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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,

Friday, April 10, 2015

TODAY Parenting Team: Time-Saving Tips? Can someone clue me in?

I must have missed the boat somewhere... Or maybe there was a parenting book (one of the millions) that I still haven't gotten around to reading? Because for the last 10 months-- since the birth of my daughter-- I have considered it a miracle that I walk out the door in the morning fully-clothed. Possibly even with matching shoes.

And I thought Pregnancy was exhausting! That's just the warm-up people.
Don't get me wrong: It's literally the BEST time of your life watching your child grow and learn and wonder.. and eventually wander (into the dog food bowl)
But from here on out... its GO time.
Dirty Diaper at 3am? GO!
Hungry? GO! 
Crawling? No, don't go in there! stop!! don't eat that!!
Teething during your latest Housewives episode? That's why DVRs were invented. 

Say goodbye to sleeping in on Saturdays... and farewell to Saturday nights out with friends.
It's not a bad thing. Those moments with your child are precious and each one is one-of-a-kind. Who would want to miss all of that?
Not me! Hence... my dilemma.
How do people do it?
How do they balance kid (or kids! AH!)? Work? Exercise? Social Life? Sleep?
How do they find time to eat?

So... for this topic-- I'm throwing up a white flag. I surrender. I'm clueless. I need help (probably professional)
At this point... my "time saving tips" are forgetting to feed myself and cutting back on me-time -- and some sacrifices in the 'beauty' department.

Personal Hygiene takes a back seat:

This morning I literally had poop down my leg.
My daughter sneezed and it shot right out the side of her diaper and down my leg onto my foot.
The old me would have squealed like a pig, put the baby in my husband's hands and jumped in the shower.
The new me? a few baby wipes and I was good to go. (luckily, this all happened before I got dressed for work-- so you see, it wasn't THAT gross. right? )

When my daughter was "new"--- AKA for the first 7 months of her life--- showering was a luxury. I was tired. She was fussy. She was hungry. She was dirty. The dogs needed to go out. The laundry needed to be moved around and folded. I had to go to work in 15 minutes.
The excuses and responsibilities continue to pile up... and yes, you find ways to save time. And for me... that was not washing my hair.
Dry Shampoo became by best friend. I would wash my hair twice a week (maybe 3 times if we had a special event). It wasn't cute... no. It was a mess. But I embraced it because it saved me 15 minutes in the shower and 30 minutes with a blow dryer & straightener. And that time is precious. That's the difference between the dishes getting unloaded from the dishwasher. Or throwing another load of poop stained clothes in the wash with a cup of bleach. Time is precious. Sacrifices must be made.

Say Goodbye to your Social Life:

I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen some friends -- friends who I used to see daily/weekly-- since having my daughter. That's not entirely their fault. When  you add a child to the equation, everything changes.
When your friend sends out a group text about a Birthday Celebration Downtown next weekend:
Other people: "Sure", "H*** YEA!", "Lets get wasted!"
Parents: "Let me see if my babysitter is free that night."
Talk about a buzz kill.

What's the secret? What's the "happy medium"? When is it okay? It continuously creates a you or me issue--- which one of us stays home with the baby? The guilt is compounding because not only are you missing those one-of-a-kind moments with your baby... your partner is also stuck at home missing out on whatever fun you're having. I don't think a social life should be the sacrifice but once your priorities shift, it becomes something less important. But its still important for life to have balance. Can someone clue me in?
Disclaimer: I will admit that my situation is a little more demanding than most. My husband is in the military and has a demanding work schedule that does require him to leave overnights, weekends and sometimes weeks at a time for training. You never appreciate your partner more than when he leaves you for 6 weeks with a 6 week old baby. I literally felt like I spent all day, every day washing baby bottles. It was awful-- but we all survived just fine. (And we will be doing it again this summer when my husband leaves me alone with a 1-year-old for 6 weeks. shew! I'm gonna need a therapist)

A Shout Out To Working Parents:

It doesn't get easier. Even as the kid grows up and learns to wipe his/her own butt... there's more to do. more places to go. more to see. more to learn. more to explain.
And working parents... sheesh! They deserve a round of applause.
(please, Stay at Home Moms: Do not think that this is bashing your position or decision. In my case, I'm jealous of those of you who have the ability to do that. However, you have to admit-- those working parents seem to make it look easy. and it is NOT!)
Working parents somehow manage a 24/7, zero pay job (aka: Parenting)... on top of a full or part time job with its own demands and restrictions and rules.
Getting yourself ready for work in the morning takes time and energy-- Try doing that with a baby crawling around your house and trying to pull everything onto the floor-- including your hair dryer, coffee cup, shoes and breakfast.
And when you get home in the evening exhausted from a long, stressful day and you're just looking forward to kicking your feet up and eating some dinner-- Sure. After you pick the kid up from daycare, bring her home, put her dirty clothes in the laundry, check her diaper, feed her, change her, entertain her, give her a teether because she's fussy, give her a bedtime bottle and rock her to sleep. I haven't eaten dinner until 9:30pm before. It happens.

