Monday, November 24, 2014

Debate Season is Finally Here!

I am so excited for another debate season! Each year when the new season starts, I remember back to when I began my first ever year as a debater. I can feel how terrified I was and how emotional I felt learning to speak out loud. I was so afraid when I would think about how my voice would be the only one everyone would hear in the room. But then, just like every other student I now watch as a judge, I feel the change. I can remember feeling like I was learning something new... confidence. All of the sudden I could hardly wait to present my case. My teammates and coaches supported me to change into the person I was all along and by the end of the year, I was excited to be given opportunities to speak. 

Debate programs, coaches, and students continue to impress me every year and I can't wait to be a part of another fantastic season. My favorite moments are watching the growth of the students from the beginning of the year to their skill development to the end of the year. It's truly inspiring to watch a student develop courage and come out of their shell just like I did. I am so honored to be a part of so many stories similar to my own and I want to invite you to help make a difference too!
The free online certification test to become a speech and debate judge in North Dakota opened on November 3rd. It's open to anyone who is interested and you don't have to be a former competitor to judge. It's a simple test and I would love to help anyone who would like to be a judge this season. Judges are paid for their time at the tournament and most tournaments even provide free food in the lounge. Tournaments need judges to run successfully, and a lot of times coaches are asked to judge because there aren't enough, which doesn't give them time to coach. If you are interested in supporting schools in your community and the growth of students as they become confident speakers, then you fit all of the criteria! The following website gives a step-by-step photo guide as to how to get started, but feel free to contact me as well if you are interested! Hope to see you there!

​Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD ​
Miss North Dakota International 2014 

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Few Things Mr. North Dakota International 2014 Learned This Year

The last year has meant many things to Janelle, our kids, and me.  I’m going to write about a few things that I have experienced:

1.     Bobby pins - description:
a.    “A bobbing pin (also known as a bobby pin, or a kirby grip or hair grip in the United Kingdom) is a type of hairpin, usually of metal or plastic, used in coiffure to hold hair in place. It is a small double-pronged hair pin or clip that slides into hair with the prongs open and then the flexible prongs close over the hair to hold it in place. They are typically plain and unobtrusively colored, but some are elaborately decorated or jeweled. Bobbing pins became popular in the 1920s to hold the new bobbed hairstyles.” - Wikipedia
b.    Something for me to see everywhere I go.  I step in the shower, bobby pins.  I get into my car, bobby pins.  In my office, bobby pins.  On the garage floor, bobby pins.  I’m not sure when Janelle purchased all of these bobby pins, perhaps she left them alone for too long and reproduction occurred or more likely Janelle has been purchasing them by the crateful and sneaking them into the house in the cover of darkness.  Instead of the whopping recycling check that I receive weekly by turning in the bobby pins, I should have purchased stock in Newell Rubbermaid, owners of the Goody pins! Thankfully stepping on bobby pins isn’t a painful experience.
2.       Salon Day - description:
a.    A day when Janelle gets pampered by Janelle Finseth, owner of 13th Ave Salon in West Fargo ( 
b.    A day when I’m Mr. Mom and in charge of running the kids to/from school and their various extracurricular activities. Many miles are traveled and I get to listen to the radio only somewhat interrupted by children.
c.     An evening when I need to be on my ‘A’ game and notice and compliment appropriately.  A simple ‘looks good’ will not be sufficient! 
3.     Nationals in Jacksonville, FL - descriptions:
a.    Touristy at its best.  I took Claire and Loren (our two oldest girls) to Florida to see Janelle compete in the pageant. We played tourists and visited St. Augustine which is the oldest city in the US.  It was HOT but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The Pirate Museum as well as Castillo de San Marcos, which is the oldest fort in the United States, were really interesting.  Once the pageant was over, we got to spend time with Janelle and hit the Atlantic Ocean where we all played in the surf and was a nice way to end the vacation.
b.    Proud, but disappointed.  Janelle did amazing and I heard from so many of the other contestants that Janelle was so much fun to be with and how they enjoyed her company (which I’ve known for the past 19 years).  The girls and I were disappointed that Janelle didn’t win, but it’s been nice that our life didn’t get turned upside down with her traveling non-stop for appearances.

