As I sit here this morning, reflecting on the fact that another year has flown by, I’m grateful; grateful for everything that was 2014. It was a heck of year — physically, mentally, emotionally, personally, all of it.

Reflections on 2014:

I met some incredible people who I am so lucky to call friends now;

I started 3 new jobs;

I bonded with my niece and reconnected with my family;

I got unbelievably lost, and have begun to claw my way back;

I became a better, stronger, faster runner;

I turned 30;

I moved 4,000 miles across an ocean;

I had my apartment burgled;

I lost two clothing sizes and counting;

I saw a huge part of the world that I never imagined possible;

I paid off some student loans;

I celebrated my 4 year wedding anniversary;

I LIVED. I LOVED. I LAUGHED. I CRIED. I CELEBRATED. I LET GO.

THIS IS LIFE.

Are you reflecting on your 2014 this morning too? Do you have lofty goals for 2015?

Until next time, Happy New Year!

XOXO – K

 

2014 was supposed to be my marathon year. I was registered for the Dublin Marathon in October and training was in full swing as I ran the Dublin Race Series from June to September. Life ultimately had different plans for me, and I found myself back in the USA before I ever saw the end of September.

I attempted to keep running, in hopes I could find a marathon around the late October/early November timeframe that could replace the Dublin marathon I would be missing. Two VERY hilly runs around Atlanta later, I realized running a marathon in 2014 was simply impossible. You see, in Dublin, I was at sea level, with very few inclines or hills any where to be found in the city or along the routes I frequented. Atlanta, in stark contrast, is 320m above sea level (1,050 ft) and that my friends, is the highest elevation of any major city east of the Mississippi River. To say I struggled to adjust is a huge understatement.

It has taken me three solid months and struggles like you would not believe to get to a point where I feel like a runner again. I’ve had to pull my pace back, and I feel like a turtle again. I’ve also spent a lot time in the gym cross-training, you know, the keys to running don’t just involve a strong lower half…

Two weeks ago, I ran a 10 mile race. It was hilly, but not as bad as I expected, and that is the exact moment I had the realization that I had adjusted to the elevation and hills that are Atlanta. I was on sheer runner’s high as I crossed that finish line.

Monday Night Brewing

The race had several tents set up, one of which was the Georgia Marathon. Ten minutes later I was signed up to run the Publix Georgia Marathon on March 22, 2015.

I’m super pumped and scared for this journey all at the same time. I’ve never run more than 13.1 miles before. I have no idea how I’m going to do this — OK, that’s a lie because I’m going to do this on sheer will power and desire; because it’s what I want to accomplish as a runner this year!

Chase your dreams, then keep running

It’s going to hurt; it’s going to be a challenge, both mentally & physically; it’s going to consume all my free time (hello, I’m training for this during tax season!); it’s going to make me stronger. AND THAT IS GOING TO BE MY REWARD WHEN I CROSS THAT FINISH LINE IN MARCH!

Here's to 2015

This training will be both friend and foe, but, as Barney says in How I Met Your Mother, challenge accepted! Bring it on 2015!

Until next time, XOXO – K

It feels like just yesterday that it was fall. And it looked a little something like this:

Fall in Knoxville - SunsphereFall in KnoxvilleFall on UT Campus

Welcome to the South though — where one day it’s a gorgeous fall day and the next, winter comes rip-roaring in with a bite so cold you don’t know what hit you. For those of you abroad, this is -3 Celsius and it’s only November. I’m guessing it’s going to be a LONG winter.

Weather

 

But, the really cold weather means one thing — sweaters! And I happened to find a pair of tights that matched a sweater I recently purchased and this is the outcome:

This OOTD is all about the blooper reel!

This OOTD is all about the blooper reel!

 

I even coordinated my nail polish (accidentally nonetheless)

I even coordinated my nail polish (accidentally nonetheless)

 

See, blooper reel!

See, blooper reel!

 

Outfit Details

Sweater & Skirt: The Limited

Tights: Jessica Simpson for Macy’s

Pumps: Sam Edleman

Nails: Zoya Nail Polish

Hello winter, hello color coordination! (And yes, I realize it has been way too long since you’ve seen a fashion or beauty post — and I’m sorry! Life sometimes takes over and has been so much easier to write about lately.)

Until next time, XOXO – K

It was your typical Thursday; Alarm goes off then the snooze battle begins; Finally drag myself out of bed and get ready for community service day. It was my fourth day of employment and I was going to spend the day with 120 co-workers cleaning up Atlanta’s third largest park. Luckily, the firm had provided us with T-Shirts so all I had to worry about was jeans and shoes!

