From the view of a 20-something dream chaser.

Are You Willing to Bench on Varsity?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I have been wrestling with two very different philosophies on life and growth recently. One was presented to me while reading The Truth About Marissa Mayer: An Unauthorized Biography. According to this piece, whenever she is asked why she joined Google after getting her master's in symbolic systems at Stanford, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer tells her "Laura Beckman story" about the daughter of her middle school piano teacher. I'll let Marissa tell it in her own words:

10 Things To Do While SAVED & SINGLE

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I'm working on becoming a better me, as I'm sure we all are and should. A blog post on what the specifics of becoming a better me entail is coming soon, so be on the lookout. In the meantime, I came across another post call 10 Things to do While Saved & Single and I really enjoyed the read. Not only that, but I took a lot from it on how to improve my life as a single Christian. Some of these things I already do; others I am willing to adopt. I thought it might bless some of you so below is the text of the post that originally appeared on NORingNOSheets. Happy reading!

The Boyfriend/Husband List

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back in January, a girlfriend and I read former Miss USA Kristen Dalton Wolfe's The Husband List: 12 Non-Negotiables and were inspired to draft lists of our own. Looking back at it now, not much has changed. Before I share with you what made my list, I want to first talk about modern dating and share my own experience. A guy I had previously dated, fallen for and truly thought could have been The One despite "bad timing" told me he was in a relationship with another girl. This was after telling me for more than a year that he wasn't ready for a relationship with me due mostly to focusing on his career but also because I moved away and he wasn't into long-distance relationships. But still he called and texted me and we went on several dates over the course of almost two years. He also said he could see himself with me in the future. I believed it. So you can understand my confusion and anger upon hearing this news.

How to be a Christian

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When I wrote How to be Beautiful, I didn't think it would be the first of a series of How Tos, but here I am writing my second How To post. I felt compelled to write this because I feel like Christians today get a bad rep. We're called too conservative and judgmental and off-putting.

Make no mistake, being a Christian and living a life that's pleasing to God is not easy. It's something I work hard at each day. One Sunday a few months ago, my pastor said something that really spoke to me. It was along the lines of: "It is not my job to make you better Christians, but to make you better human beings." Amennnnn. We were made in God's image and given superior intelligence to other animals for a reason. We can discern right from wrong and choose love and acceptance over hate and rejection. Being a Christian isn't about walking around proud and condemning others for the lives they lead, but sharing your love, talents and passion for Christ with the world around you. Here's how I think it should be done:

How to be Beautiful

Friday, August 8, 2014

Being a beauty queen and all, I'm often asked for beauty secrets. The truth is: I don't have any. I believe in the democratization of beauty so I share what works for me freely. And when I say it works for me, I mean just that. The best way to find what works for you is to experiment with as many different products as your budget will permit. Subscription services like Birchbox and Glossybox are great resources for beauty experimenters. Both send you monthly samples of products you otherwise may never try. And the samples are always enough that you can use them several times so you know it really works. If you want to know what works for me, keep reading.

Miss Teen USA: The Bahamas

Friday, August 1, 2014

My friend, Olivia Fletcher (henceforth referred to as Livi), is competing for Miss Teen USA! Yeah, I know. I can't believe. I mean, I can, but you know. Anyway, so I flew down to the Bahamas with her and her sister Emily (Emmy). After arriving at the airport, Livi was treated like royalty, complete with a limo ride to her hotel. By default, Emmy and I got a ride, too. It was great. They carried all our heavy luggage--as gentlemen should--and basically waited on us hand and foot.

Emmy and I parted ways with Livi to go to our more affordable but still very nice hotel in a black SUV the airport provided. Pays to know important people, right? We knew she was in good hands because Miss Arkansas's Outstanding Teen and her mom were with her. We check in and get the key to our hotel room and with only slight exaggeration is it the most perfect room the good Lord could have made a way for us to have. I'm talking about the ocean being mere steps from our patio, which we noticed immediately upon entering.

We stayed only long enough to snap a few pics and freshen up, for on our first night, it just so happened to be BBQ Tuesday at our hotel. It was awesome! We ate pasta salad, hotdogs, ribs, chicken and apple pie...I'm sure we had some vegetables at some point...and did it all while sitting on the beach. Since we're in the Bahamas and all, I, of course, had to try the Bahama Mama. Emmy went for the Yellow Bird.

Back in our room, we decided that such a view could only mean one thing: we would let natural light wake us up the next morning. Before bed, we locked the sliding doors tight and left the curtains open. Then we chose breakfast items from a menu they had provided. Shortly after 8 the next morning, we feasted on chocolate chip pancakes, fresh fruit, breakfast potatoes and orange juice. Breakfast of champions.

