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There She Is/Was/Might Be…

What in all the hell am I doing?!?!

That thought was popped into my brain more than once in the last 72 hours.. from that first second I clicked ‘POST’ and shared with the social media universe some crazy ass personal news: I’ve decided to commit to compete for Mrs. Nebraska 2023.

I’ve been thinking about this for a solid six years, maybe even longer. There’s always been an excuse, but the biggest has continuously been: I AM A 41 YEAR OLD MOTHER and everyone will think I’m a huge loser for trying to relive my 20’s and be a beauty queen again.

I shared this little secret ‘dream’ with some of my favorite people about a year ago. My friend Lisa said this: ‘do you think Dr. Jaime is a loser? Do you think any of those other women are losers?’

No. They are pretty much my heroes.

‘Dr. Jaime’ is Dr. Jaime Seeman, Mrs. Nebraska 2020. She is also a finalist from the NBC hit Titan Games, a sought out Omaha OBGYN and Surgeon, and an inspiration to women all over the world who are hoping to regain their health, fitness and confidence. She’s also a mom of three beautiful girls, a small business owner, and a devoted wife to a busy Lincoln police sergeant.

The first time I emceed Mrs. Nebraska, Dr. Jaime won. That was the same year I met Mrs. Nebraska 2017 Sarah Christianson; she is organized, she is energetic, she is positive and so supportive of others. When I started following her on social media, I was IN AWE of how she just went after things that gave her fulfillment – a physical specimen despite a lifetime of heart problems and being told ‘you can’t’; a contracted model with Develop Model Management; and again, a busy mom of two and happy wife.

Michele Strom, Mrs. Nebraska 2007; a literal LEGEND in the world of health and beauty care, makeup artist and stylist for Nebraska’s first Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers. Michele has not only owned multiple successful businesses, she has been brilliant and confident in her strategies to promote her operations, extend her outreach, and expand her personal partnerships. There’s a reason that within a few weeks of Michele styling our KETV crew during annual headshots she was also styling George Stephanopoulos and the ABC News crew during Iowa Caucuses; because she is a talented lady boss who no one EVER forgets after their first meeting. She is also a proud mom raising incredible kids; her daughter Emma in on full athletic scholarship at the University of Arizona, already exploring NIL business opportunities to capitalize on that success and build her professional resume for the future.

Amanda Reinert, Mrs. Nebraska 2014; small business owner, mom of two (including one with special needs), and a crusader against childhood cancer, raising more than $100,00 and counting to support Children’s Hospital & Medical Center where her daughter, Ava, received treatment. Click here to read more about Amanda’s incredible story. She does all these things and still goes to concerts with friends, has special days with her kids, is THE best room parent in the history of elementary school, etc.

The current Mrs. Nebraska Tammy Shuff; a fellow Gretna mom of three, who I see at Dragon Football games and driving through my neighborhood during mom drop-offs and pickups. She is also a national bodybuilding champion and a constant advocate for causes supporting women.

Anna Ekdhal Peters, Mrs. Nebraska 2018, first planted the seeds of competing in my brain that same year; when I bumped into her at an event that year, encouraging me to compete with infectious positivity and enthusiasm. She just made me feel SO DAMN SPECIAL.

Mrs. Nebraska 2019 Adair Reese. I heard her final speech before she crowned her successor, talking about how that journey allowed her, who owned multiple, small, family businesses and was raising two kids, to do something JUST FOR HER. Somehow, that resonated so much within myself as my final WHY. She was just like me – we are almost the same age. We are both moms. We are both busy professionals. And she did this – and had a GREAT TIME doing it, just for herself.

So why not me? Why not now?

