Thursday, May 31, 2012

West Virginia International Pageant

In one of West Virginia’s finest art galleries, museums, and crafts place, the 2012 West Virginia International pageant was held! The Tamarack is a mall of everything that is West Virginia! I got to get a taste of the state when I traveled there to help out with the pageant! 

The morning was kicked off with interviews. The ladies looked so professional and well prepared!

Signing autographs for some sweet girls!

That night, it was time to crown the 2012 queens. Girls in Junior, Teen, Miss, and Mrs. All competed for the coveted state title.

Crowning the new Miss West Virginia International 2012 - Kendra Smith!

Crowning the new Miss Teen West Virginia International 2012 - Brittany Lee-Anne Glover!
It was an honor to be a part of this pageant! I got to speak about my platform and the International Pageant System.

Congrats to the new queens!

Jurnee Carr

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Top 5 Pageant Tips and Tricks

You would think that by now I would be accustomed to people asking me for advice. I’m not, at all. I still feel weird giving it, but at the same time I realize that if someone is asking me it’s because they trust my opinion. As national’s nears my inbox is getting fuller and fuller. Some questions are recurring and I’ve decided to answer them below.

1. How do you manage appearances while preparing for Nationals?
Do not over exert yourself or else by the time you get to Chicago, you will be wiped out. Make sure your schedule is manageable and affords you plenty of time to do the necessary prep work and keep appearances. The month before Nationals I didn’t make any appearances after July 10, if I remember correctly. I did this to give me time to decompress and to take care of tasks such as alterations, cosmetic appointments, and shopping for last minute wardrobe items. Small tasks such as running to your seamstress takes time, my advice, take as many pieces as possible at one time. You will cut down on gas and headaches. Things can get crazy, but above all else make sure you get enough rest. If you don’t slow down, your body will do it for you, and you don’t want that.

2. What advice do you have regarding interview questions?
Answer the questions. I don’t know how else to say it.

3. I’m having trouble with wardrobe, any tips on how to manage it?
Wardrobe is the never-ending nightmare. My number 1 tip, wear what makes you feel BEAUTIFUL. Pack as few shoes as possible. I love shoes and when I was told to do this I thought I would pass out. However, shoes take up precious space and they make your luggage heavy. Find a couple versatile pairs and make it happen. 

As far as organization, make a wardrobe chart, complete with everything from the type of event to accessories and undergarments. You will thank me when you are packing! Also, as a general rule I always pack a couple extra cocktail dresses and an extra evening gown just in case.

4. How do I work on stage presence?
Video tape yourself and have someone who is brutally honest critique you, whether it is your coach, director or friend. Watching yourself is eye opening. So many things can be fixed just by watching yourself on video.

5. I heard that contestants are really busy during Nationals, how do you stay on top of everything?
Organization, organization, organization. When I got to my hotel room, the first thing I did was unpack and hang all my items on a travel clothes bar in accordance with my wardrobe sheet. I steamed and ironed everything at one time. You won’t have the time or energy to steam and iron on a daily basis. If you take care of it first thing, you will save time and frustration. Being on time is extremely important, so it is imperative that you can make quick changes with little fuss. Also, after every event, I immediately prepped for the next one before I did anything else. It’s been my experience that preparation and organization calms the nerves.


Ciji Dodds
Miss International 2011

Monday, May 28, 2012

Appearances Matter

Ok. So the title of my blog is purposefully deceptive. When I use the word “Appearance,” I am talking about titleholder appearances and not the way you look on the outside. Everyone loves a working queen, however, appearances can be exhausting and consuming. At this very moment, my car is filled with my crown, sash, a sack of 30 to 40 books, bookmarks, pens, pencils, autograph cards, 4 pairs of shoes, back-up make-up, a garment bag with 2 just in case I’m a klutz dresses, and a pageant pack of tide pens, safety pins and baby wipes. And yes, I am tired and there have been times when I have wondered whether I was actually making a difference. The short answer is yes, appearances do matter.

Appearances are not only a way to promote your platform. They are a way to connect with people not only in your community but throughout the world. The beauty of appearances is that you never know who you will meet and what your meeting will lead to. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve met someone at an appearance, that resulted in another appearance or even a business opportunity. But most importantly, at each appearance, I usually make a meaningful connection with at least one person, which may not seem like a lot, but over time I like to think it makes a difference. Whether it is in a girl’s perception of her beauty or whether I have encouraged a child to pursue their education, appearances are the heartbeat of your year as a titleholder. So when you’re tired, just remember, Appearances do matter.


