a much overdue miss virginia 2013 review

Well, let’s just state the obvious…I didn’t win Miss Virginia. In fact, I didn’t even make the Top 11. I will be honest, I was surprised by that. Not because I felt like those who made the 11 were undeserving. Quite the opposite–getting to know the other contestants throughout the week is an amazing and humbling experience because it becomes quite obvious that any one of the amazing, accomplished young women would make a fabulous Miss Virginia! I was disappointed because I felt that all of the work I had put into preparing for the one-of-a-kind job interview had made me as prepared as I could possibly be and I wished that would be enough.

Arrival at the Hotel Roanoke

Arrival at the Hotel Roanoke

Pageants are a subjective game. There are so many variables at play…what are the judges’ preferences? what are they looking for? what if one judge had to go to the bathroom really bad during my interview? …seriously, you never know what factors are at play. I truly thought I had done the best I could do in each element of onstage competition. So after I wasn’t called as a finalist, I thought, “I must have blown it in the interview room” which is such a discouraging feeling because I had originally thought my interview went very well!

After a long period of confusion and self-doubt, I realized that I had done my best. I had done my best. I don’t know what anyone else’s interview looked like or what the judges were looking for. While I had done my personal best, perhaps it just simply did not scream MISS VIRGINIA in the same way that others’ did. And that’s okay.

Because in the end of it all, I know I put it all out there. I did my personal best and that is enough. I am enough.

Post-interview

Post-interview

One of my goals for the week was to live in the moment. I didn’t want to get so caught up in what the outcome would be that I missed out on the experience. That I didn’t laugh and bond with the other contestants, show my appreciation for the volunteers, and giggle with my teen & preteen sisters. I am happy to say that I accomplished that goal!

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My Miss Virginia journey took a large role in a powerful faith-building experience that has changed my life forever. It wasn’t until I put God at the center of my life and sought to use my experience to glorify his name that I really started to do well–both in terms of actually competing and getting the most out of my experience as a local titleholder. The crazy uncertainty of pageants forced me to throw my hands up in defeat and look towards God for one last shot at the game in my final year of eligibility. When I competed at Miss Greater Richmond I felt the calm of trusting Him with my future, and I had never felt so at peace about the outcome, whatever that might be. I rejoiced when I won and praised Him because I knew He had given me this title as a gift and that there would be much to learn from the opportunity.

Backstage at the final night of competition at the Miss Virginia pageant, I took a quiet moment to ground myself in prayer. I remember praying that I trusted whatever God’s plan for me was, whether that was to become the next Miss Virginia or not. I was ready to accept whichever outcome He had planned for me that evening. BUT…I can admit that in my heart there was a caveat…and deep down I was saying “but pretty please just let me at least make the top ten so that my efforts will be validated and I can be on TV and I can say I accomplished something!!!!!” Instead, God humbled me and reminded me that HE is in control. I had to accept His plan without any stipulations.

As previously mentioned, after the pageant was over, I did a lot of self-reflection and I talked to God a lot about my experience and what I should take away from it. Here’s where I am so far…

1. My efforts were validated. My friends and family and MGR team know how hard I worked and what I put into my preparation. It didn’t take more than five seconds for them to tell me how proud they were. And I couldn’t me more grateful for their support and the sacrifices they made to let me pursue my dreams.

2. I was on TV. BOOM. Y’all saw me in that amazing purple gown! :)

3. I have developed life skills, built a network, and made friends that will last far beyond my years vying for a sash and crown. These are invaluable assets that I may not have gained, or gained so abundantly, without the Miss Virginia Organization.

4. I truly reaped the benefits of sacrificing a part of myself to make the world a little brighter for someone else. Between graduate school, an internship, and a hectic schedule of preparing for the Miss Virginia pageant, there were often times I didn’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn to get done-up for an appearance (or even take a shower, for that matter). Sometimes I would wonder, “does this really matter?” and time and time again, an interaction I had would blow that doubt away in an instant. Walking away from an appearance and realizing that I was part of a memory a pediatric heart patient would cherish for years to come or that a hardworking volunteer felt they had a noteworthy guest of honor made every early morning, every gallon of gas, and every high-heeled step SO worth it.

