I returned home from Miss America exactly two weeks ago. I’ll be honest, transition down from the Miss America euphoria is daunting. For ten years, my goal has been to compete for the job of a lifetime. It was my BIG goal that I never really looked beyond. Now that I am home, the question lingers, “What now?”
For the next nine months, I get to serve the state of South Dakota and live the dream. In between Miss South Dakota appearances, I am studying for the CPA exam to get my certification that will launch my career in public accounting. I get to relish in the time God has given me with my family and dearest friends. For the time being, I have no idea what God has in store. And I’m practicing every day to be peaceful in the moment He has given.
The past two weeks I attended several events. My first appearance (post-Miss A) was the Spirit of Heroism Banquet. Jessica Benson, Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen, organizes a dinner every year to honor military, fire, and police service members in the Rapid City area. It was a privilege to support her and pay tribute to some of the most selfless members of our community.
After the event, my mom and I attempted to drive back home . . . unsuccessfully. We made a stop at a rest area for a quick snooze, with the intention of getting as far as Chamberlain to stay in a hotel. But, once we arrived in Chamberlain, all the hotels were booked. We were stranded. If you’ve been following my journey, this happened to me once before in Sioux Falls. You would think I could learn my lesson the first time to call ahead. Yay for spontaneity.
The next day I attended Bauman Agency’s Customer Appreciation dinner. Bauman Agency is a seed and crop insurance agency. Thus, the event was a perfect setting for my “Harvest Medley” Show Me Your Shoes parade costume. I talked about the parade’s significance at Miss America and why I chose my costume. I love every opportunity to emphasize why I love South Dakota. My costume was an ombre, green and gold, jumpsuit with a wheat collar cape. The shoes topped off the outfit with a corn cob heel. My favorite thing about South Dakota is soaking in miles and miles of breathtaking gold and green cropland.
Week 14 was my hometown’s high school homecoming. But, before the festitivities could begin, I had a special guest visit South Dakota. The one and only, Grace - Miss Illinois, drove with her mom and brother all the way from Illinois for three days. We went to dinner in Sioux Falls, and they set up air matresses in my apartment. It was a big ole slumber party. The next day we drove by a buffalo farm, visited Falls Park, and took a road trip to my hometown. My Miss America experience brought me a life long friend in Grace. God is good.
I was thrilled to walk in the homecoming parade with the Kindernook kiddos. I saw many familiar faces and pulled the one and only, Holly. I met Holly when I did a Rent-A-Princess party for her, and our friendship has blossomed ever since.
That evening I jumped in Rosie and headed to Minneapolis. I met up with my friend Cole, and we went to dinner for my piano teacher, Kathryn’s, birthday. Sunday morning I attended the first Authentic You Outdoor Workout for Charity. Melissa Paakh is the founder of the Authentic You and has been my personal trainer for over two years. Not only did she help me get into the best shape of my life physically, but she also helped me become mentally unstoppable. She hosted a workout in Minneapolis to raise money for the Dwelling Place.
And, just like that I was on my way back to South Dakota. I hopped on the interstate and drove to Vermillion (my HAPPY place), home of the Coyotes. Amber, Miss State Fair, organized an information session for women who want to learn about the opportunities within Miss South Dakota. We hosted one on Sunday evening and one Monday.
I got there early so I could study for the CPA in my favorite booth. While I was a student at USD, every morning I would get to the MUC right when the doors opened at 7am. I would sit in the same booth and study until my classes started. What can I say, I like familiarity. I am a creature of habit. But, I met some of the most amazing people thanks to that booth. People would see me there so often, that they would eventually stop to say hi. In fact, my best friend became my “best friend” because she passed me every time she gave a school tour.
My bible verse today was a timely reminder:
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Psalm 116:1
The Lord always provides, and I will listen for His guidance this year.