Monday, March 2, 2015

A Girl's Best Friend by Gabby Taylor


"A dog is the only thing that loves you more than he loves himself"


Over the past years I have been blessed with the absolute best friend a girl could ever ask for. A friend who is always there for me, ways listens and one who genuinely cares for my well-being. You might ask who? The answer would be Cooper my three year old teddy bear dog.

 


Christmas Day three years ago on a bright and sunny morning the whole family piled into our car for a surprise. We were told that we were headed to Rochester, Minnesota to pick up wreaths and have hot apple cider. Bella and I should've known better. When we arrived, the jig was up. There was one special puppy waiting just for us. I had the chance to hold this little fluff ball. He was incredibly soft and his coat was brown and white. This puppy was the only one remaining from his entire litter. He fell right asleep in my arms he first time I held him. We were all so anxious and excited to take him to his new home!

 


Once as brought him home, the great name debate began. His original name was Bandit, however after discussing names we all decided that we wanted to name him Charlie. That lasted a total of ten minutes. We then came to an agreement that our puppies name would be Chester. Shortly after, you guessed it, we changed his name again. I'm not entirely sure as to how we came up with the name Cooper for our little guy, but that is what has been called ever since and I couldn't imagine him with any other name.

 

Cooper came into my life at a time where I needed companionship the most.

This was a time where I had some pretty severe medical challenges. Often times after week long hospitalizations, Cooper would be able to put a smile on my face. Dogs are so intuitive, Cooper always knows exactly what kind of company I am seeking, and never fails me. Going on walks, taking naps, watching Netflix, eating dinner, the list could go on for ages, no matter what I am doing he is always right there by my side. I can't imagine he day where he isn't around.

 


There are numerous days dedicated towards pet appreciation. However, I believe that "I love my pet day" should be everyday. Especially since their love for us is unwavering. Do me a favor today and show your pet some love.

I know I will!

 

Until next time,

Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014

Mexico by Gabby Taylor


Minnesota winters can be harsh; with brisk air, strong winds, snow and gloomy skies. Thankfully, I recently had the chance to spend a week away in much more favorable weather! It took a lot of preparation to get ready for this trip. Since I have never been out of the country before, I had to get a passport. I had a little too much fun shopping for swimsuits and sundresses for my trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

I woke up bright and early on the morning of our flight, I felt like kid waking up to go to Disney Land. Our flight took off at 9am, and it was a freezing cold morning. The flight took about three and a half hours total, but it definitely felt much longer as I was growing more and more excited every minute. It was amazing to see the cold snow covered ground as we took off, and then the bright blue ocean and lush greenery when our plane landed. It is crazy to think that in just a few hours you can travel to a different country!
Immediately when I got off the plane I could tell I wasn’t in Minnesota anymore. The warm humid air was a refreshing change to the winter weather I had just experienced hours earlier that morning. We flew into the Cancun airport and from there had an hour drive to get to Playa Del Carmen. It was fun to see all of the resorts and people on the drive down to our condo. I was eager to get unpacked once arriving at The Elements condominiums. Our first night was a fun opportunity to walk down Fifth Ave and really take it all in. We had dinner at a restaurant called Ula Gula, mostly all restaurants in Playa are outdoor open concepts and Ula Gula was no exception to this. I had the chicken fettuccini alfredo pasta, it was the most delicious pasta I have ever had. After having dinner, we continued to walk around and soak in all the live music and people. For a Tuesday evening, it felt so alive and very similar to a NYC the city that never sleeps atmosphere.  
 
For the days to come we had a routine establish itself. This consisted of waking up having breakfast, then heading straight for the beach. It was so nice to just lay out in the sun and not have a worry in the world. At about lunch time we would either go and eat in our condos, or head right next door to the Cannibal Royale. This restaurant had the most delicious fresh fish tacos, octopus, guacamole as well as refreshing drinks and music. After lunch was done, we would take a walk along the beach as a group. We would also take our portable speaker with us and have a dance party along the way. It was a fun way to get our daily exercise in, and I must say that my legs were sore after each and every day as the beach walk consisted of about 3 miles total. Add in dancing, and trudging through the heavy sand and you have a recipe for a wonderful workout!
 
