Thursday, April 28, 2016

Strong is the New Skinny

There has been many great outcomes and experiences that pageantry has given me. My most changed and impactful life change that pageants has given me is my health and fitness. Two and a half years ago I was eating Taco Bell and hot pockets every other day, and it was a regular thing for me. I have always been active and loved to participate in sports but never put anything in my body that was good for me.
The moment I decided I wanted to participate in my first pageant I was told that I was fat, overweight, too big, ect; and that I would never make it in the world of pageantry. Oh boy, did I ever prove those people wrong, and I went on to win the first pageant I had ever done. You don't need to be a size 0 or a size 2 to ever feel beautiful. Also, size is just a number, and it should not and does not matter; what matters is how you feel about yourself inside and out. I never was or have been overweight but I did put junk into my body all of the time, and I didn't change my eating habits for the people that body shamed me, I changed my eating habits to better myself and create a healthy, energized me. 
Strong IS the new skinny. Never let anyone put you down because of who you are inside and out. This is important to remember when competing, because once you start to compare yourself to others, you have already lost.
     With love and blessings,
Meghanne Quam
Miss Teen North Dakota International 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cope Well to Live Well - The Emotional Journey through Cancer Survivorship

Mrs. North Dakota International 2016 – Ashley Rae Klinger
Cope Well to Live Well - The Emotional Journey through Cancer Survivorship

Hello, everyone! Hope you’re all having a wonderful week! Thank you for taking the time to check out my latest blog post. Today, I’m going to share some information with you about the emotional journey through cancer survivorship, as it relates to my personal platform; The Cope Well Foundation.

For those of you who may not be familiar with my platform, The Cope Well Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the emotional recovery of cancer survivorship. As the emotional affects of cancer are often times overlooked, ignored and even misunderstood, the main mission of Cope Well is to help those who have been affected by cancer ‘cope’ affectively with the emotional challenges of cancer survivorship…while bringing awareness to ALL survivors of ALL cancer types.

As the Founder of The Cope Well Foundation, it was my own unexpected diagnoses of Melanoma Skin Cancer in 2008, and my personal journey with cancer survivorship, that sparked my initial passion to start a foundation that could have a positive and long-lasting impact on those it supported, while also having relevance to my own experience. After thoroughly exploring the emotional affects that cancer had on my life and those close to me, as well as the emotional affects that cancer had on other survivors and their support systems, The Cope Well Foundation eventually came to life and became available to cancer survivors all around the country in 2011.

Through my explorations, I came to many important realizations of cancer survivorship. The most important realization being the true emotional affects that cancer has on so many people, regardless of the type, stage or treatment level of their cancer. More so, there’s a tremendous amount of focus put on physical affects of cancer, but the emotional affects are often times overlooked, ignored and even misunderstood; even though they too can have a long-lasting impact. Also, because not everyone knows how to recognize and effectively cope with the emotional challenges of cancer survivorship, nor do they know where to turn for help due to the lack of emphasis that has been put on the issue, efforts of ‘coping’ with these challenges on their own can be less than successful.

For those reasons, I found it to be critical to provide cancer survivors with an outlet that could help them recognize, cope with and overcome the emotional challenges of their own survivorship journey, so that the emotional affects of their journey would have a positive impact on their lives instead of a negative one. However, because each survivor has their own unique set of survivorship needs and copes differently with the emotional affects, I realized very quickly that it’s important to provide survivors with a variety of coping outlets. Just as there are a variety of options to address the physical affects, there equally needs to be a variety of options to address the emotional affects. Therefore, Cope Well offers three different programs with the hopes of giving cancer survivors the freedom to create their own unique set of resources to help them ‘cope well’ during their survivorship journey. And, each program is completely personalized to their unique experience and survivorship needs.

·       MentorshipThis program aims to build connections and support systems for survivors on a more personal level and in a comfortable and relaxing environment. We do this by connecting survivors with trained Cope Well Mentors and even other survivors. Whether it be a conversation over a cup of coffee or on the phone, or even just having someone by their side while sitting in a movie or out on a walk, there are no limitations to the support that Cope Well’s Mentorship Program can provide to survivors.
·       ActivitiesThis program aims to help alleviate stress associated with cancer survivorship by rejuvenating a survivor's overall emotional well-being! It serves as another coping outlet that gives our members the option to get involved with an activity in the community of their choice. Whether it be going to a movie, taking a pottery class, getting a massage or taking in a sporting event, this program is the perfect way to temporarily free a survivor’s mind of their survivorship worries. 
·       CounselingThis program serves as yet another coping outlet that aims to help survivors cope with the emotional challenges of their cancer survivorship on a deeper level and in a more formal environment. We do this by connecting survivors with Certified Counselors in the community who are equipped with knowledge and have experience pertaining to the overall affects of cancer survivorship. Although not for everyone, counseling can provide survivors with an in-depth look at their survivorship journey and the affects cancer has had throughout the different areas of their lives.

