Beauty Therapy Life


A Gushing of Gratitude

Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of being Miss USA.

I started attending the Miss Virginia USA and Miss Virginia Teen USA pageants with my mom when I was only 8 years old. I was always so excited to meet the girls competing, watch the show and rush up afterwards to get pictures with the new Queens. It was the highlight of my year!

I remember being backstage before the show one year, and the Executive Director, Kim Nicewonder walked by. Of course, I was in awe of the beauty she exuded from the inside out, and how she took a moment to acknowledge a doe-eyed little brunette girl staring adoringly up at her. I remember it like it was yesterday — she stopped, kneeled down and said “You know, you’re going to be one of those girls one day” as she pointed to all the beautiful contestants. I looked back at her, as if my life depended on it, and replied “You really think so?!” She sweetly answered, “I know so!”

The seed was deeply planted at that very moment, and fast-forward 8 years later to my being crowned Miss Virginia Teen USA. That was a year of growth, challenges, volunteering, lots of laughter, traveling to places I’d only ever dreamed of — it was the start of a beautiful and loving friendship with Kim Nicewonder. She always made me feel like part of her family, and encouraged me every step of the way to Miss Teen USA. That year came and went, I gave up my title, graduated high school, got accepted into Virginia Tech and started focusing on the Miss Virginia USA crown.

Coming back to the stage as a Miss was a whole new ball game. Aside from my collegiate responsibilities, all I thought about was the Miss VA USA title. I wanted to serve my state, promote my platform, make a positive impact on all those I came in contact with, and grace the Miss USA stage. I won the Miss Virginia USA crown in 2007.

Here’s the thing, not many people realize what goes on behind the scenes. Most people have little to no understanding of the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual preparation it really takes to compete, let alone win a coveted crown. And to have a mentor like Kim really changed my life. That year was one of the best experiences of my life, but it was also challenging — filled with many honest and deeply vulnerable conversations with my close inner circle. I put an immense amount of pressure on myself to be the BEST Miss Virginia USA, and luckily I had people like Kim to remind me that I was enough, that I was doing enough, and that regardless of a win, a lose, or draw at Miss USA, she reminded me that I was a phenomenal Miss Virginia USA.

I finished 6th at Miss USA, and went back to Virginia only to experience a terrible school massacre of which my school and classmates were the victims — the largest school massacre in history. As if that weren’t enough, a few days after, my brother was involved in a near fatal car accident that sent him into a coma for several weeks. I was thrown into the terrifying unknown, not knowing if he would ever wake up. I sat in the hospital waiting room and prayed for a complete miracle for my brother, and watched the Miss Universe pageant in that very same room. And you know who was there holding my hand? Kim Nicewonder. She cried with me, prayed with me, brought food to my family, and even did our laundry while we were waiting to see if my brother would survive. She was the first person my brother remembers seeing after he woke from his coma. Yes he made it out! But not before being joined in prayer by my Miss Virginia USA sister Kristel Jenkins-Wittensoldner, and Natalie Rife-Williams, the Miss Virginia USA vocalist. Thankfully, my brother made a full recovery. He is a true miracle from God.

Miss Virginia USA is so much more than a pageant to me, and clearly so much more than a pageant to Kim. Throughout the years, she has been like a second mother, a mentor, a boss, and now one of my dearest friends. Her heart is so pure, and she truly loves running an organization that can change a young woman’s life for the better. That’s exactly what it did for me.

I gave up my Miss title in 2008, where Kim asked me to co-host the final show. I was unsure and nervous, I had never read from a teleprompter in my life, and really had no clue if I could host a show of that magnitude. She believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. To this day I stand behind my statement: that show was the start of my hosting career. And this year will be my 11th year hosting the Miss Virginia USA and the Miss Virginia Teen USA pageants.

