Thursday, December 30, 2010

The End of an Incredible Year... The Beginning of Another Beautiful Adventure

It's quite amazing to realize that in a matter of hours, 2010 will be over, and a new year will have begun. Around this time, many people make hundreds of resolutions that they don't entirely intend to keep, and end up forgetting about them in a matter of days, weeks, or months. For the first time, I can honestly say I don't have even one New Year's Resolution. This is not at all because I am perfect by any means, but simply because I've been making "resolutions" all year; I've been working towards goals and changing habits each and every day, and I fully intend to continue doing that throughout the year of 2011.

The year of 2010 was a roller-coaster; so many things happened, and it was simply indescribable. I turned 17; graduated from high school; applied to my dream college; won Miss Nebraska; deferred enrollment to said college; almost got charged by a bull; found out about and met my eldest brother for the first time; met my idol: the composer of my piano piece; went trick-or-treating for the first time; traveled to Houston, Tampa, and Orlando; watched my first Husker game; put 30,000 miles on the Miss Nebraska car; tried sushi for the first time; and so much more! And those, of course, are experiences outside of my "regular" Miss Nebraska duties! If anything can top this past year, I know it will be 2011. In a week, I'll be headed to Las Vegas to compete for Miss America, which will be an outstanding experience all in its own. The next six months will be crazy busy whether I win Miss America or continue my work as Miss Nebraska, so either way, I know this next year will be nothing short of amazing.

As I'm sure it was for everyone, this past month was a hectic one in the Scanlan household! My older sister, Sarah, returned from college for winter break, and my eldest sister, Angela, moved back in temporarily as well; the house was quite suddenly five times louder. Of course Christmas-time was filled with all sorts of Holiday activities, Christmas parties, decorating, baking, and more. I decked out the Official Miss Nebraska Car with holiday spirit, complete with greenery, poinsettias, Santa hats, and a nativity. My younger brothers "helped" me decorate a gingerbread house village, and my sisters and I hosted a Christmas party at my house so I could spend time with my friends one last time. (Who knew over forty teenagers could fit in our living room?)

I had the opportunity to speak to and perform for the Gering Business Club at their last monthly meeting at the Gering Civic Center, and had a wonderful time! All of the members were so much fun and an outstanding encouragement to me as well.

Yesterday I was able to appear on Channel 8 ABC News in Lincoln with Brittany Jeffers to chat about the upcoming Miss America competition. It was great seeing her again, and pretty neat to have last year's Miss Nebraska interviewing the current!

This week has been spent in the eastern part of the state, as I finish up preparations for Miss America. My wardrobe received its final alterations, I had my final appointment at The Strand salon, I met with Michele Strom, who will be going to Miss America with me as my makeup artist, and completed lots more "errands" as well. Of course, I came down with a nasty cold right about Christmas Eve, so my focus has been kicking that, which is almost gone now. My goal is to stay healthy and energized throughout the time I'm in Vegas, so health is definitely a priority right now! Tonight, I have a modeling job for "Into the Wild" New Year's Eve 2011 at Nomad Lounge in Omaha, so I'm super excited for another "first" for me! Should be a fun way to spend New Year's Eve, and if the weather cooperates, I'll be headed home on the first day 0f 2011!

Well, here's to a year well-spent, and looking forward to another year of trying new things, taking chances, giving it everything, and staying optimistic! As always, thank you so much for your incredible support and constant encouragement these past six months, and I look forward to serving you and working together in the next six months.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Story of the Dragonfly

I recently heard a wonderful story that a group of ladies in North Platte shared with another who had lost several loved ones this past year. I thought it was a beautiful metaphor that really puts things in perspective, so I thought I'd pass it along as well. Please share with those you know who may be hurting from loss this holiday season.

