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.
I've always been teased about my love of reading. Lucky for me, it was never in a mean/bully sort of way, but just out of love. Book worm is a nickname I know and love, and it's been that way for as long as I remember. (I'll admit, the Pizza Hut personal pan rewards program might have had something to do with it, but hey, whatever works.)
In the last few years, I've also realized how much I love to discuss and share a good read. If I learned something from book, blog post or news site, it's my natural inclination to pass it along. A good friend of mine laughs every time I say, "I was reading this article the other day..." I just can't help it. And I've made a career out of sharing information, so I guess the shoe fits.
So that's how I arrived here. I sent all of these to at least one of my friends or family members, so why not pass them along to the world-wide-web? :)
First up, if you're looking for a little inspiration, follow the link below. As I've learned from Elizabeth Gilbert's Magic Lessons podcast, sometimes all we need to go after our dreams is a little bit of permission. So read this, then go out and live that big life you've been dreaming of!
I emailed this next article to a few of my TV news friends. I remember this reporter speaking in one of my college classes, and having so much respect for her. Here she writes about the pressures of conformity and the relief of rising above it:
As tiring as it can be, cultivating the 'right' on-air wardrobe is part of my job. I try to embrace it and find the fun, but looking camera-ready by 3:50 a.m. five days a week can be exhausting! (No, we don't have hair/makeup/wardrobe helpers.) I remember feeling so worried before I started anchoring full-time, and anxious abut coming up with an outfit every. single. day. Then there's the issue Jana talks about, which is personal style. Let me just say, a body-hugging dress, spanx and heels is not the first thing I would choose to wear every day, not to mention the expense of having a closet full of that sort of thing. (No, we don't have a clothing allowance.) It's always a work in progress, and I've gotten very good at bargain hunting. I have a lot of options that I feel comfortable in, and I'm glad Jana now does too.
The plot thickens! It turns out, Jana happens to be in the middle of big conversation about her wardrobe. She got some negative attention for it in the midst of coverage of Jacob Wetterling, and it's very interesting to read about how it has unfolded in the Minnesota community:
Alright, while we're on the topic of TV... This segment on HBO Real Sports made me cry.
I didn't expect to get so upset, but when I think about all the years it's taken me to build my career, it's terrifying to think about it being taken away from me in an instant, purely because of the way I look. My female colleagues and I are very aware of the realities of the industry. But really?? It's 2016, and a woman with decades of experience can so easily be pushed out simply for surviving past the age of 45 and having the audacity to work. It's not right.
So onward we go, to something much more empowering. You know that feeling when you just know a bad mood is on the horizon? Or maybe it's already taken hold and you desperately wish you could hit 'ctrl + z'? Here are some ideas to fight the funk:
Erin seems pretty cool, right? She is coming to St. Louis next month, so let me know if you're interested in learning more about the event. I'm hoping to be there myself.
Have a great weekend! Please let me know in the comment section if you found any of these links interesting or helpful. I hope they sparked something for you, like they did for me.
This week I'm back on mornings and whoa, is my body confused. I'm trying to take it easy and guzzle water, but so far it's Body Clock: 1, Emily: 0.
A lot of people have asked me how it went, living on the opposite side of things for a week, and I'm happy to report that I really enjoyed it. It's amazing how different it is from mornings to nights. In the morning, most of us are at work, rocking and rolling by 3 a.m. (Andre and I go in at 2, some of the producers get in as early as 11 p.m.) We put together a beast of a show-- three hours long-- pretty much on our own. There's not a lot of oversight and everybody has to pull their own weight or there are definite consequences. On the day/night shift, there are so many more people around. There's a producer for each 30 minute show and two or three or even four managers overseeing the newsroom. Much different! Breaking news is also much more of a factor. Reporters and photographers often have to switch gears and adapt to whatever is happening at that very moment. We do that too on mornings, but it's often more cut and dried.