Although not diagnosed, the affects of cancer also have an emotional impact on those who support those in need. Therefore, Cope Well’s services, which are all free, are available to those individuals as well to show how grateful we are for their continued support and commitment.

With more than 28 million people affected by cancer around the world, and close to 11 million new cases that are diagnosed each year, this is an obvious issue and cause that can’t be ignored. Therefore, the core principles of The Cope Well Foundation are based on the emotional needs of those affected by cancer and the challenges they face throughout their survivorship journey. It’s those individuals, and the true difference that Cope Well is making in their lives, that is the continued driving force behind the foundation, and it’s Cope Well’s ultimate goal to help those who have been affected by cancer ‘Cope Well to Live Well’.

In the future, Cope Well would love to add additional focus areas to our organization that would provide our services to those who are going through different types of survivorship journeys, as emotional recovery isn't limited to Cancer alone!

Until next time, continue to ‘make a difference’ and remember, together, we can ‘cope well to live well’.

Ashley Rae Klinger
Mrs. North Dakota International 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fishing with God

Hello World!
 I sure have exciting news I want to share with you! Last Christmas I sent in 3 stories I had written to Insight (Adventist) Magazine and found out that they wanted to print one! I was beyond thrilled but had yet to wait a few months for it to come out. So this last February my story, “Fishing with God” was published on page three!
This last week I have received my personal copies from Pacific Press and also found out that they want to print a second one of the three I sent in! How cool is that! Two stories published in one year! That one will be coming soon but I would like to share with you my short story as it is not able to be found on their website.
I would also like to remind people of all ages to never pass up an opportunity. Amazing things can happen! This was an opportunity that was ran across me just over a year ago and here I am now! It is such a great feeling! So again, never doubt yourself and take the chance!

Taylor Woodruff- Your Miss North Dakota International 2016

Fishing with God
The wind blew mildly with a pinch of coldness that left my cheeks and ears more red than normal. I wore an oversized sweatshirt that reached my ankles and extended far past my wrists that shielded the rest of my body from the cold. Undesired by my mom, my hair loosely flew in my face because I refused to let her put it up. The smell of lake and fish infused into my nose as I held my three foot-long, Scooby-Doo fishing pole—ready to conquer. Perhaps my arms were still too short to cast out, but I knew how to reel in a line like it was something I had been doing all three years of my life.
            Determined to catch a fish, I stood as tall as I could and stared into the lake becoming hypnotized by the waves. Just when I was getting bored of no activity, I was jerked forward by my pole. Startled by the sudden movement, I quickly sat on the sun-warmed rocks, putting my weight against the pull and began reeling in my first fish. My pole bent half over and as my mother saw me desperately trying to reel in, she began to yell, “She’s got a fish! She’s got a fish! Where’s the net?” She frantically searched for the net and came running over. I saw the fish in the water about five feet away.
“Reel’er in, Tator!” I heard my family yell.
I shouted back, “I caught a fish! I got it!”
Worried I would lose grip of my new Scooby-Doo pole, my mother quickly scooped the well-sized White-Bass into the net but by then I was horrified by my mother’s frantic yelling and adrenaline that I began to cry. I no longer wanted to continue to fish. My family gave me high fives to encourage me and the next day when I heard my father telling the guys at the bait shop about my first fish and how proud he was, I could not wait to get back out there again!
            Though I am older now, I can still relate to this story in many ways. Maybe it is not my mother coming to rescue me or me reeling in a white-bass, but that God is here. Every day I wake up and preparing myself for the days challenges—ready to conquer. Perhaps I do not know everything, but I know where my strength comes from like a calf knows its mother.
            The everyday challenges tend to jerk me around but sometimes you just got to plant your feet and pull back to show who is boss, me or the “fish.” There may not always be sun-warmed rocks to support me causing the struggle to really be testing. I find myself on my knees desperately pulling back and afraid of losing grip. I do not want to fight anymore. Just when I think my strength of reeling in is dying, God then steps in with His net relieving me from the stress.
            Do you ever feel as though you are losing grip on life? I know I do, whether it is overwhelming stacks of homework, building relationships, or where to go for college. Things stack up and can feel crazy! I know that I am not strong enough to conquer all these things. But I try. Then whenever God comes running in with His net, I feel a sense of satisfaction. I hear the angels applauding in the background about my acceptance of God’s help.
 Getting older does not get easier I have found out.  The world’s pressure is tight and I feel like I have to be responsible for all the things in my life. The line is on me. But I have come to realize that it is not just on me, but God too. I make the decisions on where I fish, where I cast my line, and how. But I need someone else beside me saying “Reel’er in, Tator!” holding the net in order to have a successful catch.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sadie Jo's Crowning Moment!

