Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cupcakes & Sisters

As I begin the new year I want to share a little about a role model in my life. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time with loved ones and I was so excited to get to spend several wonderful days with my amazing sister-in-law, Mallory, over the holidays. I have a great brother, but when he married Mallory, I finally had the sister I always wanted. She has so many wonderful qualities but her thoughtfulness is her most special. She is so talented and can bake anything from scratch but her gourmet cupcakes are my favorite. Mallory shared one of her favorite recipes with me while she was visiting for the holidays and gave me permission to share it with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Mallory’s Favorite Chocolate Cupcakes with Honey Infused Cream Cheese Frosting

Dry Ingredients:                                              Liquid Ingredients:

3 cups sugar                                                       3 eggs

2 ¾ cup flour                                                      1 ½ cup buttermilk

1 1/8 cup cocoa powder                                     ¾ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. salt                                                             2 tsp. vanilla (Mallory uses Mexican vanilla)
                                                                            1 ¼ cup strong warm coffee

Combine all dry ingredients and set aside. Mix eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla until combined in mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients mix alternating with coffee to egg mixture. Mix just until combined, don’t over mix. Batter will be runny. Pour batter into cups and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out almost clean.

Frosting Recipe:

1 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature

1 stick of butter at room temperature

¾ tsp. vanilla

2 T. honey (Mallory uses honey from her Dad’s bee hives….YUMMY!)

Powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla and honey until combined. Add powdered sugar slowly until it forms a firm peak consistency. Pipe on to cool cupcakes and then sprinkle with clear sanding sugar or lightly drizzle with honey.

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

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Social Media

Social media is a vital tool for promoting yourself as a titleholder as well as the International system. There are so many social media outlets these days and probably even more that I don’t know about. Elise, Jules and myself are required to submit two blog posts per week, video blogs, and regularly update our social media accounts as part of our contract. As with many businesses, social media helps boosts its presence and the International system has done a great job at making sure it is being seen. Even more importantly, that WE are all being seen and the positive work we are doing isn’t going unnoticed.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the easiest and fastest ways to communicate with an audience. As local and state titleholders, you should create a fan page. Post any and everything that you can pertaining to your appearances, articles about your platform and even inspirational quotes. Using a hashtag (#) on Instagram is a great idea as well as any user can search for that particular hashtag and easily see the photos that you, and others, may have posted.

Regularly updating your accounts is very important as well. Judges will look to see if they can find you on facebook, IG, etc. Ensuring that you stay on top of updating them will not only help the judges know who and what you stand for, but also show them that you have checked the box for the social media requirement and could easily be the next International title holder. Having these accounts, especially Instagram, is also a great place to keep your favorite photo or photos from each appearance. Looking back at the end of your reign and seeing all of the difference you have made is the best prize!

Until the Mission is Complete,


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Interview Coach – Should You Hire One?

Over my years of pageantry, I have been asked how I trained for competition. Typically the first thing I will say is that I work with an interview coach. Some people are quick to dismiss that type of preparation as I’ve been told “Don’t you just answer the judges’ questions? Why would you hire someone to help you with that?” Little do they know that the interview process can make or break your chances of winning the crown. Specifically for the crown of Miss International, interview is 40% of your score. You want to make sure to bring your A game!

Although I encourage contestants to work with an interview coach, I see it beyond just trying to win a crown. I can’t tell you how many interviews I have done and felt very confident when walking out of the interview room. From leadership positions in high school and college, to my huge graduate school interview and also job offers. The skills that I initially learned to help me in a pageant have more than prepared me for life. Knowing the proper interview attire, how to answer certain questions, giving a firm handshake…these are all important aspects of interviewing. And had I not worked with an interview coach, and also had a mother who interviews people for a living!... I would have missed out on an incredibly opportunity to advance myself in my career and in how I deal with people day-to-day. Although interview coaches can cost a pretty penny, it is such a valuable investment for making sure you feel your best whether its for competition or for the real world!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Monday, January 25, 2016

All the Single Ladies!

