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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Miss Teen Texas International Celebrates Independence Day

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Happy 4th of July! July brings back memories of parades, watermelon eating contests, water balloon wars, taking in fireworks with my family, and remembering those who gave and continue to give their lives for something more than themselves. The safety and freedom of this incredible nation are owed completely to the brave men and women who sacrifice so much in order that we might enjoy a free country. The founding fathers established an institution where the people hold the power-but with great power comes great responsibility. As Peter Marshall said, “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” As stewards of the power entrusted to us, it is important to remember to use the voice you have to leave the world a better place than you found it.

As we celebrate the 240th anniversary of the birth of America, I hope that everyone remembers the sacrifice, courage, and hope that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and others clung to. They believed that “all men are created equal” and “endowed with certain unalienable rights,” including “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Envisioning a country which placed the voice in the voter’s hands was unprecedented at that time in history. And the freedom that our troops fight for is a gift to be cherished each and every day. Enjoy watching fireworks with your families this Independence Day and remember how blessed you are!

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

Meet Gracie Hunt, Your Miss Teen Texas International 2016

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Gracie Hunt was crowned Miss Teen Texas International on April 10th at the Granville Arts Center in Garland, Texas.  She is a high school student at Ursuline Academy in Dallas.

Hello! My name is Gracie Hunt. I am seventeen years old and attend The Ursuline Academy of Dallas. I enjoy taking my golden retriever puppy running, hiking high mountains, and spending time with my friends and family. In addition, soccer is one of my greatest joys and passions. My dad taught me to play as soon as I could stand on my own two feet. 

Pageantry has been a dream of mine for many years. My Mom has a legacy in pageantry, and I believe that her experience and love for what it taught her kindled my desire to follow in her footsteps. My official training began nine weeks ago, when I decided to compete in Miss Teen Texas International. Through dedication, hard work, and the constant reminder that with God all things are possible, I worked each and every day, preparing myself to be the best that I possibly could. I am so honored, thankful, and blessed to hold the title of Miss Teen Texas International 2016, and hope to use this opportunity to bring awareness to my platform: Breaking Barriers Thru Sports. 

Gracie Hunt

Miss Teen 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.

So Long, 2015! Miss International Elise Banks Bids Adieu to 2015

So Long, 2015!

It’s hard to believe that 2015 is almost over. It seems like just yesterday I was ringing in the New Year in Tampa with my family! I do not know if it’s just me, but I feel like the years go by faster as I get older!

I’ll be honest and say that I did not have many expectations as I started this year. Coming from the past few years of disappointment, loss and a big breakup, I knew things had to get better, but I had no idea what God had in store! As I look back over this year, all I can say is “Thank you, Lord!” He has given me such an amazing support system in my family & friends, who have carried me through the highs and lows of this year. He introduced me to so many wonderful people in the International system who have touched my life in many ways. He allowed me to represent the International system, both as Miss Texas and Miss International. This is something I could have only dreamed of! He gave me the passion to put into my platform of mental health to hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. He gave me two incredible bosses who allow me to grow in my career, and also support my duties at Miss International. He has also trusted me with the responsibility of living my life in such a way that will bring honor and glory to Him.

As I close the book of 2015, and look ahead into the new year, my heart is full or gratitude and happiness. I end this year with so many more friends and relationships that I can’t imagine not having in my life now.

May God bless you and your family over the holidays!

God Bless,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Keep Your Furbabies Safe This Holiday Season, Says Miss Teen Texas International Savannah Wahrer

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I’m proud that my family includes many furry friends. Make sure to keep yours safe this holiday season!

Over the holidays it is important to “pet proof” your house. Keeping your decorations away from your animals reach can make the holidays safe and fun for your pets. Here are a few tips to follow.

Keep children’s toys out of your dog’s mouth.  Puppies like to be puppies and might unintentionally destroy the things that they can get to.  It’s a good idea to have a few “pet” toys for them to play with so they won’t get bored.  My dogs love to play fetch in the backyard with tennis balls.  This also helps them to “burn off” the never ending energy that they have!

