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I’m a planner.  I admit it.  I like to plan things.  I like to know exactly when and where things are going to take place.  I like to know exactly what I will need and exactly what to expect once I’m there.  I find it comforting.  If you know me, you’ve maybe seen hints of this before.  Maybe you’ve caught a glimpse of my traditional paper planning calendar that I have in addition to the online calendar I share with Bill.  I took a look at my previous calendar - last September 1st I had 227 days until preliminary swimsuit competition at the 2015 Mrs. Colorado America pageant.  On February 9th I had 67.  You get the idea.  In front of my treadmill I have a place to hang what I like to call my “Countdown Calendar”.  It’s a place on the wall next to the television (more on that later) where I have numbers printed in descending order on pages that get ripped off each day.  You know, kind of like those page-a day calendars with cute kitten pictures or a quote of the day.  Mine isn’t that fancy.  It’s literally numbers.  Printed on pink paper because I like pink.  I would show you my current one, but as of right now I don’t know what number to start my countdown with so I’m just waiting……the spot on my wall is just waiting.  

The paper version of my calendar.  As you can see we went up to Breckenridge, I had the Junior League of Denver Holiday Mart, my son Christopher had a birthday and my sweet cat Spike died on the 14th.  As of the end of the month I had 136 days left in my countdown!

The paper version of my calendar.  As you can see we went up to Breckenridge, I had the Junior League of Denver Holiday Mart, my son Christopher had a birthday and my sweet cat Spike died on the 14th.  As of the end of the month I had 136 days left in my countdown!

The day after I won Mrs. Colorado America I got the calendar out again to put in my new countdown.  I wasn’t quite sure what to put though because I wasn’t sure when the preliminary competition for Mrs. America would be.  The finals were scheduled for September 26th, but I didn’t know anything other than that.  So I held off.  Did I mention I’m a planner?  I like a visual reminder of my goals.  I like deadlines.  Deadlines are good.

As so many other things in life, plans have changed and the original plan to hold the Mrs. America Pageant in conjunction with the Mrs. Russia pageant fell through.  They were held together twenty-five years ago and the idea was to celebrate that milestone by doing it again, which would have been a really neat experience for all of us.  Unfortunately those plans had to change, and ever since the Mrs. America staff have been hard at work planning all of the logistics that go into making a pageant of this magnitude happen - without the benefit and luxury of a lot of time to do it.  So while we contestants continue to wait anxiously, we’re preparing.  I’m preparing…..without the benefit of my trusty countdown calendar!!

Preparing for the Mrs. America Pageant is different from preparing for the state pageant.  Preparing for Mrs. Colorado America I relied on mostly my opinion.  I have a few close and trusted confidants who were instrumental in helping me make decisions and prepare, but in the end it all came down to me.  Since I had competed the year before I really felt like I had a clear idea of exactly what I needed.  

Mrs. America is different.  I’ve never been so I don’t know first-hand what I’ll need, what exactly to expect or if I’m heading in the right direction.  That’s where Emily, Shalon, Nicki and my fellow sister queens have been invaluable.  They’ve been there, seen it, done it and are willing to share what they know with me.  We bounce ideas off each other and eventually there’s the one that finally everyone says, “Yes!  THAT’S it.  That’s perfect!”

For those of you who have competed in the Mrs. Colorado America pageant before you know what the paperwork is like.  It’s thorough, but not intimidating.  For Mrs. America multiply that by about ten!  At first it was overwhelming.  I simply looked at it probably six times before I even attempted to start formulating my responses.  Once I got started though, things started to flow and I’m just about done.  It was actually kind of fun to really stop and think about what I felt about the issues raised by some of the questions and how to share those opinions.

