Thursday, July 9, 2015

Honey, I Shrunk the World

I remember not so many years ago feeling so trapped and strapped for cash that I believed I would never get to travel to Europe. It would be forever out of the question, forever out of reach. My husband would never let me spend that much. I would feel too guilty leaving the kids.

For a travel and adrenaline junkie like me, these thoughts were death to my spirit. They sucked out any joy and hope. My world felt so small and boring.

If this at all sounds familiar, I am here to say what you're living through right now is NOT forever.

I recently returned from my 3rd trip to Europe in 14 months. I was hesitant to share this splurge with too many people, embarrassed to tell people at work or on social media. I didn't want to make anyone feel crappy seeing pictures.

But after reading a former colleague's inspiring blog about her path to her dream job, I feel compelled to share my story--about how I shrunk the world.

Comedienne Amy Poehler calls it "time travel." Her book was one of four I finished on this latest journey to Ireland and France. She and Norah Ephron kept me chuckling all the way to the Dublin Hilton, where I arrived after driving on the wrong side of the road in my stick shifted rental car with the steering wheel on the right side. I am woman!

There is little more empowering than traveling alone to a foreign country and renting a car. (Just follow the car in front of you at intersections and FOCUS.)

I was there to meet my daughter after her inaugural, college study abroad experience. Nicole was there for only 2 weeks, and I'm so proud of her for seizing the opportunity between non-stop workouts as a student-athlete at the University of Oklahoma. Most girls just want to go home and veg on their rare breaks. Nicole chose to take a class in Ireland. (Okay, I did add some serious mom pressure.)

Once we finally connected without the luxury of cell phones, we explored the city and countryside, toured the Guinness factory and a museum or two, and 24 hours later took off for Paris.
Sky Lounge at Guinness. Nicole traded hers for Coke.
Fat Bike Tours are the bomb

Spending four straight days with my little girl was a long time coming. I felt close to her again. As a mother. As a woman. We explored. Rode bikes. Met people. We did all of the things we used to do on our annual trips to NYC and the multiple basketball recruiting adventures we took during her super-exciting high school summers.

When I look at old Facebook pix, those times feel like forever ago.
UNC Chapel Hill
The UCONN girls. Yes, that's Maya Moore!
Forever love Coach Adrian. Duke.
Every bball trip always included adventure.
Our fav NYC. Balto.
Coach Gino

Our first & only B & B. "Misery" reenactment.
Sara Beth's at Central Park

Coach Haskell (and her cute son!) And the magnificent Coach Charlotte.

Those years flew by. I'm so happy we seized every single moment.

This girl has always been my favorite travel buddy. (and I have some great travel girlfriends!) I think the combination of protecting one's child while exposing her to world-expanding sights, sounds, people and conversations is an extraordinary experience. It even surpasses the free trip to Singapore some strangers gave me and my friend Leslie, a.k.a. Alice in Wonderland, when we were poolside in Bangkok, Thailand at age 19. It's a story I just divulged to Nicole about my Tokyo Disneyland days.

I'll be posting a full mother-daughter travel blog if you'd like to read the details of our European adventure. The bike tour to Monet's Garden in Giverny was a highlight!

But the main goal of this post to is to simply tell you to GO FOR IT. Plan that trip. Save that money. Create a travel fund and make regular direct deposits.

Fight for it.

It is so easy to fall into the dark spiral of "I'll never get to go to..."  "I'll never be able to afford to..."  Listen, I have counted on my American Airlines credit card for my foreign adventures. Paid less than $100 round-trip this last time.

You can do this.

You, too, can shrink the world.

Picnic in Giverny, France. Claude Monet's home.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

3 a.m.. Really?

I've been waking up at 3 a.m. again. 

This morning it was because I fell asleep with my makeup on. 

I proceeded to feel anxious about everything. 

The good news this time, as opposed to years past, is that I quickly realized there were some things I was NOT feeling anxious about. 

So naturally I HAD to wake up Frank an hour or so later and force him to celebrate the list with me!

