Tell us a little bit about who you are…
I’m a woman of faith, a rockstar sales gal for 15+ years, a fun mom to my mini princess, a 1st gen. college graduate, a 4th gen. Irish dancer, and a pageant gal for 20 years! Currently, I am the Area Director of Business Development in our Media & Experiences division at Simon Property Group based out of Woodfield Mall.
What is your story?
My story is about finding your passion through pain. When I got to a healthy place of healing I realized I needed to be vulnerable and share my experiences with divorce, loving an alcoholic, and how to be a single mom without sacrificing your mental health. I’m here to share resources that have helped me, to be transparent, and to connect others with the incredible women in my community who have helped me love myself again. You’ll see them highlighted on my IG “Women of the Month.”
Could you tell readers more about your platform: “F.L.Y. – First Love Yourself”?
It’s making the conscious effort to love yourself by making your mental and physical health a priority. I realized when I was out on furlough for 4 months that I was doing everything for my family first and I was last on my list. My cup was empty and no one was refilling it. I forgot to refill my cup. I had won 3 workout prizes at my networking group, the Schaumburg Business Association and I think that was God’s way of nudging me back into taking care of my body. Once I stepped foot into the space of exercising, I felt alive again (even through the soreness)! It was like the old Christine was ignited. This simple step of putting these appointments for exercise on my calendar was my first step towards loving myself. Once you get past the mom guilt, the conversations in your head of what you could be doing for your family (you know moms…we’re the care givers), it felt good, and after taking these moments of 15-20 mins to myself it was better. Better for my family especially because I wasn’t so stressed and I found I was able to manage life’s challenges better.
What inspired you to create it?
I came across on Pinterest this acronym F.L.Y. and it immediately hit me! THIS is what I have been doing! THIS is what changed in me! THIS has been my motto summarized. Then, I worked with Jessi from @thiswaytofabulous for my logo creation and branding. To put it to paper with colors and fonts that speak to my soul are probably the same reasons I love fine arts! (plug: thanks Western Illinois University for an incredible experience!)
What has your involvement been with Galaxy Pageants? What prompted you to compete?
In 2012, I won the state pageant and was Mrs. Illinois Galaxy! My best friend Nikki Kaapke recommended this system. A few months later I competed with my sister queens at the Galaxy International Pageant in Orlando. We had a blast competing and making new friends with women all over the globe. I was thrilled to place top 5 and tying for most photogenic. I decided to take over the state pageant after an incredible experience as a Mrs. and ran the Illinois pageant for 3 years. I’ve attended the Galaxy International pageant 7 times and my family has been a part of it along the way. I took a long break from pageantry and decided in Summer of 2019 to do something I loved for many years and to he a part of a family that felt like a sorority. So here I am competing 10 years later.
Since becoming involved with Galaxy Pageants ten years ago, how has your life evolved? What lessons have you learned throughout this journey?
It’s been a constant evolution from divorce in 2013, a year after being Mrs. IL, becoming a mom to my beautiful daughter Allison, to marrying my college sweetheart, to separating from the alcoholic I loved, and to navigating through a second divorce.
You began prepping for the Mrs. Galaxy Pageant in 2019, how has your life changed over the past three years? What obstacles have you been faced with on this journey and how did you overcome them?
It was an obstacle in itself experiencing alcoholism and watching it destroy my marriage. I tried everything I could, but after the safety of myself and daughter became jeopardized I was done. I filed for divorce in April of 2021 and took a pause to refocus. The magnitude of my role as a parent is my priority and I knew putting one foot in front of the other was what we needed to do to show my daughter the best example. Allison has been doing appearances along side with me and it’s been a blessing to have such positivity in our live through pageantry. And God knows I am one determined woman and a fighter. This fighter isn’t quitting because of circumstances out of my control. I wasn’t giving up on my dream. When I was ready I reached out to our incredible Director, Maria Torres and asked if I could compete in the Ms. division. I’m Ms. Midwest Galaxy!!!
How do you find balance in life? What self care advice do you have for women who are juggling a million things at once like you?
It was hard to initially “find” these moments of balance and so I started with small breaks of time where I could calm my mind, refocus, and more imperative was to refuel. For example, I could wake up 45 mins before my family to have a cup of coffee, pray, read and catch up on anything I needed. It was scheduling girls nights with my college besties which included finding a babysitter and coordinating many things which I loathe doing. Although, once I was out with my girls socializing and laughing together I felt better coming back to reality with more patience for parenting and for work. My advice is to put it on your calendar and do it! When we schedule time for our hair, an exercise class, a dinner with girlfriends, and even to take an extended vacation without kids and a partner – your SOUL will thank you. Do it, make it happen, and enjoy this break to yourself.
What advice would you give to women who may be going through similar life experiences as you?
Know you’re not alone. This is going to be tough, but know it will get much better once you put yourself first and make tough choices. Get a therapist, get professional help, join support groups and know that not everyone in your inner circle can emotionally handle what you are going through. Hence the therapy, our friends/family cannot be our therapists. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction download the Al Anon app, and get to a meeting, read the books and find those who understand the struggle to connect with.
What inspires and drives you to keep moving forward and keep chasing your dreams?
It’s always been a constant feeling and thought I have to keep growing! Maybe it’s God whispering in my ear, or the incredible coaches I’ve had who made lasting impressions encouraging me to go after it. My WHY, is my daughter Allison who drives me to be the best I can be. She’s watching my every move! 🙂 We as parents are modeling behaviors for our kids and it’s our duty to raise them in a loving, safe, and nurturing home. I want to show her what women are truly capable of.
What does being Simply Unstoppable mean to you?
It means to be in a constant state of movement. I am evolving and it’s a beautiful thing to go back to see how far I’ve come. I encourage others to reflect on where they’re at in life and if there’s an area you want to see improvement then commit to making it happen. When you make a promise to grow and seek change we become an unstoppable force! I embody this mindset and it shows. Know that life’s challenges will come and go, but it’s what we do in these moments that define our lives.
How can readers get in contact with you to continue this conversation?
email me or send me a message on IG