The Ones Who Got Away

I’ve experienced a strange phenomenon in recent years and I wonder if this is normal or if it’s just me. We all have “the one that got away”, usually that phrase refers to a potential romantic relationship. It brings to mind the boy I had a crush on all through elementary, middle, and high school. What if we would’ve ended up together? We all have that story, right?

What about friendships though? Do you ever meet someone and think, I hope we will become friends? That seems to be common. We all evaluate people when we first meet them, we make that first impression. Of course we can’t always trust our first impressions. Many of my best friends are people that I initially did not think that I would get along with. But on the other side, I meet people and immediately feel a connection to them and think we could have a good friendship – and it never develops.

At times, it feels like a mini loss to me. I’ll see someone that I thought I’d be close with and feel sad that a relationship didn’t develop. Most recently, someone that I met through a networking event announced that he was moving. I had only met the guy a few times but I enjoyed the conversations that we had together and I was looking forward to possibly developing that friendship. Now I won’t get that chance and it leaves me a little disheartened.

Just like romantic relationships, you can’t force friendships and sometimes timing or life gets in the way. But I find myself wondering sometimes, when I scroll through my social media feeds and come across one of these “almost friends”, what could have been?

Is it just me?


The Other Side of Self-Care

Self-care is currently having a moment in society. Finally we’ve seemed to have recognized that we can’t give from a dry well. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot take care of others. We spend so much of our time helping others, working hard, trying to get ahead that we don’t sit down and take care of ourselves. It’s ok though, we are saved by #selfcaresunday. If you do a quick hashtag search on Instagram, your feed will be full of bath bombs, face masks, and massages. Who wouldn’t want to practice self-care?

But there is a less glamorous side to self-care. It isn’t just Lush bath bombs and soothing music (I recommend the Creamy Tracks playlist on Spotify). Taking care of yourself also means eating right, getting enough sleep, recharging, taking your medication, listening to your body etc. If you don’t slow down and take care of yourself, that well will run dry really quickly. I haven’t taken care of myself the last few days and it has finally caught up to me.

On Friday it was 6 PM before I realized that attending two workout classes, drinking two large espresso beverages, and not eating lunch wasn’t the best for my body. I was jittery and exhausted and starving all at once. On Saturday night I went to bed really late and got up early on Sunday to drive two hours home and to turn around and attend two horse farm tours. The tours were great, but I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. That exhaustion fed into the decision to make a quick trip to the store and I only bought frozen unhealthy food. I also forgot to get my anxiety medication from the store. I ignored the mountain of laundry that needed to be done. Next thing I know it’s Monday morning and I’m dragging heavy during my spin class. I struggled to find clean clothes to wear. At work I was angry and irritable. It’s 7:30 PM on Monday night and I am physically exhausted, mentally drained, and emotionally spent.

A bubble bath and a glass of wine would’ve been nice, but the real self-care I needed was the boring kind. It’s so basic but eating three meals a day, drinking water, sleeping for 8 hours, resting when you need to, doing the laundry (insert your chore of choice), taking your medication – that’s what keeps you moving. Do yourself a favor and drink a glass of water once in awhile, try to eat a vegetable now and then, and do the boring stuff.

What types of self-care do you slack on? How can you take better care of yourself?

Grief isn’t a Linear Journey

Today was overall a good day, just a typical Wednesday. But it was a bad grief day. I left work and the only thing I wanted to do was the one thing I couldn’t do, call my mother. It was like a light turned on my head reminding me, “oh yeah, remember that your mom died and it’s been over a year since you saw her and spoke to her?” I tried to go on with my day but I kept being brought back to it. I finally pulled out my old cell phone to listen to the last voicemail I have from her. Tonight I found a bunch old messages in my deleted folder. I lost myself in all the old messages. Hearing her voice again hurt but in a good way. I found a message where she said “I love you.” Cue the floodgates. I hadn’t heard her say I love you to me in 15 months. I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear that until I heard it.

Tonight felt like a backslide. I made so much progress and here I am in a ball of tears and frustration. But I’m reminded that grief isn’t a linear – that journey takes you up and drop you down, time and time again. It’s the most infuriating thing, to feel that you’ve made so much progress and then a thought pulls you back into the abyss.

