Sunday, December 27, 2015

Making New Year Resolutions


How is it that 2016 is just around the corner….can you believe it?! I must say that 2015 was one of my best years, which gives 2016 very big shoes to fill! Typically every year starts off the same for me. I spend the last few weeks of the previous year thinking about my resolutions for the New Year. I write them down in my journal, and then I write them down in my phone (so I have no reason to forget!). My goal is always to accomplish each of the resolutions, but typically there are 1 or 2 that get rolled over to the following year! I do know that some people have resistance to setting resolutions, so I thought I would share some tips as to how I come up with mine as I think it is always important to start the year with goals!


1. Manageable – Make sure that the resolutions you set are manageable and realistic. Although you should always set you goals to set your achievements on the next level, you also want to be realistic. For example, your resolution should not be to travel the world if you do not have the budget for that. Instead, you can make a goal of visiting one new country this year. This will allow the ability to accomplish your goal without feeling like a failure due to unrealistic expectations.

2. Set Resolutions for Different Areas of Life – I try to set a resolution for different aspects of my life as I believe in the “whole” self. For me that means setting a spiritual goal, mental goal and a physical goal. I also set goals that will advance me in my career and other goals that will help my relationships with family and friends. This way every part of your life will have a chance for improvement!

3. Shhh! It’s a secret! – Not everyone is going to support you in the goals that you set for yourself. Do not let other people’ negativity and insecurities affect you setting and accomplishing your goals. Because of this, it is not imperative that you tell everyone you know what your New Year resolutions are. Only tell those who will support you and will hold you accountable.

I hope these tips will help as you think about the year ahead. Can’t wait to see what God has in store!

Wishing you a blessed 2016!

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

New Years Resolutions

January allows us to start the New Year fresh. For many of us that starts by creating a New Year,s Resolution. With the new year, 2016, fast approaching I keep thinking of my New Year's Resolution. A new year means a fresh new start and there is always something you can change about yourself. Even minor changes have just as much of an impact as major changes, whether it's hitting the gym or simply saying hello to everyone you see. Your resolution can be made to impact yourself and you can also make it a priority to impact others daily. You could become a volunteer and log on to Volunteermatch.org to find the organization for you.

I like to think back to my 2015 new years resolution. After the new year, I signed up for Miss Teen Arkansas International. I hit the gym and lost twenty pounds. I studied for interview at home and at school. I practiced modeling every weekend and after a lot of hard work my goal was met. Then a new goal came along, Miss Teen International. I kept exercising, eating right, studying, and modeling. That goal was met on August 1, 2015. So from January 1st to August 1st , I worked very hard to reach my goals and now I am continuing to live out my dream for the next seven months!

If you are having trouble picking a goal here are some ideas:

1. get more sleep

2. break bad habits

3. eat healthier

4. volunteer

5. manage time

6. get in the gym

7. travel more

8. be nice

9. be positive

10. try new things

11. spend more time with loved ones

12. sign up for your state, country, or regional International pageant ;)

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible.” - Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Museum of the Bible


I had a wonderful trip to Washington, D.C. and Virginia recently. The weather was wonderful and I got to do one of my favorite things...travel! My schedule was definitely tight as I wanted to make the most of my time while I was there. One of the appearances that I did was at the Museum of the Bible. You may be thinking, "What is she talking about? I've never heard of that museum before." And I wouldn't blame you for thinking that because the museum is still being built! A few years ago, my Mom was approached by the Green Family (owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian Bookstore) about a project they were going to do that they wanted her to be on the founding board of directors. The family has been collecting an impressive amount of Biblical artifacts over the years and they wanted to build a museum to display everything. My Mom jumped on the chance to be a part of this amazing opportunity.

After I won Miss International, I was asked if I wanted to take a tour of the museum during the construction phase. Of course I said yes as I wanted to see what my Mom has been talking about for such a long time. Plus, how cool will it be when I can take my grandchildren one day to see this museum and tell them that their Grandmother was there when it was being built!

