Sunday, May 30, 2010

Video Footage from TEDxDUMBO

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I really enjoyed attending TEDxDUMBO- the Empire State Partnerships' Spring Symposium, which is why I'm pleased to present video footage of the event! Up first is Michael Hanson! You can see my notes on the presentations here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My fitness sponsor (/business manager/ adopted mom) is AWESOME.

Many personal trainers wear multiple hats when providing services to their clients- motivator, friend, psychotherapist...etc. MY fitness sponsor does all that, gives me insanely hard workouts, and doubles as a booking manager/ personal clothier/ PR representative/ adopted mom (which is a relief to my mom, since KierenCourtney and I keep her pretty busy)...

Ellen Stein, herself a 7 Time Masters IPF World Powerlifting Champion, is no stranger to competition, and has been a tremendous motivator, not only helping me prepare for the Miss New York pageant, but also helping me succeed in my other athletic endeavors (see my post on Tough Mudder to learn more about my newfound addiction to endurance challenges). This woman knows her stuff. And she knows me- well. To keep my attention from flagging and incorporate my natural propensity for dance and movement, she devises grueling workouts using Russian Kettlebells, Sandbags, TRX... My body has been completely transformed (in a good way) by the work I've done with her, and I'm so grateful. 

Ellen and I started working together in the spring of 2009 after I won the title of Miss Brooklyn and she agreed to donate her services as a fitness sponsor, and she's been around ever since! Ellen knows EVERYONE in Brooklyn, and was responsible for hooking me up with my wonderful hair sponsor, Joe of J Taylor Salon in Bayridge, and booking me for some of my favorite appearances- helping out at Sean Casey Animal Rescue, being the Guest Ringmaster at the Coney Island Boom-A-Ring Circus last year, and this summer, throwing out the first pitch at a Brooklyn Cyclones game (date TBD- check back later), attending a NY Liberty game... 

Even though being a community liason and incredibly dedicated personal trainer might seem like going above and beyond, her generosity doesn't end there. This is where the adopted-mom part comes in. Because Ellen is there for me, always. She comes to my pageants. She comes to my birthday party. She comes to my appearances. She makes sure I'm caffeinated. She brings me clothes that she bought and decided she didn't like. She checks in on me. She sends me more emails in a day than most people receive in a week. She brags about me to EVERYONE she meets (in true mom-fashion). And she never, ever, expects anything in return. She's become one of my dearest and most loyal friends, and I'm so grateful to have her in my life!  

Ellen's website is coming soon. For now, here's her contact info:

Ellen Stein
7 Time Masters IPF World Powerlifting Champion
ACE, NASM, NSCA-CPT, CPR/ AED/ First Aid Certified
RKC/IKFF Kettlebell Certified
L.I.F.T. Sandbag Certified, TRX Certified

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thoughts/ Notes from TEDxDUMBO

As I mentioned earlier, TEDxDUMBO, the Empire State Partnership's Spring Symposium, was awesome. Below are a few key thoughts/ ideas that really resonated with me as I listened to the presentations (I wasn't joking when I told you I'm a note-taker).

Michael Hanson- Cognitive Psychologist, “The Concept of Creativity: Liberation and Challenge”

  • Creativity must be taken seriously
  • We need to do more Bastille- storming for the cause of arts in education, but we need more than a flag.
  • Education is how we acculturate students to our society.
  • Is creativity itself intrinsic and unique to some individuals, or is anyone creative given the right stimuli/ circumstance?
  • Creativity, by definition, is unpredictable- how does unpredictability fit into education?
  • Creativity is commonly thought of as the opposite of traditions/ cultural norms, rather than something that can work with and within existing norms.
  • Where is the line between confusion and creativity?
  • The idea that humans are capable of creating something from nothing (creatio ex nihilo) is relatively new- late 19thc, early 20thc; the previous belief was that people could make things, but only God could create
  • Creativity = an ensemble of ideas, values and people
  • The consciousness of being creative affections our perceptions of ourselves and our worlds, which affects behaviors, which affects what we create (cyclic)
  • “Think of creativity not in sentences, but in paragraphs.”
  • “Creativity= our idea for our times- It’s part of our tradition for understanding, engaging and managing change.”
  • The goal of education is to help our students figure out who to take up a role in society, but society is rapidly changing, and what it will look like in the future is unkown.

