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?


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?

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.



Hello 2018, Let’s Do This

Happy New Year! I’ll admit, I am not a big New Years Eve person. I think it’s an overrated holiday, spend $100 to get into a crowded bar and a flute of champagne? No thank you. But New Years Resolutions, I am sure guilty of falling into that. I’ve read all the studies and click-bait news articles titled things like “Why New Years Resolutions (Almost) Always Fail.” And I’ve witnessed all of the social media complaining when gyms are flooded with new members for a few months. Oh and I also, I read two separate articles today saying that goals are futile. Which stinks because I’ve always used the world goal in place of resolution to seem a tad less mainstream than the rest of society. Darn.

I don’t care that “experts” bash the resolutions and goal setting that come with the new year, I like them. Look time is a construct and you can change anytime of year but for most of us it is great to have a specific start date. You can always say “tomorrow” but there is only one January 1 of each year.

I want to be healthier (how original), as I say every year. But this year I do have a bit of a jump start on that one. Last May I went to a free spin class at Cyclebar for the hell of it and believe it or not, I’m still going to classes. I am a self-proclaimed cardio hater. If I’m going to sweat, I am out. But Cyclebar is really fun and motivating. The instructors are great, the customer service is amazing and I keep coming back. This is the longest exercise program that I’ve stuck with and I’m excited to reach new goals in 2018.

Image 1-2-18 at 9.51 PM

My Stats from a recent Cyclebar Ride


I got on a bit of a tangent but I think the key to exercising is to find something that you enjoy and something that motivates you. This is the time to get into something because boutique gyms are popping up everywhere. Spinning, Barre, Kick-Boxing, Yoga etc. Try one, hell try them all. I also think that you have to find out what type of workout is your thing – are you a loner, do you need a buddy, is a class your thing? I figured out that I’m bad at working out alone, I never push myself and I give up easily. But I can’t handle the pressure of having a personalized trainer (nor can I afford that). So group classes are a great middle ground for me – someone is motivating me and pushing me but I’m not center stage.

For 2018, I want to diversify my workout routine. I have been wanting to run a 5k for years but I never make it, once again I’m going for it the year. I also have been doing yoga sporadically but I want to go consistently (weekly) – it’s tough but relaxing. Working on clocking 10k steps a day for at least 5 days out of the week. I also really want to go hiking this summer in Red River Gorge – I’ve lived in Kentucky for 6 years of my life and I have never been there!


Red River Gorge 

Another goal for the year is to be more financially responsible and build my savings. This a not fun goal but it is important. Being an adult sucks. I make purchases on a whim, I eat out too much, I like subscription services – it’s out of hand. So for 2018 I am going to par down the spending and work on putting money in my savings account and leaving it there.

My next goal I don’t really want to call it a goal, I want to call it an intention. I intend to spend time volunteering this year. Last year when I was jobless and reeling from the loss of my mother, I needed a purpose and positivity and I wanted to help others. I volunteered at one of my favorite places on the planet, The Kentucky Horse Park. I haven’t volunteered since I started my job at ICF but I will get back to volunteering this year. I am very excited to volunteer for Creative Mornings Lexington, a great community building forum for idea sharing. I also want to donate time to the Lexington Humane Society and of course The Kentucky Horse Park.

My last resolution is a bit meta – I want to set goals, make plans, and make things happen. Is that vague enough? I have a lot of ideas, dreams, and goals but I am horrible about writing these things down, making a plan and taking steps to make them happen. As I said, I read some articles today telling me not to set goals but I’m not buying it. I am going to use my love of writing to get my goals on paper and create the change I want in my life. I have stocked myself with journals and planners to make this a reality.


Armed with my planners and journal!

I wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope you achieve all of your goals and resolutions! And if you don’t – you are still awesome. What are your goals this year?

26: A Reflection

Every week I write a to-do list with four categories: Work, Personal, Self, and Goals. Under the “Self” column I have written “start writing my blog again” for about a month now. I don’t know what I was waiting for, a sign, the month to begin – I don’t know. But hey, it’s my twenty-sixth birthday so why not? Well to be exact, while writing this, it is three hours shy of my birthday – just petty details.

When I think about my birthday, I like most people, have plenty of memories. For my fifth birthday, I remember being in the backseat of my parents’ car as they drove me to the house of a dog breeder and I picked out my American Eskimo puppy, Max (it was the 90’s, adopt don’t shop wasn’t a thing  yet, I have an adopted dog now).



