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The Art of Letting Go

I love with my entire heart. I mean that sincerely. If you can call yourself a family member or friend of mine, you know that without a doubt, I would go to the end of the world with/for you and ask zero questions.

I’m all about life lessons, but the art of letting go is sometimes difficult for me to swallow. I could totally pull an Elsa and just sing life’s problems away, but what happens when the people who once served purpose in your life no longer do so? I mentioned this in my last blog, but some of my relationships have dwindled or diminished and it’s so confusing. The texts stop coming, the phone stops ringing and you’re forced to reevaluate how to take the next step. Is it a matter of trying a little harder or walking away? In my opinion, it’s a little of both.

You can’t walk away from a situation, ANY situation, without being able to say you did everything you possibly could. This goes for relationships of any kind, friendships, an ambition, a job, trying new food (did you really think I wasn’t going to throw that in there?) or watching or playing a new sport. People deserve second chances. Mistakes are made in life and you either take that as a lesson and push forward to be better, or you fall into the same trap over and over, in which case time is wasted and you might as well just make your own movie entitled Groundhog Day.

My friend posted this on Instagram a few days ago and with it she wrote that it was the reason she couldn’t hate people.

“I think I fall in love a little bit with anyone who shows me their soul. Their world is so guarded and fearful. I appreciate rawness so much.”

I find it very difficult to hate people, so I don’t. It takes entirely too much energy, you have to avoid them and all that nonsense. You either spread love or remain indifferent. There’s zero room for hate in this world, and putting that type of negativity into the air is so bad for your karma. Flaws and all, we must accept that sometimes people grow up and grow out of things, even if it’s you.

If someone isn’t making you a priority or isn’t making time for you, walk away before your feelings get hurt. I put every part of myself into my work, my family, my friendships, my hobbies, my ambitions. If my environment doesn’t complement that, it doesn’t belong with or around me.

I don’t believe in ‘new year, new me,’ but I do believe in making meaningful strides to creating a better version of myself (and you!) everyday. One of the promises I made to myself in this new year is give my time and my heart to the people who show me theirs as well. Being immensely selfless is an admirable trait, but also the one thing that can get you hurt over and over again.

It’s amazing what a 20-min phone call or a “catch-up” lunch will do to your mood and your mind. Keep the people that matter, that make time, that make promises and keep them. Those are people who understand you, who value your life and your presence in theirs. We all get busy, but pay attention to what you value most, because I highly doubt it’s how many likes your photo got on the ‘gram.

Love fully, love sincerely, love all the time. What’s meant for you will never pass you. If it’s for you, hold tight. If not, walk away and move on.

“Change is inevitable. Why hold on to what you have to let go of?”

‘What is meant for you will never pass you.’

For the last four years, I’ve had the opportunity to sit and write a “reflection” blog at the end of each year, explaining my year as a whole and my hopes for the next.

Well, this year I was in San Antonio working for U.S. Army All-American Bowl, so I had no time for that! It was all football for me when I traveled to Naples, Florida for Football University National Championship from December 16th – December 22nd, made it back home for a few days in the office and Christmas, and then back on a plane as I headed to Texas. If you would have told me last June that I would have been working on this game, I probably would have looked at you and laughed. I don’t really think I understood the importance of the work or gravity of the situation until I arrived in San Antonio. The nation’s top 100 high school seniors receive the invitation and honor of a lifetime to represent their country and their sport in a prestigious East v. West match-up. In its 15th year, NBC-broadcast game really is breathtaking when push comes to shove. The sleepless days and nights, stress and work were all worth it when I met the athletes, who will most likely go on to be hot shots at their Division 1 football programs (USC, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Oregon to name a few). While my role with All American Games is over, I am truly thankful to have gained the truly unique experience. There’s this old saying “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Not many people can say, at 23, that they wrote their own media advisories and press releases for distribution, established relationships with media, conducted media training for 100 athletes and coordinated interviews each and every day post-practice for them. I think above all else, I gained some really great memories and friends (not coworkers) in the process. To my crew of Stunnas– thank you for the laughs and the swag. You’re my favorites.


