Good morning, everybody! Happy Thanksgiving Eve. Almost time for my favorite holiday. I know a lot of people are off work the rest of the week, and I love days like this imagining everybody waking up at home, taking extra time with the kids at breakfast and sipping coffee instead of rushing out the door. Mornings are so special and I consider it a privilege that we get to be part of them for so many people.
Since this week is a great time be grateful, I wanted to share something that I'm thankful for: my coworkers. I know I've said it before, but we really do have some nice people at KMOV. The picture above is from the St. Louis Crisis Nursery's 'Nursery Night at Napoli,' last Thursday. We stayed up late to support a good cause and had such a fun time. The hours are hard enough as it is on the morning shift, so staying up few hours late is no easy task. Here's my public **thank you** for your time and for working through some extra fatigue on Friday.
And after a little nap Friday morning, I got to be part of our Home 4 the Holidays event in Hazelwood. This was really cool. That's Fornisha in the picture with me. We handed over the keys to her new home, just in time for Thanksgiving!! I loved getting to meet Fornisha, and be part of the festivities. She worked so hard for this home, and the community really rallied around her. She said she's not the best cook, but I have a feeling the turkey dinner in the new place will be one of the best meals she's ever had. Enjoy, Fornisha!
Alright one more thing before I get back to work. I'd like to invite you all to join us tomorrow for the Ameren Thanksgiving Day Parade. You won't regret it! Here's a throwback pic to last year. We had great weather and a big crowd out on Market Street in Downtown St. Louis. I can tell you this time last year, I was resisting the holiday season a little bit, but not after the parade! No shortage of spirit and tomorrow will be no different. I'm really excited to host with Kent and the lovely Claire Kellett! She's one of my favorite people and combined with Kent, we're bound to have a fun time. Please join us-- either downtown or from your kitchen or family room. I know my family watches from home as they prep the turkey. (This gives me a great excuse to get out of table-setting duties!) Fun side note: KMOV won an Emmy this year for the 2015 parade broadcast. That's a good sign, right?
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
p.s. Looking for some reasons to be grateful? Fantastic tips here: http://time.com/4579105/thanksgiving-grateful-gratitude/?xid=tcoshare
It's Election Day!! It's finally here. We made it. Deep breaths.
People are geeking out about voting and I love it. We had a newscast this morning chock-full of ballot issues, candidate updates, and current polls. I also heard from a lot of folks on social media who encountered some seriously long lines at the polls. The good news is, from what I can tell, it didn't deter anyone from casting their vote. Just be prepared to wait in line. What a privilege we have to make our voices heard.
In honor of what my friend, Cate, calls her favorite holiday, I used my WashU Debate thermos this morning, which made me realize that I never posted these pictures. Being on Washington University's campus for the debate last month was such an electric experience that I won't soon forget. I feel that same energy today. Of course being in a newsroom, that feeling might be magnified, but I'm not so sure. It certainly is a special year.
There were so many journalists-- big names and otherwise-- on campus. When I walked into the big room you'll see below, it was literally tables and work stations for as far as the eye could see. That's what you call an IT challenge. And aside from wifi and battery power, a reporter's next favorite thing is snacks. The Anheuser Busch hospitality tent didn't disappoint. I wish I had better pictures, but on the way to the free coffee (mine was confiscated at the security checkpoint), everybody passed by the iconic Clydesdales which pretty much speak for themselves. So beautiful.
A highlight of the day was definitely getting to talk with John Dickerson and Norah O'Donnell of CBS News. They were so gracious to spend a little time with us. We did a Facebook Live interview and I tried to soak in as much of their thoughtful, intelligent commentary as possible. (Also, Norah's hair. Can we talk about that for a moment? It could not have been more perfect. Can I organize a trade deal of some kind? I'm here to confirm that she is even smarter/prettier/more stylish in person than you might have imagined.) I spend a lot of time watching CBS, so it felt surreal, but also natural to be speaking to Norah and John face-to-face. Intimidating to say the least, but I'm really grateful for the opportunity.
