Saturday, November 17, 2012

Who Peed on My Yoga Mat?

You know that delicious moment when you realize your husband is utterly clueless and you have an opportunity to blow his comfort zone to pieces?  I live for those moments, and I relish administering the reality smackdown.  Frankly, it brings me joy in this life!  Luckily, for my entertainment value, my friend Lela Davidson, who also has a bit of an evil streak, relishes in these moments too.

Written with a take no prisoners (especially when it comes to those she loves the most :) honesty, Lela shares her family's finest moments in a laugh out loud collection of essays every woman will eat up with a spoon.  I shared one particularly hilarious tidbit with my husband that literally left him shaking with laughter...
During a romantic weekend getaway, Lela caught her husband, John, stroking his face with a random loofah a prior guest had left behind in their hotel room.  Utterly grossed out, Lela explained to her clueless husband that loofahs are not in fact used exclusively to cleanse faces. 

Horrified, John asked, "So, that thing hanging in our shower- that fluffy thing?  You use it on your..."

"Ass crack,"  Lela replied, thereby blowing John's sweet and sanitary idea of loofahs into a million poop scented pieces.

Staring helplessly and forlornly out the hotel window, John lamented to himself, "I specifically don't use that on my ass because I know its for your face."

Relishing in that priceless moment of smackdown, Lela replied, "That's funny Babe.  Because I specifically don't use that thing on my face because I know its for your ass."

See?  Good stuff.  Now, go buy this book.  You will laugh out loud and maybe give yourself permission to embrace your own family's freak flag and fly that thing freely; at least for a little bit :)


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Nashville. Seriously?!

Kimberly Williams Paisley?  Check.  Connie Britton?  Check.  Mary-Marsha Riley?  Say what?! 
Sure it was a small scene, and I didn't say anything, but appearing, even for a few seconds, on an ABC prime time show was AMAZING!  Actually, filming it was more of a thrill than seeing it on TV.  Just being part of it all was surreal.  I feel so blessed to have had that opportunity.  I'm fulfilling dreams every day.  I've also started dancing again instead of just sitting on the couch every week and watching "Dancing with the Stars" and wishing I could do something like that.  And, I'm having SO much fun!  Stop telling yourself no, and go for it! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Never Stop Dreaming

After we reach a certain age I think it is unavoidable that we allow some of our dreams to fall by the wayside.
"It is too late." 
"I am too old." 
"There are other things in my life more important than chasing that dream." 
"I chose another path, so I'm committed to follow it."
"Other people will judge me and think my dream is silly." 
How many of you have made one or more of these excuses, and in doing so, given up on pursuing a dream?  I know I have.  I spent ten years dreading almost every day that I went to work as a lawyer.  But, I spent three years in law school and ten years practicing law.  Being a lawyer was part of my identity; a very large part.  The law was the path I chose.  Am I not obligated to follow the path I chose?  I struggled mightily with this dilemma.  In fact, it took me between six to eight months to finally give myself permission to leave my job at the law firm and start my own personal training and pageant coaching business.  And, even after I made the big move, I was consumed with self doubt, regret, and guilt.  But, now, two and one half years after following my heart and releasing myself from expectations that no longer made me happy, I am content in my decision, thankful that I was brave enough to take the leap, excited and in awe of the opportunities I have been blessed with and the successful business I have created, and thankful for my husband who made it possible for me to take a chance and fulfillment.
The moral of this story is two fold.  Life is too short to follow a path that no longer makes you happy, and it is never too late to be the person and do the things you have always dreamed of being and doing.  Make sure the path you are walking is right for you.  Don't allow yourself to be shackled by old expectations.  If it doesn't make you happy anymore, take a u-turn.  Be authentic to who you are NOW and what you want NOW.  
Go For It! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Memphis City Beautiful Curb Couture Trashion Show

Attention all Memphis Fashionistas!!  I am so excited to be on the Host Committee for the Second Annual Curb Couture Trashion Show to benefit Memphis City Beautiful.  Local designers will be showcasing their creative and beautiful designs which they will create out of everyday materials and products which generally end up in our trash (think soda cans, newspapers, milk cartons, trash bags, etc.).  It is basically Memphis' version of a "Project Runway" challenge.  The event will be held in downtown Memphis on Sunday, October 7, 2012, and there will be food from the Majestic Grille and drinks; all included with the purchase of your $50 ticket to the event.  What a deal!  You can buy your tickets to this fun and unique event from me, so contact me today so you don't miss out!     

