I had the opportunity to attend the Susan G. Komen "More than Pink" walk last weekend, joining thousands of Central Texans in the fight against breast cancer. The event, formerly known as "Race for the Cure", serves multiple purposes: raise funds for research, celebrate the survivors, honor those we've lost, and come together as a community to show compassion for all those affected. Although the sky spit a little rain and the humidity was absolutely ATROCIOUS, the turn-out was incredible!
KXAN was the official media sponsor for the walk, tying it into our 'Simple Health' initiative. We set up a tent, handed out freebies and did some spot training for hands-only CPR. With the help of a local group of certified high schoolers, we were able to train over +30 people -- a big step in our goal of sharing life-saving information.
More information: American Heart Association - Hands-Only CPR traning
One of my favorite parts of attending these events is meeting people in our community. There's no better way to get to know viewers than to get out there, shake hands and have a conversation. (And still being "the new kid on the block", it's more important now than ever.)
One of the more moving parts of the event is a tent specifically designated for those who passed away due to breast cancer. With the words "We Remember" on the entrance of the tent, walkers are able to write sweet messages and names of family/friends who lost their battle with breast cancer. There are signs to stay quiet, soft music playing from the speaker, and ribbons with hand-written messages hanging from the tent's ceiling. An intimate area to reflect... and an important reminder of the urgency of finding a cure.
Also - two sweet Girl Scouts (Juniors) walked up and gave me this homemade bracelet. I wore it all day!
It was so encouraging to see thousands of people dressed in pink and hear the fundraising numbers coming in. (Some individuals were able to raise THOUSANDS of dollars for research!) At one point, the executive director walked over to talk with us and had mentioned they had run out of t-shirts meaning there were over 5,000 people at the event.
With October officially being "Breast Cancer Awareness Month" -- I'm sure we'll be talking more about it in the next few weeks to come. But what a fun, empowering event to kick off such an important cause -- fingers crossed for an invite next year!
As with almost every big life change, the transition is tough. Letting go of the old, adjusting to the new... the balance of trying to fit in versus being myself. Not only is it mentally draining but also emotionally, physically, all the "--ally" things.
I've been working at my new station for about a month & a half now -- still learning, still making mistakes, still trying to find my place. The fundamentals of the job are about the same... but there's A LOT more asked of me here than any previous station I've worked at in the past (not a bad thing, just a lot to get used to).
First and foremost, the shift in schedule is a huge lifestyle change as I've only ever worked mornings in my on-air career. For the last 6 years, my alarm went off at 2AM. Six years of saying "here's what it'll look like today..." and "good morning"... and "today's highs temps"... phrases that turned into hard habits to break. Since moving to Austin, my schedule has been flip-flopping every week with filling in for both the chief & morning met... but I end up spending most of my days working nights. So my "good mornings" are now "good evenings"... and my "today's highs" are now "tomorrow's highs"... little changes in vocab that seem to take all my brain power to say or not say.
Besides the craziness in hours, the change in area is also tough to get used to. After 4 years of being able to rattle off any and every seed of every county in the entire state of New Mexico... I now need to squeeze into my brain every name of every town in every county in the middle of one of the biggest states in the U.S. (And to add to the difficulty, after spending the last few years trying to get the Spanish pronunciations of the NM towns.... I move to Central Texas and realize none of the Spanish-named towns are said in a Spanish dialect (ex. Llano pronounced "lan-o" and Blanco pronounced "blank-o". What gives?!)
Between the schedule, the familiarization with the area... and of course, the way the team executes their daily operations... the transition has been (in one-word) overwhelming. I was low on self-confidence and high in doubt... I hadn't had that "I belong here" moment I was looking for. Until Friday.
Part of the "extras" of my job are doing short segments or online write-ups we call "in-depths". It's part of the station's brand... the idea of giving viewers more than just the story. We want you to watch our newscast and think, "I didn't know that" and be able to walk away knowing more than what you did before you watched us.
That being said, my producer told me on Friday morning that my News Director (my boss) wanted an 'in-depth' piece on Tropical Storm Imelda. (Background: I have done a couple of in-depths before this and didn't feel good about any of them. I felt like they were choppy or hard to follow -- I couldn't seem to get it right.) But regardless - I told her I would put something together.
Because Imelda brought heavy rain and deadly flooding to southeast Texas, I thought the tie to Hurricane Harvey would fit... considering some of those *same areas were hit 2 years ago by the Category 4 hurricane. So I spent a couple hours researching the two storms online: strength, intensity, duration, fatalities, etc. I had two graphics and everything I needed to be ready to go for the 6PM newscast.
