Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Lessons learned!

I am wrapping up my summer with the topic of lessons learned. This summer has been an adventure to say the least and here are some helpful tips from mistakes that I have learned from.
1.)   ELEVATE, elevate, elevate… and then elevate some more! During my trip to New York we walked all day every day (in heels), and I didn’t properly elevate my feet and eat enough protein. By the end of the week my feet were the size of baseballs and I took that lesson learned to nationals with me. I elevated my feet every night and ate plenty of protein to ensure that I didn’t have swollen feet for any of my competition days.
2.)   There is never enough time! You may think you are prepared and 100% packed until you step into the airport and realize you forgot 10 things. I know that this is a simple one, but time management was a huge practice of mine all summer. Triple check every inch of your travel plans before you step foot out of your home to lessen stress. I juggled two jobs, preparing for college and two out-of-state trips this summer and it has been the best time management experience for me by far.
3.)   Cut out sugars! Yes, this sounds awful but I was having a very hard time getting to my fitness goal before nationals. By cutting out excess sugar, corn syrup, and unnatural sweeteners, I was able to reach my goal in no time! Of course I love Peach-O’s and cupcakes, but that’s why I saved them for last and enjoyed the best sugar filled meal of my life after finals night. Believe me, it’s worth it.
That finishes my few lessons learned during the summer of 2016! If it happens once it’s a mistake, if it happens twice it’s a choice.
Miss Teen North Dakota International 2016
Meghanne Quam 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nationals went by in a flash!

Hello Again!
            Wow, do I have a lot to tell you all! As most of you know, I have recently returned from Nationals in Jacksonville, FL and it was nothing short of amazing!
            We started our journey a few days early so that we could attend Mrs. North Dakota International, Ashley Klinger, preliminary competition and her finals. There is nothing better than having a large cheer team supporting you far away from home! Meghanne, Miss Teen North Dakota International and I came with two things those nights, our screaming lungs for cheering, and tissues for our overwhelming pride in Ashley. Finals night they announced the top 15 contestants while Meghanne and I were clutching hands waiting to hear Ashley’s name-“Mrs. North Dakota International- Ashley Klinger!” Tears of joy streamed our faces! It was such an exciting time and great way to start our competition week with seeing Ashley representing her platform and state so well on a international stage because we knew we would be there in just one more week!
            By being there a few days early we were able to meet other Miss and Teen contestants as they arrived and get to know them before our busy schedules took over!

            Orientation came Monday afternoon where we were able to meet everyone, meet the national sponsors, and discuss the week ahead. Every time I thought I had met all of the Miss contestants, I would see a new group of ladies I hadn’t introduced myself too!

            Tuesday was our busiest day where we toured Jacksonville! We first stopped at Sweet Pete’s Candy store were we got to make our own suckers! It was so cool to see the candy being created and to see everyone’s unique sucker shapes they chose to mold! We then continued to walk downtown to a few of the historical buildings. After lunch we gathered with the American Heart Association (our national platform) and learned compression CPR. CPR continually changes and its always great to learn the newest techniques! After CPR we made blankets for children at the hospital! It doesn’t end there! Then everyone got on buses and we headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars Stadium where we toured their home and got to see new updates to the building that hadn't been released to the public yet! Told you it was a busy day!

            That evening we had a Gala, where we all got to dress in gowns and eat a fabulous dinner. That evening we got to hear the testimony of Eddie Peterson. Eddie had a great inspirational story that left many girls in tears and inspired to keep striving! It was truly a blessing and God-felt night.