Ciji Dodds
Miss International 2011

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Social Responsibility

Social media is one of the best things to happen for the Mrs. International Pageant.  Facebook gives us the chance to share photos and keep up on the strides each title holder is able to achieve to make a difference.  Twitter provides real-time updates in a news format.  And then there is Pinterest, to share designers fashions, successful fundraising ideas and news articles.   With all these great resources to share everything you are doing with the crown, the one thing to remember is personal safety and the safety of your loved ones.   

I recently received an update on social responsibility that I wanted to share with you all.  Two (2) key items to remember are to (1) be mysterious, and (2) mix it up.  As a titleholder, you can find yourself with stalkers who like to follow your every move without your knowledge.  How can you throw them off their game?  You can alter the times when you post information on Facebook and Twitter.  For example, if you are going out of town for an appearance, it may be best to wait until after the appearance to share it online.  Time and time again there are cases of homes being broken into because of information posted online, especially when you “check-into” locations with Four Square and other apps.   

Being a titleholder in today’s society is a blessing.  You have so many more opportunities to spread your message, fundraise and help others.  Just be sure to keep your wits about you.  If you ever have a doubt about sharing information, just hold onto it, and share it after the appearance is complete.  This will protect you and those you love, plus you can still share all the wonderful things you are doing as a titleholder. 

Janet Bolin

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fit Fitness Into Your Schedule

The countdown has begun!  For many of you, wedging a workout into your daily schedule may be a little stressful.  My advice is to take a deep breath and have an Oreo.

I’ll share with you a life-changing hurdle I ran into while training for the Mrs. International Pageant.  I had progressively altered the time of day when I ingested good carbs.  So, this time last year, I would eat all my carbs for the day before 10am.  I had significantly reduced my dairy intake, and increased my intake of protein and vegetables.  So what happened?  I started to lose too much cushion in my joints to the point they were aching.  Not good.  Luckily, my trainers were in sync with my conditioning and we revised my nutrition plan, by adding one day of enjoying junk food.  (‘Junkfood Janet’ was a nickname my husband gave me on these days.)

My other hurdle was time.  Being me, I had scheduled all my workouts, and of course, life had a different plan.  Some days, I only had enough time to do a 5-minute warm-up and 10-minutes of weight training.  Was that enough?  Yes.  Every workout, counts.  And, on days when I was dealing with soreness, I took the day off from training.  My trainers reinforced the need for me to “stay positive.”  Stressing about “not” working out can do more harm than actually, not working out. 

On Saturday, July 21, we will have crowned the new Mrs. International.   You want to be that woman sporting the crown, so don’t give up – but also make sure to take care of yourself.

Janet Bolin

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Title Wear

Want to rock your title at nationals in Chicago?! Then check out Title Wear! Title Wear is an official sponsor of the International Pageants! They have supplied me with only the best outfits with the official crown & roses logo!

The velour set is perfect for travel!

From hoodies to charms, they have it all!

I love this blue jean jacket!

Title Wear will also be setting up at nationals. If you want items personalized, check out their website at I can’t wait to see you all blinged out in Chicago!!

Jurnee Carr

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Go Red Luncheon

An ocean of red flooded together to wipe out heart disease in women at my local chapter’s Go Red Luncheon! Everywhere I turned, I saw the radiant color of red! It was astounding to see so many women (and men!) come together to support the American Heart Association.

At the event hall at the luncheon, I set up a booth of heart themed jewelry to raise funds for the Go Red campaign.

My grandmother and mother, who is on the Circle of Red Society, attended the luncheon as well. 3 generations of women who want to end heart disease!

Our keynote speaker was Ginger Zimmerman. Her story was incredible and very inspiring. I couldn’t believe that 9 days after she had a heart transplant, her husband passed away. Ginger has been through some tough situations, but nothing is holding her back from sharing her story!

Donating the jewelry sales to Marty Price-Executive Director of our local AHA chapter

You’re never too old or too young to Go Red! Join the movement and make it your mission at

Jurnee Carr

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Miss International Leaves Her Bookprint in Haiti - Part 2

A Billboard that I was featured on throughout Port au Prince!

