Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Invincible: [in-vin-suh-buh] incapable of being conquered, defeated, or subdued.

Hello again!

I have some very exciting news to share!! Just last week I was asked to not only attend, but speak at, the Northern Lights SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) conference at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. While SADD is a very inclusive group, dealing with alcohol, tobacco, and driving, I spoke specifically about the results of a bad driving decision and shared Jared’s story with the audience of 700. I could not have asked to speak to a better group. These kids were so fired up, and were all very receptive to my story. The comfortable, supporting atmosphere truly made me feel like I was reaching my peers. After telling my story I left them with a very matter-of-fact thought that I would like to share with you all…

 “You know as teenagers we seem to have this urge to want to learn lessons on our own, but please don’t learn this lesson the hard way. Take Jared’s story and learn from it. It may seem like a small decision to just hop in someone’s car, but it could mean the difference of you being alive tomorrow. Too many times we think we are invincible, that nothing bad can touch us.  Well guess what. Statistics prove that statement wrong. Statistics show that it could happen to us tomorrow, it could happen to us today.” 

After concluding with this final statement, that we are not invincible, there was an eerie silence that filled the room shortly before the round of applause. This presence of silence was exactly what I wanted to hear, more so than the applause; the silence proved to me that I had made them think.

I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, One Tree Hill. Lucas said “Sometimes when you're young you think nothing can hurt you. It's like being invincible. Your whole life is ahead of you and you have big plans. Big Plans. But as you get older you realize it's not always that easy. It's not until the end of your life that you realize how the plans you made where simply plans. Because at the end when you're looking back instead of forward you want to believe you made the most of what life gave you. You want to believe you're leaving something good behind. You want it all to have mattered”

Make EVERY day matter.
Miss Teen ND International 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Everything Happens for a Reason

Spring break was this past week and I had a great time with my family.  My family, minus my mom, went down to the cities to do some shopping for a couple days. It is so hard not having my mom be able to travel, because I know that she wants to go so bad. It would be way too hard on her body if she did come with, and we would need extra help. I was talking with my mom before we left, and I was catching her up on everything that I have been doing in school and with the pageant. She was so excited to hear everything. We talked for quite a while and before we knew it, it was getting late and she needed to head back to the nursing home to get ready for bed.

I need to stop for a minute here to explain for those who don’t know why my mom is in a nursing home. When I was a sophomore in high school my mom had to move into our local nursing home because we were no longer able to provide her with the help that she needed. Coming from a small community, it is hard to find 24 hour care that you can afford. My family is so blessed because our nursing home is only a house away, so my mom is able to drive her wheelchair home. It is nice that she is still able to get home and has that option.

So…..moving on with my story…..As I was saying goodbye to my mom, she started to have the look on her face when she is about to cry. I immediately asked her what was wrong, because I cannot stand to see my mom cry. When she cries it tears me to pieces. As she was fighting back the tears, she told me that she wished she could help me with everything that I am doing. I wanted to start crying myself, because as her daughter I know she would do anything to help me out in any way she could. I told her that she is helping me out in more ways than she thinks, because she is my supporter through all of this. I told her that without her I wouldn’t be able to get through my days. I could tell that it made her feel better, but it is still hard every day to do things without her that she wishes she could do. I think that the hardest thing of all in this next year will be the fact that she will not be able to watch me compete in Chicago. I know that it is really going to tear her up, because I know she would do anything to watch me compete for the title of Miss International. It will just make me stronger, knowing that I am doing it for her.

On the brighter side of things, I did have a great time shopping in Mall of America and spending time with my dad and siblings.  We had no idea that a collection of Princess Diana’s things were going to be on display at the mall. My sister was looking at something online and saw it the night before we went and she and I flipped. Princess Diana has always been a person we, along with my mom, have looked up to in life. I did a huge project on her in high school and I have read many books about her life. We of course went to it, and it was jaw dropping. The most magnificent thing that we got to see was her wedding dress! It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a look at all her stuff and it really made my year. It was hard to tell my mom that we got to see a lot of her stuff, because my mom loved her and of course would have loved to see it as well.

My advice this week is to remember that life is too short, take chances and don’t regret anything you do because “everything happens for a reason….just believe”! This is my favorite quote and I have lived by this quote for a very long time. It really gets me through tough times, along with faith, when I don’t understand at that exact moment why it is happening. I know God has a plan for me so I trust in Him to let things happen the way they do.

With Love,
Erica Lemna
Miss North Dakota International 2012

Parent Empowerment

As a Speech Language Pathologist there is no greater satisfaction than parents who understand the power they hold in their hands as they search for any and all answers that can benefit their child. These parents understand they are gatekeepers for their children as they consider life changing options for their child’s future. These are parents who take on the responsibility and strive to make their child’s world a better place. This is what “Parent Empowerment” is all about.

A few examples of parent empowerment are:
·         Parents who are involved in their child’s life through personal interactions.
·         Parents who ask for help when they see issues, so their child can be provided the tools necessary to make their life as complete as possible.
·         Parents who strive to do the very best for their children despite the challenges their child may face.
·         Parents who seek out any and all resources to build positive futures for their children.