Wednesday was an exciting day where the all the Miss contestants went to the PACE center for girls. The Pace center is a place where girls and young women are able to build their education, receive counseling, and building their bridge to a success future in society. How cool is that!? It was a great time doing different activities with the girls and learning about them and who they are. It was also a humbling time to reflect my personal mission in the world and remember Gods leading hand. I absolutely loved this trip!
That night we had our first rehearsals! Every girl had a large bag with about 4 pairs of shoes and snacks to keep them going! It was so fun to finally learn our opening number routine and to cheer for our friends on stage! The opening number song was “Me too” by Meghanne Trainer and the song REALLY stuck with us! We all loved the sassy, peppiness in the song which made it even more fun!
Wow Thursday Morning came fast! It was time for my private interview with the judges- this portion of the competition was worth 40% of my score. Each judge is very different so you just have to be prepared for anything! The judges were given my paperwork that I submitted about myself and my platform about a month before nationals where they were able to really examine my work and who I am. The international system is well known for their platform service so I was asked mostly about my service in my platform. Building Stronger Communities through service is a very large platform as service can be done in so many different ways! That’s what makes my platform so great and unique! Like I had said, each interview with the judges was very different- I had some that were fun and exciting and a few others that were more business-like. The important part was that I stayed calm, stayed true to myself, and educated others about the importance of building stronger communities! When I left the interview room I had my directors anxiously waiting to hear all about it and I was very excited to tell them!
In the evening, the Miss contestants got dressed up to attend the Miss-Teen Preliminaries night where I got to watch Meghanne just rock that stage! It was a blast seeing all the dresses and cheering with other “big sister” queens for their “little sisters!” Meghanne sure knows how to make me proud!!
Friday was an ENTIRE day of rehearsals! We had lots to learn in just a little bit of time before our big night of Prelims! Again we all had a large bag full of shoes and snacks to keep us going strong throughout the day! Oh, and coffee too! It was just as fun as the first night of rehearsals as we were all getting pretty anxious for the upcoming show!
Finally it was time to get on our opening number dresses and we were ready to show off everything we had been working hard on over the past few months! The show ended in the blink of an eye and I had so much fun being on stage! I prayed before the show that God would shine through me that night and by the end of the show, I felt content and at ease knowing God was with me the entire show.
Saturday morning had come quickly and was another day of rehearsals for finals night! That night would be the night we would learn who made the top 10 in both the Teen and Miss categories—pretty exciting huh?
Before we knew it, we were back in our opening number dresses. Everyone was a bit nervous because we all had worked so hard to be there that night but we knew that only 10 names would be called. Don’t let that fool you though! Everyone was still laughing and being encouraging, helping zip dresses and taking LOTS of fun pictures! This was our LAST night together!! It came way too soon!
Everyone was on stage while our hearts were pounding like drums out of our chests as we waited for the Teen top 10 to be called. They began announcing and suddenly, “Meghanne Quam, Miss Teen North Dakota” was called and I instantly had tears of joy down my face as I watched all of Meghanne's hard work pay off and her dreams unfold! The contestants around me hugged and congratulated me as I was having a “big sister” moment!
Soon they began the Miss top 10. My heart was still pounding loud and fast as before. One by one the top 10 were announced and I was not one of them but the girls’ names that were announced were all very deserving of their spot and had also worked very hard to get there! Some would think that I should have been disappointed but that was honestly the complete opposite of how I was feeling! I prayed long and hard that week. My goal was to allow God to shine through me and share my platform. I believe I did just that and stayed true to myself! I felt like a winner! I made so many friends and had a once in a lifetime experience—how could I be upset!? Sure, making top ten would’ve been great, but God had another plan and part of that plan was to be back stage helping Meghanne stay focused and cheering for my friends!
At the end of the night, my heart was still full and overjoyed as my best friend had won the international title! I am so proud of our new queen, Amanda Moreno who truly depicts the perfect queen! I got to know Amanda pretty well over our week together and I can say that we never had to say good bye because that week was just the beginning of our new and growing friendship! <3

In the end, I got to spend a week with some of the most beautiful, heart-felt women I have ever met! Though the schedule was booked like you have read, it was full of laughs, pictures, stories, and personal growth. I can honestly say that this was one of the best weeks of my life. I made friends for a lifetime and got to do things I have only ever dreamed of doing! Thank you to everyone who has made this experience possible and supported me along the way! And thank you to Mary and Mel Richardson for allowing me to be a part of their one-of-a-kind pageant! Last but not least, thank you to the class of 2016 as you all have made a home in my heart! Love you all! <3

Much love, Miss North Dakota International 2016.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Meghanne's Father's Day thank yous!

 Father’s Day is a day where I get to celebrate the two most influential men in my life, my step-dad, Kevin, and my dad, Nick. They both have been a HUGE part of my life for many years/my entire life. Father’s Day is usually split between giving one of my dads a gift and then hanging out with the other dad for the day. It switches up each year so neither one of them feels left out.

       Kevin has been a part of my life since I was 3 ½ years old. He has been the ULTIMATE pageant dad and has given me the most amazing support a girl could ask for. Thank you Kevin.