I never really get nervous on-air anymore... but because I felt I had butchered the other 'in-depth' segments before this, I was anxious. I even had to do the "take a big breath" talk in my head before the anchors tossed to me. One minute later, I did the hit and it was done.
It was the 'FIST PUMP IN THE AIR' feeling I needed. No major stumbles, somewhat easy to follow, confident in what I was saying... I felt GOOD. And it had been WEEKS since I felt like that. I walked back to the desk thinking "OK... you did it. You actually did it."
I've done thousands of on-air hits talking about everything and anything... but for whatever reason... this 1 minute segment gave me all my self-confidence back. I immediately texted Yeomans (morning met) telling him about how pumped I was that I had *finally pulled off a good 'in-depth'. (I even got a thumbs up from Robert, our evening anchor whose been manning the desk for close to 30 years!)
It seems minor but it made all the difference in the world. It was the sign I was looking for... the reassurance I needed to really convince myself I didn't make the wrong decision in leaving ABQ. I finally felt like I did my job... I fit the brand... and convinced myself that yes, this move was worth it... and I belong here.
It's been about a month and a half now since I left ABQ & moved to Austin. Despite still getting adjusted to the new job and schedule, it's starting to feel more like home everyday. I'm enjoying the new adventure, the new city, the new coworkers/friends... it's exactly what I had hoped it to be.
That was until last Friday.
Last Friday, I was called in for the morning show as a back-up for the morning meteorologist who was going to be out live covering a local hot air balloon festival. Initially, I was a little jealous of the guy -- how cool that he gets to go cover this event?! We laughed about the fact that I just moved from the mecca of hot air balloon festivals with Albuquerque being home to the world's largest hot air balloon event. But the festival specifically requested him (he's a BIG deal here) and I understood that so I came in to help out.
Little did I know, watching our coverage of this hot air balloon festival would ROCK MY WORLD. Honestly, it was awful. It was like watching a two-hour flashback of some of the happiest moments of the last 4 years of my life... reminding me of all the goodbyes, all my friends, the guy I dated, my coworkers, & of course, my favorite event to cover, Balloon Fiesta. Most would see it as just a silly balloon event but these rallies were MY LIFE in ABQ. I covered as many events as I could -- from 15 balloons to 500 balloons. So sitting in the Weather Center in Austin and watching the burners & balloons through a little monitor in front of me was borderline emotional-torture. I jokingly (sort of) texted the morning met and told him it was like watching an ex-boyfriend move on with someone else. I was a heap of emotions (to say the least).
That day ended up being a LONG day at work as I had to stay late to turn a couple things for the later shows. Once I got in the car to leave... I cried... the entire way home. It had nothing to do with the morning guy (he did a really good job out there) or even the festival itself. It was more of I had just spent a whole morning being flooded with reminders of the hard goodbyes I had to say when leaving ABQ. I was having one of those "what have I done", "did I do the right thing", "did I mess up" life conversations in my head.
Fast forward to this morning, I made the 30 minute drive to Kyle, Texas for said festival that sparked Friday's breakdown. I was tired after having only gotten 5 hours of sleep after working nights last night... but I knew I had to go. I parked at the high school, took the park & ride to the field and sat in the grass & enjoyed the mass ascension. There were a couple minutes of sadness... but overall, I was happy. I was happy to be there, I was happy to see some of the special shape balloons that I had seen every year at Fiesta, and I was happy to have a little bit of ABQ in Austin.
Once I got home, I had a much-needed "come to Jesus" moment.
I reminded myself:
-- I'm supposed to be here
-- God put me here on purpose
-- it's okay to be sad about the closing of a life chapter
-- and it's also okay to make new memories in this *new chapter
I knew I had to change my perspective from "this is who I was in ABQ".... to "this is something I can continue here in Austin". A few more tears and a container of french fries later... I finally convinced myself that it would all be okay.
I stack this up to be no more than a growing pain... (or a "moving pain" if you will). Change is hard... goodbyes are tough... and starting over is a process. But making the drive to the festival & seeing it all in person was the reminder I needed to get over this mini-meltdown. (I even ran into the media gal to talk about being involved in the event next year!)
It's all a part of the process... and I know that the "ups" I've experienced in the last 1.5 months far outweigh the "downs". But 27 years old and I'm still crying when my balloon floats away?!... come on, Currie.