Sir Ken Robinson- TED TALK

  • Education goes deep with people- one’s educational experiences and history is deeply personal.
  • “Education is made to take us into a future we cannot grasp.”
  • “Creativity is as important in education as literacy.”
  • Kids aren’t afraid of being wrong until we teach them to fear mistakes
  • “All children are born artists; the problem is remaining an artist as one grows up.”-Picasso
  • Creativity is stigmatized in schools
  • We are living in times of academic inflation- a bachelor’s degree does NOT guarantee employment, and jobs that used to require a bachelor’s now want a master’s, and former master’s degree positions are looking for PhDs….
  • We think about the world in all the ways we experience it- all of these ways need to be incorporated into education
  • “Education has mined our minds”- like strip mining- for a specific commodity with little regard for the rest.

Garry Golden- Futurist

  • To predict and prepare for the future of education and arts, we must analyze the forces that push us forward as well as potential resistances.
  • The concept of lifelong learning is one that should be introduced to students while they’re still in school.
  • With the growing popularity of the “third place”, schools must figure out how to incorporate learning experiences that don’t feel like school and don’t feel like home

Gever Tulley- TED TALK

  • Founder of “The Tinkering School”- an outdoor educational experience that gives students tools and building materials and lets them figure out how to build things
  • The most important aspects of this model are the freedom to make mistakes, and the trust given to students to behave responsibly with building materials and not hurt each other.
  • Students often resort to decoration or art (without prompting) when they come across a snag or mental block in the design process- they begin to beautify the partially completed project, and most often come up with solutions to their problems while creating art.

Scott Conti-Principal- New Design High School

  • Schools are not preparing students for life
  • We need to start focusing on students as whole people and educating the whole person rather than just their intellect.
  • Students are emotional, social, intellectual and academic beings- you CANNOT compartmentalize them and only look at one of these aspects and expect them to flourish.
  • “It’s not rigor we need, it’s bigger”- we need bigger ideas about what it means to education children, rather than more rigorous academic standards.
  • As educators and artists, we need to be able to say that we’ve given our students the tools they need to be OK once they leave school.

Mark DeGarmo- Dance and Movement Expert

  • “Accessing Embodied Imagination: Broadening Experiential Learning”
  • Students need to be allowed to improvise- it’s an important step in developing problem solving skills.
  • Improvisation also strengthens interpersonal and environmental awareness- students are more aware of the people and things around them when they improvise.
  • Multi-modal reflection is key to meaningful learning

Dan Meyer- TED TALK

  • Our current educational system encourages students to be impatient problem solvers.
  • We ask students to solve problems after we give them all the information they’ll need to solve and provide them with a formula to make calculations quick and painless.
  • This type of problem solving does not reflect real-life problem solving, where all the variables and necessary information are frequently not known, there is additional useless information to filter through, and an obvious formula (or means of processing) is not provided.
  • We need to help students become more patient problem solvers, and part of this process is incorporating creativity.

Rene Cloutier- Principal- PS7x

  • We place extraordinary expectations on very young students.
  • From a very early age, students (especially in NYC) are interviewing and testing and being evaluated for acceptance to special schools and specific educational tracks.
  • We need to shift our focus away from the product and towards the process and the individual learner’s experience.
  • Children should know why they’re doing what they’re doing- it encourages big picture thinking.
  • We need to start teaching students to ask questions- we currently look at questions as a sign of stupidity or a lack of ability to comprehend topics, rather than a chance to explore or solidify material.
  • Arts are an invaluable opportunity for students to learn to communicate and make connections between their home and school lives and the world they live in.

Stephanie Pereira- Participatory Arts Administrator- Education Director at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center

  • Participatory arts are about guiding people towards their own experiences.
  • Using projects to encourage the public to engage in their communities and examine their relationship gives participatory arts a deep rooting.
  • Art is evolving to incorporate modern technology- as the ways in which we communication increase, so do their corresponding forms of art.

Derek Silvers- TED TALK

  • To begin, a movement needs three people; the lone nut, the first  follower, and the second follower.
  • The first follower is what turns a lone nut into a leader. The second follower turns the leader and the first  follower into a group.
  • As more people join in, being part of a movement seems less risky.
  • When creating a movement, it’s imperative to nurture your first few followers.