I had asked my husband to take me to the park on his way to work because I was told parking was going to be limited. We walk out the door, locked it, and because I’m always paranoid, I actually double checked it was locked. Then, we were on our way.

The park was a fairly large park, albeit if I were driving by I would’ve never known it was a park–At least not before we all got to work! I had signed up for the gardening crew, thinking I would be planting pretty flowers everywhere — but I quickly learned my idea of pretty little flowers were actually trees!

Sun rise peaking through the clouds - Atlanta Memorial Park

Sun rise peaking through the clouds – Atlanta Memorial Park

Atlanta Memorial Park - Early morning

Atlanta Memorial Park – Early morning

 

There was A LOT of digging and swinging a pick-axe to plant my tree and by 11AM I was already exhausted but in just two quick hours the park looked completely transformed! And, we were all having fun helping each other out even though it was a lot of labor.

It took me nearly two hours on the side of a hill to get the hole deep enough to plant this not-so-little guy.

It took me nearly two hours on the side of a hill to get the hole deep enough to plant this not-so-little guy.

 

After the clean-up & planting was completed for the day, we all headed out to Monday Night Brewing for a firm meeting. What a great time — and an opportunity to learn so much about my still new-to-me co-workers! Who would’ve guessed I’d be standing in line for food and chatting with one of the two founding partners? WHOOP!

Monday Night Brewing - Drafty Kilt

Monday Night Brewing – Drafty Kilt

 

I’ll be darned if a few of us didn’t continue the party at a bar after the brewery! Also a good time — but maybe could’ve (erm, should’ve?) done without that Fireball? I finally hang my hat around 8:30 and HAD to get home. I was the old maid! (But we did get to the brewery at 2…) Luckily my husband was nice enough to pick up my not-so-sober self and bring me home on his way from the office.

I alternate talking his head off about my day and my co-workers and singing on the ride home– both things I do quite well with alcohol! We arrive home and he puts the key in the lock and turns. Nothing happens. He looks at me and I shrug. “Honey, I double checked the door this morning, it was locked! Maybe we just didn’t hear it click?”

Door opens and we walk in. At that particular second I didn’t think it was odd that my kitchen lights were on. Blame it on the booze? The next 30 seconds are a bit fuzzy as I shut the door and turn the lock only to notice the entire door frame near the lock plate is splintered. I drop everything I’m holding and turn around. Hubby is standing in the living room looking at the hallway, which is where we had a TV sitting — HAD. Then the reality sets in as I see the bathroom light and fan on and my dressers drawers astray, clothes pulled out randomly, my jewelry box open, and my fire-box rummaged through.

You don’t really know how you’ll react when you realize someone kicked in your door, violated your privacy, not to mention your sense of security — you just don’t. Especially not after a few drinks — but I promise you this is a SOBERING moment.

Burgled

At this exact moment in time we had lived in our apartment one week — ONE. Seven days. Half of the building is still under construction! My first phone call was the cell phone of the apartment manager. Hubby’s was the police. My second call was my mother, and it’s probably better my father answered. I was crying so hard I could barely talk, let alone stand. Then somehow I end up outside, and the security guard is standing there listening to me try to blubber what happened to my father; Then the guard tells me my neighbor across the hall also got burgled; Then the cop arrives (dad, did I hang up on you? I’m sorry!) but the cop lives here; He had JUST introduced himself on Tuesday evening.

He comes in and takes our statement as we survey the items we are missing. You know the hardest part about trying to survey what you no longer own? When you haven’t seen most of said stuff in 19 months. I took very little from my jewelry box to Ireland with me. I knew it had been rummaged through but I had no clue if anything was missing. The important pieces (at least to me, though they are far from valuable on the monetary front) were still there. My closet was untouched, and the only valuable thing I REALLY own was on my finger that day — despite knowing I’d be doing garden work all day… I don’t really believe in coincidences, so let’s just say fate intervened that morning.

After the cop left, it really set in what the thief took and I lost it thinking about my computer. The computer! My life was on that computer! Oh, phew we had it backed up. OH NO. What about the back up external hard drive that every picture from the last 19 months over seas on it? Was it gone? I was inconsolable at this moment and my poor husband…he was trying to help me! He did find the backup in a box in the closet — OH THANK YOU LORD.

[Side note: MULTIPLE BACK UPS PEOPLE. THREE, AT A MINIMUM. We are fortunate the hard drive was nowhere near the computer and was in a box in the guest closet, but… THREE BACKUPS.]

I won’t dwell on the aftermath of the burglary. We were safe, and luckily not home at the time. We didn’t lose anything that wasn’t replaceable, and we learned a valuable lesson on that front. And the silver lining? I wanted a new computer anyway!

