I’m Still Mrs. Texas, Y’all! Kori Zwaagstra Shares Thoughts from Mrs. International Pageant

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I’ve had a week to reflect on my experience at Mrs. International and I would love to share my thoughts with you.  Competing at an International level was an amazing honor and it has taken all of the last week to begin to process the memories, new friends and feelings.

I must start by saying I had an absolutely fabulous week.  Mary and Mel Richardson and their entire team truly run the pageant with organization and efficacy at the forefront.  I, along with all the other contestants was treated with respect and care.  I loved meeting such accomplished women from all over the globe and I’m blessed to have forged real friendships with many.  My roommate, Summer Drake, Mrs. Oklahoma International was simply the best.  We connected through social media a few months ago and even texted the week before arriving in Jacksonville that we were slightly worried about the “roommate thing”—I know God had his hands all over that I couldn’t think of a more perfect lady to share my personal space, makeup and hair products and late night room service with.

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One of the biggest challenges in any pageant is our own personal tendency to play the comparison game.  Thankfully Team Texas has amazing sponsors that help with that aspect too!  Our Texas International interview coach, Valerie Hayes, and I worked on specific tactics to talk myself off the comparison cliff.  Our wardrobe sponsor Laine Berry of the Royal We helped design a look for the week that had me feeling so confident in what I was wearing I didn’t worry about what everyone else was dressed in.

I’m not ashamed to say I had a goal heading into Mrs. International, and that goal was to make the Top 15.  Contestants in the Top 15 give their platform statement on stage and answer a follow-up question.  I’d worked incredibly hard writing and memorizing my platform statement and I honestly felt that when I gave that speech I would be speaking for every woman who had or is currently suffering with perinatal mood disorder.  I wasn’t one of the Top 15 and didn’t have the opportunity to share my platform.  Was I disappointed?  Heck yes!  I’d worked extremely hard since being crowned Mrs. Texas to improve all areas of competition while making meaningful appearances that related directly to my platform.  Did I cry?  Yes.  Was it the end of the world?  No.

For me (and I would assume for many) the best part of competing in pageant is the personal development that takes place long before you enter the interview room or step into your evening gown.  All that self-work actually prepares you and strengthens you to hear your named called—or not.

I continue to be grateful that I represented the great state of Texas on an international stage and just as thankful I will continue to represent the Lone Star State until we crown our next Mrs. Texas International next spring.

Still your Mrs. Texas,

Kori

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Mrs. Texas International Arrives in Jacksonville for the Mrs. International Pageant

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I’m here!!  I am ecstatic to have arrived in Jacksonville for the 2016 Mrs. International Pageant.  It feels hard to believe I was crowned Mrs. Texas four months ago because I’ve been traveling across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona promoting my program, Beyond the Baby Blues, and Postpartum Progress, non-stop!  I can’t wait to meet the other titleholders and see what the week has in store.

I would like to thank our amazing Texas International sponsors for their support:

  • Valerie Hayes– thank you for helping me communicate the best and authentic version of myself. You are THE pageant coach for a reason; you are the best!  I lovingly call you a coach and a friend.
  • Laine Berry– when someone screams with delight at a dress you’ve selected you must be on to something. I can’t thank you enough for developing a signature look that fits inline so well with my own personal style.
  • Sheila Ybarra– sitting in your chair two days in a row was such a treat! Our makeup lesson was a game changer for me and I couldn’t have felt more beautiful for my headshots.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you.
  • Kerry Beyer– thank you for sharing your gift of photography. Each of my headshots is a work of art and shooting with you was a special memory I won’t soon forget.
  • Carlotta Lenox– thank you for your time and talent to perfect my stage presence and walk. You have helped to up my fierceness and grace!
  • Corrie Demmler/Paper Patina– My platform page and ad page for Mrs. International are interesting and visually stunning. Thank you for the high quality of work and the quick turn-around time.

