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Friday, July 29, 2016

It's Your Vote... Don't Waste It: The Downfall and Reality of a Two Party Democratic System in 2016

The 2016 Presidential election is a hot topic-- not just in the U.S., but around the world. The international community seems to have taken a bigger interest in this year's elections most likely because 1) this is Prime-Time American Reality TV starring one of our country's biggest celebrities and 2) America is an extremely powerful, passionate and strong country-- and the decision of who will lead such an International Powerhouse does, in fact, affect people around the world.

Back here in the U.S. though, many people consider this election "Business As Usual".
We do this routine every 4 years, right?
- A group of left and right politicians rip each other to shreds for a few months until the last one standing miraculously gains ALL of the support of their once rivals, to be nominated.
- Then 2 candidates attack each other's past, knowledge, rhetoric, history, mistakes, successes, failures, families, employees... (you get the point) until November comes along.
- Everyone votes.
- A winner is announced in a generally dramatic fashion.
- And then its over.
- People are sad.
- People are happy.
But in the end, what is the worst that could happen? These candidates were all qualified, right? They're respectable people who have the competency, patience and consideration to do this job??
Up until now, yes... but this year things have changed.

This year the stakes are even higher.
The reality and importance of this election should strike you to your core.
The candidates this year are NOT perfect. In fact, I'm sure if we could all rewind a year and take a closer look at the qualified people on the list, we would-- BUT since a Time Machine has not yet been invented (who's job was that, anyway? Einstein? FAIL!) we really all need to be realistic about November.

There are 2 choices: Donald Trump and Sec. Hillary Clinton.
To those of you saying, No! There's more than 2 choices! I can write in  (Insert Name Here)
Let me start here: I am all for the "Revolution" ... and I too LOVE Bernie Sanders and all of the political, economic and social reforms that he was planning to thrust upon this country. But Bernie didn't win the Democratic Primary. However that happened-- in whatever capacity emails may suggest otherwise-- Clinton won the votes. Period. Point Blank. So the romantic idea that a large group of people can write in a 3rd candidate (party affiliation unknown/undetermined) is just that... romantic.
The reality is: 1/3 of you will write in Bernie Sanders, 1/4 of you will write in Gary Johnson, 1/8 of you will write in your favorite Celebrity, Musician or Family Member, and at least 1 person is still voting for Ralph Nader.
That means that a large number of the intelligent, level-headed people in this country are splitting their votes up between some equally intelligent, level-headed people -- while the people who have already shown force in electing Donald Trump the Republican Nominee will continue to band together and make him our next President.

I don't know about you, but there is nothing that scares me more than having this man lead our country. 
Not Terrorism. Not Gun Violence. Not the threat of Nuclear Weapons. 
Nothing in this world scares me more than to think that this man will shape the future of our country and the world my children will grow up in.

Without going into a lecture on the reasons Donald Trump has NOT earned my vote in November (which I'm sure will spawn its own blog post in the near future)-- I just want to clarify to my friends why the answer is NOT to vote in anger, jealousy or retribution come November.
You may not like your choices-- but you need to make a choice.

The reality is: one of these people will be our next President. Sorry to burst your bubble.
If you "vote your conscious"-- whichever candidate that means for you-- then YOU may feel good about yourself for the day because you stood your ground and didn't conform, blah blah blah.
But how will you feel 4 months later? 4 years later? How will you feel for the next 4 years knowing that your vote-- as a whole-- should have made a difference?

In November I ask that you take into account the gravity of the situation. The entire world is looking to us-- the United States of America-- to do what we've always done: The Right Thing.
To say NO to hate, to bigotry, to unkind words and threats.
To not respond to these uneasy, scary times with fear and more hate-- but with love and trust and hope that things will eventually get better if we come together and embrace each other for our similarities and our differences.
The world is constantly changing and we want a leader to embrace that.
Not a leader who shuts people up, calls people names, threatens friends and allies, expresses support for enemies and dictators, puts up walls, blames others and makes more enemies.

This country's founders and leaders would NOT find this man to be a worthy leader.
Born into privilege, raised with a silver spoon and rewarded for his greed, hatred and disregard for others does NOT make someone a good leader. Not of this country.
This country means more, does more, stands for more.

I continue to hold out hope that the America I grew up in would not let such a person represent us all on the global stage-- and I sincerely hope that this is the America that shows up to the polls in November.

