Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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Every day is a blessing

Lately I keep learning the lesson over and over again,
that life is so precious, and yet so short!
I feel it is a lesson that I needed to learn.
I feel as if I am in constant motion, 
waiting for the next big thing to come along
instead of loving each and every single day and finding
pure happiness in the moment.

The president of the Murray Chamber of Commerce,
R. Scott Baker, passed away Sunday Evening.
A man that I respected very very much.
A man that made you feel loved and appreciated.
A man that would always speak so highly of my family and I.
A man who truly gave and served and loved.
I actually can't think of one time when I didn't see a smile on his face.
He was  simply a very AMAZING and REMARKABLE man!

I had the opportunity of working very very closely with him
as our Youth Chamber group is directed right under the Murray Chamber.
I thought so so highly of him and he had all of my respect.
But now I can't help but wonder, 
Do you think he really truly knew how much I admired him?

After hearing this very unexpected news and then thinking about 
the shooting in Connecticut that took 26 innocent lives,
it gave me a true desire to live my life in a more giving and more fulfilling way.

So here is a little exercise... Where are you on your journey?

Multiply your age X 365 days!       _________
(This will give you your current age in days.)

Subtract that number from 27,375 days.    _________
(That's an average life span (+/-) these days.)

I probably have ______ days left.

My answer: 18,615 days.
(Wow, doesn't that just put life into perspective?)

I have to tie in the power of one in right here!:)
There is good in every single day.
You can change a life, in just ONE day!
A lesson can be learned, in just ONE day!
A dream can come true in just ONE day!
Faith can be found in just ONE day!
Miracles can happen in just ONE day!
Every day matters!
Every day is a gift from Heavenly Father!

Source: Pinterest

Ashley's Rules to live life to the fullest!

(I have to admit, I am not pro at living by all of these all the time, but I sure plan to work on them harder)

Rule 1 - Have a good attitude! 
Life is just too short to be cranky. There is something good in every single day, find it! Your attitude is what people will remember about you most.

Rule 2 - Live with integrity.
Keep your word, always follow through to what you say you will do.
Be honest in everything. Set out some values and live by them!

Rule 3 - Forgive everyone, especially yourself.
Don't hold on to past mistakes, we all make them! Forget and forgive!

Rule 4 - Move forward
Don't dwell on the hard moments in life. The moments that make you sad, that fill you with fear, or that bring anger to your heart. Treasure them for the lessons they taught you and then move forward to the moments that will bring you happiness and peace.

Rule 5 - Quit worrying
There is so much to fear in this world but about 88% of what you worry about doesn't actually comes true. It just isn't worth it to live life in worry and fear and waste the perfectly beautiful days  away that you could have been enjoying all along!

Rule 6 - Be grateful
There is something to be grateful for in all things. Be grateful for the tiny things that so often get overlooked. Gratitude brings more blessings, not because of karma but because the more you count your blessings, the wider your eyes are opened to see more of them.

Rule 7 - Enjoy the little things. 
It is the little things that make up to be the big things. Enjoy the people in your life a little bit more. Enjoy the moments you have, to sing your favorite song. Enjoy the journey of work and school because you will be sorry when those moments are gone. Enjoy everyone and everything in your life right now!

Monday, December 17, 2012


My eyes filled with tears as I watched the live news reports flooding in Friday 
afternoon due to this terrible, tragic event. 
Any time a chaotic or horrific event is displayed on the news, I can't help but
pause and think for a moment, how would I handle the situation?

My heart sunk for the children, growing up... I feared EVERYTHING!
Some days I was afraid to go to school for fear that an event like this would happen.
I can't imagine the fear that faced these innocent children.

I cried for the pain of the parents.
My mom always tells me "You can't possibly know how much I love you, 
until you have kids one day". 
She is right, I can't fathom the love a mother and a father must feel for their
children but I know it is powerful.

All I ever wanted to be growing up, was a teacher (that has changed now).
But I couldn't help but cry on behalf of the teachers, the principle and any staff
that had their life taken too soon that day.
I couldn't help but picture being a teacher, would I have been strong enough for the
kids that day?

This event had been through my mind a lot this past weekend but then this morning,
I was looking through Facebook when I stumbled upon this page. 
A page dedicated to one true and brave hero.
And tears flooded my eyes.