To our director Rachel Hedstrom-

Rachel, you have quickly become a dear friend.  Your deep care for your titleholders and the Mrs. International system is visible in all you do.  Thank you for everything!

Team Texas thank yous wouldn’t be complete without Pam Blacketer-

Queen Mum, I’ve loved getting to know you and because of you my posture has improved greatly and I sincerely thank you!

To my little sisters, Taylor and Gracie-

I adore each of you and I’m so proud to see you each shining your light on the causes that speak to your hearts.  I love our Texas Queens blondentourage!

There are not enough words to thank my three leading men.  Jake, God blessed me with the perfect husband to walk through imperfect life and I praise Him daily for you in my life.  Zayne and Gage, thank you for making me a momma and challenging me with that calling everyday.  I cannot wait to see you in your tuxedos and shiny shoes!

Last but certainly not least to the Richardsons –

Thank you for the International system where women as community leaders are at the forefront.

Make sure you are following Mrs. Texas International on Facebook and the International Pageants Facebook, for all the Mrs. International week updates!

Kori Zwaagstra

Mrs. Texas International 2016

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It’s a Family Affair, Says Mrs. Texas International Kori Zwaagstra

20160410_3055I often get asked why married women would want to compete in a pageant, that is after they say “I didn’t even know married women can do pageants!”.  I always offer the same answer: because competing and winning Mrs. Texas International is hugely fulfilling for my family and for me.

The role of full time wife and full time mom can often become just that, full time everyone else and very little time left for me.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about being selfish, rather carving out time and energy for something that helps me grow, and better myself.  Preparing for Mrs. Texas and Mrs. International requires that I make my health and fitness a priority.  There is nothing like a clearly defined goal to make you accountable to yourself!  I have to set aside time to prepare for my interview and continue to develop those communication skills.  Most valuably, I have a larger opportunity to raise awareness for perinatal mood disorders and offer outreach to moms and clinicians.  All of those things help me be a better wife and mother.  I’m teaching my children the importance of commitment and follow-through, of time management and about giving of our gifts and talents to others.

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I didn’t title this blog “A Family Affair” just to talk about how Mrs. Texas International has benefited me.  My family has had some very unique and memorable experiences because of my title.  My sons and I took a step back into the Old West at Wyatt Earp Days in Tombstone, Arizona and our entire family got to attend our first ever Major League Soccer game as special guests at the FC Dallas game.  They have heard me talk about how “sometimes mom’s get sad even thought the love their babies” and know that even though you endure struggles, those challenges don’t define you.  I look forward to husband and I sharing the moment of a lifetime when he escorts me on the Mrs. International stage.

I have the enormous honor of representing Texas as Mrs. Texas International, but all of Team Zwaagstra gets to be part of the fun.

Kori Zwaagstra

Mrs. Texas International 2016

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Hayden Panettiere’s Public Struggle with PPD is on the Mind of Mrs. Texas International

When news broke last week that Hayden Panettiere announced she was headed back to rehab for her ongoing battle with postpartum depression I had more than one person reach out—had I heard?  I’d be lying if that didn’t make me feel good in a way, that all the talk I do about PPD and maternal mental health is connecting.  I also felt a painful twinge for Hayden, whom I’ve obviously never met.  The same feeling I have whenever I talk with a mom who’s suffering—deep empathy both for how they are feeling and a little reminder of the darkness I walked through.  It takes so much courage to admit that you need help and as a public person who faces public scrutiny that must be ever more difficult.

The real reason I’m sure people are asking my thoughts on her entering rehab is exactly that. Why rehab?  As I said before, I don’t know Hayden Panettiere and can’t begin to imagine her medical history, but my observation is the word “rehab” is somehow more acceptable than “inpatient mental health treatment.” Our culture takes celebrities getting treatment for alcohol and drug addiction with a grain of salt while we are hesitant to discuss mental health treatment. The stigma still hangs heavy in regards to antidepressants. I’m grateful to Ms. Panettiere and all the other women, celebrities or not, who are vocal about their struggles with perinatal mood disorders. Our willingness to share an extremely difficult diagnosis makes it just a little easier for the next suffering mom.