Derrius Guice Field Kahlil McKenzie_NBC ST squad Texas A&M commits

While work absorbed almost all of my time, I did manage to do other fun stuff! Basketball season started (which means many National Anthem performances!–my favorite time of the year), I’ve been working on completing my Duke of Edinburgh award and just trying to enjoy my last two months of being 23.

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To say 2014 was a rollercoaster is an understatement. You can think you have it together, and all of a sudden this 90mph curveball comes and you miss. Then what? Keep it moving, just keep swimming. I’ve learned that you can have control on your fate if you simply believe in yourself. Certain things may not pan out the way you’d hope, sometimes things happen for no reason, but most times they happen for a reason. Trust the plan that the universe and God has for you and enjoy the ride. Friendships were gained and lost, people moved, I lost some battles and I won some, but most importantly… I’m alive and well. I’m here, ready to ‘get after it’ each and everyday. I am thankful for those who are still around, for the ones who check up on me, for the people and things that make me happy.

Never settle, never digress.

‘What is meant for you will never pass you.’

2015- I’m ready for you.

xo,

Anna

Pageants and Sports and Journalism… oh my!

I can remember being a sophomore in college, overly obsessed with my favorite Miss America contestants and falling in love with writing. Having enrolled in Writing for the Media during my Spring semester, I was learning the tools and tricks of being a good writer and journalist. My professor was probably one of my favorites, constantly sharing her most memorable experiences as an investigative reporter for the New York Post. The time came for our final project–a Feature story. We had the choice of picking who we wrote about, so long as they were a notable figure and, in her words, “were ACTUALLY interesting.”

My choice was a no-brainer, as I approached my professor after class and enthusiastically said I wanted to write about the current Miss New York, Kaitlin Monte.

“If you can get her to sit down and speak with you, sure.” she said. “Good luck!”

There wasn’t a sense of doubt in her voice, but more-so just a little shocked that a 20-year-old was trying to interview a young woman who had just been on national television and was 2nd Runner Up to Miss America. Casual.

I reached out to the Miss America Organization, who directed me to the Miss New York Business Manager, who then directed me to Kaitlin herself. GULP! I explained what my project/story assignment was and Kaitlin responded to my e-mail with zero hesitation, in less than a day, with a time and place to meet with her. [I died inside.]

Fast forward to that evening, as I patiently sat at the Starbucks in Rockefeller Center–questions, notebook and audio recorder prepared. “Kaitlin Monte” appeared on my Blackberry screen that was on the table and the jitters began. Hello– wake up, this is happening. 

I grabbed my things and met her right outside and we relocated to another table just a few steps away from where I had been preparing for the last 2 hours. She respectfully declined after I offered to pay for her Starbucks order and two hours later, an actual dream was lived out. Can you imagine your first real writing assignment, regardless of whether it was for school or not, being on a person you idolize?

I remember walking to Penn Station (yes I walked all way there because I was in a great mood) so excited to get home and write. I got home a little late, but sat at my dining room table, notes everywhere and earphones plugged as I transcribed the answers she gave to my questions. At 3 a.m., my feature story was complete. I stayed up practically all night writing it, having not even realized the time passing or how tired I was. With minor edits to be made after my professor proofread it, I received an A and I was gleaming from ear to ear.

In that moment, after having been so inspired and dismissive to everything in the world aside from the words I was typing, I realized I wanted to tell people’s stories. I’ve said this time and time again, but I’m TERRIBLE at sports. I can shoot a ball and lift weights and all that jazz, but it was never really my thing. However, I love sports. That makes sense, right? When you grow up with a mother who raved about the Bulls and Michael Jordan, you really just have no choice in the matter.

