How a Pageant Changed a Life
It is 5 o clock in the morning! 5 O clock! And I'm writing a blog post.
No, it's not because I couldn't sleep, or even the reverse, that I was just so anxious to start the day. No, it is just one of those mornings where I am just in awe with life and miracles.
I'm in awe at what I find so interesting: a change least expected, a clarity and awareness I was not expecting, an understanding and a gratitude...all stemming for a most unlikely source.
I have never participated in a pageant before. I have spent a bit of time trying to define why I decided to sign on to THIS one. It is all very unlike me and never something I would have taken on. But my time in pain and a crippling wheelchair made me decide to take more chances and live life in unexpected ways. Speaking, talking on women's issues, THAT is something I would have signed up for and always have. However, while I needed to be presentable, nobody was making much comment on my looks, and it wasn't expected of me. I started the pageant with the same mentality. I've only ever thought of the message and what I wanted to get across. I didn't have time for frou frou things like hair and make up and what to wear. Besides that, as I was going through my time in the wheelchair I felt incredibly ugly. The toll the steroid had taken on me affected my physical form, losing all muscle and fat, losing my hair. I did not enjoy pictures of myself. Having to take pictures for the pageant I didn't feel worthy to hire anyone. I thought they would wonder what on earth I thought I was doing. I simply took the same approach as my speeches...to focus on my message, how I looked was just not important. That is how I took my headshot photo.
As I was going to events and thinking about the pageant I started trying, if nothing else, at least to just fit in so as not to embarrass myself and my family. At first, I was embarrassed catching myself looking in a mirror. I just didn't feel worthy enough. What was I doing? But I saw how my natural health practices really have preserved nice healthy skin and eyes and I played around learning for the first time how to accentuate these features in a natural way, and I was proud then to teach others when they asked how I looked so healthy.
Trying on different outfits that were required for the pageant helped me to see that different clothing sends different messages and I worked to find the perfect fit that expressed what I wanted to say about myself.
Having to fill out forms that questioned my motives and what my platform would be had an interesting effect. I had to start examining my life. I had to decide what exactly my purpose was here and what I stood for. In following what I determined I stood for at this juncture in my journey, I started to come out of the shell I unwittingly had wrapped around myself. Before the wheelchair I was outgoing, powerful, and ambitious running a 15 practitioner clinic, speaking and educating to a high number client roster. Two years spent in pain, a wheelchair, and re-learning how to walk took it's toll not only on my physical appearance, but on how I felt about myself. I hadn't realized how much I had sheltered myself and pulled in. I didn't realize the confidence I had lost.
During my mediation and gratitude this morning the following thoughts occurred to me, and I found it slightly humorous. What I thought was frou frou and purposeless has been ultimately a game changer for me. It's not about looking beautiful and caring what other people think about how I look. In getting prepared for this pageant, I suddenly realized this morning it's not about how you look, but in wearing clothing that I want to express my whole message. In hair and makeup that expresses what I want people to see when they look at me: happiness, health and peace. How you express yourself on the outside simply helps to express what's on the inside and I hadn't realized that before. It's not about having the best clothing, the prettiest makeup, the poofiest hairstyle. It is a mirror representing out to the world how you see yourself. Getting to see the comparison of how I felt about myself in the wheelchair, I was shocked to know I had gotten to feeling that way about myself, and in participating in a pageant where I thought looks really shouldn't matter about what a woman has to offer, I realized it's how a woman FEELS about herself that's going to determine what she's willing to share out into the world in confidence, and attract those that will hear her message.
I practiced taking headshot photos the other day and was surprised at the difference between my first and this last. I didn't notice ever before the expressions my face made or what I looked like to the outside world. Seeing it in a camera was interesting to me to think that what people saw maybe was not how I saw myself. I kept practicing in the camera until I liked what i saw and felt that it portrayed the me inside.
My original headshot is not one I would use now, but I've become different. I won't regret that first one, because it is an obvious marker for me in how far I've come. What a unique opportunity from a source, for me, least expected.