So we have just passed the time of year where it seems like everyone is getting engaged. And since Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, I am sure that all forms of social media will be loaded with new sparkly rings! It is an exciting time in a woman's life to know that they are finally with the person they are going to spend the rest of their life with, so of course I naturally become so excited for my friends who are entering into this next chapter in their lives. However, as someone who wants to eventually be a wife and mother, there are times when I ask God "When will it be my turn?". It is easy to feel discouraged when you do not see when and how one of God's promises will come to pass. When I turned 26 and 27, I remember thinking "Oh great...another birthday and I am still not married". As my next birthday approaches, it was easy to continue that same defeated mentality. However, I decided that this birthday I would change my perspective. I will choose to celebrate my singleness! After talking with some of my married friends, there are things they envy about my single life...imagine that! So I have decided that I am going to continue to do things that will potentially become more difficult when I am married with kids. I will do more traveling, I will focus on continuing my education with a doctorate, and I will treat myself to a nice pair of shoes every now and then...just because I can!

I want to encourage all of those who are single and wondering when God will bring your mate. His timing is ALWAYS perfect. There is a reason why you are not married yet. His plan for your life may require a few more "single" years to prepare you to have a successful marriage. Instead of focusing on what you do not have, think about what God has blessed you with. Had God operated off of my timeline, I would have already been married and would have missed the amazing opportunity to be Miss International this year. And I would not give this experience up for anything. So God knew exactly what He was doing! We have the rest of our lives to be fabulous wives and mothers. Enjoy these last moments of getting to know and love yourself the way that God sees you!

Cue: Beyonce's "Single Ladies"!

Celebrating singleness,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Thomas & Drew

The week at the Miss Teen International pageant is nothing but fun from meeting new friends to experiencing new things and getting all dolled up! In the midst of the good times are full, busy days. Getting yourself ready can be stressful, but have no fear, Thomas and Drew are here! If you make an appointment with Thomas and Drew Dunn you will have nothing to worry about at Nationals. They will make sure you look gorgeous every single day! You can hire them for rehearsals, orientation, and day-out along with stage competition and interview, or just the competition phases according to your preference.

Between each phase of competition, preliminary and finals, they will touch you up and give you some extra hair spray to make sure you are looking your absolute best. They even helped me glue my fitness wear! Using Thomas and Drew is worth everything. No accidents will happen under their watch! Make your appointment at the earliest opportunity.

Thank you Thomas and Drew for everything you did for me at Nationals. I cannot thank you guys enough for making sure I had everything I needed. You guys are great and I cannot wait to see you again! Love you two so much!

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

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Legacy is defined as anything that is handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.

With 2016 officially underway, have you thought about what kind of legacy you want to leave? Undoubtedly, we are all a year older, and of course wiser. We should absolutely be thinking about what we want our namesake to mean when we are gone. What will our legacy as a wife, mother, daughter, friend and yes, even title holder say about who we are as a person? Will others have a negative, positive or just a mediocre opinion of you? Will others, aside from your family, even remember who you are?

My grandmother, Gran, was one of the most special people in my life growing up. I talked to her every day on the phone and up until I was probably 25 saw her at least a few times a week. Even during my college days and early adulthood. When Justin and I moved to Utah after we were married, the once daily calls picked up to 3 times a day. Needless to say, we were extremely close and she knew me inside and out.

My grandfather, who served in the Navy, was gone during the earlier years of their marriage overseas. When he returned home, together they started multiple businesses and truly made a name for themselves in their small South Carolina town. My grandmother served on multiple boards and was a member of every woman’s league and charity organization around. Aside from serving her community and state, she also served at their church. She always said her real job was being a mother. The multiple businesses and organizations she was a part of stood no chance against her role of being a mother. She lived and breathed being the best mother and role model for her children.

The stories of trials and tribulations and how she overcame them are part of the life lessons that she passed along to me. The way she treated others and put the needs of others before the needs of herself will always stand out to me. She was a fighter and fought for what was right in all areas of life, including her own when she won the fight against breast cancer (double mastectomy in her 50’s) and then again when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in her late 70’s, after never smoking a cigarette in her life. She survived the rest of her years with part of her left lung removed.

