Woofta. And, just like that four weeks have gone by since we’ve talked. Gosh, time just seems to fly by. People always say, “Time goes too fast. Cherish the present moment.” Really though, how many people sincerely live present? I often find myself planning my life away. When I was in high school, I was planning for college. When I was at USD, I was planning for graduate school. When I was at Vanderbilt, I was planning for my career. The same thing happened with Miss South Dakota. Every time I held a local title, I was planning for the next big project. The next local pageant. The next Miss South Dakota. In fact, it wasn’t until this year at Miss South Dakota that I caught myself. Competing and working towards a goal is one of the most exhilarating and terrifying things we can do in this lifetime. As I was at Miss SD, I was caught up in a moment where my nerves consumed me. Then, as if God’s grace washed over me and I heard Him say, “This is it. This is what you’ve been planning for. This is what you’ve been waiting for. This moment. Live it.” It wasn’t even the night of crowning. It didn’t matter the outcome. I was living the moment God had given me.
Learning to live presently is one of the best lessons I’ve gained from Miss South Dakota. And I’ll let you in on a secret, you don’t have to win the title or get the award to live presently. All you have to do is take note that each passing second is the second God has given you. Breathe it in. But, I know. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, it takes practice. Conscious practice. Some days I worry and plan the day away. And some days I feel every present moment. Don’t settle.
Now, let’s recap the past month. At the beginning of week 15 I caught up with my favorite people at Keloland Living. We talked about my experience at Miss America and the Women in Business award. Later that week, I gave a presentation to the Huron Kiwanis club. I ran into Wayne and Kathy Carr while I was there. Their son, Luke, was in my class during high school. I worked with Kathy a lot to plan fun things for the cheerleaders to do for the basketball team. It was a true delight to catch up. That evening, I attended the LifeScape Radiothon in Sioux Falls. LifeScape’s mission is to empower children and adults with disabilities to lead fulfilling lives. Tessa Dee, one of my Miss South Dakota sisters, works for LifeScape. I met some pretty incredible people while I was there, one of which was Mark. I talked with Mark for a good portion of the afternoon, and he shared his book with me. I told him it would be my Christmas reading. One of the best things about Miss SD is meeting people and learning about their stories.
I also did a phone interview with Heream from Vanderbilt. She wrote a wonderful article about my time at Vandy and how Miss South Dakota has been a catalyst in my career. Check out the article:
On Friday, I attended the South Dakota Sheep Grower’s Association Conference in Brookings. The SDSGA is a huge supporter of Money $heep and helped make last year’s book donation successful. I was fortunate enough to run into Bill and Jody Fuller, who sold me my very first Southdown lamb, Pukie. The highlight of the evening was the sheep sheering contest at the end of the night. Did you know there is an international sheep sheering competition? Several of the competitors had represented the United States multiple times. It was, simply put, legendary.
Saturday was the start of college homecoming appearances. I traveled up to Aberdeen for the NSU Gypsy Day parade. Their parade is prided as the longest parade in South Dakota. Sadly, the ran did not subside. But that didn’t keep people away. To top off the day, I met several of the Snow Queens.
Week 16 was the start of Dakota Days. HAPPYYYY DDDDDD-DAYS.
However, before I could get down to Vermillion, I took a trip up to Brookings to check in with K Country 102.3 and recruit for the Miss SDSU pageant. This was a pretty incredible day when I think back on it, and a critical reminder of the kindness of others. I started the day by getting gas at the Flying J on my way out of town. One of my biggest weaknesses is coffee, so naturally I had to grab a cup of coffee before I left. The woman working asked, “Have you tried the new coffee machines? They brew a fresh cup of coffee for each person.” She taught me how to use the new machine. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking. But her kindness and warmth was a gentle nudge from God saying, “Hey, life is so good. I am always here.” Later that day, as I was tabling at the SDSU Student Union. A young woman walked up to me, gave me the biggest hug, and said, “I saw you standing over here and I’m sure it can get awkward when no one stops to talk. So, I just wanted to come over to say hello.” I mean, wow. Could God be any clearer? Another reminder of His grace and the kindness that surrounds us if we open our eyes. As my time in the Student Union came to a close, Carolyn Knutson stopped by to check in. She offered to grab me a coffee from the Starbucks across the hallway. She ordered and the barista asked, “Would you like whipped cream?” Carolyn looked over at me, and the barista asked, “Is this for the girl in the crown?” Carolyn replied, “Yes.” The barista responded, “This coffee is on me.” I walked over to thank her such a kind gesture, and I thought for the third time today, “God you are so good.” Three separate events. Three separate people. All displaying the compassion and thoughtfulness that humanity offers through the grace of God.