The Story of the Dragonfly

In a little pond, in the muddy water under the lily pads, there lived a little water beetle in a community of water beetles. They lived a simple and comfortable life in the pond. Once in a while, sadness would come to the community when one of their fellow beetles would climb the stem of a lily pad and would never be seen again. They knew that when this happened their friend was dead, gone forever. One day, one little water beetle felt an irresistible urge to climb up that stem. However, he was determined that he would not leave forever. He would come back and tell his friends what he had found at the top. When he reached the top and climbed out of the water onto the surface of the lily pad, he was so tired, and the sun felt so warm, that he decided to take a nap. As he slept, his body changed. When he woke up, he had turned into a beautiful dragonfly. As he soared he saw the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life than what he had ever known existed. He found he could fly and in his flight he discovered his world was brighter than anything he had ever imagined and the beauty was breathtaking.

Then he remembered his beetle friends and how they were thinking by now he was dead. He remembered his pact with the others below and started down to the water. He tried and tried to break through the surface to reach his friends, but couldn’t.
He wanted to go back to tell them what he had found, and explain to them that he was now more alive than he had ever been before. His life had been fulfilled rather than ended. He could not get back to tell his friends the good news. Then he understood that their time would come, when they too would know what he now knew. That one day we too will break out of the murky water and join the others we love in the bright light of heaven.

So he raised his wings and flew off into his joyous new life!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Getting Closer...

As I count down the days to Miss America, it's finally beginning to feel so near, so real. Everything has come together and been prepared, down to the minute details. Last week, the Miss Nebraska Organization held a send-off party for me in North Platte. Hosted by Miss Nebraska 2009 Brittany Jeffers, I got to model my wardrobe and perform my talent for those in attendance. Once again, it was wonderful to feel the support and encouragement from so many across the state. With approximately three weeks until the competition in Las Vegas, I'm feeling the excitement build more and more each day! Who knows what January 15th will bring? I'm not worried about the outcome, but the journey. And let me tell you, this journey has been incredible.

After the send-off on Saturday, I headed over to Mccook to sign autographs and take pictures with kids who came into the Viaero Wireless store there. We had a lot of fun! That night I also watched the Big 12 Championship with some Miss NE ladies; although a big disappointing, we had a great time. It was the first Husker game I've ever watched, in real life or on tv! (I don't think I'm supposed to tell people that, so shhh!) Over the weekend I also did some mock interviews and other prep work, and got to go visit Scout's Rest Ranch as well. The ranch is the home of "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and is absolutely beautiful! Various individuals and groups throughout the area decorate the rooms in the house for Christmas, so it was incredible to see the gorgeous decorations throughout. Beginning the 17th, they have tours, pictures with Santa, hayrack rides, apple cider, roasted chestnuts, and lots of fun, so if you're in the area, be sure to make it over!

On Tuesday I headed across the state to meet with Governor Heineman in Lincoln. We had a great talk about politics and various issues; he is a fantastic person, and a very strong leader. The following day I had the opportunity to present before the Nebraska Board of Education on my proposal to implement NEDA's Educator Toolkits into teacher training programs, as well as recognizing National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in the schools this year. Our time went very well, and the board members were very receptive and supportive of my presentation.

Yesterday was another Leadership Scottsbluff session, focusing on public speaking and communication. We had some fantastic speakers and presentations that of course apply very directly to my job every day. We also visited the Veteran's Home in Scottsbluff; I got to play cards with a Navy Air Corps veteran named Harry, and also played my talent piece for all the veterans. Every one of them has such an incredible story, and it was so amazing to see their appreciation for our time. Just playing games with them and chatting makes such a difference; as one veteran there told us, the best way to honor them is simply to tell them "I'm proud of you."

As travels slow a bit, I'll be able to spend some time with my family over the holidays, as well as get to work on some events that are in the works for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 20th-26th 2011. Be sure to mark your calendars to remember this week, wear purple for eating disorders awareness, and stay tuned for upcoming events across the state!

Of course, as the weather gets colder, remember to take some time to relax and enjoy the season. For a moving story about dedication and true character, find a copy of "Promises I Made My Mother" by Sam Haskell. This book is also a great gift for mothers or sons, as it presents an inspiring message about this powerful relationship.

Embrace the Season!