Friday, February 10, 2012

What Puts Confidence, Poise, & Strength in the Title Mrs.?

EXPERIENCE.
This edition of Featherbrained Friday is rather lengthy, but that's because it's quite personal. As most of you know, over the past five months I've been preparing to compete for a State Mrs. title. The pageant was this past weekend. At the onset of my decision to enter, I promised myself I would do this for me, my writing, the issues of reading/writing, to raise awareness for Childhood Apraxia of Speech, all while remaining true to myself. I would not bend who I am for anyone or for any reason. To Thine Own Self Be True...


When researching what this particular pageant was all about, I discover that it's mission is to uphold the lives of married woman and motherhood, what we stand for, and what we've done with our lives. I thought to myself, 'Now that's me. Something I can support.' To Thine Own Self Be True...

My image in the background
Throughout the past five months, using my experience of marriage, motherhood, and career, I have exercised what I stand for, what I've done with my life, and I've shared that with others. I've done it in a respectful and enthusiastic manner, for myself, my family and friends, as well as my amazing sponsors.

I love my school kiddos!!
Participating pushed me out of my comfort zone and out into the world again. I've been on TV, interviewed by newspapers, done some modeling and been a spokeswoman, entered a nation picture book contest, given a writer's workshop for middle grade students who are sending me their work to edit, and gained the respect of my family, friends, and community.

In November, while I was in Cancun celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary, contestant numbers were chosen. I was chosen Contestant #1. To be honest, that didn't bother me. I've been a performer all my life, so I don't have much fear of the stage.

Fast-forward to the weekend before the pageant. We had a workshop to learn our opening number and go over a sequence for the bathing suit number. As our fabulous instructor (and she really is fabulous) taught us, many of the other contestants, not being trained in dance, had questions. Some turned to me for answers. I answered their questions, directing them to be their best. To Thine Own Self Be True...

Rehearsal...
During our pageant weekend rehearsals, I ended up being an intricate part of each group stage performance.  Being Contestant #1, I cued the other contestants on music and when to start steps. I set the stage by entering with force to get the audience's attention. I even counted an 8-count on stage, so the contestants could catch the next step together and had an extra 4-count added to my dance to alert the other ladies when to catch the music. To Thine Own Self Be True... 

On stage rehearsals...me in red skirt.
Rehearsal Day One was a long day. Walking in five-inch heels for ten hours can take it's toll. Once again, because of my vast experience, I expected this so I was prepared. Others were not. One, who ended up being the winner, needed help with blisters on her feet. I helped her pad her shoes with moleskin to keep the shoes from irritating her blisters. I was asked why I would help her. And to that, I asked myself this question: Would I want to win anything in life, knowing that an opponent wasn't up to par? To Thine Own Self Be True...

Some of you may also be thinking 'Why on Earth was she helping the other contestants?' Because that's who I am, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I would not bend my inner self for anyone or for any reason just to get ahead. To Thine Own Self Be True...

That decision exudes the confidence, poise, and strength I feel gives purpose to the title Mrs.

My amazing husband, Artie.
Confidence comes from muscling through life's challenges and disappointments, and coming out the other side more resilient than before.

Poise is a sense of humility, mingling with self-assurance in who you are and the ability to demonstrate that through graceful walking and posture.

Strength must be forged under pressure, steam, and heat. With each of these, new building blocks of strength are cast, giving a woman the strong foundation and ultimately walls with which to support others.

Me in blue with some of the contestants getting
ready for the fitness competition.
Not being awarded the crown was perfectly okay with me. It would possess approximately three-fourths of my weekends during the upcoming year, which would have been detrimental to my large family. However, being snubbed for the top five felt very unfair. I don't hold the three directors, who organized the event responsible. Those three ladies are respectable, full of class, and had absolutely nothing to do with the end result. Also, I mean no disrespect to the amazing ladies who were chosen. I truly heart them all for their talents, strengths, beauty, and resilience.  But collectively, the five didn't possess my experience of marriage for 20 years and motherhood of 18 years. Now, I can see if I wasn't a concise speaker (during my interviews, I had three of the five judges compliment me on that), was unintelligent and ugly, didn't look good in a bathing suit, or couldn't walk in heels. According to audience members other than my family and friends, none of those were the case. They were as confused as I was at the snubbing I received.
Me, leading the other ladies.
Now this is what truly stung. A few of those wonderful ladies had only been married one year, three, or four years; some had no children. How can they exude all that marriage and motherhood stands for, when their experience has been so short? (It's like undergoing heart surgery and being given the choice between a heart surgeon with 20 years of experience or the young surgeon just out of med school.) Then directly after the top five were announced, the pageant awarded me with a Marriage Longevity award. Talk about a slap in the face. That act totally contradicted what this pageant supposedly stood for and nosedived my confidence and support for the pageant. With saying that, I DO believe longevity in marriage should be recognized. It is a feat. For my experience, the timing was simply poor. To Thine Own Self Be True...


