Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"Take the challenge to put the “civil” back in civilian " by Morgan Bredde


It’s no secret that this past week has brought out a lot of negativity on social media and even in our in-person interactions. After over a year of campaigning, and trash-talking, scandal-unveiling and commercials, Americans are left to a screeching halt as soon as the president-elect is announced. Unfortunately, this year seemed to be the most heated election in recent history. Without getting political, this blog is to shed some light on how one can compassionately interact with someone who has opposing views.



As a titleholder, you are constantly being watched and judged. While this is part of the “job-description”, it can be overwhelming at times to know that you must always make sure that you state your opinion and beliefs in a respectful manner. If only everyone held titles, right? While I choose not to blast who I’m voting for or why, or my stance on certain issues—I am always one to welcome discussion and opinions (as long as they are respectful) because I believe it makes a person well-rounded and empathetic. I will always call my friends and family to hold themselves to a higher standard and remind them that while practicing our civic duties, one should aim to be civil. It’s always interesting that when you take the time to listen, you might realize that you learn something. Whether it’s good information, or information that disturbs you—taking that time to allow another person to express their beliefs is a crucial piece in the pie of humanity.



While listening to someone who has drastically different experiences than you can be enough to make you crawl out of your skin, it can only do you as a person more good than harm. Even if it means making you stronger in your convictions. This past Monday, I was at mock interviews with my coach (keeping your interview skills sharp is a must—even after winning the crown!) and in listening to the views of those around me, I felt obligated to share my experiences. See, it is possible to live in the same country as another person, yet experience completely different realities. As an African-American woman married to a Norwegian immigrant with interracial children, my reality has forced me to think outside of my “box” and consider what others around me know to be true for them. I can’t say I haven’t been disappointed with posts on Facebook from former friends who deny the reality I have lived and experienced, but I have chosen to use these moments as learning opportunities. These moments could have been arguments drenched in hostility, but I choose to share, teach, listen and learn. People who had views that I don’t share all of a sudden made more sense to me that they could hold them, though drastically different than my own. I saw understanding and compassion light up in their eyes as I was able to share my truths as well. Isn’t that how it should be? Shouldn’t we all be able to listen with the intent to learn, rather than just to respond?



In my faith, we are taught to love our neighbors as ourselves—not just the neighbors that agree with us. While there are some things that I truly don’t agree with nor understand, when understanding the heart of the person it’s coming from, I have found respect for them and that I can love them all the same, as long as their heart is in the right place.

 

This week, I challenge you to listen. I also challenge you to speak up, speak your truth, and speak for those whose voices are often squashed into silence. If we are going to work to unite our country, that doesn’t start in the White House, it must start in our homes and in our own hearts.

 

Take the challenge to put the “civil” back in civilian and you’ll be surprised what you might find.

 

 

Making the minutes count,

Morgan

 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"The most like changing event" by Kelly Brown

 
 
Let me take a moment to talk to you about the most life-changing, eventful week of my life. Nationals took place in the beautiful city of Jacksonville, FL in late July. Here was the opportunity to experience many things take place all at once. Early mornings and late nights. 6 hour durations of walking in heels. Rooms fumigated with hairspray and girls all over chatting and laughing. This week was one that truly impacted me in various ways. Friendships and lessons were what filled this week.
 

Upon my arrival it is easy to predict how I felt: incredibly excited for all the amazing things to take place, but immensely nervous. I was to compete against such other impeccable women. The Omni hotel in Jacksonville, FL would be my home for the next week. The place where I would meet other women ambitious for making a change.
 

Two days in and I already felt as though I had met some of my best friends. It truly seemed as if I had known them my whole life. The girls here helped make that week an unforgettable one. I wanted to take time to congratulate each of them, for each of us has a story worth telling. I admire each and every one of the women who I met and it was so fun to hear what they were each passionate about.
 
