Earlier this week, the mayor of Austin issued a 'Stay-At-Home' order in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. This basically translates to encouraging all of us to work/play/live at home, closing most shops/dine-in/companies with the exception of "essential businesses". There seems to be a lot of gray area as to what "essential" actually means - but I do know that we, as a news organization, fall in that category.
NOTE: Throughout this post are a handful of camera shots we've been implementing in newscasts to show viewers at home that we are doing our part to social distance-- "less than 10, 6 feet apart".
Over the last two weeks, my station (KXAN) has been figuring out how to keep staff safe & healthy, abide by Mayor's orders, all while continuing newscast productions. At this point, we've deployed most of our reporters, photojournalists, web, sales, and marketing teams to either work from home or in the field... we've set-up producers with laptops to create shows from home... and we are now in the process of equipping anchors and meteorologists with the technology to do the same. Less than 10 people are allowed in the newsroom at a time, those who do work in the newsroom now have assigned seats that are 6 feet apart, and only anchors/reporters/floor crew are allowed in studio (no producers or directors). We were also all given laminated 'permission slips' signed by the government with our names at the top in case we would ever need to prove to someone we work for an 'essential business' and are allowed to be out driving to and from work.
Now until deemed absolutely necessary to leave, the weather team has willingly continued to work in studio... but with some new guidelines. We now wipe down every keyboard and mouse, armchair, phone, desk, microphone and ear piece in our area before and after every shift. There is only one of us allowed in studio at a time (no overlapping). We lost our intern - as now only employees are allowed in the building. And we're now limited to doing our weathercast primarily on the green screen and weather podium (no anchors in the Weather Center to cross-talk or full team opens/closes on the news desk). It seems minor compared to other industries and/or people who no longer even have a job (and for those people, we pray) -- but it is an adjustment in my world. And everyday, I try to do what I can to obey.
Sidebar: Throughout this process, the higher-ups have done what they could to make sure we, as employees, are taken care of. And personally, I appreciate their effort. (And I'm not just saying that because they sign my paycheck.) I'm saying that because I have had no need to leave the studio in the last two weeks. KXAN has catered both lunch and dinner (everyday, including weekends). I'm given cleaning supplies. I'm sent frequent emails updating me as to what's going on. And I'm given guidance by managers as to 'what's next'. In an industry that can often be plagued with toxicity and "divas", I lucked out with this group. They care. And I respect that.
Now if we're being honest, I'm very hesitant at the idea of working from home. Personally, I feel most comfortable forecasting in the Weather Center, surrounded by my computers, all the data right in front of me, one camera to look at and lights to hide the dark circles under my eyes. I know what I need, how to get it and what to do if something goes wrong. But you send me home with a new computer, a light kit & iPhone holder? Tech problems galore and IMMEDIATE ANXIETY. I don't know which plug goes where, which network to "dial into" or how to make my dorm-like living room look professional. It's... not ideal. (I've just started the process of setting up my new "work from home" space -- so details to come on that later.) Not to mention the fact that I already get lonely in studio with everyone working in the newsroom on a "normal" day -- so further isolation is going to make me lose my mind.
To no surprise, I've talked to many of my coworkers and teammates about this and the feelings are mutual -- we're willing to stick it out in studio and in the newsroom until forced out. We want to do our jobs. We have a passion to inform, especially in times of need, disaster and tragedy. We'll do our part to social distance, self-quarantine and stay safe... but let us continue to do what we love to do, report the news.
Realistically, this situation looks to get worse before it gets better. And there will more than likely come a time where most (if not, all) of us will be adjusting to a new temporary normal. But at the end of the day, it's encouraging to know that I'm surrounded by a kick-butt, 'not-going-to-be-defeated', all-in kind of team. And for that, I'm grateful.
We're only a week in... and I'm ready for this nightmare to be over.
I've seen scripts at work with words and phrases like "unprecedented" "historic" "once-in-a-century" and "unparalleled". We've seen multi-million-dollar events that have been planned for months cancelled, schools closed, bars boarding windows & restaurants shutting their doors. Some cities even going so far as sheltering-in-place -- and really, it's not a matter of if they issue an order to shelter-in-place for the rest of us, but when.
I realize the importance of being proactive - the now normalized "self-quarantine" and "social distancing"... and I understand the significance of "flattening the curve" and preventing the spread. The crisis surrounding COVID-19 is something most of us have truly never seen before. It continues to bring out the very best... and very worst of people. It's overwhelming, scary and, put bluntly, frustrating. But what I find most intimidating - we don't know when it'll end.
