Seeing light through others’ eyes

It’s pretty hard to ignore the fact that our country is in a state of unrest. It saddens me to see all the racial hatred that exists, from the recent police brutality situations to the most recent horrible tragedy in Charleston. While we seem to take several steps forward with progress toward the LGBTQ community, we can’t help but to beckon the days of segregation with acts like those of the Charleston shooter, the policy in McKinney, Texas, and other situations. While I never have all the facts, and in some cases I think there is probably more than what the media portrays, I just wish people could be people no matter their skin color or sexual orientation, and we could look past it. Just as I can’t help but be a white female, African-Americans and homosexuals are the same way. They are my friends and no different than any of my white, heterosexual friends. I just don’t understand why we can’t live in harmony.

But today’s blog isn’t about the injustice of the world, as much as it is the ability I had to capture some innocence and forget about all the evil that exists. In my own backyard, I felt something special today. I saw life through my child’s eyes, and it was beautiful and bright.

For years we’ve had a PlayNation playset sitting under our work shed in the back yard. We dismantled it from a friend years ago and were waiting until our son was old enough to enjoy it. Our family friend gave it to us for a deal if we took it down from his back yard (he bought a house with a set that he didn’t want). So lo and behold, my husband and I jumped on the $3500 set for a fraction of the cost and some old fashioned elbow grease.

Fast-forward a few years later and we knew with our son’s 4th birthday around the corner, this would be a perfect birthday gift. It so happened to be Father’s Day weekend and my husband and I thought how nice it would be to have his brothers over for some extra muscle and his father to help guide the swing-set rebuild. See, there were no instructions or even a photo to go off of, so reverse-engineering was crucial. All five Clark men ascended to the yard to have some bonding time and build our boy a playground of his own.

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I peaked outside a few times to capture the progress on camera and could tell boys were enjoying themselves. It’s not everyday you can get these guys together and out at 8 a.m. on a Saturday to start building something they will never use. So I cannot say how much I appreciated them. I gave them all some sandwiches and lots of hugs and thank yous, but the real joy came when Cohen saw it for the first time.

I had grand ideas of keeping it under a tarp and displaying once his birthday rolled around, but that’s 30 days from now and not practical. So we gave it to him today, allowing the builders to also reap the benefit. To see Cohen’s eyes light up, and his voice shriek with excitement as he went down the slide was worth every penny.

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Afterward we had a big swim party with the rest of the Clark men and their wives and kids and such. For a few hours it was just a nice day of relaxing and enjoying family. I didn’t have to think of the unjust world outside my yard’s perimeter. I didn’t have to worry about protecting my child or trying to affect change. I got to see things through his chlorine-filled eyes, and I loved it. I know one day he’ll know the violence that exists, the bullying, the hatred, the struggle that our world faces everyday. But today, he was surrounded by love, positive reinforcement, gratitude and joy.

As we swung together after everyone left, I couldn’t help but feel I’d achieved the American Dream. Some may say it’s dead, but I think I got it. I try hard to not just depend on God in times of need, but rather, always be gracious for what I’ve been given. Today, I must have said thanks a million times. For a beautiful home, family, job I love, friends and health, I don’t think things could be any better.

Now if we can just get everyone else in the world under my same spell, maybe we’ll see some brighter days.

Finally, again, I’m a triathlete!

IMG_3413I did my first triathlon in 2006 after many years of being unhealthy, overweight, totally inactive and somewhat depressed. It was for sure, an act of God that I even signed up for it. My coworkers at the time thought I was kinda crazy and my boyfriend (now husband) supported me from afar. But really, it was just something I decided to do. It was as outlandish as the average person saying they wanted to do a marathon or something. Now, granted, it was a sprint triathlon, but still, it was 3 sports at once.

I definitely kind of got the bug and went on to do 3 more after that. None of them were my forte by any means, and each goal was always to finish, have fun and give it 100 percent. Growing up athletic but slow, meant that my goals were always to try my best and beat my own records. If I did that, then I won the approval of my parents and ultimately, myself. If I beat anyone else at the same time, then great. But overall I just like to be able to tell myself I did my best.

So after seven years, I had a couple of kids, got hitched, started a new job and settled into that wonderfully sublime part of marriage where you think your husband loves you for you, and you’re comfortable. Then kids happen (with great joy I must add) and those nights of cooking for one, having all the time in the world to meal plan and work out and train seem to dissolve before your very eyes. How wonderfully bliss those days were. I wanted more and yet today, I yearn for that simplicity. I see my sister having Dateline (TV show) marathons on Saturday afternoons, nursing a hangover and yearn for that time I could just lay on the couch in my PJs and hang around until time to go back out and party again. Instead, I have a 9 month old who needs bottles, baby food, constant stimulation, rocking before naps, toys, games, loving, kisses, etc. I have a almost-four-year old who wants me to get his favorite movie queued up, fix the right kind of cheese crackers (not the generic mommy!!) and make sure his straw fits perfectly into the cup that has a pre-built straw. It is beyond exhausting. Of course, I would never trade it. But sometimes it’s hard to imagine I could have ever been as exhausted in my single days as I am now.

Needless to say, as a working mother, something gets sacrificed and most often, it is myself. My days are filled with getting kids up and ready for school, and if I’m lucky enough to shower in the morning, I go to work with air-dried hair. Hopefully my sons’ outfits match and I have the right shoes on them, but my breakfasts tend to be whatever I can eat and drive with at the same time. I look at their nice breakfasts my husband makes them while I’m getting them dressed, and I smile knowing we have a beautifully balanced role, yet I’m a little jealous that my fiber bar will not be near as good as the turkey sausage, banana muffins, orange juice and yogurt my son has (for breakfast number 1 I might add; he gets another at school) . Yet I continue on.