This is the last picture I have with her. Justin, the boys and I came down to celebrate the boys birthday with her. She went to be with our Lord the next week.

The legacy that I want to leave behind is one similar to my Gran’s. Devoted Wife, Loving Mother, Beloved Friend, Hard Worker, Activist, and Fighter.

Continue to expand your legacy so that your children and grandchildren will carry it on.

Until The Mission Is Complete,


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Family Night

From my own experiences growing up, to the work I do with families, I am a big advocate for family nights! This is a time where families turn off their cell phones, and tune into each other and what is going on in their lives. Whether it is once a week or every other week, this time together allows the family to focus on what is most important in life! I am a firm believer that family is not always the family you were born into, it is those people who have your back and support you through thick and thin. Here are some suggestions to guide your next family night!

1. Pick a night that everyone is available and will not be rushed. When I was little, every Friday night was family night! Now that I am an "adult child" with a crazy schedule, I pick one night a week to spend with my family over dinner or a fun activity!

2. Vote on a family friendly restaurant where everyone will be able to enjoy something they like, and the atmosphere is built for fun and lots of laughter. For those on a budget, you can have just as much fun at home! I very fondly remember nights making homemade pizza and cookies or brownies at home! 

3. Play Games! From Monoply to Candy Land, to Uno, making some yummy snacks and playing some games is so much fun with your loved ones! Of course I went old-school on you, because there are lots of family fun games that involve electronics too! Heads Up is a game you can download on your phone or tablet, and is guaranteed hours of fun! 

4. Conversation. Family night is a great opportunity to check in to see how everyone is doing. From what is happening at school with the kids, to how work is going. These precious moments give you perspective into the lives you care so much about.

No matter what you decide to do, make sure it involves everyone and that you all are having a great time! For those with children, I can tell you from experience how much those family nights meant to me. And now as an adult, I see so much value in this time together, that I can't wait to start my own family to continue this tradition!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Food for the Brain

“Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy,” said Ben Franklin, but us teens do not take this as seriously as we should. Evidence suggests that teenagers are indeed sleep deprived. Sleep is vital to our well being. Sleep is as important to our lives as the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Believe it or not, sleep can easily help you manage the stress of being a teen.

Yes, I am Miss Teen International, but I am still a regular teenager that goes to school, enjoys extra-curricular activities, has a summer job, and truly has a passion for helping my community. All of these make a good night's sleep almost impossible. I once studied for a Chemistry test until one o'clock in the morning. Many times I arrived home at midnight from basketball games and track meets, most of the time with homework calling my name, only to wake up early the next day to go back to school without the proper amount of sleep. As teenagers this happens to all of us. Not only are we exhausted, but we also start to become stressed.

Here are some tips to help you get a good night's sleep:

1. Make sure your room is clean. It helps keep you relaxed without all the clutter.

2. Do not consume caffeine late in the day and close to bedtime.

3. Do not eat, sleep, or exercise within a few hours of bedtime.

4. Do not leave homework for the last minute. (I like to do mine when I get free time at school. If I do not get free time, I do it as soon as I get home from school so I can enjoy the rest of the evening.)

5. To-do lists are your best friend! If you lay awake at night, make a to-do list, this will help your mind stop racing.

Remember, sleep is food for the brain, so try to incorporate these tips into your daily routine to help insure you are getting enough sleep. Being a teenager can be so challenging but with the extra sleep we deserve, we can absorb and succeed to the best of our ability!

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

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Bond of Sisters

The International system produces some of the most amazing sisters. It is so special to see and experience first hand the devotion that so many of you have and show towards each other. Competition week is long and tiresome, but for me being able to experience it with amazing women from all areas of the world with so many different platforms not only made the week fly by, but also allowed me to get to know so many inspiring women. Each of you are really working your platform, but in addition to that so many of you are working towards helping your sisters as well.

Our system isn’t about just winning and wearing a crown. It isn’t just about you. Believe it or not, it isn’t just about your immediate family either, although, for many of us they may have been the ones that sparked our interest to do more. We, as women and as titleholders, have a job to do. A job that will go on long after we pass on our title and crown. A job that some of us may never see the end product or bonus to all of our determination and hard work. As influential leaders in our communities we need to continue to set examples for those around us. We should also be setting examples for each other. Our sisters.

