Reflections of the past 25 years and my next quarter of a century resolutions...

It's pretty easy to get caught up in a number. 25 years- it's a big deal to me. If things had gone according to the plans I'd made for myself when I was six I'd have at least two children by now, and a husband, maybe a Golden Retriever, and most likely a silver mini-van. But when I was six I couldn't have even dreamed in my wildest dreams about the amazing life that I was destined to experience. 

In 25 short years I was privileged to... survive a bee sting to my tongue, shy away at the opportunity to meet Doogie Howser, help raise my two younger brothers, speak at my middle school graduation, make lasting friendships in high school, be Miss New Mexico Teen USA 2005 and place top 10 at Miss Teen USA, become best friends with my mom, meet Yolanda King, be the president of my sorority Zeta Tau Alpha & speak at the 2008 National Convention, graduate with honors from New Mexico State University, get accepted into my only post-college job choice- Teach For America, teach 2 years of pre-k, ride in a hot air balloon, give a congratulatory speech to New Mexico's first female governor Susana Martinez at her Inaugural Children's Ball, be Miss New Mexico USA 2011 and place top 16 at Miss USA and be named "fan favorite," and join the Teach For America Oklahoma team as a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development...

What I remember most about all of these things is the people I was so fortunate to have met along the way. The adventures wouldn't have been nearly as wonderful or memorable without these incredible people in my life. I realize now that 25 is not just a number but a trophy. I am so grateful for each year that I age because I know that it just means I will be blessed with the graces of more incredible people and more time with the incredible people I already have been blessed with. 

As I think about the first quarter of my life I know that as a newborn I did not plan for any of this... but as a 25 year old I am determined to make the next quarter just as magnificent as the first. Through this determination (and being the list maker that I am) I've found it most appropriate to establish a set of resolutions & goals...

  • Care less about age & remember that with age comes incredible people and fond memories that I'll never get tired of thinking about, laughing about, or talking about.
  •  Remember others' birthdays. A sweet home-made birthday card in the mail the other day from a high school friend that I haven't seen in years brightened my day in countless ways. It made me reflect on how valuable these relationships have been to my life and how many wonderful people I have come to know. I must get better at showing others how much they mean to me.
  • Further my education and attend graduate school on the east coast. My heart is set on Harvard's Graduate School of Education but that could change. Regardless, I'm committed to a life of learning.
  • Do what I want. I will do more of what I want and less of what I think I should do. This means I am learning to trust myself and my judgment and accept full responsibility for all outcomes with complete faith that all will turn out exactly as it should.
  • Show my body some love. I made the decision 3 years ago to stop eating meat- but that hasn't had the best effects on my eating habits in general. I will nurture my body with foods that make me feel great and give me the right kind of energy. I'll also give my body more endorphins by doing more "feel good" exercise.
  • Budget. I will take better care of my finances and create a practical budget to stick to. I want to live life as debt free as possible and spend less time thinking about those germ-ridden-bills known as "money" and their dominating effects.
  • Find my rocking chair partner without assertively looking. This is in no way an attempt for pity but simply a conscious effort to spend more thoughts in the moment rather than in an unlikely daydream. I trust that in time I'll know exactly who this is suppose to be.
  • Get to know my brothers better. They grew from 4 & 2 to 18 & 16 in the blink of an eye. As my brothers grow older with me I find more and more opportunities to relate to them. They are two very cool kids and I can't wait to get to know them even more over the next 25 years.
  • Embrace my imperfections. While striving to always improve I also want to embrace my flaws- something I have only just learned to do within the past few years. I'm learning to love myself for who I am and thus beginning to judge less and love others more as well.
  • Write down the stories... I have a very strong feeling that the next 25 years will be nothing short of spectacular, therefore I must commit to writing more about my experiences so that in old age I can reflect on the sweet memories.

 Happy Birthday,


"pageant" 101: never take yourself too seriously

Woah woah woah.... don't go assuming that this post is only for pageant goers. In fact, I hate societies depiction of the word "pageant." A pageant, by definition, is:
"a public entertainment consisting of a procession of people in elaborate, colorful costumes, or an outdoor performance of a historical scene."
... understood to me as how one carries and presents themselves to the world. We are all performing, whether we know it or not, or frankly like it or not. So why not take every opportunity to improve and reign like the queen you are?[!!!]