I'm curious to know how others feels.
My honest take:
Often times, I feel like working in the news industry numbs the realness of certain situations. We've been talking NON-STOP about the coronavirus for the past three weeks - every show, every A block, every web story, every email. We do it because people need the information. It's our job to inform, to make sure people are aware of what's going on. But there comes a point during every tragedy/crisis/life-shattering event we cover, where I feel desensitized from the "human" aspect of it. We're so consumed in the information, that sometimes, the numbers lose significance... and the statistics lose impact. Every day, we're talking about somebody else's 'worst day of their life', another unfair disaster or simply just bad people doing bad things. It's the business. And although every story is not doom & gloom, it's our responsibility to report what's important to the viewer. It's not always going to be puppies and rainbows.
I'll admit - I wasn't the first to react to news of the virus. Call it denial, but it took me awhile to truly understand the urgency of this situation. It took my little sister coming to visit for me to actually go to the grocery store and get at least a couple days worth of food. And even then, I was hesitant to buy a ton of supplies knowing all of it wouldn't fit in my small kitchen pantry.
Initially, I was dismissive... but it feels different now.
Looking around, coronavirus is impacting every aspect of life. Everyday I wake up, there is a notification on my phone regarding a 'COVID-19 update.' On my way into work, what is usually a good 35 minute commute is now a 10 minute drive with little to no traffic (and in this city, that's almost unthinkable). There are few, if any, people out on what is usually a busy street in my neighborhood. I pull into work, and the parking lot is not even 3/4 full. What is suppose to be a 1-hour long newscast at noon is instead a live press conference from the governor. Every time I leave for the day, I now take a Clorox wipe to the keyboard, mouse and weather clicker. Only to drive home (without any traffic) and google a place that might be open for take-out. It feels movie-like, but in a dark, apocalypse kind of way.
Obviously, it's terrifying to think people are getting sick from this virus - some even, fatally ill. The idea of contracting the virus and/or potentially giving it to someone whose immune system is compromised or at an age that puts them at a higher risk - is truly gut-wrenching. But I think what really overwhelms me, is how long is it going to be like this? How long will we be cooped up without anything or anyone to look forward to? Still feeling new to the city, will I lose the progress I made making friends? Or a relationship? Will the stores eventually deplete their stock... leaving shelves empty? Will someone I know or love fall victim to this? How many will still have a job at the end of this?
This is not just an "us" problem... but an "all" problem. Everyone, everywhere, all over the globe, has felt some sort of shift in their life from this. (And for those like me who thrive on routine and normalcy, we're an anxious mess.) I know we will get through this... and I still firmly believe God is in control. But with the constant talk of this 'global emergency' running through my earpiece at work everyday and the empty apartment I go home to after every shift, it's hard not to lose spirit in the loneliness, realness of the life-altering COVID-19.
I decided at the start of the year to partake in Dry January ("Dry-uary") to cut back on the booze - which in a town like Austin, is very hard to do. (I tell all my friends at home, it's like this city was made for happy hours.) Like I mentioned in my earlier post, it's not that I felt I had a problem... I just wanted to minimize my intake and I thought it would be a good way to kick off the new year (and let's be real, I really don't need those extra calories). Now that we're into February - I can look back and say that I didn't too bad... I actually did better than I thought I would.
I stayed alcohol-free for all but one day in January. That one day? My birthday (the 28th). I told myself that if I can go 27 days without a sip... I would reward myself on my birthday. (And oh did I - a glass of wine with mom while getting our nails done, a margarita at dinner, another glass of wine - make that two - when we got home to watch a movie). But outside of that personal holiday, I remained committed to the goal.
Yes - there were definitely days that I wanted to give into the temptation. Specifically, when all my girlfriends and I would all go out and watch the Bachelor together. (Nothing goes better with drama than wine.) Another sad but funny moment was when I asked the server while at dinner with friends if I could have a 'carbonated water'... but she heard 'Cabernet'. I kindly corrected her while my friend Wes laughed at the immediate cry face I made when she walked away.
But overall, I'm glad I did it. And it really wasn't all that bad. As far as the effects? I didn't really notice any major changes - I'm still fluffy and I still love the taste of a good Sauvignon Blanc. But I have noticed that I don't crave it as much as I did before. And even since the end of January, I've limited myself to wine one night a week. We're only two weeks into the new month- but hey, so far so good.
