TV News Channel 3 WCAX Interviews Hannah: Her story of Addiction Recovery, and why she's willing to share it


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My Interview with Tina Witte, blogger on  

A Wife, Mother, and a Crown – Mrs. Vermont Shares How She Does It All With a Smile

by Tina Witte,

Mrs VTI recently had an opportunity to catch up another mommy, Hannah Kirkpatrick, who also happens to be Mrs. Vermont 2013.  Here, she shares with us how she keeps it all together while also leveraging her platform to send messages of hope to those conquering addiction.

T:  Congrats on being crowned Mrs. Vermont! I see that you are using your platform to empower those conquering addiction.  Tell me more about the special activities you’re involved with to support that cause?

Mrs. VT:  Have you ever heard that joke, “What do you get when you play a country song backwards?…..You get your man back, you get your house back, you get your truck back, your job back, your dog back….”  Well, my life has played out a lot like that in reality!

Four years ago, at 28, I hit rock bottom with addictions to substances and behaviors that had been slowly, and often invisibly from the outside, eating away at me and my potential for years.  I never realized they were bad enough until, well, they became bad enough.

So, after having lost everything I found myself jumping headfirst into recovery programs and spending nearly a year focusing rebuilding myself from the bottom up.  I am dedicated to sharing my “story,” in all of its vulnerability and ugliness, with anyone and everyone in the world who may benefit from hearing it!

The principle is that as folks who have experienced success in long-term recovery become willing to sharing their voice.  We offer proof that recovery works. In fact, my life in recovery ROCKS!

T:  How are you balancing all aspects of your life (wife, mother, recovery advocate)?  What support systems and/or activities contribute to keeping yourself healthy, balanced, and centered?

Mrs. VT:  I can say that it truly does take work, dedication, focus … and most importantly, a village of support.

First, my spiritual life, personal recovery and self-development work, and quality time with my family have to take precedence over all else.  Next, I do as much personal growth and self-development work as possible, and have even joined a company that offers literature on helping individuals and families achieve balance in the “8 F’s”:  family, finances, fun, faith, following, friends, fitness, and freedom.  Also, I regularly read books and listen to audio CDs to support and develop positive habits.  Time outdoors being active is a huge key for me, so I also do a lot of running.  Yoga also keeps me sane and balanced.

But I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my parents, and my husband’s parents, my husband, and our closest friends.   It literally does take a village, and I’m eternally grateful for mine!!

T:  What special message would you want to share with VT Mommies on balancing motherhood and other interests and pursuits?

Mrs. VT:  A few primary points of my life lessons and learning have been this.  Now, I’m not saying I’m always right, or even that I ever accomplish these perfectly, but it is stuff I’ve learned the hard way, so I would hope someone else can benefit more easily:

Sometimes, the greatest act of courage is raising the white flag of surrender and ask for HELP.  We need to know when we’re in over our heads, and asking for help is incredibly courageous and admirable.  It’s more than okay – it can also change your world in ways you can’t even imagine.

We must take care of ourselves first, so we have the capacity to then bring fresh oxygen to our families and our communities!  Much like the airline’s suggestion to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before our children … our spiritual, emotional, physical, financial, and relational lives are only as successful as the oxygen we give ourselves as mothers FIRST!  This is not selfish – it’s serving!

Embrace your story.  Find your purpose.  Step into your magnificence.  The world needs you!  Never stop stretching, growing, learning, visioning your dreams and taking one step every day towards them.  By doing this, you are setting an example for your families (not taking away from them, as too many women have been taught).  


Mrs VermontIt has been a whirlwind year for Mrs. Vermont, who will be giving up her title in March to the next lucky woman. In the meantime, Hannah is available to speak with diverse audiences who would benefit from her message of hope, including teens, local guidance counselors, and parents of teens.  She also speaks with adults and other diverse recovery groups to share her experiences, insights, and real advice from someone who has experienced the depths and has made it through.

Personal contact:

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WHAT IT TAKES: Getting Started in Recovery

Written by Hannah Kirkpatrick: Mrs. Vermont America 2013, Recovery Advocate & Speaker

(Disclaimer: As you’ve possibly discovered by now, I’m not a doctor or therapist. I’m just another vulnerable person out there who fell prey to the multi-pronged hooks of addiction, and have been successfully pulling the barbs out, on a daily basis, with the help of some great people and practices from numerous sources.  In short, I have done some serious inner work, and have been given an (awesomely imperfect) internal life beyond my wildest dreams in return.