This is Victoria Soto, a 27 year old woman. Victoria was a music teacher at 
Sandy Hook Elementary School. 
They say her enthusiasm and cheer was evident. 
When Victoria heard the shooter coming to her classroom, she hid all her first graders
in cupboards and closets and told the gunman that the students were in the gym.
With these students hidden, the gunman then fatally shot her as she was protecting the children.
Victoria saved the lives of 10 children.
She was so brave and courageous and perhaps the most selfless teacher.

I seriously can't imagine being in her shoes.
This woman will forever live in my heart as a hero!
She inspires me beyond comprehension. 

Want to make a difference?
Go sign THIS petition. It is a petition to give Victoria Soto the "Medal of Freedom" award. 
It is the highest award granted to a civilian.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Self Esteem Playlist

I believe we all need a list of songs for those moments when you just need a pick me up.
You know, the playlist that you turn to when you are having a bad day. 
The playlist that you play when someone hurt your feelings.
The songs that can make you smile no matter what.

Here is a list of my favorite "Build me up" songs. 
On my ipod I have this list called "Keep dreaming and believing" 
  • The light - April Meservy
  • Send it on - Disney Friends
  • Everybody Shine on - Mk song
  • Be Ok - Ingrid Michaelson
  • Believe - Cherie Call
  • I will - Jenny Jordan Frogley
  • See the light - Jericho Road
  • The Climb - Miley Cyrus
  • Don't stop believing - Glee 
  • Standing in the rain - Jenny Jordan Frogley
  • He gives flowers to everyone - Cherie Call
  • Beautiful - Christina Aguilera
  • I came to win - Jenny Jordan Frogley
  • Because I believe - Jenny Phillips
  • It's not just make believe - Karl Kimmel
  • Whatever it takes (EFY 1999) - John Mcvey & Felicia Sorensen
  • No one - Aly & AJ
  • Carry Me - Katherine Nelson
  • What Heaven Sees in you - Doug Walker
  • Here to be - Rachel Thibodeau
  • Unwritten - Natasha Beddingfield
  • Forward with Faith (EFY 2000) - Kim Bracken
  • Stand for God - Katherine Nelson
  • Get Up - Superchick
  • Who you are - Hillary Weeks
  • In this skin - Jessica Simpson
  • If I had it my way - Emma Roberts
  • Reach - Caleigh Peters
  • I fly - Hayden Panettiere
  • Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
  • Beautiful - Carole King
  • Keep me in motion (EFY 1998) - Felicia Sorensen
  • Perfect love - Felicia Sorensen
  • Perfect Day - Hoku
  • Reachin' for heaven - Diana Degarmo
  • Never be another - Jenny Jordan Frogley
  • Don't worry about a thing- Shedaisy
  • Don't get lost in the crowd - Ashley Ballard
  • We can - LeAnn Rimes
  • This one's for the girls - Martina McBride
  • This is my time - Raven Symone
  • Dream - Priscilla Ahn
  • Set the world on Fire - Britt Nicole
  • Who says - Selena Gomez
  • Just the way you are - Bruno Mars
  • Perfect (clean version) - Pink
  • You are loved - Josh Groban
  • Everybody - Ingrid Michaelson
  • Freckles - Natasha Beddingfield
  • Firework - Katy Perry
  • Believe in yourself - Nsync
  • What makes you beautiful - Backstreet Boys
  • Gold - Britt Nicole
  • More Beautiful You - Jonny Diaz
  • Try - Pink
Leave a comment if you have songs that aren't on my list!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jeans for Teens Drive!

Have you heard about the Jeans for Teens Drive yet? 

1.7 million teens are homeless and the #1 item 
that they request from shelters is, you guessed it...

So how can you get involved and help?
Drop off your collected jeans at any Aero or P.S. store.
Every person who participates receives a 25% off coupon for
a new pair of jeans.
All jeans collected, will be donated to a local charity or shelter 

Clean out your closet and make a difference to a teen in need!
Big sizes are the most requested but they need every size.
It doesn't matter on the brand, just make sure they are in
a wearable condition!

I have my Murray Youth collecting jeans from now until mid February.
We are making it a competition to see if we can get 1,000 pairs
collected throughout the Murray Community.
Leave a comment if you want to get involved in our competition.

ONE pair of jeans can change the life of a teen.
ONE pair of jeans can provide hope for a homeless teen. 
ONE pair of jeans can empower a teen to dream again.