See, in these years, your choices are to put your kids before yourself, your job before your own well-being, your husband before yourself and well, yourself last. I’m guessing many other women are in this same predicament, or have been, and we quite often find ourselves forgetting to wear make up or look as good as we want to; not because our husbands make us or we feel like we have to, but just for the sole reason that we WANT to. And so sadly, we are often forgotten. We obligingly put everyone else before ourselves. Maybe that’s the sign of a good wife or mother, but it’s also probably a check on a list of things that can cause women to go crazy years from now.

So in January, I decided to revisit my triathlon days and sign up for another one. I figured why not have something looming over my head like a freaking triathlon to motivate me. I knew I would probably wait until the last few months to really give it the old college try but I also knew, come hell or high water I would do it.

But this time I wanted to get my sister involved. She’s always been the person I look out for most and I knew she wouldn’t ever do one alone, but because I know she’s hard-working, I thought this could be a new role for her to try with my guidance. I was hoping to have a training partner and such. So I paid for her entry and lo and behold we signed up together.

For months, I trained. Every Tues I committed to doing long bike rides after work, which meant I missed my son’s gymnastics. Granted, most nights were quite the same routines and so I prob didn’ t miss much. But due to the hills on the bike route, I would many time have given anything to be at gymnastics over that damn bike

But I decided somewhere between Feb and March that it was finally time to take back some time for me. And what better way to do so than with some healthy training for a big race. I use the term race lightly bc no part of me was racing. But there ARE some people who take these things seriously. There may even be cash prizes, I’m not sure.

I know my work friends and Facebook friends and real-life friends were sick of hearing about it, but I must admit, the only reason I talked about the triathlon so much was it was my way of reminding myself it was real. See, I’ve gained some weight since getting married and so I knew no part of this would be easy. And by mentioning the words TRI-ATH-LON every chance I could, I knew that enough people would hear about it and therefore, I would be held responsible. Was I scared about the bike? Hell yea! Did I think I could do it? Not sure. There was a 2-hour cutoff that I’d never endured before and on each test run I was coming in reallllly close to the 2-hour mark

The hardest part about training though was the time it meant away from my family. I must give my husband the biggest shout out bc of how amazing he is. He more than took one for the team, he took over. Nights and weekends of meal prep and putting kids to bed and just being an amazing father, my husband was my biggest cheerleader. He, has expressed that he would like me to be the healthiest version of myself as I can be, so he didn’t mind being mom and dad at times if it meant I was out training and preparing.

Race day finally came and the 4:45 wake-up call was a bit brutal. Having two kids who sleep through the night, I haven’t woken up that early in a while. Especially on a Saturday. My nerves were surprisingly pretty calm, but my sister was feeling them so I vicariously became a little jittered. Still, the thought of finishing in 2 hours was something that went through my head over and over again. I researched the slowest people’s times from the year before and there was one woman, Alice, who came in last and had about 8 minutes to spare.

As my sister and I lined up our bikes I started having this weird sense of de ja vu. I felt like it was my first triathlon all over again. She mentioned how amateur we looked in our non-sponsored tri gear. She on a hybrid bike and in a bathing suit, looked out of place compared to the professionals with their $10,000 bikes. But we settled into our bike rack with other slow pokes and I immediately met Alice. She told me she wasn’t sure if she was ready to give up her last-place spot after I told her I’d probably come in last. I immediately liked her.

Steph (my sister) and I checked out the transition area (what was up with the hike down the hill from the pool to the bike!) and made mental notes of what all to do when. I giggled a little when she realized that you don’t really dry off after the bike, but rather just get on and go. Yep, wet, and gross! But I was so glad to have her with me and to know we were doing this together.

We waited for our swim time to start and made friends with Alice and some other ladies. But finally it was our time and we took off. I was thrilled with my swim (it’s the only thing I’m really decent at) and felt strong the whole way through. Gearing up for the bike, I knew it was “go” time. See, the bike was the hardest part for me. I’d trained and each time it had gotten easier, but it was still a beast of a ride. I only felt validated with an acquaintance of mine who does the real IRONMAN distance told me how much she hated this bike route as well.

Steph and I were neck and neck during the bike and passed one another a few times. I mainly just wanted to check in with her and make sure she was having fun or okay. She had a sweet friend who came to cheer us on at every turn. One of my favorite things about triathlons is the comraderie (after you move through the elite people) that you feel. As people pass you, they say “great job,” or “keep going.” Even as people passed me, I felt a need to tell them great job. Because I knew they were working extra hard to peddle or run faster to pass me. It’s not a competitive feeling but rather one where we’re all out there celebrating the fact that we’re completely insane to be doing this. One time during the bike I heard from behind “passing on the left Jennifer!” I looked and it was Alice passing me. I felt so happy for her, even though it meant I was probably coming in last. But for her, knowing she was trying to beat her goal of being last, last year, I was excited for her.

I finally made it through the bike in about 45 minutes, which was 15 minutes under my envisioned time and figured I’d be great on the run. I got off and started jogging when I immediately had a paralyzing cramp. My left calf collapsed and shot pain up my leg leaving me to limp. A man next to me had the same thing and we talked each other through it. For 5 minutes it felt as though I’d been shot in the leg. Finally, it passed, and I was able to start jogging. Once again, everyone that passed me had a big smile and congratulated me. And I tried to do the same for them.

