Monday, June 29, 2009


Fourteen hours after I was crowned Miss Vermont 2008 I was at my very first appearance. Through my excitement and adrenaline a sincere realization came to light. Young girls were looking up at me saying “I want to be just like her.” It was then the enormity of my responsibilities hit me.

Favorite moments of my reign include singing at Fenway Park on Vermont Day, winning my Preliminary Talent night at Miss America, working with eco-friendly gown designer Tara Lynn on the first Green Gown to grace the Miss America competition, registering voters at college and high school campuses around the state, filming Countdown to the Crown in Los Angeles, making appearances with Miss America and cheering on Blaize in Orlando, visiting over 20 Elementary and Junior High Schools writing anti-tobacco legislation with the students, singing at the TD Banknorth Garden for the Boston Celtics, and many many more.
It is hard to believe a young woman can have all these experiences in one year. I have been truly blessed by my involvement in this organization. The places I have been and the things I have done could not have been possible without some very special people.

Voice coach extraordinaire Shyla Nelson helped me to connect vocally and spiritually to not only every performance but to everyday life. Shyla’s countless training sessions and friendship were a gift from above. From the very first session I knew I would blossom and grow vocally from her technique and her presence in my life.

The best trainer in the state is Mr. David Chess, and I am lucky enough to call him mine. As my trainer, psychologist, nutritionist, and friend David has seen me at my best and worst many times with no make-up, no energy, and sometimes…little patience. He donated hundreds of hours of one-on-one training to me in his semi-private facility in South Burlington. I am proud that Exercise America is the gym of Miss Vermont!

My fuel-efficient Suzuki SX4 saw me to every corner of this state and even appearances all over New England. The generosity and patience of the team at Quality Suzuki in Saint Johnsbury including Shelley and Mike Martin and owner Able Toll is unparalleled. I am proud to recommend their dealership to anyone looking into a new vehicle.

The Lyndon Area Chamber of Commerce was my financial saving grace this year. The Lyndon Chamber stepped up and provided me with an unsolicited$1000 in gas cards which I am so pleased to say have lasted me the rest of my reign. This generosity was one of the greatest surprises and assistance of my year.

I have always believed that God puts people in our lives purposefully. God knew I would be Miss Vermont someday and knew I would need people to support me during my year like my home away from home family, the Heroux’s. Without their flexibility, hospitality, and generosity I would not have made as many appearances as I did this year. Thank you for opening your home and hearts to me.

The Miss Vermont Board of Directors under the leadership of Amy, Sarah Jo ,and Hannah has seen tremendous growth in only five years. Thank you to the Board for being there when I needed you. Thank you to Hannah for organizing my voter registration drive and Barb for scheduling countless appearances and school visits. Thank you Sue Lackey for your assistance in wardrobe, packing, and walking leading up to Miss America.

To all my friends and family that supported me here in the state and travelled to Las Vegas to cheer me on including Amanda, Dan, Grammy Ruth, Gram Fay, Aunt Liz, SMC pals, and hometown crowd…to name a few…your enthusiasm helps me to look back on this whirlwind year and know just how loved I am. My cheering section at Miss America was loud and passionate and I loved every second of it! Thank you for being there.

Michael, relationships can sometimes fall by the wayside during a woman’s reign. No matter how busy or stressed I could be you were there to pick up the pieces and how you do that even via phone and skype is a real mystery. You were more supportive and steady than I could have asked for. Thank you for your love, commitment, and patience as I chased my dreams.
Finally, Mom and Dad. When I left your home nine years ago you quoted Leann Wolmack and told me “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance. “ I know you meant that and so here I am, dancing through life everyday, following my heart and chasing my dreams. Because of you I won’t look back at my life and wonder ‘what if?’ You are my greatest blessing and reason I am who I am and do what I do. I only pray that every child should have the foundation in life you have layed for me.

With gratitude I say goodbye to an amazing chapter in my life. May the next Miss Vermont have a full and blessed reign.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Last Week as Miss VT!

WOW. WOW. WOW. It is with bittersweet emotion I inform my blog followers that there are 4 days left in my reign. It is time to move on and continue to follow the path set for me. There is so much I am grateful for. This year seems like several jam packed into one. How can one woman have all these experiences in such a short amount of time? I am blessed. I feel as though I have learned so much about myself and become more of the woman I want to be.

I can't help but think about my fellow Miss America Class of 2009. In the last few weeks and in the coming month they will all crown another with their job. To each of you I send my blessings. Thank you for gracing my experiences in Orlando, LA, and of course Las Vegas.

I have just completed recording my farewell speech. What a task condensing 14 months into 4 minutes! Those of you who have made an impact in my year know who you are and know what it means to me. Thank you to my voice coach Shyla Nelson, personal trainer David Chess, Gown Designer Tara Lynn, car dealership Quality Suzuki, my SMCers who came to Vegas!, my hometown crowd to came to Vegas and cheered me on from home, my South Carolina and Flordia family, my Michael, Amanda, Dan, Gram Ruth, Gram Fay, Aunt Liz, the Heroux's and of course Mom and Dad. I could not have done all I did this year without your support.

The Miss Vermont Pageant is at the Barre Opera House on Saturday at 7pm. The teen pageant is at 2pm. I would love to see you there as we crown Miss Vermont 2009!