To be able to tie pageantry into writing, writing into sports, sports into journalism and journalism into life is the goal and the dream. I will forever remember the kindness Kaitlin exuded and how she lived up to every single expectation I had of her, even now. Yesterday afternoon, she spoke at Seton Hall as the Women’s Basketball team launched their anti-bullying campaign. As I nervously greeted her because I’m a child, she gave me the biggest smile and hug. Listening to her speak, my mind went directly back to the Starbucks and I took in every word that she spoke. She also equated kindness to donuts, so #winning. AND SHE TWEETED AT ME #doublewinning

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My doubts about my success have been dwindling lately as I have been getting mixed reviews about Graduate School and the broadcasting industry as a whole. I believe God sends us little reminders here and again, so shoutout to the man upstairs. It’s my dream to be a Sports Journalist, dammit. And I will work like hell to be what I want to be, because I WANT to put in the work and I WANT to be successful. Oh, and thank goodness for the Miss America Organization for not only giving me people to look up to, but being someone who is looked up to. It truly is a HUGE blessing/honor/responsibility that I do not take lightly.

Inspiration can come at the strangest, most unexpected time. Remember to be kind and courageous, and never let anyone or anything taint your dream. When you’re dabbling with doubt, follow your heart. Like Kaitlin said, “You know how you become a big deal? By making choices everyday.”

Make the choice to be better and take every step necessary to be who YOU want to be. Your success is a reflection of how hard you’ve worked; your character is defined by how hard you’re willing to work for what you want. Do you, boo. *insert hair flip emoji*

Xo.

Embracing the Phase: the Transitional 20’s

There’s a difference between living and simply being alive. We all battle finding the happy medium. The one thing that remains prevalent in that is our purpose. We all have one.

To say I’ve been stuck a weird rut is partially true, but I think it’s more so a transitional period in my life that leaves me ambivalent about what my purpose actually is. I certainly know and understand that each and every day I wake up as a daughter, a sister, a best friend, a niece, a granddaughter, a cousin, a titleholder, a 23-year-old, a woman, a PR associate, a journalist, a singer and so on. With all of those roles, my thoughts always wander back to “Am I doing enough?” or “Is this it?”

Complacency and contentment has never been something I settled for. So many mediocre words, right?

complacent. content. settle.

Those are ugly words to me. Hideous words that should never be in your or my vocabulary unless you’re talking about things you never want. My aspirations stem far and wide, but by no means do they reach a level of simply being content- especially at 23. Yours shouldn’t either.

People always ask me “Are you working? Do you love it?” My answer is yes. It will always be yes because I take pride in the decisions I make. But I’m always left wanting more. Wanting to BE more, to STRIVE for me, to DREAM more, BELIEVE more, WORK more. In the last year I’ve been dealt many different cards, some played well and some not so much (I’m really bad at UNO). I (will probably continue to) spend countless nights in my room, in solitude with my thoughts. I try so hard to shut out the world sometimes, seeking wishful silence in my empty room and it seems like the noise of the world couldn’t be any louder. I think and think and think… “did I do enough at work today… why hasn’t so&so texted me today… why am I so tired.. I shouldn’t be this tired I’m in my 20s… should I go back to school… should I drink wine tonight (that should always be a yes, btw)… I wonder how my brother is doing… when should I take the GREs… need to call Ari and see how she is… I should probably do my laundry… maybe a purple gown would suffice for Miss NJ… I hope Cierra is okay… basketball season is next month… where will I be in 5 years…” Aimless, various and sometimes crazy thoughts that I am consumed by on the regular, and all at once because HEY why not.

First things first [I’m the realist. Drop just to… nvm].

Seriously, first things first, you don’t have all the answers *Kanye West voice.* I don’t even have all the answers. Your thoughts—let them steer you TO and THROUGH your fears, your insecurities, your dreams, ambitions, aspirations. I have spent more time doubting myself than believing in myself these days and it makes me sick. I’m not good at taking no for an answer, particularly when it pertains to my career. People always looked at me with a tilted head and squinted eyes when I explained that I wanted to go into sports. An undergraduate degree and five internships later, my response to that is BOO-YAH as I sit at my desk in my job at a sport management company.

