I have to admit that the last few days have been a challenge as I am navigating through all that needs to be done to prepare for this competition. I had no idea how much work it would take to do this, so to be honest with you I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and questioning if this was the right thing for me to spend my time doing.
Last Saturday my girlfriend and I attended the King Kamehameha parade in downtown Honolulu. I was feeling a bit apprehensive about going into a very public setting with the sash and crown feeling a little out of place as there were other queens in the parade. Interesting enough as we stood on the sidelines of the parade and the different queens passed by, I noticed when they saw me, they would blow me, what I now know is called an Aloha Kiss.
At some point I turned to my friend and said, I guess this is a thing from one queen to another it's almost a gesture of respect as we both honor each other for the titles we hold. It was beautiful really. I carry a little bag with me with my business cards and was holding it between my legs, my keys hanging from my belt and my reading glasses hooked on my shirt, while I was videoing the students from the PCC as they danced down the street. My girlfriend ran after me saying, "no no girl, give me your bag, your glasses and your keys. No queen does that." I had to laugh because I told her, "I'm just a camper however I am learning."
As uncomfortable I was at times, I kept feeling like something was missing. The last few days I have been pondering over what I could possibly do to use this opportunity to help bless other people's lives. Then last night as I was writing up my bio for the judges, I thought long and hard about what it is that I want my message to be to help empower others. I woke up this morning at 5:30 am in a panic about some answers I felt I needed to change. I immediately texted the pageant director who is located in New York, and he called me. Good thing I live alone because often times living in Hawaii people call from the mainland forgetting how early it is here but he figured since I had texted, I was up and ready to receive calls.
He said something that really struck me and caused me to think. When I was expressing to him about some of my thoughts I was feeling about the crown, he said to me, "You know Becky, what makes a great title holder, it's being a good listener." I immediately thought to myself, 'In order to be a good listener, I need to ask a good question.' Up to this point when people come up to me and ask if they could take a picture, it's been a quick meeting and then they leave. I decided to try something different today. Right after that call with my director, I called another dear friend of mine and as I we talked about all that I am experiencing through this journey, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I said to her, 'Maybe when I meet people I can ask them what their greatest accomplishment is thus far in their life?' As that question rattled around in my head, it was as though the dots began to connect. I think what I have been most uncomfortable with to this point is all the attention being on me, now I have a way of turning the attention to others. So today I tried it on for size.
First stop, a dress shop, Princess Kaiulani Fashions. It was a store that was recommended to me by sweet Aunty Kela Miller. From the minute I got there these two beautiful women jumped into action and pulled a bunch of dresses for me to try on. In between changing I decided to ask one of the ladies the question, "What is your greatest accomplishment thus far in your life?" Without hesitation she said, "I found God." How cool is that? I loved that answer and also how proud she was when telling me. Because I currently wear the crown, I want to use it to honor others and their accomplishments so I kept asking the question and here are the answers I received just today of the women I met at the mall.
This has been a glorious way of turning the attention off me and onto the people who I meet out in the world. One of the coolest things for me is to see how excited people get to put the crown on. It just lights them up and honestly, everyone deserves to "Claim their Crown." So as I am known to say often is, "Spread your Sparkle because the world needs more of it."
If there is anything we need in our society at this time is connection and this crown is allowing me to connect more with those people I wouldn't have otherwise got to meet.
I now am beginning to connect the dots as to God's purpose for allowing me this blessing and opportunity at this very time. It's all in divine timing. After all, I am from heaven and I do work for God.
Keep it real, bring out the best in others and remember YOU MATTER!
For days now, I have been plagued with this thought, Am I good enough? It's a common theme of thoughts that have been racing through my mind my entire life. It's strange really that this journey with the crown is stirring up a lot of different emotions and feelings. The thoughts of competing and being judged for what for a brief moment someone sees about my life from an interview to costume to a bathing suit to an evening gown. It really comes down to how well I can present who I have become in a moment for someone else to judge if I am good enough to win a crown. So the last couple of days, I have found myself going to this place of self doubt. I do my best these days to fight off the urge to go into shame but rather observe what I am feeling and WHY I am feeling it. What is it that is pressuring me to feel this way and is it just me that creates the pressure?
I was having this conversation with someone yesterday about the fact that Iam Tongi was just Iam Tongi until he won the American Idol and now people's perception, including me since I am human, changes around him. It's this idea that if we get a lot of attention from people or associate with organizations that people esteem as important, then we see them as important. Again I am just being honest and vulnerable in my sharing right now. I even had the thought as I was contemplating sharing these thoughts with you this morning, maybe I should just stay positive and upbeat however that wouldn't be real. It's not that I am negative about it, it's just interesting to me the feelings I am having that are getting triggered as I get closer to the date of the competition.