But I refuse to give those moments up.
I could easily plan a wine date with friends after work and have my husband take care of the baby. (and I have done that) Or we could even pick her up from daycare and drop her at my mom's for the evening if we wanted a dinner date. But in the end, I'm losing hours with my daughter.
I already have to give her up from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday. 
All of those smiles and giggles and milestones-- I give those to her teachers at Daycare. And yes, they love her. And yes, they take such good care of her. But I'm jealous. I want to see all of those moments. I want to laugh and play with her. I'm not willing to give my few, precious hours up for a few (overpriced) glasses of wine-- even if the company is FABULOUS (as my friends are)

So. For all of my TODAY PARENTING TEAM Friends and Comrades:
Please do share. Tell me your secret. How is it possible to live a "normal life" and be a parent? Is there such a thing anymore as "normal"? How can I get used to my new normal without being completely shut off from the outside world?

Mama "I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day"

With Love, 

[[this was another entry for the TODAY Parenting Team Blog. The Challenge was to share your time-saving tips with other parents. Please go to their Blog site and VOTE for my entry so its featured on their website and maybe even the show! thanks. love you all]]

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Why I hope my Daughter goes to a Small Liberal Arts College in the South.

My daughter is only 10 months old.
But like any parent, my mind tends to wander down the road a little bit-- wondering how tall she will be? What kind of talents will she have? What Sport will she play? What kind of person will she become?
And yes... What kind of college will she go to?

When I think back on the person I was growing up, and heading into High School -- I'm actually surprised that my choices and decisions led me to the college I chose.
But I would do it all the same if I had another chance.

It was athletics that sent me down Interstate 81 to find my "soon-to-be Home". I was recruited for Volleyball by probably a half-dozen different small colleges across Virginia. They each had pros and cons. ( I wont get into those here because you never know who might be offended when I call *********** a college full of **********************. I would truly hate to offend anyone.)
But I will admit that the Final Match-up was between Mary Washington University and Emory & Henry College.
Who knows where my life would have ended up if I had just chosen to drive North on Interstate 81, instead of south. WAAAYYY South.
But if I could do it again I would do it the same. In the words of the ever-so-wise Corey Smith.

So... What would I say to my daughter in 17 years and 2 months when she is facing this dilemma? What kind of wisdom could I impart? What have my years and years of experience taught me that I can use to help my sweet little girl find the right college for her?
Let's give this a good ol' college try...

1. Despite what you may think... College is about LEARNING.

It is easy for me to say that now-- being that I graduated 5 years ago-- but I think it is something to note. Obviously the point of any college is to LEARN something, but each of us learns in different ways and we need to make sure to take that into consideration before choosing a school---- because I would hate to waste $$$$$$$ for you to fail out or worse; not learn anything.

For some, they find it best to sit in a gigantic classroom full of hundreds of other students while a professor paces in the front trying to explain some theory or math problem with his/her hands.

For others, that type of environment would be a constant distraction (ME!) and does not give the kind of time and attention that you need to learn (ME!).
There's nothing to be ashamed of.
If I had gone to Virginia Tech with my Best Friend I would have failed out. I would have missed at least 75% of my classes Freshman year... just because I COULD and there was no one to notice or get me in trouble with my "mommy".

But when you go to a small Liberal Arts College with an average of 20 people in a class AND a pretty strict Attendance Policy-- you GO to class.
You drag your hungover butt out of bed and walk your Pajama-wearing ASS up the hill to M.S.(a class building) for your 8:00 am Intro to Political Science class every Tuesday & Thursday.
No matter what. Or else.
Seriously, don't mess with Dr. Lane. I do mean, or else!

2. The Rural-er the Better.

Doesn't make sense to you does it? 
No, I don't want my daughter to be living in the middle of a cotton field with a barn for a dormitory. But.... Big Cities have their charm... AND their drawbacks.

A) Cost of Living: I lived in a 4 Bedroom house (utilities included) for $300 a month in college. Find me something like that in Richmond. Or Charlotte. Or even Roanoke. 
(RIP Glade Spring KPhi House. You are missed. I know your new family loves you very much. You can tell from the brand new (replaced) front porch, paint, and yard with flowers... not trash and beer cans.)
B) T-R-O-U-B-L-E: (Intentional Travis Tritt reference) Cities= Bars, Clubs, etc. When you are 30 minutes from the closest "club" it keeps you a little bit more restricted and you can't make that ride allllll the waaaaaayyy to Bristol every time you want to have fun. You save that for "special occasions". (Hence: The College House Parties. Don't Worry. It's coming)
C) Lack of Retail Opportunities:  She is my daughter. So, genetically she will not be able to avoid any opportunity to BUY SOMETHING.
And my mom learned that lesson the hard way when I charged $$$$ (mucho money) on my "student card" in the Bookstore for "school supplies" 
AKA: Lots of Vera Wang, DVDs of Laguna Beach Season 1 & 2, Every single pair of sweatpants available, some snacks and candy for the dorm (bc my roommate ate all my shit!) and some other overpriced yet very adorable E&H gear. 
Lets just say that card was CUT OFF real fast.