If you are suffering with postpartum depression or anxiety you are not alone and you are not a failure. Help is available and treatment works.

Kori Zwaagstra

Mrs. Texas International 2016

 

It’s Time to Take Care of Mom, Mrs. Texas International Reminds Everyone on Mother’s Day

Yellow RosesMay means Mother’s Day and it also means Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month in Texas.  I’m sure you are familiar with Mother’s Day and have your special brunch reservations made and beautiful flowers ordered (if you haven’t, consider yourself reminded).  Maternal Mental Health Month is a little bit less known, but just as important.  We are talking about loving on mom in May!

 

Postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, pregnancy depression, postpartum PTSD and postpartum psychosis are all mental illnesses that develop either during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth.  One in seven mothers suffer from a perinatal mood disorder and together they are the most common complication after birth.  These disorders affect women across all ethnic, socioeconomic and cultural lines, often in women with no history of depression or anxiety.

 

One of the most difficult issues when it comes to talking about perinatal mood disorders is that large amount of misinformation.  I encourage you to take a look at the most common falsehoods related to perinatal mood disorders.

 

  • All new moms are tired. You will feel better once your baby starts sleeping through the night.
    • True, the weeks/months after delivery are exhausting, but if you are unable to sleep or are sleeping all the time it may be PPD or PPA.
  • Hormones dip after delivery every mom gets a little weepy from time to time.
    • True, but it you are crying or feeling deep sorrow on a daily basis for more that three weeks it may be PPD.
    • “The Baby Blues” or the hormonal dip after delivery are experience immediately after delivery, while the symptoms of Perinatal Mood Disorders can develop anytime up to a year after delivery.
  • New moms are naturally overprotective when it comes to their baby.
    • True, but if you have severe anxiety over leaving your baby for a short time, you fear your ability to care for them, or if you are experiencing panic attacks, it may be postpartum anxiety or panic disorder.
  • Once your baby turns one, things will get better.
    • Perinatal mood disorders do not just go away with time.  In fact PPD can develop into deep chronic depression if left untreated.
  • Perinatal mood disorders only affect the mom.
    • While the mother is suffering from the symptoms, her entire family is hurting too.  Marriages are stressed when husbands don’t understand what has happened to their wife.  Older siblings are left confused and lonely.  Mother-baby bonding is delayed.

 

The good news…perinatal mood disorders are treatable and DO NOT mean you are a failure as a mom.  I repeat sweet momma:  this is not your fault and you can get better.  If you or someone you know is suffering I encourage you to talk to your doctor.  You can also check out the resources page at www.postpartumprogress.org

Happy Mother’s Day!

-Kori

Kori Zwaagstra

Mrs. Texas International 2016

Texas International Names 2016 Queens

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2016 Texas International queens were named April 10th at the Granville Arts Center.  Gracie Hunt (left) was crowned Miss Teen Texas International, Taylor Ashworth (center) was crowned Miss Texas International, and Kori Zwaagstra (right) was crowned Mrs. Texas International.  All three ladies will represent Texas at the International Pageant in Jacksonville, Floria, in July.

Kori Zwaagstra Crowned Mrs. Texas International 2016, Taylor Ashworth Crowned Miss Texas International 2016, and Gracie Hunt Crowned Miss Teen Texas International 2016

2016 queens will represent the Lone Star State at the International Pageant in July

After a weekend of sparkles and speeches about service, Texas International has named its 2016 queens. Kori Zwaagstra, a mother of two from the Lubbock area, was crowned Mrs. Texas International.  Taylor Ashworth, a student at the University of North Texas, was crowned Miss Texas International, and Gracie Hunt, a student at Ursuline Academy, was crowned Miss Teen Texas International.  All three ladies won their respective divisions during the Texas International Pageant, held April 10th at the Granville Arts Center in Dallas.

