By all accounts, my experience at Jr. Nationals was excellent. Thank you to those of you who helped me to get there, who cheered me on, and who loved me and supported me through all the dieting, whining and waxing.
We arrived in Chicago on Wednesday despite Mother Nature's attempt to ground all air traffic. After circling the airport in a holding pattern for an hour, we finally landed. There's nothing quite like the words, "holding pattern" spoken over the loud speaker by the pilot to send you into a mini panic attack.
It finally appeared. We walked for what seemed miles to get the hotel shuttle and once checked in I felt like despite all that could have gone wrong, everything had gone just right. I turned on the news to reports of funnel clouds touching down.
Thursday brought a chance for us to take a cab to the grocery store to purchase the last few items I would need for my preparation. With rice cakes in hand I felt I could relax once and for all. Check in was smooth and well organized...but I had to leave the comfort of the hands of my husband to go into the meeting room on my own.
This was it. I would at this point take off my training wheels and join the ranks of the national competitors. Once issued my official NPC height card and credentials I was in the show. The competitor meeting would be Friday.
The process of carbing up would begin. Feet up, TV on...I would begin my marathon of HGTV. I love HGTV. House Hunters, Property Virgins...I love all of it.
Friday came and I had timed out all of my beauty "events". Shower, dry hair, coat of paint, straighten hair, put on make up, coat of paint, wait...wait...wait.
Put on suit. HEART RACING!!! For some reason once I put my suit on, it hit me...I was about to get on stage. I glued the girls in and put my jewelry on. I had done the work. I was ready. This was it.
And off to the meeting we went after I made Jacques listen, again, to what I had packed in my back stage bag. He really is a calm spirit, and a good sport. We walked to the venue and waited for the meeting where I was issued my competitor number. Things moved fast from that point on.
Prejudging was swift. Instructions were issued as we were lined up. Be ready, be dynamic, be resilient. All lessons learned. I also learned that when I think I'm smiling, I'm not smiling.
So, I ended up in the 3rd of 5 call outs. It felt like we were on stage a long time, and that model pose seemed to be very important. All lessons learned. I had the mindset it was just another contest. I went out there and did my thing. I'll do it better next time.
Then it was back to rest. And wait for Saturday when finals would happen. Shower, fix dirty hair, reapply color, put make up on, put suit on. I felt calm, the work was done, the decisions were made. I hadn't gone out and eaten pizza, I didn't want to look like a big fatty, even if I got 16th place.
Loni the "Swami" read my name as I moved across the stage and NAILED my model pose, and my smile, for finals. And that was it. I made sure to stay in that spot long enough to get a good shot, "Smile-one-one-thousand-two-smile-two-thousand-smile" I said in my head hoping the expediter wouldn't pull out a giant hook and yank me off stage. She didn't.
Everyone was chill back stage. No one was stuffing their faces with candy (we'll address that topic later), we all just got right to business and did our thing. People were nice, everyone was helpful, the staff/crew was fantastic.
Back home and I'm right back on track. It's back in the gym, back to 4:30 am cardio, back to work, and back on the diet. In six weeks I'll do the USA's in Las Vegas. Get ready for another wild ride, the training wheels are definitely off!