Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
Pageant girls always dream of their crowning moment, when preparation and timing work together, when the judges see your heart and feel that you can represent a title with all you have. We dream of the moment our name is called and we stand on the stage, waving our hands (think Miss Congeniality) and gracefully walk forward and crouch down to accept the crown. This is the moment I have dreamed of that since 1989 when I stood on stage at a mall in San Bernardino praying that the judges would think I was pretty enough to be crowned ‘Junior Miss Carousel Mall’ but that day wasn’t my day and my string of 1st Runner up began. Each loss brought a learning experience and even though I didn’t compete consistently I took so much from every placement. Each time I heard the runner up speech, “If for ANY reason the new queen can’t fulfill her duties the 1st runner up with takeover”, I would pray that my name wasn’t the next one called. Then each time I would hear, “Your first runner up is Shana ...”, and I would gracefully step to the side for the new winner to have her moment in the spotlight. Through the years I have learned that by having that spot I was able to learn about myself, I was able to be mentored by the winner and my coaches and I was able to make friends along the way that I may not have otherwise. I was blessed without always realizing it; Never let a win get to your head, or a loss to your heart.
When Grant and I were first married I competed for Mrs. California International, my first Mrs pageant and fell in love with their message. I loved that my brain and passion was being judged more than my measurements. I competed a few more times in a different system, I learned so much about how to compete and be my best self without winning (yet placing 1st runner up twice in a row!) When my husband deployed in 2010 and returned 15 months later I decided to take the time to be a family and no longer compete... that lasted 1 year and then it happened. Mrs. California International was coming up, the title that I had dreamed of for so long. We had a family discussion and I talked it over with some of the surviving spouses that I know then decided to enter in honor of the surviving spouses of our fallen military. Win, lose or draw this was going to be my last pageant because the title of Soccer Mom was taking over. I showed up with the expectation of having a great time, meeting some inspirational women and the hope that I won.
After countless hours of rehearsals, more laughing that you’d ever believe (Mrs contestants are
pretty funny!), my daughter winning her 1st soccer game and 3 areas of competition it was time for judges tabulations and crowning. Phew what a whirlwind weekend. Those last few moments before we got back on stage I sat backstage with Tiffany Allen discussing how we felt. We had views that were the same, we both put it all out there, did our best and now it was in God’s hands. We smiled at each other and wished each other luck then lined up for crowning.
Each award was called in division order, Teen then Miss and finally Mrs. I clapped and was so excited for each winner, Interview, Photogenic, Congeniality and People’s Choice... all very deserving women that I can’t say enough nice things about. Then it came time to crown our state titleholders and my heart skipped a beat. First was our wonderful teens, congratulations to Jayne Geist Miss Teen California International (I saw her crowned as Miss Junior Teen International in 2008), then came Miss California International, TIFFANY ALLEN (You can follow her blog here)... I admit my heart stopped for her because we had just spoke about Gods timing and I love her platform of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Finally it was our turn... all 8 of the Mrs. contestants were on pins and needles. They announced the Second Runner up, Stacy (who I LOVE and admire... she was my pre-fitness workout buddy!), then the 1st Runner up Jennifer (I can’t say enough about her, she has an amazing platform AND is a Disney Princess) which is when I looked at my darling husband sitting in his uniform and thought Oh My Gosh could this be my year?! Your new Mrs. California International 2013 is .... Shana Smith! My mind went completely blank, I think I screamed, I know I cried and as soon as my husband hit the stage I was in his arms thanking him for being him which is when he reminded me that I needed to be crowned center stage. I couldn’t believe that this was my moment but more than that as he was crowning me it was OUR moment. It was one more moment in our lives that will forever be etched in my mind as ours.
It’s been 10 days and I am still in shock... I am Mrs. California International 2013 and I am going to be representing my state at Mrs. International next summer. I am honored and humbled to have this opportunity to share my passion for assisting families of our fallen military within our great state and nation. I am looking forward to having a wonderful year with my sister queens and being a part of this unbelievable International Pageant Family!