Zwaagstra competed among accomplished married women from all over the state of Texas to win her title.  Areas of competition included interview (both on-stage and personal), fitness wear, and evening gown. The Mrs. Texas International system is the premier pageant competition for married women in Texas and emphasizes a woman’s ability to serve and lead her community, as well as inspire other women. Zwaagstra is a dedicated wife and mother whose family includes her husband, Jake; and two boys, Zayne, 7, and Gage, 4.  She is a health and fitness coach.

As Mrs. Texas International, Zwaagstra will promote her platform, “Beyond the Baby Blues,” which raises awareness for the most common complication of childbirth, postpartum depression. Zwaagstra’s goal is to bring visibility to perinatal mood disorders among women, their families and also the medical community. Zwaagstra uses her personal story about her struggle with postpartum depression to break the stigma associated with this disorder that one in seven women will experience. She chairs the Climb Out of Darkness event to educate and provide access to outreach resources for women struggling with postpartum depression.

Zwaagstra will represent the Lone Star State as she competes with women from across the U.S. and countries around the world for the title of Mrs. International July 22-23rd in Jacksonville, Fla

Taylor Ashworth competed among accomplished young women from all over the state of Texas to win her title.  Areas of competition included interview (both on-stage and personal), fitness wear, fun fashion and evening gown.

As Miss Texas International, Ashworth will promote her platform, “The Power of Pink,” to stress the importance of early detection through self-exams and regular mammograms. After seeing several family members successfully battle cancer, and others lose their battles, Ashworth is committed to improving awareness for all women.  She plans to travel the state talking to women about the positive impact of early detection and raise funds for breast cancer research and awareness.

Ashworth is in her final year of study at the University of North Texas, where she majors in Sports Management, a field in which she plans to pursue a career.  She serves as the photography chair for Susan G. Komen of North Texas, as a “You’re the Cure” advocate for the American Heart Association of Dallas, and a marketing assistant for Habitat for Humanity of Denton County. Ashworth has received the George R. Eastman Young Leaders Award from the University of Rochester.

Ashworth will represent the Lone Star State as she competes with women from across the U.S. and countries around the world for the title of Miss International July 29-30th in Jacksonville, Fla.

Gracie Hunt competed among accomplished teenagers from all over the state of Texas to win her title.  Areas of competition included interview (both on-stage and personal), fitness wear, fun fashion and evening gown.

As Miss Teen Texas International, Hunt will continue working with her platform, “Breaking Barriers Thru Sports” to help level the playing field for those with intellectual or financial disadvantages by inspiring participation and inclusion in sports.  Hunt serves as a partner player and halftime advocate for the FC Dallas Special Olympics Team, an ambassador for the Special Olympics and a volunteer leader for Rays of Light.  Her goal is to raise awareness for the importance of respect and inclusion, and she plans to travel the state during her reign, bringing visibility to causes that accomplish these goals.

Hunt is a junior at Ursuline Academy of Dallas, where she plays on the varsity soccer team. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Support Our Troops and Special Olympics. In addition to volunteering and sports, Hunt enjoys playing guitar and hiking with her family. She is the daughter of Clark and Tavia Hunt

Hunt will represent the Lone Star State as she competes with teenagers from across the U.S. and countries around the world for the title of Miss Teen International July 28-30th in Jacksonville, Fla.

The International System was established more than 20 years ago to adhere to a higher standard than other systems.  Texas International seeks more than a pretty face: winners have beauty and depth, and are committed to their communities. Like all pageants in the International System, contestants compete in fitness wear rather than swimsuit. The emphasis is on healthy lifestyle choices in accordance with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, with which the pageant system holds a national alliance.