During pageant week, it is inevitable that you will gravitate towards the women that are most like you and your friends from home. My advice to you is yes, absolutely get to know them, but also branch out and get to know those women that are completely opposite. Sisterhood, especially in the International system, is a bond that goes on long after the curtains close on the final night of the pageant. Stay in touch with as many of them as you can. Help them and they will help you. Personally, I don’t know what I would do without many of you sweet women from the class of 2015! Love you all!

Until the Mission is Complete,


Monday, January 18, 2016

Who Am I?

I recently worked with a patient during a therapy session. I asked him, “Tell me about yourself!” to which he responded “What do you want to know?” I stated that I wanted to know about him, his likes and dislikes, his personality, etc. Do you know that he could not answer my question? He sat there for at least 5 minutes trying to form an answer, but not being able to give me any insight into his life. When he finally came up with something, he responded “I do not know who I am anymore.” My heart broke for him, but then it made me think… how many of us walk around day in and day out not really knowing who we are inside? We spend so much time at school or working, fulfilling our responsibilities to our over-committed lives, that do we get a chance to really know ourselves?

I often have my younger clients write me an “I Am” poem (which I have attached below!). It is a creative way to get children to think introspectively as to how they are feeling and getting to know themselves better. Often responded with some resistance, I will sometimes ask my adult clients to write one for me. Of course they think it’s silly, but they typically have fun with it! Whether it is a poem, journaling, or spending some alone time in a park, I encourage all of us to get to know ourselves better. If we do not truly know who we are inside, how can we expect others to get to know the beautiful person God created us to be? You may learn things that will forever change your life!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Family Legacy

I know I have blogged quite a bit about Delta Beta Sigma, the high school sorority in my community. But I am going to tell a little about the history of my family's participation. The National Sorority was founded in 1903 at the Columbia Institute in Columbia, Tennessee. The Omega chapter (in my community) was created in 1930. In 1909 the first member of my family to become a member of DBS was initiated into a chapter in Tennessee. Since then there has been a member of my family active in this sorority in every decade. I am so lucky to have kept the family legacy going. It is truly a family legacy of community service. We did lots of research and I was so honored when the National DBS' fall newsletter did a story on my family and our legacy.

Our sorority revolves around philanthropy year round. Each year we receive a new charity to fund and volunteer. Each chapter raises as much money as possible and comes together at convention during the summer. Last year our charity was Ronald McDonald House which is how I first got involved with that organization and this year our charity is the Wounded Warrior Project. I am so excited to start philanthropy season and raise awareness about this incredible organization. Wounded Warrior Project will be such a heart warming project – not many of us can even begin to imagine what these men and women have been through. My sisters make volunteering fun and I am so lucky to have a group of girls who share the same passion for service.

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

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Friday, January 15, 2016

Keeping the Germs Away

I don’t know about ya’ll, but our house has been coughing since October is seems like. Just when one of the kids is starting to feel better, the next one starts to get sick and so on. Then, Justin gets sick (and all you ladies know that our husbands “always have it worse than the kids did” … right?). I’m thankful that, knock on wood, I haven’t had anything more than a scratchy throat for a day or two.

A few weeks ago, one of the boys tested positive for strep and the flu. Luckily, no one else caught it. I was super nervous because I haven’t had time to get my flu shot this year, everyone else had theirs back in October. Isn’t it always the mamas (or if you aren’t a mom, the women in general) that slack on taking care of themselves?

One thing I never forget to do, however, is take my vitamins every single day. I put them in the cabinet where I keep our coffee supplies because I know I won’t forget to have coffee. I also started using essential oils last year. I still have mixed opinions about if they really work or not, but they smell so good! I have a few of my favorite go to’s in my makeup bag in my purse that I can easily roll on my wrist or behind my ears for whatever ailment I am starting to feel. I also diffuse them in our home. The kids love to smell it and want to know about each oil that I add. Eating right, although I know it can be hard, is important to staying healthy as well.

HERE is a link to the CDC on the prevention of spreading germs.