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tonight is the finals of Mrs. International 2012!

This time last year, I was sitting in the amazingly talented and unbelievably kind Cari Baker's makeup chair putting on the final touches for the Mrs. International 2011 Pageant.  I have ALL good memories from my week in Chicago last year.  I will always appreciate the opportunity to be in the presence of the 52 other impressive and inspirational contestants and the opportunity to be, and put forward, the best me I could achieve.  My goal was Top 12.  To finish as the third runner-up and also receive the fitness and evening gown awards gave me such a feeling of overwhelming appreciation and pride.  I worked as hard as I could and crossed all my "t"s and dotted all my "i"s.  I left with no regrets, and I will eternally be a fan of this amazing pageant system.  Good luck to the Class of 2012!  May you leave Chicago inspired to continue to be the good you want to see in the world and feeling as wonderful about yourself and your experience as I did :)

Mary-Marsha Riley
Mrs. Tennessee International 2011


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Newly Discovered Memphis Treasure

Yesterday, at the invitation of my friend and client, Brittany Fitzpatrick, who is also Miss Shelby County International 2011 and the Communications Director for the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis, I spoke to the employees of the Ronald McDonald House about the benefits of and the best ways to live a healthy and active lifestyle.  After my speech, Brittany treated me to a tour of their wonderful facility.  While on the tour, I was reminded that although we hear about so many bad things happening in Memphis, there are so many absolutely amazing organizations working tirelessly every day to improve our city and world.  The services and kindness provided by the RMH to the families of children suffering from illness are extraordinary and life altering.

I will forever be a supporter of this wonderful organization and will encourage others to do the same.  For those of you who do not know, the RMH provides all the resident families with food, toiletries, paper products, and laundry detergent free of charge.  Of course, all of these products are provided by donations from the public.  If you are looking for a place to donate or a cause to champion, I encourage you to learn more about your local Ronald McDonald House. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Another Great Year with Devon

My boy Devon has successfully completed the fourth grade, and I am happy to say that this has been his best year yet.  He had a wonderful teacher in Ms. Eddings, and his new school, Denver Elementary, was a blessing.  I am so proud of this little dude (who isn't quite so little anymore), and I am honored to watch him grow into such a kind and thoughtful young man.  I have been asked to start tutoring his little brother, Kevin, next year as well.  I met Devon when he was in the first grade, and I will start working with Kevin when he begins the first grade in August. 

I leave Denver Elementary each week feeling better than I did when I walked in.  If you have an extra hour in your week, please consider tutoring in the Memphis City Schools.  It is no secret that these kids and their teachers need help.  If you would like to make a difference and build a sustaining relationship with an amazing kid, contact Streets Ministries or Memphis City Schools about becoming a tutor for the 2012-2013 school year.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Angry Blowfish

I walked in my very first runway fashion show last night for the ever so classy Laurelwood Shopping Center.  I modeled beautiful clothes from Bella Viaggia and Talbots.  I had an absolute blast (cannot believe they pay me to do this stuff), but I learned a lesson.  I MUST relax my mouth while I am attemping to appear "sultry" on the runway.  I looked a bit like an angry blowfish!  Today I have been practicing "sultry" in the mirror.  Just for the record, "sultry" is not a natural look for me, but I'm working on it.  Next time, I will look far less like a character from "Finding Nemo."  I am having such a great time realizing dreams I never thought would come true!  Are you still chasing your dreams?  You are never too old, and it is never too late!  