A parent becomes “empowered” when they educate themselves so they are armed with the knowledge and information in order to open doors and make a difference in their child’s life.

The opposite of being empowered is a parent who elects to not seek options or become educated in what choices may be available. Sadly, a parent who chooses to not empower themselves is penalizing the child more than anyone. It is not the parents, it is not the professionals….it is the child who suffers. I can’t think of a greater gift than making a difference in a child’s life through parental support and positive role models. My commitment as Mrs. North Dakota International 2012 is to continue using my passion and experience to promote education and advocacy for speech and language development and the positive impact parent involvement has in children’s lives.

 Ashley Voigt
Mrs. ND International 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Winter Everybody!

Snow [snoh] noun: formed directly from the freezing of the water vapor in the air(aka the white stuff)

Happy winter everybody!!

Crazy how now, two months after Christmas, Mother Nature has finally decided to grace us with a couple feet of snow. I just hope everybody else is enjoying it as much as my brothers are. I came home last night to find an intricate fort standing where I last remembered my front yard to be. At least some people are enjoying it! Unfortunately with these snowy conditions comes the scary reality of icy road conditions. It always seems that after those first initial snowflakes fall, the crash reports on the news follow close behind. While many times the roads are to blame, sometimes I can’t help but wish maybe the driver would have taken more precautions. I’m sure you’ve all heard these many times over, however it is better to analyze these tips as a forewarning, rather than as causation after the fact. Simple fixes, like slowing down, allowing extra time to be somewhere, and driving on the defensive are key tips to surviving the winter roads. 

According to the ND department of motor vehicles, “Majority of winter crashes are caused by driving too fast for the conditions.” This is why they suggest having an idea of the road conditions before you go anywhere. By getting an idea ahead of time this will allow you to more accurately determine your estimated travel time. However always assume it will take longer than you think, this way you aren’t caught rushing to arrive somewhere on time. As for the last tip, driving on the defensive, this one is pretty key. Even though YOU may be adjusting your driving style to accommodate conditions, that doesn’t mean that everyone else has. Just be on the lookout for cars sliding through intersections (this is why you slow down). Taking that extra couple of seconds to ensure that the car approaching will be able to stop, could end up benefitting you in the long run.  

I will leave you with a quote, something Tommy Lasorda once said; “Driving is like baseball, it’s the one who gets home safely that counts”

Enjoy the snow and drive safe everybody
Olivia Naylor
Miss Teen ND International 2012

Family Time, Appearances, and More....

I have had such a wonderful month! It has been full of so many opportunities. I went home on February 13th because my town asked me to speak at the Lion’s Club sweetheart event on the 14th. I was so happy to go home, even though it was only for 25 hours. I haven’t been home since the first week in January, and it has been hard not being able to get home to my family. I spent a lot of time with my mom, dad, and two grandmas. I have been working on a project that tells my mom’s story using a video and so when I was home I was looking for pictures of her from the time she was a baby to now. I hope to have it finished soon.  I will be very excited to show everyone! My entire family was invited to the Lion’s Club to hear me speak, and it was a great time. I spoke to the members and their families about how I got started in pageants, my experience winning, and I educated them on my platform and what I am doing this year. After my speech, so many people came up to me and told me how proud they were of me and the things that I was doing. It was such an honor to hear them say that, and it really made me feel great! I am in the process of setting up a date to talk to my school and I even talked with a woman who is going to help me set up a fundraising event in my hometown for ALS.  It was such a great feeling knowing that she was willing to help me raise money for ALS.

On February 17th and 18th, I had an event at the store MODE in Grand Forks. Mary-Sue, one of the co-owners and a former Mrs. North Dakota International, is on the ALS Association board and has a best friend with ALS. She set up this event and I was there helping and hanging out in the store for those two days. Ten percent of all the money that was made those days was going to go to the ALS Association. It was a great event to take part of, and it was a fun time educating people on ALS and what I do. 

I am also currently working with Chelsea Guggisberg, the special events coordinator for the Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota ALS Association.  I have so many dates set up to speak at some ALS kick-off events and participate at ALS walks across the state! I am so excited and honored to be a part of all of them, and I know I will have a great time telling my story. 

                Along with all my Miss North Dakota duties, I have had a crazy month with my duties for school. Nursing school can be very tough sometimes. I wish sometimes there were more minutes in my day. I just had a 30 page nursing process paper due earlier this week and I passed my IV practical exam! I can officially insert IVs now and am very excited. Because of everything that has been going, I haven’t gotten much sleep. I was having a rough time a couple weeks ago and my friend had me watch a youtube video about success and I fell in love with it. One of the quotes that it said is "If you are going to be successful, you have to be willing to give up sleep…because if you go to sleep you might miss the opportunity to be successful.” Even though I am a nursing student and I know how important it is to get sleep, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. This quote put my life into perspective and made me realize that if I want everything I have, a lot of sleep just may not be an option some nights. I am okay with it now; it may be tough some days but everything will pay off in the end. 

Miss North Dakota International
Erica Lemna