What have you been doing this winter season to keep the germs at bay? I would love to hear if you have any tried and true remedies to staying healthy.

Until the Mission is Complete,


Thursday, January 14, 2016

When God Gives You Cousins

I am only child. Go ahead.. Say what you think about only children! I've heard it all! But being an only child has actually been an experience that I would not trade. I have a wonderful & close relationship with my parents, and instead of giving me siblings, God blessed me with a huge extended family... Therefore giving me lots of cousins! 

The say being a grandparent is awesome, because you can spoil your grandkids and then give them back to their parents. Having cousins is similar! When I was younger, I would run & play with my cousins, and when I got tired of them, they went home! Ha! 

My cousins have been incredibly supportive of me throughout my entire life. When I won the International crown, it's like they won too, as this has been a journey for all of us! I am so thankful for the love they have shown me by coming to the pageant, some of my events, praying for me, texting/calling me with words of encouragement, and having fun nights out when I need a break! I joke that we could have our own reality show with how crazy our experiences as a family get, but I wouldn't trade any moment! I always wanted a brother or sister, but God give me something better, my amazing cousins!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Clay & Joey

I know there are a lot of 2016 state, regional, and country queens already preparing for the International competition. I have a wonderful recommendation for each of you! I would visit Clay Spann in Dothan, Alabama for the ideal photos! He can even show you step-by-step how to apply your make-up to be competition ready. I always have a marvelous time visiting with Clay and his make-up will make you look flawless! I could never forget about Mrs. Terri. Mrs. Terri is a wonderful woman who will help you with anything you may need.

My first time seeing these amazing people is a time I'll never forget!

In addition to Clay, you should also visit Joey Rutherford at The Competetive Image to help you find the perfect gown. I found my national gown there after he recommended I try it on and I could not be more in love! Remember there is a trunk show in April! Trust me. It is worth the trip! Thanks Clay, Joey, and Terri for all you do. You guys are great!

You will have a blast shooting with Clay and shopping with Joey!

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

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Wreaths Across America

Recently, I attended an event called Wreaths Across America at the Dallas/ Fort Worth National Cemetery. I joined other members from numerous veterans organizations along with members of the community for a ceremony honoring our soldiers that have gone on before us and those MIA and POW. I was honored to be among some of our areas most influential veteran leaders that day and am so proud of the turn out that we had! There were hundreds in not over one thousand people there that Saturday.

The mission of Wreaths Across America, Remember, Honor, Teach, is carried out in part by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies on a specified Saturday in December at Arlington, as well as veterans cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. The organization also organizes a week of events including international veteran’s tributes, ceremonies at State Houses and a week-long “Veteran’s Parade” between Maine and Virginia where they stop along the way to spread their message about the importance of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms.

In 2014, there were over 300 18-wheeler truck loads of wreaths sent across America. That’s 716,000 wreaths placed at headstones of veterans and fallen soldiers at cemeteries nationwide. It is so special knowing that at the exact same time on the specified Saturday in December, there are thousands and thousands of people honoring our veterans. I can’t wait to know the exact number for the wreaths laid in 2015!

Mark your calendars for the 2016 ceremony, Satuday, December 17, 2016.

Until the Mission is Complete,


Friday, January 8, 2016

Thinking of Others While Caring for Ourselves…and How We Can Teach The Next Generation!

I recently read an article by Dr. Robin Stern of Yale University. She discussed the “trap” that we can fall in while displaying empathy for others. We learn and teach our kids to think of others and see what it is like to “walk in someone else’s shoes”. However, we also want to make sure we stay in tuned with how we are feeling inside. So how do we find a balance? 

1. We have to know and understand our own emotions before we can understand someone else’s feelings. Simply asking ourselves or a child “What emotion are you feeling?” can allow one to take an introspective view of their emotions. Once someone has a better understanding of their own feelings, it will be easier to acknowledge the feelings of others.

