Living in the Moment

Thank you for visiting the Mrs. Ohio America blog!  I’m Elexis Ryan, your newly crowned Mrs. Ohio America 2017.

What a magical week this has been!  I let myself have a week off…from my pageant diet, hard core workouts, and from spending a lot of time on social media.  It was important to me to take time to soak in all that has happened since April 22 and to ENJOY it. 

Emily, our pageant director, has encouraged her contestants each year to live in the moment.  This year we talked about how important it is to be present, rather than trying to be perfect.  It’s so easy to be drawn into taking the perfect photograph, or writing the perfect Facebook post.  When we do that, it’s all too easy to miss the connections we have with others.  I’ve always believed that the friendships I’ve made through pageantry have been my biggest gift.  I don’t have many photos of myself with my friends during pageant weekend.  I have something better.  I have the memories of being together, and sharing our stories, and laughing and crying together.  No selfie could ever compare.

I had a bit of an epiphany during this last pageant weekend.  It was my fourth time competing for Mrs. Ohio America, and even though I knew what to expect, my nerves were starting to get the best of me on the morning of the pageant.  Here’s a little sample of what was going through my mind:

·       Did the judges see the real me during interview?

·       Did I put the best facts on my bio?

·       Did I do enough lunges at the gym?

·       How will I react if I win?

·       How will I react if I don’t win?

·       Will I compete again next year if I don’t win?

·       How can I possibly compete against 11 other amazing women?

I was on the verge of being a wreck, and of not enjoying my day.  All I could think about was the final few moments of the pageant.  What if I was standing there as one of the last two contestants? Last year I was the 1st Runner Up.  How would I react if I was the 1st Runner Up again?

Standing in the back of the theater rehearsing our opening number, I was given the gift of insight.  I realized that no matter what thoughts were going through my brain that day, it wouldn’t change the outcome.  I could spend all day worrying about who was going to be crowned…which was out of my control…or I could spend all day having FUN. No matter what happened at the end of the day, no one could take away from me that I had enjoyed every moment of the day.  So, I told myself to walk on that stage like I already was Mrs. Ohio, and that the whole show was a celebration.  If I didn’t win, I’d just spent the whole day feeling like Mrs. Ohio.  How special is that?  I also told myself that this could be the last time I ever walked on the stage as a competitor.  I could win, which would preclude me from competing again.  Or, I might decide that I’d given it a good run and decide to move on to a new goal.  I knew I’d miss being on stage, and I wanted to remember the feeling of being under the lights and performing.  From that moment on, my nerves were gone.  Totally gone. 

Being on stage that night was the most fun I’ve ever had competing.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  My adrenaline was certainly flowing, but in the good way that brings out our best.  I honestly was completely composed.  Until my name was called as the winner, anyway!  At that point, everything went a little fuzzy for a few moments.  But I remember my sash being put on, and the crown being placed on my head by my dear friend Heather, Mrs. Ohio 2016.  I remember hugging my director, Emily, and thanking her for being an important part of my pageant journey.

Right after my crowning, our judges came on stage for a photo op.  After thanking them profusely, I told them that I remembered every moment of that night.  And I had.  I still do.  Had I let my nerves and my thoughts control me that day, I’m sure that would not be true.  I wasn’t dwelling on my preparation, wishing I had done something differently, and I wasn’t thinking about what would happen at the end of the evening.  I was living firmly in the moment, and taking in every sound and feeling I was having.  Those memories will never fade.

I’ve enjoyed some much-needed relaxation this past week.  But now it’s time to focus on preparation for Nationals. My goal is to go to Las Vegas in August feeling as prepared as possible, and to leave my worries and doubts at home.  This is a once in a lifetime experience, and I’ve promised myself that not one moment will go unappreciated or unrecognized.

I hope your week is filled with special moments, and that you live fully in every single one!