Friday, August 31, 2012

Myths about Art Therapy

“The Healing Arts”

So, as many of you know, I am on my way to a Masters degree in Art Therapy. This field comes so second nature to me but the more I talk about it, the more I realize how many people have no idea what Art Therapy means. Since today was my first day back at school I think it is a good time to clear up a few myths about what Art Therapy is and how it helps.

MYTH #1: Art Therapy is like an arts and craft class where you learn to paint, draw, and make artsy things.
The goal of Art Therapy is not to “teach” art but to use art in a therapeutic capacity. The Art Therapist might sometimes give instructions on how to use the materials or specific methods, so as to facilitate your artistic endeavor.

MYTH #2: Art Therapy can only benefit people with artistic talents.
You DO NOT need to be good at art. Art Therapy values the art making process more than the finished product. You will not be judged by your artistic ability or your ability to talk about your artwork.  The Art Therapist can work with your apprehension and introduce art making at a comfortable pace with you.

MYTH #3: Art Therapy is only for children and people who can’t communicate verbally.
Art is an effective tool for non-verbal expression of stories and emotions. Art Therapy has been associated with children and people who could not express themselves or their situation with words. Nevertheless, Art Therapy can also be a powerful way to engage adults and people from a broad range of settings such as schools, mental health facilities, medical clinics, nursing homes, community centers, art studios, corporations, and non-profit agencies.

MYTH #4: Art Therapy can be very beneficial for people who are struggling with severe physical or mental conditions, addiction, trauma, or life changes.
That doesn’t mean others can’t benefit from Art Therapy. You may seek Art Therapy as a method of creating positive changes in life. Art Therapy is also a wonderful way to wellness, performance enhancement, emotional reparation, recovery, and ultimately transformation.

MYTH #5: The Art Therapist will just stare in silence while you draw during the at therapy session.
Silence can be a powerful aspect within the therapeutic relationship, but it does not define the way most therapists work. Different Art Therapists have their own personal style within the therapeutic relationship. Some will create art with you at times, while others will not. Some may encourage you to make art before you share you thoughts, while others may intervene and ask questions along the way.

MYTH #6: The Art Therapist will know all about you by looking at and interpreting your artwork.
Although sometimes Art Therapists are trained in understanding images and symbols, the meaning of your artwork is always derived directly from you, your personal associations and feelings. The Art Therapist will help you achieve greater understanding and consider multiple meanings in your artwork by asking questions for you to consider, rather than supplying you with the answers.

MYTH #7: The Art Therapist cannot be your primary therapist, because they are not real therapists.
An Art Therapist is a trained psychotherapist who specializes in the use of art making and the creative process within the therapeutic relationship. A registered Art Therapist is required to undergo a two year full-time Master degree training program, with nearly 900 clinical placement hours under strict supervision and assessment, before becoming  qualified. Like other mental health professionals, Art Therapists have the qualifications to be primary therapist and be part of a treatment team, made up of psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, social worker, etc...

Krista Wanous

American Heart Association at the Twins Game!

Earlier in the year, Krista and I participated in the American Heart Association – Twin Cities Heart Walk held at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. The event raised 2 million dollars with over 25 thousand walkers and 100 different companies supporting the message of living heart healthy.

We were sincerely honored to join “Team Jamie,” which is comprised of a loving family and cherished friends who walk to remember a young girl named Jamie Gunderson, who died far too young from heart failure at the age of seven. Since that walk in May, Dan Gunderson (Jamie’s father) has continued raising record funds for the American Heart Association.

Dan, along with a list of other top individual and corporate fundraisers, were honored at home plate just before the first pitch of the Twins game on August 13, 2012. Krista and I were asked to hand out the awards, which was again our pleasure!

Thank you to the American Heart Association for allowing us to be a small part in the Heart Walk Celebration Day 2012!

With love and appreciation,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Minnesota International Sisterhood

There is a rich tradition within the Minnesota International Pageant sisterhood of sharing the joys and sorrows in life. Earlier this year, a group of former Minnesota titleholders, along with several long time sponsors of the system, joined together to support one of their own. They threw a benefit for Donnell Rank - Mrs. Minnesota International 2007, who is putting up the fight of her life against breast cancer. I was so proud to participate as the newest member of the sisterhood.

Just a few months later, on August 12, 2012, a smiling Donnell joined a large group of us in a joyous occasion, as we celebrated the upcoming marriage of Becky Ringen – Miss Minnesota International 2006. The thread that connects each of us is the International Pageant System and our love for all that it represents.

Specifically, with Becky who works for the American Heart Association, the connection to the International Family and its dedication to community and charity involvement is a wonderful circle. Who knows, maybe a soon to be married lady will be interested in seeking a future Mrs. International crown!

With love,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hurricane Precautions

A day off of school is normally a great thing, unless it is hurricane season! Hurricane Isaac made landfall less than an hour ago. For those of us that live near the Gulf of Mexico, that meant lots of preparation and safety precautions.

The area that I live in is predicted to have power outages for up to three days. We made sure to “stock up” on snacks, gas, and lots of magazines! If you live near the gulf, I encourage you to watch your local weather channel and take all necessary precautions to keep you and your family safe if bad weather should occur.

Tips to stay safe during bad weather:

1.Have an evacuation plan.
2.If you must stay in your home, locate a room closest to the interior of your home to stay in.
3.Stay away from windows and doors.
4.Purchase bottled water and other non-perishable items in case of power outages.
5.If you are like me and have younger brothers and sisters, come up with fun “projects” or games to keep them occupied.