Philip Courtney- Executive Director of Urban Arts Partnership

  • Why are we here? To evolve, to help each other, and to enjoy ourselves.
  • Education is currently designed to manage risks- the safest and most fail-proof way to impart specific information to students.
  • Schools should be the MOST innovative places.

Friday, May 21, 2010

TEDxDUMBO- Empire State Partnership's Spring Symposium

When you're a teaching artist, professional development days can be pretty awesome. In the past year, I've attended 4 or 5 conferences, but TEDxDUMBO- the Empire State Partnership's Spring Symposium took the cake. 

The event took place yesterday morning in my new favorite performance space in NYC, Galapagos Art Space

We started off with breakfast from Foragers in Brooklyn- YUM, and live music from the house band kept us entertained during down-time throughout the day. 

No, this isn't a Saturday night out, it's 9:30a on Thursday morning, and it's for work... Awesome.

Instead of the traditional elective breakouts, TEDxDUMBO included a series of short presentations, so everyone got to see everything, rather than picking and choosing which seminars to attend. I really liked this format- the presentations included a nice mix of TED Talks, live performances and interesting lectures, and the day seemed to fly by. 

I took 11 pages of notes. True story. Can you tell I'm a word person? It was just that inspirational of a day. I'll spare you the tedious details of my mini-novel of thoughts, but here were of my most poignant standouts of the day. 

The student performances were amazing. Hope Mayes (pictured with me below) from Bronx High School for Writing and Communication arts at Joshua Ramos-Diaz from City-As-School shared their talents (Hope is an actor, Joshua a poet), and spoke about the impact arts in school had on their lives. 

With Hope Mays, who performed a monologue called "Ms. Sun"

Rene Cloutier, Principal of PS 7x, spoke about the tremendous expectations that our society and education system places on very young students, and stressed the importance of process vs. product driven arts opportunities. 

Philip Courtney, Executive Director of Urban Arts Partnerships, spoke about the industrial nature of our education system, which was designed to manage risks rather than take them.  

Regardless of how many times I watch Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk, I get the same profoundly-inspired tingly feeling after every viewing. It's one of those speeches that is so layered, so rich with truths and meaning that you notice something new each time. One of my favorite motifs Robinson uses is his comparison of public education to strip mining- "Education has mined our minds", he says, much like strip mining utilizes land- for a very specific commodity, with little regard to the rest of the rich resources present. We MUST adapt the way we educate our kids to ensure that we're developing and nurturing ALL of our student's aptitudes. 

Making postcards for the NYC AIE Roundtable's Art for Art fundaiser.

Lunch by Brooklyn Fare was delicious! The house band continued to play, and as attendees mingled and ate, art supplies were passed out and everyone was encouraged to create postcards to be sold to benefit the NYC AIE Roundtable's Art for Art fundraiser. Free dance lessons were offered on stage, and information was passed out about the Fundred Truck Project, coming to Queens and Brooklyn in early June!

Cupcakes to end the day!!!

Cupcakes from Baked were the perfect end to an awesome conference. Congratulations to the planning committee for an amazing day!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

World Savvy's Global Youth Media and Arts Festival and Celebration

This. Looks. Awesome. I'm heading out of town tomorrow night (my best friend, Corey, and my sister Kieren are graduating!!!) so I'll be unable to attend, but if you're free, check it out!!! I work with a pretty diverse student population at two public schools in Brooklyn, and a lot of the work we do uses the arts to celebrate and explore themes of diversity and identity. The Global Youth Media and Arts Festival looks like a great night!

The Global Youth Media and Arts Festival Exhibition is now open at NYU's
Commons Gallery!

Over 1000 NYC Youth address Immigration + Identity through visual and
performing arts!

Stop by today and join us for our Opening Celebration on Friday, May 21!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Student performances begin at 7:00PM

NYU Commons Gallery

34 Stuyvesant Street, New York, NY

Exhibit will be on display through May 25th.

Please join us for the VIP Reception with special performances starting
at 5:00PM.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Message from the Miss NY Scholarship Organization

The Elite 100-Club
Funding Miss New York’s $10,000 Scholarship Award
Through the Empire State Educational Scholarship Fund, Inc.
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, your $100 donation is tax-deductible!

Dear Friends,

The journey to selecting Miss New York 2010 has begun. We will have 20 incredible young women competing for the title of Miss New York 2010 in Albany on June 26, 2010. As volunteers of the Miss New York Scholarship Organization, we fully support our contestants’ educational pursuits knowing that higher education empowers them for success, both professionally and personally.

