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 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. :)