It was soon time to leave Cap-Haitien. We said our goodbyes and returned to Port au Prince. My mission was not complete as there was still another orphanage that I needed to visit. Encouraged by my first visit, I was excited for this one. However, I was unprepared for what awaited me. When we arrived at our destination, I immediately noticed a difference. Being in the capital and largest city, this orphanage’s resources were stretched particularly thin. After asking a few questions to figure out how they operated, I learned that the government doesn’t provide any funding for orphanages. Orphanages are entirely dependent upon donations. 

Sobered by reality, yet emboldened by my mission, me and my pink suitcase were ready. We went through the gate and were greeted once again by smiling inquisitive faces. To have so little and yet be so grateful is truly amazing. We started off by asking one of the girls to read the Three Little Pigs to everyone. She was excited to be the center of attention! Then I shared one of my favorites!

The school supplies were given to the teachers for use throughout the year. Each child received one age appropriate book. The remainder of the books were given to the teachers to establish a library. The idea being that once a child gets tired of their book, they can trade it in for a different one. My hope is that this small library, which I am committed to adding to each year, will encourage them to keep reading and will improve their literacy skills.
The path leading to the orphanage

The Magic Pink Luggage!

The children circled up for story time

The best rendition of The Three Little Pigs that I have ever heard!

Sharing my favorite children’s books!  Apparently Green Eggs and Ham is global,  as soon as I took it out, all of the adults said it was their favorite too!

Sharing my favorite children’s books!  Apparently Green Eggs and Ham is global,  as soon as I took it out, all of the adults said it was their favorite too!

This was indeed the trip of a lifetime!!

Ciji Dodds
Miss International 2011

Monday, May 21, 2012

Miss International Leaves Her Bookprint in Haiti - Part 1

The entire reason that I took this trip was to ensure that my platform, Just Read-Fighting Illiteracy Starts With Your First Book, had a truly global impact. It is no secret that literacy is the gateway to a brighter future and is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty. Many countries struggle with the task of educating their population. This is true in Haiti and has taken on a new dimension since the earthquake. The earthquake ravaged the country in more ways than one, but children were especially impacted. Thousands of children were orphaned and orphanages have struggled to care for and educate these children.

While in Cap-Haitien, I visited one such orphanage. When I walked through the door I didn’t know what to expect, but I was immediately greeted by smiling faces. When we told them that I was there to give out books they were ecstatic. Coincidentally, my traveling companion Alejandra Barillas had brought back packs! It was the perfect combination.

Living in an orphanage, you have to share everything. Very rarely do you have something that is yours and yours alone. I wanted to give them something that they could call their own and at the same time, hopefully, spark a lifelong desire to learn. Here are a few pictures.

Alejandra distributed the back packs first, that way, the kids would have something to store their books in right away.

Before I distributed the books, we asked one of the children to read a story from one of them.

I don’t know who was happier me or the kids!

Mission Accomplished!!

A very special thank you to Anedie Azael for coordinating with the orphanage to make this all possible!


Ciji Dodds
Miss International 2011

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Focus on Winning

Less than two months left before Mrs. International 2012 is crowned! I took a look back at my binder of notes from this time, last year, and thought I'd share a few notes with you all. If you are reading this, and you are a contestant, parent or husband, hopefully this helps with any butterflies you may have about the upcoming competition. 

I had an extensive checklist and timeline as to when I anticipated completing this list. Needless to say, life "re-organized" this schedule I had laid out for myself. Not to worry, it all worked out. 

If there are tasks you need to accomplish, or something on your personal checklist is not working out - its ok. Take a deep breath, maybe sleep on it, or jump on the StairMaster. (Sometimes I think better when I am on the StairMaster. It's just my thing.) 

Every time I started to feel anxious about the competition, I did one of 3 things: (1) Re-read chapters of the book, The Psychology Of Winning, (2) Re-focused myself to write down my thoughts on current issues in my binder, or (3) jumped on the StairMaster. I found it was much healthier for me to focus on things I could control, instead if stressing about the unknown. (My husband, being an engineer, was a big supporter of this mindset.) 

Remember to surround yourself with positive people, and positive things will happen for you. Negative influences are all around us. While we can't control those people, we can control how we react to them. By focusing on yourself, your goals and your mission, you won't be bothered by negativity. (And, you probably won't notice it is going on around you.)