For more information on the Mrs. Texas International pageant system, please visit www.mrstexasinternational.com, www.misstexasinternational.com, or www.missteentexasinternational.com.

To schedule a speaking engagement or appearance from any Texas International titleholder, please contact Rachel Hedstrom at texasinternationalpageant@gmail.com.

Mrs. International Farabe’ Algor Offers Fitness Tips

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As promised in my last Texas blog, I am briefly touching on each area of competition leading up to pageant weekend. We are getting so close to crowning a new Mrs. Texas International. In fact, less than 3 months away. With February being heart health month I thought I would talk about the fitness portion of the competition. Even though fitness is not weighted as heavy as the interview portion, it can easily keep you from winning the coveted Mrs. Texas International title.

There are so many different work out routines easily available these days you just need to determine which one fits your style. For me personally, I need more of the structure of a class. I love Pure Barre! I was a competitive dancer until I graduated from High School so doing any kind of work out with a ballet barre was exciting to me! My first class, I left shaking! I also made sure to get to the gym about four times a week leading up to the pageant. Being non stop with the kids all day everyday helps immensely as well!

While you are busting your booty inside the gym, make sure that you are putting healthy things inside your body. There’s no point in working out hardcore if you are just going to head straight to McDonalds when you pull out of the parking lot. Remember, in the fitness portion you want to show not only how confident you are on stage in fitness wear, but also show that you are living a heart healthy lifestyle all year, and not just a few months before the pageant.

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’ Algor

Mrs. International 2015

Mrs. Texas International 2015

Staying True to Yourself: Thoughts from Mrs. International Farabe’ Algor

Hey Texas! Are y’all busy preparing for Mrs. Texas International 2016? You are one month closer to walking on that great stage in Garland, Texas, and one of you is one step closer to joining the Mrs. Texas International sisterhood. With that being said, it is important that you not only stay focused on you and your goals, but also remember to be you and not to try to fit into one of the past queen’s shoes.

You are each unique and you each have an amazing story to tell (and remember that regardless of your placement). Don’t mold yourself into my look, Whitney’s, Rachel’s, Suzy’s, or any of the past fabulous queens that represented our great state. Each one of us are so different, yet we all had the same drive and goal in mind when we walked into the interview room.

Don’t change your look, the way you wear your hair, or your platform because you think you should pick one that was a “winning platform” in the past. Be YOU! Be the queen that is already representing her town, county or area with style, grace and beauty. Our system truly is one that has a different look each year. Not every system can say that, and you can clearly look back at previous winners and see that for yourself.

Mrs. International 2014 Maggi Thorne and I are not what you would call

Mrs. International 2014 Maggi Thorne and I are not what you would call “twins,” but we share something very important: being true to ourselves as individuals, and to our commitment to serve others. Official portraits by Clay Spann Photography at Competitive Image.

Winning a state title pretending to be someone you really aren’t deep-down will make for a very long year. Compete as yourself. Remember, no one does you better than you!

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Farabe’ Algor

Mrs. International 2015

Mrs. Texas International 2015

Working your platform: Mrs. International Farabe’ Algor shares a few tips

Hi Texas ladies. I’ve been nonstop lately working my platform, Beyond Glory- Supporting our Veterans, and thought I would jot down a few things to help you prepare for the Mrs. Texas International pageant. With the interview portion being 50% of the score, you cannot neglect your platform work. It is so important to understand the WHY behind your platform, meaning why you chose it to be your platform in the first place. The judges want to see a personal connection. When you are passionate about something one can almost guarantee you will not neglect it in the future.

It is also very important to make meaningful appearances. Sure, anyone can throw on their crown and sash and take a picture, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to connect with influential organizations that fall within your platform and work together to make a positive difference. With that being said, don’t be scared to think outside of the box. For example, in regards to my platform work specifically with veterans with PTS (drop the D, people) I can work with an organization called Canines 4 Hope that provide veterans and their family members with assistance and hope to once again live a fulfilled life.

