November 17, 2008

Indiana Princess Queen - Claire Leuking

National American Miss is at it again!  Here are a few pictures from our reigning Indiana Princess Queen, Claire Leuking, making a difference in her community.  Here is what Claire's mom Michelle had to say:

"The blankets we made for the "Blankets of Belief" holiday project through the Soldiers Angles program. (  These are no sew blankets that we decorated quilt squares and attached with no sew bonding. (as you can see the "no sew"  theme is a big hit at our home!)  These blankets will be sent to soldiers who are overseas and away from their families for the holidays .  We made two blankets as a family and Claire and her sister, Taylor, each made a decorated quilt by involving their school classes.  Each student decorated a square and we attached them at home. 

Claire has also been involved in raising money to start an animal shelter in a nearby community.  She helped to make and sell tickets for wreaths that were raffled off to raise money for the shelter.  She also made homemade gourmet doggie treats to be sold to help raise money as well. 

Claire also participated in the 1st annual Autism walk in our hometown.  She was part of the Toys R Us team and helped to raise money for this worthy cause which affects some of her fellow class mates at school."

Great stuff by the Leuking family!  I especially like the picture of Claire with the dog treats; admit it, you thought they looked like pretty good cookies too until you read the story.  :-)  

There are opportunities every day to give back in your local community as well.  Maybe Claire gave you a good idea of something to try in your home town.  Way to go Claire.  We are so proud to have you representing NAMiss!

November 10, 2008

Leadership Lessons

A good friend of mine, Chad Schapiro, is the CEO of a company called OurGV Rewards based out of San Antonio, TX. Chad's company helps individuals and non-profit's fund raise for various needs. Chad is an exception leader and motivational speaker; he can be heard frequently at events around the country and on his weekly video training sessions that he holds for employees around the globe.

I recently had an opportunity to tune into one of his training sessions and heard some great tips on leadership and goal setting. In particular, his thoughts on how your attitude can make a difference in everything you do. At National American Miss we encourage our participants to set and achieve goals. A huge part of achieving your goals is having a positive attitude! Here's is what Chad had to say:

A Positive Mental Attitude is necessity to your success. You can be as
positive as you want to be if you will simply think about the future, focus on the solution and look for the good. If you do what other successful people do, if you use your mind to exert mental control over the situation, you will be positive and cheerful most of the time. And you will reap the benefits enjoyed by all successful people.

Today I encourage you to be aware of your attitude. Whatever challenges you face, at school, work, home, with your friends or wherever life takes you today, face every situation with a positive attitude. Before you speak, take a moment and pause, bring that positive energy forward and let it shine! Not only will your situation turn out for the better, more importantly you will feel better! It all starts with your attitude.   

Have a great Monday.

(Chad also sends out a daily leadership tip from his company. To learn more about his company, visit their website

November 7, 2008

Life Skills

Having confidence in yourself is such an easy thing to say, but deep down do you really have that confidence?  It can be like buying a pair of running shoes because you're going to start running every day but you just end up wearing them to the mall while you shop because they are comfortable!  Your confidence has to come from within.  In order to have confidence in yourself you have to identify specific traits that you know you can be proud of.  Each of us have certain "life skills" that we can use to have an impact on others.  Let's take a minute here and find out what some of yours are.

Can you juggle, shuffle cards, or swing a baseball bat like nobody's business?  Do you love to read, have a knack for drawing or maybe an exceptional amount of patients and an ability to be a great listener?  To help identify your talents, start by making a list of the things you really enjoy doing!  Look at your daily habits, how you spend your time and think about which activities are the most fun for you.  Once you have your list, go back through and look at each item and ask yourself why it is you enjoy doing that so much.  Chances are, it's because you have a talent for it!

Your talents don't have to be anything like holding the school record in the 100 meter dash.  They can be simple things like an ability to do a great handstand or being the best at painting flowers on your fingernails!  Once you discover a few of your talents, share them with others!  Knowing that you are a talented individual, and every single one of you is, will give you that inner confidence that we talked about earlier.  

National American Miss is about helping girls build and discover confidence within themselves.  To develop life skills and to use them!  Look back on your experience with the pageant and find things that you are so proud of yourself for accomplishing!  I know you all learned something about yourself at the pageant, now what I want you to do is to share it!

Wednesday I talked about getting out and making a difference in your local communities.  Read through the comments that people are writing back; the great ideas that are being shared.  If you have some ideas, please share them as well!  Now that you have identified some of your life skills, the things that make you special, think about how you can use them to impact people around you.  Your friends, your family or even complete strangers.

Give it a shot.  I think you will be amazed at how receptive people are when you reach out and offer your talents.  Plus, it can be a whole lot of fun!  Remember, you are talented, you are special; now go share your talents with the world!

November 5, 2008

What are you doing this week in your community?

As I'm sure everyone is aware, our country completed another historical election last night as we elected a new President of the United States. It is truly a blessing to be an American where we all have the right to vote and let our voices be heard. Regardless of which party you voted for, and I hope that you all took the time to vote!, the major theme from both parties has been change. This is an inspiring message to different people in different ways; for me, it has reminded me of our mission at National American Miss:

"The National American Miss pageants are dedicated to celebrating America’s greatness and encouraging its future leaders."

