A Has-Been Beauty Queen

This past week, my social media news feed was flooded with posts from friends declaring both their pride and disappointment after weeks of competition at both Miss SC and Miss NC. Oh how I remember those days. But fortunately, I didn’t live through that experience during the dagvl-crown_24664646841_oys of instant access and social media.

My friends and family never had the chance to post (for all the world to see) how proud they were of me or how disappointed they were that I didn’t win the state title. My committee couldn’t publicly post how frustrated they were with the system (right or wrong) or how understanding they were about the outcome over which they had no control.

Everything about the process was different then. But the outcome is the same.

I never won Miss South Carolina. To this day, there are people who still think I did.  But they obviously didn’t live through the excruciating pain I suffered for weeks after the state pageant. They weren’t the ones picking me up off the floor that was a result of one disappointment after another. You see, those people who still think that only know me now as a struggling (but sometimes successful) businesswoman, community leader, public servant and – yes – a “has been beauty queen.”

Those people who know me now (versus then) see videos and photos and still believe I was Miss SC (I’ve learned that saying to them “no I never actually won” doesn’t really work…they think I’m just being modest). But to be fair, my resume today (which in addition to my awards and community service also includes many years as an executive director of three local Miss America preliminaries and volunteer of the year for the Miss NC Pageant) certainly looks like I COULD have been Miss SC. Then you add to that the fact that I still talk about the experience on a regular basis and in a positive light…

So that’s the funny part about my story. When people introduce me today as a “former Miss SC” (it happens more often that you might think), I smile politely and say “not exactly” – and then have to explain that even though I came close a few times, I never actually won the title. There are those who are surprised and those who are flabbergasted (in a complimentary kind of  way, of course.) I am, however, honored to still be friends with the young ladies who DID win Miss SC when I competed. I am so proud to call them friends and see all they accomplished both during and after their year of service.

The only thing that really matters is this…everyone accepts me for who I am…former Miss SC or not. And here we are 20-something years later (but who’s counting?) still discussing my participation in an organization that I love, respect and more importantly, still support as one of the best and most fulfilling things of my life.

I’d be lying if I said I never look back and wonder “what if” I had actually won Miss SC and how my life would have been different (but that’s for another post – stay tuned). But mostly I just smile and thank God for the opportunity to be just another “has been beauty queen” who has been given amazing opportunities to inspire, educate, motivate and serve. In spite of not being given a state crown and a microphone to share my passion.

Hey maybe that ended up working out okay for me after all…


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Wisdom from a Cocktail Napkin

“No one changed the world by staying put.”

I don’t know who originally coined that phrase, but I saw it over the weekend on a napkin under my Ginger Ale on a Delta flight from Pittsburgh to Atlanta. Great thought from a company that wants you to travel more, right?

But that quote isn’t just about traveling and seeing the world. It’s about what you do when you get there.

Seeing the world outside of our own environment opens our eyes to new cultures, foods, fashions and beliefs. But it also opens doors to new opportunities to learn and serve.

I’ve been fortunate to visit some amazing parts of the world the past few years, but there are many othe2017-04-20 09.54.47rs still on my “bucket list.”  I admit some are for pure pleasure – Hawaii, Greece, Italy…but others are because I believe one person can change the world by NOT staying put. One day, I’d like to help bring clean water to Ghana with my friend Walter Hughes. One day, I’d like to administer polio vaccines to children in India with my friend Nancy Barbee. One day…

But until then, I will find ways to bring about change in my little corner of the world. To do this, I can’t stay put. And that doesn’t necessarily mean travel. It means being willing to do for others, and to give back more than you receive. It means living every day in “service above self” as we say in Rotary.

It means being a good friend, aunt, daughter, sister, mentor, employee, boss, neighbor or volunteer. By refusing to “stay put,” I can change the world. So can you, if you’re willing.