Grief sucks. It’s the worst. It’s a journey that I don’t want to be on. But I don’t have a choice. I’m thankful for the good days, I get through the bad ones. And I keep moving.

One Year with Atticus, The Spotted Doggo

Today is the one year anniversary of my adoption of my dog Atticus. I can’t believe that I have spent a year with this amazing dog. One year ago we were both in extremely different circumstances and I normally am not one to believe in fate – but I believe some kind of force brought me and this dog together.

I have grown up surrounded by animals. Both of my parents were animal lovers and they passed that gene onto me. There were always dogs, birds, cats, fish, horses etc. around me for my entire twenty-six years of life. When I finally got my first apartment, it felt insanely quiet and lonely. Where were the barking dogs, the cats scratching? From the second I found myself “animal-less”, I wanted to rectify that. But I did my best to practice restraint. I had a job that required me to work long hours, I didn’t have a roommate to help me, so it wasn’t the right time for a pet.

At the beginning of 2017, I found myself in a much different place than I had the year before. I lost my job, my boyfriend moved in, and I lost my mother. My mom loved animals more than anyone I have ever come in contact with. She wanted and tried to save them all. I jokingly called my home a “feline halfway house” because she couldn’t turn away any animal in need, and lately that was a lot of cats. At her memorial service we asked for donations to the local SPCA, we knew she would have wanted that.

Without a job, I found myself at home with a lack of purpose. What was I needed for? With the grief of losing my mother and feeling of worthlessness from losing my job – I was lost. Doesn’t exactly sound like someone who is ready to adopt a pet right? Well I knew there were so many animals out there that needed homes and I needed something to need me. Maybe that isn’t exactly healthy but I knew I had love to give and I was ready. Anthony, my boyfriend, was much more skeptical. He didn’t think it was the right time, but I persisted and I won.

At that point, I thought it would be so easy to find a dog. There were countless dogs in shelters looking for homes, I would find one I liked and sign the papers and I would be a dog owner! Spoiler Alert – It didn’t go down that way. I spent countless hours on Petfinder, the Lexington Humane Society, local dog rescues – looking for the perfect pet. Anthony and I decided that we wanted a medium sized dog between 1-3 years old. We hopped in the car and drove to the Humane Society and I had a list of ones we wanted to see. We were denied on all of them because we didn’t have a fenced in yard.

We drove to a few rescues in the area and weren’t met with much luck. This was going to be harder than I thought. I spent the next week looking for different options. That Friday I saw that PetsMart was having an adoption weekend in which they brought in a lot of different local rescues. I drove out to check it out. I walked to the back of the store, took a left and laid eyes on Atticus for the first time. He was laying in his crate quietly, not barking or trying to get anyone’ attention. He was very unique, white with black ears and black and brown spots all over him. It’s no secret that I have always wanted a Dalmatian and he was listed as Dalmatian/Beagle mix.

I asked to see him and the volunteer pulled him out and we hung out in a nearby aisle. He wagged his tail and shoved his head into my chest. I needed this dog. They say that you just know, and I never quite believed that but with Atticus, I just knew. He was twenty five pounds, between 8-12 months old, not quite potty trained, but was crate trained. I called Anthony and said I’d found the dog. He agreed to come see him after work. I wasted no time and filled out the application to adopt. In that application I was asked to list all my past pets, how they died, all past residences, and provide a vet reference. This seemed more invasive than a background check.


Top: Atticus’s shelter photo. Bottom: First Photo when we brought him home.

I came back with Anthony and he fell for the dog as hard as I did. Little Riley Muff (that was his name) had done a number on us both. We went to talk to the adoption coordinator – an imposing woman who spent a lot of time yelling. She said she would need to confirm with our apartment complex that we could have pets. I showed her an email and she said that wasn’t enough. At this point our complex office was closed so she would have to call the next day. She also said that she didn’t know if she could let me adopt without a vet reference. We said we’d return in the morning. I was heartbroken – I found the dog I wanted but they wouldn’t let me have him.

