Thought you might like some insight into these topics, so here goes the Q&A:
1. How has life changed for you since becoming Mrs. Vermont?
I have been blessed in SO many ways since becoming Mrs. Vermont! I have the opportunity to put my name and title behind so many worth organizations and causes, and to help bring awareness to worthwhile causes and topics of conversation for our community!
In essence, I’m busier, feel incredibly fulfilled by helping the community, and am much more watched as a “public figure” (which means no dirty sweatpants to the grocery store…now I try to clean it at least, and don a hat to not be recognized!)
2. A little more about your platform of conquering addiction: Any special activities you’re involved with to support your platform?
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 of my 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, having lost everything (often the biggest blessing ever, I see now in hindsight) I found myself jumping headfirst into three recovery programs simultaneously and spending nearly a year focusing full-time on learning how to rebuild myself, and my life, from the bottom up.
It became painfully apparent that what I thought and believed about how to be in the world was not working, so I worked diligently to find and learn a different way.
Well, the new way, and all the struggle it took to get here, has worked. Four years later, my husband (the most forgiving and compassionate man in the world, I believe!) and I are back and stronger than ever, and we have a two year old daughter who is the sparkle in my life.
Because I believe with great gifts come great responsibility, I am now dedicated to sharing my “story”, in all it’s vulnerability and ugliness, with anyone and everyone in the world who may benefit from hearing it!
Ironically, the position of being a “beauty queen” is an amazing door opener to share this less-than-glamourous story with a very happy ending, and being Mrs. Vermont has allowed me to work with a variety of local, statewide, and increasingly regional and even national organizations.
The principle is that as folks who have experienced success in long-term recovery become willing to sharing their voice, we offer others proof that recovery works…and it’s not the dull, boring half-existence that so many of us imagine being “sober” to be. In fact, my life in recovery ROCKS!
(Please see the list and links to state and national organizations below)
I now talk to teens (I have spoken with some local guidance counselors, and would love introductions to more!) and parents of teens who are looking for real advice from someone who has experienced the depths and has made it through.
I will talk with adults who are simply considering a life of sobriety through recovery and want a portrait of what that could really look like. No pressure, just my story.
I talk to groups of recovering folks of all types, sharing with them what the light at the end of the tunnel can really look like if they keep doing the work, and digging deeper toward personal growth and insight with courage and honesty.
3. How are you balancing all aspects of your life (wife, mother, advocate)? What support systems and/or activities contribute to keeping you healthy, balanced, and centered?
I’m a compulsive/addictive personality type, a person led to “extremes” since my earliest childhood, so “balance” is a relatively new term and concept for me in recovery, and of crucial importance. So I can say that it truly does take work, dedication, and focus…and most importantly, a village of support.
My spiritual life, personal recovery and self-development work, and quality time with my family have to take precedence over all else, or the foundation will crumble. Every single day, I ask to be of service to others (otherwise, it easily becomes all about me!) and that helps keep me grounded. My husband is hugely supportive of any & all personal recovery work I can do because he sees how directly it will benefit our family (and how quickly a family can be torn apart if without consistent work).
I do as much personal growth and self-development work as possible to keep my head in the right place, and have even joined a company that offers a series of literature focusing on helping individuals and families achieve balance in the “8 F’s” of family, finances, fun, faith, following, friends, fitness, and freedom. I’m constantly reading books and listening to audio CD’s from this program (called Living Intentionally For Excellence) to support the retraining of my brain in these areas and to develop positive habits that support me and my family and beyond.
I also do a lot of running (finished my first Half Marathon this summer!) and I love to do Charity 5k’s! Yoga keeps me sane and balanced, and time outdoors being active is a huge key!
I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my parents, and my husband’s parents, my husband, and our closest friends who consistently chaperone me to events to take pictures, hold my things, and watch the baby for me so I can work in the community. It literally does take a village, and I’m eternally grateful for mine!!
4. What special message would you want to share with VT Mommies on balancing motherhood and other interests and pursuits?
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’s stuff I’ve learned the hard way so would hope someone else can benefit more easily :))
A. 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.
B. 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!
If we don’t give all 8 important aspects of our lives a consistent flow of new oxygen (via new learning, stretching, growing) we can’t help our kids or our families. This is not selfish – it’s serving!
C. Embrace your story. Find your purpose. Step into your magnificence. The world needs you!
Never stop stretching, growing, learning, and 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).
Hope that answers all your questions, and offers some insight into my world as Mrs. Vermont! I will be giving up my title in March to the next lucky woman, and in the meantime, am available and excited about being in service!
Most humbly yours,
Mrs. America – My profile page for more text and photos if you want them
My national organizations:
My Vermont organizations:
Some Photos and My Speaking One-Sheet:
In gratitude and purpose,
Mrs. Vermont America 2013