Friday, March 21, 2014

March Madness Midnight News

On the CBS11 set with the talented Doug Dunbar
When you work in news, March Madness means you might do the late show well after midnight.

This year I don't really mind, since it is helping me pass the time until my daughter plays her First Round NCAA game tomorrow against DePaul at 12:30pm. It can't get here fast enough!

Courtesy: University of Oklahoma
This has been a tough year for my #1 Sooner, Nicole Kornet. A learning year. A growing year.

She's battled back and is on the other side now. I am so very proud of her.

So this text message today TRULY made my day. She sent it to the family after practice at the uber-cool Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke University in Durham, NC:

Please ignore the fact I once again took a screen shot with the edit prompts. (I'm a loser.)

Nicole said basketball is FUN! And she loves it!

As a musical theater/dance team/sorority girl, I give these college athletes so much credit. On top of their academic responsibilities, they work out intensely for hours every day for 4 or 5 straight years. No Spring Break. No Thanksgiving or Christmas vacations. No free summers.

I don't know about you, but the toughest part of my college experience was getting up for an 8am Italian class after a night of half-price beers.

The coolest thing is, these kids (at least the ones I know) have NEVER complained about it. They know it's all part of the deal. And that the opportunity to play is really, really special.

Just a little food for thought as you continue to cheer for the young men and women on your favorite March Madness teams.

And, if you don't mind, please tune in to CBS11 News after the game. Our own team is producing an information-packed newscast.

You just might need to ignore the toothpicks propping our eye sockets open.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Too Fab to Funk

Saved by my daughter's college friends at the Big 12.

I'm just going to admit it: I am not good at being alone.

Basketball games are enveloping the Kornet clan this spring break. So I'm working odd hours and filling in for vacationing co-workers.

Without commotion and conversation in my life, I get into a

Today I brought my workout clothes to work, to "encourage myself" to stop at the gym on the way home.

Did I go? Heck to the no.

It was such a gorgeous day. So at least I did take the dog for a walk. And at least I changed into my fore-mentioned workout clothes before I did so.

But then I crashed.

I opened up all of the sliding glass doors on the back of the house, plopped on the couch, and crashed.

It was no later than 7pm.

Folks, that is not normal. Scratch that. As stressed and isolated as we Americans are becoming, perhaps it is becoming normal. But it's certainly not healthy. At least it's not healthy for me.

I eventually woke up, folded some laundry, and watched a little bit of that TLC show, The Little Couple." (The precious, personality-packed, pint-sized couple flew to India to pick up little Zoey, a two-year-old girl they adopted. I tell you, adoption is an absolute miracle!)

After wiping away a few tears, I knew I had to perk up. I jumped on the internet, caught up on my kids' tweets, and browsed through some of my old Twitter pictures. I found myself laughing out loud alone in my kitchen. Then I watched an old video blog with my former television colleague, Gina Miller, about "Fighting the Funk." I started to feel some energy return. Even some inspiration. Like I had just had an actual conversation with a girlfriend.

I immediately texted Gina to remind her of that conversation long ago. Then I grabbed this month's issue of Success magazine, headed to my garage Stairmaster, and did a full hour of cardio. It's now 11:39pm.

After my cardio boost, I saw that Gina responded to my text. Her message: "You must write and speak your way out of your funk, Tracy! You're too fab to funk!"

This blog is proof that's exactly what I did. And here's a picture of another step I took the next morning to keep the funk at bay.

The local library to the rescue yet again! Only this time I brought a girlfriend with me, who practically squealed in delight at the plethora of offerings there. (Seriously, have you used your local library recently?!) And that was after coffee and a hard-core workout at her house.

Exercise, girlfriend time, and intellectual stimulation?! Now that's the way to beat the blues.

So friends, if you too are fighting the funk, I hope you'll take Steve Harvey's advice from one of the Success articles I consumed during that sweaty 60 minutes in my cold garage: "U-turns are allowed. If you're heading down the wrong path, you can turn around." Or keep moving forward. Just don't give up.

Remember, you're too fab to funk.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I Love Women

I love women!

Just when I think I'm the only grown girl out there who still has tomboy tendencies, who still loves doing the splits, who's more than annoyed having to have nice nails (mine are the PITS)--
I meet a whole slew of other girls just like me!

Such was the case yesterday when I spoke at the Ladies High Tea at Liberty Christian High School in Argyle, Texas (although they all had fabulous nails...darnit).

With Judy Haire, Liberty Christian School Co-Founder (and future back-up singer)

There I was seated amongst hundreds of women, around our individually decorated tables ( mine Parisian-themed), and within minutes our common connection emerged.

It came in the form we women so readily embrace:


Happy tears. Joyful tears. Tears of empathy. Tears of understanding.

Dang, we women are so good at letting it flow. Especially when we're all together.