Not long after we left the hotel to see what we could see in the neighborhood, we allowed a stranger to convince us to climb aboard an all-inclusive Booze & Cruise ship. He had us when he said, "Y'all aren't doing anything anyway." Actually, sir, we were just about to check out those lovely straw purchases, t-shirts and other souvenirs over yonder, but we'll skip that fine cultural experience for now if you insist.

So there we were, both feeling ever-so-slightly seasick aboard a booze cruise ship with strangers from across the globe. And boy, did we have a good time! While out to sea, we went snorkeling (my first time!), docked at a private beach with another booze cruise ship and even met some fellow Virginians aboard our own ship. Lunch included barbecue chicken, ribs, dirty rice, corn and unlimited drinks. And we danced the entire way back.

Back to the hotel, where we met up with Emmy's and Livi's parents who had just arrived in time to get changed for the meet-and-greet that night. I doubt there is any way for a group of teens to be cuter. They're so poised and fun. It just say the fish still had eyes and a tail and I could see his scales. That was totally new to me. And let's just say that it didn't set well with my stomach. But I did try cronch fritters for the first time and those were quite delectable.

Before we got to dinner, we were fish ourselves. We spent the entire morning and early afternoon on the beach and in the pool. Emmy and I kayaked with our friend, EmmaGrace Miss Roanoke Valley's Outstanding Preteen, who joined us here with her mom. We adults swam up to the swim-up bar to order drinks (how could we resist?) and we all participated in an aqua aerobics session. Later that night, we went back to the pool and were provided live entertainment from Juncanoo. We retired for the night soon after, but not before Emmy and I cut a mean rug in front of a live band. One of the singers even called us the Dancing Queens. And then they sang the song! I can't make this stuff up.

And the best part? We can only access iMessage and the Internet under the hotel lobby's wifi (you know, international rates and all) so we're forced to leave em behind on our daily escapades. Well, we bring em along to take the occasional picture, but you get my drift. Who knew I was vacationing with such incredible and fun people? We have stories for days, including riding in cars with men we just met  and compelling an Atlantis employee to buy a ticket in the row in front of us on finals night to cheer Livi on.

Tonight is Friday and the preliminary competition. I can't wait for the glam. Send positive vibes our way. We think we've got ourselves a winner!

Being in the Bahamas for Miss Teen USA and the adventure of a lifetime: that's what dreams are made of.

Life After

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I wanted so badly to become Miss America. I spent five years competing at the local and state level because I have always felt my life is about making a difference in the lives of others. I wanted the Miss America platform to help me do it nationwide. Without a doubt, I know I would have made a great Miss America, but I didn't win a state title. Now, after "aging out," I never will. One of my deepest but unuttered fears was that this day would come and I would have to say that to myself. Here it is. And I'm ok. I am still alive and able to do great work in this world. I never needed a crown for that and I still don't.

So let me say this: it takes guts to compete for Miss Virginia and Miss New York. The process of self-awareness, growth and vulnerability that you endure as a contestant is quite unlike anything else I have ever experienced. And I loved every minute of it. It takes heart to walk into a room full of strangers waiting to fire a series of questions your way and be unequivocally you. You dodge controversial and loaded questions, sometimes with ease and grace, but sometimes you get stumped. Sometimes, you don't know the answer or can't think quickly enough on your feet. Sometimes your wit or humor doesn't come across as you planned. Sometimes even the very words that seemed to make sense in your brain roll off your tongue and even you don't know what they mean. But you remember that you are human and that's what happens to humans: we make mistakes.

But dreaming of becoming and competing for Miss America was not one. I wouldn't trade my experiences, self-growth or the lifelong friendships I made for anything in this world. I am who I am today because of the Miss America Organization, whether directly or indirectly. Only one young woman can win on a given night and whether my record in pageantry indicates it or not, I "won" more often than not. I am and will always be a winner.

My contentment has prepared me for what I call Life After. Until now, there has always been the possibility that someday I could be Miss America. There was also the possibility that someday I wouldn't. So I promised myself long ago that I would never put my life on hold or pass up incredible opportunities to win. Sure, I made sacrifices. I sacrificed my time more than anything and that's something I will never get back--the brunches, family get-togethers, Girls Nights and other events I missed. Looking back, it was worth it. And Lord willing, there will be more. My whole life is before me. I now never have to wonder What if? and that gives me more peace than you may imagine.

This fall, I will complete my master's degree at New York University. At this very moment I am taking a break from applying to full-time jobs to write this blog post. This summer has and I believe will continue to be my best yet. I have the best friends and family I could ever ask for. I have good health, a sound mind and an able body. In short, I am blessed. So here's to Life After. It's what dreams are made of.


Life is Deleesh. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.