On Friday, I attended an alumnus banquet at USD with my parents. I will forever cherish the community and home I have at USD and in Vermillion. Nothing compares. The next morning, I was off to the Dakota Days parade in the most suitable red convertible. I was lucky enough to ride with Daisy Brown in the parade. I met Daisy while I was a student at USD. Her mom worked at the Beacom School of Business. One summer I sporadically babysat Daisy. In an attempt to be creative, I researched fun food activities for kids (because what kid doesn’t like snacks). I found the project where you make a pan of blue jello and use pretzels, peanut butter, bananas, cucumbers, and cheese to make people that swim in the pool of jello. It was cute . . . online. I am not sure it turned out quite the way it looked on the internet, but Daisy seemed to have fun. In fact, that night she ate two bowls of the concoction. Spoiler alert – I don’t think it was ever really intended to eat. I mean can you imagine the combination of cheese, blue jello, and peanut butter, among other things.
I spent the rest of the day catching up with some of my Theta sisters and watching the Coyotes win their football game. Dakota Days is magical, and USD will always be home. Two university homecomings down . . . one to go.
Week 17 was the beginning of the ever famous, HOBO Week at SDSU. Truthfully, as a faithful Coyote, I had never been to HOBO Week or HOBO Day. But I was sincerely excited for the week ahead. Miranda Mack, Miss SD 2017, was the Grand Pooba of the HOBO Day Committee and invited me to be a part of several events during the week. Monday was the kickoff event for the week, Rally at the Rails. From the second I stepped foot on campus, the HOBO Day Committee made me feel so welcome. They are a pretty spectacular group of people. If you haven’t met them, you should. In fact, one of them even taught me how to swing dance. It was amazing. But, unless you can lead me, don’t ask me to swing dance, because I am not sure I could do it on my own. I’m still practicing.
Friday morning I was in Huron to judge the Scarecrow Contest that happens every year in Campbell Park. The exhibits were spook-tacular. Miss South Dakota 2006 even accompanied me to the park. She was a judge herself. Two queens in one spot sounds like a recipe for trouble, if I do say so myself.
Friday night was the Cavorts Talent Show, put together by the University Program Council. I emceed the event with Logan, an SDSU student. I started the show by playing the Final Countdown, and Logan didn’t let anyone forget that I was from the school “down South.” The entire evening was filled with talent, laughter, and good times. The HOBO Day Committee even sponsors something called the 6 Month Club. I’ll explain. Students, men and women, don’t shave their beards or legs for one month or six months. During HOBO Week, Will and Lil (the original Hobos) judge the competition and award individuals with the 6 Month Club.
Saturday morning I was up bright and early for the parade. Early in the month, I had texted Alex Bisson, a former Miss SD who lives in Brookings, if she knew of any little girls that would be interested in riding in the parade with me. Thankfully, she did. Bristol, a spunky fun-loving girl, agreed to ride in the HOBO Day Parade with me. Bristol wore the cutest bunny costume and, together, we ate just about as much candy as we threw. We rode in a beautiful yellow convertible. I have never seen a parade packed with so many people. For the entire length of the parade, the sidewalks and streets were lined with masses of people.
It was a busy three weeks. I graduated in May with my Masters in Accounting from Vanderbilt and plan to work for KPMG in public accounting. One of my personal goals for the year is to pass the CPA exam. So, week 18 was filled with studying for my first CPA exam, which I took on October 22. I am so thankful for the determination to work hard for goals and relentlessly strive to be a better me. In fact, my planner had a timely quote for the week that I will leave you with. Until next time . . .
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
- Judy Garland