This week gave me the opportunity to learn a better outlook on beauty. I not only got to see everyone’s fabulous wardrobes, but I was granted with the chance to receive a little insight into their hearts, where they came from, and why they were there. A week was not enough time to get to know these ladies and how each and every one of them shines in her own way. I learned that beauty is unique, for it cannot be defined in one single way. We each have identities that display who we are and how we are different. That is beauty.

This unforgettable week I will cherish forever. Congratulations to the new Miss Teen International, Garin Harris, for accomplishing her dreams. You wear the shoes we all hoped we would have, but we know that you will fill them so very well. Thank you to the International system for this incredible journey.

Miss Teen Minnesota
Kelly Brown


 
 

"Maple Grove Community Fashion Show" By Kelly Brown



Late this summer, on August 16th until the 18th Sabrina and I had a spectacular time emceeing at the Maple Grove Community and Recreation Center. This event was held  for their annual Back to School fashion show as well as their senior fashion show!

 
It started on the 16th when my sister queen, Sabrina, and I showed up to rehearse our lines that would be live at the show the next day. Here we took turns enthusiastically introducing each and every one of the models. This practice was very beneficial to us as it would bring down the likelihood of us butchering names at the show. We had the opportunity to speak to young kids and seniors about how to present yourself on stage and have good stage presence. We met so many people with all different comfort zones. Nonetheless, each had a smile while walking down that stage. Sabrina and I had fun showing them a little bit of what we got! The models definitely loosened up after some talks.


The next day Sabrina and I got all dolled up to emcee and see all the other individuals dressed up themselves! Each model was unique in her own style that they were able to pick from whatever store they like at The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove. We had so much fun seeing each character shine through not only through their stage presence, but through their outfit of choice. Sabrina and I, being the fashion junkies that we are, obsessed over all the cute outfits!

The second half of the show was the next day and was for the seniors. This show was just as great as the Back to School show the day before. Here we also got to see all the seniors feel young again as they strutted their stuff down the catwalk. Although we had rehearsed many of the names, it was always amusing when we got caught up on one. Everyone was so awesome to work with, nonetheless.  
 
Miss Teen Minnesota 2016
Kelly Brown

Thursday, November 3, 2016

"Lessons I’ve learned from being a Mrs. Mom" by Morgan Bredde


 

I have to be honest with everyone: being a Mrs. Mom is hard work! Making sure that your kids are not only breathing, happy, fed, and clothed in addition to being a wife is enough to make anyone take a few moments locked away in the bathroom as soon as your husband gets home. Trust me, I’ve been there. Daily. But in my almost 2 years of being a mother and wife, I have learned so many things that I felt needed to be shared.

 

 

1)      Marriage is hard. Not like “ACT hard”, but like “ACT with a calculator with dead batteries” hard. There are days where everything seems to go wrong. The remote being lost can cause the biggest problems. Someone forgot to take the meat out of the freezer. You can’t agree on a radio station. And heaven forbid there was a red shirt in the white load of laundry…You get my point. But in its exhausting, turbulent, ever-worked-on glory, it is always worth it. Just be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get to work.

 
 

2)      Kids are messy little monsters. I say this with pride: my kids are little monsters. They are smart, and witty, and too tall for their own good with a curiosity like George. It’s not their fault that that is the perfect recipe for disaster. If there was a phase of competition where judges were to look at your house and points were deducted for beds that weren’t made, overflowing laundry bins, and plants that were obviously no longer alive from lack of consistent watering…well, I certainly wouldn’t be Mrs. Minnesota right now. But in the stickiness that my unsuspecting hands have encountered, I thank God for healthy kids with fast feet and elastic arms that reach far too high. It is such a joy to be their mom and watch them and their worlds grow.

 

3)      You might not be good at cooking, don’t pretend you are. I’ll leave it at that.

 

4)      Sometimes, you might be a bad friend. Too many times since having Beau, I find I am way too tired to entertain the idea of a GNO, or even a skype date with a dear college friend. Half the time I’m awaiting responses to texts I never actually sent. Or worse, when you’re on Facebook that evening waiting to drift off to sleep, you see that dreaded “Thanks for the birthday wishes!” status reminding you that you’ve once again forgotten a very important birthday. It happens and its horrible. But I’ve learned that the realization that you’re a sucky friend can sometimes mean more than swiping on lipstick and dragging your dark-circled eyes out of the house to catch up with your friends. Strive to be the best friend you can be, but also realize that you might need to reschedule to a better night.

