Originally posted on Instagram, June 19, 2023.
This is 28.
With every passing year, I hope (and strive) for a few things:
I hope I can grow a little bit wiser.
A little bit kinder.
A bit gentler with myself and others.
More confident in embracing + simply being my truest self.
Of course, there are many things that I hope for, but in summary: I hope to continue growing into a better version of myself, someone who can boldly love + serve the world around me.
And yet, sometimes it can be difficult to be a witness to our own growth + progress. Sometimes, our own perspective is a little too close and it can be a challenge for us to see how far we’ve come. I swear, with every birthday that I can recall, I don’t feel all too different from the last one. And yet, growth and change is somewhat like a rising tide — the waves flood in and out, seeming to gain traction, and then as quickly as they’ve seemed to have made it suddenly they’re gone… erased. But wait, there they are again. And with time, they make their way to the top of the beach. Slowly. Steadily. Patiently. Purposefully.
Like each of us, with every passing year.
Each of us has our struggles. And we occasionally find success. But then we fail. And we fail some more. And sometimes we wonder how we can continue getting out of bed each morning. But we do. And we come out stronger. We remember to laugh. We try something new. We lean on those closest to us. We learn. And ultimately…
As I turn another year older, I feel grateful as I reflect on all of the interactions, connections, and conversations that came with this past year. It reaffirms my belief in what this life is truly about: being present and there for one another — or, in other words: pursuing an ongoing adventure of discovering ourselves and those around us just a little bit more. :)
So, cheers to another year of living this beautiful thing called life. I am grateful, truly, for all of you.
Thank you for being here!
This past week, after nearly a year since passing on the Miss North Dakota title, I returned to Williston to host the 75th Miss North Dakota Competition.
On a stage.
Under bright lights.
Standing in platform heels.
Wearing arguably too many sparkles.
With a microphone in my hand.
And hundreds of eyes locked on me.
Could I still do this??
Sure, just a year ago I had spent a good portion of 2021-22 traveling across the state speaking to thousands of students and individuals. But since then, a part of me had turned into a hermit following a year of needing to embrace my extroverted side. At that moment as I was about to walk onto the stage, my previous shy-thirteen-year-old-awkward self didn’t feel so distant in my past.
A moment of hesitation, I swallowed, and I walked forward into the beams of the blinding stage lights.
And it was okay.
Actually, it was MORE than okay.
Throughout the three nights of emceeing the competition, I had the time of my life and felt completely in my element. Everything that I hadn’t done in a year - but skills that I had cultivated during my year as Miss North Dakota - came back and I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It was as if I hadn’t taken a day off from publicly presenting.
And, I remembered a part of why I so dearly loved being Miss North Dakota in the first place: because of the opportunities to connect with broad audiences of people.
So… what’s the takeaway in sharing this?
Well, quite frankly it’s pretty straightforward:
I encourage you to keep stepping into the light, dear friends.
(Yes, even if you’re wearing platform heels that make your feet swollen and numb by the end of the night.)
Well, it dawned on me this morning that today marks 111 months of choosing to pursue the love of my life, Mr. Collin Asheim. (But who’s counting? 🤪)
I can still vividly recall reaching the three-month mark of our relationship and thinking to myself, "Wow! We made it to a quarter of a year!" It felt like such a milestone, and at the time it was. ☺️ Back then, I could barely fathom being with someone for longer than a year, and now here we are at nearly a decade with (hopefully!) many more decades yet to come.
What have I learned in that amount of time? I mean, what's the "secret" to creating a successful relationship anyway? Is there a universal formula to making it work?
I think the general key is to practice active listening, intentional communication, and to give unconditional grace.
Ha, all easier said than done!
There’s a lot more to it than just that, and there are many practices, habits, and rhythms that we’ll be figuring out for the rest our lives. A few of these things include:
This is a brief list. And yet, I wholeheartedly believe that these things matter.
Boy, I thank God every day for you, Collin Asheim. You are undoubtedly my greatest blessing. Cheers to another 111 months of embracing this thing called life together.
I freakin' love you.
(p.s. I felt it was time for your biannual sappy love post 😘)
photo by Kara Lee
As I sit in my little office space in Fargo on this snowy Wednesday, I find myself reflecting to a year ago when I boarded a plane to make my way to the 100th anniversary competition of Miss America in Connecticut.
I was so nervous.
And READY. (Well... mostly anyway. Are you ever truly ready for a once in a lifetime experience?)
I was in a state of pure anticipation, mentally preparing for the 1/51 chance that I might become the next Miss America. (Man, what a thrilling and overwhelming idea that was, ha!)
Well, surprise surprise, that lucky girl did not end up being me and I couldn't have been more grateful. I was able to return to North Dakota and spend the last half of my year traveling around and serving my state.
And yes, the following few months brought their fair share of adventures.
One year later and I find myself sitting in my tiny cubicle sipping vanilla-cinnamon flavored Keurig coffee, reflecting on the events of this past year.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel real. Like, did any of this actually happen??? As I think of these events in my new “normal” reality of life, they feel like a distant dream… which memories and dreams do often seem to blur in my mind.
To be honest, I think I'm only now just beginning to process the events of the past twelve months, which I think is actually quite normal for many of us. At least in my experience, I often struggle to grasp the weight and significance of situations in real time while they're happening. These “big” life events are typically overwhelming, and I think many of us go into a state of survival mode as a coping mechanism whether we realize it or not. It's only after they're done, when we are able to look back, that we reflect and realize how we were impacted and changed.