These are the things about which I am currently no longer anxious:

1. Paying for the kids' college (this deserves a hallelujah)
2. Texas' crazy-high property taxes
3. My relationship with my dad
4. Living in limbo and away from all 3 kids
5. The kids' future careers (okay, this one is partially true. I'm still a bit concerned about Nicole's!)
6. Making choices that lead me away from a strong family foundation in the future

I'm sure there are more, but those are the biggies. The things that would not only wake me at 3am but would sometimes put me in a catatonic state, especially during contract renewal time. 

Now for the list of things that ARE waking me up at 3 a.m.:

1. Screwing up my children by putting unbeknownst pressure, guilt, or anxiety on them because we left Texas and their childhood friends.

2. Not having enough fun at work

3. Not having a circle of couples friends or couples' activities or couples' volunteer/charity work--and therefore not having enough fun with my husband

My husband, Frank. Isn't he cute?!
Again, there are others, but I must keep some fears private.

Those are the biggies. 

I know I'm not alone in these worries, considering our sitcom BFF's on King of Queens, have entire episodes devoted to two of these three issues.

Our closest "couple friends" these days, Doug & Carrie

So here is what I will embrace today, or at least for the next 11 minutes while I finish my Stairmaster routine:

If love is a series of choices--and if I can just make my next choice out of love for my family, God, and therefore myself--I know I am walking in the Light. 

And I know that Light will keep shining on me and every anxiety lurking in the darkness, pointing the way to a bright and beautiful future.

And you must know, too, that joy will come in the morning.

No matter what time you wake up.

Friday, May 8, 2015

You did NOT Just Call Me That!

A few years ago the beloved captain of my daughter's basketball team called me a cool mom.

Ugh! Cool mom?

All I could picture was her.

Who can forget Amy Poehler's character passing out alcohol and condoms to her teen daughter's girlfriends, desperate to be liked.

I was mortified and offended.

My daughter thought it was hilarious.

It didn't spark a whole lot of soul-searching on my part, primarily because the thought has NEVER been on my radar. If anything, my family scoffs at my UNcoolness!

But in a quest for self-awareness, I had to at least thing things through.

Yes, I am on the younger side when it comes to moms with kids in college.
I do love to laugh, go to concerts, and dance and sing like a fool when I get there.
And I do like my pop music loud.
Chicago airport antics

Dang. Does that make me a cool mom?

And why does it bother me so in the first place?

I guess I simply loathe how that label insinuates one is *trying* to be cool.  As though she could care less how her kids turn out, as long as they're all BFF's.

Listen, I may love hanging out with John, Nicole, and Luke, but I can be one tough cookie when it comes to things that REALLY matter, like working hard, being kind, having a positive attitude, believing in God who deeply loves us and commands us to love others. They still verbally flog me for making them take music lessons. And I'm a grammar nazi to boot!

John's high school graduation. Best speech ever!

I prefer to think I'm just a grown-up girl who has been INTENTIONAL about having a better mother-child relationship than the one I had.

My sweet mother's already passed away, but I think she'd be okay if I told you she was quite shy and that we didn't have too much in common when I was in high school.
I preferred to spend every spare second with my crazy friends and THEIR families.

So does it make me a cool mom to crave the opposite?

I don't think so.

And I do know this: my number one goal is to raise caring human beings who know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, they are deeply loved.

I think that makes me a GOOD mom.

And you know what?

I think that's pretty cool.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Extraordinary Ordinary

We converged in Little Rock at my oldest son John's apartment. (Mind you, it's a one bedroom loft with a queen bed and a sectional couch.)
"You guys staying in a hotel, Nicole?"

"Heck no," she replied to her coaches & friends. "That's part of the fun!"

Limbs were everywhere. Copper came too.

Two days with these characters was as fun as some fancy schmancy European vacation, with John as the consummate tour guide and host. I am so proud of him. He was offered a gig with the top team in his firm on Friday. Way to go, Johnny!!! He broke the news during a 1 a.m. laundry folding session.

On Saturday morning John got us donuts--so we went straight to LA fitness to burn them off and lift.

This is how they have fun. Love how Nicole's always been a tomboy.