But life is not always fair, and things don't always turn out as they should for whatever reasons. People are individuals and have an array of opinions just as subjective as the publishing world. I.E. my writer friends can fully relate. I've taken this and used it as a teaching experience for my children, who span the ages of 18, 15, 13, & 8. To Thine Own Self Be True...


Throughout the two days of rehearsal, many of the contestants shared with me their gratefulness that I was Contestant #1, that I had amazing stage presence which gave them confidence to get out there, and that I was truly a leader. Isn't that what a Mrs. should be: a self-confident yet humble leader, who motivates others to strive for more and better themselves? Maybe that was my true purpose for being a part of this. No need for a pat on the back. To Thine Own Self Be True...

If the judges didn't want, at the very least, to recognize a woman who is self-sacrificing, a humble leader, a commander on stage, a wife and mother with oodles of experience to share and motivate others, an intellect willing to teach yet remain open to continued learning, a writer with the passion to aid our state through her education endeavors, and an Apraxia of Speech advocate who's already hooked up with a national organization willing to back her, then I'm okay with that. They simply decided to highlight Mrs. in a different way. I will still follow my dreams and achieve my goals.

Am I scorned? No. This experience gave me another opportunity to demonstrate how I take life off the chin, let it fuel me to become an even stronger woman and a classy example of what is truly meant by the title Mrs.

After it was all over and despite the confusion threading my family, friends, and some audience members that I didn't even know, my youngest child - CJ, my 8-yr-old with Apraxia of Speech - said, "But Ma, at least we all know and we're all here supporting you."

Yeah...To Thine Own Self Be True...


Here's a little gift from me to you.

36 comments:

  1. You're a winner, no matter the outcome. Congrats on being a great wife, mother and person.

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  2. Sheri, you're certainly an inspiration, and I'm confused as to exactly what happened as well! Still, it sounds like you WERE a winner among these women, lifting them up and leading them, showing them the things that are truly important. I'm not sure why others would ask why you'd help someone who needed it, and I'm not surprised you DID provide help when the time came--that's ingrained in any good mother, and wife. It's part of the job, I believe. I think your attitude, of being true to who you are and what you value, will carry you so far beyond this contest (as important as it was). In fact, I think it already has :)

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    1. Thanks, Sarah. It's the only way I'll allow myself to look at life. :)

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  3. What a great experience! And just like agents choosing manuscripts or editor choosing - it's not always about the writing. It's what they are looking for! Looks like you totally rocked it. And helping others is something that comes from long term experience from being a mom!

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  4. Sheri, you should be damned proud. You're the best "mrs" in my book. I'm proud of you. I'm almost jealous of your flat stomach. Can I be proud and sick at the same time? ***gets off computer, heads to gym***

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    1. I meant I'm totally jealous of your flat stomach! And I don't have kids. (sigh)

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  5. Sheri, you have every reason to be proud of yourself. You stepped out of your comfort zone, tried something new and truly scary and held yourself with strength and dignity.

    Personally, I don't try to make sense of why certain things unfold as they do. It may sound silly, but I have faith in the universe that there are other elements at play that have absolutely nothing to do with me. I just trust in the knowledge that everything happens as it should and if I'm lucky enough to learn the reasons someday, great! but otherwise, I look for the lesson I need to take away. If it were me, I'd walk away from this experience knowing I don't need the approval of others to validate my fabulousness. :)

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    1. You hit that dead on, Shannon. Trying to figure out things like this in life is basically a waste of time. The real answer more than likely will never be revealed. The true lesson is in how we handle the unknown and where we allow it to lead us. Thank you!