       Dad has been my rock, he has taught me discipline, how to stay organized, and most important, how to fish. He is the man of the outdoors and I love spending time with him fishing and jet skiing.

       Both of these men have influenced my life in so many ways and I can't thank them enough for the endless love, support, and help they have given me throughout the years. I hope to make each of them feel special this Father’s Day, and no I can’t share what I got them just in case they are reading this. 

I hope everyone has a blessed and great Father’s Day in which ever way it's celebrated.

    With love,

Miss Teen North Dakota International
Meghanne Quam

Monday, August 15, 2016

Nationals, what a week!

          God is good. 
          The past month I have spent my time traveling and my final stop was Nationals in Jacksonville, Florida. I am humbled to say the least, with all of the wonderful experiences and friendships made during the short week of competition. Nationals is an experience you cannot really express in words, but I will share a short review of how my week went!
            I began by flying into Orlando and traveling to Jacksonville mid day on the Thursday before Ashley’s preliminary competition. I loved watching her rock that stage and make Top 15! She did amazing, and it was a great idea to get there early to see how the stage worked and to also get settled in for the week I had ahead. Monday we went through Orientation and began making life-long friendships. The rest of the week FLEW by and I have an endless list of thank you’s to send out! My interview was my most favorite part of the entire week. The judges were so kind, and they gave me the opportunity to make Top 10 and share my platform with thousands of people across the Globe.
            My journey didn’t stop at Nationals, to me it has just begun. I will continue to Be The Voice and I am traveling to Perth, Australia next August to propose the idea of Inclusion in the classroom with people across the World. I am beyond blessed and thankful for the opportunities God has given me so far on this great journey towards success and a brighter future for not only myself, but for the kids with special needs.
                  God Bless,
Miss Teen North Dakota International 
Meghanne Quam 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ND Proud at Mrs. International in Jacksonville, FL!

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful week! Thank you for taking the time to check out my latest blog post! As it’s been a couple of weeks since my time at the Mrs. International Pageant in Jacksonville, Florida, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the experience and would love to share some of those memories with all of you!

What a week! This experience has made an impact on me that will last forever, and I know without a doubt this journey was one of the moments for which God created me! I don't know if I'll ever be able to adequately express how BLESSED I feel to have had the opportunity to represent the great state of North Dakota at the Mrs. International Pageant, and how GRATEFUL I am to all of you who helped make that happen!

Throughout the entire experience, I always stayed true to WHO I am, WHAT I stand for and WHY I was doing it! I allowed myself to take a leap of faith, not knowing what the outcome was going to be, but I did it in an effort to simply 'lead by example' for those around me and 'make a difference' in the lives of others. Through the grace of God, I have been able to do that!

I can wholeheartedly say that I came home with no regrets! I gave it everything I had, while staying true to me and my beliefs. I went to Jacksonville with the intent to bring awareness to my platform, The Cope Well Foundation, and to share our mission with the WORLD, and I did just that! Now, I am over the moon to get back to ND to continue doing what I do best...being the best version of ME I can be by leading by example and making a difference. I've worked hard to become the Woman I am, and I am committed to working even harder to become the Woman I'm meant to be.

Recently, I was reminded of this by 2 very special Ladies...it has been roughly just 10-months since I decided to participate in my very first pageant, and in the last 8 months, I not only became Mrs. North Dakota International, but I placed Top 15 at an International Pageant where I was joined by 60 other outstanding women from all around the WORLD. More importantly, I was able to bring awareness to The Cope Well Foundation on an INTERNATIONAL level; an organization that I've put my heart and soul into for the past 7-years! How surreal is that?! And, I've accomplished those things by just being ME! Throughout this experience, I haven't had any formal training or coaching. I simply relied on God and the abilities and opportunities that He has provided to me, and I stayed committed to making the most out of those abilities and opportunities.

As expected, this was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I have a whole lot of people to THANK for this amazing opportunity!

First and foremost, to my Lord my Savior, for the plan You have for me and for continuing to bless me with abilities and opportunities to fulfill that plan. 'For I know the plans I have for you.' Jeremiah 29:11. I trust in the plan You have for me, as it is far greater than any plan I could ever have for myself, and with You by my side, I know that I will fulfill that plan! 'I can do all things through Christ who Strengthens me.' Philippians 4:13.