3. College Drive.

At every school there is a place/area/community, where people go on the weekends to hang out or know they can find the best parties and the best party people.
It's not always called College Drive, obviously... but at Emory, it was!

My Freshman year was spent at "College Drive" (obviously I'm talking about a house not an entire street. Just to be clear for those of you non-WASPS reading).
That was where my friends would go every week (or day) to hang out, play cards, throw parties, play beer pong, etc. My Freshman year-- if you wanted to know where everyone was on a Saturday night... it was College Drive.
College Drive eventually evolved into a few other "locations" -- at one point including my Senior Year residence --- which after my graduation suffered a sad fate. Luckily, it was adopted by a nice family and is living a lovely life. With a new front porch.
... oh, shit. yeah. THE POINT....
The point of the story... and "College Drive"... is that there is somewhere to be social.
You may not have bars and clubs like bigger cities...  but at those places you're not just hanging out with people your age-- You're hanging out with ol' Cowboy Mark, and that creepy toothless guy eyeing your friend.

At "College Drive" you meet your classmates. The soccer team. The drunkest girl in school. (and some other classifications that I wont go into)

I made some of my fondest memories over the years at these parties.
I met my best friends. I lost friends. I saw some HILARIOUS stuff and I saw some scary and serious stuff. I cried. I laughed. I danced. I puked. I rallied. I almost got arrested (a few times actually).
But in the end, I remember those days/nights/weekends fondly. And I get sentimental and nostalgic whenever they come up. (like now... I'm in the mood for a College Drive basement party full of Boones Farm (ugh. nevermind), Rap Music (or random oldies) on the Stereo speakers and a set of wooden steps that someone ALWAYS fell down. Every. Single. Time!)

4. You paid WHAT to join a Sorority?

This is not Greek bashing.
I get it, people. I joined a sorority in college. Most of my friends were also in sororities in college. But Greek Organizations get a lot of flak for, quote, "paying for friends".
Well let me tell you... the most I paid was $100 for my 1st Semester Dues... and the rest was all alcohol and parties, people.

If my sorority tried to charge me THOUSANDS in dues -- I would have told them I could find a cheaper place to drink. Bye, Felicia.
I worked part-time at Chili's and my mom was NOT paying my bills (at least not all of them-- after that whole "bookstore" issue).
So I am glad that I went to a small school that not only embraced a very diverse and PASSIONATE Greek Life... It was also accessible and affordable to everyone.

5. Your Professors Become Mentors and Friends.

I not only respected my Professors in college, I admired them. I looked up to them.  And I consider myself lucky to continue to call many of them friends to this very day.
I can't imagine Professors at larger schools being able to connect like that with every student in a classroom of hundreds. It would be exhausting. 
I even had some of my teachers at our wedding -- my first college professor (and my husband's advisor), Dr. Roper, even officiated our Wedding. He and his wife drove all the way back to Emory from South Carolina for the ceremony. I adore him.
Those are relationships that I will cherish for the rest of my life. All of my professors were more to me than teachers. They taught me more than just what was in the textbook-- they taught me about life. They acted as my sounding board, my guidance counselor, my strong-handed reminder, my moral compass, my advisor, my confidant, and my friend.
Of course I want that kind of guidance for my daughter. If I can't be there with her every step of the way, I would like to know that there are people looking out for her the way my professors looked out for me.

6. You will find a place to call Home.

Please don't get me wrong. I do not finish my workday and tell people I'm going to my "current place of residence"-- back to good ol' Franklin County.
Home isn't just an address-- its a feeling. Home is where you can be whoever, say whatever, and do whatever you feel is right and comfortable. It is where you can be yourself, no matter who is around. It is where your heart feels whole.

It may shock some people to know that even 5 years after walking across that stage and earning my diploma-- I still consider Emory & Henry College my home. Even though I managed to set down roots in another area-- I still get the same warm, fuzzy feeling when I pull off Exit 26, turn right down the road and through the stone entrance to campus. My heart is whole. My mind is calm.
And nothing has ever had that type of calming impact on me in my life (and some of you may know I'm a little hyperactive-- so calm is a good thing).
If someone asked me to "Envision" my happy place-- like that stupid banking commercial-- it would be Emory. Next to the Duckpond, walking the brick pathways, through the trees....
And I know a lot of people who feel that way.

From my Wedding Day. In case you couldn't tell. 

Why else would a campus with LESS than 1,000 currently enrolled students on a daily basis OVERFLOW with THOUSANDS of Alumni on Homecoming weekend?
And some of those people are in their "later years"... (and by that I mean super old.) 
What other college has that type of commitment to a weekend of Football? (And lets just say E&H hasn't attracted a crowd for their Football successes over the years... but that does seem to be improving!! GO WASPS!)

And I have been to so many E&H Alumni Weddings on campus and in the chapel.
It's not because it is cheap and it is not because its an easy-to-access location. No.

It is because this is home. This is where you want to start your life. This is where you want to bring your kids. This is where your heart feels whole.