About half way into my run, a friend of mine who wasn’t doing the race popped up to say hi and bring me water. It was so sweet. She, being an avid biker and runner, was there to help me break or meet my goal time, and kept me moving quickly. We checked my pace against the clock and she encouraged me to push a little harder. I’d lost my sister because she kept going ahead of me when I had to stop for the cramp (she didn’t know I was having one, in her defense).

Finally, I came into the home stretch of the run and could see the finish line. Most people had packed up their transition area. Some had showered and gone home and come back for the awards, and others were celebrating with their families. I had hoped my boys would all be there but I found out afterward my oldest son was sick. Thankfully my sister and friends were cheering for me and I ran the last quarter mile or so as fast as I could at that point. I ran through the finish line and a sense of pride shot over me like that cramp had gone through my leg. It was over. I was once again a triathlete.

Alice came in a little after me and once we compared times, it turns out she had shaved 8 minutes off her time last year and had in fact beaten me. I did not; however, come in last and I had more than 15 minutes to spare before the cutoff. Mission accomplished. One New Years Resolution I had stuck with and met! And I’d be lying if I haven’t already looked at a few others in the coming months! J

I hope anyone reading this will take away that setting a goal that seems and feels completely outlandish or unattainable is doable with the right mindset. It’s really mind over matter and about 60% physical and 40% mental. I would love to encourage my mother or father even to try a tri! Anything is possible!

Tri-ing hard

It’s funny when I talk to people about doing this triathlon in a couple of weeks and the reactions I get. Most seem to say things like “oh better you than me,” or “good luck with that,” but the ones who are already athletic and in shape, seem to “baby” me or try to give me some kind of confidence boost as though I’m probably going to fail. They don’t do it intentionally, I don’t think, but it drives me crazy. In short, because I am overweight, they think I am taking on more than I can probably do, and therefore, need some confidence. What they don’t know is that fat or skinny, I am not someone who gives up and is not afraid to come in last. I am, however, afraid to never try.

Recently, I’ve upped my workouts to 5-6 per week. That’s an achievement for anyone, in my opinion, much less someone who holds down a 40-hour a week job, has two small children, commutes 45 mins each way and still gets meals on the table at night for their family and tucks the kids into bed. Most days, my hair does not look as pretty as some of the other girls in the office (does wetàdry-on-the-way-to-work count as a hairdo?), but I am at least dressed in my business attire. I’ve been skipping lunches with friends to do Zumba or the treadmill. I’ve given up watching my child at gymnastics in order to take long bike rides. I’ve done two 5k events in less than a month. So needless to say, I am really taking this thing seriously.


Up the swamp rabbit race!


Trying to enjoy biking. My least favorite part of the race.

5k Swamp Rabbit Race with my sister, triathlon-partner-in-crime

5k Swamp Rabbit Race with my sister, triathlon-partner-in-crime


My third triathlon in 2007.

But it annoys me when people look at me, and judge me by my size, so as to say and think, “well, do you really think you can do a triathlon?” Sure, I may not look like a svelte athlete, but the whole point of this is to get healthier and have a goal so that maybe one day I will! Because not having something to work toward is much harder for me to stay on track. Most people I know would probably never even sign up! This way, I have an end in sight, until the next goal.

I’d be lying if I wasn’t nervous. The bike portion alone keeps me up at night because the course must be done in 2 hours or less. And adding up my 5k time and bike time (not counting if I have to get off the bike and push it uphill), I am going to be quite close to the 2hr mark.

Last Friday night after work, I wanted to go home and eat pizza and hang out with my kids and supportive, awesome hubby. But I biked a hill workout and then went to swim. The man I shared the pool lane with was very nice and encouraging (we chatted about swimming a little bit and what not) but he kept condescendingly saying things like “well, I’m glad you’re getting back out there and trying. Even if you don’t finish, at least it was a start.” Which yes it’s true but who says I won’t finish? I can see it in people’s eyes and hear it in their voice, that they think I am less of a competitor. It really is annoying. I know they are trying to be encouraging and helpful, but really, I just feel sorry for people who think that because I am fat I will fail and give up. They didn’t know me as an 8 year old swimmer who swam the longest and hardest events in swim team every meet. They didn’t know me as the girl who was so aggressive in basketball I had to wear knee pads and fouled out many a game. They don’t know that this is in fact my fifth triathlon, and I sucked at the previous four, but I still did them. I am a hardworking, athletic person, no matter my size, and do not ever give up. As I say all the time, “you never know unless you tri.”

#WorkitOut100 100 Days to a Healthier Me!

Ive recently taken on a bold goal of training for another triathlon. It is 3.5 weeks away and i’m as nervous as i was the first time i did one back in 2006. I’ll be the first to admit my training has only been ramped up the last two months from 2-3 days a week to 4-5, and even more, this last month (5-6 days a week). So it may be a long shot that i even cross the finish line in 2 hours (the given time limit).

But the triathlon is more about an overall goal to be healthier than it is to do a fitness race, because let’s face it, i’m only shooting to cross the finish line. The competitor in me realizes i will be the fattest girl out there so i’m not trying to beat anyone. But oh well, you never know unless you Tri!

But because i know after the triathlon I will be very reluctant to want to work out (hence having the goal),  I’ve decided to simultaneously start another challenge as well, the #WorkitOut100 challenge. This is a challenge to work out 100 days in a row. It’s a pretty well-known initiative that I encourage people to look into. Obviously some days can be easier than others, so I’ll need those “rest” days to be a little easier (ab workout versus a 15-mile bike ride) But i’m thankful that my work makes it really easy to work out and I’ve met lots of people who enjoy working out so that i can have different people to join me on my journey.