One of the main purposes of this blog is to highlight the activities of NAM participants in their local communities year round. Today I pose a question to everyone reading; what are you doing or have you done to promote positive change in your community? How are you making a difference?

I received an e-mail yesterday from one of our participants in the Washington State Pageant. She lives in Spokane which is on the far eastern side of the state; she earned the title of State Ambassador at the state pageant and wanted to know what she could do to get out and make appearances. What can she do to get out and made a difference? I committed to get in contact with the local Convention and Visitor Bureau and see what I could find for her.

For me, being in a different state it is sometimes difficult to get plugged into the scene of each different community. The CVB's are a great resource but they only get us so far. For that reason, I'm turning to all of you. Please share any ideas that you have on how our young ladies can get involved in their local communities. What have you done? How did you get started? Who did you talk to? Any practical input would be great! We can certainly all learn from each other.

I will put together some ideas as well and post them at a later date but for now, I want to hear from all of you! Over the years I have seen families take on all sorts of great projects and get involved in so many wonderful ways in their schools and communities. That's what National American Miss is all about!

Help me out and share an idea right now for everyone to read.

November 3, 2008

Advice to help get ready for the National Pageant

I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween last Friday.  It's the third day of November and we are only 3 weeks away from our 2008 National Pageant in California!  Congratulations again to those of you who have qualified and are planning to attend Nationals; it is going to be an amazing week.  

If you have never attended our National Pageant it can be a little bit overwhelming trying to prepare.  Do you have everything you need, are you forgetting something, are you practicing the right things, have you signed up for all of the activities that you are interested in, which hotel are you staying in?  These are just a few of the questions that I have heard this year from families. 

Good news!  Over the last week I have been gathering input from families that attended our National Pageant last year.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20 so here are a few of the things these families recommend to make sure you are completely prepared for your trip to Nationals!  

- Lay your clothes out and put all your accessories for each outfit in baggies so you make sure you have all the details you want to have.

- Get plenty of sleep. 

- Get the most out of the week and participate in the extra activities like wacky hair and pajama rehearsals and plan ahead accordingly. 

- Think about bringing a sewing kit and portable steamer for last minute needs. 

- Don’t try new lotions, etc. that you might have a reaction to.  Stick to what you know. 

- Enjoy the time, when its over and you’re not participating you will really miss it.  When your getting ready sometimes you get stressed out and take the opportunity for granted and don’t live in the moment but try to as you never know when you will get to do it again. 

- Give your brothers and sisters some attention.  That week is all about you and sometimes they feel left out.  Also, try and find a way to make it fun for them and/or ask for their help.  

- Bring some type of business card as you will make a lot of friends and you will be giving out your contact information a lot during the week. 

- If your flying consider carrying on all of your competition stuff.  If you have 3 people traveling, use three carry-ons and put all your stuff in it.  Then you can relax and know the airlines won’t lose your stuff. 

- If you haven’t been in touch with your sister queens, consider getting in contact with them and find time to spend with them during the week.  They will be your friends for your lifetime. 

- Remember to thank your mom and dad.  It’s a family effort to get you to nationals and they deserve a thank you. 

- If there are any costume events like 50’s or 70’s, consider going to a Halloween store the day after Halloween as costumes are really cheep then. 

- The best advice I would have is to attend as many functions as possible. The week really goes by so fast and it is something your child will remember forever. Maci still talks about Nationals and all of the friends she met. It's really all about having fun. 

- Most of the girls bring something small to pass out to all the girls such as pictures, business cards, a lucky penny etc. I would suggest purchasing some sort of address book / autograph book to keep for all your new friends contact information. Just remember to cherish every moment and HAVE FUN! 

- Practice, practice, practice!  I felt my daughter had the natural beauty, ability to speak to people and a good personality but I felt we did not prepare enough to compete on this high level.  Watch video’s of last years National pageant and work on your personal introduction and interview skills in particular.  The competition is tough! 

- Stay at the hotel and hang out with other girls as much as you can! MAKE BONDS! Have fun! It's not about winning or losing, it's about having fun! And give your information so you can keep in touch with all your new sissies!

- And to the parents: Express verbally to your child how extremely proud you are of her, all week, every day! If and when she stumbles on her dress, or her words, don't talk about it at all! Just focus on the positive, because you don't want her to dwell on what she did wrong, but rather what she did right, so it carries out in her self-esteem not only during pageant times, but throughout her life at school, home and extracurricular activities. Teach them to be a good sport, especially by example! Help other girls and tell them if their stockings have a run, offer to help them zip up, and always say how great they did too!

- READ the newsletters they send because it's full of information that probably answers most if not all of the questions you have already stirring up inside. 

- Bring extra hangers and if possible, a small portable garment rack for clothes and gowns in the dressing rooms. 

- Other than that, I would have to say, enjoy yourself because you may never get this kind of opportunity again.

Hopefully these ideas will be helpful to you as you prepare.  Feel free to e-mail me or call our office anytime for more helpful tips.