Why wouldn't I want my daughter to find a place like that? 
And I really hope she does.

With Love, 

(Below is a shot of our Wedding Day at the Chapel on campus. This image means more to me than any photo from that entire day. This is where my heart is. A big Thank You goes to my amazing photographer Olivia for capturing this moment that I cherish.)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

TODAY Parenting Team: What I Wish I Had Known Before Bringing Home Baby...

I was always good with kids-  my entire life.
I babysat. I was a summertime Nanny. I worked in daycare at my church.
Babies and I just get each other. Must be a "needy people" thing.
But no amount of babysitting, Sunday morning nursery time or Lullaby practice can prepare you for that terrifying drive home from the Hospital with a "Baby On Board"

There is a panic that sets in.
You spend the ENTIRE drive home wondering:
"What did we forget to buy?"
"Do we have enough diapers?"
"What if s/he is allergic to our home or pets?"
"How Often Am I Supposed to Feed/Bathe/Cuddle/Swaddle/Snuggle?"

It's Normal. Seriously. Every Single New Parent (and probably even experienced ones) has had those same EXACT thoughts on that excruciatingly long drive.
And that's what I wish I had known.
That its okay to have no idea what you're doing.
It's okay to panic.
It's okay to worry.
But the best resource to have to make everything better: a Community.
(like TODAY Parenting Team)

I can't even tell you how many panicked, late-night text messages and calls I made to my Mommy Friends those first few weeks.
And only a few months later, I was getting those same calls & messages from other New Moms.
& I smiled at every SINGLE one-- remembering when I was concerned about the color of her poop, if I was nursing her right or if she was eating/sleeping enough.

It's okay to be worried. 
You care. 
And when you're new at something you're allowed to "learn on the job". Using your resources is SMART-- a Community, Mommy Group/blog/page or just a close friend or co-worker.
Just for those times when you don't know what to do or if you should go into full-on panic.
Those people understand because they were in your shoes ... at one point or another.

You will suck at changing diapers at first and it will feel like brain surgery... But a few weeks-in and you won't even blink. 
You will learn when a fever means a doctors visit and when it just needs a little at home TLC -- aka snuggles and Baby Tylenol.
You will not stop breathing every time s/he bumps or bangs or falls or trips or stumbles.... Okay That one may never stop. But you do eventually realize that they survive the small stuff. They're fragile but not as easily breakable as you think.
Babies will fuss and cry. You will learn to go through the steps to try to calm them down --
diaper? check.
bottle? check.
paci? check.
teether? check....
still crying? it happens.
Sometimes they just need to snuggle and cry it out. And that's okay. 

Don't beat yourself up.
You're new. S/He's New.
You both have to get used to this new thing called "parenting" and every day it gets just a little easier and harder at the same time.
But just remind yourself to appreciate every single day. Good and Bad Days. Because eventually they will grow up and you will miss their tiny little cries and yes, even their stinky little diapers. (okay... that might be a bit of a stretch)
And remember... you're not alone.
You're NEVER alone these days with Social Media-- you LITERALLY have 24/7 access to hundreds, if not thousands, of other moms/dads who are learning right alongside you.
Its a team effort--- as Parenting should be.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Reflection of my Father

Those of you who know me know what I'm going through...
but for those of you who don't-- I lost my father this week.

Before you go on and assume this is going to be some sappy, sad recount of my favorite memories written by the quintessential Daddy's Girl-- you're wrong.
I was not a Daddy's girl.
I loved my father but in a different kind of way.
Not because of anything my father DID... but because of the man he was.
And the man he was perplexed me.

My father was quiet, reserved, funny, soft-spoken, smart, talented and simple.
Of those, the only traits that I consider common are my humor, my intelligence -- most of which I owe to him... and my talents-- which he helped to nurture and grow as much as he possibly could.

I am loud. I am aggressive. I am spoiled. I am outspoken. I have no filter and I express my emotions as if they were on a flashing sign above my forehead.
My father was none of these things.

He liked to think before he spoke. Sometimes it felt like it took him forever to come up with a response. (forever in the mind of a young girl, that is) In many instances I actually assumed he couldn't hear me because it took him so long to respond. I was never like that.
He enjoyed the outdoors. We camped when my sister and I were younger but stopped once I reached the age where dirt and a lack of indoor plumbing became an issue. He loved it. He loved to camp and could probably have spent all of his time outside-- even in bad weather he found ways to enjoy it. I was never like that.
He preferred quiet solitude. He was not a recluse or shut-in, don't get me wrong. He just enjoyed being by himself and the peace of that. He got remarried when I was 18 (or so) and they found that comfort of being alone together. But he never sought out large crowds, or enjoyed big get togethers with friends. I was never like that.
He never shared his feelings. He didn't get mad easily and I don't really ever remember seeing him cry my entire life. He didn't even usually say "I Love You" when hanging up after a phone call. I was never like that.
I remember the first time he said "I Love You" when hanging up-- my mom and dad had just recently gotten divorced-- I was around 17. I said "I Love You" as I went to hang up -- putting the phone down to hit the "end" button-- I heard him say, softly, as the phone was a foot or so from my ear... "Love You, Too". I remember tears welled up in my eyes because I knew that wasn't something he did out of habit like most of us-- but he was genuinely trying to make me understand that he loved me, no matter what.