Today’s workout was Zumba! Here’s to day 1 of 100!

To the mom in Babies R Us: You’re Doing Fine!

This morning I fed my baby his bottle like I always do while watching the morning news. Like most mornings, the local news is so, so depressing. South Carolina is top-ranked for beauty but sadly, not brains. We’ve got some big, fat idiots in this state that do really bad things. And today, like most days, I had to see yet another case of someone killing their baby. Today’s was due to shaking a three-month-old boy. The mother left the baby with his father (her boyfriend maybe?) who was unemployed and had a temper problem. She said she never thought he’d hurt the baby though.

I couldn’t help but be affected by this as I was feeding my own son just a few months older. Here I am, horrified when he fell out of his swing just a couple of inches from the ground the other day, and yet I watch everyday how babies are murdered within miles from me.

I get that it’s hard to be a new parent. It really is. The manuals and commercials show bouncing babies smiling and laughing and forget to show the mom who hasn’t showered in days covered in spit up. They don’t show the texts between mom friends discussing which poop colors are the ones to look out for, and what to do in those moments when the baby isn’t gaining weight. They don’t show the doubt and fear and anxiety that riddles all new parents. But most of those parents don’t hurt their babies.

Today I went to Babies R Us and was buying my youngest a few things when I saw a young couple with a newborn. I smiled and asked how old their baby was. He was 3 weeks. The mother looked a bit disheveled and the father was feeding the baby while she shopped. I replied that I had a baby that was almost seven months old and she asked, “does it get easier?” I could tell this young mother was at that three-week breaking point where your sanity bounces between happy and crazy every five minutes. “Yes,” I said. “it does.” “It’s gonna get really good in just a few months.” I thought to my own little Cameron and all the smiles and rolling and laughing and sitting up. His chubby legs and arms and folds of fat that I wipe each night. The mom went on to tell me that she didn’t know it would be so hard. Sometimes she only showers twice a week and the baby wakes up every two and a half hours at night to eat. I told her to remember our conversation six months from now because soon, her baby will look like the one in commercials. He’ll smile back at her and coo and giggle the best sound she’ll ever hear.

She then told me that amid all the hard times she was so in love. She said her mother offered to come watch the baby so they could have a night out, but then the father interjected with, “we can’t leave the baby. There’s no way. I’ll have separation anxiety just to be without him.” It was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard from a stranger. I thought back to this morning with that father shaking his baby to death. And here I was thankfully reminded that we do have a good parents in this town. The woman said that her mom coming over did allow her to take a shower but she wasn’t ready to leave the baby for a date night just yet. She was too worried about things. I told her “your baby is fed, clothed and loved. You are doing awesome.” It felt good in that moment, mother to mother, to let her know she’s doing a great job. Because I’ve been there and wondered myself if I’m doing everything right. We might not all have the same car seats or fancy clothes or strollers or latest and greatest this or that, but we can all provide love to our kids. They don’t ask for much in return really. I just wish someone would wake up all these people out there that can’t figure out how basic kids’ needs are and just give them the love and attention they desire.

I really hope tomorrow I can wake up and watch something better on the news or else I’m just going to give up on the REAL reality TV and turn it off altogether. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Staring at this cute face is way more fun anyway!


Moving On Up!

I have had a lot of jobs. And by a lot, I mean, a lot. I’ve been working since a young teenager, from babysitting to lifeguarding to the one-hour photo lab in the local Winn Dixie.

the Winn Dixie photo lab

the Winn Dixie photo lab


So making my own money has always been something I’ve done in order to shop at the mall (high school) fund my concert habit (high schoolàcurrent) and any other extracurriculars. I worked three out of four of my college years and had two jobs waiting for me to choose from upon graduation. So I’m well versed in HR matters, onboarding, cubicles, desks, offices, standing up all day, sitting down, etc.


Some of my jobs have been pretty weird; such as working at Radio Shack as a senior in high school. What 18-year-old wants to talk about transistors and capacitors and soldering guns? I admit I wanted to work there because I liked electronics and technology and my grandpa took me to Radio Shack no less than 100 times growing up. But I had no idea about the minutiae of tiny parts I’d have to demonstrate some level of knowledge about.

My actual Radio Shack.

My actual Radio Shack.


As a fan of photography, I was also a photographer for a company in college called BOPP: Big Orange Party Photography, where I had to go around to sorority parties and photograph drunk girls and their friends. I wasn’t in a sorority so the thought of going to those parties, sober, was not high on my “must-do” list. Needless to say, BOPP ended when they told me I had to work late on my 21st birthday. I wasn’t going to be at someone else’s party when mine should be starting.





Another odd job was working at Honey Baked Ham during the holiday season where they literally hire people off the street to come in. Some of the conversations I witnessed included one psycho girl running around with a foot-long blade threatening to cut someone and another who couldn’t understand how to compute the math when telling a customer how much a ham would be by multiplying its per-pound price by the total weight.






By far, the most interesting job I ever had was for about seven years off and on at the Bilo Center box office. It was my second job and always just a little bit of extra cash for me and a way to score some free tickets to concerts every now and again. During one of those years I lived with my parents who loved hearing my stories when I came home night after night. I always said I could write a book just from those stories alone. Some of my favorites were walking through the back entrance during the annual circus and getting up close and personal with an elephant as he had a bowel movement in my presence. The octogenarians coming to see gospel band, The Gaithers, and then yelling at me for not putting them on the front row because they couldn’t do stairs. When I told them the front row was indeed at the bottom of 14 rows and they would have to not only walk downstairs to get to those seats, but subsequently, walk BACK UPstairs to leave, they were miraculously healed and now wanted to do stairs. Those old people are sure cranky. I once had a grandpa spit on my window because I didn’t get his granddaughter the best seats for the circus that had been on sale for 3 months, yet according to him, front row center should still be available just for him. And finally, the mixture of olfactory treasures I was greeted with on the nights of Monster Truck Jam or the heavy metal concerts. The combination of pot, body odor, stale cigarettes and other nondetectable scents permeated the box office every time I would remove my barrier from the window to the outside world. Those were some good times.