I gave a talk last week about my own journey, and was inspired to share an image, from my perspective only, of the qualities I believe are necessary to begin a successful journey out of the grip of the hurts, habits, hangups…ie, the addictions, that plague millions of us.  I call that journey “Recovery”.  Thought it might be helpful to share.)

Just some musings on the attitudes necessary to begin the awesomeness of Recovery

Just some musings on the attitudes necessary to begin the awesomeness of Recovery

1. Vulnerability

Becoming willing to believe:

  • Strength comes through our collective weaknesses, and together we can do what we cannot do alone

  • The world responds better to us being vulnerable rather than our pride (which is often a disguise)

  • Maybe we’ve been practicing Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results”

  • We can admit what’s not working, and become willing to try doing it differently…. by direction that’s not our own!

2. Courage

Courage comes from the latin “Cur” which means “heart”. The original definition means “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”.  Becoming courageous means:

  • Happiest are those with the courage to be “imperfect” and admit to our human “flaws” – this is where the magic begins!

  • We admit when we CAN’T STOP the addictive substances/behaviors on our own…and we find the courage to believe that is okay

  • Raising the white flag and asking for help is the most courageous act we can take.  (Seriously!) This is the point our stories can turn from tragedies into heroes journeys.

  • We need just enough courage to take that FIRST STEP.  Momentum (and a strange, powerful force of change) will propel us from there.

3. Trust

Here’s the “leap of faith” part.  It’s okay to feel the fear about moving into recovery…and we begin to do it anyway.  Dig deep in your gut and I believe you’ll find a feeling, a knowing, or a voice that assures you. Becoming willing to trust:

  • We will be supported….especially through the early period of withdrawals and trials

  • We WILL get the changes we are seeking (may not be how or when we’d like, but they’ll come).

  • We (yes, you!) are WORTH the new life available

  • A life, beyond our wildest imagination, is waiting for us on the other side.  All the work and the tears and struggle, before you know it, WILL ALL BE WORTH IT.

  • From the millions who have been healed before us, we see it will work if we work it…whatever path to recovery we choose to take.

  • Action toward change begins change. Thinking about it, or trying on our own, is (frustratingly, I agree) not enough.

Are you willing to become vulnerable, courageous, and trusting enough to take the FIRST STEP towards your best, addiction-free life in Recovery? Whether you are or not, at least now you know “what it takes”.


My best to you,  ~ Hannah

PS, This is my original stuff, friends, so if you’d like to share it, go ahead… and please just keep it linked to the author.  Thanks!

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Mrs. Vermont and the Hungry Heart

Dear Observationally Yours (may I call you “Matt”?),

It is with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat that I digest your post about me. I must admit, my heart raced in uncomfortable anticipation of what the next person might have to say about the “beauty queen”…the well-worn pre-judgement, perhaps, or misinterpretation, or underestimation?


Like you, I was pleasantly surprised. First, you are an enviable writer. Frank, succinct, heart-driven. Second, I feel “heard” by you. Not that my speaking at this event was about “me” – it truly wasn’t – but since I put myself out there to a packed theatre of my neighbors with my darkest vulnerabilities, it’s nice to not be torn down at least. Thanks


In reflection, Matt, your post represents what I love most about the recovery community. We are all bonded by our greatest weaknesses. Not our strengths, our glories, or our egos, but by our struggles, and our victories over a darkness that could have consumed us, and always lurks. There is an invisible string connecting every one of us heart to heart, and I believe that web is woven of COURAGE. The courage it takes to get down on our knees, to ask for help. The courage it takes to dig deep and makes the changes necessary to give us a brand new life. Finally, if we are among the lucky ones, the courage it takes to turn around to our communities, to extend a hand and offer a little hope to others, “I’ve been there, too. Hang in there. You are worth it.”


So Matt, thanks for acknowledging all of me, stumbles included. (Should I not edit that part out of the recap video?!) Thanks for describing so succinctly,

“The stumble meant nothing. The recovery meant everything.”


I think you hit the nail on the head…that’s what this recovery thing is all about.


My very best,
You may call me Hannah

Observationally Yours

Dear Mrs. Vermont:

I have to confess it has been a really long time since I paid much if any attention to beauty pageants or frankly, beauty pageant winners.  I don’t get the point.

We “met” each other Friday night at the Burlington premiere of The Hungry Heart.   (Met as in you said hello to me and hundreds of other people entering the theatre.)  I thought it odd that Mrs. Vermont would be at a movie premiere, but then again, I’m still not totally sure what Mrs. AnystateUSA does as part of wearing that crown.  And why this movie?