Let that be the fuel that lights your fire. Why should you (or I) waste time doubting myself when other people do it for me, right? LOL. Really though. You don’t know my life, so don’t try to tell me what I can’t do. If you aren’t or can’t provide value and growth to my life, you don’t belong in it. I am inspired by people with goals, who have a plan, who value their education, who choose to smile instead of surrender themselves to the negativity our society seems to swim in. Tell me what I CAN do, talk to me about what I CAN do to be better. “Before I am your daughter, your sister, your aunt, niece or cousin, I am my own person and I will not set fire to myself to keep you warm.” Anyone that knows me knows I would give the world to and for my family and friends, but I refuse to lose my identity to become a part of someone else’s. I am Anna before I am anything else, and that will never change.

Purpose.

“You will always be too much of something for someone; too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone—profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are.” Amen and godbless. That quote literally sinks right into my soul. Embrace the days that make you feel like an ant the same way you embrace the days that make you feel like a king/queen. Being human involves consistency, so no matter what the world throws at you—good or bad—you have it handled, sorta like Olivia Pope. I am very much “what you see is what you get.” I get so irritated when people I’ve known for months don’t understand my sarcasm or my humor or my word use and then I think “are you paying attention?” Probably not! It’s important to see and listen to others as much as people see and listen to you. Newsflash. y’all: the world does NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU. That’s the trick to understanding and embracing your purpose. It could change from day to day, but remembering that sometimes people need you more than you need them on a given day could really make all the difference. Details matter, so pay attention. Sometimes I wake up ready to conquer the world, and other days I wake up and sit in my bed texting Cierra until 15 minutes before I have to leave for work. It happens. You are allowed to be happy, powerful, sad, angry, etc. Embrace the face, embrace the phase.

I thought I’d have my life figured out by now, especially thinking about an 18-year-old Anna and what my plans were. Now I just laugh and think “YOU’RE JOKING.” I wish I had things figured out, but then it wouldn’t be as fun wondering what the day-week-month will bring along. Being stuck in rut, that’s temporary. But it’s only temporary if you choose to treat each day as a new beginning. We get one shot at life, and you are no younger today than you were yesterday. Oh yes, let that one sick in– you’re getting old, what are you gonna do about? Mope around? NAAAHHH.

You want to be the change you see in the world?… then BE IT. Stop crying about the boy/girl that won’t text you back and get out there and do something. Be somebody. Find your purpose.

I started this blog a few days ago when I was in a really crumby place. To be perfectly honest, I still am, but half the battle is choosing to fight back and putting your trust and confidence in the people who will keep you from falling. The other half is coming to terms with the fact that life WILL throw you curveballs and you just have to be ready for them (BATTER UPP).

Want some advice? Here it is, per usual:

1. DO NOT CHASE PEOPLE WHO WON’T RUN WITH YOU OR PICK YOU UP WHEN YOU TRIP AND FALL.

2. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO BE EMOTIONAL. TALK IT OUT, HUG IT OUT, KEEP IT MOVING.

3. YOUR MOTHER HAS MOST OF THE ANSWERS TO YOUR UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS. AND IF SHE DOESN’T, ASK HER TO MAKE YOU FOOD. FOOD ALWAYS HELPS.

4. IF YOUR MOM ISN’T AROUND, EAT CHIPOTLE. AND GET THE GUAC.

5. EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS, WEIGH YOUR OPTIONS. YOU NEVER WANT TO WONDER ‘WHAT IF’

6. YOUR BEST FRIEND(S) WILL NOT JUDGE YOU. TALK TO THEM, CRY TO THEM.

7. NEVER SKIP YOUR MORNING COFFEE. IT JUST SETS A BAD TONE FOR THE DAY. JAVA FOR THE SOUL, EVERYDAY.

8. ALSO, DRINK WINE. IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR HEART AND YOUR MIND AND YOUR LIFE (21+ THOUGH. MY YOUNG BUCKS, HAVE A MILKSHAKE)

9. THE SUN DOES NOT RISE AND SET BY YOU, SO TREAT PEOPLE KINDLY. WE ALL DESERVE RESPECT AS HUMANS.

10. DO YOU, BOO. I MEAN THAT. YOU COULD BE BROKE AND EATING RAMEN NOODLES, BUT AS LONG AS YOU’RE MAKING WISE DECISIONS AND DOING WHAT YOU LOVE, NOTHING ELSE REALLY MATTERS.