After I gave up my title, I graduated from Virginia Tech and moved to Los Angeles. All the while, Kim supported my dreams and goals. She would never tell you this, but she even paid for my acting and hosting classes when I could barely afford ramen noodles and rent. Before I had talent representation, she helped me book hosting jobs on red carpets so that I would have the opportunity to interview celebrities, and submit my footage to talent agencies. When I auditioned for Deal or No Deal, Kimberly Grigsby-Crocker, my Miss Virginia Teen USA sister, was there to make sure I was camera-ready. She did my hair and make-up, and was the first person I called when I found out I booked the show!

You see, the Miss Virginia USA Organization IS a family. We pride ourselves on that. When pageant weekend rolls around every year, we all band together to create a fabulous show and a wonderful experience for every young lady who graces that stage. Our intention is to provide an honest, safe, fun and fair space where every girl leaves feeling more confident, brave and ready to thrive in the real world.

I have no idea where I would be without Kim Nicewonder and her incredible organization. Who would have thought that this small-town, Wise County girl would be living in Los Angeles, auditioning and booking her dream jobs? Not I. And I know, wholeheartedly, that it is because of the love, support and guidance I received over the years, and continue to receive every single day, from my Miss Virginia USA family. For them, I’m forever grateful. Kim, you are an angel in my life and I love you endlessly.




Treating Yourself With Kindness

I’m back, Beauties!

I’ve been gone for a few months! Did you miss me? Come on, you can admit it! 🙂

I know I’ve missed all of you, and I have so much to share!  And while I’m the eternal optimist, the updates aren’t all super cheery. Sidenote: this blog is 110% real. No fluff. No BS. Just an honest, authentic and vulnerable post. Buckle up.

In my experience, a new season often brings with it a new set of ups and downs. Recently, I’ve been extra hard on myself…and we all know the inner LB perfectionist is tough on the daily. Maybe it’s the impending “another year older” birthday that just passed, or the physical stresses (not going to harp on it, but let me harp on the weight gain, unwelcomed gray hairs and the dreaded C word…cellulite!). Seriously though, I have bruises all over my legs and booty because I’ve been using the Fascia Blaster like a mad woman! And because of all my recent insecurities, I’ve been working out like a maniac. Thank God for Lagree Fitness and Soul Cycle, they’ve been my saving grace. Sigh. Sorry guys, I had to vent. Thanks for bearing with me!

The haze of insecurity was blinding, my Beauties.  Even though I know that age brings wisdom, I have been furiously fighting the realization that I’m in fact getting older. Yes, even though I KNOW that our true beauty comes from within, it’s been a real challenge to stop beating up on my supposed “imperfections.” But why? What happened to me, Beauties?

Here’s a theory my beloved therapist had — and it hit me like a ton of bricks. He said, “You’re not being kind to yourself.”


My response to his simple yet eye-opening statement was, “I’m not sure I ever have been. How do I even begin to do that?”

I immediately burst into mascara riddled tears, because I felt so guilty about treating myself like an enemy, like a bully, like a terrible friend. I am well aware that I grew up in an industry that placed great focus on external beauty, and it’s difficult as a has-been beauty queen not to hold myself to a very high standard. STILL! I have to be realistic with myself and “unlearn” the constant critiques. Enough was finally enough for me.

Have you ever taken years on end to learn the same lesson over and over, until you become sick and tired and finally decided to make a shift? I hope my gushing about this slump helps shed light on the fact that we’re all given challenges to walk with through life. Some we master in a day, others take years of repeat offenses until we finally lock it up and overcome!

I think it’s easy to get caught up in the noise of this world. The social media, the tabloids, the commercials and the constant comparisons that lead to thinking everyone has a perfect life aside from us. I want to challenge myself and all of you, Beauties, to do better. To do better by each other, and by our own beautiful selves! And it starts by wanting better.

Desire is the start to a great momentum called change, but without desire (which personally came from a low moment, which is suddenly looking much brighter!) there is no true momentum for changeWho wants to be focused on all the things that are wrong, when if we just look we can spot all that is beautifully right?! Speaking of desire, mine is to always be in the light. And while the light may be a bit dimmer than usual, I’m intent on fighting to shine bright like a diamond! (Any RiRi fans out there? Sorry, I had to!)