Time for me to go vote! I hope you all get a chance to do the same. And as for the outcome... how about we all find a way to be friends either way?
Thanks for reading,
It's time to share some good reads for the weekend. Themes in these articles? Workplace and wellness. A few of my favorite topics. Always room for improvement in those two areas, right? Enjoy, and please let me know what you think in the comments, or over on my Facebook page.
Interesting take here on what we should value most about a workplace. Not money, not flexibility or upward mobility, but culture. It makes sense to me, because culture probably has a big influence on all those other factors that may be more top of mind.
This list totally captivated me! Seriously. I don't believe this is a strictly female issue, so guys, you should read up as well. It's 25 tales of well-known women talking about money. Not fun, right? We need to talk about it more, until the problem goes away. I heard some really great theories about this at TedXStLouisWomen on Thursday, I can't wait to share more about it in another post.
I stumbled upon this next link after following a TedX panelist on Twitter (@clioknowles). Richard Branson is obviously onto something when it comes to living a big life with intention, so when he writes about his tips and tricks, I'm all ears...er...eyes.
I'm always looking for ways to be just a little healthier, and I know I'm not alone. I sent this easy read to about five people and bookmarked it for myself. It's the little things that add up to the big things, as they say. I probably won't start weighing myself 'often' as the article suggests, but I will continue to fit in more veggies and steps wherever possible. Anybody else use the iPhone app to see how many steps you've taken? Not sure how accurate it is, but it's been a helpful marker for me.
And here's my favorite find of the week. I even shared it on my Facebook page. I relate to Savannah's take on beauty and self-confidence because of our shared career field, plus I've been a big fan of hers for years (way before the Today Show gig!). When I worked in Virginia, my sister surprised me with a trip to see a live broadcast of her show with Chuck Todd. Hashtag FanGirl.
Don't forget to let me know your takeaways! Curios if they're similar to mine or something totally different.
Have a wonderful weekend.
I was on the phone the other day with a loved one, hurriedly reeling off my list of things to do and sources of stress. As our conversation was wrapping up, I heard, "oh Em, one more thing! Don't forgot to look at the leaves. They're starting to change and it's just beautiful."
That little reminder changed my entire day and I've thought of it every day since.
Leaves! That's it. So simple but what a perfect, timely reminder to put ourselves back in the present. It's almost like the whole thing was designed that way...
If you happen to read this today and you're feeling a little overwhelmed, let me remind you to look at the leaves. When you hear them crunch under your feet, take it as a divine nudge back in the moment. An invitation to embrace the current season of your life.
Do you recognize my friend, Jake? I posted about him in a previous blog. He is just the best.
I met Jake, and several other wonderful kids and parents through KMOV's partnership with Autism Speaks. Jake was part of a commercial about the Autism Speaks Walk that aired in the weeks leading up to the event. I got to see him again the day of the walk. I could tell he'd been watching channel 4 to see his commercials because he even said, "KMOV always watches out for us!" Yes we do, Jake, :-)
The weather really worked out for us! Thousands of people gathered in the Muny parking lot in Forest Park, and I was blown away but what a party it was. So much fun, along with food, resources and fellowship. We started the event with a moment of silence, because it was the Saturday after Ofc. Blake Snyder was killed in the line of duty. As I looked out into the crowd, and noticed the firefighters and police officers there to support the cause, it was so hard not to get emotional. What a special city we live in.
This community, I've learned, is also very special. That's an understatement when I think about the force of nature that these families have become. Autism Speaks is a great organization, and it's the moms and dads behind it that really make it so strong. I was intimidated at first, because I don't have a lot of experience with autism. I've since learned it comes in many forms, but I don't have any close friends or family members on the spectrum, so I wasn't that familiar. I am by no means an expert after doing a handful of stories on the subject, but I certainly have a much deeper appreciation for the world of autism.