You are all in my thought and prayers!

Caroline Crowley

Lonsdale Parade

Come rain or shine…the parade must go on! With my husband Joe as my chauffeur, and a very cool Camaro convertible donated by New Prague Auto Group, we lined up for the community celebration in Lonsdale, Minnesota!

Thank goodness for the gift bag that was given to all of the Mrs. International 2012 contestants, as the umbrella and jacket, which were among the gifts with the Mrs. International crown and roses, were both necessities on this rainy and chilly day.  Regardless of the weather, the streets were lined with people of all ages waving, clapping and cheering in celebration of their little town about an hour south of the Twin Cities.

In this particular parade, the announcer read a detailed script about the Mrs. International title and details of my platform. I was actually a bit surprised and humbled when the audience started cheering and clapping as he finished his comments…I waved, smiled, and said thank you directly to those with whom I made eye contact. It may have been a cool day, but it was a heartwarming event.

Thank you to the Lonsdale community for allowing me to share in their celebration.

With love,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Osseo Senior High School Student Inspires Thousands

I was so inspired to read this article about a student from my alma mater – Osseo High School.  Senior Kevin Curwick, turns the table on bullying by using social media to spread message rather negativity.  Since we know cyber bullying is such a large issue for many young people, I knew it was important to share Kevin’s story with all of you.

After noticing negative messages about fellow Osseo students on Twitter, Curwick “decided to bring out the positives instead of the negatives in people” by creating @OsseoNiceThings, which highlights accomplishments, talents and positive attributes.

As a result Curwick has received national attention include an invitation for interviews with Ryan Seacrest, the Today Show and others.  Many people protest against bullying and say it needs to be stopped.  Curwick says, “But those are usually are just words.  A lot of time bullying is fraught with negatively and eventually you have to try something different.”  His Osseo Nice Things campaign has inspired many students across the nation to set up similar twitter accounts that are focused on highlighting the positives in people.  By the end of last week, he went from 120 followers to 2500.  I think I will join too!

There is always time to do the right the thing is proven by Curwick.  Even though he is finishing his final year in high school, serves as president of the National Honor roll student and captain of both the football and Nordic ski team, is a member of Junior Rotarians and rep at the North West Suburban Leadership Conference; Curwick still makes time to make a difference.  As pageant contestants, we all aspire to change our communities for the better. Curwick has certainly accomplished that.  If I was the director of a “Man-geant,” he would be my king!

All kidding aside, I am so proud to be an Osseo alum and associated with such a mature young man.  I would like to challenge all of my readers and international pageant sisters to checkout @OsseoNiceThings or to start a similar campaign of positivity in your our community.


Krista Wanous

CBS WCCO TV Interview

In 1995, the local Minneapolis/St. Paul CBS Affiliate – WCCO 4 News won a national award for the documentary they created about the helicopter crash I survived and my story. Fast forward to August 9, 2012…as I sat in the chair for an interview with Mike Binkley, with a microphone clipped to my sash and my crown in its case on the news desk next to me, I chatted with anchors Mike and Angela as we waited for the producer to count down from the commercial break to returning to live on-air.

The lights were bright and directed straight at the three chairs behind the news desk. An expansive space filled with cubical style desk arrangements and staff moving about were just feet away. It seemed as though there were computers and televisions in every direction. There was also a window directly behind our chairs where pedestrians on Nicollet Mall can view the broadcasts live from outside, making you feel a little like a fish in a fishbowl.

Just as the producer counted down on his fingers and pointed to us, the familiar voice of Don Shelby a long time media personality in the Twin Cities, came over the air questioning how anyone survived such a crash…with video of the wreckage moving across the screens all around me…it took me instantly back to the day. To the moments I recall so clearly, even after 18 years.

For the next few minutes, Mike asked me questions about the importance of attitude, my scars, and he opened the door for me to discuss the Phoenix Society for burn survivors and the Mrs. International title. The interview reached more people than I dreamed possible, as I was immediately contacted through emails, phone calls, and text messages from around Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Following the interview, as the link hit the internet, the messages started pouring in from around the world. Who knew an interview that lasted less than three minutes could have such an impact. Thank you to Denise O’Handley with WKPR Chicago for making the connection and thank you to WCCO Television for the opportunity!

If you missed it and would like to view the interview, here is the link:

With love and respect,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Caroline Crowley Day

Last week, I was asked to speak at the Houston County Commissioners’ meeting. I spoke about my platform, The Miracle League and Shane’s Inspiration, which appeared on local media, as well. At the end of my presentation, I was given a ‘Houston County, Alabama’ pin to wear close to my heart throughout my reign as Miss Teen International 2012.

To my extreme surprise, our Commissioners’ Chairman, Mr. Mark Culver, presented me with a proclamation. He and the Commissioners proclaimed Monday, August 13, 2012 to be “Caroline Crowley Day” in Houston County! I was so grateful to be recognized by such an esteemed panel of leaders in my community.

Posing with the commissioners after receiving my award.

I love meeting new “fans”….even in parking lots!

Caroline Crowley

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Clay Spann Photo Shoot

Southern hospitality is alive and well in Dothan, Alabama! The fabulous Competitive Image team of Joey, Clay, and Terri could not have made me feel more like a Queen during my first photo shoot with the talented Clay Spann.

From the moment I arrived, Joey was an amazing host taking care of the details and assuring that I was transported safely, well fed, and most importantly dressed in some gorgeous frocks! Clay has a gift for both creating amazing looks with hair and make-up in his chair, and then bringing that look to life from behind the camera! And, we cannot forget to mention the fantastic Terri, who assists with hair and make-up, and takes meticulous notes of each Clay Spann Face product that is custom selected.

