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As I sit here this morning, reflecting on the fact that another year has flown by, I’m grateful; grateful for everything that was 2014. It was a heck of year — physically, mentally, emotionally, personally, all of it.

Reflections on 2014:

I met some incredible people who I am so lucky to call friends now;

I started 3 new jobs;

I bonded with my niece and reconnected with my family;

I got unbelievably lost, and have begun to claw my way back;

I became a better, stronger, faster runner;

I turned 30;

I moved 4,000 miles across an ocean;

I had my apartment burgled;

I lost two clothing sizes and counting;

I saw a huge part of the world that I never imagined possible;

I paid off some student loans;

I celebrated my 4 year wedding anniversary;

I LIVED. I LOVED. I LAUGHED. I CRIED. I CELEBRATED. I LET GO.

THIS IS LIFE.

Are you reflecting on your 2014 this morning too? Do you have lofty goals for 2015?

Until next time, Happy New Year!

XOXO – K

 

2014 was supposed to be my marathon year. I was registered for the Dublin Marathon in October and training was in full swing as I ran the Dublin Race Series from June to September. Life ultimately had different plans for me, and I found myself back in the USA before I ever saw the end of September.

I attempted to keep running, in hopes I could find a marathon around the late October/early November timeframe that could replace the Dublin marathon I would be missing. Two VERY hilly runs around Atlanta later, I realized running a marathon in 2014 was simply impossible. You see, in Dublin, I was at sea level, with very few inclines or hills any where to be found in the city or along the routes I frequented. Atlanta, in stark contrast, is 320m above sea level (1,050 ft) and that my friends, is the highest elevation of any major city east of the Mississippi River. To say I struggled to adjust is a huge understatement.

It has taken me three solid months and struggles like you would not believe to get to a point where I feel like a runner again. I’ve had to pull my pace back, and I feel like a turtle again. I’ve also spent a lot time in the gym cross-training, you know, the keys to running don’t just involve a strong lower half…

Two weeks ago, I ran a 10 mile race. It was hilly, but not as bad as I expected, and that is the exact moment I had the realization that I had adjusted to the elevation and hills that are Atlanta. I was on sheer runner’s high as I crossed that finish line.

Monday Night Brewing

The race had several tents set up, one of which was the Georgia Marathon. Ten minutes later I was signed up to run the Publix Georgia Marathon on March 22, 2015.

I’m super pumped and scared for this journey all at the same time. I’ve never run more than 13.1 miles before. I have no idea how I’m going to do this — OK, that’s a lie because I’m going to do this on sheer will power and desire; because it’s what I want to accomplish as a runner this year!

Chase your dreams, then keep running

It’s going to hurt; it’s going to be a challenge, both mentally & physically; it’s going to consume all my free time (hello, I’m training for this during tax season!); it’s going to make me stronger. AND THAT IS GOING TO BE MY REWARD WHEN I CROSS THAT FINISH LINE IN MARCH!

Here's to 2015

This training will be both friend and foe, but, as Barney says in How I Met Your Mother, challenge accepted! Bring it on 2015!

Until next time, XOXO – K

It feels like just yesterday that it was fall. And it looked a little something like this:

Fall in Knoxville - SunsphereFall in KnoxvilleFall on UT Campus

Welcome to the South though — where one day it’s a gorgeous fall day and the next, winter comes rip-roaring in with a bite so cold you don’t know what hit you. For those of you abroad, this is -3 Celsius and it’s only November. I’m guessing it’s going to be a LONG winter.

Weather

 

But, the really cold weather means one thing — sweaters! And I happened to find a pair of tights that matched a sweater I recently purchased and this is the outcome:

This OOTD is all about the blooper reel!

This OOTD is all about the blooper reel!

 

I even coordinated my nail polish (accidentally nonetheless)

I even coordinated my nail polish (accidentally nonetheless)

 

See, blooper reel!

See, blooper reel!

 

Outfit Details

Sweater & Skirt: The Limited

Tights: Jessica Simpson for Macy’s

Pumps: Sam Edleman

Nails: Zoya Nail Polish

Hello winter, hello color coordination! (And yes, I realize it has been way too long since you’ve seen a fashion or beauty post — and I’m sorry! Life sometimes takes over and has been so much easier to write about lately.)

Until next time, XOXO – K

Thank You For Who I Am!

November 7, 2014 — 1 Comment

I’ve been back in the U.S. a little over a month now and I’ve started a new job in this time. This undoubtedly leads to “where are you from?” questions and I’ve lived so many places in the last few years that I’m not even sure where I’m from anymore.