Think about it, jeans are something that we wear everyday. 
When you wear your jeans, it probably doesn't cross your mind 
how blessed you are to own a pair.
But there is someone out there right now who is wishing and hoping for a pair,
just to stay warm.
Why let your jeans sit in your drawer if you won't be wearing them?
Donate them and make a difference!
One donation is going to change a life!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Self Esteem Matters!

Self-Esteem has been a long journey for me to reach.

Growing up...
I was the girl that always got teased.
I was the girl that struggled to make friends.
I was the girl that didn't get asked to dances as often as I would have liked.
I was the girl that always desired to be popular.
I was the girl that dreamed of being a cheerleader but lacked the confidence.

I tell you this because I am guessing many of you out there can possibly relate.

Recently I was looking through my High School journals and there was definitely a pattern in everything I wrote about. My journal revolved around two main focuses:
1. Service and how I chose to give of myself to others that day
2. Random acts of kindness people showed me and how others made me feel

Every day I would write about the service projects and kind deeds I had offered others that day. 
I would also write about others and the SIMPLE things people did to make me feel loved.

You see, I was the shy girl. The girl that so desperately wanted to be friends with 
everyone but didn't know how to start a conversation. I lacked the confidence to talk others, 
always worrying what they would think of me. 

Although confidence was the battle that I fought on a daily basis, 
I can't help but feel like it was MY BATTLE for a reason. 
Personal trials make us stronger but they also inspire us to do great things. 
It is a blessing I went through this personally because now I know I can be an example 
and mentor to others just like me! 

I feel like MY purpose or gift is to help others feel good about themselves. 

So why does Self Esteem matter anyways?

To feel confident about yourself is the center of everything you do! 

Have you ever had a bad day? You felt like no body around you cared? You felt like a tiny dot on this big earth? 
I HAVE... and what does it do to your attitude and your mind the entire day? It weighs you down!

How can you help others to feel loved if you don't feel loved yourself? You just can't! 
You can only give away what you have yourself!
If you have a dream but don't believe in yourself enough to reach it, then what good does chasing your dream actually do?

It effects the choices you make! When you are confident in yourself, you respect yourself 
and your body more and you don't allow others to influence you with the standards you have set for 

Self Esteem effects us spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically and even financially!
So this blog is focused on YOU and how you can become your best self and feel confident with
THE WHOLE YOU - the talents, the flaws and all!

Live, Laugh and LOVE because today is your day to stand up be confident in your own skin!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

7 Keys to Self Esteem

Self Esteem is one of those things in life that is constantly changing.
Some of us have it more than others, but chances are we all experience ups and 
downs of confidence through different days, weeks and phases of our lives.

Ever notice how some days you feel super confident and like the world is yours,
and then other days you feel like you just want to hide under a rock?

Because change in emotions is inevitable, here are my secrets to having more 
confidence when you feel like you are in a slump.

My KEYS to feeling and gaining more Self-Confidence:

Key #1

{Suggestion: If you are religious in any way, you may want to pray about who needs a visit from you... allow the Lord to use you as a tool!}

Key #2

{Suggestion: It helps if you keep a list of what you think your strengths are by your mirror and read them every morning so you can constantly have them on your mind}

Key #3

{Confidence is a process; it takes much time and patience to feel completely confident. So when all else fails, just pretend you are confident and trick your mind}

Key #4

{Sometimes not caring what people think can be one of the toughest battles in this life. But you will never truly reach a 10 in the confidence level if don't stop caring. Love people, truly love them and give them everything you have but you have to do this not expecting anything in return. You have to care about every single person you come in contact with no matter if you think they like you or not. Once you stop caring if others love you back and you simply fall in love with people just because they are human, that is the moment you become a whole new confident person!}

Key #5

{Keep dreaming and failing! You may not end with the......   but one you will be glad to remember.}

Key #6

{Growing up I always wanted to learn to play the piano but my parents couldn't financially afford it at the time. I taught myself to play the piano 10 years later so I could compete in the Miss Murray Pageant...it was not easy to say the least but the price was SO WORTH IT! Find something you want to be good at and just keep practicing no matter how long it takes.}

Key #7

{Through all my school years, I always felt like an outcast. I was SO SHY that I struggled to make friends, I struggled to feel like I fit in, I struggled getting to know new people.. If I could go back, I would be more willing to hang out when invited to something out of my comfort zone. I would be more daring to sit by someone I didn't know and I would really get to know them. I would be more watchful of others that looked like they needed a friend just like me.}

Monday, December 3, 2012


Bullying hurts.
I was watching the news this weekend only to find out a middle school
boy named David shot himself in front of peers at Bennion Jr. High on Friday.
My heart started to ache for this 14 year old and his loved ones he left behind.
He didn't voice his pain to his parents, they were clueless and shocked.
I believe bullying is 100% preventable.
It only takes ONE, just ONE to take a stand or tell a teacher or tell a parent.