Despite all of our differences, he was half of me. Half of my heart.

Last March, I was 7+ months pregnant. I was at work when my dad called my cell phone to tell me he was in the hospital. I got upset and left work-- heading straight for the hospital, When he told me the doctors found a mass in his brain I assumed that it would all be okay in the end. But when the oncologist came in... my stomach dropped.
My dad was diagnosed with a Brain Tumor (GBM) and the prognosis was not good. He originally didn't want any treatment -- beyond an initial "de-bulking" surgery that only uncovered that the tumor was inoperable. I cried so much. I was pregnant with my first child and all I could think about was him missing the opportunity to meet her and be the amazing Grandfather I had watched him become with my sister's kids.
I guess I will never know exactly what changed his mind (many have suggested to me that it was my daughter's quickly approaching arrival) but he agreed to try one round of treatment-- chemo and radiation. It was so hard on him. He became frail and fragile-- something I had never associated with my tall, handsome, strong father before. I knew he wasn't going to keep going with the treatments but he was at the hospital the morning after I gave birth to welcome CD into the world.

A string of very unfortunate events landed my father in a Rehab center for the last few months of his life -- as he was not able to do most things on his own anymore.
He was already gone in a way. He didn't talk much. That was the hardest part. All I wanted was to joke with him, laugh, talk to him about his day and mine. Every time I went to visit I would PRAY that the Dad I remembered and grew up with would be in his room when I arrived-- each and every time. But he wasn't. He never was.

I lost my father this week but the man I grew up with and loved was really gone a few months ago-- and I can't decide if that is making this easier or harder on me.
I have had friends lose their parents suddenly and the shock can be the worst -- not knowing that someone is going to leave you and not remembering the last time you saw them or spoke to them or what you said. But I knew what was coming-- I may have been holding out hope for a miracle-- but I knew he was going to die. I knew for months. But when the Hospice worker called to tell me to bring my sister because he wasn't going to make it... There is nothing in this life that compares and nothing in this life that can prepare you for that moment. I couldn't catch my breath. It didn't feel real. But we were there and I held his hand as his breaths got more shallow...

But he lived a full life.
He loved and lost. He walked myself and my oldest sister down the aisle. He dropped all of us off at college and saw us all become independent adults. He met his first 4 grandchildren. He got to see a Formula 1 race-- which we all know was a big dream of his.

I will miss my father every day. Every. Single. Day.
Every time Basketball is on TV.
Every time I hear a Neil Young song... or Talking Heads, or Gillian Welch, or Alison Krauss, or The Beatles, or Frank Sinatra.
Every time I hear or see a fast car that I know he would have drooled over.
Every time I load the dishwasher. (It might be weird but he was very particular about loading the dishwasher and he taught me all of his tricks)
Every time I eat chips & salsa. (He would always sit in front of the TV with a bag of chips and a jar of salsa to watch a game or a race)
Every time I look down at my crooked pinky finger. (Its genetic. apparently)

The pain comes in waves. Debilitating waves.
In an instant. Your throat starts to close up and you feel like you can't catch you breath. Without even realizing it, there are giant tears streaming down your cheeks.
One second, you're reading a post on Facebook or watching TV and then suddenly you start looking like someone who just lost their father.

The hardest part is going on. Because no matter how dark you feel in that moment... the sun will still fall and rise, and a new day begins. The first of many to come when you feel guilty that the world keeps turning even without the man who was once my world.

Sorry if this post was depressing for anyone, but it was therapeutic for me to get these thoughts out. Almost like he could hear me.
I appreciate all of you who have prayed for me and my family. Sometimes when you lose something so important, you are reminded of all of the blessings you have--  And I am blessed with an amazing group of people around me. And for that I am thankful.

With Love, 
"Rest peacefully, Daddy. We miss you."

Monday, January 19, 2015

A New Approach to New Year's Resolutions

I'm not the "Resolution" type… and by that I mean, I never follow through on my "Resolutions"
They usually last a few days… sometimes less if it is exercise related.
But this year I took a new approach.
Instead of focusing on the small things, I decided to approach 2015 with a broader perspective-- the Bigger Picture, if you will.

This year I want to be Happier with Myself.
This isn't some debbie-downer, "I hate myself" diatribe. Don't get me wrong-- I actually have a very high opinion of myself. Some might think its a little inflated but screw you.
But every single person can tell you there are things in their lives that they wish they could change and certain things that might make them happier. 
So.. here we go… Things I plan to change in 2015 to make me happier...

1) Don't talk shit about myself.