5. I gained a better understanding of who I am and what I value. I spent many an interview trying to play the part of Miss Whoever and say what I thought the judges wanted to hear. Preparing for Miss Virginia and being Miss Greater Richmond gave me the confidence to be myself because that’s good enough. I stopped obsessing over what I ate and regretting a “bad” food choice and started developing a passion for fitness and wellness. I stopped counting calories and I didn’t stop eating ice cream. I stopped telling myself my talent was no good and started practicing a lot more. I stopped trying to impress people and started having more fun! I stopped desperately grasping for a title and started actually appreciating how each experience has shaped/will shape the path of my life. I  stopped trying to control things and started trusting God.

While much of the growth process has occurred over the several years I competed, a large portion took place within the past year. The effects of trusting God have made an astounding impact on my life outside of pageants as well. When I look back and see how far I have come from when I was crowned Miss Greater Richmond only a year ago, I think, “If only I had trusted God sooner!”

There are so many exciting things happening in my life and I cannot wait to see His plan unfold.

I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to serve as Miss Greater Richmond 2013. It was an incredible year!

Team Greater Richmond/Hanover arrives at the Hotel Roanoke

Team Greater Richmond/Hanover arrives at the Hotel Roanoke

My fabulous roomie, Miss Hill City!

My fabulous roomie, Miss Hill City!

All the contestants with Miss Virginia at the Rockledge Mansion on Mill Mountain

All the contestants with Miss Virginia at the Rockledge Mansion on Mill Mountain

Overlooking Roanoke

Overlooking Roanoke

Reception with Miss Greater Richmond's Outstanding Teen and Preteen

Reception with Miss Greater Richmond’s Outstanding Teen and Preteen

Spending time with Miss Greater Richmond's princess before crowning her onstage

Spending time with Miss Greater Richmond’s princess before crowning her onstage

Miss Virginia week is exhausting!

Miss Virginia week is exhausting!

Talent: Jazz Dance to "The Twentieth Century Fox Mambo"

Talent: Jazz Dance to “The Twentieth Century Fox Mambo”

Swimsuit

Swimsuit

Onstage Question

Onstage Question

Evening gown

Evening gown

Evening gown

Evening gown

Thursday night visitation with a fraction of my amazing supporters

Thursday night visitation with a fraction of my amazing supporters

At Friday night visitation with Brad

Friday night visitation with Brad

My awesome family

My awesome family at the Fourpoints Party

Feeling the love!

Feeling the love!

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the countdown begins

In a little less than a month, I will be in Roanoke competing for the job of Miss Virginia 2013. I have had so many amazing experiences up to this point! I truly have so much to be thankful for, from the amazing group of titleholders I have had the pleasure of spending this year with to the love and support of my family, friends, volunteers, and amazing director, Mariah! I am so happy to be in such a great place mentally, spiritually, and emotionally in preparation for this opportunity of a lifetime.

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With Mariah at the final local pageant of 2013

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I want to thank all of you who have supported me with your words of encouragement, friendship, and the help you have provided. It really takes a village to send a girl to Miss Virginia! Okay, so that isn’t the actual saying, but it might as well be!! :) I have been so touched by the willingness of so many people to help me along this journey. I have had Ryan Lightner write me a recommendation letter with turnaround time of one day (!), emailed back and forth with Vicki & Harlan to get proper signatures, been given loaner car from Airport Road Auto Center, had Hester take her personal time to find earrings to match my competition gown…and these are only a few examples. My family and the MGR team have bent over backwards to make things happen time and time again. I would not be telling the truth if I didn’t say there have been a lot of stressful moments along the way! Each time I am certain I am going to drop one or more of the many balls I am juggling, I lean on God and have faith that He will work out the details. It may sound like a crazy method, but every time things work out (often at the last minute) I cry out with thanks and praise for yet another miracle.

Miss Virginia Workshop 2013

Miss Virginia Workshop 2013

I am also so happy to say that I graduated with a Master’s Degree from UVA this month! Obtaining this degree often felt like an impossible task and there were many times I wanted to give up. With the support of many others, I persevered and am so proud of this accomplishment.

UVA Final Exercises May 19, 2013

UVA Final Exercises
May 19, 2013

Before I return to talent rehearsals, interview prep, Pure Barre workouts, Miss VA send-off parties, and other Miss Greater Richmond events, I would also like to include a special shout out to my sister queen, Phyllicia, Miss Hanover. Thanks so much for your encouragement, compassion, and humor over the past months. I have been so blessed to have you as someone who “gets it” and a “partner-in-crime” along this journey. I look forward to more memories ahead and an amazing week at Miss Virginia! xo!

