Thursday, April 16, 2015

Back at it...

I'll very quickly apologize for taking nearly six months to update and blame it on my career change:  My last post in October disclaimed that I wouldn't be posting again until after November, and then in December I resigned from my teaching position in order to return to school and become a veterinary technician while also focusing more fully on teaching ZUMBA fitness and planning events and selling travel with Sail Away Events & Travel.  Countless friends and family were shocked but those close to me know I've always had a heart for animal health and welfare and have kept many varied pets over the years, so this has been quite a natural transition for me.  Then, somewhere in the middle of it all, Ray and I decided I would compete for Mrs. Pennsylvania America on April 26th.  It's t-minus nine days to the pageant and I am steadily making progress toward feeling fully prepared.  I have had a wonderful time preparing this time around and like I stated in a recent Facebook post which I shared from fellow contestant Teena Handline, will be competing against no one but myself, especially since my life has changed so drastically in such a short amount of time.

Other than the career change, here is an as-brief-as-I-can-make-it timeline of the last few months:

...took us to Yankee Stadium for the 150th Lehigh-Lafayette game and to Negril, Jamaica for a half-familiarization/half-leisure trip to Couples Swept Away.  Ray and I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for twelve the day before we left, so we were blessed enough to enjoy time with family in addtion to getting away.

...involved traditional holiday preparations.  We cooked again and had a truly joyous Christmas and New Year's.

...saw the very sad passing of my grandfather-in-law (he was 90!) and my mother-in-law's ensuing need to take care of funeral arrangements and the estate.  This meant I spent some of my newfound time off helping her out with her daycare so she could meet with family and lawyers.  While it was a sad time, celebrating his very active life right through his 90th year made for some happy memories with family.

In February,
...we raised over $5000 as a part of Team ZUMBA Love for the Philly Cupid Undie Run benefiting the Children's Tumor Foundation.  I was also assigned a new Wish Kid for Make-a-Wish and participated as a ZUMBA instructor in the 2015 Fight for Sam, for which we raised over $30,000 (matched by a generous business owner for a total of over $60,000) for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley.  Finally, I brought home a mini lop-eared bunny to join our zoo because I always wanted one and it reminded me of my childhood stuffed bunny that still sits next to my pillow at night.

...was a little work in the first half while my in-laws went to Florida and straight-up pageant prep mode in the second half with some fun activities in between.  I turned 33 (oh my) on March 4th and my husband brought home a new German Shorthair puppy by the end of the week who we named Maggie.  My aunt/Godmother announced her candidacy for Lehigh County Commissioner at a Trunk Show my cousin (her daughter) organized while visiting from North Carolina.  The show spread awareness of the campaign and benefitted animal rescues throughout the Lehigh Valley.  I was assigned another Wish Kid so that I have two going at the same time right now, and I spent a weekend in Manhattan with my big sister from Chi Omega, Shira, who I hadn't seen for seven years!  It was a deliriously happy reunion and we got some much-needed catching up accomplished while spending time in my favorite city in the world.

April (shoot, that's now!)
...has involved more pageant prep, including finalizing headshots, ad pages, re-touching my permanent make-up and the healing involved in that, skin care, clean-eating, amping up the workouts, etc. etc.  I got to spend another day in Manhattan compliments of my aunt's Christmas gift to us, this time with my in-laws and Ray.  We saw Finding Neverland and enjoyed lunch in Little Italy, which is no small task for someone trying to eat clean during pageant prep mode!  Nonetheless, the show was absolutely phenomenal and I cried during every scene for one reason/emotion or another.  I also met Lynn Cohen, who played Magda in Sex and the City and Mags in Hunger Games:  Catching Fire.  She was gracious enough to take a selfie with me and I was utterly starstruck between that and watching Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Frasier) and Matthew Morrison (Glee) perform.  The next day I went to Harrisburg for a Day of Action for Women's Health, meeting with Representative Staats himself and Senator Mensch's Chief of Staff to lobby for bills that are a part of the Women's Health Agenda, including those addressing pay equity and workplace accommodations for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

So that's it!  I probably won't post again until well after the competition, when I will have had some time to reflect on the experience and evaluate my personal successes and areas for improvement.  I'm looking forward to a beautiful experience, and am eager to share in the journey with my fellow contestants!


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