Due to a somewhat checkered past (which I will likely divulge more into in a later post)… I spent the majority of my young adulthood being very… I'm not really sure how to describe it. Very… still looking for the right word…. Self conscious? invisible? damaged?
I have since grown out of those qualities… something my mother wishes had never happened because I took the jump to the extreme. Lets just say this "change" is where I adopted my beloved biting sense of humor and lovable sarcasm. (please note the sarcasm… mom) I admit-- I can be a little harsh. Hence why being "nicer" is next on this list…
Anyway… the moral of the story is… if you think I'm mean to other people (mean in the most loving way possible in most cases) then you should see how mean I can be to myself. I am my own worst critic and since having a baby I have been pretty hard on myself. Which I have learned does NOT motivate me one bit.. hence, the resolution.

Every time I catch myself being self-critical I am going to remind myself of all of my (many) blessings and try to make those more important than my flaws. no matter how many there are…

2) Be Nicer.

Like I said, growing up wasn't easy for me. 
I was 6 feet tall at age 13. okay, maybe 14.  
I wasn't skinny. Never really have been. I have large hips and ass and small boobs. Its genetic, I know, but it wasn't really getting me lots of positive attention. I think it sparked more "man" jokes than anything--- Jo-man-na. still stings a little. 
I had awkwardly large eyes that weren't really proportional to my face for a long time. My nickname was Furby. And that damn furry creature still haunts me to this day. 
I had frizzy hair that was somewhere between wavy and curly and I had no clue what to do with it. Plus, my mom took us to Cost Cutters to get our hair done so I wasn't really getting any professional advice at that point. 
I was an athlete so I dressed down a lot.  
Basically.. I was a tom boy without ever wanting to be.
Somewhere deep down was a confident, girly girl but I never knew how to bring that out.
This is not an excuse. It is an explanation.
When I left for college I decided I didn't want to be these things anymore. I wanted to be pretty and I wanted boys to like me and I wanted people to really see me. Somehow that developed into my mostly funny, sometimes hurtful sense of humor.
I'm extremely sensitive so when I was teased growing up I would cry. Sometimes instantly. Sometimes to my mom when I got home. But over the years I learned that it hurt a whole hell of a lot less if I made fun of myself. So I did.
And then after a while I started making fun of other people-- but I truly meant it as a light-hearted joke. Over the years I admit some of those jokes weren't funny but mean and I regret that because I never mean to hurt anyone.
So in 2015 when I find myself stewing with sarcastic or caddy remarks -- I will count to 3 and remember that those words can hurt … even if they are meant light-heartedly.
Its a work in progress --- so don't go calling me out during one of my funny rants-- you'll throw off my vibe.

3) Wear Less Make-up.

If you know me, you know this is no joke.
Up until now, I have felt extremely uncomfortable going anywhere without make-up. 
I just have never been comfortable enough with my skin and my face, in general, to go out without at least a LITTLE assistance. I feel naked. I'd actually rather not wear a bra or underwear. In fact, I've gone without those things that MORE times than I've gone without make-up. TMI? my B.
But I realize now that I'm 26 years old. My skin is NEVER going to look better than it does now. So now is the time to make a change.

I plan to participate in #NoMakeUpMondays -- I just invented it.
Today is the first day. I plan to go to work (and wherever) on Monday with as LITTLE make-up as I feel comfortable with.
Today, for example, I am only wearing Tinted Moisturizer (Supergoop! CC Cream-- check it out! Its like skin crack!), Mascara, Brow Gel and Lip Gloss/Tint. 
That's Me! Without make-up. Sheesh.

It was a struggle leaving my house this morning-- admittedly 10 minutes late. I kept going back to my bathroom mirror and looking to see what else I needed but I had to keep stepping away. 

Put your hands above your head and back away!

I feel slightly liberated… and I admit it will cut about 20 minutes off my morning routine every Monday from now on… but I am not totally comfortable. I'm waiting for someone to ask me if I'm tired.

4) Be On Time.

Ok. This is really my fault but it is also genetic.
When I was younger my Dad was late for EVERYTHING. We used to tell him my after school program ended at 5-- and it actually ended at 5:30-- and I was STILL always the last kid to get picked up. No shade. I'm over it. But I promised that I would never be late because it was so annoying.
Anyways… for the majority of my young adulthood I adhered to my promise. In fact, I was actually early for almost everything -- which is good.
Somehow in my adulthood my mentality got twisted… unconsciously. I now have an altered sense of "time and space" where when I need to be somewhere at a certain time I never consider travel time. So, if I have to be at work at 9, then I feel confident in my ability to leave my house at 8:55am. Or if we have dinner at 7, don't be surprised if my ass is jumping in my car at 6:50 texting you to tell you I'm "halfway there!". Lies! All Lies!

And having a baby/child only exacerbates this issue ten-fold. Now, not only do I have to get myself ready and out the door-- I have to get a baby ready as well: changed, fed, clothed, in the car seat with a fully stocked baby bag. That adds another at LEAST 20 minutes to my routine. Hence why I am now 30 minutes late for everything.
So. From now on, I promise to be more respectful of my time and everyone else's and make attempts to be somewhere ON TIME. if not 5 minutes early. (As my old volleyball coach used to say, "If you're on time, you're late.")

5) Lastly, Do Something Every Day that makes me smile.

