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From Beauty Queen to Bride

Planning for a wedding is a unique process —  a wild, and (if you’re lucky) a once-in-a-lifetime journey, filled with twists and turns and highs and lows. The preparations leading up to the momentous walk down the aisle bring out so many emotions and opportunities for growth for everyone involved in the planning process. It’s no wonder there are reality shows, magazines and a plethora of stores and specialty services dedicated solely to the world of wedding and wedding planning.

But I don’t need to tell you that, do I? I’m sure you’ve heard and seen and even witnessed first-hand the fabulous frenzy of a loved one’s wedding season, or the impact of your own.

I’m here to share my unique journey, as a has-been beauty queen transforming into a bride.

I grew up in the pageant world, which meant wearing lavish dresses, high heels and fabulous hair and makeup from an early age. The attention paid to picking the perfect dress is not a foreign concept to me, as I grew up with my mother scrutinizing every inch and fabric of each competition gown.

Most little girls dream about their wedding and their wedding dress, but not me. I dreamt about my Miss USA gown instead. Plus, coming from a divorced family didn’t lead me to daydream about the perfect marriage.

Being a former beauty queen and now a bride bare quite the resemblance:

  1. Pageants and weddings both have their BIG DAY, where a crowd of adoring people gather to witness the proceeding.
  2. Both have a special (and often nerve-racking) countdown, which require preparing  mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  3. Both require paying close attention to every detail, from hair to nails — and if you’re like me, you aim for perfection. I know, I know, but hey–I’m a work in progress too!  
  4. And, of course, both involve THE DRESS! That’s right, the big reveal, the make or break, the final wardrobe change has to illicit wild ooohs and ahhhs!

Within the challenge of carving out the differences between a pageant and my big wedding day, came some comfort. Having the experience preparing for many a competition actually made my transition into bride-hood a bit easier. I found myself looking at this challenge as my biggest blessing — I’ve been down this road many times, and I in fact know what emotional/physical/spiritual preparation I need to get myself centered. Self-care nudged its way to the top of my to-do list.

That being said, picking my wedding dress definitely pushed some familiar buttons. This dress better be the best, you need to look perfect, blah, blah, blah!  This particular dress wasn’t just any dress, it was THE dress of all dresses, and I had to get this right.

So, how did I handle the triggers?

  1. Self Love — Be Your Own Best Beauty Coach

I gave myself a lot of love, and time, and encouragement. I was patient with my little beauty-queen self, who was scared to “lose” and “not be perfect” and “disappoint.” And because of the preparation and awareness I gave to my insecurities, the has been beauty queen inside of me, I was able to coach her off her high horse when she came up to try and make me feel imperfect.

  1. Patience — Every Experience Is Unique

I mentioned the advantage I have of pageant prep going into wedding season. However, I had to be careful to prepare for my wedding like I’d never prepared for a pageant stage. Pageantry wasn’t a marriage, it wasn’t one of the biggest decisions of my life. Love and marriage require an inner guidance and knowing that pageantry doesn’t. There aren’t judges and coaches. With marriage the ultimate guide is your very own intuition, and the honest communication between you and your partner. I had to be patient with myself as I travelled down some new and unfamiliar terrain.

  1. Joy!

The location, the invitations, the cake, the flowers, the dresses, who to invite, the seating, the registry. The list of to-do’s can feel as one-dimensional as a shade of foundation with no inner soulfulness to bring the honey beige to life. To plan without joy and love is no planning at all, an invitation without blissful intention will lack energy when opened by the recipient.

And then I had a little come to Jesus moment…that the very essence of both a beauty queen and a bride is this, we just want to be the best versions of ourselves, especially on the big day!

