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

Kori Airport Jax

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

Kori arrival Omni

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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

20160410_5975.jpg 2016 Texas Queens.jpg sm

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.

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

Traveling as a Pageant Queen! Tips from Miss International Elise Banks

Traveling is a way of life for Miss International Elise Banks!

Traveling is a way of life for Miss International Elise Banks!

For the last 6 months, I have been doing lots of traveling as Miss Texas International and now as Miss International! I thought I would share some of my tips for those of you making appearances around your city or state!

  1. Make sure to plan out enough travel time. One piece of advice that I received that I will never forget is “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, why bother showing up.” Always plan for potential traffic or lines at the airport. It’s better to be early and have time to adjust your crown, than to be running in late having to apologize!
  1. When traveling for appearances where you need to pack:
  • Make sure to pack your essentials and toiletries
  • Always bring an extra outfit (you never know if you’ll have a wardrobe malfunction or if an extra event is planned while you’re in that city)
  • Bring shoes that can go with several outfits to reduce how much you’re packing
  • Carry your crown/sash with you on the plane (just in case your luggage gets lost, you don’t want those two things to be in your suitcase)
  • Have all the contact information for the places you will be going while in town, make sure you know what type of transportation you will need (driver, taxi, subway, Uber), and again account for the fact that you are in a different city.. So leave early!
  1. Make sure to get plenty of rest, water, and vitamins! Traveling can take a lot of energy out of you. With the hustle and bustle of catching planes or a lengthy road trip, make sure to let your body recuperate.

    4. Travel safe! If you are able to, have your pageant director, family member or friend accompany you on the trip. If you have to travel alone, make sure that someone knows where you will be and where you are staying. Safety is always the priority.

    5. Capture the journey! Your year as Miss ___________ (fill in the blank!) will flash before your eyes. Make sure to take lots of pictures of the events that you attend. One of my favorite things to do is go back and re-live the appearances I have been doing. I also encourage you to journal about your experiences. You will meet so many people and have so many great opportunities during your year, writing about them is a great way to “pen” down how you were feeling during that moment!

    Wishing you much success and safe travels as you venture across your city, state or country spreading awareness to your platform!

    All my Texas love,

    Elise Banks
    Miss International 2015

Miss Teen Texas International Visits with Girl Scouts

Savannah Sept 1a

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit with the Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains for the grand opening of their new facility in Southlake recently. It is such a warm and welcoming place!  During our time together we learned how to tie different knots, participated in arts and crafts (we made some REALLY cool spin tops!), enjoyed some fun experiments, and the girls were able to use their “Cookie Bucks” at the Girl Scout store.

From Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes, to Seniors and Ambassadors, these young girls are doing some awesome things! They have so many wonderful events and camps where these girls can develop their leadership skills, character, and help build their confidence.

Just as service to God and our community is a very important part of the International Pageant System, the Girl Scouts also have this same principle.

The Girl Scout Promise
“On my honor, I will try:
To serve God,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.”

I really enjoyed meeting all of the volunteers, former Girl Scouts, and all the young ladies who are going to shape our future by making a difference in our world!

Savannah Wahrer

Miss Teen Texas International 2015

Savannah Sept 1b Savannah Sept 2 Savannah Sept 4

Miss International Elise Banks Visits the Alzheimer’s Association

Elise Alzheimers 1

Elise Alzheimers 2

I recently made at trip to the Alzheimer’s Association offices. Going into this appearance, I had mixed emotions as the subject of Alzheimer’s is not always easy for me to talk about since my Grandmother passed away from the dreadful disease when I was only 9 years old. However, knowing that I can have even a small impact on the research and awareness that is being done so that hopefully there will be a day where no one will have to go through the devastating times my family had to go through during the last few years of my Granny’s life.

While visiting the office, I was able to find out more about what services they provide for the community. The people who will benefit the best are those who are in the early stages of the disease. Support groups are provided for these individuals and their families/caretakers. They also provide different activities and events which allow opportunities for these individuals to work to keep the memories that they have left.