This morning, our church wrapped up a very convicting series called "God Loves". Over the past few weeks, we talked about the ways God loves: life, you, your neighbor, family... & today's focused on singleness/dating/marriage. All of these messages concluded with how as Christians, we are called to imitate His love. Each sermon was powerful... but this morning's really left me compelled.
One of my biggest takeaways out of Pastor Tyler's message this morning was to TRUST GOD. Being a single gal, it is incredibly hard to stay patient, positive and hopeful in the process of dating - especially getting older. Watching friends get married, start families, move into that "next chapter" - at times, I feel like I'm falling behind in life. Over the last decade, I put my career above everything else... and I sometimes wonder if I should have spent more time investing in myself and relationships rather than chasing a paycheck. (Don't get me wrong, I love my job... but when I was an intern, I had a mentor tell me "this is a very lonely business"... and he wasn't lying.)
I pray every night, "God, I'm ready to find my person. Help me find that person."
Back to the sermon -- Pastor Tyler touched on principles such as knowing God first, knowing yourself and what you want out of a significant other, truly knowing the person you're dating and paying attention to their trajectory, not seeking perfection, etc. There were so many little nuggets in that 50 minute message -- I filled up three pages in my notebook. I NEEDED to hear this.
My hard-hitting God moment didn't actually hit me while I was in church... but rather, in the parking lot. While waiting for the lot to clear, Garth Brooks' "When You Come Back to Me Again" came on the radio. I have always loved this song. It's a sad song... and the music video wrecks me every time I watch it, but I can't help but listen to it. (The song was actually recorded for the movie Frequency... and the music video shows the movie's character as a firefighter who ultimately ends up losing his life in a fire. It's BRUTAL.)
I've sang this song a million times in the car but never really noticed the meaning of the lyrics until this morning:
It starts like this:
There's a ship out, on the ocean
At the mercy of the sea
It's been tossed about, lost and broken
And God somehow you know that ship is me
The next verse, Garth sings about a light house.
'Cause there's a lighthouse, in the harbor
Pouring its light out, across the water
For this sinking soul to see
That someone out there still believes in me
This is the moment I knew God was talking to me. In the sermon, Pastor Tyler used an analogy of a light house as a way to demonstrate God's love. He said that when it comes to dating, God isn't going to give you rules or a "how-to" that reads "If you do X,Y,Z... you'll get this" which in this case, would be the perfect, dream spouse. God will, however, lead you... like a light house. A light house doesn't make a decision for a captain on a ship in the harbor... instead, the light house shines a light on the rough waters, the rocky coastline, etc. to help give the captain clarity of the decisions he will make. Like a light house, God gives us the clarity to see the implications of our decision-making. God leads us. God has a plan for us. Ultimately, we must TRUST in Him to guide our decisions.
Later in the message, it was said that "If you fear singleness more than you fear a life without God, you're not seeing clearly". And reflecting, I wasn't seeing clearly.
Between the conviction of the message and the parallels between this particular song on the radio and a light house analogy... I felt like my world just got ROCKED. But what was just a silly movie-song to someone else, really meant more to me.
NOTE: I was told by my boss not to talk about my past relationships on this blog... so I'll likely get in trouble for this. But this is the open and honest part of my story.
When I decided to leave Albuquerque to come to Austin, that meant that I had to end my relationship with the guy I was currently dating. He was a local firefighter. We had dated for about 7 months before I left ABQ. He couldn't leave New Mexico or else he'd lose his pension... and I didn't have plans to stay (or come back). We both felt that our careers were, at this time in our lives, what was important to focus on... and that our relationship would be the cost of that decision.
I won't go into the details of our "break up"... but I will say it wasn't one of those ugly breakups. We don't hate each other... and I truly believe we only want what's best for one another.
But if we're being brutally honest, this has been the hardest part of my transition to Austin so far. It is incredibly hard to leave a relationship that essentially, had no reason to end other than terrible timing and distance. I truly believe in God's plan and that for whatever reason, He had something different planned for both of us. But I'm not going to lie - I will always care about him and worry about him a lot (particularly, with his job).
Now circling back around, listening to the Garth Brook's song... full of emotion after the sermon... the light house analogy... a music video about a firefighter that reminded me of my firefighter I had to leave behind... the fact that I haven't dated anyone since.... needless to say, I WAS A DISASTER ON THE WAY HOME. I cried... I sang the song... I cried some more.