 
Towards the end of our trip we went to the Coco Bongo Disco. This starts at 10pm and goes until 4am in the morning! When we walked into Coco Bongo I realized just how much preparation goes into each night they put on performances. The evening was full of music, dancing, acrobatics, and celebrity impersonations. I was amazed with how talented all of the performers were, I could tell years and years of practice went into them perfecting their craft. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me personally. Another fun thing that I had the chance to do was a catamaran excursion that took us to Isla Mujeres. We had the chance to snorkel; this was my first time ever snorkeling so I was definitely a little nervous but still excited. After getting all of the equipment on I had to jump off the boat and get started. I was able to see sting rays near the bottom of the ocean, scuba divers down near the reefs and of course many schools of fish! At our next stop during the catamaran tour I held a shark. I was amazed at how rough the shark’s skin felt, I was under the impression that the shark would have slippery skin but it was just the opposite. Similar to the snorkeling, holding the shark was a first for me (and may be a last as well)!
All in all this vacation was a complete blast. I look forward to the next time I can come back to Playa Del Carmen. I will always remember the food, the people, the beaches, the weather and all of the fun memories that were made. It is safe to say that I have been bit by the travel bug; I am already excited to get more use out of my passport. I’m not sure where I will head next but I am sure that wherever I go, I will immerse myself in the culture and enjoy every minute. Time flies when you’re having fun.
 
Until next time,
Gabby Taylor
Miss Minnesota International 2014

 



Home Free Concert by Gabby Taylor



I am so thankful to be a part of such a close knit group of women. The International Pageant sisterhood is a network of accomplished, beautiful, intelligent women. Often times, some of the best appearance opportunities come from within this sisterhood. A big thank you is due to Becky, Miss Minnesota International 2006, for the exciting event I had the chance to attend.

I was able to head down to Fairmont, Minnesota with my family for an especially unique event. Home Free, winners of the hit TV show “The Sing Off” were having a concert. Before the main event, I met with a group of local high school teens to share my personal story and platform of Sports Safety and Injury Prevention. They did a wonderful write-up, and also took some video footage.  After meeting with them, there was a round robin interview with a local radio show, newspaper and magazine. It is always amazing to be able to share something that you are so passionate about. After the interviews had finished it was time to head over to the Speedway for the races. This was an absolute blast, and I could tell that the speedway brought the community together in many ways. I hadn’t been to a Speedway for races in years, so this certainly was a real treat!
 
Before I knew it, the time had come and it was time for Home Free to perform. I had the honor of greeting the crowds of people in attendance. I was able to share the A Capella groups’ journey to fame as well as introduce each and every member of Home Free. After their introduction was complete, it finally came time for them to take the stage and perform. They are so talented; it was captivating watching them sing. It truly was the best concert I have ever attended, and they didn’t have any instruments aside from their voices. Despite the downpours of rain, everyone who attended was up on their feet dancing and singing along to each and every word. At the end of the day, rain or shine, the show goes on!
 

Until next time,
Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014

21st Birthday! by Gabby Taylor



There are many monumental moments in an individual’s life. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, births, the list goes on and on. Recently, I had one of those moments; I celebrated my 21st birthday with some of the greatest company. My family rented out a space in downtown Stillwater so we could go all out for this exciting day! This birthday, along with all birthdays are extra special for one very good reason. When I was born, naturally a few short days later it was time to come home from the hospital. It just so happens that it was my mom’s birthday when I was ready to be taken home. My mom and I have since celebrated mostly all of our birthdays together! This birthday wouldn’t be an exception to that, we were ready to have a gathering for my 21st and my mom’s 25th birthday (she’s been turning 25 for the past few years, love you lots mom)!
It was such a fun night for all who attended. We had some of my favorite appetizers, music and dancing.  Many of our friends and family came; I was especially surprised when Kimberly and Jeremy showed up. I truly have the best sister queens a girl could ever ask for. I look forward to celebrating many more monumental moments to come with my family, friends and pageant sisters for years to come.
Until next time,
Gabby Taylor
Miss Minnesota International 2014


Sunday, March 1, 2015

"5 ways pageantry has enhanced my life " by Gabby Taylor



1. Pageants helped me come into my own skin as well as realize who I am.

Pageantry truly is a journey! Throughout my 4 years involved in the pageant community I have grown as a person substantially. I now know exactly who I am and who I want to be.

 

2. Pageantry taught me the importance of setting both short and long term goals. In life, it is absolutely necessary to have goals in order to achieve your biggest dreams.