Everywhere we go people stare at our traveling forest.
We walked the world's largest pedestrian bridge together on an absolutely glorious day. We finally got some sun on our albino-white skin, stocked John's fridge and pantry, then proceeded it to eat it all while watching the Derby and Clippers-Spurs game.

Little Rock, Arkansas
Sunday we went to mass, followed by a Marshall's shopping spree, topped off by a good ole fashioned Texas Roadhouse last supper. 
And yes, a couple of us cried when it was time to say to say goodbye.
(Dad made sure of it by making us all watch "The Goldbergs." He swears I am just like the overly encouraging Beverly. I consider it a compliment.)

Luke and Nicole took off for Dallas during a RARE few weeks off of basketball. Dad, Copper, and I are now heading back to Nashville.

I appreciate this family time more than most people who read this will ever know. When you have kids young, your children become more than precious little people to care for; if you're lucky, they become some of your best friends. And they are each other's best friends too--positive influences on one other, playmates, and each other's biggest cheerleaders (although they would never say it that way).

So on this weekend before Mother's Day, I am reminded why some sacrifices are totally worth it.

And I can't wait till our next completely ordinary, extraordinary adventure together.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Luke Kornet's Concussion. A Mother's Confession.

I've been questioning lately if I'm becoming numb to emotion. If I can still love like I used to. Care about anything as deeply as I did when my children were young, my family was growing, my career was budding.

Tonight I think I know the answer.

I haven't cried like this, or feared deep loss like this, since my mother was dying.

But that was my mother. This is my child.

I simply can't bear the thought of losing Luke.

I don't know how parents of terminally ill children get through such heart-wrenching times. I have a full-grown, 19-year-old, healthy son and I will be crying myself to sleep tonight at the thought of what just happened becoming something much worse.

I just watched Luke get clocked during a basketball game and slam to the ground. Nothing broke his fall. Just his head.

I was watching the game in my cubicle before anchoring the 10pm news, during which I often report terrible stories about concussions, accidents, falls, and beatings. I've heard too many times the deadly brain hemorrhages that can follow such head trauma. Luke's injury sent me into a tailspin.

After witnessing my reaction to his fall, my sweet producer told me not to worry about doing the newscast. I knew I could pull it together and clean up enough to do the show. No one would know. After all, Luke was able to stand up and walk off the court. Sure, he looked out of it. He wobbled. But he did stand up and walk.

But I knew what would likely happen. Our 10pm news has a sportscast in it. I'd have to see that video all over again. This was the semi-finals of the N.I.T. tournament against Stanford, for the chance to play at Madison Square Garden. When ESPN replayed the incident right after it happened, I think I screamed. I don't remember. I pretty much lost it. If I had to watch that again on-air?

I took my producer up on her offer and allowed myself to sit this newscast out.

I've been crying off and on ever since.

Tonight I sit here on my living room couch, fearing the worst....what happens if? My husband is in California and says Luke is talking. He is repeating the same questions over and over, but Frank assures me he'll be okay. I am praying, pleading to God that I don't have to let go of my child tonight or tomorrow or any day while I'm still on this planet. You just don't know with brain injuries. I am typically a positive, hopeful person. But the thought of losing my son? I can't imagine it. The pain I'm feeling right now is almost too much for me to bear.

For all of you parents who've endured such a loss...I am just so, so sorry. There are no words that will ever provide the peace or comfort you must so deeply crave. My heart is breaking for you tonight.

I don't ever want to forget that. Or lose compassion for you. I don't ever want to read another news story and not feel deep sympathy for the families affected by the personal, devastating losses we report.

I guess I'm not so numb after all.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Non-Blog Blog

It is hard to blog when there are so many people we're obligated to protect.

I don't want to embarrass the kids or get them in trouble (any more than I already have).

I don't want to divulge any station secrets or affect my reputation as a news person.

Yet I want to be authentic, relatable. Right?

Isn't that what a blog should be?

I keep sitting down to type and end up erasing every thought...out of fear. It's no fun living this way.

So I've decided to type a few of the random thoughts and feelings I've had these last few weeks. And then I want to hear YOURS.  Deal?