My tears began AS I was being introduced, when the eloquent emcee melted my heart by talking about my kids, whom she had known when they attended school there.

But what I loved just as much was how instantly comfortable it felt from the perch of that podium, looking out into a sea of smiling, female faces in their tortoise-rimmed glasses and highlighted hair.

Don't get me wrong, I love men. LOVE them. And I especially appreciate our male viewers at CBS11. (wink, wink)

But I hosted a morning magazine show for almost 7 years in Phoenix.

We became so connected with our female viewers, my co-host and I had the thrill of participating in "Sonoran Living Girlfriend Nights," for which our devoted viewers actually BOUGHT tickets, showed up at the station door, and poured into our studio to mingle with us and our Sonoran Living cast. (Shout out to some of them--our craft divas The MaryAngelos, beauty experts Michele Rene & Zethina, and especially to Lisa & Patty from "Girlfriends Unlimited" for executing those glorious evenings!)

My favorite part of those events was seeing, hugging, and listening to these ladies; hearing how the experiences we shared on-air, touched their hearts at home--and helped them feel not so alone.

It brought me to tears then...and it brings me to tears now.

Girlfriends & a good cry--two ingredients to a great life.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Only Dad Can Do

My kids are learning some intense lessons about life these days through this little game called basketball. In particular, when it comes to sports, the highs are SO high, and the lows are REALLY low.

On a recent trip to Nashville to watch our son play, Luke revealed how awful it is to be in a shooting slump. So after the game (Vanderbilt lost), I asked if he wanted to shoot with his dad a little while. Like old times. Get some confidence back in his shot.

I snapped this picture later that night inside a totally empty Memorial Gym.

This, my friends, is something only a dad can do.

Only Luke's dad.

The difference Frank Kornet has made in his children's lives can never be quantified.

And I have no doubt he will continue to heap life-changing love on this family through his actions, convictions, and sheer devotion until his last dying breath.

In her book Lean In Sheryl Sandberg cites research which consistently found that children with involved and loving fathers have higher levels of psychological well-being and better cognitive abilities.

So, Dads, keep it up.

We ALL need you.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

God, What do YOU Want Me To Do?

One of my new favorite writers calls this The Big Question.
And this week it stopped me in my tracks:
"God, what do YOU want me to do?"

My morning routine typically starts by sitting on my leather chair, downing several cups of coffee, and reading through a handful of devotionals and books. My latest fav is a gift from my oldest son called Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly.

It's no secret I've been trying to figure out the next chapter in my own book, now that all three kids are in college. I've downsized, moved closer to work, sold most of my crap, and booked a trip to France with a girlfriend.

But when I woke up this morning and asked my husband, "Do you feel as bored and unfulfilled as I do?" -- to which he immediately answered "Yes" -- it is clear we are ripe for even more change.

Which brings me back to The Big Question.

In all of my past moves and job opportunities, I've felt a sense of peace and clear direction from the Big Man upstairs. I'm telling you, it was truly as though the heavens parted and a beam of light came down and hit me smack dab in the forehead with a "Tracy, here is your answer."

But not this time. I feel stuck. And totally in the dark.

Maybe it's because this time, I am trying to figure it all out on my own. I am trying to push and prod and plan, when I'm supposed to be still. I'm supposed to be silent. I've had several dear friends remind me how that is the only way we can actually hear God speak.

Last night I called a summit of some of these girlfriends. I almost cried when I spotted them through the window of the Zoe's Kitchen near my old neighborhood.

I have missed my friends. I have missed our conversations. God may speak in the silence, but I believe He can speak through quality friends, too.

I am all ears.

Some of my wisest women friends. How I love them!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jay Gruden: Proud to Say We Knew Him When

Jay Gruden/courtesy CBS

My high school quarterback, Jay Gruden, was named head coach of the Washington Redskins today.
There’s something awfully cool seeing a childhood classmate make it big like this.

Our Tampa, Florida public high school was massive. Several of our classmates have emerged celebrities: actor Robert Gant, drummer/D.J. Ravi Jakhotia, Florida Representative Karen Castor, celebrity pharmacist Lauren Fallieras among them.
My Alma Mater in Tampa, Florida

                                                     (Lauren, you have always been a star!)

Yet there’s something about the enormity of and seemingly universal love for sport that makes Jay Gruden’s promotion extra special.

Jay’s made it to the top. He's not an accessory to his big brother. Jay is the head coach of his own NFL team. And perhaps we feel that somehow, he's taken a part of us high school hooligans with him. 
Way to go, Jay.
Your Chamberlain Chiefs are rooting you on!
High school-era Jay Gruden

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How'd You Get Into Television?

Kudos to the college student who just met me here at work to learn about my job. This junior journalism major already has a leg up. She sought me out, scheduled time with me--yes, the day after Christmas--and showed up.