2. Children look to adults to lead them with how to handle certain situations. Essentially they need us to lead by example. As the authority figures (parent, older sibling, teacher, etc) in their lives, we can do this by practicing self-care and empathy in our own lives. Here are some examples:
a. Self-Care: When is the last time you did something for yourself and/or by yourself? If you are still thinking, it is has been too long! Having children puts tremendous amounts of constraint on our time, but that is not an excuse to keep from prioritizing your own needs. Anything from a spa day, going fishing, or a date night can do wonders! This will then allow you to show your child how to practice self-care by stating "You know how Mommy/Daddy has some alone time every week? Let's see when we can build in some alone time in your schedule!" 
b. Empathy: We can't expect kids to show empathy if we are not willing to do it ourselves. Being able to see a situation from someone else's perspective can make all the difference in how you respond. So the next time you are tempted to snap at the cashier at the grocery store, or yell at the slow driver on the freeway, remind yourself that kids are looking at you to see how you handle yourself and care for the needs of others!
3. Creating a safe environment for children to feel comfortable coming to you to talk is really important. The home and school environments are training grounds for the real world. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about creating balance in their life. If your child were to come home to vent about a teacher or peer, it is best to acknowledge their feelings ("I can see that you are upset.") followed by asking a question that will broaden their view ("Can you think of anything that may be going on in their life that would be causing this person to act this way towards you?"). Allowing children to express their emotions while showing them how to be mindful of others, creates a lifestyle of balance as they become more independent.

Hopefully these tips help in creating balance in your life as well as the little ones that you make impressions on!

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Pull for Ronald McDonald House

My platform is volunteerism and my favorite organization for which I volunteer is Ronald McDonald House. I live in a rural area where the nearest RMH chapter is an hour drive, so the best way I get involved daily, is saving the tabs off of coke cans. I spread the word first to my family. We have a small paper house given to us by Ronald McDonald House that we keep by the trash can in our kitchen specifically for pop tabs. When it is full I empty it into a plastic bag and keep filling it up. Then I spread the word to my community. I recently delivered eleven gallons of pop tabs to Ronald McDonald House of Arkansas just from my community alone! Isn't it crazy how four words can go a long way? Save your pop tabs!

Now, the kindergarten class of the school I have been attending for ten years is collecting pop tabs for me to deliver. Anyone and everyone can join in this effort and share in that wonderful feeling one gets when helping others. Nothing makes me happier than the fact that I am actually making an impact. The basis of my platform while preparing for the state and national competition was “Even the smallest gesture can make a huge impact!” Now I am proof that this statement is so true! I ask you to remember all of the children being treated in children' hospitals around the world who are calling Ronald McDonald House their home, and remember the families of those children who are just trying to find a cure while helping their child fight through their treatments the next time you drink out of a can. It will just take a second to pull the tab and collect them one by one. Remember, the smallest gesture can make a huge impact!

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

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Thursday, January 7, 2016

American Heroes: A Salute to Veterans

This fall I was invited to be the guest speaker for a Veterans Day gathering in our area. The speech needed to be around 25 minutes and I honestly didn’t know where to begin. Trust me, I have so much to say in regards to our veterans, their commitment to our nation and to us and the struggles that they faced after the war ended. I knew there would be many veterans in attendance from many different conflicts and I wanted to do each of them justice so of course I was nervous about how to do that.

I would have loved to have been able to share each and every veteran’s story that braved the rain that morning, but unfortunately that wasn’t possible. I am lucky enough to know a few of our nations heroes, of course one being my husband. I was able to share a little of Justin’s story as well as the story of another great man I happen to know, the story of Mr. C.B. Perdue. C.B. is a World War II Purple Heart recipient. You can read a small snippet of his story here and watch a video of his first time back in a B-17, 67 years after he was shot down over Germany.

I was so honored and lucky to have not only my husband in attendance at the speaking engagement, but also Mr. Perdue. He Turns 91 this year and ya’ll honestly he could run circles around me. After the ceremony was over, I was brought to tears when he presented me with a Purple Heart challenge coin. It is a true honor to have received such a token from an honorable hero.

Being able to share stories like C.B.’s, Justin’s and other veterans is something that I hold near and dear to my heart. Telling the stories of the sacrifices these great men and women have made is a true American classic.