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During my career path, those were all just stops along the way to make money, but none were part of my career. Those jobs have thankfully been an each-one-is-better-than-the-previous type of job. But sadly, the creative people, especially the writers, are like red-headed stepchildren in many companies, so I’ve lost my job quite a few times when the going gets tough. Having weathered the 2000 .com bust and the 2008 real estate crisis (I was working at a .com in 2000 and an architectural firm in 2008) I am quite familiar with the whole “we gotta let you go,” routine.


So it’s interesting to think that just three weeks ago I gave my notice to the one job that was by far the most challenging and in many ways most rewarding job I’ve ever had. Clemson University was an amazing opportunity for me and one that I put 100 percent into. I was finally in an environment where most people were or seemed smarter than me, and it challenged me regularly. My bachelor’s degree might as well have been a high school diploma among the myriad degrees my colleagues had. But I was never chastised or looked down upon, I just noticed it a few times was all.


As the sole writer, editor, web developer and social media person, I was quite busy. I got a little burned out after 5.5 years and have always been interested in management and directing/strategy, but my position didn’t seem to have the ability for any upward movement without leaving my team. I loved my coworkers and teammates, but to do something different was going to mean leaving them, be it for another Clemson job or somewhere else.


So a new job kind of fell in my lap on the recommendation from a friend. It meant a return to corporate communications, something I never thought I’d do. Academia is SUCH a completely different environment and one that I felt like was for me. I’d started an internship program for writersto give them something I never had—and loved the opportunity to help shape the future for communications and English students. So going back to corporate America was a bit daunting.


But one interview led to two and then three and each time I grew more excited about the opportunity to be a content strategist. There was hope for growth and making this position into something totally unique. It is brand new for the company and there is promise and excitement around what it will and can mean for the marketing department and company at large.


However, I wasn’t going to just move just to move. And even a bigger salary wasn’t an immediate reason to jump ship. I had to really ask questions and make sure this wasn’t going to be something that in one year would have me packing my desk with a box of photos, a plant and leftover ketchup packets. I talked to my husband. I prayed. I talked to friends, and I practically gave my would-be supervisor the third degree on everything the job would entail. I even told my supervisors, who were incredibly supportive. Getting a new job was going to mean quite a few changes for my family as well, so I couldn’t be hasty and just greedy for the salary increase.


When looking at my pros and cons list, it wasn’t an easy decision. I was giving up a nice office for a cubicle, a shorter commute for a longer, traffic-filled one, shorter work days for longer ones with later hours (which means less time with my kids) and a few other things that made the decision harder. But I thought about it hard and thought about the future and what it could mean. Hopefully, I wouldn’t be needing another new job in a few years and this could keep me stimulated and growing with the company.

my cushy office at Clemson

my cushy office at Clemson


My new Cube

My new Cube

So, I packed up my box and left Clemson after 5.5 years and a few tears. I am now a content strategist for a technology distributor and am one week in. I’m in a cubicle in a room without about 50 other cubicles and the noise can be deafening at times. Yet I’m surrounded by fun creative types and have already made no less than 10 connections with people that I am excited to explore further. My cube mates are hilarious at times and keep me entertained, and I’m already learning so much about marketing from my boss and teammates. Not to mention, the company itself is fantastic. They are charitable, supportive, promote healthy lifestyles and have a broad spectrum of involvement opportunities. They are more than just a place to work, which is why I was attracted to them in the first place.

So, it will be fun to see five years from now if I’m still sitting at my same desk. In many ways, I sure hope so!


When it rains …

There’s a saying, when it rains it pours. Last night must have been a hurricane for my family then. But as someone who has recently started a gratitude journal, I know things could have always been worse so I tried to remember what we had in the situation and how bad it could have been. But there was a moment where I was breaking inside and subsequently, outside.

Two nights ago my son, who loves to cook with me, reached out and put his hand on the hot stove eye just as I took the spaghetti off to cool. Why he did this is beyond me, and to be cliche yet again, curiosity kills the cat. He knows not to touch the stove top but of course the moment i turned, he did. The shriek and gasp of his pain was heart-wrenching enough, but then trying to remember the first aid I was once certified in was difficult amid the confusion and crying. We were able to put aloe on it, dress the burn and get him to calm down after a good hour or so. My heart broke a little to see his finger blister up so quickly and knew it would be painful for him. However, I know he will never, ever touch a stove eye again and am thankful he didn’t put his whole hand down (just the finger) nor rested his arm or something.

After what was a wacky evening I was looking forward to last night things going back to normal. I picked up the boys from daycare which is always a 30-minute process. Any parent I’m sure can agree that getting two kids out of daycare is a feat in and of itself. Potty breaks, one still needing a bottle, the other wanting to watch the movie the daycare was showing, trying to get a coat on the older one who doesn’t want to wear his coat and then trying to get the baby in the alcatrez-like car seat was a battle. When we FINALLY made it out to the car, I was so thankful.