 

3. Pageantry has taught me the importance of "failing forward". In pageants, and life it is impossible to always win. However, it is possible to "fail forward", or in other words take each loss and turn into a lesson to better yourself and move forward.

 

4. Pageantry has allowed me to diminish interview anxiety. I have learned how to communicate my thoughts both clearly and confidently when addressing people from all walks of life. This has been especially beneficial during job interviews, thanks to pageants I can proudly say that there is no question I cannot answer.

 

5. Pageantry has opened a door for to meet some of the most remarkable people. Many of these individuals have grown to become some of my best friends. It is crazy to think that if I never competed in the International pageant system I wouldn't have met a large percentage of my mentors, friends and "sisters".

 

Until next time,

 

Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014

"Advice to the Next Miss Minnesota International 2015 " By Gabby Taylor


 

I have come up with a list of advice for the next Miss Minnesota International. These are all things that I have picked up and learned over the past few years while holding titles in the MN Int’l pageant system.

§  Take too many pictures and just when you think you’ve taken enough, take a few more. These moments go by in the blink of an eye, pictures help preserve so many precious memories.

§  Never be afraid to wear heels to an appearance that requires you to be on your feet for extended periods of time. Always pack flats, and don’t be ashamed to put them to good use when you feel as if your feet might fall off!

§  Embrace every opportunity to attend an event or appearance. One year may seem like a long time, however it really isn’t and it flies by so incredibly fast. When you reign is coming to an end, you’ll want to look back and be confident that you made the biggest impact humanly possible.

§  Eating healthy is very important; however don’t be scared to order the hamburger and fries every now and then. Moderation is key.

§  Be unapologetically YOU throughout the entire experience. Like I said earlier, one year isn’t much time at all. It will however feel like an eternity if you are pretending to be somebody you’re not.

§  Get into a habit of continually educating yourself on your platform. In order to be the best advocate possible it is critical that you stay informed and updated.

§  At nationals, be sure to get a good night’s rest. It will be extremely tempting to stay up late to practice the opening number dance or talk to your teen queen about every little detail, but refrain from it. Every princess needs and deserves her beauty sleep.

§  Take every bit of advice that anyone and everyone has to give you. Tips, tricks and advice are like pure gold and equally as valuable. After all knowledge is power!

 

 

One last thing to remember…

 

 

Until next time,

Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014

"Taylor traditions " by Gabby Taylor


Every family has their unique traditions that grow stronger and more special as time passes. My family is no exception to this. While each family may do things a little differently, at the end of the day traditions bring a family together and provide countless opportunities for some pretty special memories to develop.

 
I have been visiting Lake Superior for my whole life. It has become a family tradition to visit and vacation in this beautiful area. There are a few stops that are absolutely necessary when my family heads up north.

Gooseberry Falls has some of the best and most scenic hiking trails. I have some fun memories of my siblings and I hiking as well as picking rocks on the trails. Betty's Pie shop has also turned into a Taylor tradition during our trips. With all of that hiking, we sure do work up an appetite. Betty's Pie is just the ticket to satisfy our stomachs and of course our taste buds!

 

There is another very special tradition my family has, as do countless other Minnesota families. The great Minnesota get together, the state fair! It is an event I have attended for as long as I can remember. The tradition begins with finding parking, we all know this can be the most tedious part of the state fair. Once inside those gates, it's time to have some delicious yet not so nutritious food. My family loves to try as many things as possible, so according to us sharing is caring and we share everything we buy.

Visiting all of the local news stations and radio booths is always a must for us. Speaking of the fair already has me looking forward to this summer!

 

Holidays are always very special and extremely family oriented. Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, no matter which holiday we are celebrating, we celebrate together. A holiday that was spent without a large number of family members present, is somewhat of a taboo. Until recently, this past Christmas. Due to schedule conflicts it was the first time that I can recall where I have ever spent a holiday alone. It was in that moment that I truly realized just how much I love and appreciate that holiday traditions my parents and grandparents have put into place. I can confidently say that I will never spend another holiday without my family by my side.

 
No matter what the tradition is; big or small, common or bizarre, what makes them so memorable is the people that surround you during those times. I look forward to implementing the traditions above in my own family someday, as well as many more. I am blessed to have a big family full of personalities, there is never a dull moment but I wouldn't have it any other way. The memories made from the traditions we carry out are some of the greatest, I look forward to many more memories moving forward.