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Miss Greater Richmond & Miss Hanover Charity Golf Tournament
Who let us drive this thing?!

Miss Virginia Workshop 2013

Miss Virginia Workshop 2013

Thanks again for following my journey and for your support! I hope to make you all proud in just a few short weeks!

xo, CEF

how do you hug someone’s soul?

I really enjoyed this post from thegodguy on spiritual hugs!

The comparison between physical touch and spiritual caring clicked for me and emphasizes the importance of fellowship with others. We can care for one another on so many levels–whether that be a hug, a deep conversation, or simple, heartwarming smile. I am so thankful to have people in my life to give hugs and get hugged by; both spiritually and physically!

I have also become more attuned to the hugs that Jesus gives me every day. I am constantly becoming more aware of His love and pursuit of my soul; through blessings & challenges, heart-shaping time in prayer, and even tweets that speak to me as His little messages.

Take a moment to check out thegodguy’s post and consider how your soul has been hugged recently! (Plus, the kittens in the featured photo are super cute!)

How do you hug someone’s soul?.

hit the barre

I have been so blessed during my journey as Miss Greater Richmond 2013 to have been overwhelmed with support from my family, friends, and community. Several businesses and individuals have been so kind as to have contributed goods, services, or funds to help me prepare for the Miss Virginia pageant in June. I am so thankful for their generosity and will be taking some time to tell you all how amazing they are here on my blog. Additionally, all my sponsors will be featured on the Miss Greater Richmond 2013 page.

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Pure Barre Charlottesville

It would be an underestimate for me to say I’m obsessed with Pure Barre. I’m actually addicted. I have never been a huge fan of working out. My activities of choice growing up were dance (ballet, jazz, tap) along with theater, music, and art, so athletic-conditioning style workouts have never “clicked” well with me. I’ve pushed through Cardio Kickboxing, Body Pump, and even pretended I liked running (I planned to sign up for a half marathon for about 3 days–that was a joke!), but I never stuck with a routine very well.

Pure Barre has been a whole different story. As in, I wake up at 5:30 AM to go to the 6 AM class. And I’ve always been the last thing from a morning person! For some reason, these intense workouts that incorporate a series of isometric movements to target the entire body have me hooked! Although it’s harder some days than others, I “hit the barre” each day looking forward to a good workout and leave feeling great!

So what is PB? Like I said, each workout uses small, isometric movements to target your thighs, seat, abs, and arms, and burn fat and calories along the way. PB promotes itself as “the fastest, most effective way to change the shape of your body” and I can personally say, I have seen amazing results! They say clients will see results after 10 classes, but I could feel my body getting stronger, more flexible, and leaner even quicker. The tagline “lift . tone . burn” sums up the PB mission and is a great motivator!

Each class will leave your muscles completely fatigued and shaking after each exercise (“Shaking legs are changing legs!”). After targeting each muscle group–arms, thighs, seat, abs–thorough stretching is done to lengthen said muscle. Additionally, the exercises are safe and no-impact to protect the joints. This joint-friendly creation of long, lean, non-bulky muscle is perfect for pageant land because the results for swimsuit are awesome and the workouts complement my dancing quite well!

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On top of it all, the classes are set to great music and the instructors are awesome! The max class size is 25, so you get a lot of personal attention to make sure you’re properly executing the technique. The instructors are all so sweet and encouraging–many of the inspiring “Pure Barre-isms” have crept into my database of daily go-to phrases! I’ve also been so impressed by how committed the PB staff is to getting to know each client’s name and a little bit about them. Valerie Morini, the Charlottesville PB franchise owner, has been so generous to sponsor me with unlimited classes in preparation for Miss Virginia, and for that I can’t thank her enough!

Come join me at PB–I don’t always go at 6 AM and would be happy to join anyone at an alternate time if you want to give it a try!

lift . tone . burn

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Pure Barre Charlottesville

2200 Old Ivy Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
ph: 434-245-1119
e: charlottesville@purebarre.com

Facebook: Pure Barre Charlottesville

http://www.purebarre.com

actual sorority move

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Sorority membership placed a stamp on my collegiate experience that no other opportunity could have replaced. I grew as a woman and leader through my friendships and dedicated work for the continued success of the Gamma Eta chapter of Phi Mu Fraternity at Roanoke College. I’ll even be real with you and admit that not all of my experiences with Phi Mu were positive. As a “Phi” or pledge of Phi Mu, I experienced psychological hazing that caused me to relive the emotional distress I experienced as a freshman at an institution from which I had transferred the previous semester. I seriously questioned whether or not to continue joining the organization–maybe sorority life just wasn’t for me?? However, Phi Mu’s love had already been emblazoned on my heart and, for better or worse, I pushed on.

