answers. Leighton wrote me and part of what she said it as follows:

Often God uses suffering in our lives to teach us, test us, or work toward a greater good. We often become stronger people, or better yet, more reliant on God, after a difficult life situation. But why does a good God allow suffering in the first place? I boil it down to two main causes: The first is free will. For people to not be “robots,” we have to have the freedom to obey or disobey God. We see this in the garden with Adam and Eve. They expressed their freedom, which caused sin to enter the world. Unfortunately, many people make bad or even evil choices that hurts others. The second is related to the first. Because sin is in the world, the world is “fallen” or “cursed.” This was a major consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin. God has allowed things to continue for His purposes. He is constantly redeeming people and allowing history to go forward because He has greater purposes in mind. Otherwise, he could end it all right now, in theory. But we know God has a plan, and that one day the end times will come, which will bring His plan to a close. Because of the fall, there is natural evil. Suffering caused by nature. Genetic mutations that cause life long problems. These are not part of the original design, but God can and does at times redeem these for his purposes. 

 

This was so helpful to me, and I hope that what she shared with me will be helpful to you, too. Since the day I met Leighton, I have admired her ability to walk with Christ and be a beaming light of his love, but with an understanding that people are different. She has never made me feel judged or condemned, but instead always loved and accepted. I often feel overwhelmed with my admiration of her and her resilient spirit. It’s interesting…. I didn’t intend (at all) for this blog to become a religious outlet. I thought, for sure, it would be a way to use humor and fitness to feel revived. It’s funny how life takes turns you never thought were an option. This week at Mosaic it was Baptisms.  I am feeling as though mine will be in the near future. :)

However, now that I have mentioned it, my fitness journey is going well! I didn’t get progress pics/weigh in while I was in New York because my trainer/fitness buddy is here in LA, so those will come again next Wednesday. I will admit, I fell off the food bandwagon a few times while in the city, but I was fortunate enough to stay with my friends Kim (Italian!) And Kyle for the duration and Kim is an excellent cook. We had a traditional Italian dinner  one night that would blow anyone’s socks off. Veal, pasta, meatballs, sausage……the whole nine. Eek! It was so good, though. Zero regrets here for that hiccup.

My French is going well, too! I actually recommend, if you’re looking to learn a language, the free App, Dualingo. Honestly, it makes things so easy! That, in conjunction with my Rosetta Stone, it helping me tremendously. I am so stoked for Paris this summer, I can’t stand it. Here’s a short lesson for you:

Nous= we

Nous Sommes Riche= we are rich

Les Hommes= the men

Les hommes sont riche= the men are rich

Nous sommes un garçon et une fille= we are a boy and a girl

La lettre= the letter, le livre= the book, le menu= the menu, le journal= the journal

ecris= write, J’ecris= I write

j’aime- I like

Une pomme et un livre sont rouges= The apple and the book are red!

After being back in LA for a few days and having some time to settle in to my apartment, enjoy some sunshine and see my friends, I will say I am feeling much better. This week I had another meeting with the production company about the possibility of the reality show they are conjuring. It’s looking like it may move forward. YAY! Tomorrow I head off to Raleigh, North Carolina to hang out with the Miss North Carolina contestants and their Princesses at the Pajama Party Friday and Saturday night. It’s going to be a ton of fun and I can’t wait. :)

Adieu!!

M