Mr. ND International 2014 – Keith Steinberg

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Make more mistakes!

With the 2015 season of the North Dakota International Pageants coming up, I know all of the beautiful contestants are starting to feel the pressure. The discipline is setting in and the intensity is building. But I want to make sure that no one is missing out on the real journey and that you're all still allowing yourselves to be who you are.
So I am hoping this comes as a gift of relief on your journey. I officially give you permission to make more mistakes!

It's so important to set your personal goals and lay out all of your plans as to how you want to change the world, but if you make a mistake, take a deep breath and learn from it. Instead of being hard on yourself, if you need to enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie this thanksgiving, allow yourself to enjoy the moment instead of feeling guilty later. If you need to skip your workout because you have other obligations with your family or your platform, it's ok. Those moments are part of what the judges are hoping to see in you also. If you need a moment to yourself to relax and watch your favorite show instead of practicing your on-stage walk, take that time so you can feel strong and focused later. It's about the action you decide to do and the emotions you allow yourself to have that will tell who you are to the judges. The judges are looking for a healthy, smiling, friendly girl... not a stressed out emotional hot mess. Every part of where you go will shape who you can present yourself as in the interview room and the realistic version of you is who the judges want to see. The real, genuine, imperfect you.
Let loose. Be who you are. Because when you win the crown, you'll be expected to do everything you did and more all over again for the next year as the title holder... and if you haven't learned to forgive yourself when you make a "mistake", it will be a tough year. Imagine lying on a job application and then being asked to do the things you said you could do when you're hired. I absolutely encourage all of the contestants to amp up their discipline to a level that is comfortable, but keep in mind that you will miss out on a lot of the fun along the way if you're too hard on yourself. Remember, it's YOUR journey!

Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD
Miss North Dakota International 2014 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Family Voices of North Dakota Gala

When I met Tammy DeSautel 2 years ago, I knew she was a special person. Without her encouragement and kindness, I would never have signed up for Miss North Dakota International, and I was a complete stranger to her!! Tammy is just one of those women that you just can't help but feel genuine love and kindness from when she is around. So when Tammy asked me if I would help out with the first annual Family Voices of North Dakota Gala, I said yes (before even knowing what I was getting into, but any excuse to see Tammy is worth your time!)
The national website for the Family Voices Organization explains their mission to "keep families at the center of healthcare" with this description. "Family Voices is a national, nonprofit, family-led organization promoting quality health care for all children and youth, particularly those with special health care needs. Working with family leaders and professional partners at the local, state, regional, and national levels since 1992, Family Voices has brought a respected family perspective to improving health care programs and policies and ensuring that health care systems include, listen to, and honor the voices of families." You can find out how you can get involved at
I went into the first time event a little nervous and uncertain, but the energetic, bubbly, and flirtacious Janelle, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014 was already there working the room! You would think she is talking to old close friends by the way that she is able to comfortably talk to strangers and socialize with everyone in the room. That woman just puts on her highest heels and walks longer then someone in crocs ever could! She definitely is the perfect addition to any event that needs a hype-girl!

The evening started out with personal stories and inspiring moments that were so heartwarming. I have to admit, I got a little choked up. Some things that happen behind the scenes that we don't even know about when we are going about our routine are so amazing. It was a great reminder of how many truly beautiful and special things can happen every day to keep hope alive.
I also was asked to be the auctioneer for the live auction portion of the evening! Because I have never done any auctioneering in my life, I was a little nervous, and I found out it's definitely harder then it seems! But the crowd was great and everyone helped cheer me on through my nerves. I had a blast volunteering what I could do to help and I am excited to see this new event grow in our community!
Thank you again for inviting us Tammy! 

Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD 
Miss North Dakota International 2014