It's a short runway and maybe that's why it's coming at me all at once. I find myself feeling really excited to be all dolled up and glitzy because that's been a fun time in my life however I am about 5-10 lbs more than I would like right now and that's messing with my head. When I was overweight, I would shake my head at people like me. I couldn't understand when they would say they were unhappy with their bodies, especially when I didn't see anything wrong with it. I would often think, 'try living in this body of mine.' These are my inner thoughts and just because I am at my goal weight range, doesn't mean I am immune to this line of thinking.
Even after I lost my weight, I have been in relationship with a man who would tell me on a regular basis that I ruined my body and that I needed to get plastic surgery, that I needed to be a size 4 instead of the size 6 I am and that if I gained weight, I wouldn't be accepted. What I realize now is that, those issues he had with me and my body were HIS ISSUES, not mine, however it doesn't mean there isn't apart of me that slips back into taking that upon myself to justify why I don't deserve to be loved or accepted. I swear this is a long term lesson in life.
I have often been known to talk about this fact that it takes an entire lifetime to become comfortable in our own skin and to be the women I are meant to be. It's almost like I am afraid of my own power, because I am powerful when I am confident and loving towards myself, when I know how to regulate my own thoughts and feelings along with my actions, I change the world.
To weak men, strong women are intimidating. I blogged about this many years ago when sitting in church, this guy leaned over to me and said , "Becky, you need to dialed it back, you are intimidating men." I turned to him in that moment and said, "If he is intimidated with me, he isn't the right man." The thought of ever having to change the core of who I am and what I stand for, should not be a prerequisite for being in a relationship with me. Of course there are factors of my personality and character that I am always wanting to work on however it's not at the expense of putting aside my own uniqueness and qualities.
It's kind of interesting that in August, I will be hosting a Women's Empowerment Retreat here in Hawaii and as we are working on the curriculum of it, we are addressing a lot of these issues and helping women see their greatness and power they have to give not only to themselves but to others in the world. So I guess God saw it fit for me to be challenged at this very moment to help prepare me to teach from a more authentic, loving space, because at the end of the day, God only sees me for who he created me to be, it's me that is taking a bit to figure it out and step into that beautiful powerful woman, regardless of the meat suit that I wear. And on top of that, this particular meat suit, aka body, that I have, doesn't define me, it only describes where I have been and I am grateful for the journey we have been on and the journey we will yet go on from this point on.
I mean I live in Hawaii where it doesn't matter what size you are, how much or how little make up you wear or even if you choose to do your hair or not. That's one of the many reasons I love it here.
Remember, there are so many things in this world that put pressures on us, don't forget to see it for what it is which are lies that we aren't good enough because we are. We live in very interesting times right now where many of us are exploring our voices, our passions and our callings in life. Many of us feel this intense desire to serve and until we can ..... well until "I" can manage the negative thoughts of "I am not good enough" I won't be able to service to the capacity I am called to serve.
The truth of the matter is, this opportunity to wear the crown, be out in public and to put smiles on people's faces is a tremendous opportunity to share the message of HOPE. Hope that there is freedom from self doubt, from the endless cycle of negative thinking and that we have a bright future by claiming our crown and standing in our power so as I go today to find a Hawaiian dress for my competition, I am going to remember, I am sure I am not the only one who struggles with this crazy thought that I am not enough however I also don't have to let it take me down. The truth is I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH, just the way I am and who I am blesses people's lives and who I am brings value to others.
"Leave people better than you found them!"
Go and CREATE an AMAZING DAY my dear friends.
After being out in the public for the first time on a lunch date with my self proclaimed "Coco-Nuts," I have a few thoughts about my experience. I have spent most of my life hiding from the world. When I was overweight, I was near invisible to others. What I mean by that is no one seemed to matter if I came or went, if I was sick, no one asked me how I was feeling, when I had something to say, no one listened, at least that's how I felt at the time.
November 2013, I remember the night I landed back in Ireland and my business partners planned a get together with all these ladies who wanted to lose weight. They had built me up as this super star for having lost 9 1/2 stone (130 lbs) coming in from America to help them get healthy, so I would say it was a little rigged. When I entered the room where they were all gathered and began talking, the room go incredibly quiet. Uncomfortably quiet, I might add. I am the fourth child of a family of five and quite often felt unheard when I said anything, but that night, was a moment I will never forget.
I started talking and every woman in that room had their eyes glued on me, maybe because of my American accent, maybe because of what my business partners hyped them up to think I was but it was a moment where for the first time in my life I felt I had a voice. I can't say I was comfortable in that voice completely at that point but I felt people were paying attention and hanging onto every word I was saying. That began a journey of me leaning into becoming the woman I have always meant to be.
Fast forward to today, I have done radio shows, tv shows, podcasts and such but today was something even more odd as I had a reaction to the crown. Not good or bad and to be frank, I am very appreciative of this opportunity I am given to carry such a heavy responsibility that comes from a jewel filled crown and shiny sash.
