Together, we will.

November comes to a close. December brings the last 31 days of 2018. Wow, did this year pass by fast! I remember last NYE and planning a trip to Punta Cana and then watching the LSU game. I blinked and it was April. Blinked again and I was on the road for summer competition. And now, I'm sitting here and it's November 30. I had no idea what was waiting for me and my girls in 2018. We had triumphs. We had setbacks. I had to start fighting for fairness and integrity in competitions. I had big-girl moments. I had sad moments. We lost our TCM mascot, Gigi. We won some big international titles. My family grew and my TCM family grew stronger. So where am I today?

Well the biggest decision came in September when I accepted the Elite Miss Louisiana title for the Miss Earth USA organization. It's been an adjustment having to remember when I leave the house to grab the box containing my crown/banner for pictures and spontaneous moments. I am used to being the director of the girls at events, trying to get them into the spotlight. Now, I have to do it for myself ... again! Never in a million years did I ever think I would be doing this again, but here I am. Since I stepped into this role in September, I've already logged 465 service hours, traveled over 7,000 miles, and personally raised over $2,100 for charities. Not too shabby for being in retirement for nearly 9 years.

See, I have ALWAYS wanted to be Miss America. It was my dream since I was 3 years old and watching the pageant on TV. I dreamed of walking across that stage and having that crown put on my head. Hearing the audience cheer for me and seeing my mom cry with tears of joy that her little girl achieved that ultimate pageant dream. Well, as you can imagine, I never became Miss America, but I did compete at Miss Louisiana in 2009. I won the Miss America Community Service award and won non-finalist talent with my classical piece. I tried once more in another system and won back to back international titles before tucking away my pageant shoes. Crazy thing is, after becoming a full fledged pageant coach, I realized that every single day I live my own version of being a Miss America. I get up and travel 6 days a week. I live out of my car, hotels, airports, and convention centers. My bag consists of hairspray, bobby pins, sewing kit, and emergency things. I can fabric tape anything to hold and sew a few stitches in under 30 seconds if I need. I speak at meetings, network with civic leaders, volunteer, and most importantly, I play the part of role model. Honestly, when I was 24, I had no idea what "real-world" life was like and what "real-world" problems there were to face. Though being a Miss America would've given me a lifetime of memories, I would have already been thrown into fame and not really know what a "real-world" life would be like to gain life-experiences.

So fast forward 9 nears after my last competition in 2010, I'm in the opposite role from what I play day to day. Picking clothes for myself. Researching for myself. Planning for myself. Training myself. Setting goals. The whole 9 yards. Now realistically I do not expect to win but what I expect of myself is to work hard, show my girls that an old dog can learn new tricks, and really go after what is meaningful to me. I will show them that through time management and prioritization, you CAN live your own life while also fulfilling your responsibilities. Your year as a titleholder is only as good as YOU make it. I preach this to them every day but now they get to see me leading by example. This journey has become OUR journey, not mine alone. Together, we will learn more about saving the world through recycling, conservation, sustainability and more. Together, we will meet new people and work with new organizations. Together, we will make the difference. Together, we will work towards the crowning moment - just like we do every single day.