How to describe my crowning moment in one word. Unforgettable! 

My mom gave me words of advice for the weekend. She told me to have fun, enjoy making new friends and sharing my platform. She said the weekend would be busy, but it will go so quick and no matter what happens to stay true to who I was. Everytime I went out on stage I gave my mom a hug and kiss and we wished each other good luck. My mom kept saying Sadie Jo show them the amazing girl you are. I guess that is what I did. 

To have my mom and my dad on that stage with me that night was extremely special. When my name was called I was absolutely taken by surprise. When my daddy went to crown me I was kind of worried that he wouldn't know how to put the crown on my head.  He surprised me like he always does and did a great job. When my daddy told me how proud he was of me and I saw the smile on his face that is something I will always remember.  I then looked over at my mom who was smiling and crying. 

I was excited to find out who my sister queens would be and sad at the same time looking at my other Jr. Miss Teen friends wishing we all could of had that crowning moment. After my pageant sisters where crowned we had a lot of pictures to take then headed over to the after party. I have to admit I was really hungry and when I saw the yummy cake I couldn't wait to cut into it and eat a piece. I was congratulated by so many great people that night and heard stories about how the Ronald McDonald House touched lives of those there that night. When I got back to the hotel room I was exhausted and fell asleep with my crown in my head. 

Thank you to the North Dakota International Pageant for giving me that amazing night and so many more to come. 

Love Sadie Jo 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Be Sun Smart!

Mrs. North Dakota International 2016 – Ashley Rae Klinger
Be Sun Smart!

Hello, everyone! As always, I hope you’re all having a fabulous week!

The sun makes us smile and keeps us warm, but we must ‘Be Sun Smart’ and protect our skin on sunny AND cloudy days! As a Melanoma Skin Cancer Survivor, Skin Cancer Awareness and Sun Safety are very important to me, so today I’m going to share some quick and easy tips that can reduce the unhealthy affects of the sun and increase the overall health of our skin.

Melanoma didn't take my life, but it did change the way I live it! Although there are known health benefits of sun exposure, such as Vitamin D, which your skin produces in response to UVB rays, there are also a number of unhealthy affects of sun exposure, such as Skin Cancer.

Through my platform, The Cope Well Foundation, one of the many things we do is bring awareness to the importance of Sun Safety in order to help prevent Skin Cancer. With summer upon us, I'm going to start sharing some quick and easy ‘Be Sun Smart’ Tips with you. These tips will help you be more Sun Safe and will teach you how to protect yourself from the unhealthy affects of Sun Exposure. So, to kick it off, here is Tip #1!

Be Sun Smart Tip #1: This time of year is a popular travel month to warm and sunny destinations, especially for those of us who live in cold and snowy places. Although many of those travelers will seek to get a tan while on vacation, a large number of them will want the look of a tan BEFORE they actually leave. For those travelers, I encourage you to stay out of the tanning beds and find alternate, healthier ways to get the look of a tan without the damaging affects to your skin. Some alternatives include tanning lotions or spray tans. Don’t worry! It isn’t as scary or as difficult as Ross from Friends makes it out to be!

Once you’re on vacation, it’s okay to catch some rays and get a healthy glow. However it’s important to do it in moderation and in a safe way. So, when you find yourself out in the sun, especially for long periods of time, follow Tip #2!

Be Sun Smart Tip #2: Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide! It’s a tongue twister, but this quick and easy catch phrase reminds people of the 5 key ways they can protect themselves and their children from UV radiation:

·       Slip on a Shirt!
·       Slop on Sunscreen!
·       Slap on a Hat!
·       Seek the Shade!
·       Slide on Sunglasses to Protect Your Eyes and Sensitive Skin around Them!

Just like me, you don’t have to stop spending time outdoors. In fact, I spend as much time outside as possible, especially during our Summer months. As mentioned earlier, there are known health benefits of sun exposure, so I’m not saying we can’t get a tan. We simply need to be a little more aware of the unhealthy affects of Sun Exposure when we’re outside and implement a few ‘Be Sun Smart’ changes that can moderate the amount of Sun Exposure we get, which will have a huge impact on the overall health of our skin.