Decorations can be a hazard for animals. Any kind of string, ribbon, tinsel, or bows could be potential problem. If they swallow these things, it could lead to a visit to the vet to deal with vomiting or digestive issues. If any of these items got stuck in their digestive tract, surgery might be needed.

Some holiday plants can be toxic to your pets. Mistletoe, Poinsettias and Holly are naturally toxic and dangerous for dogs and cats. During the holiday season these plants are treated with chemicals to preserve them, and these chemicals are also dangerous for your pet.

Another potential problem can be ornaments on the Christmas tree. Ornaments are sparkly & shiny, which pets are drawn to, especially cats! The ornaments could potentially be something your dog or cat may want to play with, or knock off with their snout/paws. Keep watch of your pet when they are around the Christmas tree.

Human food can be dangerous for your pets too. There are several types of food that are not good for your dogs and cats like chocolate, so it’s best for them to eat their pet food. Our pets love treats! We always keep a bag of treats available for them to enjoy. Pets stores have some really tasty  treats.

I hope you find these few safety tips helpful in keeping your pets safe.  I hope you and your fur-babies have a wonderful Christmas season!

Saving our best friends,

Savannah Wahrer

Miss Teen Texas International 2015

 

Miss Teen Texas International Savannah Wahrer encourages everyone to honor veterans all year long

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In honor of this past Veterans Day, I attended a fundraiser for Honor Flight DFW at the Texas Region Sports Car Club of America.  After taking honorary drives, we were all presented with “trophies.” I had so much fun meeting Mr. Perdue and Mr. Gentry, two great American heroes.

While Veterans Day is a time to honor those among us who were willing to make the ultimate commitment to serve our country, I believe it should not be limited to one day.

There are many easy ways for you to show appreciation for our Veterans year-round:

1) Just say something simple like, “Thank you for your service to our country.” Many Veterans have never actually been told that before and it’s such an easy thing to do.
2) Pay it forward with a random act of kindness and pay for a veteran’s meal the next time you are out to eat or visiting your favorite coffee house.
3) Make a new friend with a Veteran.  Talk to them and ask them about themselves and their families.  Unfortunately, 22 Veterans a day commit suicide due to PTSD and depression from their experiences during wartime.  You’ll never really know if those few kind words you might speak to a Veteran that you meet may just give them a reason to stay alive for another day.
4) Donate some money and volunteer your time to the USO, Wounded Warrior Foundation, 22Kill, Honor Flight, or any of the other many worthy Veteran organizations.
5) Visit your area’s National Cemetery and place flowers and flags on the graves of some of our Veterans who paid the ultimate price and lost their lives during war.
6) Go to a retirement home and spend a few minutes getting to know some Veterans who would love to share their stories with you.
7) Prepare some care packages and send them to some active duty soldiers who are far from home in a foreign land and would appreciate a small gift from home.
8) If you know a Veteran, make it a special occasion to take them out to eat and tell them thank you for what they did for you and your family. Make sure you get the story of their service written down.
9) If you are at the age where you can babysit, offer to volunteer and babysit for free for a Veteran, or for an active-duty military spouse who would appreciate some time to themselves since their loved one is away on duty and they are home alone.
10) Make a promise to yourself to do one nice thing for a Veteran this holiday seasons that you wouldn’t have normally done.  Make that season special for a Veteran.
I would like to take a moment to say a special “Thank You” to my Great Grandfather Pop Wahrer for his service during WWII, and my Grandpa Nick for his service during Vietnam.  I wish I could also say “Thank You” to my family member Veterans who have already passed away like my Grandpa Richard and Great Grandfather Pop Manser – I will meet them someday.  There are so many reasons to be thankful for what we have in this great country and for the protection that our Veterans have provided for us over the years.  Please be sure to show a Veteran your appreciation not only on Veterans Day, but also throughout the year.
Happy holidays, everyone!

Savannah Wahrer

Miss Teen Texas International 2015