Monday, April 23, 2012

Happenings of a Happy Has Been

Have I mentioned how glad I am not to have the pressure of preparing for a pageant this Summer?  Well, I AM GLAD!!  Memphis Pizza Cafe was GOOOOOOD today at lunch!  But, even though I don't have to worry about being tiny, tiny to fit into that Nazi Mrs. International fitness outfit, I do have to rediscover a little bit of discipline in order to make sure I am ready for the modeling jobs coming my way.  I had one today, and I'll be honest...I felt a little puffy.  So, I have to get semi serious.  Not super serious mind you; just semi serious.

I've started running again, and it feels great.  Running gives me such a fabulous mood lift.  I ran my first 5K of the season yesterday, and I finished in under 30 minutes which was my goal.  That made me happy, and it motivated me to keep improving.  I always have to be competing at something.  I thrive on it.  Without a goal; something to work for and improve upon, I feel a little lost.  Strangely, my running isn't exactly maintaining my weight like it should be, but I know that will come...once I put down the Oreos.

My life is so different than it was a year and a half ago; different in a good way.  I have my own business, I'm a working model, I'm making a positive difference, and I'm not miserable in the practice of law.  When I say I never saw any of this coming, I REALLY didn't see any of this coming.  Dreamed about it?  Maybe.  Allowed myself to believe it could actually happen?  Not so much.  My year as Mrs. Tennessee taught me how to believe in dreams again, but mostly it reminded me how to believe in myself.  I am very happy with my "has been" pageant queen status, but I am SO thankful it all happened like it did.  I feel so lucky, and I feel like I've just scratched the surface of my potential. 

Keep moving, keep improving...that is what this year is about for this "has been."

Modeling vintage Chanel jewelry for Mednikow Jewelry and Laurelwood Shopping Center
Me and David with Devon...MVPs at the Grizzlies v. Timberwolves game...great night :) 
My family hiking at Petit Jean Mountain...great day :) 

Be Good and Be Happy!       
Mary-Marsha Riley

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thought for the Month of April

In life, I try to pay attention to things that inspire me, and I am constantly intent upon improving myself and my outlook on this life.  I am the first to admit that sometimes life becomes heavy.  If you pay attention in life, you cannot escape seeing all the pain in the world.  Sometimes that pain is difficult to overcome and challenges hope and faith.  But, we can't let the hurt and pain in the world handicap us from making positive change in our own lives and in the lives of those we share this planet with. 

I am the kind of person who always needs a goal.  Obviously last year at this time I was in full on preparation mode for Mrs. International.  This year, my goals are to become happier and place in the Top 3 in my age group in a 5K race.  What is pretty convenient about those goals are that they work together.  When I run, I am happier!  But, I truly want to commit the next year to self discovery and improvement.  I made huge strides toward that goal last year, and I want to make even more progress this year.

I think the following thought from the inspiring Dale Smith Thomas gives all of us a jump start to improving our outlook and our perspective on life.    

"What you focus on gets bigger." Those 5 words if we truly understand them, believe them, and act on them can totally change our lives both personally and professionally. Are you focused on what you have accomplished and the things that are going right or are you focused on what isn't going right? Are you focused on your dreams and goals or are you "focusing" on the opinion of others and allowing it to slow you down?

-Dale Smith Thomas

Happy April! 

God Bless,
Mary-Marsha Riley

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The End of a Reign of Blessings

I have officially passed the title of Mrs. Tennessee International.  I am happy to say that I crowned Mrs. Traci Pangonas, a fellow American Heart Association volunteer, as Mrs. Tennessee International 2012 at the Tennessee International Pageant on March 4, 2012.  I know Traci will make the married women of Tennessee, including myself, very proud. 

