This week marks a moment which has been a long time in the making for Angela Garcia.
The wife, mother, grandmother and business owner of Oakdale’s Most Wanted Wine Bar will be traveling to Upland, California to compete in the Mrs. California America competition. Garcia is currently the reigning Mrs. Stanislaus County.
“As a young girl, I actually had an opportunity to participate in the Miss Teen USA,” Garcia said of her younger years, growing up in Modesto.
A longtime fan of pageants, Garcia was unable to see the opportunity through, until now.
“The funny thing is ... always, every single time, I would look at them and say – that could’ve been me,” she stated of her love for watching pageants since she was young. “It was kind of an ongoing joke, year after year.”
Her husband Mark, however, may not have viewed it as a “joke” as Garcia may have thought. In August of 2018 he presented his wife with the application for the upcoming opportunity. According to Garcia, taken aback by the proposition, she asked her husband if he was crazy, noting to her partner of 29 years that she was in fact a 40-something grandma and mom.
“He said he felt it was the perfect time,” Garcia said of her husband’s encouragement. “So I started kind of letting that seed get planted and watered.”
No sooner did the seed begin to take root, that Garcia found herself hit by a large obstacle. A freak accident that October found her with a serious leg and foot break, which required surgery and titanium rods. The disappointment she had felt as a young teen, robbed of opportunity, quickly resurfaced.
“I literally looked at my husband and cried and said, well there goes my opportunity again for a second time,” she recounted of the fall in mid-fall. “This isn’t going to happen for me.”
With a five month recovery, post-surgery, there was very little the pageant hopeful could do other than think and that she shared, she did a lot of.
“Through that process, I really dug deep and really got to learn a lot about myself outside of being a wife, a mom, a grandma and a business owner,” she said of learning to rely on her family and loved ones while literally immobile. “Then, I became determined to do it.”
Speaking with her doctor, Garcia began formulating her recovery and what that would look like to be ready for a June pageant date. Unbeknownst to her, as she sat planning and prepping, a change within the organization brought the pageant date two months closer.
“I looked at Mark and said … I can’t do this,” she said of the new date. “My husband as encouraging as he has always been said, if you don’t feel that you’re ready I support you – but, I think you are. You’ve been training your whole life for this moment.”
And so the work began. In mid-February, Garcia was released to return to activity. Recognizing that atrophy had occurred as well as substantial muscle loss she returned to her passion of cycling. Enlisting the help of the team at Surge Cycling Studio in Oakdale, she began rebuilding her strength. She also continued her commitment to researching anything and everything.
She educated herself on supplements to assist with bone strength and overall health, as well as tips on the pageantry world and how to be properly prepared.
“I’m going all out, because time was not on my side,” she said of her mindset once released to be active again.
Since that moment, many things have transpired for Garcia showing her that indeed husband Mark was right about the timing. Things seemingly as simple as learning her participant number is 11 in the competition, a number which has always held significance for the contestant and was chosen randomly. And the bigger moment of embracing what this platform means to her.
“I’m realizing that I want to be an inspiration to women. I want to be that voice. I want to be that example that’s used,” she said of embracing the journey and the platform of the pageant. “My word to women right now is, extravagant.
“When have you heard a woman tell another woman, you’re extravagant?” she questioned. “I truly believe women need to know that. That’s my message on my “why.” Women need to know how extravagant they are in our families, our homes, our businesses, our communities. We have women that give all and I don’t think they realize how wonderful and extravagant they are.”
While her word may be “extravagant” her tenacity and determination speaks volumes to all regardless of age or gender. The mother of four and grandmother of three shared just days before departing for Upland, looking back on the past eight months, she feels as if it has transpired exactly as it should.
The pageant will be hosted from April 4 through 6 with the winner advancing to the Mrs. America Pageant. During the competition, Garcia will be judged in three categories: 50 percent interview; 25 percent swimsuit and 25 percent evening gown.
“You can imagine my concern with coming out of five months of being laid up,” Garcia said of the swimsuit and evening gown portion of the competition, noting that contestants are provided with one piece swimsuits from the organization.
The support, however, of her husband, children, sponsor support as well as tribe of friends has been perhaps the most invaluable part of the experience for Garcia.
“There’s nothing I can’t do. I can do anything,” she said of lesson she’s gained most during the journey. “I think I thought I could do anything (before) but the actual thought versus the action are two different things.
“In my mind’s eye I’ve already won,” she continued. “In my heart I’ve already won. In my mind’s eye I see myself on the stage receiving the crown. Not in an arrogant way whatsoever. I see myself receiving a crown because of the women that are behind me, they are also receiving the crown. My tribe, which is a pretty big tribe, I really didn’t realize.”
As the mother of two women, as well as a ‘Mom’ figure to many of their friends, Garcia feels honored by the opportunity to be on a platform which empowers women of all ages. She’s also delighted to represent Oakdale as the reigning Mrs. Stanislaus.
“For my own daughters, plus just that generation I want it to be positive,” she concluded. “I want them to be confident in their own skin. Am I a size three … no! Am I 5’11”… no! The best thing I can do in this pageant is be me. When we walk into ourselves, that’s really when we shine.”