Tracy's Random Thoughts

1. I feel gross. This winter has just about destroyed my energy, desire, and ability to stay active. I have spent entirely too many mornings curled up on the couch in my leopard PJ's, reading and watching "Love It or List It" before work. I finally got to the gym today, and I'm determined to get back to my old self and out in the sunshine (once it decides to visit Nashville).

Not a fan of dreary, cold days

2. My kids' happiness or lack thereof affects me so deeply, that I think something is wrong with me. I mean seriously...what's the deal...they are all doing well. But when they have any kind of struggle or emotional difficulty, I want to run and fix it. And this past year has brought difficulty I've/we've never encountered before. It sucks.
Good times cuddling on the last Kornet road trip

3. I am still having trouble feeling consistently happy. I'm on a stinkin' emotional rollercoaster most of the time. I still find myself missing the life I lead pre-move: the laughter, love, and the music. Yes, I now live in Music City, and I still miss the music.

4. I need some new nude heels for 2015. I'm excited to see what Antonio Melani or Gianni Bini has in store for us this year.

5. Joyce Meyer's "Confident Woman" and Angela Thomas' "Stronger" are awesome daily devotionals.
Great study. Thank you, Kimberly, for the suggestion!

6. I can't wait to read Amy Poehler's book, but I have yet to allow myself to splurge on it.

7. My eyesight is fading so quickly, I may have to upgrade from the 1.25 readers to the 1.50 soon. Don't be a  hater, folks. It's still a royal pain in the butt. And I now understand why my grade school friends' moms never spotted those nasty chin or upper lip hairs when they drove us in carpool. They couldn't see them.

8.  I love my little cubicle. Pictures of my friends and family make me very happy.

9. Water, coffee, and red wine are just about the only liquids I drink. Which means Crest White Strips have become a necessary chaser!

10. I'm extremely grateful for Dillard's. The Nashville store at Green Hills Mall sponsors my wardrobe. I have loved their clothing lines for years, and I'm honored to wear something shiny and new almost every single day. I don't want to ever take this luxury for granted.

I am even more grateful for that help when I don't feel fat!

Okay, folks. It's your turn!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Seeing Both Sides as a Basketball Mom

You know what I consider a big positive about this 24-hour news cycle?

What may seem like the end of the world one minute, will be quickly replaced by the next earth-shattering story.

A big negative? The scary reality of video, the replay button, and the need to feed the beast.

You've likely seen by now what happened after the Vanderbilt-Tennessee basketball game last night. After a tremendous win, Vandy Coach Kevin Stallings ran straight into that media fire. Today he profusely apologized for the obscenity-laden correction of his player's reported unsportsmanlike behavior. Hopefully, it's a learning lesson for everyone. Heck, watch any episode of Dr. Phil, and you'll see that losing it--for whatever reason--never looks good on tape.

Some of you reading this remain shocked to see a coach yell like that.

I know I used to be. And I stayed that way for years. (For the record, I still believe coaches can rise above dropping F bombs and taking God's name in vain.)

But then my kids got seriously into sports.

And now, I get it.

Boy, is it a good thing I married Frank. He's helped me understand the other side. That people are different.

If I had raised my kids on my own, I may have encouraged them to quit when the going got tough.
I may have over-reacted when I heard an adult use bad language or even raise their voice at someone's child.
I would have likely scheduled dozens of meetings with school administrators and teachers, admonishing them for destroying my child's self-esteem.

Basically, my sensitivity and need to protect their psyches may have really screwed them up!

What I have learned as the mother of athletes is that compassion does not fly in the heat of battle.
Military folks know this too. They're used to this kind of coaching/leadership style.

So for all of you who struggle with a coach yelling at your kid, whether in high school, the YMCA, or college athletics, I certainly get it. I wish they would only encourage, hug our kids, and treat them kindly!

But I have also learned there is a place for the opposite. I've learned our children are smarter and tougher than we think. And experiencing different personality styles may prepare them well for some difficult situations--and people--down the road of life.

Which brings us back to the 24-hour news cycle and how similar it is to sports.

Both require you to move on quickly from the last breaking news story or big game.

It happens, you accept it, and you either suffer the consequences or delight in victory and celebrity.

And then you move forward.

If only heartbreak could be so speedy!