To my Family and Friends! From your thoughts and prayers and words of encouragement when I need them, to your continued belief in my mission and the difference I'm trying to make. Whether you were watching from afar or sitting in the 5th row, I appreciate every single one of you! ;) I truly could not do this as effectively without each of you. Especially to my parents, Randy & Gail, for helping me become the Woman I am today, and to my husband, Andrew, for loving and supporting that Woman. Thank You, Andrew, for being YOU and for being on the journey of life with me!

To my Platform, The Cope Well Foundation and the entire Cope Well Team; Brittany DvorakSheena HelmstetlerHattie Idalski and Cathie Schultz! I am humbled every day by those who we represent through this organization. It is an Honor to be able to bring awareness to the needs of the Cancer Community and a Blessing to have been able to do that on an International level! I look forward to the future of this organization and to bringing awareness to the needs of Survivors in ALL areas of life! 'And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.' Philippians 1:6.

And a gigantic THANK YOU to all of you who showed your support for The Cope Well Foundation by posting and sharing your Cope Well Awareness pics during my time in Florida! Your support of the difference that we're trying to make within the Cancer Community is greatly appreciated! We can't do this alone! Together we will Cope Well to Live Well!

To my Directors, Janelle Steinberg and Meg Pulkrabek, with the North Dakota International Pageants system, as well as my Sister Queens, Miss Teen North Dakota International, Meghanne Quam, and Miss North Dakota International, Taylor Woodruff! Thank You 1) for introducing me to the International Pageant system, and 2) for all of your support and encouragement throughout this entire journey! I feel very lucky to be able to say that I am now an official member of the North Dakota International Pageant family! 'Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been Created.' Esther 4:14.

To Altru Health System, especially to the team at EXOS through Altru Advanced Orthopedics, and to the team at Truyu Aesthetic Center, for helping me be Stage-Ready! I am so extremely fortunate to have all of you in my corner! Because of your support, I had that extra boost of confidence every time I stepped onto that stage because I felt and looked my absolute best!

To my Glam Squad: Cinderellahair - USA Headquarters, Janelle Finseth withWest 13th Salon and her P.I.C for the week, John Ward! THANK YOU for making me feel just as beautiful on the outside as I do on the inside! Your talent amazes me, and I feel extremely fortunate to have had you by my side in Jacksonville!
To Affairs by Brittany and Formal Stitches for helping me create the perfect Evening Gown and Interview Dress! Your ability to take my vision and turn it into reality was amazing! And to Joey Retherford and his team at The Competitive Image for the beautiful Opening Number Dress! Can't wait for a reason to wear all of them again! And Thank You to Tip Top Tux - Grand Forks for the rental of Andrew's tux! Man, you made him look even more handsome than he already looks!

To Mary Richardson and the entire Mrs., Miss & Miss Teen International Pageants family for providing Women and their families with the incredible opportunity to show who we are on the inside and to 'make a difference' in the world! To Paula Preston for capturing the fun memories throughout the week. You and your team were outstanding! Can't wait to order some of the pics! And to all of the amazing Women who I had the opportunity to meet from around the world! I feel incredibly honored to have been able to spend time with all of you. Thank You for inspiring me to continue being the best version of ME I can be! May you too continue to trust in God's plan for you and make the most out of the abilities and opportunities He blesses you with!

AND last but certainly not least, to ALL of my Partners/Sponsors who are generously supporting my efforts throughout the year! To MODE and all of their North Dakota locations: MODE Grand ForksMODE - Bismarck andMODE Fargo! To Brittany Caillier - Thrivent FinancialChoice Financial,ICON Architectural GroupAmy Shimek with the The Executive Suite,AlerusPerformance Chiropractic, West 13th Salon, Cinderellahair - USA Headquarters and Affairs by Brittany! I could not do this as effectively without each and every one of you! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for your support and for believing in the difference I'm trying to make!!! 'She is clothed with Strength and Dignity and laughs without fear of the future.' Proverbs 31:25.

Until next time, continue to make a difference and lead by example!

Ashley Rae Klinger
Mrs. North Dakota International 2016

“Making a difference in the lives of others, and leading by example for those around me, isn’t by hobby; it’s my Purpose!” ~ Ashley Rae Klinger