With Love, Respect & Kindness, 

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Zika Virus: A Plague on the Only Child

My daughter has been asking for a "Baby Brother" since she could talk. She loves to pretend to change her baby doll's (or Daddy's) diaper and give them a night-night bottle. She lays them down, covers them with her blanket and (forcefully) pats their back-- commanding "Go Sleep! Go Sleep!"
She loves hanging out in the baby room at Daycare-- although I can only imagine how much of that joy comes from just generally terrorizing smaller human beings.

I get asked weekly-- sometimes daily-- "When are you and your husband going to have another one?"
In some cases, I think its just polite small talk. In other cases, people are genuinely delighted with my daughter's pleasant demeanor and they genuinely want to know when another adorable human just like her might be created. And in other cases, my friends and family just want me to keep popping out small adorable snuggle-monsters so they can reap all the benefits from my 9-months of misery.
Don't misunderstand me: I'm not offended when people ask (although that doesn't make it any of their business. Unless they plan to pitch-in with raising and paying for the next one-- in that case, I'm all ears! Ask away!)
But I was on vacation recently when I realized that my answer had taken a dramatic turn.

Up until very recently, our "Baby #2" plans had been centered around life: my military husband leaves often for training so we try to take those dates into consideration (at least the few we're aware of ahead of time), my work schedule, our upcoming "event" schedule (weddings, bachelor/bachelorette parties, vacations, anniversaries, funerals, etc.)
Basically, over the last 2-years we've discovered something ALWAYS comes up -- allowing those "baby making plans" to get pushed back.
Originally, we wanted to wait a year before I got pregnant again. Then, my husband's job took him away to Missouri for 6 weeks --- so we waited. Then a few of my close friends got engaged and that brings Bridesmaid dresses and Bachelorette parties-- so, once again, we found ourselves pushing our own plan back. Now we were looking at after our daughter turned 2 in early June 2016.
And here we are in early June 2016-- but once again, plans have changed.
But no one new is getting married. My husband isn't deploying. And no, the terrible 2s (and HORRIBLE 3s) haven't scared us away from pro-creating again. 
This time, its something way bigger and out of our control.

Just a week ago my mom asked, "You're not trying to get pregnant right now, are you?"
Normally, I would just chalk that up to my mom being my mom. She's known for speaking her mind. But in this case-- she asked out of concern. She, like many, have just started tuning in to the increased concern over the spread of the Zika virus around the world-- specifically the impact on pregnant women and unborn babies.

6 months ago I was starting to look into a vacation to Mexico with some friends for some summer fun in the sun. After only a week of "searching" I had to ditch the vacation plans altogether because of a little-known virus that had just started causing a buzz south of the border -- and there was already a "travel warning" issued for Pregnant woman, Women trying to get pregnant or Women of child-bearing age.
That's vague, I thought. Child-bearing age is now anywhere from 16 to 40 (and in Janet Jackson's case... 50!)-- so are World Health leaders literally telling ALL WOMEN ages 16 to 40 NOT to travel to these "hot spots"?
The answer: Yes. 
The reason: A scary virus that while generally harmless to adults can be deadly if passed on to unborn babies-- causing serious and potentially deadly birth defects.
And that's reason enough for me.

So, my husband and I talked. And I cried. Because once again my dream of having more kids has been put on the back burner-- and this time, it feels more indefinite.. more uncertain. This time, I don't have a date in mind for when I can start planning to add to our family. This time it is sad because its finally the right time for us and our family... but the wrong circumstances.

In just the past week, I've found myself needing to explain our decision to wait to friends and family.
Some are very understanding. Some have echoed our concerns. While others make me feel like I'm being paranoid or acting TOO cautiously.
But let me tell you something-- if there is anything scarier than your first pregnancy, its the 2nd.
You know what to expect, yes-- but you now know *everything* you can expect--- every "worst case scenario", every terrifying birthing experience and every possible life-hiccup that can impact you and your child's life forever. In a sea of "unknowns"-- and in a world of crazy life ups-and-downs -- if you can manage to keep some control over the circumstances surrounding your baby's health and well-being-- you should.
And in this case, I chose to take control over this situation and say: I will not be having any more children until the risk of the Zika virus is better understood, until the spread of the virus is no longer a growing threat to the entire world's population, and/or until a vaccine is created for mothers and fetuses so the threat of birth defects in infected babies is diminished dramatically.