It used to be easy! I was born in Tennessee, then I moved to Arkansas and lived there for thirteen years until I went to college, in Tennessee. Now that I’m dwelling on it, I’ve actually lived in Tennessee longer than Arkansas, if you count the first five years of my life that I simply don’t remember! The tally looks something like this:

Arkansas – 13.5 years
Tennessee – 15.5 years
Ireland – 1.75 years
Georgia – 1 month

I seldom CLAIM to be Arkansan. Simply because over the years I’m over people thinking I’m an “overall wearing (which are back in style, BTW), shoeless, gun-toting heathen” when I respond to the infamous “Where are you from?” question with “Arkansas”. I would actually get bewildered looks in Ireland if I mentioned Arkansas, mostly because they have no idea where it is and if they do know it, all they know is Bill Clinton.

Let me set the record straight. I assure you that just because the media finds the most misrepresentative person to interview 99% of the time that Arkansans are nice, hospitable people who wear clothes & shoes, have teeth, hold jobs, use the Internet, and love football and hunting. If the apocalypse hits, forget Georgia, and give me my duck & deer hunting childhood friends! Are there people who live in the woods and don’t wear shoes? Probably. I’ve never met them. But I’m pretty sure they exist in other states too, from California to Connecticut.

I’m always amazed how certain songs affect me differently at certain points in my life–heck, different days even. A song for every mood & moment right? So let me tie my Arkansas rant together with Cherry Pie (no, not the food, but that does sound delicious!).

I was sitting on my flight from JFK to ATL recently listening to my Eden’s Edge album. The song Cherry Pie came on and it instantly took me back to my past life–my childhood. Listening to this song always makes me happy to have Arkansan roots.

“Cherry Pie”

To my first pony, Cherry Pie,
from the little girl you taught to fly,
to the sun.

To Mrs. Thorton, from third grade,
I remember all the times you’d stay,
till Daddy picked me up.

[CHORUS:]
Oh, did you ever know?
Did I ever tell you so?
I hope you understand,
you have so much to do with who I am.

To my older brother, Wes,
I worshiped everything you did and said.
I hope it didn’t bother you.

To Grandma Melva and Grandpa Lin,
what I’d give just to be five, again,
singin’ in your living room.

[Repeat CHORUS]

Arkansas summer wind,
to feelings that never end,
to anyone who called me “friend”.
All the blessings from above,
to Mama’s kiss and Daddy’s hug,
I didn’t say it near enough-
Thank you for who I am!

[Repeat CHORUS]

To my first pony, Cherry Pie,
from the little girl you taught to fly.

I could only find a live version on YouTube, but it’s still pretty amazing and still gives me chills because i could listen to Hannah for HOURS. Her voice is so unbelievable.

It takes me back to days where I was independent and headstrong but I have an amazing mother who tried to listen and steer me in the right direction and I’m more like her every day. I have an amazing father who taught me the value of a hard-earned dollar and how to change the oil in my car. I have a sister who, despite the stuffed animal wars in the halls throughout the years, loves me unconditionally and, even though I’m older, teaches me more about life each year.

It takes me back to the days of Red Rover and kickball; where the school years were long and summers short; There was love & laughter. There was heartbreak and tears; There was ghosts in the graveyard, sleepovers, gymnastics meets, band practice, and family vacations. I never wanted for anything, but I didn’t have everything handed to me either.

And every single ounce of who I am is shaped by this past–and I don’t think I could capture that any better than this song!

Though it is funny when I actually listen to this song because two of the members of this group grew up in the same town as I did. We went to school together; attended church together. I know the names of (some) of the people sung about in the song. For that reason maybe the song touches me more than most, but it is absolutely a beautiful song and you need to listen to it. Arkansan or not. And no, Eden’s Edge may have parted ways, but I simply don’t care. I absolutely, 100% love their songs and they’ll forever be a part of me.

To my Arkansas roots, THANK YOU FOR WHO I AM!

Arkansas Friends

Arkansas Road

Until next time. XOXO – K

You’d think, being from Tennessee, that moving back to the USA would be a piece of cake. I feel like I should burst that bubble right now, despite having only been back a week. It’s been a nonstop, fully hectic, how much can I possibly cram into a week, kind of week. The insane laundry list of things we had to get done was unreal — and being the type who wants things NOW, presented its own challenges. I miss certain aspects of Irish life daily, and sometimes want to just sit in the floor and cry. Will I be able to fully re-acclimate? Of course. Am I struggling hourly right now? Absofeckinglutely.

I wish moving home had been as simple as stepping off a plane and it being like I’d never left. While all the buildings might look the same, roads might be in the same place, and people might all sound similar to me, I assure you it is NOT that simple..

