slight setback

Rena Gruau

The Universe works in a mysterious & unpredictable fashion.

Yesterday I set off on a 5.5-hour excursion to El Paso, TX to finally see & try on my dress for Miss USA! I have been dreaming about this dress for months now. Having nothing more than a sketch, fabric swatch, and hand-crafted paper doll of myself in the dress (I'm a visualization freak about this stuff), I have been counting down the seconds until I was holding the fabric in my hands and pulling the zipper up my back. I dreamed about how I would prance around the dressing room in a visual daze of me proudly showcasing this work of art at Miss USA...

Upon my arrival to Ella Blu I was giddy with anticipation. The boutique owner, Sophia, set me up in the fitting room and then a few minutes later stepped in with the garment bag. Gasp! The dress was even more stunning than I would have imagined. I immediately began shedding layers of clothes, stuck each leg into the dress and with the help of Sophia began to pull it up over the rest of my body.


Big problems. I was going to need a new dress. I leave for Las Vegas in less than 2 weeks. It took 6 weeks for the dress to come in. Did you do the math? 

I took about 5 minutes to host a mini panic attack. Sophia articulated that she had a lot of faith in our abilities to fix the problem and that she was confident it could be resolved. Knowing that there was no way to contact the designer before Monday I accepted the reality. 

On the 40-minute drive back to Las Cruces from El Paso (empty handed with no dress) I began to reflect. I started to think about the situation and the dress. What is a dress? It's fabric. Just fabric. When did fabric play a significant role in a woman's ability to be Miss USA? When has a judged selected a woman to be Miss USA because of fabric? The answers are: never. Never. Never does "fabric" play any sort of role in Miss USA. Miss USA is not about fabric, Miss USA is about a woman who can inspire, lead, educate, connect and serve others. Miss USA does nothing with "fabric." Yes, of course she needs to wear fabric on a daily basis, but it doesn't act for her, it doesn't think for her, and it certainly doesn't speak for her. 

I then reminded myself of the philosophy I share with women whenever they seek pageant preparation guidance from me. I always say, "don’t stress about the dress." It's so true. It's not about the dress. I will show up with a dress, there is no way that I couldn't. There is nothing I can do to change what happened; I can only change what will happen and how I handle it.

I then began to think about what positive things this might bring about. Perhaps this is good luck. A challenge of my abilities. A new story to share with others. An opportunity to learn. A reason to look back and laugh. Perhaps that dress wasn't "the one" for me. Maybe this was a reminder from the Universe to bring me back to the ground level and keep my focus on what truly matters in this journey. Whatever the reasons may be, I know this was not an act of error but an act of fate. 

I wanted to share this on my blog because as most women may have let this shift their focus and add a new level of stress to their preparations it does not have to be that way and should not be that way. As women we can tend to get wrapped up in the things that society has convinced us "matter." What matters goes beyond society's definition, what matters is who a person is inside. Who in history has ever been remembered for their clothing (besides the nude emperor from the fairytale, in which case he was remembered for the absence of clothing.... and also, this is a fairytale so it actually doesn't count)? Every experience & situation happens for a reason and is an opportunity for us as individuals to learn, grow, think creatively, and gain broader & deepened perspectives.

Don't worry about me; I can assure you I will not be on that stage in the nude. Please continue to show your support. The emails, comments, and positive energy are certainly motivating and inspiring me to keep going. Oh, and the votes (VOTE HERE!!!) certainly help as well.

I'll end with my favorite quote which is incredibly fitting for this situation: 
Ain't that the truth? We all are.

sprinkles & twinkles,


  1. Oh girl, I just love your attitude. It can help me through various times in my life, let me tell you. And not just as getting a dress made either.

  2. Not to worry sister! Those seamstress ladies do magic! I have seen it first hand and they are so very talented. There will be no worries with them. They remain calm while we remain in a panic and then "poof" it is done...just like Cinderella! Go Ella Blu! LD

  3. Incredible!!
    Anyone else would have been so devastated if this had happened to them! Your ability to turn a disaster into a positive learning experience makes know that you are the best possible representative for NM at Miss USA(...and eventually as Miss USA at Miss Universe ekk!!)
    You are 100% correct. The title of Miss USA is MUCH MORE than a dress: it's a role model, and the person inside the dress is the tricky part. I can't wait to tune in on June 19th and see what the optimistic Ms. Toll has done about her dress situation and cheer you on! I wish you the best of luck, you are cabable of anything you set your mind to and have the entire state of New Mexico to support you :))
    XOXO Andrea

  4. Ooooo la la!
    Thank you for the incredible words all 3 of you!!
    Andrea, you are amazing! Reading your comment was the perfect way to start my day. Thank you for the support and genuine respect and love. I now that regardless of what happens at Miss USA i am so blessed to have amazing supporters beside me and amazing experiences and opportunities to mold me. :))
    XOXOXOXOXOXOXO to infinity & beyond.

  5. I LOVE how you are seemingly handling this. You are right, it's just fabric. It's not the actual dress, it's how YOU wear it. You can come out in a burlap sac but if you think you look like MISS USA and you wear it like Miss USA should, people will see that. You'll look glorious and amazing and it will be such a triumph when an even better dress is on you on that stage. Cant wait to see!

  6. Aw B, thank you! Your positive and genuine support is so valuable and significant in my life. Thank you for all that you do, and continue to do, to support me and inspire me. You are amazing!!!

  7. What was wrong with the dress?! x

  8. I had this exact disaster occur just a week and a half ago! I'm a firm believer in the fact that this happened for a reason, and it's all about how we handle it. The gown Jennifer Berry won Miss Oklahoma in was not the gown she had ordered, but she ran with it and won the crown, later becoming Miss America. The world works in mysterious ways and as a new evening gown is being constructed from scratch for me (and I leave Friday for Miss Oklahoma!), I am sending prayers your way! KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!