Until the Mission is Complete,


Types of Resilience

We all know that person…the one who has been knocked down in life over-and-over and yet they continue to get back up and move forward. We call this type of person resilient, as they have the ability to bounce back from every setback and obstacle that is thrown their way. I would like to think that I emulate those characteristics as they are so appealing to me. However, it is not always easy to recover from a hurdle. When I work with my patients, I notice that most of them have traces of resilience in them, but they either do not know how to tap into it or never knew they had it. Allowing them the opportunity to unveil this inner strength can make all the difference in improving their mental health. I wanted to share some different types of resilience in hopes that each of you can connect with some of the characteristics in order to find your own inner strength!

1. Relational Resilience: This person does not give up because they know that others depend on them. This can be a parent, an adult child, an employer, etc. They gain strength and emotional support from their relationships with other people.

2. Street Resilience: This person does not give up because the pain and disrespect from society allows them to propel forward in productivity. For example, with all the school shootings that have been happening, someone with street resilience would be at the forefront of creating more safety procedures for schools and universities. Instead of letting their emotions get the best of them, they use that energy to make positive change around them.

3. Resource Resilience: This person does not give up because they realize the resources that they have around them, and they tap into them. This person will utilize their talents, frame of mind, work ethic and financial resources in order to maintain the strength to overcome. They also realize that they have talents that have not be uncovered, and are more willing to see where their strengths lie.

4. Rock Bottom Resilience: This person does not give up because reaching the lowest point in their journey allows them the perspective to flip the switch and improve. Some people have to reach the bottom in order to gain hope in knowing that things cannot get any worse. This type of person is hopeful in knowing that their future does not have to look like their past. They are also willing to dig deep into options that they never utilized given their difficult circumstances. 

Resilience is a wonderful characteristic to have, and I hope this blog sheds some light to your personal strength that gets you through difficult times.

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


On November 20th I had a great time volunteering at the CARTI Festival of Fashion show in Little Rock. CARTI stands for Central Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute. It was a lovely event, attracting boutiques from all four corners of Arkansas. The audience was full of sponsors and cancer survivors. CARTI has been giving world-class cancer treatments to patients all across Arkansas for nearly forty years. Cancer is a family disease. Almost everyone can say they have been affected by cancer whether they were diagnosed personally or they are a family member or friend of a loved one fighting cancer.

I was so proud to be part of this event. I enjoyed helping them out and knowing that I may have made the slightest difference in a cancer patient's life. They have invited me to participate in the show again next year and I am looking forward to being a part of this incredible fundraiser. This event is significant in Arkansas, but I know that there are cancer treatment centers in every state that need help as well. A fashion show is a great way to have fun while getting involved, so maybe you can create a fundraiser fashion show for an event that is important to you or get involved if one already exists in your area!

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

Jules Fletcher
Miss Teen International 2015

Visiting Our Heroes

While I was in D.C., I was able to visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. I have been wanting to visit for a while now and I’m so glad that I was able to make it fit into our schedule this trip. If you aren’t familiar with WRNMMC, it is the nation’s largest and most renowned military medical center. In 2011, Walter Reed and the Naval Hospital joined forces to better care for our nation’s heroes.

Visiting patients in the hospital always pulls at my heart strings and I knew that this trip would probably do so even more. The facility is huge. I am so glad we had a tour guide to brief us on each patient before we walked into their room or tell us about the different floors and the needs they meet for their patients.

Each hospital room that I entered was very spacious and decorated with Christmas cheer. Each patient had their wife by their side. Each husband and wife had children. One in particular had just delivered twin girls 3 weeks prior. Another, had moved their children to Bethesda (across the country from where they were actually from) to enroll them in school there so that they could all be together. At that point, their father had been in the hospital for 3 months already. Another wife said that the hospital was now their home. Committing yourself to the military is not only an individual commitment, but also a family commitment. This was even more evident to me during my visit.

One thing for sure is that these brave men (and their families) adore our country. They defended our nation and us, yet they don’t hold a grudge as they learn how to cope with lost limbs or other severe injuries. They would do it all the same if they had to choose.

Always be grateful for your freedom.

Until the Mission is Complete,