Keeping myself in shape physically for the swimsuit competition has changed a bit as well.  My treadmill and I still have our ongoing love/hate relationship.  I don’t always love jumping on there, but I do it.  Actually, the treadmill and I have always be well acquainted, and that has nothing to do with putting on a swimsuit on a stage - it has to do with being healthy and wanting to live as long as I possibly can.  What has always helped me keep the two of us familiar with each other is the television on the wall just to the right of the calendar.  I admit it, I have some addictions: Project Runway, Judge Judy and The Real Housewives of Orange County.  Ok fine, Atlanta too.  Project Runway just leaves me in awe of what the designers are able to create in such a short amount of time - frankly there’s no shame in that one.  I love Judge Judy.  I mean seriously, if I could have her over to my house for dinner I would.  Not embarrassed by that one either.  Now the Real Housewives……I know.  You don’t even have to say it, but I watch anyway.  It’s mindless and entertaining and for some reason I watch.  Season after season.  Since I like these shows (albeit for varying reasons) I use them to get myself onto the treadmill.  Sometimes it doesn’t take much to get me there, but then there are those days that I’m pretty sure that my recorded shows are the only. Reason. I’m. There.  That’s the place I allow myself to watch them.  No treadmill, no reality show.  It may not be pretty, but it works!  And by the time I’m done I’m glad I was there.

I’ve also had the (sometimes painful) pleasure of working with one of our pageant sponsors, Heather Shay and her handsome husband Jesse at M2Core+ in Parker.  The best way I can explain the workout is Pilates on steroids.  It’s the Lagree Method and while it looks deceivingly low-key, it’s not.  It has made me find and use muscles I vaguely became aware of back in my Anatomy & Physiology class in college.  Until I started working with Heather they were theoretical,  I didn’t know I actually HAD them and that they could get so sore.  Sore in a good way though - you know, the kind of sore that makes you proud of the workout you had and makes you realize your body is stronger than you realized.  That, combined with the treadmill and optimum nutrition are what will have me ready to take on swimsuit competition at Mrs. America.  

It looks innocent enough......but it's surprisingly tough.  And awesome.

It looks innocent enough......but it's surprisingly tough.  And awesome.

Each state contestant is also tasked with finding or creating a costume to represent something about her state for the pageant.  I’ve gone through countless ideas for my state costume.  Some were funny (think giant, sparkly, marijuana leaf cape), some obscure (who knew….?) and some less unusual.  I guess this was kind of like when people say they fell in love with the first wedding gown they tried on - they just KNEW it was the one.  It was kind of the same thing here.  I went back to the first idea - I just KNEW it was the one.  Although the concept of the costume has evolved, the idea has remained.  You’ll have to wait to see to though, I’m not giving any hints.  Ok one hint, I am NOT a giant, sparkly marijuana leaf.

The part of competition that has been the most exciting and maybe the most stressful has been deciding what gown I will wear.  I thought the number of ideas for a state costume seemed like a lot, but it pales in comparison to how many different gown ideas I’ve had.  I have spent countless hours looking at pictures on my computer.  I have a file on there devoted specifically to gowns I like.  Maybe the neckline of one, the silhouettes of others, color of these, beading of this one and just this entire gown.  And this entire gown.  And this one.  There’s a part of me that wishes we had two evening gown competitions so I could have at least two.  In the end, the color, design, fabric and detail were a hit with all of us (thank you Emily and Shalon for your patience as I have gone back and forth a million times throughout this process with them) and the gown itself is close to reality.  The dear friend of mine tasked with making this gown spent so much time making suggestions about small changes to details and searched high and low for the fabric we needed for it.  At one point I started to think he may not find exactly what we were looking for.  And then he did.  I can’t wait to see it, feel it and try it on.  As tempted as I am to spill the beans about it, I just can’t.  I love a good surprise so y’all will just have to wait.  

This is a  tiny  example of the gown pictures I have saved on my computer.  It's seriously out of control!

This is a tiny example of the gown pictures I have saved on my computer.  It's seriously out of control!

As we wait for the big announcement from Mrs. America about when and where this year’s pageant will be, I find myself increasingly excited.  My fellow state contestants and I have a group on Facebook that has allowed us to get to know each other quite a bit.  It has been fun to learn about each other and several of us have had the chance to meet a fellow contestant or two even before we get to Mrs. America.  I can’t wait.  Something tells me this is going to be one of the most incredible experiences of my adult life!