We ascended up the hill of the parking lot and my car died. I restarted it and again, just puttered and died. It turned over so I thought it wasn’t the battery or alternator, but wasn’t sure past then. I put it in neutral, coasted down the hill backward in reverse praying i didn’t run over any kids and was trying to make sure I didn’t block the entire parking lot by being in the middle. Somehow i maneuvered a dead car to right in front of the daycare door, only blocking one person who was gracious enough to not curse me and could still try to get out (with an 8-point turn). Damn, we were now heading BACK into daycare, where I had wanted to leave and just get home.

My husband, aka knight in shining armor, shows up as I settle in to the big arena holding block where all the kids whose parents work past 5 must congregate. this was by far the best part of my evening. The baby was asleep and my older son was showing me his dance moves on the big screen to One Direction. Quite entertaining and cute. Fast forward an hour later and we are still at daycare, not sure what is happening with the car. The lights are starting to dim and it’s time to leave. We get everyone back up and bundled in the car, now about 6:40 (daycare closes at 6:30) and as we are about to shut the door to get moving, my baby starts vomiting profusely. Now when i say vomit, I don’t mean spit up. I’ve had a reflux baby and those are some crazy spit-ups. But this was pure bile, vomit, projecting everywhere, spraying me. I was panicking for a second, trying to lean him forward so as to not choke and it just.kept.coming. Like niagra falls.

Now we prayed to the director to let us back in because I wasn’t about to try and change the baby in 10 degree weather so she let us in where it proceeds to happen again. Seven more times. I’m now covered. Poor poor baby. We get him changed and the director says “oh yea I had to send two of his friends home with the same thing today. ” Uhhh, thanks. Good to know. So i guess a 4-month old vomiting profusely is now contagious.

We finally get all cleaned up and go through the drive-thru for dinner because it’s close to 7:30 now and I’m not about to start dinner at the same time we’re normally winding down for the boys’ bed.

Get home to get out and the vomiting continues, at least 7 more times. how this baby can hold so much is beyond me. I’m now frustrated and broken hearted a little bit. My car is stranded at daycare and my baby is clearly sick. I’m immediately thinking of dehydration at this point and not sure what I should do. We call the nurse who says to give him 5 ml of Pedialyte (which we don’t have on hand) every 5 mins for 4 hours. WHAT? i didn’t even see how that was possible. I think i was missing something she was saying.

my husband goes out to get the pedialyte and i’m now trying to get the oldest boy to bed with a burned finger. A bath was out of the question at this point because I was trying to just keep the vomit from dripping out of my hair. I ran through the checklist for dehydration: No wet diapers: check. No tears when crying: check. dry mouth: check. I was getting worried. Finally i get oldest to bed and baby settles down but of course he is hungry because he hasn’t had a bottle in four hours. My husband comes back with the Pedialyte and we try to get him hydrated quickly. Around 9 he finally falls asleep, at which point my oldest wakes up again for various reasons.

Meanwhile in between all of this we were still trying to figure out the car situation. As well as talk with the triage nurse about when to go to the ER (dehydration can be pretty serious if it gets bad enough). Sean finally left about 9:30 to go see if the car would start and call AAA for a tow. It does not but AAA gives a 30-min estimate. During this time I am able to lay on my bed for a few minutes and catch my breath but I’m so scared about more vomiting that I was afraid to shower or be away from my son for too long. After 45 mins, AAA calls back to say it will be at least an hour. So Sean is now gone for two hours sitting in his car waiting for the tow. Meanwhile, both kids wake up for various reasons. The burned finger being a problem when the eldest hits it in his sleep.

Around 11:45 Sean calls to say that AAA won’t tow the car because my tags are expired. Seriously? Well they aren’t expired because my taxes were due Dec 31. So i paid them around the 29th i believe and they have not mailed me a new decal for 2015. There is a 30-day grace period specifically for this purpose. But AAA says it’s their policy so they won’t tow. Sean proceeded to chew out the manager and lo and behold they tow us to a place a friend recommended for Volkswagens. Of course, my car just went out of warranty 4,000 miles ago or else we’d have gone to the dealership. This was when I hit the breaking point and just had to shed a few tears. I felt like we couldn’t catch a break.

Midnight, Sean is home and we try to go to bed. This lasts for about 2 hours until oldest baby gets up for various things (water, potty, scared of dark, etc). At 4 i have to get up to check on baby and give him more fluids. still no wet diaper so pretty worried but I drown him in pedialyte and a little bit of formula. He goes back down. At 5am, oldest is back in for various things and at 5:45 Sean is up for his work day. I have to work from home today to still monitor baby and have no car.

Around 7:30 I check the baby again for fluids and signs of urine, which I finally see. I even spied a tear. I think he is turning around. No more puking and seeming to start the rehydration process.

Of course, the kicker was that today after Sean stopped by the mechanic he found out that they do not, in fact, work on VWs. So now we have a dead car at a mechanic who won’t work on it. The VW-approved place is nearby though and they thankfully said they’d work with the place to get it there.

So, here we are today. Home with a sick baby who is seemingly doing much better but still needs some TLC. a car that isn’t going to be fixed anytime soon.

But I am grateful my husband could come rescue me last night; grateful for two cars, a warm home, access to medical care, and God who helped me somewhat keep it together. But wow, when it rains, it pours.


Starting Over

in 2004 I was involved in a minor accident with major repercussions. I lost complete vision in my right eye with a total of 14 injuries all caused by airbags. Due to the blood in my eye, I wasn’t aware I would have permanent vision loss until three weeks after the accident. From there, my life seemed to be turned upside down and I had to see life through a new lens. Things wouldn’t be the same, but I could either dwell on it or get up, change my attitude and make the most of it. So i chose the latter.