By the time I pulled into my parking spot at home, I had composed myself enough to realize - this is God reaching out to me. This is God saying - let me be that light house for you. Let me guide you. Your past relationship is not my plan for you. Trust in me. Yes, dating is hard. But I will provide.
And that was exactly what I needed to hear from the Holy Spirit. (Isn't it funny how God knows? Triggered me by none other than an old Garth song.)
As a person on faith, I believe that God's timing is perfect. His plan is greater than anything I know or could give to myself. But if there was one thing I can cling to, whether single, dating or married - it's that light house.
Today marked Day 1 of what will likely be a LONG process of buying my first house. I've now been in Austin for 6 months... and with a lease that ends this summer, a multi-year work contract and an Austin housing market that's only getting more expensive... I figured now is the time to start looking. Exciting, overwhelming... and of course, worried. The commitment, the big & small decisions, the price tag... the whole process stresses me out.
Other than the guidance of my parents and a few articles on Google, my knowledge of buying a house is... limited. And if we're being honest, I only know the basics: down payment, mortgage, home insurance... simply, a lot of work & a lot of money.
I'm not too sure what I want yet - which doesn't make things any easier - but I'm leaning towards 'single family home' within 30 miles of town. My "must-haves" list includes 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a backyard & a garage. Outside of that, I'm open to options.
I started with new builds today, finding a few new developments I liked on Zillow and setting up appointments for home tours. It's hard not to like a brand-new house, even if it doesn't have all the things on my list, but overall, I learned A LOT even visiting just three properties today. Here are a few of my "beginning notes":
I would say Day 1 was successful... as I walk away 60% overwhelmed, 20% confused & 20% excited. Being in the very beginning of this process, I'm still leaving myself time to look at some resale homes and find a realtor. I am also looking for any and all helpful tips / advice for a first-time buyer. (Flashback to last night as I frantically google: "questions to ask when buying a home") What are the right questions to ask? What sneaks up on you when buying a home? Are there any red flags to look for? And also, why isn't there a class in college to prepare you for this?
I'll keep you updated.
I'm big on resolutions. I'm not so hot at keeping them... but I'm big on making them. Every January 1st, I write them down (I'm also big on lists). It feels different when it's written in ink. But I use resolutions as a focal point for where I would like to make changes in my life in the upcoming year.
This year was no different. I took some time on Wednesday to write out 10 resolutions I would like to work towards in 2020. I won't share them all -- but here are my 3 biggies:
1. COOK MORE AT HOME: I've fallen into a bad habit of not keeping enough food at home... which would then leave me too tired, too impatient or too burnt out to make something when I got off work. The result? Picking up something from a drive-thru or stopping somewhere for a quick bite. (It got to the point that at the end of last year, I was eating Raising Canes, Joanne's *and Taco Ranch at least once a week... and sleeping late so I didn't have to make myself breakfast. That bad.) So this year -- I'm making a bigger effort to cook meals at home (this was also my resolution for 2019. LOL.) More recipes, more meal prep, more dinners at the table. More pinterest-ing recipes, less "#3 with a diet coke & an extra sauce". For my body (and wallet's) sake.
2. LESS ALCOHOL: Now I don't want to come off as an alcoholic. I feel that is more severe than my actual situation. But I will admit, I have a deep love for a glass of wine when I get home from work. Whether it's to help recover from a bad day, release stress or simply because it sounds good, I go straight for the Sauvignon Blanc. It's not that I have a problem with alcohol, it's just that I would like to not use it to help "fix" problems (& not to mention, the extra lbs it adds that I 100% don't need). I'm actually attempting "Dryuary"... or a dry January. I say attempt because I have a birthday at the end of the month... and I may or may not make an exception. (It's my freakin' birthday, ok!?) But we'll see. Game time decision.
3. WORKOUT 3x A WEEK: I fell in love with Orange Theory Fitness about 2 years ago. It's been the only workout I feel gives me what I need -- 50% cardio, 50% weights. (I used to do Crossfit which I ended up enjoying too. But I came to the conclusion that I really just loved the people and wasn't too crazy about the actual workouts.) I've used my schedule and the out-of-state move as an excuse to not go as often... but moving forward, I'd like to stay more consistent. Between the physical benefits and mental stress reliever, I'm making it a goal to go at least 3 times a week. (It doesn't sound that hard - especially when living in a city full of beautifully, fit, athletic people - but for me, it will be. This will be the resolution that's really going to test me.)