I wish you all the best in your quest for the crown. You're almost there You can do it!
Janet Bolin

Friday, May 18, 2012

Army Rangers Visit the Race Track

As part of our tribute to honor our military and their families, we had the chance to host some of our Army Rangers at Talladega SuperSpeedway and Darlington Speedway.  These talented and courageous men were able to go behind the scenes to enhance their knowledge of everything that goes into making the ‘show’ for a live televised NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.  I am always in awe of the bravery and dedication of our military, so it was heartwarming for Chip and I to give them a memorable day at the track.

Below are some of the great pictures we captured to remember their adventure.  While Mother Nature proved to challenge us with weather at Talladega, she certainly made up for it with a beautiful day at Darlington.   As you can see, we packed a lot into the Army Rangers visit to make it extra special.  A big thank you to Jordan Jiloty who manages the NASCAR Troops to the Track Program, all of the NASCAR Officials, Goodyear, the Roush Fenway Racing teams including my super awesome husband, Chip, and our great friends Bob Osborne, Jessica Smith, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Tire Todd, Shock Dave, Jimmy Fenning, Nancy Padula, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Krista Voda, Mark Munn, Andy Slankard and especially to the Army Rangers and all of our military.  Thank you for everything. 

The NASCAR Unites, An American Salute, is a patriotic program designed to unite the NASCAR industry in honoring and supporting U.S. military members and their families.  During Memorial Day Weekend, I invite you to join in the celebration.  To learn more, please follow this link.

SSG Silverthorn with 2-time Daytona 500 Champion, Matt Kenseth, behind the pre-race stage for pre-race introductions at Talladega SuperSpeedway.

SSG Silverthorn with Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

SSG Silverthorn inside the #17 Matt Kenseth race hauler with Chip and Janet Bolin.

SSG Silverthorn with Jack Roush, team owner of Roush Fenway Racing.

SSG Silverthorn learned about shocks from the expert – “Shock Dave” from the #17 Team.

SSG Silverthorn and Bob Osborne exchanged intel on their hobby of rebuilding and restoring old Jeeps.

SSG Cox and SFC Richards on pit road after a couple laps in the Official NASCAR Pace Car at Darlington Speedway.

RSMG Breen and SSG Cox with Jimmy Fenning, Crew Chief of the Matt Kenseth #17 NSCS Ford.

Chip Bolin, Chief Engineer for Roush Fenway Racing, providing insight on the engineering excellence of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race cars for SFC Benjamin and SFC Richards.

SFC Richards and SFC Benjamin thoroughly enjoying themselves in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage.

Chip Bolin shows the Army Rangers the “Tactical Operating Center” for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.

Chillin’ in the hauler before the next adventure.

RSMG Breen, SFC Benjamin and SFC Richards behind the pre-race stage for Driver Introductions.

The Army Rangers, on pit road, during pre-race, standing in the first pit box of the current points leader, Greg Biffle, with one of our favorite NASCAR Officials, Yvonne.

RSMG Breen with Jack Roush and Greg Biffle.

Janet Bolin

Thursday, May 17, 2012

She Matters Too Conference

For the second year in a row I was a guest presenter at the She Matters Too Conference.  She Matters is a conference for young girls of all ages.  Its  aim is to provide them with the skills that they need to become healthy adults and to thrive as girls.  Life is particularly challenging for young girls today.  That is why it is important for them to have a safe place to go to make friends and to discuss what is on their minds.  It was a rewarding experience for all involved and the girls seemed to have a blast.

I, along with Miss Teen District of Columbia International Margo Huffman, participated in the sisterhood rap session.  Structured as a Q&A session, the girls were encouraged to talk about self esteem, school, friends and anything else that they wanted candid answers to.  Although the girls were encouraged to ask questions about anything , the main topic became  bullying.  Bullying is and continues to be a major problem for kids.  A lot of kids feel like they aren’t taken seriously when they report bullying or they feel like they risk losing their friends.   Although it is a complicated subject there are a few things that are true across the board.  If you are being bullied, contact  an adult, and anybody who bullies you, is not your friend.
Ciji Dodds

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Citadelle

While in Cap-Hatien, I visited an amazing historic landmark called the Citadelle.  The Citadelle was built between 1805 and 1820 by Henri Christopher to keep the island safe from invasions.  It is currently the largest fortress in the Americas.  Impressive is the only word that I can think of to adequately describe the Citadelle.  It sits atop the 3,000 ft Bonnet a L’Eveque mountain.   It is filled with over 300 cannons and stock piles of cannon balls.  It’s architectural design was beyond its time and emulated by kings and leaders of other nations.   Check it out!
The only way to get to the Citadelle is by foot or to ride a horse up the side of the mountain!