Ok. I can cheat on this one very easily but I promise to try not to. My baby alone makes me smile so I won't count her unlimited cuteness as this "Resolution"---
Instead, I plan to do something-- actually put effort into something each and every day that makes me smile.
This blog, for example, makes me smile because I love being able to express my thoughts and share my ideas with the world. Well, my world at least.
I also love saving money, pampering myself in some way (it could just be a mask at home or a quick toenail polish change), a good bath, some new jams on my iPhone, and sometimes-- a nice dose of retail therapy. Although, I promise to limit those retail therapy trips… You hear that, Husband?
I just think if I can go to bed at night knowing that I was genuinely happy-- even if just for a few minutes-- then I will know that day meant something and is one more step on my Happiness Journey.

Thanks for listening. 
I promise to keep you all updated on my progress as the year goes on. 
I will likely have to come back to this post multiple times to remind myself of exactly what I promised to do but hopefully my loving friends, family and blog readers will hold me accountable. Just not TOO accountable, okay? I am human. Although I do have the hair of a goddess.

With Love, 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What I learned from the 2015 Golden Globes

I love Awards Season. 
I am "that girl" that watches the E! Countdown Show, the E! Pre-Show, the E! Red Carpet Show ... while bouncing back and forth to the network's Red Carpet Show. I watch the ENTIRE Awards show and then usually stay up late to watch the After Show and the After After Show and the Morning After Show (not to be confused with the morning after pill. Totally different)
Then the next day I watch the TODAY show coverage and get excited for E! Fashion Police.
Get over it. I'm obsessed.

Anyways, while watching these numerous shows before this past weekend's Golden Globes, I tried to figure out why, in fact, I do give a shit about these people.
Yes, they're pretty and talented but why do I care? Well. Simple fact: I wish I could be them...

Hellooooo Glamorous Life! Believe me, I know there are drawbacks to being "famous"... but you have to admit, the benefits are TREMENDOUS!

Take Sunday's Awards show for example:
- Designers BEG these women to wear their FABULOUS (sometimes one-of-a-kind) Fashion-- and a good number of celebrities get these dresses custom made for them! (I die!)
- Jewelry Designers then offer to let them borrow MILLIONS of dollars of fine jewelry for the night.
Talk about a Pretty Woman dream scenario:
"Why, yes, Lorraine Schwartz. I would love to borrow your $4 Million Dollar creations and flaunt them around in pictures all night! What? I only have to mention your name to every single reporter who talks to me? DONE!"
 - Shoe designers send them COUNTLESS pairs of stunning (and expensive) shoes in hopes they might look AMAZING with whatever couture creation they've decided to wear.
- Then they ride in a limo... walk the Red Carpet surrounded by other beautiful people... enjoy a fancy night... some even take home an award or two... and then they get to go to the after party and get completely hammered with those other beautiful people.
(Basically its like a college sorority function on beautiful, million dollar crack. But without the ACTUAL crack. Unless someone brought crack-- which is likely. Crack is Whack!)

So... this year I decided to try something new. I decided to look at those celebrities as if they were regular people. (Seems trivial but it was eye opening)
Here is what I learned:

1) Most Celebrities don't do well with Live TV:

         In this case, these are TV and Film Actors: They are VERY talented at learning and reciting lines and conveying emotion, etc. etc.
         HOWEVER, when it comes to LIVE TV most of these Celebrities either come off as
A) Personality-less Snobs, B) Blubbering Idiots, C) Bumbling Fools, or D) Just plain UN-interesting.
        I've worked in TV (ok, it was local news... but it was still TV)-- and I can tell you... not everyone is cut out for Live TV. Not even some of the people on Live TV.
If you have no filter-- you're out!
If you have a nervous tick-- you're out!
If you sweat a lot-- you're out! 
         I actually get disappointed when celebrities get on Live TV and look ridiculous. It kind of ruins the facade they had going with me. I prefer to think you're perfect.
         I think it would all work out better if they walked the Red Carpet in character. The girls of "Orange is the New Black" sporting their orange jumpsuits, shuffling around the Red Carpet with their homemade shivs. Or Reese Witherspoon hikes her way up the carpet wearing her giant hitchiking pack with leaves and twigs all up in her hair. And we all know Jennifer Aniston really just needs to live her life as "Rachel" because it would make a whole lot of people VERY happy.
       Here's what I learned: I don't really like your REAL personality that much-- I prefer your TV personality better. Thanks.

2) These People need to invest in some Crest White Strips:

          I can't even. These people are Millionaires. Some are Billionaires. How hard is it to get your Assistant's Assistant to run down to CVS and pick up some Crest White Strips. Girl, You are going to be on national television. No one wants to know how many cups of coffee you had that day. I expect you to be paying out the a** for professional whitening. 
         I don't mess around with funky teeth. I should be staring at your mouth thinking, "DAMN! Those pearly whites would glow in the dark" or "If her private plane sunk to the bottom of the ocean we'd be able to find the wreckage by locating the glare off her teeth."... ESPECIALLY if you have the balls to wear Red Lipstick. No everybody can pull that off... but unless you have white teeth those chompers are going to look like you're a pack-a-day smoker…. Lorde.