Even through all of the construction, the museum was a sight to see! I was given specific details about where the artifacts will go, the architectural design and the reasoning behind it, and the interactive program that they have made for students. Children will not only have their own section of the museum, but programs are being piloted in different schools to bring the Bible to life for them! It was interesting to find out that these piloted programs are more accepted outside the United States because of their acceptance of religion in the school system. It is also important to point out that the point of the museum and their school programs is not to push Christianity. It is to discuss one of the most influential books in the world.


The museum is set to open in 2017. I can not wait to see the finished project. I also hope that all of you reading will be able to visit once it is open, because it will be amazing!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Holiday Food Drive

One way that my community gives back is by collecting canned goods for our local food pantry. Every year our elementary school and high school students bring canned goods to donate. My school has an annual “White Christmas” muscial performed by our elementary students and then our Senior class has a Christmas play immediately following. Each student is welcome to bring as many canned goods as they wish to this event. As Juniors, it is our job to transfer all the goods to the food pantry. The boys in our class pulled up their trucks and we all helped load them up with all the goodies!


Since my class was in the 7th grade we would make shapes out of the pile of cans to help bring in the Christmas spirit. We started with a cross, then a Jesus fish, then three crosses and we have done crosses ever since. Next year we will be doing the Senior play, so we hope our under classmen will take over the tradition. There were at least 2,500 cans collected this year, all going to help our local food pantry serve people in need this holiday season.

Have an event coming up like a school play, holiday party or even a family gathering? Almost any event will work as a food drive, just ask people to bring a couple of cans along to help those in need. This would be a great way for anyone to get involved! Christmas is the season for giving!

Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible.” - Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Algor Family Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas Season, ya’ll! The season of Christmas parties, elf on the shelf and lots of lights and wrapping paper is finally upon us. I hope you enjoyed your season of giving thanks for all of your many blessings! The Christmas season is much more than about giving and receiving gifts. More than about what color coffee cup you are drinking out of from your favorite coffee place. It’s about the birth of our eternal King.

Christmas is one of our favorite holidays in the Algor house. This year, I actually decorated the inside of our house before we left for Thanksgiving so that we could begin our favorite season the minute we walked in the door from New York. We were there for 12 days, so it was a special treat to walk back into our home and an added bonus to see our beautiful decorations.



In a previous blog, I wrote about choosing the right traditions for your family. A few traditions that we have always done are get matching family Christmas pajamas, drive through our favorite neighborhoods in Dallas to see the lights, receive special Christmas Eve pajamas from our elf, elves this year, take family pictures and make handprint or footprint plates with the kids. This year we have 2 elves and I’m already stressing about remembering to move them everyday! Ha!

We decided that this year we would introduce and add an Advent calendar to our list of traditions. We waited until now because we wanted the boys to be more aware of what Christmas was truly about and how they can serve others, just like Jesus did. Our advent calendar won’t hold little trinkets or candies. Instead in its pockets, it will have easy things the kids can do to serve others, like taking Christmas cookies to our fire stations. We will also have special days to do our favorite things to get into the spirit of Christmas like baking cookies and watching special Christmas movies.

Of course, the story of Jesus will always be at the center of our Christmas.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Responding to Our Kids Regarding Terroristic Attacks

With the recent events in Paris, and other parts of the world, it is normal to have questions and feelings of fear. As I sit and watch the news, there are times where I sit in astonishment at what is happening in our world around us. As an adult, I know that if I have not fully processed the current events, I can only imagine what children may be thinking or feeling. That being said, I thought it may be helpful to give a few tips to use with your children if and when they have questions.


1. Remain Calm – Children often look to adults to see how they should respond in a given situation. Although the attacks in Paris are very serious, your child needs to see that you are handling everything in a calm and positive matter.

2. Age Appropriate Conversations – Honesty is always important as our kids are smart enough to recognize when we may be “sugar-coating” a situation. However, be mindful of how many details you give your child as it may be traumatizing. For elementary aged children, the conversation may look more like “There are some bad people who are purposely being really mean to nice, innocent people”. For middle school and high school kids/teens, you can use this as a conversation starter using questions like “Have you discussed similar topics in social studies class?” or “Is there any part of what you heard that you have questions about?”. Make sure to get a clear understanding of what your child knows and clarify any discrepancies.