Let’s hold each other accountable, my Beauties! Let’s be positive and real reminders for one another to constantly strive to be better, and gentle with ourselves in the process.

Here are some tips for the process….

Tips to treat yourself with kindness:

  1. Focus on the GOOD! No matter what. Something bad happened? I’m sorry, that’s rough, I feel for you, but can you point out what good came from it? Even if it helped you to realize your boundaries, what not to do, or how to better handle a situation. Can you see the light?
  2. Go at least one day without saying something negative about yourself! [BONUS POINTS for any Beauties who are able to compliment themselves daily.] There’s a lot of wonderful research about self-affirmations. Even if you don’t believe it at first, tell yourself, “you’re strong, you’re beautiful, you’re on the right track, you’re loved!”
  3. Do something for YOU! Whether it’s taking a 15 minute power nap, a walk to smell the roses, a sweaty session at the gym, a manicure or massage to pamper yourself [insert you favorite activity here]!, i.e -gym, nails, massage. We all know my inner glamour puss would head straight for the nail salon 🙂
  4. Focus on gratitude! You are where your thoughts are. So be somewhere positive.
  5. Connect to your higher power and turn your fear, worry and anxiety over to that force. What’s this mean? What’s that look like? (Stay tuned for my next blog on exactly how I connect, and I welcome your tips and tricks!)

Let’s work through this together, Beauties! We are bold on our own, but we are way braver when we stand together. And we are stronger when we know the solution, and are determined to always be a better version of ourselves.

So, what’s stopping you from shining your brightest light? Comment below and let’s find solutions together! I missed you all and look forward to a beautiful dialogue in the comment section below!


Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Summer is synonymous with sun, warmth and vacationing. As a kid, I would count down the days until the big break that came with summertime, a stretch of several months where I would play and enjoy time with family and friends.

I realize that while summer looks bright, in the eyes of many, it can also tell a very different story. A story of burns, heat waves and boredom. For some, summer is a more stressful and depressing time, a lull between work and productivity, a half-way mark signifying lack in accomplishment. The gloom with the glow, the burn with the bronze.

So what do you see, Beauties?

Do you connect to summer’s flowers or its occasional showers? Do you cherish the blooms or do you complain of the pollen? Do you adore the roses or do you hate the bees?

Why do I ask you all of this?

You know I love a good a flower reference. The blooms and brightness of summer hint to our own essence. We can choose to see our own beauty, or we can remain stuck with our roots underground, seeing no light or hope for another season.

For me, this year I’m overjoyed with bliss as I’m planning my fairytale wedding to the man of my dreams. So while times may be stressful (between us, Beauties, I have major allergies, my eyes are constantly dry, my nose is forever running and I just realized that this pesky rash on my arm is from my favorite perfume which I’m suddenly allergic to, ugh) — still, I choose to see summer’s sunshine and the beautiful blooms surrounding me.

My Beauties, I’d love to share some precious, recent moments from my life that offer up the opportunity to either connect to joy or focus on the pain. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, the choice is yours, mine, ours.

Beauties, what would you choose?

What you might see: Pedicured nails wrapped around a glass of fresh mango papaya juice, as the luxuriating lady ponders the glamorous lifestyle she’s been afforded. In just a few hours, she will be treated to a lavish lunch and a dozen roses. Her life is a Danielle Steele novel basically — it can’t be real.

What’s really going down: This is the first minute I had a single moment to myself. I finally caught my breath, finding the gratitude  for just one moment of silence without needing to host countless guests and family members; without needing to answer a long list of questions that await. I finally kicked off my high heels to let my swollen feet breathe, and while I only had 15 minutes before getting back to the havoc, I squeezed out a small sliver of heaven at the spa— allowing myself to retreat into inner silence and to center, so that when I re-enter the madness, I could do so with love and grace.