 

 

5)      Lastly, you’re not Wonder Woman, and that has to be ok. When I’m at an appearance, or one of my many meetings, sometimes I will catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or in a reflective surface. I’ll lock eyes with a woman who’s got bulletproof concealer surrounding eyes lit up with determination and passion. She’s got her life together and it looks like she always has. Then I’ll laugh to myself because I’ll remember that just before she walked in the door, a kind stranger told her about the corn pop on her butt from her oldest child, or that her shoes don’t match or better yet, that in all your panic thinking you were late, you forgot that you set your alarm an hour ahead so you’d be on time no matter what. Whatever it is, there’s always reminders that we simply can’t do it all. I’ve watched our incredible new International titleholders carry out their duties with grace, ease, and style. And some days I can’t help but feel like they’re superwomen (and they are!) but that doesn’t negate the “every day” moms’ power, nor my own. I’ve accepted that some people are flawless and then some people (like myself) are miracle workers with a blast of dry shampoo when they didn’t have time to fix their hair and a five0hour energy to make it through a gym-work-appearance day even after a night of non-stop teething cries. So if you’re not flawless, who cares!? You’re making it and your crown is on straight. Cheers to that.

 

Remember these little lessons when your days get tough, fellow Mrs. Moms. You’re not alone!


Making the minutes count,

Morgan


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

" The Animal Humane Society's Walk for Animals" By Ava Ernst


The Animal Humane Society’s Walk for Animals was an AWESOME experience.  For a few months leading up to the Walk, my family and I raised money for this wonderful cause. While we didn’t quite reach our goal of $1,000, I AM proud to say we raised $750 which qualified us for the “Top Walker” category.  The evening before the event, we drove to the AHS headquarters in Golden Valley to turn in the money we had raised. We had no idea that we had earned prizes for our fundraising efforts so that was a fun surprise!  We received a cute dog bowl, a cooler, a special t-shirt, and a neat zip-up fleece that says “Animal Humane Society” on it which has become one of my favorite jackets.  

It was so nice to have my family with me for this wonderful event!


The morning of the Walk, my mom, dad, and I got ready and then drove over to my grandparents’ house to pick them up because they were participating with us.  We also brought our dog Toots. I felt bad because we weren’t able to bring our other dog, a lovable black lab “Bear" because he was too old to walk that far (he was 15.5 at the time).  A fun fact about Bear:  we adopted him from AHS in December 2014 at the ripe old age of 13.  Senior dogs are THE BEST!




It was fun to share this experience with my fellow queens Kelly and Sabrina!
Once we arrived, we met up with my sister queens Kelly Brown (Miss Teen MN International 2016) and Sabrina Astar (Miss MN International 2016).  I had invited them to participate in the Walk and it was fun to make our first appearance together.  We spent some time walking around and saw so many types of animals—even bunnies in a stroller and a HUGE tortoise. There were so many people there to fundraise and help all animals which was really neat to see.  I especially enjoyed seeing so many different dog breeds, from teacup-sized dogs to mutts to St. Bernards and everything in between.

Meeting fellow walkers and sharing stories about our rescue animals was a highlight of the day!
Finally, it was time for the Walk to start!  As we walked, we saw even more animals and even saw a pirate ship with a Weimaraner dog playing the part of Jack Sparrow!  We only walked for about half the walk because Toots was getting tired (basset hounds have very short legs so that was a lot of walking for her).  
A big old tortoise even came to the Walk!

These people had their bunnies participate in the Walk by pushing them in a stroller!
 
After the Walk, my family decided to go to one of our favorite places “Psycho Suzis” for lunch because they allow dogs out on the patio.  A lot of the other walkers had the same idea so it was fun to see so many dogs eating outside with their owners.  It was the perfect ending to a great walk and I can’t WAIT to do it again next year!  