Being able to get involved with this organization has been such a blessing. Back in April of this year, I went to Austin to talk to our state representatives about the importance of the passing of the bill UAGPPJA (Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act). While at the offices, I found out that more of our elected officials are signing on to this bill which will be a huge step forward for the lives of families having to transport their loved one from state to state. I also can’t wait to join the organization in a few of their walks this year as this is always a huge fundraiser for the organization to be able to continue to fund the resources they provide and to continue the research that is being done!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

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!

photo 3

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

Elise Banks Reflects on the Moment She Went from Miss Texas International to Miss International 2015

“And the winner is….” Every pageant girl I know is hoping that their name, state or country is followed by that phrase. We think about what the moment will be like and work really hard in hopes that it will finally come true. Having won titles in the past, including the coveted Miss Texas International crown, I knew what the feeling was like to have the crown placed on your head and sash draped across your chest. But the emotions that came over me on August 1st, 2015, when Samantha Riddle crowned me Miss International 2015, is like nothing I have ever experienced before. In that one moment, I saw 12 years of hard work, prayers, and determination finally pay off.

Although winning the title was a highlight of my week at nationals, I must say that the other highlight was spending my week with some of the most intelligent, beautiful and passionate women I’ve ever met. I was able to form some close bonds during my week, and I honestly felt like we were at summer camp versus a competition! Of course, it was also amazing having my teen sister queen, Savannah, there that week as we got to go through our competition weeks together. And having my other sister queen, Farabe’, win the Mrs. International crown the weekend before was inspiring and gave me a little extra push as I entered my pageant competition week. I am thrilled to have been blessed with another teen sister queen, Jules, and can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us.

It has definitely been a whirlwind as I transition from being a state titleholder to holding the International crown! I feel incredibly blessed to have such an amazing support system who have encouraged me during my week at nationals and every day since I won. And since I’m averaging about 4-5 hours of sleep right now, their support is appreciated now more than ever! I am also thrilled to have the opportunity to continue the plans that I set as Miss Texas International. The stigma associated with mental illness is very real and one of the main reasons why so many individuals do not get the help that they need. My goal as Miss International is to continue to break this stigma so that every cry for help is heard.

Be sure to follow my journey as Miss International on Facebook (Miss International 2015-Elise Banks or Mrs., Miss & Miss Teen International Pageants) or on Instagram (@MissIntl2015).

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks

Miss International 2015

Here I am as your new Miss International on the night I was crowned with Mel and Mary Richardson, the CEO and executive director of the International Pageants organization. We are all so blessed to have them running a system that uplifts and inspires women around the world!

Here I am as your new Miss International on the night I was crowned with Mel and Mary Richardson, the CEO and executive director of the International Pageants organization. We are all so blessed to have them running a system that uplifts and inspires women around the world!

Miss Teen Texas International Helps Pets Find Homes through ‘Clear the Shelter’ Day

I loved rolling up my sleeves to volunteer with animals who need us most.

I loved rolling up my sleeves to volunteer with animals who need us most.

“Clear The Shelter” was a HUGE success this past Saturday!!! It was SO exciting to hear that some shelters were completely emptied!  In the North Texas area, eleven shelters actually had to close their doors and turn people away because there were NO MORE SHELTER ANIMALS TO BE ADOPTED! Isn’t that just amazing?  At the HSNT Waggin’ Tails Animal Shelter in Benbrook where my Mom and I volunteered, almost all the dogs and cats were adopted. We even had a few small friends (rabbits and hamsters) that also found their “fur-ever” homes. In the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, the total number of adopted animals for this one day was 2,951.  Nationwide, this event seems to get larger every year as more and more shelters take part in the momentum created by all the buzz.

There was so much excitement at Waggin’ Tails that day. I loved getting to see how happy & excited the  dogs became when they got picked by their new family. It was so wonderful to be a part of such a great cause and getting to be involved in the adoption process. My Mom and I volunteered in the “big” dog room. Sometimes these dogs get overlooked because of their size. But local community residents stepped up to the plate, and almost all were adopted. I will never forget this experience and I’m already looking forward to the next “Clear The Shelter” Day on July 16, 2016!

Saving our best friends,

Savannah Wahrer

Miss Teen Texas International 2015