If only someone was aware of this boys pain, something could have been done.
Just one friend by his side at lunch time so he had someone to talk to.
Or perhaps a classmate to report the teasing to administration but ask to remain anonymous.
Isn't just incredible? The influence we have on one another.
Every day we are given a choice, bring someone up or bring someone down.
Words hurt, I don't think we realize how big of an impact just one word can have on an individual.

Bullying is near and dear to my heart.
Growing up I was the victim.
I was the girl that often got made fun of.
I had just moved to a new school and I was struggling to make friends.
I got teased for wearing glasses.
I got teased because my hair wasn't as pretty as the other girls.
I got teased because I wouldn't say bad words no matter how hard they tried to convince me.

However, I was BLESSED!
I was blessed because I did end up making a best friend, Tiffany!
She stood up for me and she stood by my side.
I was blessed because I felt comfortable enough to come to my mom and tell her 
what was heavy on my heart.
I was blessed because eventually I found courage within my heart to stand up for myself
while doing the best that I could to not put the bully down.
But the biggest blessing of all, was experiencing how badly it hurts to be teased,
it has made it easier to remember how badly words can hurt others.
It has also given me passion and motivation to help those around me
develop higher self-esteem and to teach my 'Power of One' movement.
I pray for an opportunity to take this movement to all schools around me.

While I don't know the what exactly was on the heart of David or his loved ones at the time,
I do know this boy was important.
His life was valuable to so many people on this earth
and Heavenly Father loves him very very much.

I just can't stop thinking about this situation.
How my heart would ache if I was this boy's classmate and I hadn't said anything.
How my heart would ache if I was the boy's parents and I felt completely hopeless
because I didn't know the burden my son was carrying.
How my heart would ache if I was the principle and I wanted so dearly for these students
to treat each other with respect.
How my heart would ache if I was the bully and I wanted to take back absolutely everything 
I did to cause pain to another kid who was probably facing the same struggles as me.

This situation reminded me of the time I got to be apart of an amazing assembly.
It was a blessing to get to speak to a whole Junior High student body about 
how bullying really does have an impact.
But paying it forward to one another at school can create positive change
and can save lives!

Here is a small clip of the assembly:

My goal is to see how many assemblies I can get going in Utah before the school year is over.
A change needs to be made.
Bullying needs to be put to a STOP!

If you know someone at your school who is being bullied, here is a list of what you can do:

1. Stand up for the victim - this takes courage! Lots of it. But once the bully knows that there is more than it isn't just him and the victim any more, they bully is a lot more likely to be intimated and step down.
The bully will also be shocked and embarrassed once stood up to.

2. Don't join in on the bullying - Always refuse and walk away if the bully tries to get you to join in. Even if it is a good bribe to get you to do it, you will later regret it.

3. Stop the rumors - You have complete control of stopping rumors by simply not passing them on. When you hear someone else spreading the rumor, jump in and set the facts straight if you do know the story.

4. Tell an adult - The bullying can be put to an end much faster if an adult is aware of the situation. No matter how small the situation may look from the outside (for instance just a little teasing) it may hurt A LOT MORE on the inside. So tell a parent, a teacher, the principle, a counselor or any adult you see.
If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe about your comments, ask to remain anonymous and to keep your comments private. Have a friend go with you to make it easier.

5. Offer help - Once the bully is gone, make sure the victim is okay.Try to be a friend and see if he/she feels like talking about it. Encourage the victim to talk to an adult about the situation and try to instill courage in the victim to stand up for herself/himself next time.

Also, here is a great RESOURCE for Bullying and what you can do about it!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Miss Murray Story


I am so full of so many different emotions. This summer I felt so inspired and motivated to run full out and compete for the title of Miss Murray. I knew it would be my last year of eligibility so I came up with a new talent, created a new platform I was so ecstatic about and I tried super hard to get more toned and put on some weight. I felt so strongly like this was Gods plan for me. 

I remember the exact moment when this dream was put in my heart.