I will worry constantly for the first 9-months of my next child's life.
Am I eating the right things? Drinking enough water? Taking the right vitamins? Driving safely?
But I cannot, in good conscience, get pregnant with this terrifying virus spreading throughout the world-- and the saddest realization is that this epidemic could make my daughter an only child.

With Love, always.

Friday, October 16, 2015

How to Prepare for Your College Homecoming

Homecoming is generally associated with High School divas in tiaras waving endlessly in the back of a rented convertible driving up and down some middle-of-nowhere town's (one and only) Main St.
(Obviously, I am no longer bitter that I was never nominated for Homecoming Court...)

However, in my young adulthood -- I realized that Homecoming was not just another 10 letter word. There was nothing to fear. Because in your adult years -- at least at MY COLLEGE-- Homecoming is the best weekend of the year. 

Like Christmas. The Super Bowl. a Family Reunion. and St. Patrick's Day. All Rolled into one.
One big happy, huggy, drunk weekend.

So, as I make my final preparations for this weekend and go down my extensive check list of TO DOs, and TO BUYs, and TO MAKEs...
I've decided to pass on my wisdom to young students, young alumni, old alumni and just plain ol' randoms -- on how to prepare for a successful Homecoming Weekend.

This is in fact my 10th year in attendance. So that makes me an expert. Obviously.

1) Go To College. 

     Simple. Yet, if you don't go to a college then you will always feel like an awkward outsider at everyone else's College Homecoming celebrations. (unless you're at E&H -- 'cause we love errybody)
Plus, College is fun and cool-- you learn a bunch of stuff-- and you make lots of friends. Just do it.

2) Preparation is Key.

     This type of event is NOT something people begin packing for the morning-of, or night-before.
This kind of event takes planning. Logistics.  
Who has the tailgating spot this year?
Who is bringing the snacks? the beer? the beer bong?
Who has an extra cooler?
Do we need a tent? a grill? a fire extinguisher?...
Does Danielle have a safe, comfortable place to pass out?
In all honesty, it takes a much more organized person than myself to wrangle all these hoodlums into a parking lot. And by the end of the day-- forget about it! You won't see HALF of those people again after 10:00 am. (until of course they SOMEHOW appear at the bar that night... I will never figure out how they get there or where they disappeared to for 10 hours) 
But I digress-- Planning. Key.
Weeks before Homecoming you must: secure a tailgating spot, hotel room (or local brothel-- whatever floats your boat), drink water and start saving $$
 The Week OF Homecoming: clean out your car, buy a new outfit (or two), clean out cooler, confirm hotel, confirm tailgate, tell organizers your tailgating contribution (you MUST bring something. even if its just the left-over Solo Cups you bought last year), oh... and drink water
The Day Before Homecoming: Buy another new outfit, new boots, new sunglasses, pick up tailgating snacks and drinks (that's code for alcohol. not soda. If I see your ass on the Tailgating field w/ something non-alcoholic, you BETTER BE PREGNANT!), clean out car again,  start packing bag-- pack 6 different outfits for 24 hours, pack shoes (you need boots. and back up boots. and back ups for the back up), drink more water
The Night Before Homecoming: time to cook (or reheat for some), drink water
HOMECOMING DAY: Wake up at an ungodly hour, shower, shave, blow dry, straighten, attempt to look at cute as possible at 6/7/8am ... then start drinking (not water this time). (*if you're driving however I do not recommend drinking BEFORE your travels. DUIs aren't cool kids.)

3) Practical Fall Fashion.

Homecoming is generally where I stare at random girls outfits all day and wish I owned them. Hats, and Boots, and Scarves... OH MY!
For many schools, Football games are a "dressy" affair-- with khakis and bow ties. 
Well, not at Emory & Henry College. Any normal football Saturday is full of jeans, College t-shirts and comfy shoes... EXCEPT ON HOMECOMING DAY! 
now THOSE are some sensible fall boots... 
and a very attractive group of ladies... am I right?

Be warned: this is not your average Saturday football game. There are lots of people around and you need to look presentable (at least while sober). There are alumni, there are politicians, there's your ex-boyfriend(s), there are local tv-news celebrities... and you need to put your best foot forward. Also, this is not a time to look like a full-blown SKANK ( WOMEN)... If I can see your butt cheeks and your "lady parts" when you walk-- then I think we need to re-visit some pants. Keep it covered. This is family event.
ALSO-- Ladies, this is not the event to be wearing ridiculous shoes (Stephanie, I'm talking to YOU!) I don't want to watch you break your ankles all day stomping around in the gravel lot in 5 inch heels. I don't care how cute they are! Flats, or boots, or wedges-- these are not ugly shoes... and your feet will THANK YOU after 8 hours of drinking and walking (or stumbling) around.