Now I know not everyone believes in making resolutions, but I would love to hear what some of you guys are working on this year. I'm hoping this blog helps me with accountability. I've now put it out into the world... so I have to stick with it, right?!
To say 2019 was life-changing... would be an understatement. I ended the year in a completely different position than how I started -- both personally and professionally. New job - new apartment - new state - new beginnings.
Obviously, the biggest change came when I decided to take a job in Austin, Texas. Albuquerque was good to me (for the most part) and the choice to leave after 4.5 years was not easy. But the opportunity to grow my career presented itself... and I took it. Six months later -- I am now feeling more adjusted, more comfortable, and more convinced that I made the right move. (God doesn't make mistakes... and I knew He was calling me back to Texas for a reason.)
Like any year, there were a lot of ups... and a lot of downs. But considering it all, I'm grateful for the hard-learned lessons. Here are my 2019 main take-aways:
1. Prioritize self-care: It's easy for me to burn myself out. Between the charity events, school visits, tough work hours, living away from family & trying to be a normal 20-something year old, I find myself taking on too much, too often. Earlier this year, I finally hit a point where my body & brain were telling me enough. I burned out - mentally & physically. It would be easy to just say "take a vacation"... & pack my bags & go. But given that I'm only allotted 10 vacation days & 10 sick days a year... time off is hard to come by. (And up until this summer, I had actually never used a sick day.)
That changed this year. I finally worked up enough courage to take a 'mental health day'. (Our shop allows us to use sick days for illness, medical appointments & mental health -- it's a use 'em or lose 'em policy.) I finally realized that I needed to start putting more importance on my mental health -- to avoid the burn outs, unmotivated days & the "I give up" feelings.
Whether it was a pedicure, a bible study or simply just doing something that made me happy, self-care became a big focus for me in 2019... and I hope to continue this in 2020. (New Year's Resolution 2020: use all my sick time - not as vacation, but for wellness)
2. Family time is most important. Along the lines of self-care, I learned this year that a week home with family or a weekend visit from sister can make all the difference. It's always stressed me out to have to go to work and entertain visiting family... but this year, I really made an effort to relax when spending time with my my parents & sister. I still get a overwhelmed at times... but I'm happy to think I made at least a little progress in this department this year.
3. Toxic environment = toxic mentality. It's amazing what a life reset can do for your spirit. It wasn't until this year did I realize the effect of positive surroundings. Surround yourself with encouraging, motivated people... you find yourself with a more go-getter, positive attitude. Less trash talk, more heart-to-hearts. For me, it was like flipping a switch. It was that significant.
4. Goodbyes are hard. I've always struggled with letting go. Literally, my whole life. I'm the girl who went away to college but came back after high school graduation to visit my teachers during winter break. I'm also the girl who has looked up guys of past relationships on Facebook / scrolled through their Instagram weeks after a break-up (50% crazy, 50% 'I work in news' & we're nosy by nature). But nonetheless, I prove the point that moving on is a slow process for me. I eventually let go and get on with my life... but given this year's out-of-state move & job transition, I've realized I still struggle with the goodbyes. I'm an "all in" kind of gal... I do everything with all my effort, all my focus, and all my heart. So yes, goodbyes aren't easy for me. And this year certainly proved that.
But with the good and the bad... comes another close of a year.
Thanks for the memories 2019... & look out 2020. #BigThingsPoppin
I worked the morning shift for 6 years before transitioning into my new role here in Austin. That's 6 years of my alarm going off at 1:45am. Now one would think you get used to it after awhile... but I can tell you, you don't. Your body never really gets used to waking up at that ugly hour. What really happens is you just learn to function on little sleep.
There are multiple sleep schedules when it comes to working the morning shift. Some TV anchors go for the normal 8 hour block of sleep which means they're in bed around 4pm-5pm. Others will go to bed right after they get off work and will sleep from 11am to 7pm... then get up, do their thing & go to work at 2am-3am. However, I found the 'split sleep' option to work best for me -- a 2-3 hour nap after work... then going back to bed around 7pm-8pm.
If I didn't get that midday nap, I would be an absolute zombie for the rest of the day. "Aren't you groggy when you wake up?" ... the truth is yes, there were times where I just wanted to sleep all the way through the afternoon, evening and night. But more often than not, I was able to power down for a couple hours then wake up with more energy to be a "normal human".