Let’s start with jet lag. I don’t usually get jet lag when time is gained. For some reason though, jet lag hit me with the force of a ton of bricks and for four solid days I felt like a zombie. The most dull, annoying pain I’ve ever had settled into my head each afternoon about 2 PM and could only be cured by 800 mg of Advil. I’d be ready to fall asleep by 4 PM but had to force myself to stay awake until at least 11 PM. Every morning, like clockwork, I’d be wide awake at 4:01 AM and it would take me about 2 hours to fall back asleep. It wasn’t until copious amounts of alcohol were consumed over the weekend which forced me to stay awake until 3 AM (with a subsequent 8 AM wake-up for football) did my body finally decide to reset. And hey, there was football to watch! So, tip number one: when traveling, drink lots of booze and stay up way past when you think you can!

Blue MoFo

Say hello to the Blue Mo Fo. I have no idea why it’s called that or what’s in it…but, like a LIT, it’s STRONG.

Lemon Drop Shot

Lemon Drop gone wrong — for some reason the bartender thinks a Lemon Drop is simply Citrus Vodka. BLEH.

Twins!

My dear friend, whom I haven’t seen since December. Nope, we didn’t coordinate in advance of the game, but, great fashion minds think alike when it comes to UT football!

UT in Athens - 9.28.14

Panorama of Sanford Stadium in Athens. If you look closely, you can see the TN section in the lower level near the other end zone 🙂

 

Then there’s the “I have to deal with 8 suitcases, an art tube, and two backpacks in a hotel room for three weeks until our apartment is ready” fiasco. I don’t even want to know what goes through housekeeping’s head every day as they clean the room and see our pile of luggage! Hurry up inspectors, is all I can wish for here.

Moving Day

There was also the issue of buying a car. We were fortunate to have a rental car for a week, and we left my car behind when we moved, but with my husband going back to work on the Wednesday of our arrival, we had only one day to shop around together before I was getting bombarded by sales people on my own. But wouldn’t you know you can’t buy a car in Georgia without a Georgia driver’s license. And, as is the case with Ireland, you cannot get anything converted until you have proof of residency. And, well, since I’m homeless until mid-October, you can see where the problem lies! (Don’t worry, we figured out a solution, because I’m a problem solving genius.)

I swore I'd never own another BMW after the last one... but alas, this was the only car out of about 50 I test drove I actually loved. BMW iDrive X3

I swore I’d never own another BMW after the last one… but alas, this was the only car out of about 50 I test drove I actually loved. BMW iDrive X3

 

Those are just a few of the things you might expect to be a pain from an international move. But what about the day-to-day little things, like grocery shopping and driving?

Well, I won’t say I was overwhelmed by the grocery store, because Ireland did have a few massive stores that I visited every now and again, but I was overwhelmed by the lack of quality food. How can such a MASSIVE store carry so little that is actually healthy & good for you? I’m living in a hotel so making my own food from the fresh items just isn’t an option right now, so I’m having to find alternatives. Oh, you’re telling me to go to the natural aisle? OK, I did that. Have you looked at any labels lately? I assure you that almost everything in that “natural” aisle still has sugar added to it along with preservatives. You don’t get that kind of shelf life without it. Even the all natural smoothies you can buy are still insanely high in sugar & carbs, because apparently the American nation cannot eat or drink something that isn’t loaded with a ridiculous amount of sugars. (i.e. calories) No wonder our nation can’t seem to get their health in check! And it is those preservatives and lack of fresh foods that my body is absolutely rejecting. I can eat beef again, which is great for my anemia, but… we’ll just say I cannot wait for my apartment to be move-in ready so I can actually cook something and get my body back on track!

I won't lie. I did enjoy this donut!

I won’t lie. I did enjoy this doughnut!

 

Driving… I think driving in this city is quite possibly as bad as L.A. I was on the interstate the other day and I counted 9 lanes of traffic. NINE. I haven’t driven in 10 months and I landed myself in a city that has average commute times over an hour while navigating at least 6-8 lanes of traffic on any interstate route. It’s not easy people. Before I got a new phone, I was using a prepaid SIM card, which afforded me no data. And I can promise you I drove in circles on more than one occasion trying to get from point A to point B. I will just count my blessings that I haven’t ended up in a part of town I don’t belong in. But I certainly wanted to pull my hair out!

Pulling Hair Out

What exactly am I trying to drive home here? Moving home: where everything is new, yet unknown. New city, new car, new phone, new job, new apartment (literally, half of the building is still under construction), new life chapter, new, new, new. And while new isn’t bad, it’ll just take a little more of an adjustment than the last week has allowed. Here’s to this new beginning.

Until next time. XOXO – K