4) This is a Family Event.

An idea that I will admit I did not grasp until I became a mom. Back in my prime (aka my college days) --- Homecoming was a time for me to look super cute, and get drunk with all my old friends and sorority sisters. Good Times. but... I can admit that it wasn't always "cute" to the family with kids that were set up next to my tailgate when I was... say, Shotgunning a Beer, or Screaming Spice Girls lyrics, or cursing .. louder than usual...
I'm just saying. Keep it classy. Know your surroundings and keep the full-fledged ridiculousness for the after-dark celebrations. Way less people around to judge you then (... DK).
 Homecoming 2014: Charlotte's first :)
She's not coming this year because I wouldnt be able to enjoy a MINUTE 
chasing around a toddler who hates to sit still. Mom & Auntie can have her for the day!

5) Pace Yourself. 

This is marathon. Not a sprint:
Just because some old Football players are offering you Jello Shots at 9am does NOT mean you should take 5 of them (I'm talking to YOU-- 19 year old Joanna) 
You should ALWAYS ask what is in the Jungle Juice ( barely 18-year-old Joanna) or the Jello Shots (26 year old Joanna? not my fault... DK!
And just because you can now enter the tailgating field legally does NOT mean you should immediately Shotgun 3 beers. (I'm talking to YOU-- barely 21 year old Joanna)
or 24 year old Joanna...
At least we kept it classy that year.
 Tailgating usually begins before 10:00am... and the game doesn't even start until 1:00pm, people... no WONDER I never get to watch actual Football being played.
Then you have to make it to the END of the game where we celebrate ...  WIN, LOSE or DRAW. And're expected to look bright eyed a bushy tailed at the festivities that evening.
Nope. Mama needs a nap. 

6) Nap. Like. A. Boss. 

I have always said people who pass out early from alcohol consumption are actually just bullshitting everyone and have actually hatched a brilliant plan to take a middle-of-the-day NAP.... where everyone leaves them alone because they feel bad that they're "sick". GENUIS!
However, if you have drank all day-- in the sunshine-- and walked the equivalent of 15 miles around the tailgating areas (and to and from the bathroom)-- and want to take a nap... that's when people make fun of you. They call you grandma and want to make fun of you for being old. Not cool, kids. Naps are awesome.

7) Take Friday Off. And Sunday. And Monday for that matter.

Friday is for pre-gaming. Saturday is for gaming. Sunday morning is for pedialyte, and re-evaluating your life choices... and Monday is to celebrate that you actually feel human again.
I'm not kidding, kids. Take Friday off. Otherwise, you're sitting at work reminiscing about how wonderful it would be if you weren't working and were, instead, enjoying cold beers at Macados with friends talking about the "good ol' days". 
Just take the damn day off (27-year-old Joanna....)
Just a little #throwback 
Some of my favorite ladies staying warm (and drunk) in the truck post-game. 

8) Hydrate.

If I didn't make it clear during my "Preparation is Key" entry-- drink lots of water. Drink it weeks before, the day before, on your way to and during all Homecoming festivities. Its a lifesaver. Both on Sunday morning when you only feel like 1/2 of a dead asshole... and on Saturday afternoon when you've had too much jungle juice and continue to ask your friend why your dorm room is spinning if you're sitting still ... (Lessons learned, 19 year old Joanna

9) Wear SPF.

 I don't care if the weather man says its going to be 40 degrees and cloudy. Put on some Sunscreen because when the Sun does come out... and your drunk ass is passed out in a lawn chair... you will THANK ME that you don't look like a drunk lobster and have college kids laughing at you (and your life choices)
Also, you really should wear SPF every single day. Its pretty important for skin care and cancer prevention, you know? So just put it on every day. 

Basically... your body is about to embark on a 24-hour celebration of all things fall--- tailgating, cold mornings, sunny afternoons, football, grilled food, beer from a can, liquor from a bottle and boots galore.
Enjoy, my friends. (and Stay Thirsty)

See you all at Exit 26 tomorrow morning 
(because I didn't take Friday off. Dammit. 
I can never remember #7) 
With Love, 

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Anatomy of a News Family

In watching the coverage of the recent shooting of two news professionals in Roanoke, VA-- I've noticed something.
Many people have commented on the News Team at WDBJ7 and how they're reacting to the loss of two of their co-workers-- specifically, how the station has bonded together to support each other.
For those of you reading this blog who don't know-- I used to work at a local TV Station in Roanoke, Virginia. (Two... if you want to get technical) And although I have been out of the "news business" for 3 years now, I still hold those years, those memories, and those people very close to my heart.

a night in Downtown Roanoke. Never disappointed.