What I choose to see: Two different spa waters? Do I go for the cucumber or citrus? The shade the leaves cast on the ground is so beautiful. Just looking at this moment gives me peace. I mean, now that’s living!

What you might see: A new Mercedes Benz SUV, with a bow on top, ready to be driven off the lot. Jeez, that’s an expensive car — that pretty brunette must be super rich. How does she look so thin in white? She must be a raging egotistical bitch, there’s no way someone wearing sunglasses inside could be normal.

What’s really going down: I just got a brand new car for my birthday, that I custom designed (both inside and outside). I had been waiting for it for over 6 months. I was beyond excited, and couldn’t wait to drive her off the lot. I even dressed to match the car! Side note: the green bow wasn’t a part of my design.

What I choose to see: A photo that I’ve held onto for months, because I was afraid to share a moment I’d looked forward to and worked hard for. This has been my dream car, and to have arrived at the moment when I could call it my own was emotional. Still, I hesitated to share it on social media, because of all the hate often spewed. I also see an opportunity to share my fear of success and what it might mean to claim it, so I take the leap and humbly celebrate my new ride! You should see the interior 😉

What you might see: A made-up brunette with her hair draped over her left shoulder just perfect so, casually snapping a selfie while sitting in brutal Los Angeles traffic. How many filters did she use?

What’s really going down: A brief moment in time between the hustle & bustle of rushing  to multiple auditions and getting there on time, despite the massive billion car pile-up on the 101. It’s hot as hell, precisely 96 degrees outside, and I’d just finished letting the sweat drops dry. I’d also finally felt confident enough in my makeup to even take a selfie, feeling self-conscious snapping one because of how self-indulgent it looks and feels. Thank God for good lashes, right!? Also, I took about 15 selfies until I got this “good enough” one.

What I choose to see: A beautiful opportunity to overcome my momentary obstacles and supposed “imperfections” and be grateful for the skin I’m in, as well as the opportunity to drive around a gorgeous city to audition rooms that I’m finally getting called into. I see a young woman growing daily, learning to embrace and celebrate her current moment as much as humanly possible.

What you might see: A sexy moment in time of a “beach babe,” with just that right amount of cleavage and leg showing. Is she thinking deeply? Longingly? Or did she just position her face that way so that her sunglasses contour her face perfectly?

What’s really going down: It had been weeks since I gave myself any time to treat myself to a spa day. Today was the day I gave myself a spa morning, after which my fiance and I stopped by the beach to walk around before we turned around and flew home. Still feeling the spa high, I took a seat on the closest rock and did everything I could to be present. I caught a glimpse of  crabs scurrying across the sand and rocks, and wondered where they were rushing to and from. They looked familiar. They were me. I was scurrying, burying my head in the sand, often forgetting to stop and take in the crisp ocean air. My fiance recognized the beauty of the moment, and snapped the above.

What I choose to see: A healthy woman who has make a conscious effort to tend to her inner and outer beauty. An often self-conscious beauty who struggles to synthesize celebrating herself with feeling silly about sharing her personal triumphs.

You see Beauties, so much of what we see hinges on our own perception. And if we spend all our time judging others and wondering why we were dealt terrible cards, we’ll lose the opportunity to connect to the deeper truth.

Choosing the good, the sunshine and the blooms in life is so much more rewarding than falling victim to the “oh, woe is me” mentality. Why? Because when we see the sunshine, it actually shines brighter. When we grow the beauty internally, it also reflects itself in the world all around us. Don’t believe me? I challenge you to try it for yourself. Let’s choose to see the good for summer’s entirety, and watch how magical this season becomes.

Also, next time you see a picture and feel the urge to judge the image, take a pause. Could there be more than meets the eye?

Bottom line, Beauties — let’s be open to seeing past the superficial and our own judgements, and let’s choose to connect to the beauty instead of the perceived “lack.” Life is what you make it, so let’s make it beautiful!