From our titleholders: Justin and Cheryl about their SWLC experience

When we were asked to step into the Arizona M/s title and compete at SWLC, we knew that with only 5 weeks to prepare, we probably didn’t have much of a shot at winning the SWLC M/s title. Our hope going into the weekend was that we would represent well and not make the Arizona community look foolish for choosing us for this honor. We decided going into the weekend that we were going to have a good time no matter what happened. There was a little anxiety about the competition, but not nearly as much as we would have expected.

We dropped into the hotel on Thursday night for the meet and greet, and saw so many old friends. We got to meet the other contestants and spend a little time with them, but didn’t see any of the judges. It was a nice, relaxing evening of visiting, but we headed back home early to get a good night’s sleep to be ready for the weekend.

Friday had us checking into the hotel midday, and getting ready for the contestant meeting. We drew numbers and were second. Not a bad place to be. We hadn’t really eaten, and with the evening coming so fast upon us, we ordered room service, got dressed for the evening, and scarfed down some salads. Not an easy task when you’re squeezed into a corset, let me tell you!

Friday evening festivities were great and our pop questions went pretty well. Sir made the audience roll with laughter, so it was a good evening. We went upstairs for me to get a bit more comfortable, then came down for a drink before joining the drum circle. While standing in line, we were approached by none other than keynote speaker Race Bannon (OMG, Race Bannon approached us?). That was probably the highlight of our weekend.  This person we had specifically bought brunch tickets to hear speak was coming up to us to introduce himself and his slave, and extend kind words about us. You could have knocked me over with a feather!

The drum circle is our second favorite part of the weekend, after the Dance of Souls. I always leave it feeling energized and cleansed. Friday night was no different, except that more happened within that circle. I brought our own new drum and the turtle shell rattle I had won in last year’s silent auction. Both had been saved for just this night. For awhile, I went back and forth from the outskirts of the circle to the wall where Sir was sitting. I couldn’t stop smiling. Then the last drum of the evening began. I found myself drawn to center of the circle and so slipped inside. Something happened inside that circle. My soul merged with the others present inside that circle. Healing happened. Cleansing happened. Joy happened. I came out of that circle renewed and filled with joy. Thank you to all of those within it who shared in and contributed to my experience.

Saturday dawned bright and early. Room service breakfast so we knew we would get to eat, and off to interviews. We both felt really good about our interviews, the judges asked good, in depth questions, and Sir made them laugh a bit. Had a really nice lunch and actually got to relax a bit before heading off for presentations. The presentation was the one thing we were most nervous about, but it seemed to go pretty well. The audience asked good questions that gave us the ability to give the judges even more information about ourselves, and we even got to talk about our chosen family. After the presentations, though, something unusual happened. The judges asked to see all of us in the lobby for some one-on-one time with each couple. We got to visit with most of the judges in one-on-one situations that were enjoyable for us, although a bit stressful. With only an hour to get changed for the night, we were off again.

We were both a bit nervous about the speeches. We hoped that our topics spoke to people because they were things that are very important to us and our dynamic. We both hoped we could remember them and not have a mind blank, but we brought notecards just in case. They seemed to go well, people seemed to connect with what we were saying, and Sir made them laugh again. We sat down in our seats feeling really good about our performance over the weekend. We whispered to each other that we felt very proud of what we had done, no matter how the chips fell.

Many people, both friends we knew and friends we were yet to meet, approached us after the contest with kind words and hugs and offers of friendship. We were blown away by many of the wonderful thoughts that were shared with us. We felt love and great support from so many and have many, many people to thank for that. We had a late dinner with another contestant couple, and enjoyed getting to know them better. As dinner wound down, all four of us were beginning to show our exhaustion from the demands of the contest weekend. We left them with hugs and offers of continued friendship and toddled on our way to bed.

Sunday found us at the keynote brunch, enjoying the speech and the breakfast. Then a rush upstairs to pack and check out before attending the Dance of Souls. We were both excited for the Dance, since Sir was in the hospital over last year’s conference. Sir was hooked and I was pierced with crystals and bells, and off we went. Our Dance was short this year but was a very good one. I hooked Sir to the portal and he pulled for a bit of time, while I danced behind him. We visited with friends outside and Sir decided that he was done. Hooks removed, bags collected, goodbyes exchanged, and we headed for home, happy in the knowledge that we represented our community well.

There are so many people to thank for their help and support of us over the last several weeks and during the weekend. Thank you so much to our APEX family, especially Archer and Tess, in your unwavering support. Thank you to our Tribe, both Arizona and SWLC, for having faith in us, supporting us, and loving us. Thank you to the SWLC judges, contest staff, volunteers, and producers for opening your hearts to us, and doing such a tremendous job this weekend. And most of all, thank you to Sir John and baby, our chosen family, for all of your love, support, butt kicking, and incredible help, both in preparing for the contest and in executing it this weekend. Our hearts are filled with so much love and gratitude that we are overflowing with joy. We are so very blessed to have all of you in our lives.

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