 I was doing an internship at Liberty Elementary. Miss Murray 2005, Camille Jensen was there to do an assembly about her platform of eating disorders and respecting your body and the unique qualities we all have within. I remember so vividly all the girls coming up to her with so much admiration. I remember how she was influencing so many around her, especially me. This girl was making a difference and I felt this dream of Miss Murray become planted in my heart. I wanted to follow this girls lead. I honestly felt as if Camille had been placed in my path for a reason and purpose.

 I must admit that at first it felt like a far fetched goal but about a year later I saw posters hanging in the hall about a Miss Murray orientation meeting to recruit new contestants for Miss Murray. I remember thinking I need to go to this meeting, "Heavenly Father please give me the courage to put myself in such an intimidating situation". The meeting happened to conflict with something else I had going on the same evening. I thought I guess my dream will wait. 

The next week I walked into my adult roles class and my friend Chelsea was telling me how she was going to be in the Miss Murray Pageant and she told me I should do it too. I told her I can't, I missed the meeting. She said "oh the meeting wasn't a requirement". I had never been so excited and so terrified in one moment. I agreed. That summer I prepared HARD. The funnest part that summer? Telling my parents I was going to be in a pageant. They were shocked and didn't know what to expect but supported me and my decision from DAY ONE. 

I remember how we couldn't afford a dress for me and I was really thinking I wouldn't be able to compete since I didn't have one. I remember coming home one night to find a gorgeous pink and modest dress hanging up on my door. I jumped and screamed with excitement, I'm sure the neighbors heard as well. My mom came in and told me she had got Melissa Bracken to let me borrow her prom dress. I was so thankful to Melissa for trusting me with her gown and to my mother for showing me support through kind acts of service and love. I felt like God had played a role in putting Chelsea in my life to give me the courage to pursue my dream. I felt God played a role in giving me an opportunity to borrow such a gorgeous gown.

And how could I forget that first year when my sweet and loving dad drove me around EVERYWHERE, helping me to find the perfect interview suit and swim suit? Just thinking about that makes me feel so loved and humbled.

I think the hardest part about preparing for my first pageant, actually all the pageants thereafter was the talent portion. Growing up I took little dance and loved it but my family felt the financial weight on them and so I was taken out of dance. I played the flute in 7th grade (HARDEST THING EVER) and so I quit. A tiny girl like me just doesn't have that much air in her although I now regret it!

I remember having so many friends take piano lessons and I was so jealous, I desperately wanted to learn to play but we just couldn't afford it and we didn't own a piano. I remember telling Chelsea I didn't think I could compete because I didn't have a talent. She told me to do a monologue, that's what she would be doing. I immediately found one from the princess diaries that I was in love with. I practiced everyday. I remember at practices all the girls would be stressing if things weren't perfect and all I wanted to do was get through the thing, I was terrified and just wanted to survive.

After my first pageant, the committee encouraged me to come back again and told me nobody gets it on their first try. I decided to come back again and STRONGER! I decided to switch up my talent and try something new. I sung "Part of Your World" by the Little Mermaid. I had LeeAnn Johnson, my old young women's leader become my vocal teacher. I practiced that song constantly. I even went and practiced at the church on the stage many times alone. I remember belting it out in my car to the minus track. I spent so much time on that song, but I quickly learned signing was not my specialty.

My third year I came back even more determined. I think this was when the most change took place within me. That summer I did everything I could possibly think of to prepare for Miss Murray. I went up to La Belle's boutique in Logan for a new dress, I chose a platform I was extremely passionate about "Children's Miracle Network" and I changed my talent AGAIN!
This was the year that I really truly decided that if I wanted to represent Murray City, I needed to reach out and serve my community. I called up the Murray Youth Chamber of Commerce and asked if I could help in any way. They said they needed a college ambassador so right then and there I decided this would be the perfect way to get to know Murray City better and serve them on a deeper level than I ever had before.
I became apart of a committee for the Festival of Trees which supports Primary Children's Hospital. I put my own money into decorating a tree for it. I volunteered lots with the fundraising part of Children's Miracle Network and I even organized a HUGE fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network with my Grandpa's help to be held at the Marriott. That was the most memorable experience for my service efforts. I went to every business around me asking for donations. It was incredible. I even chose an amazing talent, a talent I thought would be a winner. I played hand bells in High School and I thought it would be so neat to do a Hand Bell solo so I got the help of my high school bell choir teacher, Mr. Scott and I practiced that song like nobody's business.He even let me take the expensive hand bells home throughout the summer. It was truly a blessing and once again something that was made possible by Heavenly Father. I thought I nailed the talent that year, but that year it just wasn't meant to be. 

