PTSD AWARENESS

PTSD AWARENESS
THE INVISIBLE WAR

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7/26 Mrs. International Pageant FINALS NIGHT!

TONIGHT WAS THE NIGHT! All of the hard work, preparations, and anticipation put into the hands of only FIVE judges (who were NOT pageant judges).

Getting ready for tonight was bittersweet... I had enjoyed my reign as Mrs. Eastern States and had wanted to continue advocating for PTSD as Mrs. International 2014... but something in my gut just wasn't right. I think I knew I wasn't going to make top 15, and it sickened me to even think my best wasn't good enough.

with South Africa and Wyoming...
the two tallest gals there!
The time had come, and all 61 contestants were getting final touch ups and getting dresses on for opening number. Once again, my zipper malfunctioned and I was pinned and sewn into my dress. Unfortunately for Mrs. Australia, she also had a zipper break.. thankfully we were prepared, LOL!

We finish with the opening number and introductions... and it was time to announce the top 15. I was so hopeful...






Called in random order (I added their platforms, because everyone always asks)!
UK -Juanita Ingram Platform is Building Self-Esteem Through Dress for Success,
CA - Christy Van Der Westhuizen Platform is Alzheimer’s Association,
IL -  Randi Moxi Platform is Saving Our Children,
CO - Christina Schlachter Platform is Creating Bright Futures for Every Child,
WV - Judy Ridenour Platform is Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,
AR - Dana Wessel Platform is Mentoring from the Heart,
Great Plains - Maggie Thorne Platform is Soles4Souls,
VA - Cheryl Nelson Platform is Natural Disaster Preparedness for Families and Pets,
GA - Kira Anderson Douglas Platform is Building a S.T.A.R. Through Performing Arts,
Canada - Angie Shilliday Platform is Habitat for Humanity Global Village,
SD -Whitney Fretham Platform is We Live Fit,
TX -Whitney Montgomery Platform is CASA,
Great Lakes -Heidi Scheer Platform is Treating the Puzzle of Autism,
CT - Christine Blake Platform is Prevention and Intervention,
Australia - Kate Johnson Platform is Chic Nation

As the curtain closed on the rest of us on stage, I was stunned with what to do next... I wasn't sure if I should be sad or angry that I didn't prepare well enough. I was surrounded by others not called, who obviously saw my disappointment.

We were escorted to the back of the auditorium to watch the first half of the show.. once we sat down, I couldn't contain my emotions. Thankfully, I was shielded by darkness, and got a grip of them to focus on the platforms and onstage questions for those fortunate to make the cut.

After the onstage interviews were done, we headed back to the dressing rooms to get ready for our return to the stage for crowning... but that wasn't for another hour... at least.

We anxiously awaited the announcement of the TOP TEN:
UK, CO, WV, Great Plains, VA, GA, TX, Great Lakes, CT, and Australia.

Those ladies competed in fitness and evening gown again.

Finally, the culmination of the whole week rested on this... the announcement of Mrs. International 2014.

We all went back to the stage, and took some funny photos... mainly to take our minds off of the fact that we weren't in the front.





TOP FIVE
4 RU- Australia
3 RU- Great Lakes
2 RU- UK
1 RU- WV
Mrs. International 2014- Great Plains

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Overall, my experience wasn't what I had hoped for. I was prepared and knew I would be a top contender, but I guess the judges didn't think so. It is hard to gauge yourself on how five strangers judge you... it's rather boggling.

I am truly blessed and overwhelmed with my friends and family who have supported me through this year. First and foremost, my "Hubbs" for letting me spend so much time, money, and effort in doing something I am so passionate about and supporting me every step of the way; My in-laws (Wendy, Ron, Gma Ginny, and Papa Bernie) for constantly sending me notes and positive encouragements; my Mom for making a cross-country trip to watch me compete for the first time; Chris Franz for being such an amazing friend and pageant extraordinaire; and last but DEFINITELY NOT LEAST, my #1 pageant sister and friend, Shana. I could not have done this without your honest opinion on.... pretty much everything.  I love you all! On to the next!!!!

with Shana and Krystina <3
with my Momma and the Hubbs
I may never know where I really ranked among the 61 AMAZING women... so, Cheers to all of us who placed 16th!