As this year comes to a close, I continue to process the extent of these experiences on my life. And perhaps, just maybe, I was in fact changed for the better.
Photo credit to Lindsay Arbach, John Geyerman, Stella K. Photography, and Kara Lee Creative.
Someday, when my skin is weathered with wrinkles and I’ve gained a few wisps of white in my hair, I know I’ll continue to remember and recount my year as Miss North Dakota. I’ll look back at the photos and recall the memories of exploring my beautiful home state, of competing and representing North Dakota at the 100 Year Anniversary Competition of Miss America, and the moments spent fostering relationships — both the new and the old — while encouraging others to do the same.
How does one even begin to summarize the impact that such a year has had on their life? With nearly 20,000 miles driven across North Dakota, over 15,000 miles flown, and more than 16 million views on TikTok, I realize that this past year is in fact not about the quantities but rather the quality of relationships and experiences that have been gained. I look back and see a vast spectrum of colors — experiences, individuals, and moments that have molded and shaped me into the person that I am always becoming, and I can only hope that I’ve in turn been able to return the favor to those who’ve surrounded me.
This once-in-a-lifetime role has changed me for the better. And because of that, I am forever grateful.
My journey to becoming Miss North Dakota was years in the making. The first time I stepped foot in Williston, North Dakota I was nineteen years old and had arrived by train from Whitefish, Montana where I had recently completed a week of camp counselor training. Upon arrival, I hadn’t showered in days and was wearing dirty gym shorts and my favorite pair of Chaco sandals. Within an hour I had showered, shaved my legs, and secured my sparkly wardrobe and was ready to embrace another side of myself for the week that followed. However, I quickly learned that being a candidate for the job of Miss North Dakota really wasn’t all that different from being a counselor (other than perhaps the wardrobe that frequently required a crown and showering more than once a week.) Along with its emphasis on service, scholarships, and professional development, I was drawn in by the community of people that existed within the Miss North Dakota Organization.
While I was thrilled to be a candidate for the job of Miss North Dakota, I didn’t win that first year, nor the second or even the third. And yet, over the course of those multiple years I felt God gently telling me, “not yet.” I sensed that I needed to be patient, remain persistent, and find peace if I was to someday win. Of course, there were moments when I doubted myself — plenty of them actually. And in those moments, I’m grateful that I had a village of friends and family who were there to remind me of my worth, value, and goals. They were the ones who encouraged me to continue pursuing my dream of becoming Miss North Dakota and throughout this wonderfully wild past year have been my greatest supporters.
I must share a few thank yous —
“Thy will be done.”
And to our beautiful next Miss North Dakota, I look forward to cheering you on and supporting you from the sidelines. You are entering a special sisterhood, forever family, and life chapter that will leave you fuller then you could ever imagine.
As I enter this next season, I’ve been reminding myself that the best is yet to come. This is only the tip of the iceberg of a lifetime full of opportunities, joy, and friendship. I am forever humbled, grateful, and honored to have served this year as Miss North Dakota and am eternally blessed by the relationships that have been forged.
Thank you, North Dakota.
Here’s to the next adventure!
Your forever Miss North Dakota 2021
For years I’ve struggled with what direction to take my career.
Yes, at nearly 27 years old and as Miss North Dakota, many people might look at me and my curated Instagram feeds and think I have it all figured out.
I promise you --
God, so many days I desperately wish I knew my definite path. Since high school, I’ve felt the pressure to have a game plan and set trajectory — something that can guarantee success and zero wasted time. But alas, I have yet to put all the puzzle pieces together and determine a specific main goal.
Instead, I have many.
And at times, it’s overwhelming. I know what I love - what fills my cup and makes time disappear - along with the things that zap my energy.
Very broadly, a few things I LOVE --
⭐️ People — in particular, having real conversations with both old and new friends.
⭐️ Creating — art, music, words, photography, design. Anything and everything artsy fartsy is pretty much my jam.
⭐️ Exploring — the world, my own town. New towns. Myself. Relationships.
⭐️ Learning — about anything and everything. This life guarantees an endless supply of new knowledge that can be accessed if we choose to pursue it. There are endless stories to hear.
⭐️ Freedom — the ability to be independent and do my own thing. To embrace, choose, and chase whatever it is that I love and am passionate about.
With time, I’ve concluded that as long as I’m growing and developing my character, building my community, being challenged intellectually + creatively, while being present with those around me, I believe (and pray!) I’ll stay curious, motivated, and experience a sense of peace.
I share this as a reminder that you don’t need to have your life all figured out. Not today anyway. :) There’s no deadline; each of our life itineraries vastly vary. (Which THANK YOU JESUS that each of us are on our own unique journeys! This world is a whole lot more interesting place because of it!)
So, keep chasing those things that those things that give you life. Stay curious. Make an effort to ask plenty of questions (the hard ones, too) and to learn about the people and places around you. Try to listen more than you speak. Challenge yourself to do the hard things. And, always treat yourself and others with love, respect, and kindness.
I believe if we keep doing these things, we’ll one day find ourselves on the path we’re called to be on.
So, let’s stop stressing it, friends.
And instead let’s give ourselves a little grace and time.
currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she works remotely as a Policy and Communication Manager for the First Lady of North Dakota. Photography and writing are a passion that help her better appreciate the details of the world.