Working in a Newsroom is a different type of work environment than most people are used to.
I think the easiest way to describe it is... a 24/7 Pressure Cooker.
People don't clock in and out. They don't show up at 9am and leave at 5pm. Weekends don't normally include Saturday and Sunday. Sometimes "Weekends" aren't even 2 days long. Holidays? Whats a Holiday? You can work 8 days in a row. 9 days in a row. 14 days in a row. And sometimes you barely have enough time to go home and shower before your next "work day" begins.
Being in the News Business is tough (Tougher than I could handle) but its the people you work with that make it so rewarding.
someone's Birthday dinner. We're cute!

Lets just put it this way; When I first set foot in a newsroom I had no clue what to expect.
But they basically throw a bunch of strangers in a room together-- some who know what they're doing, and some who don't-- and they expect you to work together as a team while under the most immense and intense pressure ALL DAY EVERY DAY.
Obviously the pot is going to boil over every now and again-- but what can you expect?

a goodbye party for one of the producers-- I was definitely the "newbie"

Since Wednesday's Shooting- I've been pretty sentimental; looking back on old photos and memories.
And in doing so I think I may have uncovered some reasons why Newsrooms are so unique and the relationships forged there are so deep.

- You experience the good -- the bad-- and the UGLY together.

at a food/supply drive Sponsored by the station
People say that they feel like the News is always full of doom and gloom. And you're right. But the amount of Doom & Gloom you saw on my newscast every night... was only a FRACTION of the Doom & Gloom that came across my desk that day. When you are constantly barraged with emails and videos and stories about some of the worst disasters happening around the world-- you can easily get jaded. 
You experience the most stressful of situations with these people: breaking news, weather, live shots, shootings, protests, car accidents... You are literally witnessing some of the worst things you've ever seen. But you've experience those things together. That is why I consider them family.
 the control room can be scary.. for many reasons...

- You laugh together to get through the tough days. 

I can't even TELL you how many rough days in the Newsroom ended with tears... and then everyone grabbing a drink at the Bar down the street. We fought, we cried, we screamed at each other, we pulled our hair out and held our breath ALL DAY... but we chose to end our days together. Supporting each other. And laughing. We had some of the best laughs. Tremendous laughs. Tears streaming down my face. 
always taking things waaaaaay too seriously. 
When every single day is about the Doom & Gloom... its nice to be able to laugh with the people who experienced it all with you. That is why I consider them family.
random text message to let me know he's "watching me"

- You Screw Up Together.

News is fast paced. So fast paced that many times things get lost in the shuffle... or it all becomes too much and starts to fall apart. 
I failed. Hard. Multiple Times. (probably more times than I can even remember because I've blocked it out) But when you fall on your face in a job as PUBLIC as TV News-- it hurts. BAD! And in the heat of the moment-- everyone is looking for someone else to blame. But when it is all said and done-- after my worst failures, my friends/coworkers/teammates would pat me on the back, tell me tomorrow is a new day, and offer me words of encouragement. That is why I consider them family.
Now, don't get me wrong: not everyone in a newsroom is supportive. Some of them place blame and point fingers. Some of them aren't willing to take responsibility for their own actions in those situations. But those are NOT the people I'm talking about.

- Even though you see each other every SINGLE day... you still CHOOSE to spend your free time with them.

Every. Single. Day. I literally saw the same 15-20 people pretty much every day. So you'd think that in my "free time" away from the station-- however long that was-- you'd think I would want to spend time with ANYONE ELSE! Nope. You're wrong. 
I chose to go to lunch with my co-workers before my shift. I chose to go get mani/pedis with my co-workers on our days off. We lounged by the pool. We went Downtown for drinks & dancing. We had game nights in our apartments. Why? Because they were not just co-workers-- they were friends. Family. I didn't want to spend my time with anyone else because no one else truly understood. No one else wanted to bitch about work for HOURS. No one else knew how stressed out I was about an upcoming segment or show. That is why I consider them family.
Nascar themed Bar Crawl. Enough said.

wedding festivities. If you couldn't tell-- we were REALLY hot. (like sweating...)