My friends who I met many years ago on the beach, were so kind to want to take me to a nice restaurant called Roy's at the famous Turtle Bay resort just up the street from where I live. I warned them this would be my first time in public with the title of Ms. Hawaii so I was hoping they would understand the attention this would bring to us. My one friend loved it as he has been one of my biggest fans ever since we met so he seemed to quite enjoy the attention.
He dropped us off and immediately attention was to me. My mum said since I was a little girl, I have always been one that loved the limelight. To be honest with you, I still get nervous on occasion only because I don't see myself as anyone different than anyone else. As we sat there, of course people stared. I could literally feel the eye balls on me which resulted in part of the discussion we had during lunch. One of my friends said, "we better get all the attention from you now while you have time for us." My heart sunk when I heard that. Since I was young, my mother always said I didn't care what kind of status people had, I loved all people and as a matter of fact I think I cared more about loving on the underdogs. That's not to say I didn't have my own bouts of bulling others out of my own insecurities because I did. I hate to admit that however I have always felt deeply for those less fortunate and although I have had several people in my life say in so many words "remember when you make it big Becky" it saddens me that they think in anyway our relationship would change.
I just got a little dose of this today, this idea that because I hold a title, wear a crown and a sash that somehow in the public eye I am important. Every single one of us is important. I told my friends, this title doesn't make me anymore valuable or less valuable then any other person however our society puts so much credibility I can see how easily I could slip into this line of thinking that I am better than. That's never my desire. It reminds me of what happened when went from being overweight and invisible to thin, beautiful and confident. All of a sudden I had men running to open my doors for me. I found myself in a very similar situation as I am in now when I used to look at myself in the mirror and shake my head thinking, 'I am still the same person however I live in a different body so people treat me differently.' I would stare at myself in the mirror slap my face and tell myself, 'this is just a meat suit, it doesn't define me... it only DESCRIBES where I have been."
I would be lying if I told you I wasn't nervous to be on stage in front of 7 judges wearing a swimsuit but I am. My mind jumps back and forth from I need to be better to I am find just the way I am. It feels like I have two voices in my head fighting against each other. This is the kind of awareness I am grateful for. It's not a matter of judging how I am feeling rather it's just a matter of standing in a place of curiosity of my thoughts, feelings and how I am choosing to allow them to affect me. I want women to KNOW that our value doesn't come from what other's think of us, what the billboards show or what societies expectations are. The fact of the matter is, I am 50 today, my body is AMAZING to have survived and come through what I have put it through and to have recovered along the way. I love my imperfections, as I said earlier, my body doesn't define me it's REFINED ME.
I keep reminding myself I am using this opportunity to bring awareness to the fight against obesity and that there are viable solutions out there for people to recover from years of self destruction when it comes to unhealthy eating.
It just so happens to be my 50th birthday and the thought that comes to me is, what is the chance of all the stars aligning for me to experience this on such a moment-us birthday. I am not one to celebrate birthdays, as a matter of fact I have often been known to say, 'I just want to sleep through the day and wake up the next morning and keep going." That's only because I come from a family who isn't into celebrating much so I have had to stretch myself in honoring the value I bring to this world.
So I guess the take away today is, regardless of how other see you, SEE YOURSELF as important, valuable and beautiful. One of the things we study in our 12 step work is, 'What other's think of you is NONE of your business." Be the best person you can, serve as many people as you can and stay grounded and rooted in God or whoever it is that you call your higher power and who you rely on in building your identity but CLAIM YOUR CROWN because it's who you were made to BE!
And if I had a crown and a sash to give each and everyone of you, I would because you deserve to be recognized and acknowledged for all the hard work you have put into being human, going through the difficulties of life, and your tenacity to not give up on you and those you love.
So join me on this journey of you claiming your own crown and voice in a loving kind way.
As a little girl, I never felt beautiful. As a matter of fact, I played more with cars than dolls. I remember one Christmas my mother buying me a barbie doll and within hours of opening up the gift I ruined her. Girly things just weren't my thing. I think it had something to do with the fact I started gaining weight at an early age. I came into this world with more energy than an ever ready bunny you could say and sometimes that was too much for people to handle.
It didn't take long for me to start feeling that who I was, wasn't acceptable and so I turned to the only thing I knew that would never reject me which is food. Food was my friend. I learned how to steel, hide and keep from getting caught at all costs. After all, food didn't talk back, it comforted me and it brought me a lot of happiness. I remember a time when I stole a $20 dollar bill from a safe my mother had kept money in, hoping she would blame my father if she found it missing. I walked down to the local ampm store and bought up $20 of .25 cent candy bars. The teller asked me what I was buying them for and I told him I was having a party, the only problem I failed to tell him I was having a party with myself and I wasn't planning on inviting anyone to it. I was hoping that if I got myself sick on candy that maybe I would out grow my strong desire for it and never want to eat it again.
