One Year Ago

During my drive home from my first day back in the office, my mind was running through all the activities I had going on a year ago. My husband and I had committed to help promote The NASCAR Foundation by competing in the Mrs. North Carolina International Pageant, and so I had stepped up my workout program and filled every free minute preparing for the crown. I remember organizing how I’d juggle working for NASCAR and taking on being Mrs. NCI and hopefully Mrs. International, but then remind myself – one step at a time.

It had been 15 years since I competed in a pageant, so hindsight was 20/20. Interview was not my strong suit, so I wanted to make that my first hurdle to conquer. During my 45-minute drive to-and-from work each day, I’d listen to my “Interview Me” CD’s. And, since my commute usually took place either very early morning or late night, I didn’t have to worry about others watching me talk aloud to answer questions during daylight hours. I also would review my personal binder, which
I had started keeping with me at all times. In this binder, I had jotted down my thoughts on current events and other topics that meant something to me.

Aside from my husband being my constant cheerleader, and reminding me “there are no points for second place” (race analogies are fairly constant in our home), I had let my mind become a sponge to absorb all the advice from many pageant resources and those with some truly inspiring experience. My friend and Mrs. International 1998, Lisa Moser, had taken me under her wing to help inspire me. She truly embodies everything about the International Pageant System, is a gorgeous mother to four beautiful children and a fabulous husband, and lives her platform – the same one she won the title promoting as Mrs. Ohio International 1998 and continued with as Mrs. International 1998.

Since many contestants use the platform of pageantry to raise awareness for a cause close to them, I too felt I was SO close to my platform of being a champion for children for The NASCAR Foundation
that I wouldn’t think of questions a judge may ask. So, I reached out to my friends in the media, shared with them my platform, and then asked them to “throw it at me” and ask every question that came to their mind. It was also truly amazing the outpouring of advice and help from them, along with former contestants and state titleholders whom I had competed against “back-in-the-day” and who have become lifelong friends.

I also had my awesome mother. Never underestimate the advice of your Mom, regardless of your age. She constantly reminded me that her advice is always available and free. I’d always talked about all of
my volunteer efforts with The NASCAR Foundation, and she jokes that she feels like she too has met all the people I’d helped. Being four states away, I had the chance to talk through my intro with her to
share both in the interview room and on-stage so we could work on tone, inflection and delivery. She also kept reminding me that there is a difference between believing in what you say and how you emote your delivery.

During the holidays I chatted with an old friend. (So old he actually watched my mother being crowned in her first pageant.) We talked about preparation and what I felt helped me win. When I competed 15 years ago, I was overwhelmed with advice, critiques and opinions from a barrage of resources. This time, I simply soaked in all of that and mentally filed it until I needed it.

If you are reading this and either one of those who have already won their State, or are preparing to compete in a State pageant, I hope my journey down memory lane may help. Believe in yourself, put forth the effort and keep your focus. You just might be the person I’ll be crowning in July!

Janet Bolin


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