I've been out of news for a few years now, and admittedly have lost touch with many of my newsroom friends. (mostly my own fault)
But I will always hold the memories dear to my heart;
Even the time my reporter yelled at me for interrupting her Hibachi dinner to drive to Lynchburg for a possible explosion...
Even the time we ate cold Cracker Barrel for "Thanksgiving Dinner"...
Even the time the camera battery died as we threw to a Live Shot at the Greenbrier...
Even though the Super Bowl show of 2012 will ALWAYS give me nightmares...
Even that time one of my anchors wanted me to get kidnapped while in Jamaica...
Even the COUNTLESS HOURS I spent (mindlessly) marking the scripts so we could re-cycle the paper...
Even the times our Web Producer would yell out "Has anyone updated the Website?" a thousand times during his 30-minute show...
And the time the Weekend Team made me cupcakes when I got engaged...
And the time my deskmate and I drank too many 5-hour energy drinks when I was training her for the morning show...
And the Dance Parties I would have on nightside after everyone else left with my "Foxy Lady"/Partner in Crime...
And the times my morning anchor would always "suggest" that my then-boyfriend bring everyone Bojangles for breakfast...
And when I would write "Happy Friday" and/or "Happy Payday!" on the scripts at the end of the week...
Jeff ate all my pizza.

but mostly I will remember the laughs. Those deep down laughs that forge deep down friendships.

With Love, 

my deepest love and condolences go out to my friend, Karen, who is a member of the WDBJ7 family.
All of our hearts are broken for this loss. 
Once a Newsie, Always a Newsie

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hometown Tragedy: 28 Hours Later

(Let me start with this. I process my thoughts and feelings through words. That is why I started this Blog. Yesterday I was at a loss for words. All day. And in a moment of calm today-- I began to write.)

28 hours have passed.
28 hours ago two innocent lives were taken and the national spotlight found itself fixated on my hometown.
Yesterday was terrible.
I was scared to find out about an active shooter situation just minutes from my house...
Uneasy to find out that my child's daycare was on lockdown...
Then devastated to learn that two young, talented news professionals had lost their lives...
And that the person responsible was still on the run.

My drive to work was full of tears as I listened to the details unfold over the airwaves of a local radio station. They cut in after every song to let listeners know the latest developments. They even picked up the live announcement audio from WDBJ7 when they confirmed that they had lost two of their own. This was happening to all of us.
The world stopped in Roanoke, Virginia. Nothing moved.

The news traveled fast and wide and suddenly the place I have called home for 26 years was flooded with attention... Good, Bad, National, International...
The National Spotlight burns hard and fast...
To see your hometown trending on every social media outlet... is not a good thing. The feeling isn't that of pride. It's shame.
Shame that this awful event took two innocent lives ... Tore apart two families... Broke countless hearts... And devastated countless people around the world.
But it just so happened to be at your back door. And it all becomes that much more real.

Why chose to broadcast such a heinous crime on live television? Why force those friends and family to re-live their loves ones horrific last moments? We will never know the answers to these questions. The families will never see justice done.
This isn't a game. This isn't a TV show. This is real life.. Real people... Real lives. Lost.
But they are right. Those videos are not to be taken lightly. Those videos are horrific.
That is someone's daughter. Someone's son. Someone's best friend. The love of someone's life.

The National Spotlight burns hard and fast... and burns out quickly.
It has been 28 hours. My beloved hometown has been the focus of every news outlet around the world for the last 28 hours. Reporters and Journalists that I have respected and adored for years are outside of WDBJ7 & the Bridgewater Marina updating the world on the latest developments.
But what's next?
... in 24 more hours the satellite trucks will pack up and move out.
... the news cycle will hit "refresh", the reporters will go home and our community will become quiet again.
From that point on-- as each day passes-- the feelings will fade.
The world will continue to turn and we will continue to go about our lives.
Just as Columbine did. And Newtown. And Virginia Tech.
We will mourn for the lives lost forever. And we will celebrate their accomplishments and potential.
But, what is next?
When will enough be enough?
Who else has to die for the country-- the world-- to realize that gun violence is a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously.
No more stonewalling. No more petty arguments. People are dying.
I beg the leaders of this country to come together and think of the countless lives lost to gun violence and act!
I don't have the answers. I never claimed to.
But what else needs to happen?
Who else needs to die?
This country is in pain and we are begging someone to speak up and solve the problem.
My hometown is in pain and I want to make sure that no one else has to watch these events unfold as they get their kids ready for school in the morning.
No one else should get the phone call that Adam & Alison's family got that morning. No one else.