Our goal is to raise $10,000 to award our new Miss New York 2010. We need 100 people just like you to join the Elite 100-Club and help us reach our goal. We know economic times are tough; however, can you imagine the financial pressure our contestants and their families must face these days in order to pursue a degree?

The Miss New York Pageant is a state preliminary to Miss America that has a rich history in empowering young women to become leaders in their communities through higher education.We do not award cash prizes. Instead, we pay our scholarships directly to the contestants’ undergraduate or graduate institutions. Impressively, this year our Miss New York contestants are attending some exceptional New York schools including New York University, The Julliard School, Manhattan School of Music, as well as several SUNY campuses across the state. Alyse Zwick, Miss New York 2009, will utilize the scholarship she received from the Elite-100 Club to complete her undergraduate studies in Communications at the City University of New York.

1. Donate directly on our website, using the “make a donation” link.
2. Send your check for $100.00 via mail to:
Empire State Education Scholarship Fund
141 West 24th Street, #6
New York, NY 10011

We appreciate your support more than you know.

Kenny Mack, Executive Director, Miss New York Organization (
Erin Kennedy, President, Empire State Educational Scholarship Fund (

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Painting with PubliColor at The Caton School, Brooklyn


You know that amazing feeling you get when you stumble across something wonderful and exciting that's been around for a while but you knew nothing about? And the relieved sense of encouragement you're left with; knowing that other people care about what you care about, and are doing something about it... That pretty much describes my day with PubliColor

With Humberto- my painting buddy. He's an 11th grade student and new to the PubliColor program.

How to describe PubliColor... Hmm... Scouting-meets-afterschool program-meets- community enrichment- meets- public space beautification- meets- summer camp-meets-job training-meets-mentor program-meets-youth employment corps...ish...

With some of the Paint Club members.

From their website: "We are a founder-run, not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1996 with one mission: We use color, collaboration, design and the painting process to re-engage students in their education, schools and communities; to ultimately transform them into productive members of our workforce." 

With a Paint Club member who's also involved in pageants!

PubliColor revitalizes drab and institutional-looking schools (seriously- have you ever been inside a NYC  public school?) with vibrant colors and designs, believing that students learn better in a more beautiful environment (I tend to agree). But the painters themselves are students, some of whom receive a stipend, and many of whom will receive mentoring, job training, afterschool and summer programming, and financial aid for school. "From paint can to college..."

The colors were AWESOME!

The students were amazing, without exception- wonderful kids with a wonderful opportunity, who demonstrated commendable levels of professionalism and were very serious about the work they were doing. Both the staff and student's enthusiasm for the program were evident, along with the excitement from Leslie, the NY Cares project leader for PubliColor, who had worked with the project for a while and passionately sang it's praises. I look forward to staying in touch with my new friends from PubliColor, and hope to join them again soon!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Why what worked then won't work for much longer...

I've been published again! Below, check out my latest contribution to artistew, where I write under the name Imagination, Unstifled.

by Imagination, Unstifled

I’ve recently shuffled back through two of my favorite books on the topics of creative education; The Element by Sir Ken Robinson, and A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, and I’m struck by the blatantly obvious the need to evolve our antediluvian education system to meet the needs of a changing world. And simultaneously, I’m struck by how outrageous the claims that we don’t need to educate students creatively are.  When you consider the eerie resemblance of the industrial workplace and the public education system(created around the same time), it’s easy to see where our factory-mentality regarding school has come from.

“Public schools were not only created in the interests of industrialism—they were created in the imageof industrialism… This is especially true in high schools, where school systems base education on the principles of the assembly line and the efficient division of labor. Schools divide the curriculum into specialist segments: some teachers install math in the students, and others install history. They arrange the day into standard units of time, marked out by the ringing of bells, much like a factory announcing the beginning of the workday and the end of breaks. Students are educated in batches, according to age, as if the most important thing they have in common is their date of manufacture. They are given standardized tests at set points and compared with each other before being sent out onto the market.”
-excerpted from The Element by Sir Ken Robinson

The truth is, this sort of education has been sufficient for a while. In A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink discusses our progression from the agricultural era to the industrial era and the information era, the needs of which were adequately met with this approach to education. We’re now moving into the conceptual era, as Pink describes it, and our previous approaches to education will no longer suffice.  The jobs that rely solely on logical and linear capacities are being outsourced, and we must continue to push the innovative boundaries of our collective conscious to stay current and relevant. Needless to say, education that focuses exclusively on the indoctrination of already discovered truths does not encourage the development or creation of anything new. Studying only facts inherently excludes creativity and interpretation and discourages brains that connect more readily with concepts and theories. Left-brained education is still important, but we can no longer afford to promote it at the expense of right-brained development.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why I teach...