I returned in the morning with a pit in my stomach. Magically, the volunteer coordinator was in a much better mood. She had talked to my leasing manager and confirmed I could have a dog and started the paperwork. He was mine. Ok, he was ours. But my name is on his paperwork, as I like to tease Anthony, I get him in the divorce. We changed his name to Atticus, after Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird.


Our Adoption Photo with Atticus

From that day forward, Atticus has been my partner in crime, my best friend, my support system – everything. I have never met an animal as kind as he is. All he wants is to be near his people. He will lay on the couch with us for hours or play at the park – as long as he is with us. He loves every person he meets and wants to befriend every dog in his path. He is so social, he has never met a stranger. He likes to tear his toys to shreds, pulling out squeakers and spreading stuffing all over the apartment. He has a strange affinity for socks and will steal them out of my drawers. He loves to ride in the car, especially if he can stick his head out of the window. He hates wearing his harness because he knows it restricts his freedom. He aims to please and loved obedience school.


Atticus’s graduation from obedience school

He has more than 300 followers on Instagram, he has run two 5k’s, he has attended Bring Your Dog to Work Day, and he has met Santa. Technically, I saved him but in reality, he saved me. It has been a whirlwind of a year, adding this kind soul to my life but he has brightened every day of the past 365 and I cannot wait for the adventures to come! Follow Atticus on Instagram at @atticusthespotteddoggo

Atticus came from the Woodstock Animal Foundation which operates the Woodstock Spay and Neuter Clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Please consider making a donation to them or your local animal rescue.

The Ever-Changing Picture of Success

I’ve been thinking a lot about success and failure lately. I generally wouldn’t describe myself to have a “Type A” personality but one attribute I possess that fits into this archetype is my strong aversion to failure. Now nobody likes to fail – I realize that – but my entire life I’ve operated under the belief that failure wasn’t an option. This obsession didn’t come from overbearing parents, it came from myself. A story that my mom liked to tell was when I was in the second grade, I received a report card with a check minus, I was so young that letter grades weren’t even given out yet. The scale was check plus, check, and check minus. I got a check minus, probably in math, and I couldn’t take it. I physically wrote another line to make the minus sign into a plus sign. As if changing the grade on the card would change my failure into success.

I can run through every instance of my childhood that I felt that I had failed but they were about as minuscule as what I described above. My definition of failure changed when I left for college. I decided to attend West Texas A & M University – a small school in northwest Texas that I knew nothing about. At that time, my idea of success was attending an out-of-state school and excelling in this brand-new environment. I didn’t excel in Texas. By Christmas I had decided that I would transfer, but I was adamant that I would finish my first year and transfer the following fall. It was too late to transfer for the spring semester and taking a semester off would qualify as a failure in my mind. I made it to the second week in February. I made a teary phone call saying that I wanted to come home and I was on a flight out a few days later.

In the eight years that have passed since I left Texas, my idea of what my failure was in that situation has shifted multiple times. First, my failure was that I didn’t stick it out that second semester. Then it was that I didn’t stay home after Christmas break – I shouldn’t have gone back at all. That line of thinking turned into – I shouldn’t have ever gone to Texas in the first place. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with this decision and turned the failure into a success. I successfully took myself out of my comfort zone by moving a thousand miles away. I successfully realized that I wasn’t gaining what I needed out of that experience. I successfully took myself out of a situation that was doing me more harm than good.

After I graduated college, my picture of success was working in the equine industry. My major in college was Equine Business Administration. I loved horses, I fought to study the industry in college, I worked hard in my studies – this is what I wanted to do. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t get a job in the equine industry or I wouldn’t excel in that industry. That would be a failure. This is what I worked so hard for and if I couldn’t parlay my passion and hard work into a career – then I must have failed.

I started as a seasonal marketing assistant at the Kentucky Horse Park, making minimum wage. I was driving 70+ miles to work every single day, I couldn’t afford to live on my own, and there wasn’t a good prognosis for a full-time career. But In my mind, I was successful. I was not only working in the equine industry, but I was working for one of my favorite places in the world, The Kentucky Horse Park. And I loved my manager, she has been a fantastic mentor and friend to me.