What made this experience even more wonderful was the time that was spent with the phenomenal Mary Richardson and the sweet Caroline Crowley! It is hard to describe the gratitude I feel toward both Mary and Mel for taking the Mrs. International title to the level it is today. And Caroline is a charming young lady with a southern style that makes me smile every time she says, “yes ma’am.”

With love and deep appreciation,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Little Canada Days Parade

There is nothing like a parade on a perfect summer day! It was my pleasure to ride with the beautiful Gabby Taylor, Miss Teen of Minnesota International, in a classic car along a parade route lined with the residents of Little Canada, Minnesota.

My favorite part of a parade is telling little girls they have on a pretty dress and pointing at little boys and telling them they are handsome! The girls beam and the boys turn their heads trying to hide their smiles…and in every case the Mom and Dad just grin.

As Gabby and I passed the organizers area, we were filmed by six cameras including one camera man on a boom, all filming for the local cable television station. For those viewing, a bio was read by the host sharing information about our pageant titles, our platforms, and highlights of Go Red for Women.

Thank you to our friends in Little Canada, and I hope you enjoy the photos for our sunny day!

With love,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Miss & Teen Finals

I am not certain how most people feel, but from my perspective, I would rather be on the stage competing versus sitting in the audience of a pageant absolutely any day! As the recently crowned Mrs. International it was my privilege to support all of the lovely young women vying for the titles of Miss Teen International 2012 and Miss International 2012!

Kudos to those parents and loved ones filled with excitement and nerves, who hoot and howler, wave signs, and blow kisses as they watch the young woman whom they support take such a risk. Yes, I believe it is a risk to place oneself in a spotlight and allow yourself to be judged in such a public manner. Yet, we do it, because the return on investment can be so sweet!

Speaking of a return on investment, I would argue that having the crown placed on your head is not the only way in which to win a pageant. In my humble opinion, I have learned more from the pageants I have lost than those that I have won. It has been said that, “failure is not falling down, but refusing to get back up.”

As I watched these young women on stage during the pageant finals, I was bursting with pride for each contestant and their display of courage. That said, it is impossible not to make a special mention about the two fabulous young ladies with whom I shared a stage the night we were all crowned together in St. Cloud, Minnesota! Gabby and Krista both did an amazing job on the International stage, and together I believe we all did Minnesota proud! Included is a picture of the three of us at the Coronation Ball.

Looking forward, I could not be more thrilled for Krista Wanous and Caroline Crowley! These young women are going to make a difference in the world and I can’t wait to see it happen!

With love and admiration,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

My First Day

This week, I celebrated the first day of my Senior year at Ashford High School. We decided to design shirts to wear, and of course, we wore our “Senior crowns”, as well! This year I will be taking English 101, Government, Calculus, and Forensic Science. I am so excited to be able to share these lasting memories with all of my friends. We have a very busy year ahead of us, and we are all very excited!

Hayden and I are just a little excited about being Seniors!

My little brother, Grayson, started Middle School, as well.

Ready for an exciting year!
Caroline Crowley

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Minnesota Welcomes Home Their Miss and Mrs. International

I absolutely adore my Minnesota Pageant family. They are the most wonderful and supportive women on the planet. Sarah Bazey and I were welcomed with big hugs and big congratulations from all our friends and family.  We shared our stories from competing at the national level with our past International titleholder sisters who had been in our shoes before. They were so proud of us!!

I got to thank my mock interview judges who helped me tremendously! Mock interviews and just practicing interviewing is such a great way to prepare for a pageant. It helped me figure out the best way to tell my personal story, and the best way to explain what exactly the “Healing Arts” are. They helped me figure out when to stop talking…because I tend to give a lot more information then needed in interview because I just get so darn excited!
My Mock interviewers consisted of current and former pageant title holders, a couple who had been coordinating pageant judges for years, and a former Miss International and judge. She was particularly helpful because she had experience on the stage, and off the stage as a judge. She gave me so much confidence in myself and in my story. Before I left for nationals she looked me right in the eye and said, “You can do this.We all know you can.” Of course, that made me feel good - but isn’t that what they tell everyone? I couldn’t possibly be the next Miss International; there are amazing girls with amazing accomplishments and stories competing against me. But, I guess they were right!

When I walked into the International interview I remembered everything my mock interviews told me and I laid it all out on the table. It was such a joy to be able to tell them how much they had helped me with my confidence, my speaking skills, and my ability to direct the interview towards questions I wanted them to ask me, with the proof of their hard work sitting right on top of my head!

We hung out by the pool all night eating lots of yummy treats! My judge from the Miss Minnesota International pageant, a former Mrs.Canada International, Amanda Lee sent us a beautiful Edible Arrangements bouquet. I love chocolate and fruit and have been dying to eat one of these things ever since I saw it on TV two years ago. Thanks Amanda! So delicious! We also had a cake with our pictures printed on it. This may sound insignificant, but I have never had my face on a cake so I was pretty psyched! It wasn’t long until I ate myself silly, haha.

Unfortunately, my dear friend Gabby Taylor was very ill and could not attend the party. We missed you Gabby, love you so much, and are very proud of you!!