It’s not the stuff you need to worry about in your life. It’s you; it’s your memories; and it’s your sense of security. All of these things are priceless. Insurance can pay you for your lost stuff but not your sanity. it’s been a tough two weeks, but the new access locks around the apartment complex, the alarm system, and the support of our friends and family help tremendously.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you — because that’s the exact moment when it will. Never say never.

XOXO – K

 

 

Thank You For Who I Am!

November 7, 2014 — 1 Comment

I’ve been back in the U.S. a little over a month now and I’ve started a new job in this time. This undoubtedly leads to “where are you from?” questions and I’ve lived so many places in the last few years that I’m not even sure where I’m from anymore.

It used to be easy! I was born in Tennessee, then I moved to Arkansas and lived there for thirteen years until I went to college, in Tennessee. Now that I’m dwelling on it, I’ve actually lived in Tennessee longer than Arkansas, if you count the first five years of my life that I simply don’t remember! The tally looks something like this:

Arkansas – 13.5 years
Tennessee – 15.5 years
Ireland – 1.75 years
Georgia – 1 month

I seldom CLAIM to be Arkansan. Simply because over the years I’m over people thinking I’m an “overall wearing (which are back in style, BTW), shoeless, gun-toting heathen” when I respond to the infamous “Where are you from?” question with “Arkansas”. I would actually get bewildered looks in Ireland if I mentioned Arkansas, mostly because they have no idea where it is and if they do know it, all they know is Bill Clinton.

Let me set the record straight. I assure you that just because the media finds the most misrepresentative person to interview 99% of the time that Arkansans are nice, hospitable people who wear clothes & shoes, have teeth, hold jobs, use the Internet, and love football and hunting. If the apocalypse hits, forget Georgia, and give me my duck & deer hunting childhood friends! Are there people who live in the woods and don’t wear shoes? Probably. I’ve never met them. But I’m pretty sure they exist in other states too, from California to Connecticut.

I’m always amazed how certain songs affect me differently at certain points in my life–heck, different days even. A song for every mood & moment right? So let me tie my Arkansas rant together with Cherry Pie (no, not the food, but that does sound delicious!).

I was sitting on my flight from JFK to ATL recently listening to my Eden’s Edge album. The song Cherry Pie came on and it instantly took me back to my past life–my childhood. Listening to this song always makes me happy to have Arkansan roots.

“Cherry Pie”

To my first pony, Cherry Pie,
from the little girl you taught to fly,
to the sun.

To Mrs. Thorton, from third grade,
I remember all the times you’d stay,
till Daddy picked me up.

[CHORUS:]
Oh, did you ever know?
Did I ever tell you so?
I hope you understand,
you have so much to do with who I am.

To my older brother, Wes,
I worshiped everything you did and said.
I hope it didn’t bother you.

To Grandma Melva and Grandpa Lin,
what I’d give just to be five, again,
singin’ in your living room.

[Repeat CHORUS]

Arkansas summer wind,
to feelings that never end,
to anyone who called me “friend”.
All the blessings from above,
to Mama’s kiss and Daddy’s hug,
I didn’t say it near enough-
Thank you for who I am!

[Repeat CHORUS]

To my first pony, Cherry Pie,
from the little girl you taught to fly.

I could only find a live version on YouTube, but it’s still pretty amazing and still gives me chills because i could listen to Hannah for HOURS. Her voice is so unbelievable.

It takes me back to days where I was independent and headstrong but I have an amazing mother who tried to listen and steer me in the right direction and I’m more like her every day. I have an amazing father who taught me the value of a hard-earned dollar and how to change the oil in my car. I have a sister who, despite the stuffed animal wars in the halls throughout the years, loves me unconditionally and, even though I’m older, teaches me more about life each year.

It takes me back to the days of Red Rover and kickball; where the school years were long and summers short; There was love & laughter. There was heartbreak and tears; There was ghosts in the graveyard, sleepovers, gymnastics meets, band practice, and family vacations. I never wanted for anything, but I didn’t have everything handed to me either.

And every single ounce of who I am is shaped by this past–and I don’t think I could capture that any better than this song!

Though it is funny when I actually listen to this song because two of the members of this group grew up in the same town as I did. We went to school together; attended church together. I know the names of (some) of the people sung about in the song. For that reason maybe the song touches me more than most, but it is absolutely a beautiful song and you need to listen to it. Arkansan or not. And no, Eden’s Edge may have parted ways, but I simply don’t care. I absolutely, 100% love their songs and they’ll forever be a part of me.

To my Arkansas roots, THANK YOU FOR WHO I AM!

Arkansas Friends

Arkansas Road

Until next time. XOXO – K