Pray for one another. Pray for me. Pray for the world. We could all use a little prayer every once in a while. Keep the faith, remain humble and be kind.

Here’s to hoping we all find our purpose, whether it’s for ‘right now’ and forever. Keep ya head up!

xo.

Es La Vida (That’s Life)

I wanted to give myself a couple days to process this last week and transition back into work (still struggling), but I have to share and express a few things before they leave me and my tired mind.

Let’s start with Miss America week.

I could go on for days, weeks, months about how proud I am, but I’ll try to keep it short. Miss America week was so unbelievably exhausting because I actually felt like I was going through it. To see someone’s resilience, patience, strength and charisma remain prevalent and consistent at all hours of the day is honestly just unreal. I witnessed firsthand what it means to be a state titleholder and let me tell you.. it’s no easy task.

For those who took the time to ride the negative train and tried to put Ci down with hurtful words, shame on you. I would be lying if I said I didn’t see or hear what was being said about my best friend, both good and bad. It truly hurt my soul to think there are people out there who would take the time and energy to place negativity in the air and be so distasteful in sharing their thoughts and opinions. Until you walk in her shoes or ANY of the girls’ shoes, you cannot place judgement or hate. Actually, you should never place judgement or hate upon women who work tirelessly to be a positive staple in their community. Being a titleholder, at any level, is a job, a blessing and a gift. Those roles comes with a lot of hard work, servitude, kindness, care and responsibility. Day in and day out, women in this organization live and breathe their platform, their talent and their gift to be a communicator and advocate– contributing to the betterment of society and empowering others to do the same. That should be APPLAUDED, never scrutinized.

No one knows or understands the amount of time and effort that goes into Miss America week. There are endless fittings, mock interviews, designing, practicing, more fittings, traveling to every end of the state, oh and that cool little thing called trying to keep your sanity and be around your family, friends and significant other (if any). Being around some of the girls and getting to talk to them left me with this everlasting impression that these women are REAL and GENUINE and all share the same dream of making a difference-but there can only be one Miss America.

I had to opportunity to get to know Kira over the last year or so through a few run-ins and being connected through mutual friends (Facebook does wonders for the pageant world). Her story is impactful, her smile is infectious, her down-to-earth demeanor is admirable and her resume-academic and professional-speaks for itself. TIME Magazine put it plain and simple: “These women were reduced, by the very people who oppose the objectification of women.” I encourage you to think before you speak or tweet. As a woman, as a contestant, as a friend… your words are seen and heard. We are all human beings deserving of the same respect. Verbalizing hate against someone you don’t know not only defines your character, but defeats the very purpose of what the organization and this country stands for. How do you expect someone to flourish or build confidence when you are constantly putting them down? Kudos to Kira for owning every aspect of her life and keeping it real. I look forward to following her year because I KNOW she’ll be great.

These are some of the wonderful people I’ve met as a result of being a part of the Miss America Organization. #blessed

Cierra.

I don’t think anything will ever replace the emotion(s) I felt watching you light up that stage over the week. Your attitude going into the journey, after coming back from a 10-day trip to India and working orientation for Douglass at Rutgers on top of a MILLION other things was so positive and so uplifting. AND GIRLFRIEND YOU CAN DANCE!!! I sat in AWE, trying to absorb the fact that you were dancing on the Miss America stage to my track. How flipping cool is that?!

Not to mention the fact that you were named Top 10 Best swimsuits bodies at Miss America (to which her reaction was “Anna. I’m dead. I’M SEXY!”hahaha.) Werk, honey.