I have spent a lot of time reflecting upon my reign and the blessings the title has bestowed upon me.  The best part of this whole amazing experience is the people, and there are so many who made such an impact upon me.  David was the best Mr. Tennessee in history.  He and I did this whole thing our way down to the smallest detail, and I have no one regret about the way we did it.  I wish I had the words to properly describe how truly amazing my friends Bobbie Marie Gregg, Miss Tennessee International 2011, and Randi Strong, Miss Teen Tennessee International 2011 are.  I guarantee you they will achieve so many more great things in this life, and I am thrilled and honored to have spent my year with them.  I could not be more proud of them and the hearts they have which have truly benefited so many people across the State of Tennessee.

Cari Baker is simply a hair and makeup dynamo.  She was my one woman beauty team, and I could not be more thrilled with the results.  But the magic she performed on my hair and face is nothing compared to the lasting impression she made upon my heart.  I love that lady SO much, and she will be my friend forever.  Every morning in Chicago she was the first face I saw, and she brought me nothing but peace and happiness at Mrs. International.  When I say I could not have achieved the success I enjoyed at Mrs. International without her, it is a major understatement.  She was indispensable for me, and I will be eternally grateful for the woman she is.

Suzy Bootz, Clay Spann, Joey Rutheford, Dion Welling, and Bryan Wood were all so vital to my success.  They are all so incredibly gifted in their crafts, but they are so much more gifted as human beings.  These people were my team.  They are a winning team, and I will forever be grateful to each of them for who they are and what they did for me. 

I have an incredible family and wonderful friends who I love so much and for whom I am so grateful. My mom, Judy, and I grew up watching pageants on television, and when I finished in the Top 5 at Mrs. International, I think I can speak for her when I say that it was a dream come true for both of us.  My dad is probably my biggest fan and the kindest person I know, and my sister is the strongest, funniest, most resilent, and best mother there ever was.  I am so proud of her and her exceptional son, Ashton, who is the most amazing child in this world.  Brandy, Tina, Melody, and Ivy are the best friends I could ask for; their support is a gift I will never forget.

I am so appreciative of Mary Richardson, the owner and director of the International Pageant System.  I have so much respect for this system and what it stands for.  I only hope that it will contine to move in the right direction and continue to make us all proud.  To my fellow 2011 queens, especially Renee (Arkansas), Donna (Southern States), Tiffany (California), Autumn (Oklahoma), Kristi (West Virginia), Sheila (New York), Sandra (Maryland), Mary (Rhode Island), Dani (New Jersey), Dawn (Pennslyvania), Melisa (Southeast), Lynn (Alabama), and Jenny (Ohio), all I can say is WOW.  All of you are simply inspiring.  I want to be just like all of you when I grow up!  As I sat in the theater on or final day of rehearsals and listened to each of you talk about the platforms you are each so passionate about, I was so humbled and inspired.  Each of you are my role models.  Thank you for all that you do and for who you are.   

I had a great time.  I have grown.  I have been blessed.  And, I can say that I did everything I wanted to do, and more, with this amazing title.  Thank you again to everyone who touched me along the way.  I am eternally grateful for this experience, and I am excited about what comes next.

Here is the text of my Farewell Speech and a few photos from mine and David's last days as Mr. and Mrs. Tennessee.  Enjoy!

I wanted to be Mrs. Tennessee for two reasons.  The first was that I genuinely wanted to amplify my voice in order to bring about positive change and raise awareness about the issues I am passionate about.  I am lucky because I know that I have and that I do.  The second reason is because I had never truly let go of the dream of being a beauty queen.  And, let me tell you, when that dream came true, it lived up to all my little girl expectations.  When I was chosen as the 3rd runner-up to Mrs. International last summer, I will say, with genuine conviction, that I was the happiest third runner-up in the history of pageantry.

But, the Mrs. Tennessee International adventure has been so much more than realizing a childhood dream.  This experience has opened my eyes to my own strength and opened doors I could have only dreamed to have walked through prior to winning this title.  I have found my intended path, and I have given myself permission to follow it and enjoy it.    