After being out of shape and overweight for many years I decided to make 2005 “The Year of Bacon” and make some real progress. Needless to say a change in attitude really paved the way for so many wonderful things. I lost weight, became healthy, started dating my now husband, got an incredible job as a writer, bought a house and so on and so forth. Things were looking up. By Christmas, I decided to make 2006 a year to do something big and bold and signed up for a triathlon on Jan 1.

Fast forward 8 years. I have now purchased another house, have had two jobs since that last one, married, and have two kids. Finding time for workouts became quite hard and weight slowly crept back up. Steamed vegetables and hour-long prepped meals turned into oven-baked tater tots and way too much fast food. Sadly, I knew with every bite that what i was eating was not good for me. I could not claim ignorance. And with each missed day’s workouts, I knew those same bites would stick around longer than they used to.

But i have two young children, I always argued. I dont have time for workouts or creating elaborate healthy meals. But in my mind I knew they were excuses. So now we are in 2015 and on the last day of last year (three days ago) i decided to start over in 2015 and cut myself some slack but only if I really say I tried. I signed up for ANOTHER triathlon. It has been six years since my last one (i’ve done 4 total) so i might as well be a novice again. I convinced my sister to do it and it is going to be quite an adventure. I have a goal in mind and the only way to get there is by practice. So now, I am signing up for the gym again, re-committing myself to more days than not of exercising, and forgiving myself if I can’t spend as much time with my kids because i’m going to stay late to go to the gym. I know my 4-month old is in good hands if his dad picks him up or if he has to stay at daycare 10.5 hours instead of 10. Yes, those numbers kill me to write, but that’s what working parents do. We barely see our kids during the week and for some reason, they seem to love us even more.

So, here’s to starting over. May 30th will be here soon! Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 9.13.13 AM

A New Year, New Challenges

Every year we make new years resolutions and most of us, break them. I stuck to my biggest one though, which was to complete a triathlon in 2006. I trained for eight months and it was one of the most challenging, rewarding things I’ve ever done. I can’t say for sure I’ll do another one this year, but I sure would like to. But I’m going to set some resolutions now and revisit this list in a year to see how I did.

  • gratitudeBe More Grateful. I think I will start journaling more and start a list of gratitude. I find that the secret to a happy life is to not sweat the small things and notice all the amazing things around us. But expressing them, either through written word or outloud, I believe will add some happiness to my day and hopefully others.
  • bible3Read the Bible. This has been a goal of mine for a long time. I always find scripture verses that are so inspiring yet I can only rattle off a few. I also have found many Bible stories growing up to seem so completely and utterly ridiculous that they must be fiction. Yet as I am now closer to God, I understand he works in mysterious ways and can do things mortals cannot. I would love to revisit these and also find out what the Bible really says about various issues. I was talking to a friend of mine the other night, who happens to be gay. When I asked him if he and his partner of 10 years were thinking of getting married, he said “well we’re kind of religious and I’m not quite sure if the Bible says we should be married. I’ve found passages that could go both for and against.” This in and of itself is a whole other blog post, but I would like to read for myself and find out some of the actual words the Bible uses on various social issues. Weight-Loss-Fitness-1024x723
  • Lose weight. This one is pretty obvious btu I’ve recently lost some weight after having a child (backwards I know) and want to keep up that momentum. I actually miss working out so today, I joined a gym, and can’t wait to get back to the strength I once had in my triathlon days. It won’t be easy or fast, but I’d like to try.
  • Be present for my kids. I try to find activities for them but some days it’s easier to give a kid an iPad. With a new baby, most days I’m just coming up for air and hoping not to drown. But I can’t really use that excuse much longer. We have a 3.5 year old and a 4 month old. I want to really, really, be there for them and inspire them. I’m not a Pinterest mom and we don’t have endless hours to sit around and craft. But I know how much my son enjoys me sitting down and playing a board game or telling him a story, and I want to make sure I choose time with him as much as possible.
  • On the flipside, take time for myself. This might mean my gym time or scheduling a date night once a month or a girls’ night out once a month (let’s be honest, once a week isn’t realistic), but making sure I have some time to do some things I want to do. Especially with my husband and friends.
  • 10858537_10204913457772625_3501325013841750552_nSpeaking of husband, I want to really show my gratitude toward him. We are like many couples I’m sure, and fall into routines very easily. We say obligatory I love yous and most of the time try to thakn one another for doing the various chores (he will thank me for dinner most nights and I try to remember to thank him for yard work), but I want to go out of my way to improve and continue to maintain our friendship and marriage. I don’t think you can take one another for granted nor forget that being friends is important. Even if it’s just making a campfire or watching a movie.
  • park-parismountainstatepark-mphoto-04Getting outside more. We tend to love our days of staying inside due to weather or pollen or whatever. But we bought a house with a big yard and a pool for a reason: to enjoy it. We have a safe neighborhood where I can be outside with my boys without real danger. I can probably accomplish numbers 3, 4 and 5, all while being outside! Having two boys I can only imagine the fun they will have outside. AT least I did. Although we didn’t have ipads and video games. So I want them to enjoy building forts and playing tag and chase and riding bikes. I can push the baby in a stroller while the eldest rides his tricycle.
    • Play my instruments more. My son adores music, as anyone can imagine that knows me or my husband. So I want to give him live music with the help of instruments. He’s been playing piano and hand bells and singing in a choir, so music is part of his daily life. He must have at least, no lie, 100 songs memorized. It’s unbelievable how auditory he is. But showing him how to create music from my guitar or banjo or piano will, I believe, help his learning and love for music.