I’m a competitor, and there’s something within pageant land that has always sparked a fire inside of me, pushing myself in competitive venues like INTERVIEW, and PHYSICAL HEALTH. I listen to political debates or on-stage questions at my beloved Miss Omaha or Miss Nebraska competitions, and I think of how I would answer that. It takes me back to competitive speech in high school, or having to immediately respond and compete with my words in court during high school mock trial. It’s part of why I loved my job so much at KETV and why I love my job so much at Westside now; because of that adrenaline rush of being put on the spot and having to just TALK, and speak well. Then there’s the physical aspect.. health is IMPORTANT to me. I want to look and feel good for my husband, my children, AND FOR MYSELF. I want to feel confident in what I present to the world. When I sign up for an event or book a trip with a set date or deadline, whether it be a 5K or a beach trip with my husband, I work harder. I have a goal to focus on when things are hard. There’s also the promise of helping another working momma somewhere think ‘YES, I CAN.’ Whatever that ‘I can’t.’ Might be. There are SO MANY amazing things happening all around us… yet it’s so easy to listen to the haters and become engulfed in all of the bad. I want to share the good that makes someone smile, and inspires them to become better and do better.

The final why… and no way around it, it’s just selfish and that’s it.. I want something for ME. I do my best I can to be a great mom, a great wife, a great employee, a great friend… and I selfishly want something that makes ME excited.

I look back at my own beloved Mom, Jackie, and how she devoted her entire life to us kids. She had three kids 5 and under at 25 years old, with my Dad on the road quite a bit for work. Looking back now, I simply cannot imagine. There wasn’t time for anything else other than getting kids to school and homework and CCD and whose activity on which night. I also remember when she took those rare moments for herself, signing up for a painting class, and how cool I thought that was.. how I thought my Mom was the smartest lady on earth when she went back to school to obtain her degree from Bellevue, pouring over books at the dining room table each night after we went to bed… how pretty I thought my Mom was when we had our Glamour Shots pictures together when I was 15 <<yes, Glamour Shots at Oakview Mall. We were awesome.>> If my Mom had competed for Mrs. Nebraska, it would have been cool as hell, and I would have been in even further awe.

All of my fears I have held onto that my kids or others would think I was being selfish doing something like this because it would take away from them, that somehow, this new descriptor of myself might take away from my most important role on earth I will ever have as their mom… I look back at those moments and have hope that this isn’t something my children think is a choice APART from them, but rather, that they see as an example FOR them, IN ADDITION to them, and that it’s a great story of their momma doing something she wanted to do, working towards a goal. Secretly, I’m hoping they’ll also be proud of me now or later on.

All of my fears I have held onto that my colleagues or folks in the social media world would think, ‘man, that’s sad.. she’s trying to ‘be famous’ again or something and doing an adult pageant? Sheesh.’ Well, I’m a big hypocrite… since it’s all of these Mrs. Nebraska’s and the women who are part of this program who have provided such inspiration to me to work out, eat healthier, go after things that make me happy, and more, by putting themselves out there like I’ve been so afraid of doing. I think of that scene from Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle with Ruby Roundhouse <<if you haven’t watched it, do – super funny>>: YOU ARE a bad ass.

I’ve produced a documentary. I’ve interviewed a sitting President. I’ve anchored live news coverage for hours with no break. I’ve led multi-million dollar communications campaigns for my school district. I’ve lost 20 pounds and learned how to box in my basement. I’ve run several 5K’s after having two children. I’ve raised thousands of dollars for charity and helped others do the same. I try to be kind to others and improve when I am NOT my best self. I try to do cool things for my boy’s classrooms and teams and give them the best happy memories I can. I AM a bad ass.. I’m sure there are haters out there but I can’t change them or what they think.

I CAN stop making excuses, and just DO IT.

<CLICKS POST>.

HERE GOES NOTHING.

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I AM BEYOND grateful to all of my friends, loved ones and colleagues who have sent such amazing well wishes.

THANK YOU!!

To all asking ‘how can I help support you?’ THANK YOU – that means more than I can possibly explain. While I DETEST asking for help for myself, I am looking for sponsorship opportunities with local businesses who may be interested in becoming my partner in this journey! PLEASE CLICK HERE for details, or email me anytime: brandipaul7@gmail.com.