When that job ended I took another job on the park at a different association. I was paid a little more, not enough to move to the area though. I was working in the equine industry though. A picture of a horse was on my business card, so it was a success. I hated my over an hour commute (one way). I wasn’t happy. But I was meeting my definition of success.

My next job felt like my dream job. I finally was making enough to get my own apartment. I was doing work that I enjoyed at Keeneland Racetrack – it was always a goal of mine to work there. I loved my job, I loved my boss, I loved my coworkers. Horse on the business card? Check! I was a full success. Then I lost my job. The biggest failure yet. Not only not a job in the equine industry, not a job at all.

After months of picking up seasonal work, cashing unemployment checks, and constant job interviews – I found myself with a job offer from a company without a horse on their business card. I accepted without thinking, I needed a job. I remember asking my boyfriend over dinner that night if he thought that I had failed by taking this job. He said of course not. I wasn’t so sure. Honestly, I accepted with the thought of “well this will work for now, until I find myself back in the horse world.”

I remember attending my equine department alumni dinner the next month, and I felt shame. Here I was, a graduate from this renowned program and I wasn’t doing anything at all with horses. After a few Old Fashioneds, I walked up to our program assistant and said, “Can I still come to these things since I don’t work in the equine industry?” Missi, god love her, said “Well of course, we are so proud of you, we don’t care where you work.” I could have cried.

A few months later I was knee deep in speaker management for an upcoming global conference when I suddenly realized, I was happy. I enjoyed working with my coworkers, the work challenged and interested me, and I felt valued.  Is this what failure feels like? My definition of success has shifted yet again. Success doesn’t have to equal working in the industry that I thought I would work in, if I am happy and growing – that’s success.

I still fall victim to obsessing over what success looks like. I have friends who own their own homes, who are married, who have children, who can afford to travel the world – and at times I feel like a failure that I don’t have those things. Of course, it’s all relative and I know that. I also have friends who still live with their parents, who are in unhealthy relationships, who haven’t found a job they love and enjoy. We all have succeeded a lot in life and we have all failed a lot in life. What I am finally realizing is that the definition is always shifting based on how our priorities change and that the only thing to really strive for is happiness and growth.

How have you succeeded?

How have you failed?

Book Review: After The Eclipse by Sarah Perry


It’s about halfway through February and I finished another book. I was on a bit of a lag coming out of January but I’m hoping I’ll pick back up. After The Eclipse was my Book of the Month choice for October of 2017. The reason why I hadn’t read it yet was not because of how behind I am on my TBR list (for once), it’s because I wasn’t sure if I was ready to read it yet. This story is a memoir written by a woman whose mother was murdered when she was twelve years old and the following years of finding justice and peace with herself. I was very intrigued by this book but the firsthand account of a daughter losing her mother suddenly hit very close to home for me.

I finally decided to read this book and from page one, I was captivated. Perry wastes no time describing the night that her mother was stabbed to death while she was just a couple feet away, in her own room. It is heart wrenching, raw, and brutal – but above all else, it feels so real. Not only does your heart break for Sarah but you literally feel like you are sitting on the bed next to her listening to the screams.

This memoir jumps back before Crystal Perry was killed and jumps forward to the hours, days, weeks, months and years after the murder. Sarah shares a special bond with her young, beautiful, and single mother. As an adult she can see the strengths and faults that her mother possessed and it is so refreshing to see such a complete portrait of a strong but also damaged human.

The plot loosely surrounds the search for Crystal Perry’s murderer. It takes over 10 years to catch the man that stabbed Crystal Perry more than 50 times. We see Sarah grow up and grapple with abandonment  from her remaining family and reckon with the guilt she feels from the that night and finally achieve justice.

Despite the mystery of who killed Crystal Perry – I think the real heart of this memoir is the grief and guilt that Sarah had to spend the rest of her life working through. She exhibited such strength and resilience through the toughest situation imaginable and she did it alone, she didn’t have the love and support she needed to get through such a traumatic experience. My heart broke for her but at the same time I was in awe of her strength and commitment to finding justice for her mother.