Max (right) and Riley (left)

I remember my ninth birthday at the now defunct Laser Web with my best friends from elementary school, Courtney and Ryan. Or even my eleventh birthday, I invited a boy I liked to my party, he gave me an informational book on horses (sadly we did not get married and have 3 kids). On my sixteenth birthday, I recieved my beloved Ford F-150 which in a way – defined me in high school.



Me recieving my truck (excuse the photo, it was 2007)

I remember going to the Granville (U of L’s goto dive bar) at midnight and my friend and equestrian teammate Becca bought me my first shot, a red-headed slut on my twenty-first birthday. Birthdays are full of memories, who you spent them with, what you did, what you recieved for gifts. They also symbolize the end of a chapter in your life. As I’ve grown older, I reflect on each year (does this mean I’m an adult now? Ew).

Chapter twenty-five comes to an end in three short hours. What will I remember? Well I took a job with my dream company. I quit the first full-time job I got out of college. I took a leap of faith. I moved out of my parents house. I got a lease on an apartment. I have a rent bill, an electric bill, and a water bill. I challenged myself in ways I never thought possible. My heart broke when my leap of faith left me flat on my face. I dealt with failure. I perservered. My world literally fell apart when I unexpectdly lost the most important person in my entire life, my mom.

I entered 2017 pretty battered and beaten. I’m still battered and beaten, but I haven’t given up. I didn’t know if I could pick myself up, but I did. I went to the gym and trained for a 5k. I volunteered at one of my favorite places on earth, The Kentucky Horse Park. I adopted an amazing dog, who I named Atticus. I got another job, something completely brand new, but my input is valued and my confidence is growing.



Atticus (Follow him on Instagram: @atticusthespotteddoggo)

Turning twenty-six means more than the fact that I could be considered “in my late twenties.” It means more than knowing that I better have my own healthcare (thank god I do). My mother will never know me at twenty-six. She knew me over the past twenty-five years, every twist and change in my personality and growth. She was with me every step of the way. Turning twenty-six feels like climbing Mt. Everest completely alone. You are technically an adult when you turn eighteen, but for the first time, I feel like I’m on my own.



My mom and I at the 2010 World Equestrian Games

Whatever I go through this year, whatever changes in my life is all me. Don’t get me wrong, I have an incredible support system of friends and of course my father but my mom and I were a team and now I’m the one left standing. I’m lucky though, she left me with a good head on my shoulders and a stuborness that won’t allow me to give up.

I have no idea what year twenty-six is going to bring me but I’m going to do things that scare me, live a life that makes me happy, and not take a single day for granted.




A Brand New Kentuckian

I have been pretty absent from blogging these past few weeks, and there are a few reasons for that. First and foremost, I am in mourning that The Bachelor season has ended. But seriously, live changes have been quite abundant lately and it has kept me very busy. It is funny how you can wait on change for so long and when it finally comes, everything happens so quickly. Just a few weeks ago I had a different job and I lived in a different state. I can now say that I am officially a Lexingtonian!

The first thing that set me on this whirlwind was a job offer from Keeneland. For the non-equine enthusiasts, Keeneland is a racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky and that is an oversimplified statement of what Keeneland is. It is a pillar of the city, a draw for tourism, and a historical treasure. I’m sure that description doesn’t begin to cover the impact of this racetrack. To me, Keeneland is the Holy Grail of jobs, not only do I love to attend the race meet at Keeneland I also admire the culture they so expertly uphold every day. If every track investing in branding and marketing the way Keeneland does, horse racing would not be a dying sport. Ok, enough gushing. But seriously, getting this job has been a dream come true.

Of course attending a track and working for one are two very different things. I prepared myself to be disappointing when I saw what really happened behind the scenes. Well obviously I just started, but I am even more impressed then I already was. Every employee that I have met at Keeneland loves that track and loves what they do. They work tirelessly to make Keeneland the iconic location it has become and they don’t rest on their laurels, they work everyday to make it better and better. I am honored to be able to join this team of dedicated and passionate individuals.

Along with the job came the apartment. After two years, I am finally saying goodbye to the hour and a half drive from Cincinnati to Lexington. I found an apartment and moved in this past weekend with the help of my amazing parents, boyfriend, his parents, and my great friends Jackie and Ethan. My bedroom furniture was delivered today and it is finally starting to feel like home. I have cooked myself dinner twice and not burnt anything, so I guess I’m an adult now? Well I also broke (then fixed) my Kuerig and the cable. One step at a time right.

Life throws curve balls all the time and I’m never quite sure if I am on the right track, but for the first time I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be doing what I am supposed to be doing. It is such a great feeling and I can’t wait to see what happens next.