Monday, December 28, 2009

The end of 2009

Well, another year has come and gone, and I figured it was only appropriate to do a recap. This year I accomplished many things but I also have worked hard to set myself up for a very successful 2010.

The best parts of the year, in my opinion:

1. Developing my own self-esteem program and presented it to over 1,000 area Girl Scouts. I met some of the most inspiring young ladies I have ever known and fine-tuned my public speaking.

2. Working harder than anything to get to Miss Virginia. It was truly my 100% best effort this year. I worked out at 5:30 in the morning with my trainer, drove 7 hours each week to practice my talent, and marketed myself to the best of my ability, raising over $600 for my state wardrobe. I stuck with it through many times I felt like I wasn't good enough. My proudest moment? Feeling relieved and not devastated when I didn't make the top ten. I was so proud that I was completely ME the whole week. I even said in my interview that whoever won should at least win being themselves because it would be hard to maintain a false persona for a year. So, if I wasn't the best for the job, I went away happy knowing that I'm confident in who I am, swimsuit body or not.

3. Somehow making the best of a terrible research project last Spring.

4. Meeting John, now my boyfriend, and all of the interesting experiences we've had over the last year exploring Virginia.

5. Making more of an effort to keep up with college friends.

6. Moving out of an apartment and into a beautiful house.

7. Eating much healthier, losing four dress sizes prior to June.

Things I'm looking forward to next year?

1. New car

2. PhD acceptance letters

3. Hopefully being chosen to travel to London to represent Girl Scouts at a national conference.

4. Presenting my own research at a conference in Roanoke in April.

5. Moving to Maryland with John.

6. Exercising for my own health and not some sick perceived version of an ideal woman. Not skipping meals.

Happy New Year, all!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Food Thing

In the spirit of it being near the end of the year, I've decided to admit something about myself in the hopes that maybe I'll do better next year and to see if there are any other crazies out there like me.

If you're curious about what my boyfriend and I fight about the most, you'd be surprised. Although we rarely fight, there has been one subject that has come up before: food.

Now, I admit: I'm the weird one here. I'm possessive about my food in a way that only Depression-era survivors should be. It's like in the back of my mind I'm terrified it's going to run out. And sometimes, I take that out on John.

I stick to a fierce budget in the grocery store. That means that things are always great later on- bills are paid, gas tanks are full, heat remains on. And I admit, there's always a little cushion each month left over, but inevitably there comes up things that you forgot about- oil changes, prescriptions, etc that suck up the extra money.

I am also a pro at the grocery store. my mom used to joke that you could ask the price of milk and I'd know the price at every store in town. That's fairly true. I keep an eye on prices everywhere. I shop at Kroger when we need to build up the gas prices and pick up produce, and stick to Food Lion when we're on a budget.

Now I should point out that there's never been a time in my life I went without food (surely, the negative nancies who always made fun of me for being "fat" in pageant land are laughing now). We always had plenty of food as kids. Maybe it stems from having three siblings and pets who were always stealing your stash. I remember in particular a bag of candy hearts I got as a gift. I returned to the house a few hours later to only find the empty bag.

So what is it about me that makes me act this way? I guess part of me looks forward to special treats like candy hearts and then feels devastated to discover my special treat isn't there.

This week, it was hot chocolate. I'll be spending a total of four hours watching other people take exams this week and I thought it would be nice to sit there with my mug of hot chocolate. I write to you two days after my purchase of a ten-packet box. It is now empty.

Now, this isn't something that's that expensive. but it's just irritating. I don't have time for another trip to the grocery. Plus, someone stole my identity last week and I don't have a debit card since the stolen number card has been canceled. So I only have a few dollars on hand. So, it's a huge pain to get back into the grocery!

Some might say that if this is my biggest issue, I don't have much to worry about. But in the spirit of a new year approaching, i'm acknowledging my weakness. What's yours?

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I wanted to say thank you to the people who left comments and emailed me about my decision not to compete any more. I appreciate it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An Important Update

An Update:

A long-needed update for my blog readers:

I have elected to not participate any longer in pageants through the Miss America Organization. At this time, I’m considering this my “retirement” from pageants.

When I was 16 years old, a friend dared me to enter a beauty pageant. What followed was a 7-year experience that truly developed me into the person I am today. When I started competing, I had no self-confidence, I was terrified of speaking in front of people, and I walked hunched over because I hated my height.

Only a few people even remember that Laura- close friends who were present those many years ago when I had no self-esteem. I write to you now a month before my 24th birthday as a teaching assistant, accomplished public speaker, and a confident future PhD.

There were many reasons that brought me to this decision, but at the root of my choice is the fact that I no longer have the desire to be Miss Virginia. My life will go on, and in a direction I look forward to, without that crown, sash, and experience. I truly made the most of both of my local titles, and my journey to the Miss Virginia pageant both times was full of challenges I overcame and hard work. I had a great time and grew so much from this program.

That said, I don’t believe that I have much more to gain from this program. I feel like it’s a curve that eventually hits diminishing marginal returns- while I gained self-confidence at the beginning, it started to fade away at the end. My body is a size ten. I’m 5’11 and 160 pounds- and that’s fine with me. I’m not going to work out three hours a day any more, not going to compromise my health by eating like a bird, and I’m not going to feel bad about the fact that I will never have the body type of many of the girls competing.

This is just no longer my dream. While I really believed in Miss Virginia and my ability to do a great job at it, I just don’t have the overwhelming desire inside me to put the time, work, and immense amount of money it takes to even get to Roanoke again. Last year, my directors and I put in hours and hours of preparation, work, shopping, and packing. I am immensely grateful that for both years, I had people behind me that helped me and believed I could do it. Having been a runner up myself many times, it’s not fair to potentially rob another girl of her dream just for the sake of competing one more time.

At the end of the day, it’s not Laura to be up on stage teetering around in heels trying to get the approval of seven random people about my body or my twenty years of tap dancing. I’m one semester away from getting my master’s, and I’ve just finished my PhD applications. I’m more excited about THAT even though it requires even more hard work. When I think about the potential of heading back to Roanoke, the overwhelming feeling is dread- waking up at 4 AM to hit the gym then a day full of classes, driving 7 hours each week to practice my dance, and battling my body, cutting out medications that help me deal with migraines because they make me gain ten pounds, and then questioning who I am if I get “rejected” for the position.

When I started pageants in 2002, I did them once a year with American Coed Pageants. I always enjoyed this pageant because they celebrated who each girl was and didn’t make anyone feel fat or ugly. I competed at their national pageant in 2006, and I wanted to end where I started- so I returned there this Thanksgiving to compete one more time, where I was named 1st runner up in talent and 4th runner up overall. If I ever do another pageant again, it would be this one. I had a great time, enjoyed seeing old friends, and felt like the old Laura.

I’ve met so many wonderful friends through this program and will always hold those relationships close to me.

So, I’m moving on positively and not taking for granted all the special experiences I had as a titleholder and will use that community service to continue working with young women and people interested in tap dancing.

With all this being said, I’m not sure what the future of this blog is. I may not continue writing, I may continue. I’m not sure. But for now, I’m going to take some much needed time off to focus on my research, school, and my life as “Laura” and not as any particular titleholder.

Best of luck to all the women planning to continue to compete.