Pageant Tip #1
Never take yourself too seriously.

 When you subject yourself to judgment you're asking for just that, judgment. We all subject ourselves to judgment every day, the slight difference is pageant queens do it on a stage. In order to showcase yourself the best way that you can you must take it lightly and recognize that the judgment is not a reflection of you, it's a reflection of the judge mixed with how you are allowing yourself to be perceived by them. Phew- doesn't that feel better? Now let it all out. Prance around like the winner you are. Take feedback for what it is, learn from it, grow from it, and straight up discard it if you find no true value from it or alignment to who you know in your heart you are meant to be.

As a titleholder you must be approachable. How can you be approachable if you can't even approach and accept yourself? You must live your adventures with an intention of playfulness. It's how you give the most and get the most from even the most uncomfortable situations. Who doesn't love a girl who can laugh at her own flaws and recognizes them as areas of growth or quirks to who she is? By taking yourself too seriously you expect others to take you too seriously... which just means you're building an even higher pedestal to fall from ...because even the greatest fall, the only difference is that they know how to survive the impact.

So you win some you lose some. I had a hard realization last October. It was right before the Miss New Mexico USA pageant and I was practicing my interview with some pageant friends. I was taking myself & the goal I was working towards SO seriously. My friend could undeniably see that and he said to me "I had never seen that in you before Brittany, I was so surprised. You can't let this be 'do or die'. You just can't." That was a long ride home. The next morning I woke up from a sore slap in the face- thankfully. It's because of that push to realizing the abandonment of my true self that I was able to glide through my night at the Miss New Mexico USA pageant a few weeks later. As I sat backstage before the top 5 were about to be announced I thought to myself "It's ok, this isn't the end. Regardless of the outcome I'll still walk off the stage as Brittany Toll and I'll still be greeted the exact same way by the exact same incredible friends & family who came to support me." I tell you it was the strangest feeling in the whole world. I even asked myself "Wait? Don't I want this? Why am I willing to accept either outcome?" It was because I had finally realized that it wasn't "do or die" like my wise friend had said.

Not too long ago a newly acquired friend told me "I love that I can just poke fun at you and tell you how it is and you never get upset or take it personal." Now of course let me say this- you have to have your limits, if he was out-of-line then of course I would put my foot down, but everything we joke about is true. I have learned that the best way for me to live is to just accept myself for who I am, and learn to laugh at my unique quirks. It's much easier to laugh with the crowd then to go against them. I realized at that point that I had learned this skill from pageantry and didn't even know it. It was a vital skill for me to learn and it has provided me ease & joy through all of my experiences on & off the stage.

So, be it a sparkly new crown you seek, or simply a life of amusement, learn from your inner queen; it's never too serious. It's never "do or die." It's about you being you and taking the courage to embrace that. Have fun with yourself and prance your love around in your tallest heels on the biggest stage under the brightest spotlight. You will love yourself more & you will effortlessly allow others to feel the same way.

sparkles & love,

...stay tuned for more pageant tips and email, Tweet, comment, or snail mail me any thoughts about what you would like me to deep dive into a bit more. Cheers!


Fall Weekend

She spent her Saturday morning at the farmer's market & the thrift store...

At the farmer's market she found summer squash, cherry tomatoes, an Irish Cream latte, fresh basil, a potted Hindu Rope plant, two onions, and a jar of raw local honey...

Then it was off to the thrift store where she found a new set of shabby chic bowls, stemless blue glasses, a men's flannel shirt (perfect with leggings for the fall/winter), a soft pink chalice & a green glass chalice. Fabulous pieces to add to her cozy loft....

What will you make of your fall weekends?

basil, bargains & bliss,


Fond Feelings For...

Perfect for lazy Sundays. 
"Mohair wool with a silky luster."

Best $.99 you'll ever spend on an app.

"Milk chocolate, wild blackberry, baking spice, rose oil...beautifully perfumed Washington in a glass....Velvet Devil?"

...& even better when you find them in your size at DSW for 75% off. 

Sweetly scented of lavender and roses. Mist it on your face in the morning and skip the a.m. wash. Take care.

...things are just things but they sure are fun from time to time.

feathers, flowers & footprints,