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Today is the day…

Today is the day I’ve been both preparing for and dreading. I’d like to say this is why you haven’t heard from me in a few weeks, but that wouldn’t be true. The reality is I just got busy – traveling, speaking, working, even a vacation thrown in there. Basically I got busy with life and I let my writing (blogs, emails, everything) move farther down on my “to do” list.

(Weren’t you guys supposed to be holding me accountable on that??)

But yesterday, I spent some time on a plane returning from a great trip to West Virginia where I spoke to a group of Rotarians at their district conference. My job was to motivate them to “find your passion and make it your purpose.” My intent was to renew their enthusiasm for “service above self.” I think I accomplished that goal.

But more importantly, they did the same for me. They renewed my enthusiasm. They motivated me to write. They stirred something inside of me that made me want to create again. They reminded me of MY purpose.

But back to today…Without sharing all the details yet (I’d prefer to wait and see how it turns out), just know that this is “one of those days” that you know is coming but don’t look forward to. I’d appreciate your positive thoughts and prayers, and I promise to share more soon.

2017-04-20 15.02.40I don’t write this message to instill fear or concern, or to elicit sympathy, but rather to remind you that we all face issues bigger than ourselves. Just because my life looks “glamorous” (I’ve heard it called that!) and fun in pictures or on social media, I have bad days same as you. I pull the covers back over my head and pretend my problems don’t exist. (For me, that also means I fail to put my pen on paper and I tell myself it will be ok.)

But some days, like today, I am reminded of both my passion and my purpose. And I’m reminded of friends like you all over the world who inspire me to do more, to be more and to give more.

So for that I thank you. I pray I can do the same for you.

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That Ben Franklin guy may not have been the brightest bulb in the box…

Ben Franklin said “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Wait…why not do both?  As women…heck let’s be honest…this trait isn’t limited to the female species….as HUMANS, we constantly think in terms of limitations when it comes to our future.
“I’ll never get that promotion because she has worked here longer than me.”
“He would never be interested in me because I’m not pretty (tall/smart/old/young) enough.”
“Why should I start a blog? No one cares what I have to say.”

But what if we change our way of thinking and concentrate on expectations instead of limitations?
“If I work harder and prove my worth, I can ask for the raise I deserve.”
“Everyone deserves a second chance, including me.”
“Someone has to win the lottery, why not me?”

Okay so maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch…but my point is this. You never know what you are capable of accomplishing until you set your mind to it. So what if you fail? That’s not how you’ll be remembered. America wasn’t built on success stories – it was built on a series of failures. By people who never gave up. By people just like me. And just like you.

So in your wildest dreams, if you thought in terms of expectations instead of limitations, what would you accomplish next? #FromPassionToPurpose

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Patience (part 2)…

Most of you already know patience isn’t really my best virtue. I’ll admit it. I’ve even written about it and some of you may remember it was my “new month resolution” for February. But for the past two months, I’ve definitely been tested in this area.

I’ve been praying very specifically for an answer to a challenge in my life. So specifically, in fact, that I asked (no…I begged…I’ll admit it!) God for a resolution “during the month of February.” (Probably not the best way to work on that quality this past month…)

Well as you know, February has come and gone. Suffice it to say, I didn’t get the answer I hoped for. But w2015-06-26-092214_19318299428_ohat I realized is that it’s not my timetable – it is His – and I have to accept that and never lose faith. But the good news is I was faithful in my prayers and desires. So I think that makes my resolution successful!

I have learned that not getting an answer certainly doesn’t mean God isn’t listening to me. I know I’ve often questioned that – I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that. Nor does it mean my prayers are unanswered or wasted. It means I must have patience, because everything is difficult before it is easy. I’m obviously in that “difficult” phase still.

But I am strong. (I promise I won’t go all “hear me roar” or anything.) I am strong and I am faithful. And maybe, just maybe, the answer came in February, but I don’t even know it yet.

So on to my “new month resolution” for March… any suggestions?

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