That being said, it took me a couple years to find that rhythm. I also, up until this past July, knew nothing different when it came to a work schedule. I started my career on mornings & continued on mornings for 4.5 years while in ABQ.
Fast forward to now. I'm on a different shift, fighting the same battle - how to be the most 'normal' with a wacky work schedule & weird sleeping options.
As of now, my schedule is supposed to run as follows:
-- MONDAY: off
-- TUESDAY: off
-- WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY/FRIDAY: late morning to early evening
-- SATURDAY/SUNDAY: early afternoon to late night. NBC's Sunday Night Football always pushes us really late.
I can tell you that in my 6 months of working here, that weekly schedule has happened twice. TWICE. Between coworkers taking vacation, unexpected trips, sick days and the news dept needing an extra body... I've been filling in wherever needed. (Note, this is not me complaining. There is always a bit of this expected when being the weekend meteorologist). But the problem was the team had been short-staffed for so long -- vacation days had built up. So once I jumped on-board, my schedule was turned upside down as I was plugging holes all over the place: mornings, nights, days, repeat in any order.
Because I'm scheduled to work a normal 9am-6pm shift during the week, I go to the gym in the morning as I always end up too tired to go after work. So that leaves me waking up at 5:30am to make the 6am workout class. But come weekends, I have to force my body to stay awake to be alert for the 10pm newscast (I usually end up staying up until midnight).
Bottom line, I'm forcing myself to be an early bird during the week and night owl on the weekends - which leaves me with a pretty jacked up sleeping schedule. Not only am adjusting what time I wake up & go to bed every few days - but also, after 6 years of splitting up my suggested 8 hours, I almost ALWAYS wake up once or twice in the early morning. Whether it's 1am or 6am, I consistently find myself waking up, staying awake for an hour then forcing myself to go back to sleep.
I'm not so much concerned about not getting enough sleep but more frustrated about the schedule wreaking havoc on my energy level. I feel like I can't keep or maintain the same kind of energy I had working mornings (which is crazy to think about). I slam just as much coffee on this weekend shift as I did waking up at 2am working mornings. I don't understand it.
I try to talk myself into thinking "I'm only 6 months in - it'll take time to figure this out." But in the meantime, I continue to struggle with this impossible work vs life balance... so bear with me. Between the multiple cups of coffee, dark eye circles & pseudo-midday naps, I'm bound to figure out a new rhythm eventually. Right?! *panicked look*
Working in news, there is an obvious pressure to "do well" on social media. Put bluntly, the number of likes, followers, engagement, etc. matters. Some can see it as self-centered or a waste of time... but when we're being honest - it's 2019. Everyone has a cell phone... and more often than not, at least one or two social media apps on that cell phone. In TV, as a person whose career largely depends on likeness & preferring their newscast/forecast over others, you either get on board or you get left behind.
How do I know it matters? In both newsrooms I've worked in, we were ranked and compared to others at the station and others in the market (competitors). That ranking was determined by engagement, number of posts, etc. Not that anchors/reporters went into work thinking "I NEED TO BE AT THE TOP OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA BOARD TODAY"... but more of, we knew the boss was looking at those numbers and it would obviously look bad if your name was at the bottom of that list. (Shady popularity contest? maybe. But again - our jobs depend on viewers (people) preferring to turn to us over others. So the bosses take social media into consideration.)
When it comes down to it, it's all about building your own brand - being the person people go to for information And social media is a good way to work towards building that base.
That being said...
I started a Facebook page & Twitter account for work when I was an intern (6 years ago) and have carried it with me through Lubbock, Albuquerque and now to Austin -- starting up a work Instagram account along the way. There are days I love it, and days I hate it, but when it comes down to it - it's required for my job. So I post. Everyday.
The primary reason I use social (FB/Twitter/IG) is for viewers to get to know me as a person and not just "the girl on TV".
My approach: I tend to post a mix of work & personal stuff. From forecasts to selfies, news stories to sunset photos, on-camera work to behind-the-scenes shenanigans and fun things I do on my days off, I post it all.
Over the years, I've found that people like to see 'TV people' doing 'real people things'. Some of my most "liked" photos are not in front of the green screen or in studio at all. It's just me living my life outside of work - at home or out and about.