CiCi, crazy girl is always proud of you. Like I said before…

To say this dream has been lived is an accomplishment in and of itself. You aren’t just my best friend, you’re my family. I feel ever so thankful to have witnessed this come to fruition, especially after the last 3 months, and hell– the last four years. If there is ever a moment when you feel intimidated or doubtful, know that you have inspired and moved the lives of SO many people by telling your story and simply being you. “Only when a woman ceases the fretful struggle to be beautiful can she turn her gaze outward, find the beautiful and feed upon it.” I found that quote while reading and thought it fit today perfectly. You have thrived off of the notion that your life should be dedicated to bettering the lives of others, and in turn bettering yourself. Telling you that you’re beautiful isn’t anything out of the ordinary, so I will remind you instead. “Embrace the face” whatever it may be. Happy, sad, passionate, excited. Your emotions are felt by everyone in your presence. You once told me that this is a dream in the making, just as you are. Whether that dream is becoming Miss America, getting a law degree, working for the Department of Education or being a football wife and mom, you will always be someone who grows and flourishes through her accomplishments. There may be a Top 16, Top 10, Top 8 or Top 5– but always remember that you ARE the top and no placement should ever define or determine your place in life. You have lived with quality standards and morals. I feel so much pride reading your articles and watching you interview because it’s nice to know that women of quality still exist in this world, despite the flaws of society. You have battled through adversity, some of which has been made vocal and some that remains in your heart. You are strong. You are driven. You are passionate. You are beautiful. You are intelligent. You are relevant. You are relatable. You are funny. You are articulate. You are gracious. You are humble. You ARE a Miss America in the eyes of many, no matter what.

I’m just happy to have my best friend and partner-in-crime back. Here’s to the roadtrips, GREs, grad school applications, Jose Tejas trips etc. that lie ahead. Love you foreva, CKJ.

MY LIFE.

Oh yes, I have one of those! I have a job, guys! I have been working as a PR Associate for All-American Games for about two weeks and I love it. I will be working on all things marketing/public relations for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. Check it out! http://www.usarmyallamericanbowl.com/

I’ve also converted to a Rutgers fan (JUST Football.. Go SHU!) and am now trying to understand football. After the Show Me Your Shoes Parade, I sped up to New Brunswick to catch the second half of the Rutgers-Penn State game with Cierra’s (and mine, she shares) Dad. It was really great until they lost, but we won’t go there.

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In the last two weeks, I’ve also relocated to Long Valley as the Rizzuto’s have graciously welcomed me into their home so I could take the position I was offered with AAG while I save and search for an apartment (MOVING IS EXPENSIVE). I am beyond grateful for their hospitality & kindness and am thrilled to add more members to my extended family 🙂

After a very productive meeting with Bill Elliot of the HERO Campaign, I am proud and excited to announce that I have been named an Official Spokesperson for the organization. This has been a goal of mine for many years, so to see it through is a really big deal for me. I am looking forward to increasing my involvement and bringing awareness to the dangers of drunk driving. If you would like to join in my efforts, please consider registering to be on my team for the HERO Walk October 5th on the Ocean City Boardwalk. It is a wonderful event that raises funds for educational programs and materials that are used during presentations and events across the state. Join here: http://herocampaign.donordrive.com/team/5383

My friend and role model since I was four years old (I’m not kidding) & very first Miss New Jersey Roommate got married and I sang at her wedding. Casual. She looked so beautiful and the wedding was SO much fun. Love still exists out there, for everyone. I promise. It is a beautiful thing to find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. Hopefully I find that love, but UNTIL THEN I’m glad I was able to witness such a beautiful union. Yay for Kate and George!

I also had the opportunity to judge tryouts for the 2014-2015 Seton Hall Sapphires! Congratulations to the 13 ladies that were selected and I look forward to watching your performances during the season!

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I cut all my hair off and did ombre for the fall (thank you Lyssie!).

I’m feeling more and more like myself each and everyday and that’s all I can be grateful for. Life throws you curveballs & presents adversity and you just have to deal with it. I’m glad I am able to grow through every experience, making strides to be the woman I want to be.