3) It appears that the majority of these people HATE these events, so why do they even go?:

        Admit it, those Celebrities hate Awards shows. They would much rather just get the Award delivered to them by UPS while laying around their million dollar mansions in their pajamas. Many of them even say on TV that they don't like getting ready, doing the whole Red Carpet Press Tour, then being on national television where everything you say, do, wear, eat, etc. is being criticized.
        On one hand, I get it.
        But on the other hand... I tell them to get the F*** over it! You're currently wearing millions of dollars on your body, you get to play dress-up for a few hours and then go back to your real life. 
It's every 5-year-old's dream.

4) If I have never seen the movie, it will likely win. Odds improve if I've never even HEARD of it:

      I admit, I have not seen a lot of movies since having CD. By that I mean, I think I've seen 4 movies in the last year. HOWEVER, I do keep up with my TODAY show and know what movies are coming out... 
       So... imagine my surprise when at EVERY SINGLE AWARDS SHOW the winners are usually films I have never even heard of. And most of the time, I've never even heard of the actors who win. Guess I'm a little more out-of-touch than I care to admit.

5) Does anyone actually give a shit about the awards part of the evening?:

        Back in the day, the Awards were the big part of the evening. Wondering which hard working Actor or Actress would bring home the year's biggest honor... blah blah blah
        Now, all people care about is the fashion. I know the Actors appreciate the accolades and some movie-fanatics actually think the awards are meaningful but in the long run... they don't matter. The movie has already left the theater... The actors got their big pay day and they're on to the next.
       The Fashion has taken over. Those are the Awards that matter now.
       There are more "Red Carpet" pre-shows on TV than I can even count! Once the awards are handed out they are BACK ON talking about what people wore and where the party is. At the end of the day... I care more about who was chosen Best Dressed and Worst Dressed on E! Fashion Police than who actually took home a Golden Globe.
       Honestly, why not skip the 3-hour awards show and just have these famous people walk in and out of the building. It would save money and allow me to observe my 9pm bedtime.

6) There is NO WAY all of these people actually get along this well:

     Hollywood is like any workplace. You work with 100 different people on 50 different jobs. Most of them KNOW each other or have worked together at some point.
     But like any workplace, there HAS to be people that don't get along. Fake Friends. Back Stabbers. Gossips. Tattle Tales. Brown Nosers. Annoying ones.
      That's the kind of thing I want to see! I want to know who annoys George Clooney to no end. I want Katherine Heigl to talk shit about her former co-stars (just like Shonda Rhimes talked shit about her from her Grey's days) I want to know what Jennifer Aniston REALLY thinks about that husband-stealing hussie. and I want her to call out Brad for being a sleeze. (a hot sleeze. but a sleeze, none the less)
     I guess I'm just addicted to the drama. Obvi.

FYI: If you're interested in my fashion point-of-view… I loved the looks on the Red Carpet this year!
I love love love love LOVE the new trend of pants on the Red Carpet. Emma Stone KILLED it with this  Lanvin embellished pantsuit-- and I die for the bow on her hip! It definitely makes the outfit dressier and therefore more appropriate for the Red Carpet. Lorde's outfit from Narciso Rodriguez was a little too casual and plain to get my vote for best dressed BUT I do love how she incorporated the Crop Top trend and made the outfit more feminine with that strip of skin.

Silver dresses were so hot on the Red Carpet this Award's show and I love it! These women look fabulous in the metallic and it is so versatile. Red and White were also among the hottest colors on the runway this time-- there was a sort of surprising lack of color though. 

Jenna Dewan Tatum and Naomi Watts wore yellow, Kerry Washington wore a two-toned structure dress and Lupita Nyong'o wore purple but none of them were jaw dropping to me.

Worst Dressed of the Night?
Hands down… Amal Clooney and Kiera Knightley.

Amal- you get credit for trying the "understated" look since you were supporting your husband on his Big Night-- however, this is your DEBUT as the new Mrs. Clooney. You were supposed to rock my socks off. The dress is Dior so I can't argue there but those GLOVES are pure madness. Whoever told you that was a good idea was lying. They look bulky and old fashioned and I hate them. The purse, obviously chosen to match the gloves, was a horrible idea but you do get props for the "Je suis Charlie" button. I hear you, girl.
And Kiera- you are a Red Carpet PRO. You have killed it in years past! Just because you're pregnant does NOT mean you get to dress like an Amish woman. That bib is sickening to me and those ruffled layers along the bottom are hideous. I know its Chanel so I'm basically going against the fashion gods here but even the Runway version of this outfit was atrocious.

Please… tell me who looks at this HIDEOUS school-girl outfit from the 1800s look and says… Hmm I think this would be fabulous on the Red Carpet at the Golden Globes!
No one! That's who.

Your stylist should be shot.
okay, that was a bit harsh…

Your stylist should be fired and publicly shamed.

Those are my thoughts for now.
Stay Tuned.

With Love,