Little did I know, my experience with hazing would be a pivotal moment in my personal story; a “defining moment” in my life. As new chapter leadership worked to eliminate these negative “traditions” from our chapter, I became a strong voice against hazing in our chapter. I continued to reflect upon those experiences and became an advocate for hazing prevention initiatives with my platform in the Miss Virginia/Miss America Organizations. I attended the Novak Institute for Hazing Prevention and became interested in Student Affairs professions, which lead me to my current role as a graduate student studying Higher Education Administration. I have been able to contribute my knowledge of hazing prevention as the Graduate Assistant in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. I am passionate about this issue and encouraged by my story, because it’s just one small example of how all our experiences, negative or positive, shape who we become and are opportunities for growth.

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Last spring, with graduation looming only a few short weeks away, I reflected upon my times as a Phi Mu collegian in the post phi mu is love. My friendships with Phi Mu sisters have continued to grow and flourish despite the distance. I am so thankful for my sisters who have been loyal and true through thick and thin over the months of post-college life! As a member of the professional staff for Fraternity and Sorority Life at UVA, I have gained a new perspective on Greek Life. This new retrospective lens on my fraternity experience has allowed me to continue to reflect upon what it means to be a member of Phi Mu Fraternity.

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A hot-button topic in Greek Life is values-based fraternity living. “What?” you ask, “Fraternities and values?” I know, I know. The media’s portrayal of fraternities and sororities does not tend to place our organizations in a positive light.

“We raise so much money for charity!

We do community service!

We’re leaders and scholars!”

…these are our retorts to criticisms we face as members of a Greek community nationwide. But are we really living up to the high standards we pledge to uphold when we ‘live it up’ in Frat house basements every weekend? Are we promoting scholarship when we have a party on a Wednesday night? Do we invite true sisterhood into our organization when we base membership choices over superficial elements like looks and fashion?

I don’t think so!!!

We are giving society the ammunition they need to battle against us! So, what can we do?

Revisiting the Phi Mu creed has been a valuable way for me to spend some time lately. Reflecting upon what it actually means to be a sister of Phi Mu has allowed my understanding of my Fraternity to grow. I look forward to lifelong membership in this organization. Love, honor, and truth really are wonderful values to live life by, and our founders set up a fantastic standard for living in our creed.

phi mu

Reflecting upon values and gaining a greater understanding of the relevance of fraternity in our lives today leads me to share a new force in the Greek community, Actual Sorority Move. While there are many organizations that exist to promote the positive side of Fraternity and Sorority, this new trend resonates with me particularly well. It aims to directly combat websites like Total Frat Move, or TFM, that perpetuate negative stereotypes of Greek Life. The following video features Actual Sorority Move (ASM) creator, Jessie Garber, as she explains why she created Actual Sorority Move and what the movement is all about:

Follow ASM on Twitter and Facebook.

I think Jessie’s creation is FANTASTIC. It’s about time sorority women start having thoughtful reflection and meaningful conversations about why we joined a Panhellenic organization. It’s time we start standing up to the stereotypes society has for us, stop perpetuating them, and start proving we are so much more than that! I will be the first to admit that I was not/am not a model sorority woman at all times. I can and do commit to bettering myself every day. Our chapter does a lot of great things, but I am confident that my sisters–collegians, alumnae, all of us–can be so much more!

I challenge us all, Greek or not, to think about what we say we value and evaluate how that aligns with our actual words and actions. Even small efforts towards living a life that is congruent with our beliefs are steps in the right direction.

I hope this gave you a little food for thought, and please leave comments–I’d love to read your reactions!

xo, CEF

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Philippians 4:8

s&d trunk show and scarves

You don’t have to know me very long to become aware of the fact that I love fashion–especially jewelry and other fun accessories! One of my favorite brands is Stella & Dot. Their fun jewels and baubles are always on-trend and add instant pizazz to any basic outfit. I am looking forward to hosting a trunk show in April with Independent Stylist, Jess Sigler (she’s fabulous!). The trunk show will also reveal the new Summer line–which includes new tote bags!! YIPEE!

The online version of the trunk show is already open and can be accessed here: SHOP NOW!