With Blessings,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

American luck in Boston

Well gang. Thank you for hanging in there with me through this crazy weekend. I appreciate all the support, e-mail, texts, etc. from the bottom of my heart.

Here's how it went. I got up and made-up at 3:30am. Left from the hotel to the stadium at 4:30am. It sounds sketchy but I invited two others with American Idol wrist bands to join me in my car so they didn't have to buy a cab. It worked out great because they were two super great people from NYC, Adam and Lauren. After we arrived at the stadium they joined me in line the whole 4 hours we waited (again) in the rain outside Gillette. At one point I wasn't sure they were letting any more contestants in. At last, in yet another monsoon we walked through the gate.

I was lucky to have been in the second section called up to audition. My wait time after the initial promo shots and Ryan Seacrest's "This is American Idol" schpeel was about two hours. When it was my section's turn we were lined up four by four and stood in front of twelve different judges' tents. The judges/producers would call a group of four forward and each person would sing for about 25 seconds or until they got the hand in the air. When it was my turn I belted out 30 seconds of Martin McBride's Anyway and the producer had a big smile on her face. She said "wow...have you ever auditioned before?" I said no and that I was super happy to be there. When the other three finished their songs she told the others goodbye and asked me to step aside. She wanted me to audition for another producer. About five minutes later a rather miserable man came and barked at me to "go!" I thought be meant leave but he actually meant sing. So I sang for him. Same song. And nailed it. I thought for sure I was getting a golden ticket but no. He quickly said that I was not what they were looking for. I was disappointed because the first producer seemed very enthusiastic and I could tell she wanted to put me through. The other producer seemed rushed and unhappy. Anyway, I left the stadium. Maybe Idol is meant to be? Sure am glad I gave it a shot! Quick synopsis, I know, but I am exhausted!

Again, thank you all who have followed this journey. I have two weeks left in my reign of Miss Vermont 2008. I am looking forward to singing the Anthem at the Governor's Cup at Thunder Road in two weeks and all the festivities that accompany pageant week!

With Love & Gratitude,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Registration Day!

Friends, I write from sunny, 73 degree, Lyndonville, Vermont. In stark contrast to my morning I am relaxed, warm, and content.

At 2:45am I woke up at Jill's house in Scituate. I got all dolled up as I do and headed for Foxboro. I arrived at the mighty stadium very early. By 4:30am my umbrella and I were standing in a line of hundreds soakingly awaiting the 7am start of American Idol Season 9 Registration. Although I was a little sad to be braving the storm alone I soon realized that meeting new people is one of the best parts of the journey. Duh Ashley! In a monsoon at approximately 4:35am (I was counting minutes that's how bored I was) I met three lovely women who would stand in line for hours with me. Stephanie, Caroline and Caroline's Mom, Kathleen, were entertainment, comedy, and rain shields. YAY! Lucky for me, Stephanie has auditioned before and therefore explained the process to me. There is soooo much we don't see on TV and soooo much I did not know. For instance...
1. Today's registration is totally chill. All you do is walk up to a table one by one, show 2 forms of ID and receive a wristband and ticket. The ticket is an actual ticket to Gillette.
2. After you register you leave and return Sunday by 5am.
3. Obviously I don't know first hand what happens next but i am told that we will sit in our assigned seats and section by section will be called onto the field. In fours singers will approach one of twelve tables. Each singer will step forward and sing about 20 seconds a song of their choice a capella. The producers at the table will then instruct who is to move on and repeat a similar scenario for another set of producers. Imagine lots of people singing at the same time. You can be asked to leave at anytime and you are not guaranteed the opportunity to sing if your section is not called. IF you make it through all sets of producers and they are still interested you will be asked to come back in two weeks for an audition/interview with the executive producers. IF they like what you can bring to the show you will come back later in the summer and sing for the celebrity panel you see on TV.

I was only in line for 3 the dot. Out of my car at 4:29am and back in my car at 7:29am! Pretty good. I was one of the first few hundred people to register and the line behind me was ohhh so long. Soooo glad I got up early. I decided to drive back to Northern Vermont to have a quiet 24 hours. I will drive down tomorrow and stay in Foxboro to make sure I am at the stadium by 5am! I am really looking forward to Sunday.

Oh and one more thing...everyone keeps asking me what I am going to sing. I have prepared several short snippets of my favorite songs. Sometimes you are asked to sing more than one. I will be starting out with a 20 second clip of Martina McBride's Anyway.

Please keep me in your thoughts for Sunday. I will graciously accept any positive energy you can send my way.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

American Idol...HERE. I. COME!

Friends...another journey is about to begin. It may be short. It may be long. It WILL be interesting.
Tomorrow I leave for Boston. I will spend tomorrow night with my dear south shore gal Jill only to wake before the sun Friday morning and make my coffee-mug-filled way to Foxboro. (In honor of my boyfriend Michael I will refer to Gillette Stadium as Foxboro. He refuses to call stadiums by their new names.) American Idol's webpage claims that the coveted wristbands will be handed out starting at 7am Friday morning. I will be there early to brave the storm with the rest of the season 9 hopefuls.
I have no idea how this audition process works. There are bits and pieces of information on the webpage but nothing finite or even clear. I am vowing to update you all throughout the process. Best case scenario, I get a wristband by afternoon on Friday and can relax and rest up for an early morning for audition day Sunday. Okay Okay maybe one quick trip to the Wrentham outlets is in order ;).
Until next time,
Think "Golden Ticket"!