All through high school I felt different, struggled with school and at one point wanted to drop out, I ran away from home and even considered suicide. I figured if I was out of the picture, my family would be happier. I come from a family, that is very accomplished, popular and talented, and then there was me, the one just barely making the grades to stay in school and all my best friends were boys.
I grew up at a summer adventure camp that my family ran and one summer my parents even considered having me go to a "Fat Camp." I would lose some weight due to the activities we did at camp during the summer and then when I would return home, gain it all back so this began the rollercoaster of my battle with the bulge. I was the only in my family that never went to any prom.
I would try just about anything I could get my hands on to lose the weight and would be successful or a period of time and then there would come a time I just lost the motivation and slide back to the old habits.
To those who knew me during my teenage years, they didn't suspect I was suffering as much as I was internally, however I couldn't figure out why I felt so different than everyone else around me. I struggled with relationships with people, I often felt misunderstood and that in order for me to get anything I wanted, I had to manipulate people.
I'm not able to remember a time when I didn't think about food, my weight and what it would take for me to be accepted by others.
As a result of the internal struggle I had, I attracted men into my life that didn't treat me well. After all, they were a mirror of how I felt about myself. Of course I didn't realize it at that time, I was just grasping at anyone that would give me attention even if that attention hurt me often. Men not wanting anyone to know we were together and hiding our relationship, to men who loved talking to me but said they weren't attracted to me, to men who told me that if a women gained weight after getting married to them that would give them reason to file for divorce. During my dating years, I tried to mold myself into what they wanted and in turn lost all perspective on what was important to me.
After years of failed relationships and an incredible amount of rejection, a man finds me that isn't fazed one bit with me being overweight. He chased me, wanted to date me and made sure he was always available for me to call when I needed a listening ear. After a year and a half of pursuing me and me telling him repetitively I was not interested, I gave in. Figuring this was the best I was going to get at 29 years old. He had asked me to marry him on several occasions even though we hadn't even dated. Still to this day, I am not able to explain how we went from not dating, to engaged and then married 2 1/2 months later. Within a week of getting married, the abuse began. In the state of mind that I was towards him, we were like water and oil. It was a long 7 1/2 year marriage, which included 3 miscarriages our first year to multiple attempts to meet with fertility doctors and numerous abusive outburst which resulted in me gaining weight and hitting my highest weight at 266 lbs.
In February 2009, a dear friend of mine and I were walking early in the morning at the mall as we would do regularly. She mentioned to me she had just eaten four cookies and she needed a detox. I immediately thought, "Four cookies and you need a detox? It's more like 2 bags of cookies and then I might think about a detox." Remember food was my friend. I was a binge eater and I love my large quantities of sugary things. She then asked if I would go with her to a 12 step conference happening that weekend in Vegas. I gave her the excuse that I had to work and she said, "You're the boss. Call it off." I didn't think much of it til we were walking the next morning, This time she turned to me and said, "So, are you going with me?" In that split second, I made a decision to be spontaneous, call off work and make the 5 hour drive to Vegas as a way of supporting her.
It wasn't til we got down there, walked in the room where I realized the significance of that one decision I made that day would have on my life. We arrived an hour late and we were signing in when my attention was drawn to the front of the room where a women was telling MY STORY. She was sharing with the audience that when she was a teenager, when she was babysitting, she cared more about the food in the house than the kids she was tending. THAT WAS ME. I had never had anyone ever say that out loud, let alone think anyone else thought like that.
It was in that moment my entire life changed. My ears were glued to ever word people were saying, Story after story after story of people who had lost a huge amount of weight and KEPT IT OFF. I had been able to lose weight in my past however I couldn't keep it off. This was different and I caught myself looking around the room and thinking to myself, 'who are these crazy people and what is this program they are doing?' All I knew was they had been able to do something that I had never been able to do up to that point. It didn't take long for me to turn to my friend who I came with and tell her that I had no clue what all this was about but I wanted to get started. I remember her turning to me as though to pacify my excitement and saying, '"Oh Becky, you'll know when you're ready." I was ready right then and I knew enough about myself to know that I need to strike when the iron is HOT and I was RED HOT READY at that moment. As a matter of fact by the end of the night, I had found myself a sponsor. Of course it had to be the one lady in the room that had lost over 200 lbs because I knew I needed the best. She was kind enough to take me on but only after she reminded me that this program wasn't about will powering it through, it was about learning how to love and accept myself. 'What does that mean?' is what I thought to myself. Up to this point in my life, I am not sure I really understood how that was possible to love myself thin so then began my beautiful journey of self discovery, love and acceptance and leaning into relying on the power of God to prevail.