So from a logistical perspective, it was neat to see how the two sides of the coin operate. It was also nice to bump into coworkers who I often go for months without seeing, because I'm usually gone around noon, and many of them don't come in until 1 or 2. We got to catch up and reminisce, and everybody was so supportive of me filling in... That's what turned out to be my big takeaway from the week: Wow, am I lucky.
Coworkers, viewers I've never met, family, friends... I got to hear a lot of people say they were proud of me and excited for the opportunity I had. How special is that? I realize there are a lot of folks out there who never get to know that feeling. And as much as I have my own struggles and hard days and times when I just want to blare Taylor Swift's song, "Mean" (try it, I promise it helps!!), I always know there are people who love me and have my back.
I had a great conversation earlier this week with one of those people-- a friend, a cheerleader, big sister, confidant and mentor for years. We talked a bit about how far we've come and what a nice feeling it is to worry less about being liked, and more about being the best version of ourselves. There's a real sense of peace that comes with your own quiet confidence. It is not boastful, but hard fought and solid. And what surprises me most about that, is the deep sense of gratitude that comes with it. In some ways, I need the validation less, but it means even more. What a concept. Connecting to that feeling has also made me eager to share it. Lately I've had the chance to spread a little encouragement to someone who is in a very similar position to one I've been in before. I so hope she feels even a small fraction of the love and support I was lucky to have from others. We have such power to lift each other up, it's just incredible.
So here's my official 'thank you' to everyone who took the time to send happy thoughts. Please know I'm going to keep the cheerleading chain going. I hope you will too.
Have a very happy Hump Day!
Happy Friday, everybody. I'm excited to get the weekend started. I've been working nightside this week, and it's been so fun, but this morning show anchor can't hang late at night! Actually, it really hasn't been bad. I've enjoyed working with the folks on the late shift, and today is the sleepiest I've been. Since it's Friday-- no complaints here.
I'm headed to the Cards game tomorrow night and I can't wait. It's officially that end-of-summer crunch time. The thought of fall really makes me happy, but with fall comes winter so I always try to remind myself to soak up the season while it lasts.
Here's my other goal of the weekend: see this movie! --> http://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/movies/equity-review-this-is-a-rarity-a-wall-street-movie-that-focuses-on-women/
Consider that my celebration/observation of #WomensEqualityDay. Equity is a movie about the finance industry, with mainly women as the central characters. Time to vote with my wallet and send the message that the world is ready for more movies with strong female roles.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And a huge *thank you* for all the support and sweet messages this week. It sure is special to be living and working in my hometown.
I spent my Saturday night among some real American heroes. I had the privilege of serving as Master of Ceremonies for a dinner/auction in Franklin County. The event raised money for a new memorial for the Disabled Veterans of America. It's a project that is already in the works, and should be finished by the spring of next year. It will be in the city park in Union, MO.
Pictured above, though, is the real star of the evening.
Mr. Kenneth Sohn is a WWII veteran and former prisoner of war. He turns 91 next month. Mr. Sohn's family has been working for quite some time to secure his POW medal, On Saturday night, we were able to surprise him with it in front of a few hundred people, including his 95-year-old brother. Pretty special stuff.
I love this picture:
Presenting the medal is Lt. Col. David Grossman. He is a well-known author and our featured speaker for the evening, so it was a perfect fit.
I have to share a bit more about Mr. Sohn, because I was simply blown away by his sacrifice. He was fighting in the Battle of the Bulge when he was captured in December of 1944. Germans took him prisoner, along with 170 other men. They were tortured. Many of them killed. Barely given any food, he dwindled down to 70 lbs. When Mr. Sohn tells the story, he says when he was finally liberated five months later, he barely remembers what happened. The group of prisoners was down to five. Five! Unbelievable.
It is so easy to forget the sacrifices of those who came before us, as we get caught up in the drama and challenges of our daily lives. I hope this might serve as a reminder for you, as it did for me, of true bravery and leadership.
Here's a video of Mr. Sohn telling his story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=putfWCZl9TI