3. Empathy and Listening – Often times a child just needs a place to vent any concerns. Use this opportunity to listen for any fears that your child has. Instead of discounting feelings with statements like “Don’t be scared”, respect the fact that those are their feelings and remind them that they are safe. This is also a good time to review your family’s safety plan in the event of an emergency. This allows a child to practice what to do in a time of crisis and for them to feel assured that there is a plan in place.

If your child’s school has a school counselor, remind your child that he or she can always go to their office to talk about any concerns that they are feeling while at school.

My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the victims and their families.

God Bless,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Christmas Parades


'Tis the season for Christmas Parades and lamp post lights. The spirit of Christmas never fails to warm my heart. During the first weekend of December I rode in my hometown's Christmas Parade and Little Rock's Christmas parade the following day. Christmas Parades seem to bring pure joy to everyone and ignite the Christmas spirit. I can remember watching my hometown's Christmas parade and being in awe at the spectacular floats. I'll never forget seeing titleholders riding and waving in the parade. I would always say, “Look Mama, a princess!” 




Now being in the princess position, I always look at the little girls who say the same to their mothers and I always say “Merry Christmas” to them. I like to make them feel like they can be anything they want to be. They could be a princess one day too. Thinking back to when I watched princesses, I never would have imagined being where I am today. 'Tis the season for giving. One thing I will give the little princesses is belief in themselves that they can do whatever they set their minds to. For all the big princesses in the world, we can encourage the next generation of princesses to follow their dreams!

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible.” - Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holidays in the Big Apple

It is so fun to have family in a city that is completely different from where I grew up and where we currently live. We spent almost two weeks on Long Island, New York during Thanksgiving this year visiting my in laws and friends my husband grew up with. Justin was able to work a few days at his building in Manhattan, while the kids and I made our rounds visiting. I was also able to spend some time with a few of my bridesmaids that live in the city now, too!

I took the train into the city and navigated my way around pretty well all things considering. The city, as you can imagine, was very busy with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade occurring in a few days and the increase in security because of that. Most of the windows were decorated for Christmas with lots of decorations. The rush, the people and the festive cheer is so exciting to be a part of.


Luckily, the weather was seasonably warm for New York this time of year. I did however Amazon prime heavier coats for the kids just in case, although they never even wore them. One day, we took all 6 of the grandchildren, 7 and under, to the park and played. I will say that this was our most fond memory from our time there. We all played red rover red rover, ran relay races and had our first annual Algor family football game.

The simple things like playing at a park with family you don’t get to see often is what makes this season even more special.

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

The Semicolon Movement

In October, I traveled to San Antonio, Texas to emcee the NAMI San Antonio Walk & Fundraiser. The venue and weather was perfect as the walkers and I came together to support those living with a mental illness. As I was walking the 5k, I noticed one of the walkers had a semicolon tattoo on her wrist. I was definitely intrigued as the tattoo seemed very simple. I knew there had to be a deeper meaning. So I decided to ask her why she choose to get that tattoo. She informed me that she was a survivor of attempted suicide. She was in so much pain that she wanted to end it all… a very permanent decision. Having survived the attempt, she realized that her struggle with depression was just a part of her story, not her entire life story. And this is why she got the tattoo.


In grammar, a period represents the end of a sentence, while a semicolon represents a pause or a continuation. With The Semicolon Movement, the tattoo represents that any struggle with depression, addiction, self-harm and suicide is a pause, not a stop, in the person’s life story. This symbolic gesture is a silent but powerful way to show that there is still hope even through the struggle. Part of my mission as Miss International is to recognize ways in which people can start a conversation about mental health as a way to make the topic less intimidating. So if you encounter someone with a semicolon tattoo, I encourage you to spend a few minutes getting to know the person’s story. Every person deals with struggles, and getting to know how someone persevered through them is a beautiful way to get to know someone better with compassion and empathy!


Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Ronald McDonald House Lighting

On December 1st, Ronald McDonald House of Arkansas had their thirty fifth House Lighting Ceremony. I was super excited to be invited to this event. When we drove up to the house there were so many cars and big smiles on everyone's face. A choir sang Christmas carols while everyone made their way inside for tasty treats. I caught up with Ronald McDonald himself and the one and only Santa Claus. 

  
The previous time I visited the house was a few weeks prior when I delivered eleven gallons of pop tabs. I met a nice family and took pictures with their daughter. I was able to recap with the family at the house lighting ceremony and it touched my heart. More families came down from their rooms for the event and it made me so happy to be able to meet them as well! 






It was finally time to light up the house so everyone made their way outside. With much excitement, I was on Arkansas News Channel 11 as Miss Teen International with Ronald McDonald and Santa. After a brief interview the countdown began. Counting down from ten the crowd anticipated the lighting while the choir still sang carols. Finally, the house lit up along with everyone's spirit for a philanthropic Christmas, as every Christmas should be.

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible.” - Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Traditions That Fit Your Family

Traditions in our family are very important, however, finding the time to incorporate everything that you run across on Pinterest these days can leave you feeling rather overwhelmed. I feel like as a mother, that I put a lot of unnecessary stress on myself during such a special time of the year. Often times I find myself trying to do or plan too much for the sake of our children because I want them to be able to experience it all! I feel like if another family enjoys doing it, surely ours will too.

I came across an article recently in my MOPs newsletter that discussed choosing Christmas traditions that fit your family and how to decide on what to say yes to and what to say no to. Most importantly not saying yes to every single thing on Pinterest.

Something OLD- Say yes to a few traditions passed down from previous generations. This develops a sense of heritage. Choose one from each side of your family, if possible. Such as decorating the Christmas tree together or doing an advent calendar beginning on December 1.

Something NEW- Start new traditions for your own family. This could be something as simple as buying ornaments for your tree from places that you have traveled together throughout the year. When you decorate your family tree together, you will be able to look back and reminisce on the memories from your trips together.

Something BORROWED- Just because something didn’t originate in your family doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Again, Pinterest has a plethora of ideas that you can check out. Which brings me to my next point.

NOTHING Blue- Christmas isn’t a time to stress about. Don’t feel overwhelmed with incorporating too many traditions and certainly if certain traditions are beginning to make you feel anything less than cheery, get rid of them or try again another year.


Christmas traditions can build so many wonderful memories for your children and family that will be cherished for years to come. By learning to say yes or no, we can hopefully reclaim the joy and peace surrounding such a magical season.

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Accept the Challenge

"If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you."



Over the last few months, I have been increasingly more inspired by my sister queen Maggi Thorne (Mrs. International 2014). Not only did she have an amazing year representing the International family, she has been so committed to her fitness competitions since giving up her crown. (Side note: If you haven't followed her fitness journey, check it out!) As I have watched her continue to challenge herself mentally and physically to get ready for competition, it made me think about what I am doing to challenge myself. After all, if you want to grow, you have to be willing to stretch yourself in a way that may be uncomfortable.

We all have different areas of our lives that we need to work on. It may be easier to address some of those areas versus others. But what is the most important is to take the time to challenge yourself so that you break through the obstacles.

For me, I know that I have I work really hard at putting boundaries up around my life. My tendency is to "people-please" to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable. Unfortunately, that sometimes meant that I was not making my own needs a priority. I decided to focus on this area of weakness in college by simply saying "No!" more. It was the hardest thing for me to do, but it has made all the difference in who I am today. I feel comfortable telling someone if I disagree and making my needs a priority. In order to grow, sometimes you experience growing pains. It will never be easy, but the journey will be worth it.