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  6. Only someone like you would come out of an experience like this with such a positive attitude! I'm stumped, too, how you didn't make the top five? How were the decisions made? WHO made the decisions? Seems like there may have been a little backstage corruption? LOLOL Oh geez, there's my pessimistic side talking ... Anyway, I'm so proud of you. You really are an inspiration! xoxo

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  7. Sheri, you're amazing in your own right! Beautiful inside and out! Thanks for sharing this with us! ((((hugs))))

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  8. The pageant should have certain requirements to enter like being married at least 5 years and have at least one child, or something like that. It would make more sense considering what the pageant stood for.

    You look beautiful in the pictures! You'll always be a winner to those who love and care about you, and that's the most important win!

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  9. Sheri, you are amazing!! And beautiful. And deserved to be first place. You have handled this all with dignity and grace and I have the utmost respect for you :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nikki! I hope sharing this experience can make a difference in someone else's life. :)

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  10. Dang, girl! Look at your smokin' hot bod!!! Rock on, sister.

    Besides that, you have an amazing spirit. I'm sorry you didn't make the top 5. You were robbed, if you ask me, but what a wonderful experience for you and your family too. They must've been so so proud of you. It sounds like you were pure grace. *high five* from one supermom to another. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Haha...I can't get past your first row of comments. ((hugs))

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  11. Everything I know about your--your leadership, your warmth, your mothering, you generosity, your intelligence, and yes, your inner and outer beauty tells me that the judging was a crock.

    You are amazing. And you never really needed others to tell you that, which is why you're super amazing.

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    Replies
    1. Okay, now this made me cry. Lydia, thank you. This support is amazing. Now, let's cross every limb we have that an agent and publisher see the same in me soon. lol

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  12. You are gorgeous. Inside and out. I don't know what they must have been judging, because you're the most beautiful woman in these photos (sorry, Mister Sheri!).

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  13. Sheri, I am so sorry you were snubbed - sounds like it was rigged or maybe they already had in mind what sort of person the "winner" was supposed to be. A pox upon them I say!

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  14. You are simply gorgeous and this contest motivated you to reach out into new areas and I loved that you helped the other contestant! I would have been confused too by the results!

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  15. Wow, what a photo and you look stunning in blue.....following your blog, follow me at http://thewrongplaceatthewrongtime.blogspot.com

    Great to connect......

    Dave P Perlmutter

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  16. I respect you even more...Well said my love W

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  17. Wow, you truly are an amazing woman and I'm so surprised by the judging.

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  18. Whatever the outcome you did the right thing. And it's so much more important to be true to yourself and a good, helpful person. Which you definitely are. Sorry the judges didn't recognize it.

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  19. Sheri- Thank you for being so honest and open about your experience. I have to say I'm surprised with you not being in the top three with you being such a wonderful role model in so many areas. You are BEAUTIFUL inside and out.

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  20. To me, you ARE the winner, Sheri. No one outshine what you stood for. No one! *hugs*

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  21. Sheri, Thanks for sharing your experience, it was well written and perfectly timed. Trust me it's their loss. Please just tell me you work out all day, everyday, PLEASE!

    Keep your head up, you are one classy act and honestly listen to C.J ;)

    A xx

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    Replies
    1. You are correct. CJ said to perfectly. Gosh, kids are so dang amazing. :)

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  22. Wow. I applaude, salute, and bow to you. You deserve it!!!

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  23. Sheri - You're amazing and we all know that you represent the values of the pageant. Too bad the judges were just blind. And btw - based on the swimsuit picture, you're in the best shape of that whole group -- even after having 4 children. Rock on with your bad self!!

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  24. This is a beautiful post! Oh, and I can't believe you look so good after 4 kids. I have 4 and uhum need to get to work on the bod :-D You go super-woman!

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  25. Amazing! You are one brave and audacious lady! First of all, I could never walk on heels for 10 hours, much less one hour! You look great in all of the photos, and I understand what you're saying about how things are sometimes unfair and people are hypocritical. But you know who you are, and what your worth. BTW, I listened to new the Kelly Clarkson album this morning. Soem great tunes! Danced my face off to them-good exercise music.

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