Before the sun went down I got to chat with another one of my judges from the state competition, Nick Zerwas. He is the most supportive and encouraging man I have ever met and is so inspirational to me! He works with the American Hearth Association because he has had many serious heart problems and surgeries. He was so enthusiastic about me winning the state competition, and even more when I won the International competition. I love you Nick and Amanda – best judges ever! And thank you for supporting me all throughout my journey.

Thank you to my coach, my family, and all my pageant sisters for encouraging me and reminding me that I had what it takes to be Miss International 2012. Your kind words rang though my head all week during competition and helped me calm the nerves. I cannot thank each of you enough. I hope I have the opportunity to love and support all of you, they way you have helped me.

Krista Wanous

My First Appearance in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota

There are many “firsts” in a life time…one of which I will always treasure was my first official appearance as Mrs. International 2012! Joe and I drove four hours from Minneapolis to a little town in Northern Minnesota called Hoyt Lakes. This once thriving mining town has been struggling to stay alive since the mines closed, and yet they come together and celebrate their community every July.

For many years the reigning Mrs. Minnesota has made the drive to participate in the Hoyt Lakes Water Festival, and the individual responsible for keeping the connection alive is Robert “Bart” Bartholomew.  Since this appearance was already on my schedule, my director Allison Stavrakis sent Bart a message letting him know Mrs. Minnesota would not be attending, but he would be getting Mrs. International as his guest!

From the moment we arrived, Joe and I were treated like royalty. We were given lovely accommodations at a cozy inn, treated to the Hawaiian themed buffet, and even though Mother Nature was not cooperating, the event was a success under the community pavilion.

I am pictured with Bart and other residents of this charming community. I sincerely want to thank the town of Hoyt Lakes for their warm & wonderful reception.

With love,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Visit to the Competitive Image

Two weeks after winning the Miss International 2012 title, I was flown to Dothan, Alabama for my first official photo shoot with Clay Spann!I was excited, but nervous. I knew Clay was a phenomenal photographer from what I had seen on his website and from friends of mine, but would I be pretty enough? Mary Richardson and I headed over to the Competitive Image studio first thing in the morning.

It was pageant heaven! Racks of beautiful gowns and jewelry! Then, further into the store was Clay's studio area. There were pictures of beautiful women Clay had photographed plastered all over the walls.This was going to be a challenge keeping up with all the stunning, elegant and beautiful women.

Joey had picked out a few options for me to try on, but I’m keeping the details of each outfit a secret! Needless to say, each dress they had picked for me was more gorgeous than the next. Somehow, they had chosen pieces that reflected my style even though this was our first time meeting.  After the wardrobe was chosen, Clay and Terri started beautifying me!

Clay just looked at my face for a second and then poof! It seemed like magic. He picked colors and shades that looked great and he did my make up in a way that reflected my own personal make up style, but better! Now, I must tell you, I am pretty particular when it comes to my make up. I don’t use a lot of eyeliner - especially on the bottom. I must pencil in my brows, I need big lashes and big lips, and lots of contouring because I have a very round face and big cheeks! He did all those things without even having to ask! Every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I got more and more giddy.

Terri followed along as Clay chose colors, wrote them all down for me, made notes of products I still need to buy, and put together my make-up kit. She’s a doll! They both helped explain where and how each product and color is applied. They also introduced me to rollers. I have never used them before because in the past, they never hold the curl or they are falling out constantly. So frustrating! They showed me how to put the rollers in, what product and size to buy, and wala! After a half hour in the rollers, my hair was soft, wavy, and touchable. No hair spray helmet here! Clay lightly spritzed some flyways and gave the crown a tiny bit of backcombing and we were ready to go!

Clay's work area is awesome! You can tell that this is his calling. It just seems to come so naturally for him. He has different levels of props to sit or stand on, and big reflectors. Every once and awhile he would turn the camera around so I could get a look and the shot we just took and WOW! It was like looking at a glamorized movie star – but it was me!! I cannot wait to see the final photos. The shot for the website should be up soon so make sure you check it every few days.

Oh, I forgot to mention how awful my skin is. I have lots of break outs and nothing seems to help, I have red rosy cheeks,and I am oily and dry at the same time so I am of course, very picky about the type of make up I wear. But, I have been using Clay's make up almost every day since I got it and I love it! It lasts all day and keeps a dewy fresh look. It matches my skin perfectly, and I always get compliments about it. Sending a huge hug and big THANK YOU to Clay, Joey, Terri and Mary! I had a wonderful couple of days working with you and getting to know you. They really are the nicest people ever! I am so excited to see the final photos!

Krista Wanous

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Interview with Tiara Magazine

The lovely Sherrie Gearheart is the Editor-in-Chief of Tiara Magazine, and it was a pleasure meeting her just prior to the start of the Miss Teen and Miss International Pageant Finals. She captured some photos for her publication on the grand staircase in the North Shore Center for Performing Arts, and conducted the interview in the balcony as both the crowds and excitement was building in the lobby below!

It was also a treat to meet Kim and Madi Cole, who were attending the finals with Sherrie. I am pictured here with Madi on the balcony in my new favorite Sherri Hill gown designed with the help of Joey Rutherford.

My interview with Sherrie should appear in the September issue of Tiara Magazine. So mark your calendars and check it out!

With love,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Miss International Prelims

My trip to the Miss International Prelims on Friday evening began with a 5:30 am departure from my first appearance in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. It was a four hour drive to Minneapolis to drop Joe at work, check in with my office, and then the six hour drive to Chicago, Illinois. As the miles passed I kept thinking, “Let the travel begin!”

