Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving and I am home alone… but in no means sad. While my family is enjoying delicious treats and the company of extended family members, I’ve opted to take this day to make final preparations and completely immerse myself in peace and tranquility. My day began by packing and organizing all of my weekend necessities and finding the time in between house cleaning and doing laundry to read and jot down some final thoughts in my journal. Throughout the day, I’ve received some amazing support text messages and it has definitely made this experience a lot more real.

For the most part, I’ve been doing a lot of self talk in order to get my mind focused but I know that in order to really live out this experience, I must live in the moment. Luckily, I’m not as nervous as one would usually think but I definitely am feeling a bit anxious. Later this evening, I will be joining my sister and heading out to Southern California where my life may change forever on Sunday.

Since it is Thanksgiving and all, I’d like to take a moment and thank all of my readers who have followed me on this amazing journey. Your comments, daily blog visits and emails have inspired me to continue my writing posts and I hope you have learned a lot about me and who I am as a person. To date, my heart is so happy with all of the opportunities I’ve had being part of this pageant and whatever the outcome may be, I know I will continue moving forward in life because if there’s anything I’ve learned this year, is that there is no other option but to.

As for now, I will go take my final walk as Miss San Jose Latina 2013 around my neighborhood breathing in the fresh air and admiring all that Mother Nature has to offer because that right there, is something to truly be thankful for.

Love,
Kassie P.

Glam Squad

Just like any other girl, I love having spa and beauty days. Usually for me though, they are spread out and never all in one day but since Miss California Latina weekend has finally arrived and Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I had to do all of my beauty regiments today. I visited the nail salon, got a fresh spray tan and even had some of my neck kinks worked on during a massage. Though I was running around all over town, I definitely found some quite moments throughout my day to write in my journal I’ll be taking with me and reflect. During those moments, I also received many “Good luck text messages” from various friends who have been rooting for me since day one. Their kind words reminded me that I have had a lot of great experiences with my Miss San Jose Latina title and their thoughts and positive vibes would be with me throughout pageant weekend.

I have had a blast preparing for Miss California Latina and to know that we are in the final countdown amazes me. I am thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve had and all of the support from family and close friends and I am lucky to feel their energy knowing I’m not going into this competition alone.

Love,
Kassie P.

Body Image

Ever since I was a baby, I’ve had the most sensitive skin. My mom tells me she’d have to lather my entire month old body with heavy duty Aquaphor because I’d break out in rashes and other skin issues. As I got older, my body started reacting to different products, foods and sudden changes in emotions that drastically affected me both internally and externally. For example, I know if I wear earrings for three days in a row, my earlobes will break out in hives, diamonds or not. I know if I eat a delicious cheesy burger with must have fried french fries, I’ll be hunched over with stomach pains within about an hour. Lastly, and the most alarming of all of my body’s reactions is when I go through sudden drastic changes in emotions. It’s quite amazing how the body knows “when something is wrong” and it goes into defense mode. You see, for as long as I can remember, whenever I’ve felt under extreme pressure or feeling of no control, my body literally goes into shock and the lovely results are what I’m dealing with today: skin rashes on my arm and all across my chest and neck.

It all started when I woke up to find I had become the latest victim of an EVIL sneaky little spider who decided to also be part of the bikini portion of the pageant and bite me on my stomach! Luckily, it’s small enough BUT a spider bite isn’t something I’d like to take with me this weekend (especially since I already have a scar from an infected bug bite I got while vacationing in Jamaica in September). Then, after about spending almost an hour with a telemarketer trying to return a faulty beauty product, I was trapped inside my carport since the driveways of all of the apartment complexes were undergoing construction and residents were not given notice. I decided I’d then do some work on my computer only to find our internet was down so there I was again spending another hour going back and forth with two Comcast representatives, only to find out they could not help me via telephone. Meanwhile, I had my sister texting me all of the information I needed to be as a witness for her mock trial law school final later in the evening. By this point without having eaten lunch and about 30 minutes away from needing to be fully engaged at work, I needed to get myself together because I knew worrying and stressing out anymore than I had already been doing for the majority of the day would only take an unnecessary toll on my body. Usually, I would have put some light music on but this time was different, I needed to get myself under control ASAP so I laid belly flat in my living room, nose smushed into the carpet.

I began running my fingers through my scalp, massaging my neck and did multiple breathing exercises while telling myself I’d now have to rearrange tomorrow’s BUSY last minute pageant “To-Do” list in order to fit everything else I did not get a chance to do today. Fortunately, after recollecting my thoughts I was off to work and had a great last day before Thanksgiving break. I then headed off to my sister’s final and I had an awesome time pretending to be a witness of a crime, where it gave me an opportunity to do some public speaking in front of a large crowd…just the extra practice I need!

I think what was most upsetting about today was that I know this should be a very exciting week and full of positivity and having what seemed like everything happen all at once, unfortunately got to me and now I’m dealing with the consequences. Fortunately, my family was able to help reboot my confidence and I’m back on track with a goal in mind. Tomorrow is a brand new day and I’ll be making the most of it to compensate for today’s lack of a gracious attitude towards life and in the meantime, I’ll be a walking Aquaphor advertisement.

Love,

Kassie P.

Here We Go!

Seven. Days. Left. Yes that’s right, Miss California Latina is exactly one week away. Next Sunday, at this very hour I will either be the next reigning queen or I will look back on this amazing year and still feel a great sense of satisfaction. Everything I need for the pageant is set in stone and ready to go: travel plans, makeup and hair looks, and freshly steamed outfits.