Tribe is a trendy word these days. It's thrown around to describe friendships and cliques and like-minded people. This group truly embodies that spirit. Seeing dads of kids with autism tear up as they speak about their child's unique gifts, and the support they've gotten from the community is so impactful. They know exactly how they got through the challenges that come with autism, and their gratitude runs deep. There is a strong connection running through these families and I am so glad I got to see it in action.
I did five stories total for our series with Autism Speaks. You can find more detailed information on them here, on the kmov.com website. I'm also including one of them below. It really stuck out to me, because I just loved the three cousins whose story we got to tell. Anytime a family opens their home to a camera crew and a strange reporter, I know it comes with a certain degree of vulnerability and trust. I imagine that feeling is magnified for folks who know what it's like to have a loved one be misunderstood. I always try to respect that relationship, and do their stories justice.
There are many more stories from this community that are worthy of being told. I hope we helped spread the word about something that affects SO many families in St. Louis and beyond. Thanks to Autism Speaks, for taking a chance on KMOV, and allowing me to be a small part of it.
That's a wrap on Autism Speaks, but I hope not forever!
Thanks for reading,
How has it been almost three weeks since Andre's last day at channel 4?? That means this post is three weeks overdue.
If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed the last month has been a pretty busy one. The craziness kicked off with Andre's departure. I consider my former coanchor a great friend, so it's been a big adjustment. Many of you have asked if we still talk and the answer is yes, of course! He remains a great sounding board and source of advice. I know that won't change anytime soon.
Andre's last day on #n4tm was the last day of September. We worked in a lot of trickery for his sendoff. The picture below is from his little going away breakfast (notice Steve Harris' green hair). Andre was so surprised. We really got him! The food was fantastic and it was great to have one more group powwow with the guy who has been such an important part of our team.
Many of us recorded little video good-bye messages...and that included Andre's amazing wife, Serena. Another surprise! Photographer Nick Zervos and I sneaked out of the newsroom to meet Serena at the City Garden. These little messages aired during Andre's last newscast. I may or may not have had to re-do mine because the first time around was a little teary...
I think sometimes people at home wonder if the people they see on TV reallly get along as well as they seem. I can say for this group the answer is definitely yes! Something about coming to work at 2 a.m. probably encourages that, but I can tell you I care deeply about my coworkers. The picture below speaks to my point--Andre & Serena's wedding. This was one of the most challenging workweeks in my professional career (most of us were working 12-on/12-off while covering the unrest in Ferguson, following the death of Michael Brown). No sleep, high stakes, and emotions running high, but there was no way we were going to miss this event. I remember barely having time to shower after standing out in the August heat all day, and luckily, finding a dress in my car to change into. But what a great memory.
Getting to know Serena has been such a blessing, and definitely a big bonus of my working with Andre. She is a very special lady and I have no intention of losing touch with her either!
We had Andre's going away get-together on Thursday night before his last day. That first picture in this post was taken there. Our schedules were so packed, we had no choice but to put the party Thursday evening, then turn around and anchor Andre's last show Friday. Whew! We were definitely hurting during that 4 o'clock hour, but it was worth it.
The farewell tour continued to Branson. The Emmy awards were that weekend. It's always fun to get fancy with your coworkers for a night out. Since the gift I ordered for Andre came late, I had no choice but to give him his Cardinals cuff links on the red carpet. He better be wearing them in Baltimore!! We ended up going on stage to accept an Emmy together for KMOV's coverage of the Thanksgiving Day Parade, which we hosted together last year. What a wonderful send-off!
There is a very special place in my heart for this guy and the team we had. We went through a lot, and I have grown so much in this role. I am a better journalist, a better anchor, and a better person because of my time spent working with Andre. He always advocated for our show, and looked out for those around him. I know he's already doing a great job in his new role. We sure do miss him in St. Louis. Come back soon, my friend!