My fourth year I asked the pageant committee what I needed to do to win. What I was lacking? They told me that they thought the best talent I had done was my monologue  So I went and found a monologue that was funny. I took one from a girl who was Miss Cache Valley, Rachel Jensen (she was SO SWEET!). This monologue she had actually performed at Miss Utah so I thought it was a winner. I worked HARD that summer. I kept my platform the same but continued to work hard at this pageant thing. Stacey Marie Hansen won and boy did she deserve it!

After competing all four of these times I felt so discouraged. I had competed four times and not placed once. What was wrong with me? Why was I working so hard on a dream that I started to feel so inadequate at?

I thought I was done...little did I know what was right around the corner. Stacey Hansen encouraged me to compete again right after she won. She told me she would help me! I was pumped. Even though I wasn't one of her attendants that year, she shared the crown with me. She took me to SO MANY schools with her to help her present her pay it forward program. She allowed me to help her with different activities. I remember going to the Boys & Girls club gala downtown as well as the Boys & Girls club golf tournament. Thank you Stacey for being so humble and letting me help you in SO MANY different areas. I think this is where I truly grew and changed the most, these opportunities were unforgettable and changed the course of my life.

So after my fourth year I got a pageant coach, Tewa Wride you are INCREDIBLE! I used all my pageant resources and connections for help. I got a pass to the rec center and I either worked out every night or went on a bike ride with my family to the Jordan River Parkway, I did several mock interviews, I developed a new platform "Heart2Heart - Service from one heart to another" and I took it to four class rooms BEFORE Miss Murray! It was Stacey's idea for me to learn the piano and she gave me a reference to her previous piano teacher, Ann Harrington. We sat down and discussed my goals and decided Fountain in the rain could be a winner for me. I was so excited! I started piano in March and worked hard on my flash cards but it was the middle of tax season (working over full time at work) so I did not have much time for actually practicing the piano. I remember going to piano lessons in April and she was having me play the song and because she expected it to be memorized by then and it wasn't, she actually told me this wasn't going to work out. I remember crying all the way home "My teacher quit on me, what am I going to do?" I called Stacey and Jeffrey and they told me they believed in me and told me I could do this. The second tax season was over I went to work on the piano, it was SO HARD but I did it and within one to two weeks I had that song memorized and I was playing good. I called Ann back up and told her I had memorized the song completely and I was ready and willing to work as hard as she expected me to. She agreed to taking me back. This was one of the HARDEST struggles in my preparation to Miss Murray but man it was a blessing in disguise. It motivated me like none other to work hard for my dream.

I came back SO STRONG that year. I felt like this was my time to shine and I felt like I had SO MUCH support behind me. My fifth time competing I remember playing my piano and I was so scared because I had never in my life played in front of an audience before so I psyched myself out and played a little bit slower than I had rehearsed. I remember thinking after the talent was over, "man I don't think I have a chance now, I played that so slow". Then as I was changing into my onstage question wardrobe I looked up at the TV in our dressing room and a girl who I thought was so strong in this competition had just made a mistake. My heart ached for her but I can't help but think it was for a reason. Standing in the line to receive awards and find out who the next Miss Murray is, is truly such a hard and stressful moment. I remember the fear that comes over me thinking I really don't want to let my supporters down. My name was announced as second runner up. I couldn't believe it, I ran and gave Stacey a hug and just cried and cried. I had placed, I had actually placed, WOW! Stacey whispered in my ear "I am so excited for you, you made the floats!" What a blessing that was. I was happy but it still hurt. The next day was so hard for me. I may sound so selfish but I promise that is not my intention. I remember going on a walk alone along the Jordan River Parkway just crying. 

You see how the judging works is they give you between a 1 - 10 on every category of competition: Interview, swim aka fitness & lifestyle, talent, onstage question and interview. Then those scores are taken away and tabulated and the judges never share information with each other and they don't know how you scored. Then the top 5 names are given back to the judges in no particular order and they rank you how they think you should be placed. So all the judges could choose differently and once again it is never shared and the math is done to figure out who wins and who places where. 

