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.