As we finish the 2015 year, I challenge each of us to to think about what we can conquer in 2016. Having a verbal and/or visual plan is helpful, but putting action behind it will be everything you need to be the better version of you!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Red Ribbon Week

I believe the biggest challenge facing teens today is peer pressure. Peer pressure can cause a teen to do something they will regret greatly, such as alcohol and drug abuse. It is hard to say “no,” but it is not impossible. The best way to avoid peer pressure is to think about the rest of your life ahead of you. Teens have yet to reach their full potential. We have places to go, and people to become.

Recently, my high school participated in Red Ribbon Week, advocating drug awareness. 


Each day a woman spoke to a different group of students to educate us about drugs. She told us that Red Ribbon Week was started by the wife of a police officer. The police officer had been investigating a large drug deal and had been sent into witness protection. He was getting close to finding the head of the deal and shutting it down. When he was on his way to eat lunch with his wife he was shot and killed, so his wife started Red Ribbon Week to raise awareness of the devastating harm that can come from drugs.

Again, think of what you are yet to become, focus on those goals, and focus on achieving them. If you do this, the things that might seem like fun for the moment will not seem like anything in which you would want to participate. Say no to drugs!

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible.” -Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

Thankful for: The International Pageants

Veteran’s Day, a day to honor those that have served us, has come and gone. The weeks and months leading up to this special day were very busy and now as things are at a somewhat slower pace for a second, I’ve had time to reflect on more things that I am thankful for. There are many things happening in our world right now that are scary and controversial. While many of us don’t have the same view point on things, one thing that we can all agree on and be thankful for is the International system and its owners, The Richardson Family.


The International pageant system has consistently been the leading standard for not only married women, but young women and teens as well. Our system not only promotes our healthy lifestyles and self-confidence to allow ourselves to be judged, but it allows us a voice that is bigger than one that we may have without our Mrs., Miss, or Miss Teen titles. We are lucky enough to live in a country where we, as women, can voice our opinions, be key decision makers and be generous volunteers outside of our homes.

The entire Richardson family (Mary, Mel, Cristen, Paige and their husbands) along with the entire staff, who are all treated like family, work tirelessly to ensure that we have a system that we are each proud of. They take our calls, emails and answer our questions without hesitation. They promote each of us and our platforms. They work long days and hours preparing for an even bigger and better pageant for the next year. You can ensure that they are posting in each of the social media worlds so that more people are aware of our causes and our system. They do it for each of us.



So, to my entire International Family, THANK YOU! Thank you beyond words and measure. Thank you for supporting not only me, but my sisters and giving us each the tools necessary to be leaders in our communities.

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe'

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Financial Stress

Earlier this year, the American Psychological Association did a survey with 3,068 adults to get an idea of people’s stress levels regarding finances in America. They found that 72% of Americans felt some type of financial stress at least once during the past month. Of this group, 77% of parents and 72% of millennials (ages 18-35) report significant stress involving their finances. 


This survey was definitely not surprising to me as I could raise both of my hands if asked if my finances cause me stress! I sometimes wonder why I ever wanted to be an adult! Thankfully my parents taught me from a very early age to know the value of a dollar and how to make smart financial decisions. Here are a few tips that I have found to be helpful:

1. Designate where your income is going to go. Sometimes financial stress comes from not having a plan. A simple formula to use is: Tithe (if you have religious affiliations), Pay your bills, Save some, and Spend some. Having a plan will allow you to know how each of your well-earned dollars will be spent that month. Additionally, do not spend more than you make. Yes, credit cards can be incredibly useful, but unless you can pay the amount off at the end of the month, you should really think before buying.


2. Pay Yourself. I used to struggle with saving money. After all, when you work hard, you also want to play hard! But I’ve come to realize the value in saving. Tomorrow is not promised to us, but it is very important to have money saved for emergencies or big ticket items that come up in the future. I like to call it “paying yourself” because although you are not able to use the money right then, it will be available later…and will be so worth it!

3. Invest In a Financial Advisor. Having a professional guide you through different financial options can aide in decreasing financial stress. I recently met with mine to discuss retirement…AHHH!...but I actually left a bit relieved knowing that I was being proactive instead of having to address the issue when I am older. Financial advisors can also recommend wonderful investment opportunities. It’s all about making your money grow!