This is probably the best memoir that I have ever read. Perry has a beautiful narrative style and captivates the reader from the first page to the last. While the subject matter is sad, it also provides hope that out of the worst possible situations – not all is lost.

The Case for Cardio, Early Morning Exercise, and Sticking with It

This morning marked my 100th ride at Cyclebar – that is 100 workouts since last May. And not any kind of exercise – these workouts are 50 minutes of cardio. Looking back on the past seven months, I can’t believe that I survived even one ride not to mention one hundred. I have never been a fitness person, I didn’t play sports in school, and everything tastes better than skinny feels for me. So how did I get here?

Last May I decided to try something new when a cycling studio opened up close to my apartment. What really attracted me was the magic word: FREE. All rides were free during their opening month – so why not right? I had never been on a spin bike before and I had no idea what to expect. I barely survived it, at the end of 50 minutes I was drenched in sweat and was breathing harder than I ever had before in my life. Who subjects themselves to this torture? I left that day sure that I wouldn’t come back.

Sure the instructor and girls working were nice, I was provided with shoes and a free water bottle, the music was fun but that kind of cardio was my form of hell. But the more I thought about my experience the more I thought that I could do better. I felt that I had to prove to myself that I could do it and not feel on the cusp of death.

So I went back and I did a little better. I kept going back and getting a little better. The instructors encouraged me and challenged me to crank my resistance and speed up my RPMs. I set my first goal, which was to not be second to last on the leaderboard. Cyclebar has a stat board which lists all the riders and their rank and I was consistently second to last. I mean I guess I wasn’t last, but still. I never thought I was a competitive person until that leaderboard waltzed into my life.

When the free rides came to an end, I signed up for an 8 ride a month pack which committed me to riding twice a week. I got myself up at 5:22 am (yes that is my alarm setting) to go to 6 am classes on Mondays and then grabbed a 7 pm Thursday class late in the week. This was becoming a thing. One morning the inevitable happened and I turned off my alarm and went back to bed – nothing feels as good as sleep feels. And I was shocked about how guilty I felt the rest of the day, and I missed it.

I got on a first name basis with instructors and others who worked there, I’d even call a few of them friends. My two classes a week upgraded to 3, and before I knew it I was on an unlimited plan. My goals changed from not being second to last to getting above 300 points (combo of RPMs and resistance) on each ride. And recently I upgraded that goal to getting above 400 points consistently. I’ve been doing well on evening rides but the morning ones are more of a struggle.

I have started so many exercise programs in my short life and have quit each and every one. Why did this one stick? I walked into Cyclebar for the first time looking for something, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was looking for an escape from the stress of starting a brand new job in a brand new industry. I was looking to quiet the constant babble in my brain for a short time. I was looking to do something that I could control. And I was looking for a support system.

When I get on that bike, nothing else matters for 50 minutes. My job doesn’t matter, my bills don’t matter, my anxiety doesn’t matter, my future doesn’t matter, my loss doesn’t matter – the only thing that does matter is the RPMs and Resistance and the Music. Without all the other noise that clouds my mind during my day, it is amazing what I can accomplish. And there is a room full of people working hard like me and we all encourage each other to push a little harder and reach a little higher.

I’m not a fitness nut. I like my yoga with puppies, kittens, and or beer included. I can Netflix and Chill with the best of them. You’ll never see me in a marathon or a half-marathon. But I will get up at 6 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to join my Rooster Crew and sweat it out on a bike. I just needed to find my tribe, and I did.

Here’s to 100 rides! On to 250! And shoutout to my entire Cyclebar Fam! Special Mention to Laken who is my spirit animal and my OG, to Olivia whose playlists and yoga give me life, to Kaia who puts together great theme rides, to Delanie who always includes a Micheal Jackson song, to AJ who never takes it easy on us, to Kendra whose energy is intoxicating, and to Chelsie and Loren for keeping it fresh. And to Carissa who runs the whole show and never forgets a name or a face. And of course to my CB riding partner in crime since day one – Shelly.