  • Find more hours in the day to do these things. Can anyone help me with that one?

Welcome Back Old Friend November

This month for me is all about feeling thankful and reflecting on my blessings.

It begins with my anniversary on the 8th and this year I celebrated 6 wonderful years of marriage. By wonderful I mean real and honest and loving. When looking at the cards for anniversary, I noticed a trend. They were all like “we’ve been through ups and downs, but I’m so happy to have you.” Or “in good times and bad, we’re sticking together.” I started thinking, wow, these cards don’t paint a very happy picture of marriage. But I guess it’s true.

After the rose petals settle and birdseed is swept away, marriage is pretty much a roller coaster. It has its peaks and valleys. Some are dark but some are bright. Some days I am annoyed with my partner and need my space and others, I cannot wait to kiss him, hold him, share my day and just see his smile. But I wondered if the cards should be next to the wedding cards, in case someone grabbed one by mistake and began contemplating marriage.

The first year definitely is an adjustment and if you’re lucky to have a few years without kids, that DINK period is magnificent. DINK (dual-income, no kid) feels like the best time in the world to have all the money you could ever want (because once you have kids that money disappears), time to spend on each other, weekends to sleep in or travel, late nights to conversate, time to eat meals. It’ such a wonderful, fabulous time to enjoy your marriage.





Then kids enter the picture and it’s a different kind of wonderful. Time is long-gone, as is money, but there is a new level of bliss unimagined during the DINK period. It’s first-smiles and silly songs and exhaustion that is almost comical. So this November, I celebrate six years of a real marriage that is strong and true, and not going anywhere. I will fight to the death for it and I put my husband and our marriage at the highest of my priorities. This year we spent the day with our kids and afterward, grilled steaks and made a bonfire. We took the monitor outside and sat in our backyard listening to music, enjoying some beers, waxing poetic on our 10 years together and soaking in the fall weather. It wasn’t a fancy night but was still a few hours of uninterrupted time together.


It’s also my birthday in November and I’m thankful to be turning 37. Of course, no one likes getting older after say, 21, but I’m glad to have survived another year with no major scares or scars. I had a son this year so that is very monumental, and throughout my pregnancy they reminded me of my “advanced maternal age” and what that could mean to a baby. You would think I was 75 trying to get pregnant, not 36. But I am blessed and thankful to be another year older, a few pounds thinner, no real illnesses and no gray hairs…yet.


My newest little nugget

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Our family is complete!


November is also Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. For most of my Thanksgivings I went to Chattanooga. My aunt and uncle lived on top of a mountain that had this super windy road to get there. There was a UFO-looking house at one of the curves I always enjoyed. We rarely spent any holidays at home in SC because all of our family lives in Tennessee. Thanksgiving at my aunt’s house was always enjoyable because of the games we’d play and great food. She would give a prize to whoever could count the Christmas ornaments on her tree and come the closest. You see, this tree was probably at least 12 feet tall. It stayed up year-round due to her love for Christmas, and seemed to have hundreds of ornaments on it. I don’t think anyone ever knew exactly how many were on the tree, but her. I now know it was probably a way to keep us kids and cousins occupied while the adults made food. But I loved looking at all the nativity scenes in her house, the bathroom that had a window to the living room in it, the piano in the kitchen, the bedroom with Time magazine covers as wallpaper, the Barry Manilow room, her chocolate truffle dessert and so on and so forth. My aunt has since passed away from ALS and I must say I miss her cheery disposition, her one-of-a-kind personality, her big red and green (Christmas of course) Suburban and her platinum blonde hair. She made my Thanksgivings memorable for sure.

UFO house!

UFO house!


Now though, we celebrate by taking turns with my husband’s family and my own and it’s enjoyable, but of course, I miss the trips to Chattanooga as a kid and having that big celebration.

Clark family holidays

Clark family holidays


In the month of counting blessings though, it is easy for me to feel my cup overfloweth. I have two kids who amaze me daily. One son is only 2.5 months but I’m already in love with his smile. My oldest son is one of my best friends. At three years old, he can make me happy like no one else can and his kisses and hugs are my favorite thing.


Singing in the choir


Learning to cook!

I am thankful for a beautiful home that may not always be clean or kept up with the most up-to-date furnishings. It is definitely a work in progress, one room at a time. But it is our family home and will be for years to come. We bought it with kids in mind and the 1-acre backyard with a pool and swing and workshop is going to hold lots of memories for the boys and us.


Sean’s workshop, err escape


lots of fun happens in this pool


I am happy to have a job as a writer and communications specialist for a prestigious University. Clemson is now ranked 20th in the nation among public schools and it challenges me daily. I get to work with incredible students who are interested in learning how to write and be in the communications field. It is rewarding to know that others look to me for guidance because I still sometimes wonder if what I’m doing really makes a difference.

My wall of awards. happy to be part of a good team

My wall of awards. happy to be part of a good team

I am blessed beyond compare. MYy family all has their health.

My grandmother has beat cancer three times and my other grandmother just moved nearby. I’m excited to have her close for the remainder of her years.

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The Bacons!


The Clarks!

Ma is in Greenville now!

Ma is in Greenville now!


I’m also thankful for my friends. I may not see them or talk to them as much, and some may be coming or going, but there are a handful out there across the country I know I can count on. There are people who can make me laugh and watch me cry and make me feel better. I hope I do the same for them.

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And lastly I am thankful to be in a relationship with God, who watches over me, protects me, listens to me and guides me.

P.S. If you haven’t heard the Acoustic Syndicate song, November, I recommend it. Hence the title of my post!