These are just a few of the tips that can make all the difference in your finances. I hope you can put them to use!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

How International Changed Me

The International pageant system is amazing in so many ways. It brings people closer and builds new friendships. It provides a sisterhood with girls from all over the world with so many things in common. Most of all, it changes us for the better. Since becoming a part of the International family I have developed more responsibility, work ethic, punctuality, and even better study habits. Because of our time competing and preparing to compete, the International girls will be prepared for job interviews from how to dress to how to speak. In addition to job interviews, we will have no problem speaking in public. I know we will work hard for anything and everything we do.


I appreciate everything the system does for us. Although my year has just begun, I will never forget the skills International Pageants has instilled in me and will continue to instill in classes to come. To the International Class of 2015, I am so proud of every single one of you and I hope to see you all again. To the International Class of 2016, you are in for a treat. I cannot wait to meet all of you and watch you grow.

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible.” - Audrey Hepburn

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Imperfections

The boys had a rough time adjusting to the time change and have been coming downstairs and into our room earlier than normal lately. I normally (try) to guess at what time they will wake up in the morning so that I can shower and be for the most part ready for our day. One day last week, one of the boys totally caught me off guard so I had to throw on my mom uniform and go without makeup. Once they are up, it is a race to the finish line. Constantly picking up toys just to be dumped out again or making snacks and playing cars and princesses, running from errand to errand or practice to dance.

This morning in particular, we were rushing out of the house because I needed to be at the boys’ school earlier to handle some classroom mom duties. I was definitely feeling not my best because I didn’t have time to make myself more presentable. I don’t know if one of the boys could sense me feeling down, keep in mind they’re 4, but before we walked out of the door to the car he stopped me and put both of his sweet, tiny hands on my cheeks and said “Mommy you are the most gorgeous mommy.” Well, if that didn’t melt my heart and make me want to go Santa crazy I don’t know what will.

It did me thinking, however. Thinking about how we put so much emphasis on how we look on the outside and not enough on what really matters the most, our hearts, our deeds, our actions. To our children, they couldn’t care less that I’m wearing my full pageant face or if I had no makeup on at all.
They don’t see my hair that terribly needs to be done. They see me playing with them, feeding them, loving and nurturing them. They see me volunteering and as they know it, helping the soldiers.


Don’t we wish the rest of the world could see us through the eyes of children? The eyes that look up to US to teach them, to show them how to love not only others, but also to love ourselves. Those eyes that will lead our country and our world sooner rather than later. We should be teaching them to not judge someone’s outward appearance or the clothes they are wearing, but get to know the persons heart.

If only we could see each other through non-judgmental eyes. To see that we all need to be built up instead of tearing up other down. See that our outward, physical imperfections aren’t what really matters. We should all love to embrace and love those ‘imperfections’ because that’s what makes us, us. Spending time working on our physical appearance only takes time away from working on our most valuable asset. Our heart.

Until the Mission is Complete,

Farabe’

Monday, December 7, 2015

Writing Your Story

During my first semester of graduate school, all the candidates were required to write their autobiography in order for our professors to determine whether we needed to seek counseling. You would think that this would be an easy assignment to do as you do not have to do any research when you are writing about yourself! However, this was one of the most difficult papers that I ever had to write. I had to be vulnerable enough to write down the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of my life for someone else to read. I would drag my feet every night when I would sit down to write more about my life, as I knew everything I said would be viewed by someone else. The amazing thing is after I wrote my 25 page autobiography, I experienced one of the best feelings. Going through every part of my life was emotionally draining, but it allowed me to see how hard I have worked, how many blessings God has bestowed upon me, and the people that have walked with me in the journey of my life so far. 


There may not ever be a reason where you need to write out your entire life. I do encourage everyone to spend some time thinking about their life story. It will not be easy, but it gives you so much perspective about how you have become the person you are today. When you spend some time being vulnerable and honest regarding your journey, it sheds light to the highs and lows that create a beautiful story!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015