Begin preparing now for your personal interview. Google, study everything about your platform and start answering practice questions. When your official contestant handbook arrives in the mail, you will have more information available to you in regards to interview and who the official state sponsor is. Remember, the early bird catches the worm. Xo!

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Mrs. International 2015/ Mrs. Texas International 2015

I enjoy working hard for many veteran support organizations. As an international spokesperson for Heroes on the Water, I get to spend a lot of time in canoes and kayaks as a peaceful activity for our veterans. It's my pleasure to serve!

I enjoy working hard for many veteran support organizations. As an international spokesperson for Heroes on the Water, I get to spend a lot of time in canoes and kayaks as a peaceful activity for our veterans. It’s my pleasure to serve!

Mrs. Texas Becomes Mrs. International 2015

When I arrived, I was able to say hello to Mrs. International 2014 Maggi Thorne, who is always radiant and was so welcoming to all of us.

When I arrived, I was able to say hello to Mrs. International 2014 Maggi Thorne, who is always radiant and was so welcoming to all of us.

Hi Ladies! I wanted to jot down a few things about my competition week at Mrs. International 2015. It was such an amazing journey to finally arrive at the much anticipated International pageant. I was in good hands as I prepared, competed and ultimately won the Mrs. International 2015 title. Rest assured, Rachel is a wonderful director and goes above and beyond for her queens!

Jacksonville is the perfect host city for the International Pageants. They welcomed each of us with open arms and made sure that every need was met. On Tuesday, we had an outing day to St. Augustine, the outlets for shopping, and then a behind the scenes tour of the Jacksonville Jaguar stadium. It was alot of fun to get to know each of the other contestants before our week became hectic with rehearsals, interviews, prelims and finals.

Getting to know my pageant sisters was definitely the highlight of my week!

Getting to know my pageant sisters was definitely the highlight of my week!

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Wednesday we spent all day and evening in rehearsals, but the day truly flew by and before I knew it, it was Thursday and time for interviews. Our judges were great! Rachel again does a great job of finding similar in dynamic judges for the Texas pageant to ensure the best queen is truly crowned to represent our great state at the next level. After interviews were over around 2 pm we headed straight back to the theater for more rehearsals.

Friday, you guessed it, more rehearsals. Our husbands joined us around 1. We practiced and practiced again, but the pageant went off without any glitches. Friday we actually practiced until 5, ran to get dinner and had to be back ready by 6:30 for prelims to start at 7:30. I can honestly say that I had ZERO nerves on Friday night. I just did my thing. Being on stage is definitely my strong point. Don’t get me wrong, I was a nervous wreck before interviews.

Saturday, after more rehearsals it was time to do it all over again for Finals. After opening number, they announced the Go Red for Women winner (Mrs. India Intl) and the photogenic award. That I WON! I was so shocked! I have never won that before. (The photos from the entire week were judged, along with personal style and not just the photo submitted for the web page). After I made top 16, the rest of the night was a race to the finish line. We had about 5 seconds to change from one area of competition to the next beginning with On Stage Question.

In the dressing room, ready for opening number. So blessed to represent the great state of Texas!

In the dressing room, ready for opening number. So blessed to represent the great state of Texas!

When the top 10 were standing at the end, holding hands, I remember hearing 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st and then my name and that’s it. I saw Maggi walking towards me, followed by my husband holding a huge bouquet of flowers. I know I saw my arms, not hands, shaking (haha) and Maggi telling Justin to just smile because he was having trouble placing the crown on my head.

Thank you, Paula Preston Photography, for capturing this amazing moment! This picture was up in Times Square in New York City!

Thank you, Paula Preston Photography, for capturing this amazing moment! This picture was up in Times Square in New York City!

It was the most amazing experience and my reign, so far, has been nothing short of a dream come true. Once a TEXAS queen ALWAYS as TEXAS queen!

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Mrs. International 2015