There are a lot of people who helped me along the way.  But, just one person actually made it possible.  My husband David is the reason I am Mrs. Tennessee.  Goodness knows he had no idea what he was getting into, but his willingness to stand behind this silly dream is a kindness I will never forget.  We did it our way, and I have not one regret about the way we did it. 

To David:  Thank you for honoring my dream.  Thank you for honoring me.  Thank you loving me and for never giving up on me.  I love you, I am proud of you, and I see in you a goodness that I am happy to know and that I believe in. 

Thank you also to my parents, Bernie and Judy, my sister, Gina, my nephew, Ashton, my dear friends, especially Brandy, Tina, and Melody, and my Jordan.  And, thank you to my pageant people:  my dear, sweet, kind Cari Baker; you have been instrumental in my journey and you will forever be my treasured friend, thank you also to the inspiring Suzy Bootz, the talented Clay Spann, the fashionable Joey Rutheford, and the motivational Dion Welling.  Thank you for helping a little small town girl realize her potential. 

To Team Tennessee 2011 Bobbie Marie and Randi, I am grateful to have spent my year with two extraordinary, but more importantly, incredibly real women.  I am your fans for life.

To Mrs. Tennessee International 2012, make yourself proud.  Use this title for good.  Don’t waste the opportunity, do it your way, and allow yourself to be inspired.

This has been fun.  This has been life altering.  God bless you, and go confidently in the direction of your dreams.

The End.

Mrs. Tennessee International 2011
Mary-Marsha Riley                  
David and I at the Contestants Banquet
Me and my girls, Randi and Bobbie Marie

We Three Queens

David and me during my Farewell Speech

Our last photo together as titleholders

Our last photo as Mr. and Mrs. Tennessee International  
God Bless you all!  I will continue this blog as Mary-Marsha; even though I am no longer, technically, a queen :)

Mary-Marsha Riley
Mrs. Tennessee International 2011

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Final Appearances as Mrs. Tennessee International

This week I was lucky to have the opportunity to make two very meaningful appearances as I wrap up my reign as Mrs. Tennessee International 2011.  My client and friend, Shields Thompson, Miss Scenic City Outstanding Teen, asked me to accompany her on a visit to the Le Bonheur Childrens' Hospital here in Memphis to spend some time with some incredibly brave children.  The kids were so strong; so resilient, and they inspired me.  I appreciate Shields for including me in this heartwarming experience.

The next day I was honored to speak at my husband David's alma mater, Lake County High School.  I spoke to almost 100 high school girls about the importance of dreams, believing in themselves, and about never giving up.  The girls were very receptive, respectful, and I had a lot of fun with them.  David introduced me before I spoke, and I was so honored and touched by his sweet words.  This week was a great way to end my reign as Mrs. Tennessee International. 

Two weeks from tomorrow I will be crowning my successor.  I wish for her a year as meaningful and as fulfilling as the year I have experienced.  As a titleholder, we make the experience what it is.  We can chose to do nothing, do a little, do just enough, or truly make a difference.  I like to believe I made a difference, and I am determined to continue to do so after this journey comes to an end.  I hope the next Mrs. Tennessee International decides to do the same.

Mary-Marsha Riley
Mrs. Tennessee International 2011

I must say that this little angel looks a lot better in my crown that I do! 

It was an honor to spend the afternoon with some extremely brave young people.

It was very special to be able to speak at David's high school.

These girls are great.  Lake County High School is doing it right.   

Every girl loves a crown!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End

In five and a half more weeks, I will be crowning the next Mrs. Tennessee International.  I am lucky to have had the opportunity the hold the title for almost one and a half years instead of the usual one year.  As it all winds down, I am starting to reflect upon this experience.  It is overwhelming, and I am so thankful.  Everything happened just as it was supposed to, and I just could not be more pleased about the journey I have taken.  I did it my way from the beginning until the end, and I have no regrets. 

Talk to you soon!
Mary-Marsha Riley
Mrs. Tennessee International 2011