Yesterday was just one of those days. I hadn't slept much the night before because of copious lesson planning. I had to wake up extra early to review student videos and refresh myself on the choreography I'd be teaching that afternoon. I spent more time that I had planned searching for my camera because it was my turn to document classroom work. I spent my morning at PS 27 in Red Hook teaching creative writing to fourth grade. On my way back to Sheepshead Bay's PS 209 for my typical Thursday, working with fifth and second grade, the F train decided to act crazy, and the trip took a full hour longer than usual, completely ruining my plans for a nap/ lunch at my apartment before the afternoon. My second grade students (to whom I affectionately refer as the 'problem children' on good days) had spent their first hour of the program playing outside, and when they came to me at 4:30p, adrenaline was pumping, and my hopes of teaching the next piece of their dance were quickly replaced with the desperate need to keep them from hurting themselves and each other. Needless to say, it was not their finest hour. And honestly, it wasn't mine either. Walking home that evening, physically and emotionally exhausted I found myself asking, "Why on earth did I sign up for this?"

Honestly, I sort of fell into teaching. It wasn't something I had always dreamed of doing. Teaching was actually one of the very few professions I DIDN'T consider when I was a high school student. I come from a family of teachers, and grew up meeting former students of my grandmother who swore she changed their lives. I distinctly remember the pride and elation my family experienced at my father's well-earned Teacher of the Year recognition. It was very clear to me that the teachers in my family had done great things and hugely impacted the lives of countless students, but I wasn't terribly interested in any of that for myself. My sister and some cousins readily heeded the calling of our incredibly prominent "teacher genes", but I resisted. I had found my calling in art, and my tunnel vision pushed aside any thoughts of side-careers. 

I wrestled with my conscience about the apparently self-serving nature of this choice- after witnessing the profound impact that my family members (mostly teachers and nurses) had on the lives of others, I was concerned that I wouldn't be fulfilled if I wasn't making the world a better place. Upon the announcement of my official decision pursue an education and career in acting, my internal struggle became more intense. After moving to NYC, studying acting and starting my career, my nagging concern turned into an agonizing distraction; at the end of the day, I needed to know that some small corner of the world was better off from my contributions. 

I first looked into the world of theatre as a tool for social change, which opened doors to opportunities in multiple art fields, which eventually lead me down the path of arts for kids and ultimately to the world of arts-in-education. Five years ago, I didn't even know what a teaching artist was, but I'm so happy I stumbled down this path! Some of my happiest moments in recent memory have been watching students surpass their own expectations of themselves while flourishing in the arts. I find myself in a place where I can pursue my arts career AND enrich the minds of the kids I work with, and that's a pretty cool thing.

Myself with a Brooklyn student creating a poem inspired by another student's artwork. 

Doing a dramatic technique workshop with a group of high school actors (I'm on the left- I sort of blend in with this age group). 

Some Brooklyn students through Community Word Project responding to art created by other students.

Making art with my kindergarten students at the YWCA's afterschool program.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Americans for the Arts "Why Arts Matter" Video Contest!

Love the arts? Think they matter? Want to win a FlipCam? Then check out the Americans for the Arts' "Why Arts Matter" Video Contest! Two winners (Grand Prize and Viewer's Choice) will each receive a Flip UltraHD Camcorder (I have one myself, and can vouch for their awesomeness).

The contest is open to anyone over the age of 13 (there are two categories for ages 13-18  and 19+), and all you have to do is submit a 2 min video telling the world "Why Arts Matter", and submit it by June 30th. All the official rules and guidelines can be found here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Support the School of the Future Project

I've been keeping tabs on this project since I first heard about it through the Teaching Artist's Union (I'm a dance, theatre and creative writing teaching artist, in case you didn't know). School of the Future pretty much embodies the truest and most pure sentiments of education, asking "What do you want to learn?" and then finding someone to teach it to you. They've set up a Kickstarter Fund to pay for construction costs, and are looking for backers to donate as little as $1 to help them reach their goal (of course, more is appreciated, if you've got it)!