The Hungry Heart focuses its lens on St. Albans and Franklin County in Northern Vermont.  More specifically it focuses on the journey of addiction of a number of community residents and the unrelenting commitment and love of Dr. Fred Holmes, a man who started his career as a pediatrician, and retired…

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Hannah Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Vermont America 2013, speakings on air with Ginny McGee

Hannah Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Vermont America and a Recovery Advocate & Public Speaker, speaks with radio personality Ginny McGee about her public story of recovering from addictive substances and behaviors, and how she is traveling the state with her platform “Recovery ROCKS! Sharing the life of joy & hope on the other side of addiction” and preparing for Mrs. America

UPDATE: Hannah made history as the first Vermonter EVER to make Top 15 in Mrs. America’s 37-year history! Recovery ROCKS!

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Hosted by Mrs. Vermont America Hannah Kirkpatrick and DJ Craig Mitchell, South End Association of Burlington Arts (SEABA),  STRUT is Vermont’s premiere annual fashion event, showcasing over 100 models and local designers in it’s 21st season! Missed it live?  Here’s the full video!

STRUT Fashion Event 2013


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News Release: Mrs. Vermont, Hannah Kirkpatrick, publicly celebrates 4 Years in Recovery from Addiction

September 25, 2013


Mrs. Vermont publicly celebrates 4 Years in Recovery from Addiction

Essex, Vermont

 # # #

It’s not every day that a beauty queen steps out to talk about an “ugly” topic like addiction.  But for Hannah Kirkpatrick, reigning Mrs. Vermont America 2013, it’s a story she feels obliged to tell.

Four years ago, Kirkpatrick lost it all:  her husband, her home, and the support of her family to addictive substances and behaviors that had spiraled out of control.  From rock bottom, she acknowledged the choice to either “check out” or “check in” (to another way of being in the world), she says.   She raised the proverbial white flag of surrender, and asked for help. 

Four years later, Kirkpatrick is drug-free and alcohol-free and continues to live a life in “long-term recovery” which, she says, has returned her family to her, and offered her renewed hope and a deep contentment, which was eternally elusive.  Today, September 25, is her four-year “Recovery Anniversary”, and coincidently, her two-year old daughter’s birthday.  Kirkpatrick won the title of Mrs. Vermont America in March.

It is estimated that roughly 8% of the adult population, or 24 million adults, self-identify as being in “long-term recovery” from drug or alcohol addiction.  Kirkpatrick is outspoken, putting an unexpected face on an ailment that affects nearly every family in America in some way.

Last month, Kirkpatrick fearlessly brought her story to the Mrs. America competition, where her platform “Recovery ROCKS!  The joys of life in long-term recovery” surely contributed to earning her a place in history:  Kirkpatrick is the first Vermonter to ever break into the Top 15 Finalists…in Mrs. America’s thirty-seven year history!

Kirkpatrick has returned to our state triumphant from her historical placement, and even more dedicated to share her story with anyone it may help.  She is referred as a speaker by state and national organizations, including:

Kirkpatrick is currently traveling New England, speaking to groups as large as the Rally4Recovery in RI that attracted over 8,000 participants.  Hannah Kirkpatrick has dedicated her year of service as Mrs. Vermont to extend beyond the numerous fundraisers, charity golf tournaments and parades into speaking to teenagers , parents, and adults with varying levels of hurts, habits, and hang-ups, and she welcomes the opportunity to share her hopeful message to your group. 

“With great gifts come great responsibility”, Kirkpatrick says.  “Reflecting on my four-year Recovery Anniversary today, I am no more special than anyone else.  I just made a decision to seek help with some problems that had slowly become bigger than me.  Recovery has given me a life with everything I ever imagined, and more.  The greatest act of courage is asking for help, and the magic begins there.  Anyone can do it, and I’m living proof.  I’m just humbled by the opportunity to share.”

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Hannah is available for speaking engagements.  For more information or to schedule an interview, she can be contacted via her facebook page: 

Hannah Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Vermont America 2013, speaks to 8,000 at Recovery Event

Photos from Rally4Recovery, Providence, RI, September 21, 2013.  Photo Credits: Chris Kirkpatric and 


Hannah Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Vermont America 2013, speaks to 8,000 at Recovery Event


Hannah Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Vermont America 2013, speaks to 8,000 at Recovery Event


Hannah Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Vermont America 2013, speaks to 8,000 at Recovery Event































Hannah Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Vermont America, address audience of 8,000

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