Ava Ernst
Miss Pre-Teen Minnesota 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"Rallying for the cause" by Morgan Bredde




As I mentioned in my last blog, I've come across many new opportunities to speak about things that I find important and that I feel like others should find important as well. Because I work with organizations through my platform that directly benefit children and families living with or having passed away from terminal conditions, I feel like it is my responsibility to speak on behalf of those who's voices cannot carry these conversations for themselves.

 
I was honored to speak at a volunteer rally for Crescent Cove this month. Here, volunteers, friends, families and distant supporters were able to catch up on progress, connect with fellow supporters, and discuss our next steps (over some of the yummiest tacos ever, I might add!). Katie, the founder, invited me to say a few words after everyone had introduce themselves. Now if you know me, I am not a woman of few words! Once I get on my soapbox, it needs to fall through in order to get me off of it.

 
It was Suzanne Gwynn of Ladybug House in Seattle (another incredible woman seeking the support to build a hospice home for children in Washington- www.ladybughouse.org) that encouraged me to share my story. Often times I get so wrapped up in the stories of families who live this every day that I forget that I have a  story of my own. Being able to share the sacred role of a friend who is actively losing a friend is healing. For years I didn't know what to do with the words in my heart and just let them sit dormant and gather dust. It was so worth it seeing my words connect with volunteers who were still unsure of why they were sitting there that night or what they were getting involved in.

 
This is my encouragement to those reading this that have something to say but don't know what to say, how to say it, or even who to say it to. Just speak. There are so many people who wish they had the voice, the opportunity or even the courage to do it. Take a chance and know your words could change the world.

 

Speak loudly.

 

Making the minutes count,

Morgan

 

To learn more about Crescent Cove, visit www.CrescentCove.org

Thursday, October 6, 2016

"Use your Voice" By Morgan Bredde


 


 
                      
This past month has been full of speaking opportunities for me. I never really considered myself much of a speaker until this year. Growing up, I was always the kid who talked too much in class. Luckily, it seems to have paid off through my time with theatre and pageantry.

 

As Mrs. Minnesota, you must be willing and capable to command an audience of limitless numbers in order to educate, inspire, and occasionally entertain those in attendance. Since I'm not inherently funny, I rend to stick to education and inspiration.

 

I was invited to speak to Macy's at Mall of America on behalf of the American Heart Association. This was unique because I was speaking directly to employees who were participating in a fundraiser for AHA as well as 8 other local charities. The cool part about this specific fundraiser is that it directly benefitted our chapter rather than the national organization. Employees gathered before store-opening on a Sunday morning and were so kind and welcoming. Being able to connect with strangers joined together on a mission was eye opening. Some people knew their numbers, some didn't. Some people knew risk factors and facts, some knew none at all. But every single person knew someone affected by heart disease. Incredible, isn't it?

 

One employee was kind enough to share her personal experience with heart disease and I'm so thankful she did. You could see the compassion building in the body language of her coworkers around her and I'm positive that she was able to build deeper connections with those present that morning.

 

At the time I had visited, they were only a week into the fundraiser and had already raised just shy of ten thousand dollars! Even though it was their "job" to ask customers to participate, that number alone shows me that each employee cared enough to make sure they could do their part to raise money.

 

 

I look forward to coming back in February and working with even more employees and interacting with customers while raising funds and awareness. Thank you, Macy's!

 

 

Making the minutes count,

Morgan

 

Ps- do you know your numbers? If not, log onto www.goredforwomen.org

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"My experience at the pageant" By Ava Ernst



Back in February, I told my mom I really wanted to compete in a pageant. My mom said I had to wait until I was 13-years-old because she feels that is the earliest young girls should compete. I begged and begged her but she said no. But then an opportunity came up that made her change her mind—kind of.