I think that may be it. Whirlwind, I know. I’m looking forward to the next couple of months. I’m a sucker for a good pumpkin spice latte, fall weather, boots, oversized sweaters and football and basketball games. OH, and going to Brooklyn for the 30th Anniversary party for Def Jam. See you soon DMX, Rick Ross, Ja Rule, Jhene Aiko and friends. Hip-hop til I drop.

I’ll be singing the National Anthem at the FIRST Preseason game for the New York Knicks v. the Toronto Raptors October 13th (holla atcha giiirll). I almost fell to the floor when I got the request, but I’m SO PUMPED. I love the Knicks, I love MSG. (I also have a huge crush on Tim Hardaway Jr. but we won’t go there right now). *insert heart eye emoji*

As always, thank you for reading. I hope I can provide entertainment and hope to everyone who reads this. My life is a crazy one that sometimes….err all the time, leaves me sleepless and tired and wanting ice cream. But it’s my life to live and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I love a closing, so here it is.

It’s okay to be your own person. It’s okay to promote change. Whoever you are, BE IT. Do you. Unapologetically. The beauty of being your own person is living comfortably in your skin, but never being afraid to take risks. Have fun, explore, be happy.

Til Next Time!

xo.

Just ‘be’

Be a Person.

Sounds simple, right? We wake up, go to work or school, hang out with friends, spend time with family, sleep, eat, breathe, etc. Functions of a human being. But what does it really mean to BE a person?

It’s important to be somebody, whether it’s for yourself or for others. You have to be: Be present, be alive, be happy, be a functioning human being.

We are always learning the art of being a person. Different people present different perspectives and opinions on things, giving us the opportunity to form perspectives and opinions of our own. Each day brings news, laughter, fears and growth. I’ve always been one to keep an open mind on everything, because you never know the silent battles people are fighting every day or how they live their life. The ultimate goal is to always be understanding and receptive. You make the choice to be accepting of certain things and people, but you must always be receptive and respectful.

Each person, each experience, each moment is a gift or a curse, a blessing or a lesson, good or bad. All of that depends on our approach. This crazy idea of open communication and conversation is far and beyond for some of you, and for that I feel sorry for you. You live to be a closed book with a lock and no key and you will look back wondering ‘what would have been’ if you had just opened up just a little bit. We can’t fight for people’s attention. That’s just absurd. I fall to a level of guilt in not always sticking to my plans, but I am always, ALWAYS about my word. It’s such a daunting task nowadays to be honest and straightforward. People would much rather retweet something or subtweet someone with the hopes that they’ll ‘get the hint’ (Yes, that’s a thing. I don’t understand it either). Newsflash: The tweets and Facebook statuses and Instagram filters you hide behind aren’t the words you SPEAK, the facial expressions you MAKE or the emotions you FEEL. The physicality (technologicality?) of that is thin–thinner than cappellini. You see, I appreciate the art of communication, because I believe wholeheartedly that the conversations you share and the in-person exchanges you make are the most valuable experiences to be had. When you live to be ‘figured out,’ you set yourself up for a lifetime of headaches and loneliness. I hang onto the words of many, because I like to believe that those words are thought and said with sincerity as they roll of your tongue. So do not tell me one thing when you mean another. There’s a level of insensitivity I’ve dealt with over that last couple of weeks (no fault but my own), but regardless of what may occur—I need everyone to understand that respect is at the forefront and as a PERSON you are deserving of that, if nothing else. Too often we place our own tendencies in front of our awareness for others and forget that, while YOU may not care, other people do. Being bitter and unthoughtful is ugly. Where’s the love? I need the love.

Be present.

This does not mean scroll through your twitter timeline as you attempt to remove yourself from an awkward situation (It happens sometimes, I promise. If someone is ignoring you when they shouldn’t be and you know ZERO people around you, scroll away my friend). However, the beauty of being a person of character is knowing when to speak, how to speak and when to listen. Take in the world around you. Walk around aimlessly if you have to, but embrace the people and the environment you’re in and take good mental pictures. Change is constant.