It is so easy to forget how real these tragic events are.
If you don't live in Columbine....
If you didn't lose anyone in the Newtown school shooting. But they still hurt. 
This area knows this feeling a little too well.
It was only 8 years ago that so many beautiful lives were lost on the Virginia Tech campus. A tragedy all too similar. We had the same gut wrenching feeling watching videos that day as the shots rang out. 
We cried. We fought back. We stood strong and we moved forward. 
And the same will happen at WDBJ7 and in Roanoke, Virginia.
We mourn these beautiful lives. Pray for the victim fighting for her life. Pray for peace for all of the family and loved ones affected. 
But the tears will dry. And life will move forward. No one will ever forget.
But my hope is that Alison & Adam will be remembered beyond this tragedy.

It is my hope that the memories of Adam & Alison...
and the 32 people killed at Virginia Tech...
and the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary..
and the 13 people killed at Columbine High School...
and the 9 people killed in Charleston, SC...
and the 12 people killed in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater...
and the 12 people killed in the Washington Navy Yard...
and the 13 people killed at Fort Hood...
and the countless others lost to gun violence across the country and around the world... every day.

It is my hope that their deaths will not be in vain. And that one day we can celebrate their lives and their impact on this world when a solution is found and the world puts and end to gun violence.
It will be in their honor. And on that day I will know that these people all made a lasting impact on my life... our lives... the country... the world... and the future.
They lost the opportunity to have a future of their own... but it is my hope that their stories will create a better future for us all.

Sending all of my love to Alison Parker & Adam Ward. Two young, talented professionals that I did not have the honor to know but I know that the two of you were truly loved by everyone you met.
Sending thoughts & prayers to their families and loved ones. We are so very sorry for your loss.
And to everyone at WDBJ7-- my heart goes out to you as you lose two special friends & teammates. I used to work as a producer at a competitor station and I speak for everyone who has EVER worked in a newsroom when I say: we are with you. Our hearts pour out to you. And every time you go on-air and manage to hold yourselves together under the most unbelievable of circumstances-- my respect for each of you grows and I am touched at your compassion and professionalism throughout this trying ordeal. Stay Strong. #RoanokeStrong 

With Love, 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Father's Day Without My Father... and Mascara

Honestly, I went to write this Blog entry and I had to pause for a few minutes.
Not only was I trying to come up with some "witty, attention grabbing" title for this latest entry (that I realize is the first in awhile, but I have just been up to my ears with life. My apologies) but I also found myself getting choked up before a word was ever written.

After 26 years of life, this is the 1st Father's Day that I haven't had my Father. That hits hard, ya know? My Dad and I may not have been the closest, but Father's Day was never forgotten. It was never taken for granted. My sister and I always managed to get my Father out for lunch or dinner every year-- even if it was "sort of" Father's Day. Close enough.
(Then, of course, I hear my High School Latin Teacher - Mr. Andrews- in my head telling me "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." )

It also, just so happens, that my husband is away for a military training and I don't even have him to focus on this year-- since of course, he IS the Father of my child. (At least we think so. Pretty sure. Like 60-40? Haha just kidding. Really, I'm joking.)
So without a NEW Father to focus on this weekend-- I suppose its very likely I will be focused on my Father....
How much I miss him.
How much he did for us over the years.
And how much he continues to impact me-- even since his death.

He died just over 4 months ago.
If I stay busy (which isn't hard working full-time with a 1-year-old at home) I can manage to go a day or so without getting upset. But it doesn't take long for a Neil Young song to play... or for me to see someone out of the corner of my eye that looks just like him... or see a family riding bikes down the street... and even seeing Racing on TV-- these shoot my father's memories right back to the forefront and all the pain that comes with them.
Even now, just writing this down is tearing me up inside.

This Holiday will never get easier for me.
I know as time goes on, and my child/children get older it will become MORE about THEIR Father (my sweet husband) so that takes a lot of the pressure off. But every year this weekend/day will remind me of him and all of our precious time together and the pain of watching him suffer and struggle as his condition worsened.
I want to remember the good times-- but its so hard to block those moments out of my head. I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night from a dream -- and even though I can't remember what happened, I know it was about him.
I saw my Dad take his last breaths. I held his hand as he turned cold.
Some might find comfort in that, or they might get some kind of closure... but that memory is not something I can get out of my head.
I'm so glad we were there for him-- to tell him we love him and to tell him that everything would be okay -- but words can't describe the lasting effect it has and will have on me.

