Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A visit to the Pacific Northwest

My year as Mrs. International has  been filled with so many blessings, and yet each day seems to bring some new and wonderful addition. Since my crowning in July I've had the opportunity to travel to Illinois, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma and all across my home state. However, last weekend I was blessed to travel to a part of our amazing nation that I have never before seen; the Pacific Northwest.  The state director of the Oregon International system invited me to be her guest for a special workshop for her contestants.  Leslie was an incredible hostess, and it was an honor to be her guest and help her promote the system in her state.

We started our appearances as soon as I stepped off the plane, with a quick stop by the Paul Mitchell school.  They are so excited to be part of the International pageant system, and are going to be offering a scholarship to Leslie's winners.  The next morning we started off with a visit to the local American Heart Association offices. It was fantastic to get a chance to sit down with the Pacific Northwest team and discuss what legislative agenda issues they are working toward for their 2009 session. As in my home state Oregon is pushing for an increase in their states tobacco excise tax.  They also are working toward legislation for a healthier tomorrow for the children of Oregon, and I was thrilled to discuss with them the impact that the 2003 BMI act has made in my home state.  They were unaware of the legislation, and very interested in seeing if it could be implemented in their home state.  They are also moving toward placing AED's in their public schools, as Arkansas did in 2007.  Overall, it was thrilling to see how the AHA's goal of decreasing death by heart disease and stroke by 25% by 2010 is being realized across the nation.
After leaving the AHA's office we stopped for a quick bite of lunch with Mrs. Oregon International Debra Gilmore, and then off to site-see.  Then, it was on to BiMart to sign autographs.  BiMart of the executive sponsor of the Oregon International pageant, and they were thrilled to have us as their guests for the afternoon. That evening we closed our day with a pajama party with former Mrs. Oregon International Tamara Wissbaum and Kim Wylder.  I was so honored to get to spend some time with these fabulous women, and now count them as dear friends!
Saturday Leslie hosted a fabulous workshop for her contestants, where I presented tips on creating winning paperwork.  It was such a joy to get to meet the wonderful women of Oregon, and I look forward to getting to see the winners this summer in Chicago.  After the workshop  Leslie treated me to the best pedicure I've ever experienced at Pink and White nail salon; then it was off to dinner at The Nines, one of Portlands' most beautiful boutique hotels.
I cannot thank Leslie enough for the incredible experience she provided for me in her beautiful home city.  The weekend went by far too quickly!