Be alive.

Complacency, contention, settling for mediocrity… none of those coincide with being alive. In order to get what you want, what you dream, what you deserve, you have to be willing to take some risks. In moments where you are unsure of the next step and your heart is racing as your mind is wandering, know that those are the feelings of a person who is very much alive. You have to FEEL the moments or you might as well be dead.

Be happy.

You derive your happiness from yourself. I mean that. No one is going to wake you up and tell you to be happy (unless you still live with momma, in which case you should just hug her and say thank you bc moms really are angels on Earth). You dictate the happiness you feel. No person, no situation could ever influence the happiness within your heart so long as you continue to tell yourself that sometimes it’s okay to fall, it’s okay to have fears and it’s okay to be angry/sad. All of that is temporary. Until that day you find someone who provides the balance, the love, the commitment and additional happiness you’ve always deserved and desired. Then you can rely on that person, because that’s what it’s all about, right!? Until then, you really only have yourself.

My last tidbit…. I tweeted this earlier in the week and it’s seriously the most fitting thing I’ve said for my own life and some of my friends. History has a way of repeating itself when you don’t leave the people from your past where they belong. You put yourself in a similar situation and you are bound to experience the same deceit, heartbreak, dishonesty and games you experienced a week/month/year ago. Everything happens for a reason and unless someone is coming back and approaching you properly (see what I did there), you need to run faster than Kanye did when grabbing the mic from Taylor Swift at the VMAs. The people in your past are there as reminders of what you didn’t want, what you didn’t have and what you rightfully deserve as a functioning human being.

And here… if someone gives you a second chance after you’ve screwed them over or toyed with their emotions, don’t be stupid. Seriously. Consider it to be good karma working in your favor and work to BE AND DO BETTER. Otherwise, god bless and goodbye.

Sometimes we just have to BE, and that’s okay. You are a person, you are important. Be a person. Be alive; be happy; be present and you will be what you are working to become.

Miss Coastal Shore, Part 2

Bittersweet.

That’s the best way to describe how I felt as I heard my name last Sunday with the words “And your new Miss Coastal Shore is…” before it. When I was 17 years old, I entered my first local pageant and there I was, at 23, competing in my last.

An extremely emotional experience, encompassed with a rollercoaster of experiences that I attribute to who I am today.

I very sincerely don’t know where I’d be without this organization. My interview was all over the place, touching on integrity, marriage, drunk driving, drugs and alcohol, tastycakes, the Jersey Shore (the real one- not the wacky show), basketball, cheesesteaks, physical fitness, and beyond. If you know me, you’re smiling and nodding your head saying “that’s totally Anna.”

The nervousness and anxiety I experienced the entire week, topped with a minor breakdown, brought me to Sunday July 20th. The consistency of wanting to make a difference in the lives of others and wanting to be Miss New Jersey is so very important to me. When I entered my first pageant at 17, the dream was very much alive and burning. A college degree, five internships, a breakup, friends made and lost, two years on a dance team and whirlwind of other things and the dream, at 23, is STILL ALIVE AND BURNING. No matter what adversity you experience in your personal or professional life, those who may support you or doubt you, boys who will be stupid or cherish a true queen, your dreams matter. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

I am beyond excited to spend this last chapter with my beloved Shore family and look forward to my year of service. The Thank Yous could go on for days, but my heart is so warm and happy with the support I was shown and love I receive on a daily basis. I am grateful for your kind words, messages, hugs, etc. You know who you are!

I kicked off my celebrations with a much-needed Cheesesteak and then hit the ground running! I had the opportunity to host the Princess Pageant at the PAC this past Sunday and gained two wonderful little sisters, and our ‘Coastal Shore’ family will be complete August 10th when our Outstanding Teen pageant will take place!

I have a few appearances lined up with CITGO, the Bridgeton Invitational and the Department of Veteran Affairs this August so stay tuned!

xo,

Anna- Miss Coastal Shore 🙂

Crown