I arrived just in time to have the fabulous Joey Rutherford with The Competitive Image pull together a wonderful look that I nearly jumped into, so that I could get over to the North Shore Center for Performing Arts in time for the show! I was so excited to see my Minnesota Queen Sister, Krista Wanous perform on stage. I believed in my heart from the time I met both Krista and our Miss Teen Minnesota - Gabby Taylor, that both young women had a very good chance to win their respective International titles.

All of the Miss contestants did a fabulous job during prelims, and my favorite part was taking a few minutes to go into the dressing rooms during intermission to meet some of the ladies! It was also a treat to sit in the box with Mary and Mel Richardson, along with other members of my new pageant family, to witness the event from a fabulous vantage point.

I am pictured here after prelims (left to right) with the reigning Miss International, Krista Wanous, myself and Gabby Taylor. What a wonderful evening!

With love,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A BIG Reason for Celebration!

Upon my arrival back to my hometown, my friends and family gathered at The River Nile in Dothan for a congratulatory party in my honor. I was showered with love, gifts, and my personal favorite…amazing cakes!

I am so lucky to have such loving and supportive people in my life. They were beyond helpful and generous when helping me prepare for competition. I was so happy to be able to celebrate with all of the people I love most!

Silly poses with my sparkly gifts from Ms. Terri!

Check out my amazing cake made by Mrs. Debra West!

My best friend, Hayden

Caroline Crowley

Friday, August 17, 2012

Photos Fit for a Queen

Last week, the International queens had our first photo shoot with renowned photographer, Clay Spann! I am fortunate enough to live about five minutes from his studio, so I have had many photo shoots with Clay. However, he NEVER ceases to amaze me with his creativity and talent. Here is a look at some of my more recent shoots with Clay! My new photos will be debuted on the  Miss Teen International website, in a few days.

I think my favorite part of my photo shoot was afterwards, when I got all new Clay Spann make-up to wear to appearances. I hope school counts as an appearance!

With the Miss Teen International titles comes a fun surprise around every corner. I am so blessed!!

Love always,

Caroline Crowley

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Goals This Year

-Winston Churchill

As Miss International 2012 I will continue to set new goals for myself as well as follow through with the goals I set for myself as Miss Minnesota International 2012. I will continue to help expand the Free Arts Mentoring program by speaking and educating everyone I encounter about the benefits of arts based mentoring. I will also speak out and spread awareness about the International Child Art Foundation and their efforts to help children express and overcome experiences with natural disasters through art. Awareness is good but action is better. I will take action by approaching and building relationships with corporate sponsors. I have already been working with the Wal-Mart Foundation to raise funds for Free Arts Minnesota. I promised Free Arts Minnesota I would bring them $10,000 by the end of my reign. I have also been asked to raise funds for the International Child Art Foundation. If I raise enough, it would allow me to host the Art Olympiad exhibit in Minnesota for the first time. The Art Olympiad Exhibit is compiled artwork made by children from around the world that depicts their favorite sport in the Olympics. I would love to partner with the American Heart Association for this event and encourage children and families to have “Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies!”

The International Child Art Foundation has also asked me to speak on the grounds of the nations capital during the next World Children’s Festival, the largest celebration of children and art! They have also extended an invitation for me to join them in Taipei, Taiwan to attend the International Conference on Creativity and to a Healing Arts workshop and Encouragement Art exhibition in Tohoku, Japan where children suffered from earthquakes and tsunamis. With all that said, I will be focused on recruiting many sponsors and donors. I will be reaching out to corporate supporters of the arts, LEGO, Hilton, and Yahoo as well as continuing to partner with The Wal-Mart Foundation. To raise money for my own personal travel expenses I am organizing an art auction of my own personal artwork and artwork made by children in art mentoring.

But its not just all about the fundraising, its about making a personal one on one connection and mentoring children. I am not just the type of queen who does the glamorous jobs. I enjoy kicking off my heels and getting hands on. My most enjoyable and significant moments were when I made a personal connection with a child playing on the floor, digging through a sand box, or getting covered in paint. I love those special little moments when a kid can see an adult as just a big kid, on their level. I hope to be able to continue mentoring through Free Arts, but with this new busy schedule I am just taking it one day at a time and only taking on tasks I know I can accomplish. As hard as it is, sometimes I have to say “No” to opportunities or events I would love to attend and be apart of. But, I have to stay focused because this year is going to fly past me. In the blink of an eye I will be standing back on that stage again, giving up my title.

I also help to continue volunteering for organizations like the American Heart Association, Special Olympics, Girl Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and arts organizations like Americans for the Arts, Art in Action, Art Therapy Alliance, and Art Therapy Without Boarders.

I want to reach as far and as wide as possible this year and make the most of every second. I am open to this journey and anywhere it takes me!

Continue to Dream,

Krista Wanous
Miss International 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Winning the Title of Miss International 2012

Everyone keeps asking me, “How did it feel?” and honestly, it is a question that leaves me with few words. Winning the title of Miss International 2012 was indescribable. When we are young, we see these “beauty queens” on TV who compete in glamorous pageants. We imagine them living a luxurious life style full of excitement and sophistication. As a little girl, when I thought of a pageant queen, I never pictured myself in that role. I never thought I was beautiful.

When I found out about the Miss International pageant, which was on a complete whim, I knew I had found something special - a way for me to show my beauty. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; it is in your very own hands. You have the ability to show others how beautiful you are no matter what your physical beauty may be. That’s what the International Pageant system showed me. I am beautiful in my own special way. I may not have been the most physically attractive, but I did present my most humble, honest self, the true Krista. All week, my mantra was “be yourself”. I know pageant girls hear this all the time, “Just be yourself - be authentic,” but how can you be yourself, while also completely changing the way you walk, talk, sit, stand, and appeal to five different judges?  When we are true to our own heart, not putting on a perfect persona, our true beauty shines through.