Yours in Service,
Amber

7/25 Mrs. International Pageant Prelims!

Today was filled with rehearsals and excitement!!! The air was pungent with anticipation of competing for the coveted title of Mrs. International 2014!

My feet were in pain, then became numb to wearing my 5" stilettos all week, but that didn't stop me from strutting that stage (I've always been told I have great stage presence, so I just rocked it out) ! Thankfully my #1 pageant sister came to watch prelims and brought me a rescue kit with some much needed insoles ;)

After rehearsing with our husbands in the afternoon... a much needed difference, we were released to prepare for the nights' events... unfortunately, it was a "murphy's law" kinda night for me ;(

Most everything went smoothly until I was putting on my opening number dress. It was a gorgeous turquoise Sherri Hill, that really fit me well the first three time I put it on. When I went to put it on for prelims.... the zipper busted... yup, the teeth popped right off and I was bare backed for the time being. Surprisingly, I was fairly calm. Thanks to my pageant sisters and help from the backstage crew... and our emcee Vanessa (who's job is a costume seamstress), I was able to walk the stage with a closed dress. Unfortunately, it wasn't closed by the zipper... I had to be sewn into the dress and used safety pins for reinforcement. It was a total disaster, but hopefully from stage, no one saw the handy work.


First phase of competition was Fitness Wear! Now, if you have seen this outfit, it is already unflattering, and no one wants to wear it. So, to say I wasn't excited to put it on is an understatement. Nevertheless, I finally put it on. Since also competing last year, I knew the shorts would ride up.. so I brought spray adhesive to keep it in place! This is not ordinary pageant "butt-glue", because I'm special, for some reason it doesn't work on me, LOL... this was SUPER DUPER (probably doesn't belong on skin or clothing) type of adhesive. Anyhew, I start spraying it on and all is well until there is some overspray on the black shorts. Of course the glue wasn't going to dry clear... so now I had a HUGE, WHITE spot on the back of my shorts... not flattering! Fortunately, again, my pageant sisters came to the rescue and helped me hide most of it.

Second stage of competition was Evening Gown! Usually this is everyone's favorite part! It is one of my favorites (but, my fave part is Interview). Thankfully, nothing went awry in evening gown... I literally put my MacDuggal gown on and stood still! When I finally got the "stand-by" call from Tanya (our stage manager, who is AMAZING), I always have to look across the stage at my amazing man <3 Nick looked so handsome! I couldn't get all mushy though, so I sent a couple not so sexy dance moves and funny faces to get the nerves out! It really does help! We met in the middle of the stage and it felt like we ruled the world!

This part of the competition was OVER, already! The week had flown by, and now the scores would be tabulated to give the TOP 15 women to move on. And, we would get the results.... TOMORROW!
With the phenominal Jayne Black, one of my 2013 sisters!
with Maggie Thorne, another fellow C/O 2013.

Check out FINALS NIGHT to find out who made the cut!

7/24 Mrs. International DAY THREE

Day three at Mrs. International was pretty relaxed.... until this evening!!

I was fortunate enough to get an afternoon time slot for my interview portion of completion, so my morning was pretty relaxing.

I was invited to participate in a live online interview on "Chat with Autumn" with Autumn Short, who had competed and also directed for the Mrs. International system. It was wonderful speaking with her about PTSD and my experience so far at the 2014 competition.

Mrs. Ohio, West Indies, North Dakota, ME!
Here is the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=B78CyYdOsqE&u=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DAFgcHkKjZRI%26feature%3Dshare


My interview with the judges went wonderfully! It was great to meet them all, and share our story of struggle and success with PTSD. I hope they enjoyed meeting me and the other 64 FABU women who are so very passionate about their platforms.

with Mrs. Arkansas and Washington











Lastly, we attended the Meet and Greet Gala and Silent Auction to benefit the First Coast Go Red For Women chapter! Each contestant brought and item to represent their country, state, or region for the auction. It was fun to see what the gals came up with!!!!!



welcoming our guests to the gala


with Mrs. Nevada, Texas, and Idaho
We all shared a delicious dinner afterwards... barefoot. We had been standing in some very uncomfortable shoes, so all of our feet and legs were aching! During the dinner we were blessed to hear from the legendary Eddie Peterson and his empowering words of encouragement. He says, not to judge others.. because "you don't know my life"!