The process for me through my personal wedding season brought up a whole lot of stuff that I didn’t realize was still beneath the exterior. Growth never stops, in fact the opportunities for growth (often disguised as challenges during huge life transitions) bring up some of the unseen darkness that’s been waiting to see the light of day. And that’s all the drama that the shows catch, that the magazines expand upon and that so many of the wedding services cater to. With precious life moments come vulnerability, fear, and pain. It’s a normal part of life. But what we do with it is up to us.

And by the end of the second week of shopping, I was thrilled to have said a big YES to the dress of my dreams! Not because it was anybody else’s favorite but because it was mine.

Whew!

There’s more blooming to go in my personal wedding season. And I’ll admit, while challenges arise (and I initially attempt to avoid them), I’m so grateful for the opportunity to create a momentous occasion with my vulnerability in tow.

Why, Beauties?

Because I know this heartwarming event and all its trimmings will have the added fulfillment that hard work and transformation afford. And walking down that aisle will feel that much more magical if I can leave my jaded and bully of a has-been beauty queen at home.

Plus, it made looking at my mom with tears in her eyes, through tears of my own, such an everlasting memory that I’ll forever cherish. I’m lucky I was present, vulnerable and emotionally available to receive the moment in all its beauty.

I’d love to hear how you’ve navigated your own wedding seasons, and any tips you have for me and other soon-to-be brides trying to keep their head (and beauty) on straight?

Comment below, I can’t wait to hear from you Beauties!

XOXO,

The Beauty of a Birthday

Birthdays are beautiful, aren’t they Beauties?! A glorious 24-hour window in time dedicated to celebrating being YOU and only you!

Well, I’ll admit birthdays are slightly more conflicting for me.

Let me explain…

The most commonly asked question for me on my big day is “So, what did you get?!”

It’s not a bad question. Presents on my miraculous day of entering this magical Universe are appreciated, they’re generous tokens of love and affection. But, I think more importantly is the question, “So what did you give?”

A week ago I turned 32.

That’s 32 entire years of living, growing, learning, discovering, re-discovering — more importantly, that’s 11,680 days filled with opportunities to share. Wow! That’s a lot of days, Beauties. Seeing that number brings up a lot of joy in remembering some beautiful moments over the past year:

 

I got engaged!

My last full year with the last name I’ve known all my life, Barnette. And I really like that name, and all the memories that come with it! Making the transition to a new chapter as Mrs. Sanger was made so much easier by my handsome prince, who gave me the most beautiful, thoughtful proposal — something I’ll forever cherish. We’ve had almost five years together through thick and thin, and I am thrilled to step into this new chapter together.

 

I launched my dream brand and social platform — Beauty Therapy!

A virtual dream come true, but also a big leap of faith. I was scared, and admittedly still am at times, but I pushed and continue to push past the fear and into a medium of connection with all of you. Being able to relate and share with all of you makes my heart smile. Truly.

 

I traveled the globe!

Over the past year I traveled to Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, England, Spain, French Polynesia, Dubai, Africa, Italy and Mexico. To uproot and regroup abroad has helped me to widen my own horizons, and learn so much about the world and my place within it.

 

I fulfilled some major professional dreams!

Co-hosting Super Bowl LI Live was a dream come true. Being able to work alongside talented and knowledgeable hosts on one of the biggest platforms in our country was a humongous high! I even managed to grace a few magazine covers, which is a dream I prayed for when I was a kid, a dream that’s coming true. The last year also saw me working as a Lagree Fitness trainer in West Hollywood, giving me the opportunity to share health and positivity with others.

 

I spent an enormous amount of energy working on myself, from the inside out!

I claimed last year as the year I would not only focus on internal strength and growth, but also share it with the world around me. That’s not an easy feat. I’m a private person by nature and public self-expression goes far outside of my comfort zone, but another part of me knew this public declaration was necessary and timely.

But at the same time, all of the moments and gifts I received above are nothing if not accompanied by moments of giving to others.

What am I getting at?

I dedicate this birthday and my entire 32nd year to giving to you, my Beauties.

And I’d love to hear what’s at the top of your wish list.