The final night of competition, I said to God, as I have said many times before, “I give it to you. I trust in you Lord and I know that you have a plan for me. Whatever it is, I accept it. If it is to make top ten, top five, win, or not place at all, I will be grateful, for you have already granted me more than I ever thought I could have.” Surprisingly, I was calm during competition and on stage. I knew the decision was already made. Someone’s destiny was already written on the card inside the envelope. Even though I was most nervous about the on-stage question, I didn’t fret and worry about it backstage rehearsing over and over my possible Rolodex of answers. Instead, I simply prayed for inner peace and a calm mind. Honestly, if I didn’t know it by now, I wasn’t going to get it 30 seconds before I went on stage. I just gave it to God and trusted that he would give me the words I needed.

I was honored to have made top ten. I was blessed to be surrounded by ten incredible accomplished, beautiful women, any of which would have done great things with the title. It was even more fun when I got to stand right next to Miss Congeniality, Miss Haiti, who is always positive, enthusiastic and encouraging. Her excitement was contagious that night!

When we lined up to be called for top five, I looked out into the audience and saw a few faces. My favorite faces; my best friend, Melanie Hoang and her boyfriend Eric Bell who have been supporting throughout my entire journey, as well as, my parents Tom and Patti, my boyfriend Donovan and his whole family, my lovely coach “Glenda” and so many friends / MN pageant sisters all of whom have been a never ending source of guidance, confidence, and love. I am so grateful that you were all there! When my name was called as this year’s representative for Miss International, I have never felt so much joy, accomplishment, relief and excitement!! I was shocked. It felt like I was dreaming, because let me tell you, I had dreamt and visualized about this moment many times!

I am pleased to say that I remained true to myself, and the judges saw my inner beauty, my passion for helping children through the arts and my dedication to my platform. I am honored to represent all the Miss International titleholders across the world. I don’t know why God chose me, but I am sure He has great plans in store for me. Stay tuned!

“As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”
Isaiah 14:24

All my Love,

Krista Wanous
Miss International 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Reign

Wearing a banner and a shiny tiara make people take notice. Little girls giggle, little boys smile, and even skeptical adults take a moment size you up. There is nothing more fun in those moments than to learn their names and pose for a picture to capture one life touching another!

If you consider the physical size and weight of the Mrs. International crown, which I would describe as large, heavy, and impressive, it could be argued that the responsibility of the title itself is in direct correlation. Therefore, it seems to me the goals and dreams for my reign this year should be ambitious, and reflective of the spirit of those who have worn the crown before me, as well as, the International Pageant Family.

Here are my goals and dreams for my reign as Mrs. International 2012:

1. To represent the International Pageant System and all that it stands for with an emphasis on the responsibility of truly touching lives around the world. Because I believe everything happens for a reason, it seems clear to me that the combination of current and former International Participants, connections through the Phoenix Society for burn survivors, and my personal relationships throughout the world with Harvard classmates create a network for which I feel compelled to utilize.

2.To promote my platform of Burn Awareness and Education, however, my focus can be as broad as sharing a message about overcoming adversity. More specifically, as a burn survivor myself, promoting the Phoenix Society and a message of “Dare to SOAR, your attitude in life almost always determines your altitude.”

3.To promote the Go Red for Women campaign on behalf of the American Heart Association, as I reach out to people both within and outside the United States. In my humble opinion, a message of thinking heart healthy should have no borders.

Whether it is a wave and a smile or a keynote address, I will do my best to leave a positive and lasting impression wherever I go. If you have read this blog, and our paths cross…please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with me, as my father always told me to trust how people behave, not what they say…and it is my hope you will find my actions match my words.

After my Tiara Magazine interview with Madi Cole

With love,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Crowning

There are moments in our lives that not only stay with us forever, but they are so intense they transport us back to the experience in the blink of an eye. A first kiss, being pronounced husband and wife, and when your name is the last name called as a new titleholder, these are just a few of those precious moments.

My journey, to what is in my opinion the most beautiful and coveted crown, spans three decades and began when I was a teenage girl who took a chance and filled out the application for the Miss Teen of Minnesota pageant. There have been highs and lows, wins and losses, trials and triumphs, and most importantly love and friendships forged. I am not afraid to say that at 46 preparation took significantly more dedication and hard work than it did when I was younger. For those who question asking for help, I can only say that I am blessed and humbled to have a village of supporters who shared their encouragement and talent to help me become my best, for which I am filled with gratitude. My only regret is that I could not share the crowning moment with each of them by my side, but I hope they know they were each in my heart.

From the opening number, I have never felt so comfortable on a stage, as I knew I had done everything up until this point to the best of my ability. This year there would be a top 16 named and I was ready. My goal was to make the “cut,” however, I had so much respect for the other ladies participating I was willing to accept the decision of the judges. As the 13th name was called, I started preparing myself to exit stage left and to imagine myself in the balcony watching the top 16 compete for the on-stage interview with the satisfaction that I left no stone unturned. By now the 14th and 15th names had been called and I was in a good place. When they announced the 16th and final name, I heard Minnesota and threw my hands over my face with shock and appreciation.