What a week! I almost gave up on a blog post altogether this week, but the only way to establish a habit is to fight through it, right?
This is one of the busiest weeks I've had in a while. A lot of you have heard by now that my coanchor, Andre Hepkins, is leaving St. Louis for Baltimore. His last day is Friday. Boo!! I'm bummed to see him go, and also excited for his next opportunity. He'll be anchoring evening newscasts in a great city, and actually working with a friend of mine from college. The TV news business is scary small. I love it.
So aside from all the heart-to-hearts and party planning, I'm also working on five stories that air next week. I'm so excited about this! KMOV is partnering with Autism Speaks, to get the word out about the St. Louis chapter's big walk coming up on October 8th. (Please join me!) The pictures at Forest Park are from our promo shoot a few weeks ago. I got to meet four kiddos with autism, and film a little commercial with them. The kids were great, and SO funny. The end result also turned out really well....I posted it on my Facebook page if you'd like to check it out.
In the last month, I have learned a lot about this thriving community. So far, my rule number one is to never underestimate someone with autism.
The spectrum is so broad, and each person so different. We can't assume one person with autism can even speak at all, while others are very social and engaging. They are smart, and capable people, and have gifts to share, just like we do. If you're not familiar with the disorder, or maybe see a child or adult out in public and suspect they may have autism, I suggest you follow their parents' lead. See them as an individual and love them exactly the way they are. I guarantee you'll be in for a treat.
These two guys below were so great. John and Ray. Cousins and characters. John is an entertainer and Ray is quite the gentlemen. They love Toy Story and Ray loves Lady Gaga. This might be the story I'm most looking forward to, because you'll get to meet them both. I am so happy and grateful to the families who have let us into their homes and lives. I can't wait to share their stories next week...stay tuned!
Thanks for reading,
I've talked about this book more than any other in quite a while. Casual conversation, intentional questions, and openly suggesting it to friends--I've done it all. I think that means I like it!
I know I'm not the only one who has done this, because I first chatted about this book before I ever opened the front cover. I was with my aunt and cousins for a weekend at the lake, and noticed a well-loved copy of "The Happiness Project" that appeared to have been passed around more than once. I asked about it, and heard rave reviews. When my cousin when was taking her turn on the wave runner, I couldn't help but pick it up and peek inside. I was hooked in the first few pages.
Gretchen Rubin does what many of us our afraid to--she admits she's not as happy as she could or should be. Instead of feeling bad about it, she embarks on a year-long experiment of sorts to see if happiness can in fact be refined in our everyday lives. I love the practical approach and real results. Rubin takes self-awareness to a whole new level and eliminates the excuses that are so easy to fall back on.
Rubin went to law school before becoming a writer and I can tell. The book by no means reads like a legal brief, but it's clear how much research and context she gathered in the process. She references a wide variety of people (authors, spiritual leaders, politicians) and time periods that really put this whole dilemma into perspective. It's not a new question and it's not unique to our generation. Somehow that makes it feel a lot less frivolous.
While the author suggests that the reader come up with her own habits or tendencies to improve, I found the ones she used for herself really hit home for me. Eventually, I do plan to create my own reference points, but here are the big takeaways for me, and the changes I've been working on to be just a little happier in my own life.
Be Gretchen: So simple yet not always our first inclination. Why not?? It's the effort to really be you. Let all the other things you think you should be interested in fade away. For me that means paying a little less attention to sports and not judging myself for really not caring what music is 'cool' at the moment. I like music but I don't live for it. That's okay. I can use the time to do what lights me up instead.
Blog: Pick a challenge! I told a coworker of mine that I know I'm not as hardcore as Gretchen because she decided to commit to blogging and since that day she has written six blog posts a week. What!? I did the same and so far I'm really proud of one per week. Baby steps. Details aside, taking on a new task can feel daunting but the rewards are many!