Kids, if you want to make it in this business (or most careers for that matter) that kind of initiative speaks volumes. 

My son suggested I write a blog detailing how I got into television news. Let me warn you, it was quite a circuitous route. My road is not for everybody. But I do believe the advice I learned along the way is.

So, John, here goes.

I like to say my career began in 5th grade. I sang a song while my dad accompanied me on piano for the school talent show. I tied for first place. The grand prize was a trip to McDonalds. Not only did I finally get my own fries and a chocolate shake, but the experience planted in my 10-year-old brain that I might be kind of good at this performing thing.

My 1st piece of advice for aspiring television journalists? Get comfortable in front of people. Perform. Speak. Sing. Dance. Play the piano. It all builds confidence.
From that point on, I auditioned for every play, musical, dance and cheerleading squad. Loved oral reports and live presentations. Felt extreme joy and fulfillment from an audience’s positive reaction.
I also LOVED school, in particular English, writing, and foreign languages.
This brings me to tip #2:  Write. Get really good at it. You will need this skill for the rest of your life. Plus, writing will greatly enhance your adlibbing abilities, if your dreams are to be on camera.
I continued to sing and dance in college, got an agent and began auditioning for local commercials for extra cash. During Christmas break of my sophomore year at Vanderbilt, a military friend told me he saw young Americans singing and dancing at the new Disneyland theme park in Toyko, Japan.
I immediately called Walt Disney World in nearby Orlando for more information. They were holding auditions for Toyko Disneyland the very next day! So I grabbed my shiny white unitard and Reebok high- tops and drove to Orlando.
I got the job.

You’re probably saying, “Okay, this is not helping me. I don’t want to be Cinderella or Mary Poppins. I want to be a news reporter.”
Hang in there. There's a point to this story.

Working in Japan was a game-changer.  After my Disney contract ended, I auditioned for a HUGE Japanese pop star and joined her for two tours as a back-up singer/dancer. We performed in massive, sold-out arenas; taped music videos; appeared on numerous national television shows; and, my personal highlight, hosted Michael Jackson, his dancers and band when he brought his "Bad" tour to Tokyo. 

I traveled to Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, and hitchhiked with a friend across Japan to Korea. It cost me next to nothing. And the tales I could tell you from these trips are ridiculous. 

So tip #3: Find a way to live, work, and/or study in a foreign country. At the very least, you can teach English. Tons of companies will pay you to travel and teach, all the while soaking up life experience and expanding your world view. Plus, it will provide jump-off-the-resume job history to help you stand out from the crowd.   
It’s how I got my first job in television news. Here’s how THAT went down.
A couple of years after my Tokyo stint, I was finishing college, had married my college sweetheart and started a family, and was taping a local commercial in my husband’s hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. While the spot was being edited, the station’s general manager happened to walk by.   
He asked for my number, took me to lunch, and within a couple of months hired me to start anchoring his popular morning newscast, “Kentucky Sunrise.”  
Why would he do such a thing? He says he “believed in hiring interesting people.” He could teach them *how* to do the job later.
Guess that Tokyo gig made me interesting. But boy, did I have a WHOLE lot of learning to do. Journalists take their jobs very seriously. Standards are high. But I was a smart girl, a really good writer, and had the confidence to embrace the opportunity and make the most of it.
Tip #4: Always say YES to positive opportunity. You can figure out HOW to do it later!
Once they let me in that WLEX-TV newsroom door, I was not about to let them kick me out. And twenty years later, I’m still doing the job. And I no longer suck at it.
That’s tip #5—Never stop learning.
I (eventually) taught myself how to anchor without sounding like an idiot; how to write for news; how to do live shots without my hands or upper lip trembling. I went from morning news anchor, to host/producer of my own lifestyle show, to anchoring the 5:30pm news and field anchoring coverage of the Kentucky Wildcats’ two National Championship runs.

I eventually moved the family to Phoenix to launch and host the city’s first morning magazine show. Seven years later we moved here to Dallas to anchor TXA21 News, First in Prime, the market's first prime-time evening newscast.

I am currently in my 8th year anchoring, reporting, and hosting here at CBS11. I emcee and speak regularly at community events, love to mentor young people, and even had a stint as the lead singer of our station band, Eleven21.

Sure, my career path required risk, a temporary departure from traditional college life, and much loneliness and isolation…UNTIL I had a family of my own.

 Luke, Nicole and John Kornet then...and now.

These little guys are what’s made work incredibly rewarding--coupled with the opportunity to serve the public by delivering information that protects, informs, and improves people’s lives.  
It’s been an exhilarating ride, this career. I feel really good about how it's all worked out.
But it hasn't been easy. 

Honestly, I probably wouldn't appreciate it so much if it were.