With my Proud parents after the pageant



I should mention that my mom was Mrs. Minnesota International 2003 and is now a pageant coach, and she has remained close with the MN International director Allison Stavrakis. Allison had mentioned that the one pre-teen contestant signed up for the pageant had decided to drop out, so she was going to cancel the pre-teen division. My mom thought this might be a good way to see if I really liked this whole pageant thing without actually breaking her rule of making me wait until I was 13 to compete. She asked me if I would be interested and I was like “DEFINITELY!” My mom told me I would have to still go on stage and “compete” alongside the teens in all of the categories but that I wouldn’t actually be competing against any other pre-teens. In my eyes that was better than nothing so I said “Let’s do this!”      

 

I have seen my mom coach pageant clients but I myself had never done anything like this. My mom taught me how to do a pageant walk, pose, and stage presence. I have always loved the stage! I also memorized and practiced my 30-second platform speech about my platform, “Don’t Shop—ADOPT!”. We had fun choosing my wardrobe, getting headshots, and preparing for the big weekend.

 

Finally pageant weekend arrived! All day at school on Friday, I couldn’t wait for my mom to pick me up. As you might guess, I was very excited!  After all, this was my very first pageant. I just couldn’t wait to get started!

 

After hours of waiting, school was over and my mom and I were ready to go. In a half an hour we arrived at the hotel.  During the drive there, I noticed that my throat was starting to hurt a little bit.  I didn’t pay much attention to it because I was so excited.

 

When we arrived at the Holiday Inn, my mom’s teen client Kelly Brown (now Miss Teen MN International 2016) was waiting for us since we were giving her a ride. We went up to our room to drop our stuff off and then we headed over to the Wellstone Center for Orientation.

 

During Orientation, we all introduced ourselves and talked a little bit about our platforms. The reigning queens were introduced and it was fun to see some former queens in attendance, including my mom! Then we had our first rehearsal where we learned our stage placements and practiced walking to our spots on stage. It was a lot of fun but my throat was starting to hurt even more. After rehearsal, we went back to the hotel and I went to sleep right away because I had a big day ahead!

With the outgoing titleholder Lillie Imm after Interview
 
The next day competition started! I was extra excited because this morning I had my interview! I got my hair and makeup done which was really fun. The interview competition was my favorite part of the whole weekend because I got to meet new people! It was soooooo much fun just getting to know all the judges and share my story and my platform with them!  Since I was the only Pre-Teen contestant, I interviewed alongside the Teen contestants.  I later found out that I got the second highest score in Interview after the eventual Teen winner, Kelly Brown.  So I am pretty proud of that!
Answering my on-stage question about my platform "Don't Shop-Adopt!"

After interview was over, we headed to the theater for more rehearsals. We practiced fun fashion wear, evening gown, and on-stage questions. It was also very fun spending time with the outgoing titleholder Lilly Imm during down time. We had lots of fun together and had Subway for lunch which was provided by the pageant.


Finally it was time for the pageant! Surprisingly, I wasn’t very nervous but rather very excited. It was sooooo much fun. First we introduced ourselves and the city or county we represented. Then we each gave our platform speech and answered a question about our platform. I felt very confident with my answer. I later found out I had the highest score in that area (even including the Teens). So I am probably more proud of that than anything else during pageant weekend since that is what this pageant is all about—platform!

 
Modeling my Fun Fashion wear outfit from the Pageant Shop!

Next we competed in fun fashion wear—I was contestant #1! My fun fashion outfit was rhinestoned neon pink with a black belt and ruffled skirt. I just love it. Lastly, we competed in evening gown. I felt like a princess! The outgoing queens gave their farewells and some special awards were given out.
Modeling my Evening Gown. Even though I had strep Throat, I still felt like a princess!
 

Next it was time for the crowning. It was so fun having that crowning moment. I could hear my family cheering for me in the audience. After I was crowned, the Teen division was up and I was really hoping my mom’s client Kelly would win—and she did! It was really fun to see Kelly get crowned. Next up were the Miss contestants. My mom didn’t have any clients competing in that division but I was so happy to see Sabrina Astar get crowned! She was so nice to me all weekend. Then in the Mrs division, Morgan Bredde won and she is so beautiful and nice. All of my pageant sisters are so sweet and kind.
My Crowning Moment!