I have had such an amazing time preparing for the pageant and I am honestly able to say I’m ready to be living the actual experience. I have been waiting exactly one year for this day and now that it’s right around the corner, just amazes me. I have had so much support from my family and close friends and knowing I have all of their best wishes and positive vibes is giving me that extra boost of confidence I need. I’ve sent a few questions via email to the pageant coordinator about certain details throughout the weekend but I also figured it’d be best for me to just go with the flow and experience the mystery as the days go on.

According to our itinerary, we will be busy from about 7am to 11pm throughout the entire weekend and the only time we’ll be in any contact with our families is on Sunday, the final day. Though I’d like to spend some time with my family to shake off some last minute jitters, I know I will be having a great time participating in interviews, photo shoots and outfit fittings. Out of all of the events that will take place, I really am looking forward to the personal one-on-one interviews (taking place on Saturday). I feel this is truly going to be my perfect opportunity to really connect with the judges and allow them to get to see my true self. Plus, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves?!

I’m so thankful for everything that has come my way as Miss San Jose Latina and I am so ready to see what doors will open for me next week!Love,
Kassie P.

Crunch Time

Over the past several days, all of the contestants have been flooded with Miss California Latina emails outlining the weekend and all of its fun events. We also received photographs of our Opening Number dress, our shoes, and two-piece bikini. Of course I’d like to share the photos with you but the organization asked we keep everything private until the actual weekend. What I can describe to you is the Opening Number dress is a simple one shoulder pink cocktail dress paired with nude opened toed ankle strapped heels. The bikini, however, is something I’ll have to physically see in person since the photo didn’t have the best quality and the pattern looked like something military personnel wear in combat. Regardless of how the outfits fit (which I’m hoping everything fits like a glove) I’m thankful they are free and all contestants get to take them home plus further goodies.

With all of the emails coming in full force, I finally feel like this is really happening. I had known I was going to participate in the pageant since September 2012 so now that it’s only three weeks away, my mind is blown away. I’m very excited to have this whole pageant experience part of my life and everything that has come my way because of my Miss San Jose Latina title. This whole year has been a blessing and I’m definitely looking forward to the pageant weekend!

Love,
Kassie P.

LatinoUSA on NPR

I had an amazing thing happen to me last week: I was invited to be a guest speaker on LatinoUSA on NPR. Yes, that’s right…this opportunity meant I’d be part of something HUGE. I received an email from the producer of LatinoUSA in Harlem, New York, asking if I’d like to be part of a panel discussing body image with the Latina and pageant industry. I was so in shock because NPR was something all of my journalism classes listened to at SJSU and the prominent journalists, in my eyes, were definitely high and mighty-celebrity like. After the initial pre-interview phone call, we finalized last minute details and like a child excitedly waiting for Christmas morning all year long, November 1st, my Christmas, finally came arrived.

Once my sister and I showed up to the station, we quickly set up shop and began mic checking and as soon as I knew it, the segment had begun with journalist and moderator, Maria Hinojosa, introducing me as “Blogera* Kassandra Peña, Miss San Jose Latina.” The conversation also included proud feminist and “Blogera” Patricia Valoy in which we all discussed how body image has changed over the years and what we think the future holds for Latinas. Eventually, the segment came to a final close and it was such an amazing feeling to hear my blog address and more importantly, my name be announced on air. Participating in an interview like this just made me even more determined to make a name for myself within the Latina social media community. I felt as if I were doing exactly what I was meant to be doing in life and I truly was at my highest self of fulfillment.

Though the conversation will be edited and aired within the next two weeks, I am so grateful the Miss California Latina organization exists. I would have never had the opportunity to be on NPR if it weren’t for the pageant and my creation of this very blog-how LatinoUSA contacted me. The “Big Day” is now just 26 days away and up to this point, I have had many great opportunities with just my title alone that no matter what happens, I still am walking away as a winner.

Ps- Please visit my “Photos” page to view a picture at the studio

*Blogera is the latest and trendiest “Spanglish” name given to a Latina woman who is a blogger.

Love,
Kassie P.

Dia de los Muertos

Over the weekend, I made a pageant appearance at National Hispanic University for their annual Dia de los Muertos* celebration. Not only was seeing the alters and amazing art work in remembrance of past loved ones a beautiful sight but I also had the opportunity to meet and speak with young girls and their families about what it means to be a “beauty queen.” I was approached by a supportive father whose daughter was a bit too shy to personally ask me pageant questions but nonetheless, I was so happy I could inspire the young girl to go for her dreams. The father let me know his daughter was an aspiring model and actress but needed that extra boost of confidence. As I was telling the young girl this had been my first pageant ever and I had made it this far, she began smiling with a twinkle in her eye as if she was thinking that she too, could someday have the same possibilities.

Aside from meeting local vendors and doing some retail therapy, I also got to spend the afternoon with some very talented musicians and friends, Raul y Mexia*. The brother band (and sons of Hernan Hernandez from legendary group Los Tigres del Norte) performed for the audience and of course rocked the house! The brothers, who I met through Claudia Candelas*** (wife of Raul and my co-founder of “Stiletto Girls,” my next blogging project) have been touring throughout the United States so I was happy I got to spend some time with them while promoting my title.

Now that Miss California Latina is just around the corner, I’ve been reflecting a bit more on this entire year. I feel extremely proud of myself because I’ve gotten out into the community more than ever and have had some amazing opportunities come my way with just the current title I have now. I don’t know what the future holds for me pageant wise but just as the little girl saw that “I’ve made it,” I see Raul y Mexia living out their dreams who most likely at one point of their lives looked up to their dad with that same twinkle in their eyes… thinking of all of the possibilities.

*To view a view a video project on Dia de los Muertos I filmed, produced and edited while at SJSU please click here

**Please visit Raul Y Mexia to view pictures and hear some amazing Latin beats!

***Please visit Claudia’s blog

View some pictures from the event under my “Photos” page!

Love,
Kassie P.

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