Friendship: Gretchen talks a lot about relationships, and how time and time again, research proves this is a major key to happiness. As an introvert with a job that requires me to be an extrovert much of the day, I am often craving quiet time. Combine that with my crazy hours, and sometimes it gets isolating. Making an effort to invest in friendships lately has *definitely improved my happiness. The phone calls, the texts, remembering birthdays-- it matters to people and it matters to me.
Declutter: I've been working on this one since I skimmed through Marie Kondo's book a few years ago. It really does make a difference! Again, I have an easy excuse to fall back on for this. I work in tv. I have more clothes than the average person. The lone closet in my apartment is more full than I would like, but there's always room for improvement. Getting rid of clothes you don't wear really does give you more options and a much easier time getting dressed. Take out a few shopping bags of clothes and I guarantee you'll feel lighter.
These are just a few of the big ones! I have also really enjoyed the podcast Gretchen Rubin does with her sister, who is a TV writer. (Side note: this has officially made me determined to someday collaborate with my sister! She's a doctor in NYC...hmm, what would we talk about??) Have you listened to the Happier podcast?
Let me know what you think of the book! Any lasting changes in your life since reading it?
When my little brother first started talking about joining the military, I didn't pay much attention. He was barely a teenager. We didn't have a long tradition of military service in our family, I knew relatively little about it, and figured his interest wouldn't last longer than a month or two.
Here we are, more than a decade later, and Matt is still very much talking about the military. Except now, he's in it. He's a Second Lieutenant in the National Guard. I am so proud.
This last weekend, we celebrated Matt's completion of Officer Candidate School, and the long journey he has taken to get here. There have been many prayers and crossed fingers and anxious moments on our part. Lots of blood, sweat and tears on his. While I appreciate his new title, what makes me most happy is the look of pride I saw on Matty's face last Saturday. He fought for this. He fought for this so hard. When people told him it wouldn't work out, when well-meaning family and friends suggested other paths, Matt didn't listen.
Just to name one example, a few years ago, we were talking about what his next step should be, and Matt said, "Emmy, I just want to help people."
I replied as only a big sister can, and said, "That's great, Matt. Go be a candy striper on weekends, but in the meantime you need a job that can pay the rent." Nice, right? I hate that I said that. I'm so glad that he didn't let anything or anyone get in the way of his dreams.
These days Matt is juggling his duties with the Guard, a job on Mizzou's campus, and his second semester of grad school. That's certainly more than I can handle. With all the negativity and divisive politics these days, it gives me great comfort to know people like Matt and his fellow servicemen and women are dedicating so much of their lives to protecting our country.
I know he's just getting started, but this is a milestone worth celebrating. I'm a lucky big sister to have a little brother I admire so much.
P.s. Watching the moms and dads and wives and kids try to attach these shoulder bar things was painful but entertaining. All part of the process! I had to capture this practice run before the real deal. :)
I was sitting outside early Sunday, chatting with my dad. It was a beautiful morning, just cool enough to really enjoy a hot cup of coffee without needing a jacket. We admired the glassy surface of the lake, listened to the birds chirping away and watched the squirrels make their way from branch to branch. We talked about work and life and all those big, abstract what-ifs that have a special ability to weigh heavy on our (my) minds.
Mid-conversation, one particularly daring squirrel caught my eye with his giant leap from one tree to another. I was so impressed that I said out loud, "How do they know they won't fall??"
"They're designed for that," my dad said, matter-of-factly.
It was a download moment. Suddenly, I realized we are no different. Just like the squirrels (yes, the squirrels), destined to jump from tree to tree, so am I built to navigate life's unknowns.
Sometimes my greatest enemy is indecision. It's a one-two punch of not knowing the 'right' answer, and then beating myself up for not being able to make a move. Since that simple observation on the deck, I've been able to ease up a bit on the second hit. It's okay to not know all the answers right away. They will come. We are designed to find them and to let life unfold.