why I could never be anything other than grateful:

fresh pink daises. phone call with Tom on father's day. understanding the ability to create my own story and knowing that what someone else creates does not have to be my fate. new sheets on my humble full size bed. surprise candy piles on my desk just when I needed them. witnessing a manly man order the "dirty bunny" margarita at El Guapos. following James Harden's Beard on Twitter. flowy skirts, everyday summer. landing an opportunity to be on the pilot episode of a CBS family variety show. listening to Nick’s amazing life tales. laughing, and laughing, and even more laughing. meeting Ian the Tulsa button man. teen pop music playlists. drunk bulldogs. sweet texts from my mommy. monday night's happy hour sushi binge. owning Weston, Mike, Nate & Nick in countless games of arcade basketball. Fassler Hall's summer shandy. looking back one year later at my experiences from Miss USA 2011. exploring new places in downtown Tulsa. reflecting even more on who I strive to be, and what I've learned in life. filling holes in my heart with things I love; my job, my friends, my family. mimosas for breakfast two mornings in a row. meeting summer school students at McClure elementary and listening to them talk about how smart they are. learning about feng shui from Gala. being complimented for intelligence instead of beauty. planning my road trip to Chicago to see Julia with Maile. recognizing that life is too good to me. 

this little grand life-


Storytelling & Beauty Queens

(source: Pinterest)
I have been asked by many about to my thoughts regarding the Miss USA controversies brought up by recently-resigned-Miss Pennsylvania USA (learn more) but I’ve been struggling to find the right use of my words and the best way to make this conversation productive. Along with thinking about this recent event I additionally encountered an experience that has helped me connect the Miss USA controversy to the concept of storytelling and the stories that define us as individuals. 

What I’ve learned by a series of personal experiences is that I find it incredibly heartbreaking when other people narrate a story that is not their own. In this case a story of dishonesty is influencing the opinion of the Miss USA pageant and our new Miss USA. My story regarding this event stands in a neutral place and I share this solely as my side of the story and thus it should not reflect any other characters involved. On one side I can completely understand why Miss Pennsylvania USA would be frustrated and hurt. As women we give so much of ourselves (including subjecting ourselves to vulnerability and judgment) to have a voice and to feel important in a big world. We can feel so quickly demolished when we don’t get what we think we want and when we feel powerless in these situations. I would want Miss Pennsylvania USA and all former Miss USA contestants to understand the power of their voice and role in the realm of female leadership regardless of their success at Miss USA. I would also want women to recognize that while Miss USA is a platform for serving others it is also a production, and to exist it must generate revenue like every production and source of entertainment. Anything that generates revenue cannot be expected to be flawless given the high number of variables and the complexity of human expression and desire. When going into such a high profile experience we have to recognize that the Miss Universe system is neither perfect nor transparent. Stepping back, if I had the opinion that the Miss USA pageant was “rigged” would that have changed my decision to compete? Absolutely not, I would have still competed and I bet Miss Pennsylvania USA would have too.

Funny pageant girls...
(source: Pinterest)
Regardless of its flaws the Miss Universe Organization enables and empowers so many women all over the country to do great things and become strong leaders. I would hate for the organization to ever lose that credibility. The new Miss USA should be celebrated and honored and positioned to be the strong female role model that we all admire. She certainly didn’t have anything to do with “fixing” the ultimate outcomes of the event yet her time as a leader is being held back due to this controversy. With all of that said I hope we can move past this mild blemish and focus on all of the good that the Miss Universe Organization & Miss USA titleholders and state titleholders bring. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I would never be the woman I am now had it not been for the experiences I had as a titleholder within the Miss Universe Organization.

It’s up to us to tell our own stories. There will be many characters and voices that carry and influence it but at the end of the day your story is most powerful in your hands. Those same hands are the only ones that mold and create it. By letting someone else’s story of you define and dictate who you are then you neglect what your story should be and forfeit your own power and voice. What’s your story? It’s being created this very instance. Own it, live it and tell it for yourself.

write & revise-