In less than a month, I will be heading to Las Vegas, Nevada to represent Ohio at Mrs. America. In one month exactly, we will be crowning a new Mrs. America. I can’t believe I get to do this. I feel so honored to have this unique opportunity, and I can’t wait to meet the amazing competitors that I am getting to know online through social media. As I enter this final phase of preparation, I thought I might share some insight on what I have been up to since my crowning moment in May.
This preparation has been very different for me. In my post about my Ohio preparation back in June, I talked about what I did personally. Truthfully, I did most of my preparation on my own. This time, however, I have had a little help from my friends! I have had a pouring of incredible queens, competitors, sponsors, and family members all ready to help me push myself to the next level. I am so thankful for the help; I believe in constructive criticism and learning from those that have been there. Luckily, we have a fabulous group of women to guide me to my ultimate goal.
As I began listening to everyone, I realized first and foremost that I had to find my voice and set my goals. With only a few months between Ohio and Mrs. America, I knew my goals needed to be concrete, succinct, and realistic. So, two weeks after I was crowned, I wrote my goals down on paper. I am still working through those pre-pageant goals. I believe I will ultimately meet each of them.
My next venture was setting up my team. At the highest levels of competition, pageantry takes a village. My village is awesome. From the state level, I’ve kept my trainer Aron Layman. Aron is not only a great trainer but also a great friend. He has kept me focused and worked with me to meet my fitness and nutrition goals. I can’t thank him enough for what he has done for me. Aron has freed me from dieting and taught me how to eat to train. As a result, I am not starving nor do I feel deprived. I’ve also help from Samantha Stine, a Mrs. Ohio competitor and all-around amazing woman. Sam has provided me some additional workouts to help me focus on my trouble spots efficiently and effectively. I also have my Mom! My Mom is making my Mrs. America costume, just as she has always made my Halloween costumes (in fact, she STILL makes my Halloween costumers). She is so talented, and I cannot wait to show you what we have in store. I will feel truly special knowing I have her with me. Beauty-wise, Dr. Bapna at Ohio Facial Plastics and Whitney Richardson at the Lavish Lash have kept my skin and lashes in tip top shape. While at Mrs. America, I’ll have our very own Mrs. Ohio 2014 Shaylyn Ford making sure my hair and makeup are flawless. She and Teri Grothaus, Mrs. Ohio 2013 will also be having a Mrs. Ohio Bootcamp prior to my departure to Vegas. Teri Grothaus has been my right hand. Teri really understands the Mrs. America system. She is wonderful coach! Like I said, I am a fan of constructive criticism, so why not be coached by women that have actually been in my heels?! Additionally, I have other amazing titleholders in the Mrs. America system that are helping me along the way. Rhonda Shappert, Mrs. Ohio 2005, is on my side! Rhonda has given me some incredible insight on the nuts and bolts of Mrs. America. I’m so thankful for her. And last, I have P.S. Be You, owned by Mrs. Colorado 2002 Emily Stark (my director) and Mrs. Colorado 2010 Shalon Polson who have continued to work with me to make sure my posing and wardrobe are where I want them to do be. This is a winning village!
When I am asked how I am feeling about my preparation, I am shocked to say that I am at peace. I am never at peace; I’m type-A! However, upon careful reflection, I’ve realized why.
With regard to my physical training, I take less notice of the muscle soreness and the nutritional aspect, because those elements have changed to habits. I don’t think about going to the gym now or that I’m tired. I just go. I don’t think about having to pack my food for the day, because I just do it. My workouts are getting shorter because I am getting in better shape, and I can push harder. I don’t look at the scales with concern, because I know my goals have less to do with a number and more to do with how I look and feel.
As for interview preparation, I prepared very hard for Ohio. I used to go through interview questions in the car on the way to and from work. I still do. It has become habit. I have pre-scheduled interviews with other people throughout my preparation. I even have an interview scheduled with my husband – an attorney – who will be the most difficult of all.
In the next few weeks, I will continue to work on my walking and posing. I will be meeting with a variety of my villagers to polish this area. I can’t wait to hear my feedback.
Most of all, I’ve realized I am at peace because regardless of what happens on this day one month from now, I’m still Ashley Starling. I have always been blessed with knowing exactly who I am. And in my thirties, I have become more willing to share who I am, unapologetically and without concern of judgment. It is very freeing, and as a result, I don’t fear failure. Failure is positive; it signals growth. I hope to hear my name called, but if I don’t, I will cherish every second of my time in Vegas and of this upcoming year. More to come…
Your Mrs. Ohio 2015, Ashley Starling