As I presented my platform to the audience, I can only describe the feeling as both electric and intimate. It was my opportunity to share my story of survival in a spotlight center stage, and yet I felt like I was sharing a story one-on-one with a close friend. The interview question that followed was an opening that allowed me to further express my passion for connecting people and hopefully touching lives around the world.

When the curtains opened after intermission, the top 10 names were called. I was at peace and proud of myself for putting it all out there. Again, as the names were called I stood watching one exceptional woman after another take her position. When they finally got to finalist number 10 and I heard Minnesota again I felt complete elation!

As I led the ladies off stage right for the second time, we ran into the dressing rooms, where the Mrs. International Class of 2012 exemplified the best of sportsmanship and showed extreme grace by assisting in any way possible inclusive of hugs and kisses as we prepared for Fitness Wear and then Evening Gown. One of my favorite parts in the competition was sharing time on stage with Joe in his tux, while I was dressed in a custom designed gown by the gifted Gionni Straccia.

As Joe escorted me back stage, I realized this was it. I had just shared 30 years of pageant experience, a life time of adventures, and a story of burn survival…scars and all…willing to be judged.

The lovely women who individually and collectively represent the beauty of pageantry entered the stage wearing their stunning gowns with the top 10 lined up in the front waiting for the countdown. At this point, I can only rely on the wise words my husband shared with me two and a half years earlier when I told him I was considering competing in a pageant. He said, “If they are going to judge you on your scars, don’t do it. If they are going to see you the way I do, then go for it!”

I went for it. And, for the third time in two hours, my name was called last…as the new Mrs. International 2012!

With respect and love,

Sarah Bazey
Mrs. International 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Plans for 2012

The most common question I have been asked since returning to my hometown of Dothan, Alabama is: Has it finally set in that you won yet? Actually, I think it has! The past few weeks have been a whirl-wind of parties, photo shoots, and LOTS of unpacking. Now that I am finally settled back in, it’s time to get to “work”!

My plans as Miss Teen International 2012 are to continue my work with the Miracle League and Shane’s Inspiration. My big goal for the year is to create a promotional video for the Miracle League to show at speaking engagements and to send to news stations so that more children and families can learn about and enjoy the benefits of playing baseball! I hope to involve players, buddies, volunteers, directors, and family members so that I can capture the perspective of everyone involved in the program. I was also recently invited to visit the Miracle League National Headquarters, which I am extremely excited about! I will, of course, still continue to attend monthly Play Club sessions on Dothan’s Shane’s Inspiration playground. Also, baseball season begins in the spring, which means that Miracle League sign-ups are just around the corner. I encourage you all to find a Miracle League program or Shane’s Inspiration playground to become involved with. It has been, by far, the most rewarding experience of my life!

Also, I cannot wait to begin working with my local chapter of Go Red! Although the International system’s partnership with the American Heart Association focuses primarily on heart health for women, everyone is affected by heart disease! Over fifty percent of children with Down’s syndrome are born with various types of congenital heart disease.

While I am extremely excited about being able to wear the International crown, I am most excited about all of the doors my title has already opened for me! Thank you all for the support you have already shown me!

Love always,

Caroline Crowley

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crowning Moment

Your new Miss Teen International is…….I can’t even describe how long this pause felt…Caroline Crowley, Miss Teen Alabama International!!! The moment I heard my name, I was immediately in a state of shock. Although I spent countless hours preparing for the competition, I never imagined I would be so honored to win the title of Miss Teen International. After all, I did compete against 38 of the worlds’ most talented and beautiful teens! During our week in Chicago, I spent a majority of my time with my new sisters. Instead of treating each other as competition, we really formed a team! From helping one another zip our dresses to giving one another “pep talks”, I have never been in a more friendly competition! After I won, the most rewarding thing was that every contestant hugged me and seemed genuinely excited for me.

My first photo as Miss Teen International 2012.

As I reminisce on my week in Chicago, I know there are two things I will never forget…feeling the crown on my head for the very first time and the lasting friendships I made, which I will cherish forever!

The sisterhood—Miss Teen International Class of 2012

Caroline Crowley

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Platform: Past, Present & Future

I have always relied on Art to communicate, express myself, gain insight, relax, and ultimately to self-understanding and satisfaction. There is nothing better than completing a piece of artwork I have envisioned in my head and finally seeing it transformed into a tangible visual form. 

This avenue of expression was something I discovered at a very young age. My father dealt with Depression that went undiagnosed or treated until I was 13 years old. Memories of my childhood are full of anger, violence, fear, and resentment. I would come up with every excuse in the book to stay away from home, to go to a friend’s house, or help out in the classrooms after school. Coming home was like having to walk on egg shells. I had to be aware of every move I made and every word I said, so as not to make my father angry. For a little girl, this is a nightmare. I was not free to run and play in the house, to make a mess, or to have accidents. I felt that no one understood, not my friends of family. The only way I could tell my story in a safe place was with my notebook.

I wrote this poem when I was 9 years old. It went on to win Editors Choice by Poetry Magazine. It’s called, Hiding.

I want to burn the bridges
I want to forget the past
And I long to get away
From that which will never last

I long to learn
I long to see
I long to hold, dreams I believe
I long to laugh
I long to love
The only one who knows, above.

I know that I will carry
The sorrow and the strife
I know that I cannot escape
The past that is my life

My notebook was a best friend that I could trust with all my secrets. I would hide in my closet at night with a strand of Christmas lights, notebook and pen, and “escape” for hours. It was a safe place where I could be messy, make mistakes, and honestly express how I felt without judgment or punishment. Simply releasing my emotions regarding my home life was my first experience with art and creative expression.