I can say one thing though-- this I know for sure.
I will never be able to wear mascara on Father's Day Weekend again. But I think I'm okay with that. (If you don't know me-- I'm a crier. Like sappy commercial, happy tears when I see a baby, shed a tear when I stub my toe kind of crier. Let's just say I'm very well hydrated-- and mascara is a risk I'm not willing to take when I know the waterworks will be flowing.)
I will never be able to give my Dad a card, or take him to lunch or Thank him for everything he did for me/us again--- but if every Father's Day I sit and think about him, our happy times and even our not-so-happy times, I think that's okay.
I can sit and remember him. Cry for him. Miss him. Love him. And somewhere deep down-- although I'm not very religious and don't exactly think I'm decided on the idea of "after-life"-- I actually think he knows that I'm thinking of him. And that I remember that he was a good Father.

He wasn't perfect-- but neither am I (and neither are YOU)-- and that's ok... Because in the end, he made enough of an impact on my life that I will think of him daily, remember him often, love him always and I will use Father's Day every year as a time to do all of those things-- knowing that wherever he is, he feels it.
And that no matter where I am on Father's Day or who I'm with, he will never be forgotten.

With Love,

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Fresh Start

During my haitus from the Blogging world I have been doing a little soul searching.
Every now and then its good to center yourself and rid yourself of excess drama and things that are taking up space in your mind and heart. I spent lots of time with my family and tried to remove some of the distractions that were pulling me in 100 different ways.
But I realized that no matter how much "me time" I had-- something was holding me back.
My body.

I do not live a "healthy lifestyle"
I like red meat. 
I hate (most) veggies.
I think Salads are an awful waste of space in my stomach.
and I consider wine a serving of fruit.
But I think my lifestyle and diet choices have impacted my life. Not only just because of my struggle with my weight and body image-- but I think 26 years worth of junk has started to slow my body down.

The past few years I have been a lot more sluggish-- lacking energy, I have seen an increase in the frequency of digestive issues (I'll try to keep that as vague as possible) and it has become increasingly harder for me to lose this baby weight (before the baby I just called it my "food baby"--- so I've always had someone else to blame.)
So... what's a girl to do?

Some might shrug it off and just blame the "aging" process... mind you, I'm only 26. I do everything ELSE I can to reverse any signs of aging.
Others might make some Facebook post saying they're going to change their life TOMORROW... or the day after that... and so on and so forth. (Believe me... I've done it before. I set my mind to one of those "kicks" right before my father passed away... but then I was given the greatest Carrot Cake and convinced myself that it was a serving of vegetables every night. Not so much.)
But I've decided that the time for excuses is over...

Starting TODAY (well, technically tomorrow-- but I will explain that) I'm starting THE MASTER CLEANSE.
(If you want more information the book is available online or visit
I'll admit-- I heard about this cleanse for the first time from Yolanda on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. 
She is a beautiful person and I really admire her lifestyle and awareness of the things she puts in her body and how it will affect her.

But about 2 weeks ago I purchased the book (Its really more like a 50 page pamphlet-- its a super quick read and is full of lots of pretty interesting information) and I made the decision to spend my Memorial Day weekend struggling through the first few days of this process.
The book suggests 10 days, Yolanda says 7, but I'm going to do my best to stick it through to the end.

I'm extremely hopeful going into this process.
I hope to get my energy back and feel more awake and alert.
I hope it will help my body function better--- with less aches and pains in the morning.
I hope it will help kick start my post-baby weight loss (surprisingly the book didn't mention much about weight loss during the cleanse-- even though you're only drinking liquids for 7-10 days)

However, I'm also really nervous --
I've heard it can be a rough first few days-- with some digestive discomfort and generally feeling "bad" as your body processes (and eventually rids itself) of toxins stored in your body, blood and joints.
I'm also worried that I might flake out-- its quite the commitment, and now that I've taken it PUBLIC (aka the Internet) I'll feel like a failure if I back out halfway in. Let's hope the accountability acts as a motivator, not a deterrent.

Well.. anyways. I just thought I would let you all know about my adventure.
I'm going to be keeping some notes during this process and I plan to write a full wrap-up report once I'm done. Lets hope for the best!

With Love,