For more quick and easy Sun Safety Tips, visit my Mrs. North Dakota International Facebook page today! In my ‘Be Sun Smart’ Tip #3, I’ll share with you how to select the right Sunscreen! Believe me, they’re not all the same!!!

Until next time, continue to make a difference!

Ashley Rae Klinger

“Making a difference in the lives of others isn’t my hobby, it’s my lifestyle.” ~ Ashley Rae Klinger

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Support System

I think one of the most important things about holding a title or even competing in a pageant is having a strong support system. 

This journey wouldn’t be possible without the support and help of my mother. She really has been there to help pick out dresses and gowns, to fundraise, to travel with, keep me motivated, and just to remind me how truly proud she is of me. My mother and I have had such a special time together traveling and shopping and even fundraising together that it has brought us much closer! Take advantage of this time with your parents and make it memorable because having a pageant parent is so much fun!

Not only having your parents support and love through such a journey is important, but so is having supportive and understanding friends. I have been very grateful for the kind of friends I have been blessed with as they have been the best cheerleaders through this journey! My friends will attend pageant things whether it is their “thing” or not but they do it because they know how important these things are to me. They have traveled the distance, payed the money,and are always on top of helping me do things. I want to especially give a shout-out to my dear friend Jenny, who has attended both pageants I have competed in, traveled the three hours to both, and has helped my mother and I fundraise! She truly has been a fabulous friend through this time!

Having good friends during a title is very important. You need the support from the people you care about because things can get pretty crazy at times. They also can helps keep you somewhat sane! During those crazy times, having understanding friends is just as important as having supportive friends. As you prepare for nationals and serve your community, there will be times that you won’t be able to catch a movie, or go out during the weekend because you have “pageant” things to do. I know I say that a lot to my friends, “I have pageant things to do, sorry.” But having understanding friends, they know how important those “things” really are to you. A good thing to always remember is that you can ask for your friends to help you with a task, or to do community service together while still spending time with each other!

What is also super cool is having friends from other pageants you were in, come support you! Pageantry is one of the best places to meet people and make some of the strongest friendships you can ever have. When I competed for my current title, I had several friends from the first pageant I was in, come and scream my name while I was on stage! I can’t thank those girls enough for their empowering words, assurance, and love as I prepared for this pageant.They really helped mentally prepare me as I got ready for a new pageant! Thank you so much ladies! 


And perhaps there is someone else we don’t always thank enough is God. Daily I have to give my burdens to God and remember to let him control my life. As much of planning there is in pageantry, everything happens in God’s will. He takes care of us and renews us daily so that we can be the best we can be. Remembering to keep a healthy relationship with God is just as important as any other relationship on earth. He can give strength if you are feeling weak, or reassurance when you just don’t feel like things are going right. As great as it may sound, not everything works out the way you would like it too once you have the crown. But having trust and a relationship with God can make those bumps a bit smoother!

Like a said, have a strong support system is great. You learn a lot about priorities and the people around you. Keep the ones that uplift, not tear you down. Because let’s remember, we always have a crown on our head whether we have won it or not!

Miss North Dakota International 2016, Taylor Woodruff

Monday, April 4, 2016

Building Stronger Communities

There is nothing more heart-warming to me than seeing people come together and uplift each other. I am so excited to tell you all about my platform: Building Stronger Communities through Service!

Communities are as little and as big as you would like to them to be. A family is a community, your block is a community, your city, your state, and even your country is a community that can work together benefiting the things around it and itself.

I think my story just began as a young girl who always wanted to serve the people around me. As I got older, my community grew and I would participate more and more in different projects. I never wanted to limit myself in what I could do to help others so I began to participate in various service organizations and I quickly grew to love it!

Through my platform I want to empower and educate young people to serve their communities. Through serving their community, one will grow personal character and joy of helping others while also building a stronger community. I want to show people just how easy it can be to get involved and lend a helping hand to a community that needs its citizens.

Volunteerism is not about how much one can give, but is what one can contribute. One extra hand, one extra smile, and one extra giving heart can make a world of a difference!

If you are not sure where to begin you serving career, consider these tips:
1. Consider your talents- What are you good at? Is there something that particularly sparks your interest more than other things? Different talents are used differently everyday!
2. Find something you truly care about- if you find something you really care about, it makes the time and effort much more enjoyable for you and for the cause you are helping.
3. Think outside the box- with new ideas comes greater leaders!
4. Don’t wait to be asked- check out your local volunteer center, they will help connect you with a project that best suites you!
5. Volunteer with friends and family- There is nothing better than helping the community you live in with your loved one! Gives more quality time, satisfaction, and great memories!

Miss North Dakota International 2016, Taylor Woodruff