In junior high I began having irregular heartbeats and was monitored closely by doctors. I did everything from the EKG testing, wearing a heart monitor, and many different relaxation techniques. This was a frustrating time for me because I was just beginning to get involved in competitive cheerleading, but because of my heart issues I had to sit out of many practices. I was perceived as a slacker when I couldn’t do the conditioning or extensive strength training.  I was constantly out of breath and had intense pressure in my chest. I could feel my heart beating so hard like it was going to pop out of my chest. I would get dizzy and black out. I felt weak and woozy. It was so frustrating! It was keeping me from finally being a part of a team, a family. Finally doctors agreed that the best treatment for me was a Cardio Ablation. At the time, this was a very new and innovative procedure. In order to fix the communication between nodes, which sends electrically impulses that make the heart beat, the doctors had to completely stop my heart for over a minute. My mom was very scared and so was I. The day before going into surgery, I made this…
Age 13, Healing.

I am very lucky to say that the procedure at the Minneapolis Children Hospital was a success.  I have had zero irregular heart rhythms. I am completely healed!

As I entered high school, my favorite classes were Art and Psychology. I know beauty queens are supposed to be perfect in every way, but I certainly am not one of those. I was not an A+ student. Because of what was going on at home, I had little motivation in the classroom. Especially math! Instead of working on word problems and equations, I was in the back doodling extravagant pictures and designs all over my notebooks. Full of teenage angst, “Doodling is a sign of genius!” I would reply to teachers who questioned scribbles. Honestly, I didn’t care much about scholastic success.  I was a bit rebellious… except when I was doing art.

When I was free to create or nurture others who were hurting, I was truly happy.  This is when I began to catch a small glimpse of my purpose.  I began to see the need to develop leadership skills so I could take a stand with those who had lost their voice, those who were also hurting.

College was a time of growth for me. I began to start my own life, away from my parents and home, and finally saw that I could be in control of my future. I didn’t have to be controlled by my dad anymore. I took classes that broadened my view of art, psychology, and human mind, and how we communicate visually. I graduated this year from Saint Cloud State University with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology and I am taking classes for my Master degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and Art Therapy. 

College was also a very sad time for me; I lost all four of my grandparents. Art helped me reflect and remember them. I painted this portrait of my grandmother while tears streamed form my eyes and I reminisced all the lovely times I had with her.

Heavenly, Age 22

My platform was an easy choice, because it is who I am. My past, my present and my future. It is who I always wanted to be, but never knew I could be.

“Through art and the creative process, I found I could say things I could not describe, things I had no words for.”  Georgia O’Keeffe

In order to “Heal Lives through Creative Expression” I have partnered with two organizations. On a local and national level, I promote and work with Free Arts. They are a non-profit organization that was founded by an Art Therapist who saw a great need for abused, neglected, and homeless children to be able to express themselves creatively, imagine, and build trusting relationships with adults. Free Arts works in teams of 4-6 adult volunteer mentors. The mentors to go sites where children are living or staying; homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, elementary schools, community centers, Boys and Girls Clubs of America…etc. The mentors work with the children on-site making creative expression projects a few hours every week. The projects are designed to help the children deal with a particular issue they are facing. If we are in a teenage rehabilitation center where the kids have dealt with self-injury or suicide, we might make paper jewelry, an opportunity for self-expression because often their jewelry is taken away for safety reason. If we were working with girls who had eating disorders, we would do projects that aim to focus on positive traits or attributes they like about themselves.

We help the kids see that they do have people in their life who care about them and want them to heal. By utilizing art as a tool for communication, we can start building relationships and overcoming adversity through visual creation. I personally mentor every week, write curriculum, recruit corporate sponsors, and raise funds and advocate for children who are in similar or worse situations like mine.

While serving as Miss Minnesota International I brought a day of Free Arts to the city of St. Cloud for the first time expanding Free Arts reach outside of the metro areas.  I started with a city and campus wide collection of used art supplies and later received sponsorship from local business.  I also initiated the governor’s proclamation of a statewide “Free Arts Day” in Minnesota. 

As Miss International I will be traveling to each of the Free Arts affiliates across the nation to discuss best practice, fundraising techniques, and develop healing arts curriculum.

On a global level, I also volunteer as the Healing Arts Spokesperson for ICAF, the International Child Art Foundation. ICAF is the largest children’s art organization in the world having served over 5 million children. Their mission is to employ the power of the arts for the development of creativity and empathy – key attributes of successful learners and leaders.  ICAF identifies imaginative children and inspires them to embrace lifelong creativity and develop empathy – pathways to sustainability and global competitiveness. At the global level, ICAF brings together the world’s creative children, transforms them into peace leaders and ties the knot that may unfold in collaborative innovation. They have many different programs, but specifically speak about the benefits of art for children who have survived natural disaster. I have been asked to speak on the grounds of our nations capital during the World Children’s Festival, travel to Tokyo to attend the International Conference on Creativity, go to Japan to work with tsunami survivors, and to secure enough funds to bring the Art Olympiad exhibit to Minnesota for the first time (an exhibit made up of children’s artwork from across the world that represents their favorite sport in the Olympics). I am thrilled to take on these challenges!

I know from personal experience that ART HEALS! It has changed the way I see the world and my ability to express to others how I see and interpret life experiences.  It has helped me build relationships and communicate to others, even people who don’t speak the same language. Art is a universal language and I will continue to bring healing into the lives of those in need of creative expression.

“I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

All my Love,

Krista Wanous
Miss International 2012