What gifts can I give to you, my Beauties (and to the Universe at large while we’re at it)? How can I  leave my mark and add more beauty in your personal life?

Is it beauty tips? Is it access to Hollywood experts and top level gurus? Is it an inside peek into my travels? Is it lighthearted content to bring a smile to your face and peace to your heart? What do you need?

And on that note, I bid a grateful farewell to 31, as I graciously welcoming 32 with open arms. And excitedly await to hear your beauty therapy needs!

xoxo,

Valentine’s Day: The Beauty Therapy Way

Oh my Beauties,

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m certain that this day holds a deep meaning for you. Whether the day makes you sigh with a full heart, or roll your eyes with a heavy one — it’s a day dedicated to love.

So let’s talk love!

Whether you have a loved one you’re celebrating, or using the day to hang with your single ladies — let’s make today a wonderful celebration of the ultimate love.

Self-love, that is!

Beauties, I know you’re probably much like me and you find yourself lost in the hustle and bustle of life. The bills, the groceries, the laundry, maintaining the house and life’s relationships (from family, to friends, to your significant other). But just like any relationship, finding time means carving it out. Often the most valuable aspects of life take intention and hard work, which isn’t always so glamorous (at first glimpse).

The same goes for the relationship with YOURSELF, Beauty!


Honoring, cherishing and respecting yourself is a romantic relationship that so few of us treat with equal attention as we treat all the relationships above (including the tedious to-do lists).

On top of that, we’re fed lines like you can’t love another until you love yourself.

Wait wait wait, are you serious?

Are you telling me that I won’t find love until I love myself completely? Well damn, loving myself is a long journey, often a lifetime journey. Self-love is a process, not some overnight trick that leaves me 100% self-loving by the next morning. So then, am I doomed if I’m still on the path towards fully realized self-love?

Absolutely not!  I’m here to tell you that loving yourself is a process, and by no means do you have to arrive at full self-love in order to celebrate love itself. Relationships and love are huge, they are ever-changing and expanding and evolving. As are you.  

My personal evolution towards fully loving myself began with a simple promise to feel fulfillment both personally and professionally. Here’s how it started…

A few years ago, my insecurities were at an all-time high. While I was booking modeling and hosting work, my career path seemed shaky and unsteady. Personally I felt like a hot mess — and not the good kind of hot. I was broken. I was confused. I was scared enough to seek guidance and help. To look at myself in the mirror and not truly recognize the personal staring back, that was terrifying.

My journey to true and unconditional self-love started the moment I realized it was desperately lacking. Through days, weeks, months and now years of time spent with my therapist, my mentors, meditating and turning over my will to a higher power — I’m now able to look in the mirror and love who is staring back at me. And not for the physical being that reflects back, but for the internal beauty I now feel so secure and confident about.

So how could I possibly contribute to a relationship with my (now fiancé) then boyfriend? Well, I couldn’t. Thank God for the loving, patient and supportive man in my life who afforded me the time to mend and heal. Today, I’m so grateful and happy to report that we are two whole individuals, who can co-create a wholesome, happy and fulfilled love.  

We’re all works in progress. That goes for our relationship with ourselves and with our significant others. Every relationship requires work, commitment and quality time.

So no need to beat yourself up if you don’t feel so self-loving or loved, just take a small step in the direction towards the love you deeply desire.

Here are some of my favorite steps to take:

  • Buy yourself a dozen roses
  • Enjoy a romantic comedy
  • Cook yourself your favorite meal
  • Go on a hike & enjoy the great outdoors
  • Share a movie with loved ones  
  • Enjoy a bubble bath with a good book  

What little action of self-love are you going to share with yourself today? And not just today Beauties, let’s keep the self-love train chugging down the tracks of life on a regular basis. I would love to hear all about your self-love journey in the comment section below.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Beauties! You’re all my valentines…today and everyday!

xoxo,