There were canons from France, Spain and England.  I’ve never seen a canon close up, they were huge!!

Stockpiles of cannonballs

Ciji Dodds

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Don't Forget!

Nationals are right around the corner! Are you prepared? It took me 2 tries to win Miss Teen International. Having a background of 2 years of competition has taught me a lot about what to bring and what to leave at home! I hope these tips will help you!

What TO Bring

·         Crown, sash, autograph cards
·         Cocktail dresses for orientation, rehearsals, outings, and for going out and about
·         Evening gowns for dinner/group photo and to watch Miss prelims
·         Super soft comfy pjs for relaxing at night!
·         Pens, pencils, Sharpies, a note pad (for orientation)
·         Candy (to wake you up) and snacks (Wearing heels all day burns a lot of calories!)
·         A tote bag to carry all of your rehearsal shoes in
·         Labels (In case your fitness wear or gown gets lost or misplaced, make sure you label what’s yours!)
·         MP3 player to get you pumped and focus for interview and prelims/final night
·         Energy and a smile! This is the week you’ve been waiting for! SHINE!

 What NOT TO Bring

·         A frown. Like I said, this is your time to shine. Don’t let anything hold you back!
·         Extra baggage. No, not extra suitcases. Leave your cares and worries behind! God has this whole thing planned out, so just let go and let God! “Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead.” –Philippians 3:13
·         5 million extra pairs of shoes, makeup, hair care products, etc. I learned to plan out what I was going to wear and what accessories and shoes need to go with it. Make sure you lay out everything you need not want. Your hotel will be your home for a week, but if you know you won’t use something, leave it in your closet.
·         Magnifying glass. It may feel as though you are under a microscope all week, but don’t make others feel that way. Focus on yourself and what you are going to do and accomplish this week. You know the most about you, so don’t let someone else’s “prettier” earrings outshine your confidence.

Jurnee Carr

Monday, May 14, 2012

Crown Tote Bags

Can you believe we have just a few short weeks until nationals?! I can’t believe it’s almost here! One of the things that I used the most at nationals was my huge tote bag. It carried my autograph cards, shoes, snacks, makeup, and anything else I needed!

This year, I am customizing tote bags for my International Pageant family! All the proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association!!

The tote bags are $35 with the International Pageants logo crown and $10 additional if you would like your title. The size is 18” x 14”.

To order yours:

1. Email us at:
         We need the following info to process your order:
           a. Name
           b. Shipping address (to determine shipping cost)
           c. Phone #
           d. Color choice: (red or black)
           e. Details*:  Crown only? Title only? or both?
              (*Directors/staff may order their name or "State Director",
                    "International Pageants", "Your State International
                     Pageants" or other -  just ask us (2 lines only).

2. We will forward an invoice total to you via Paypal.
     Pay safely online via Paypal (payment is requested within
     3 days of invoice).

3.  Your order will ship in 3 - 4 weeks of payment received. 
      All orders must be received by June 24, 2012.

Can’t wait to see everyone wearing these gorgeous totes at nationals! See you soon!

Jurnee Carr

Saturday, May 12, 2012


My mother means the world to me. She’s my best friend and confidant. She travels with me everywhere and documents my travels. 

We call her mom, but she is better known as the Momarazzi! From the day I was a local titleholder, she has been my Public Relations person and personal photographer. Not to mention an awesome makeup artist and stylist as well as wardrobe critic!

Everyone says we look like twins!

She says, "How awesome is it that I get to travel around with Miss Teen International and be her personal photographer too?!?!"

As a way to say thank you and Happy Mother’s Day, I booked a surprise photo shoot for my mother with the famous Clay Spann at the Trunk Show in Dothan, Alabama! My mom is always the one doing my makeup and taking my photos, so I thought it was her turn to switch roles and be behind the camera!

Getting some tips from the expert!

She did such a fabulous job and we had a blast with Clay and Terri! I can’t wait to see the final photos!

Jurnee Carr