It. Looks. Awesome.

Have YOU checked out our website?

If not, you should. It's full of nifty things, including a calendar of appearances/ events for myself and the fabulous Claire and Cassie, bios/ info on our platforms, and entry info for 

So check it out!!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My super awesome weekend in short, concise blog-form...

With some volunteers and their amazing hand-made costumes!

A pretty decent turnout for the Opening Ceremony!

With the wonderful Anita Jacobs of BBG- so organized, enthusiastic and hospitable! Thanks for the great time, Anita!

NYC PAGEANTS PHOTO SHOOT- Brooklyn Bridge and Times Sq -Photos by Bianca Thomas

More to come! We spent the early part of the afternoon near the Brooklyn Bridge, and then glammed up a bit and headed to Times Sq for Part 2 (and left less than an hour before the evacuation- good timing on our part)! Many thanks to Bianca Thomas for her wonderful photos, and to my awesome sister queens, Claire and Cassie, for a fun afternoon!

Without a doubt, Tough Mudder was the most physically challenging thing I've ever done. And probably one of the coolest. The atmosphere at the event was electric- it's not a race, it's a challenge, and the mood of the 4,500 participants was far more supportive than competitive. Part of the charge at the beginning of the of the event was to put camaraderie before course-time and to help other Tough Mudders finish the challenge, and everyone, it seemed, took that to heart. Congratulations to my fellow Tough Mudders, and to the team at Tough Mudder HQ for putting on an awesome event!

After registration! I've been branded!

One of several media interviews about being Miss Greater NYC and attempting the Tough Mudder- this one with CBS- an awesome opportunity to talk about the Miss America Organization and break a stereotype or two... No high-maintenance pageant divas here!

About 1/3 of the way into the 7.5 mile obstacle course- after running up and down a mountain and through the woods, that mud felt pretty darn good...

We did it! My long-time friend/ running partner, Daniel, and myself, relishing in the glory of earning the title of "Tough Mudders" (displayed on our awesome headbands and T-shirts), and discussing plans for the November 2010 Tri-State Tough Mudder- 12.5 miles of freezing cold, brutally challenging, physically exhausting muddy shenanigans. We'll be there. Will you?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

This Weekend...

...Will be awesome. Here's the reader's digest version.


Opening Ceremony for Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanical Garden. 11:15a-1p. I wish I could stay longer! The weekend is full of awesome events, entertainment and activities. Be sure to stop by either today (10a-6p) or tomorrow (10a-7p).

Miss Greater NYC, Miss Southeast NY and Miss Liberty photo shoot with Bianca Thomas- Brooklyn Bridge and Times Sq- 2-5p.

And then I'm off to NJ to meet up with my old pal Daniel. We'll grab some dinner together and then hopefully get to sleep at a reasonable hour, because tomorrow is...

Yep. Daniel and I are two of 4,500 runners who'll brave this insanity (check out the course here). What is the Tough Mudder? you ask... From their website: 

Tough Mudder is the TOUGHEST one day event on the planet. This is not your average mud run or boring, spirit-crushing road race. Our 7 mile obstacle courses are designed by British Special Forces to test all around toughness, strength, stamina, fitness, camaraderie, and mental grit. Forget about your race time. Simply completing the event is a badge of honor. Not everyone will finish, but those who do make it to our post-race party will have truly earned the right to call themselves a Tough Mudder. All Tough Mudder sponsorship proceeds go to our exclusive charity partner,The Wounded Warrior Project.

I'll be arriving early for a series of pre-event interviews (evidently they don't have a ton of pageant contestants competing, and think it's cool I'm giving it a try). I'm in the Grey Group, so my start time is 12p (though I'll be in the holding pen at 11:15... a necessary step when each start group contains 500 participants). I'll slog through the 7 mile challenge and complete all the obstacles (don't I sound confident?), and then join my friend Daniel (who was in the red start group and has been done for about an hour) at the awesome afterparty!

Enjoy the photos below from the Tough Mudder website for a taste of what my Sunday will be like. It's a good thing I enjoy getting dirty. And sweaty. And exhausted. I'm weird like that, I guess...