 

Until next time,

Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014

Monday, February 23, 2015

Polar Plunge! By Rachel Flynn



This last Saturday my sister queens Kim, Lainey, and I participated in the Polar Plunge for the very first time. I heard about the Polar Plunge when I was volunteering at a poly hockey tournament for Special Olympics. Special Olympics is such a wonderful organization and what they do for their athletes is simply empowering. The Polar Plunge took place in Prior Lake and all the money raised went to Special Olympics. Funds raised also helped to support programs such as Young Athletes, Unified Sports, Healthy Athletes, and Athlete Leadership Programs.

 This year marked the 18th year of the Polar Plunge in Minnesota. The first plunge took place in 1998 at Como Lake, where 65 plungers raised $20,000. Without the support of Law Enforcement, there would be no Polar Plunge. I was excited to have raised $120 for such a worthy cause. Lainey, Kim, and I had so much fun and participating in the Polar Plunge is something I will never forget!

Unforgettable moments as Miss Minnesota International by Gabby Taylor



Over the course of my year as Miss Minnesota International I have definitely made some unforgettable memories. Throughout life everybody experiences exciting, humorous, embarrassing, and meaningful moments. It will be difficult for me to pick a few but I thought it would be fun to share some of those memories with you all!
Let’s kick things off with a humorous memory, and also one of my personal favorites. At the very beginning of my reign a unique appearance opportunity presented itself. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society holds many events every year to raise both funds and awareness. The event I attended was the “Woman-less Pageant”; the reason why this was just so hilarious for me was because my dad was one of the pageant contestants. I was his coach, and had the chance to help him with his modeling, interview, wardrobe styling and overall poise. The memories of shopping for his gown and applying his makeup are simply unforgettable. Although he didn't win, I was proud of him for all the hard work he did for such a wonderful cause. All of the contestants were such troopers for dressing up like women to put on an amazing and comical show. This is an event I will continue to attend for years to come. However, according to my dad his pageant days are long over!


          This may seem cliché, but my most exciting memory to date was my crowning moment. It was such an exhilarating experience to be up there standing with so many accomplished, intelligent beautiful women. Knowing that one of our lives was about to be changed for an upcoming year and beyond. When my name was called it was one of the most exciting moments of my life. Seeing my sister queens called was equally as exciting. In this moment, my mind was thinking a million thoughts a minute. Knowing how amazing this particular pageant is from my experiences as Miss Teen Minnesota International 2012, I was incredibly anxious to get to work. In a short amount of time, four new women will have to chance to feel the same emotions I felt. I cannot wait to see who God has chosen for this very special job!

          Time for an embarrassing memory! This one took place during the state pageant in St. Cloud.  It was time for the aerobic wear portion of the competition. There isn't much time to get changed backstage; the massive amounts of hairspray, heels and clothing in the changing rooms made the simple task of getting all set and ready to go a very difficult one. I thought I was ready for competition, and shortly before going onstage realized that I had my shorts on backwards! Needless to say, they were tight in the backside and quite loose in the front. With no time to change, I just went out there and gave it my all. I’m fairly confident that nobody noticed, so this was more of a personal embarrassing moment. Moral of the story, ladies be sure to mark your aerobic wear so you know which way to put them on! It can become quite chaotic backstage; I learned my lesson with this one.

          I could write on for days, my heart is filled with so many amazing memories. The International pageant is unlike any other. So many of my fondest experiences have revolved directly around my platform of Sports Safety Education and Injury Prevention. I am so anxious to see who is crowned next, and follow their journey through all of the funny, exciting, unique and hopefully not too many embarrassing moments!

Until next time,
Gabby Taylor
Miss Minnesota International 2014

         




Go Red Luncheon by Rachel Flynn

                  

  I had the privilege of attending the American Heart Association’s annual Go Red for Women luncheon on January 27. I helped out at the luncheon last year and really enjoyed it. I especially liked hearing from the speakers and their amazing stories. This year I volunteered again and was accompanied by my sister queen Lainey Oliphant (Miss Pre-Teen MN International). We handed out goody bags with heart healthy information as we greeted the women who came to the luncheon.
        The American Heart Association’s mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and strokes.  The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization devoted to heart diseases and strokes. To improve the lives of all Americans, they provide public health education in a variety of ways. They are also the nation’s leader in CPR training. The American Heart Association is truly an amazing organization and I've learned a lot from them on how to stay heart healthy.