With my new sister Queens moments after the crowning !


After the pageant, we had the Coronation Party where some more special awards were given out and cake was served. The outgoing queens introduced us and we each said a few words. By this time of night, my throat was killing me and really starting to hurt. The next day, my parents took me to Urgent Care and it turned out I had strep throat all weekend and we didn’t know it! No wonder I felt so rotten. But I am glad I pushed through it because it such a wonderful weekend.

Saying a few words at the Coronation Party!


I am so happy I tried this! It is definitely something I want to do again once I turn 13. My first pageant was truly amazing. Special thanks to Allison Stavrakis and the rest of the pageant staff for treating us so well, and also to the sponsors of the pageant for the wonderful prize package. I can’t wait to see what this year holds and I am so honored to be your Miss MN Pre-Teen International 2016!  

Ava Ernst    (photos by Paula Preston)

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Polo Classic Event for the American Heart Association" By Kelly Brown





Out of the events I done throughout my reign, one in particular stands out amongst the others. That event was the Polo Classic Event for the American Heart Association. Here I was able to support the national platform “Go Red for Women”. Not only was a volunteering my time to support, but here I got the opportunity to help raise money! 

 
 

My friend and I arrived as a team and got the opportunity to venture the grounds communicating with people about the raffle tickets we were selling. Each individual who purchased a ticket got the chance to win prizes as well as help out the proceeds that all went to the American Heart Association. A wide majority of them were very supportive of the cause! My friend and I as a team raised over two hundred dollars in just over a couple hours.




Not only was it fun raising money and awareness, but it was a blast to look at many cool cars and watch the game of Polo! Old fashioned cars were lined up amongst the field-one even reminded me of Herby and had my lucky number 3 on it! We got to wear super fun Kentucky Derby style hats which made it a ton a fun. I also got to watch many people model the fun hats they wore. It was a great experience full of laughs and smiles!

 Miss Teen Minnesota 2017
Kelly Brown

Sunday, September 11, 2016

"Fashion show fun! "by Sabrina Astar


 
 

From August 16th to the 18th my sister queen, Kelly, and I had the most amazing opportunity to emcee at the Maple Grove Community and Recreation Center for their annual Back to School fashion show and their senior fashion show. It was such a fun appearance that will stick with both of us for the rest of our lives.

On the 16th Kelly and I were able to attend the rehearsal for the Back to School fashion show that would take place the very next day. During this practice we butchered names and were corrected frequently on how to pronounce names correctly so that on the day of the show we would be completely professional and the show would go smoothly. This was also the time when we got the opportunity to officially meet the models and talk to them about how to have good stage presence. Kelly and I even walked the catwalk ourselves to not only lighten the mood, but also to make the models feel more comfortable on stage. This part of the process was a blast, we really got to connect with the students modeling and got to learn a little about them before they hit the stage for “show time”.

We headed to the show to next day with excitement to see the models all dressed up! One thing that was very unique was that each model got to pick her own outfit from whatever store she wanted at The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove. Each outfit was personalized and it was awesome to see what each model picked to showcase. Kelly and I were continuously stating how we wanted to go shopping afterward to try and replicate some of the outfit choices. The show went seamlessly that night and we both felt like each model left the Community Center with a little more confidence then when they came in that day!

On our last day Kelly and I emceed the senior fashion show. This show was nothing short of a goodtime and a lot of fun. The seniors were so awesome to work with and had so much style on stage. Many of the models were cracking jokes and giggling on stage which gave the show such a lighthearted and relaxed vibe. It was a great way to end our time at the Maple Grove Community Center!

I want to give a big “thank you” to the Maple Grove Community Center and Recreation Department for letting Kelly and I be a part of such a fun event! I hope that future queens get this experience because it was nothing short of amazing!

Miss Minnesota International

Sabrina Astar