I'm a firm believer in showing viewers we are not robots. We are people who have bad hair days, need coffee to look alive and sometimes, wear certain outfits solely because it's the only thing that's clean that day. I've found that going beyond the "I'm on TV & my life is perfect" facade and instead, showing "this is what my hot mess of a life is really like" is what people want to see on their news feed.
Now, with that said, that is what I've found works for me. There are plenty of people in the business who disagree with me... the argument being "work is work"... "we're not celebrities, we're journalists"... "it's too fake". I get the argument. However, I went into the TV business being told there would be at least some loss in privacy and anonymity. So instead of fighting it and limiting myself to being just "the weather person", I've embraced the medium. I choose to be more open. The more viewers feel they know me, the higher the chance they'll turn on my newscast over another in the market. That's just my opinion.
Anyone who has any sort of social media knows this is no surprise -- but the obvious downside of FB/Twitter/IG are the bullies. The "keyboard warriors" who feel spouting hate, condescending comments and/or hurtful criticism is "their right" and "free speech" -- and boy, does this irritate me more than words can describe.
We get it, you don't like the current political situation or you disagree with someone else's way of life. But Lord Almighty, do people REALLY think posting their negative comments on FB or insulting others on Twitter will do any good to support their beliefs or opinions? (Answer: no. You just look like a whiner being immature about things not going your way)
I have been on the receiving end of these miserable comments since Day 1 of my career. I don't say this for sympathy, but say it to make it known that some people can be AWFUL with their words. It's the worst part of the business.
Most people think we are criticized for a wrong forecast... the "you said it was going to rain & it didn't"... or "I wish I could get paid to be wrong all the time".
But I can tell you from my experience, 95% of the "hate mail" I receive are all about my appearance (the other 5% being about my character - or what they perceive as "who I am"). From my "fat arms" "big knees" "nails on a chalkboard voice" ... to the classic "are you pregnant" comments (which the answer has always been no)... people can be VICIOUS. They'll pick out anything & everything to complain about.
Now there is a bit of that expected when you're in a visual industry like television. I get it, people have opinions. And you can't make everyone happy. However, what I don't get is how a dress I'm wearing can bother someone *so much that they feel the need to post on FB that I look 'ABC' or send a message on Instagram with an insult of 'XYZ'.
One-hundred percent, you're entitled to not like the dress I'm wearing. But do you really think that you telling me that I look like "a balloon" is going to make me go home and throw the dress in the trash? (Again, answer: no. I paid money for it. Until Nordstorm calls me up & is willing to dress me everyday before work, I'm not throwing any clothing article away anytime soon. And I can promise you, you will see me on TV wearing it again soon.)
The bottom line
We obviously have to play nice even when viewers are mean - after all, we represent a TV station. But when it comes down to it, we're not forcing anyone to like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter or watch our Instagram stories. If I bother you that much, feel free to punch the unfollow button. But know that when you see anchors or reporters posting on social, more often than not, we're just trying to do our jobs. Whether you're in the business or not, keep your negative comments down & just keep on' scrollin. At the end of the day, it's just social media.
One of my best friends from college came to Austin for a visit last week. We managed to cram about 10 adventures into a 3-day weekend... and one of the highlights was a trip to Fall Creek Vineyards.
Fall Creek Vineyards is a winery in Driftwood, just outside of the Austin-metro. It's only about a 20 minute drive from the city but once out there, you feel like you're deep in the heart of Hill Country.
We went on a Tuesday so being somewhat of an off-day, there weren't a whole lot of people there (which was fine by us!)
The guy behind the tasting bar told us that the building used to be a house once owned by a doctor. The doctor wanted to move closer to the city... so she sold the house (more-like, mansion)... and the guys & gals of Fall Creek Vineyards opened a winery. (I mean, this is no regular house.... it's absolutely gorgeous, BIG, and sits on quite a bit of land with vineyards all over the front yard up to the highway.) But they left most of the backyard as is, converting the pool to a pond and adding in some extra patio furniture. Bottom-line: it's stunning
Lauren (college friend) & I both favor white wine over red so we decided to skip the tasting and go straight for a bottle of their chardonnay. It was VERY good.
Definitely worth a trip if you want to get the "Texas Hill Country Winery" feel but don't want to spend an hour in the car. I definitely have plans to go back. (And just a little FYI -- there seems to be an incredible BBQ joint across the street, 'Salt Lick BBQ'. Haven't tried it yet -- but once I do, standby for blog post.)