I placed as second runner up which means most likely one of the judges chose me as Miss Murray for their rankings. It kills just thinking you were a point off and you gave it all you got. What one thing could I have done differently? If it was a different night and different judges, would I have won? It hurt. But Kaitlin Pollei deserved it that year. She worked hard, she looked so poised and that girl can sure dance. 

After that I thought I was done, don't know what happened but I will tell you pageants are addicting. It is addicting in a good way because for me pageants have always been about helping me to become my best self and representing the city that I love with all my heart. It is about self improvement, service and getting a good education. So I decided I was going to run full out hard. I started working on another piano song "Tarentella". I started working hard and then life happened and something distracted me all summer long. It was a hard and discouraging summer. I just kept moving forward though and decided this new piano song was not going to work out. I didn't want to drop out though because: A - that is just simply not ME - it's not what I do and B - I thought I aged out after this and thought it would be my last chance. So I competed and did the best I possibly could do and ended up not placing. I am pretty sure the judges could see through me. They could see I was distracted by something and they could see my heart wasn't as present in the competition as it should have been.

And thinking back, me not winning Miss Murray that time was a blessing. With the distractions that I had around me there is no way I would have been able to handle the job of Miss Murray - Heavenly Father just knew. 

So I seriously thought I was done and then one day Mallory Rogers, Miss Murray 2012 and a girl I respect dearly posted on my wall that I had one more year of eligibility to compete for the title. I got so excited and decided to run full out! I put so much into it this last summer. I found a piano song I was thrilled about "Pirates of the Caribbean I rented out the most spectacular wardrobe (that was a journey in itself) but I felt like Heavenly Father took control and things worked out the way they were supposed to. A coworker of my mom's ended up giving us a piano and I felt that was so perfect and once again a tender mercy. It worked out so incredibly and was such a blessing in my practicing. I worked out tons this summer. I got to the pageant and felt SO CONFIDENT the first three nights and then the reality of my talent compared to the other girls sunk in. I kept thinking Heavenly Father is going to perform a miracle through my talent the night of (Which he did) but not enough to get me the crown. This was my seventh time competing for the title of Miss Murray. I was the oldest girl out of the bunch and I wanted this more than anything ever! My heart hurt the night I didn't even place. To be honest it still aches.

I don't know what happened, I put SO MUCH time into developing so many talents. I may not be perfect at any of them but I worked hard and sacrificed a lot to learn all those. I am so happy and grateful for the opportunity to compete in 8 different pageants but I can't help but wonder what was the purpose? Yes I learned a lot about myself. Yes I learned a lot about others. Yes I learned many different talents and skills that will be so beneficial in my life now and in the future. Yes I have been able to serve in so many different organizations. But yet my heart still feels empty and broken. Faith and time can heal all wounds but man it's hard.

People all the time tell me I can make a difference without a crown, that I don't need a title to do what I want to do. For me it is SO MUCH deeper than that.
Yes I am Ashley Marie Frederickson, a daughter of God. I know this, I truly do but I really truly felt as if Miss Murray could and would be my mission in life. I had SO MANY amazing plans and ideas to act upon as Miss Murray. I have always wanted to hold firesides for young women's groups, I have always wanted to be a guest speaker at events for children and youth...I feel like I relate to them so well. I could do this as Ashley like everybody says but it sure isn't as easy as everybody says. I have been working for years to plan events, be a guest speaker and to spread my important message around. Although I have been able to a little, I have not been able to nearly do this on the level that I was hoping for. I can't just do an assembly at an Elementary School as Ashley, they don't know who I am, it's sad but a title is necessary to reach the people I want to reach. I can tell girls they are beautiful and they have talents and that makes them feel good. But when Miss Murray tells girls they are beautiful and talented they feel empowered and their self-esteem is lifted to new heights. It is so much easier for people to listen to the girl with the crown on her head. 

A crown is not an earthly possession, heck I would take the jewels out and give them to all my friends and family with love when the year was over. To me the crown is a tool to reach the hearts of my community and the people within. I realize it isn't the end of the world and there are other things I can do in this world, but it hurts so deeply as I have been dreaming about this goal for the last 9 years and I put everything I had into this organization.

For now I will trust my Heavenly Father with all my heart. I need to let go and let God step in and take me to where I need to be. My courage, self-esteem and faith is one blessing that has been given to me through pageants and I would not trade my participation in pageants for the world. I am so grateful I have been able to compete and I have been able to make a difference in so many capacities. I will keep dreaming, believing and searching.