I am posting this at this time primarily to point out that the S&D scarves are being discontinued. I have the tan leopard print scarf and I have worn it SO much this fall and winter! I always get tons of compliments. It is so soft, a perfect size, and the price point is great! The leopard print pattern adds sass and style to any ensemble. If you are interested in ordering one, don’t wait! Some of the colors are already close to selling out!

scarvesI hope S&D brings out new colors and patterns for next fall, but until then I suppose I will have to stock up! I am debating between the Bryant Park pattern in either Pink or Blue…oh the life choices I must make!

xo, CEF

blessed

It’s been quite some time since I last posted! When I think about all the things that have occurred in my life over the past few months and realize the last time I posted was about fall outerwear, I feel overwhelmed with blessings and totally superficial!

The most major event that has taken place since I’ve blogged was winning the Miss Greater Richmond 2013 title. Pageants and the Miss Virginia program have been a big part of my life over the past 8 years or so, and they have been a huge lesson in perseverance and faith. I have learned through pageants that I am not in control, and  have improved in my ability to trust God for His plan, putting my life in His hands (although I still have quite a way to go towards being truly proficient in this…). A reminder that before the pageant even begins, God knows who the winner is, has been an important message I’ve learned to accept and delight in–it is calming and refreshing to know that the outcome is out of my hands (thanks to Victoria Maiden for that one!).

Many other areas of my life have felt like they are in flux around me, like I’m tossing and turning in a little ship on the great sea of life with no way to control my path. I’ve certainly tried to create oars to make my own way, but time and time again they crack and I’m reminded that I’m not in charge. School, my career, Miss Virginia, finances, relationships, my own sanity…I’ve felt like making any type of progress is an unachievable task at times!

However, in the midst of all of this, I’ve been given support and blessings that make me realize everything is going to be okay. Seriously. Sometimes it just helps to say it slowly. Everything is going to be okay. How refreshing is that!?

Winning Miss Greater Richmond is the perfect example of a Master Plan at work. Many of you who are close to me know that my journey towards Miss Virginia has been filled with many trials. There have been countless times I have walked away from a local pageant, wondering what I should have done differently, why the judges didn’t see the light of “Miss Whoever” inside of me, and wondering if this was just not for me. It seems that December 15, 2012, everything fell into place. I felt confident, strong, and clear-headed that God would do His will, regardless of the outcome. I left with a crown on my head and a heart filled with joy! I have been blessed with a director who sees the potential for greatness within me that I have doubted so frequently, and is constantly pushing me to be the best version of me that I can be. The door has been opened for me to touch lives in a way that warms my heart and makes me feel like I truly have a purpose on this earth.

My journey as Miss Greater Richmond has only begun, and I am eager to see what experiences have yet to come. I feel like I am truly part of a family within this organization and the Miss Virginia Organization as a whole. It reaches far beyond the amazing sisterhood I have with my fellow contestants  (which have also multiplied and grown) and includes parents, local directors, volunteers, and RANDOM PEOPLE who touch my life without even knowing it.

I am so so so very thankful for this opportunity, and I pray for the strength to do it justice. My true hope is to bring a little sparkle into the lives of others (& possibly literally, too–although most venues frown upon throwing glitter around…)

I am excited to see how I will continue to grow as a person and how the relationships in my life will develop and flourish. I have been overwhelmed with the support of friends, family, and my community. For this I am forever grateful. The journey has just started!

MGR

To God be the Glory!

outerwear

Inspired by Blair from my previous post to peruse this year’s trends in outerwear. Here are a few of my favorites…

 

Leopard Coat

Nordstrom Exclusive Faux Leopard Fur Walking Coat

Free People Leopard Swing Coat

Calvin Klein Calf Hair Coat

Electric Pink

J.Crew Bow Coat in Vibrant Fuchsia

Gianluca Capannolo Belted Coat

Milly Bo Zipper Coat in Shocking Pink

Orange

Milly Fitted Zoe Zip Jacket in Poppy

Calvin Klein Two Tone Asymmetrical Walking Coat in Tangerine/Camel

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket in Tumeric Orange

Mixed Media

Mackage Boa Mixed Media Coat

Dawn Levy Minka Wool & Leather Coat

Theory Bindra Raw Edge Wool Coat

Vests

J.Crew Excursion Quilted Vest in Herringbone

Lilly Pulitzer Lauren Puffer Vest in Spike the Punch

Patagonia Women’s Better Sweater Vest