Tomorrow is a long day of rehearsals and then on to the PRELIMINARY competition!

yours in service,
Amber

7/23 Mrs. International Pageant DAY TWO

WHEW! What a LONG day we had today!

All of the contestants looked absolutely fabulous for our day out in Jacksonville! Of course, we took tons of pictures waiting to depart the Omni Hotel!

Our first stop was to St.Augustine!! We boarded the Old Town Trolley Tours and caroused the gorgeous historical landmarks. From old forts and barricades to the oldest home and magnificent architecture! We had an amazing guide, and really enjoyed the nice ocean air and breeze!


One of the AMAZING cathedrals!!!
 We ended the trolley ride at the Fountain of Youth Archeological Park! There were historical demonstrations of weapons and we were shown some of the ways the Indians lived! Of course, we were introduced to the discovery of the Fountain! I DID have a sip... and if you must know, it was warm, and tasted very "mineral-y"!
 
 
 

                                                           

Our next stop was at the St. Augustine Outlet mall! I didn't find anything I had to take home... but had to take a photo!






















Finally, our last stop was the brand new facility for the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars! EverBank Field is absolutely phenomenal! During the tour, we visited the management offices, team meeting rooms, state of the art gym, training facility, field, and of course the locker room! We were one of the first people to see the BRAND NEW, $63 million jumbo-trons... that are 365 ft long (which is longer than some our U.S. warships)!

Through it all though... I am still a 49er fan... ALL THE WAY!


 
 
 
The day still wasn't over!!! We returned to the hotel and had a delicious dinner, then it was off to our first rehearsal!!!
 
Here are a couple sneak peeks of the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts...a BEAUTIFUL theater!

 
 
I had a fantastic day, but I'm glad to finally relax and prepare for the first stage of completion tomorrow, INTERVIEW!!!
 
Yours In Service,
Amber 
 

7/22 Mrs. International 2014 DAY ONE

WE ARE FINALLY HERE!!!! It's pageant week, and I could not be more excited to compete and be a voice for PTSD!

For those of you who may not know what the Mrs. International Pageant system stands for: It is the premier pageant for women to share their achievements, careers, and passions, all the while supporting and being committed to family. This is just a very small insight, for more visit: www.mrsinternational.com !

I will be posting each day about the amazing people and things we did, so I hope you enjoy as much as I will be!

Today was check in and orientation!

After my 0230 wakeup call and 0400 flight showtime, I finally arrived in Jacksonville, Florida around 0730! It was a gorgeous morning, a start to a fabulous day!


In the terminal, my eye was drawn to a blue shirt... PROUD TOUGH STRONG DETERMINED it screamed! So, of course, I had to go introduce myself and get a quick selfie! It was amazing to be reminded that even amongst the chatter and stress of the day... my purpose was being an advocate and sharing education about PTSD.


Next.. onto the Omni Hotel in downtown Jax! The hotel is absolutely gorgeous and everyone has been nothing short of welcoming, kind, and honestly... inquisitive! I am so happy to have the opportunity to come here for the competition, and thanks to Visit Jacksonville. we were welcomed with strewn banners!!!

with Mrs. Australia, Kate Johnson... such a cutie!
I managed to organize a lunch for some of the other available Mrs. contestants, and we really enjoyed a calm and relaxing lunch together. It was a blast getting to know some of these women more, without the stress of rehearsals or time constraints ... yet.


The first item on our Mrs. Int'l itinerary was tonight's orientation. The air was filled with excitement to get things started, finally.. after months and MONTHS of preparation.... it is finally time to compete! We were introduced to our schedule for the week and some housekeeping items. I was more distracted with what contestant number I was going to be!

There are 65 fabulous women competing and I will be called... contestant.... number.... 45!!! Excellent, if you ask me ;)

It was a loooong day, but I am thrilled to see what tomorrow has in store! Keep an eye out for my TWEETS and please follow @intlpageants for the MOST UPDATED info and photos !



Reigning Mrs. International 2013, Pageant Director Mary Richardson, and Cristen Velhorn, pageant media
sorry for the blurry photo... :(
with my fellow 2013 contestant, Mrs.Great Plains 2014 Maggi Thorne
With the amazing, Amy Gregorio, Mrs. International 2013