Cute Overload: 10 Years Later

10 years ago this month, the blog Cute Overload featured my chocolate Lab, Mango, as a puppy. Getting accepted as a submission was a huge achievement for me back then.

Here’s the blog post. And below is the best part, the photo that was chosen.


Mango still loves her naps, but 10 years later, she doesn’t quite fit into a baseball cap. Try a HUGE dog bed instead…


We love you to the moon and back, sweet Mango girl!




For about the past year, I’ve been feeling a certain way. I wasn’t sure what to call it until recently, but I can sum it up now as feeling tribe-less. It’s not a real word, but it’s how I feel.

Growing up, my family moved around every year or two until age 8. Starting in middle school, I was quite social, started dating, and had a few close friends, one of whom I still keep up with today.

In college, I joined a sorority, and the college marching band, and student media, and had many acquaintances through these groups. I met my husband there, too. Post-college, I volunteered extensively with my sorority and never had a shortage of invites to weddings, baby showers and brunches.

But something has happened, especially since around the time I turned 30. First, my dad passed away, and some of my friends didn’t know how to deal with me for a while. Then everyone else started having kids, and I didn’t, so there was less in common. And third, my husband and I moved to the very transient Central Florida. We’ve been renting and have moved locally every year or two since being here, and we don’t really know our neighbors. People aren’t overly friendly here.

And now, I don’t know that I really have any close friends at all. I have my wonderful husband and our dog, a few acquaintances here in Florida who I occasionally might see in person, some folks I volunteer with each Sunday, and a few friends scattered throughout the nation who I talk to, occasionally, over text and Facebook. That’s it. No BFF, no besties, no Snapchat streaks, no brunch or bunco crew, no Sex and the City-style talks.

So I sit here wondering if this is my fault. Am I just too introverted, too much of a homebody? Am I a bad friend, or boring? Or are others looking inwardly at raising their families, and we’re all just using social media as a crutch to “keep in touch”?

I don’t know the answer. But I do know that I see others curating a vibrant social media life full of friends, family, backyard BBQs, parties and dinners. And I’d like that, to an extent.

So, I am feeling tribe-less. I am married, in my mid 30s, childless. College is in the rear view and my peers are mostly dealing with breast pumps and day cares.  I don’t know the answer to finding a tribe, but I hope that my husband and I can buy a home in a good neighborhood and have a family soon, so that I might cultivate a tribe again.


My Hashimoto’s Journey

When I re-branded and re-launched my blog last year, I wrote a new intro: “I am a work in progress. I’m journeying toward a better career for me, a healthier lifestyle, and financial freedom in order to attain my BIG goals.”

Well, the good news, one of those things — the career — is a nice big green check mark. October will mark one year in my role as social media strategist for Hearst Television, and I couldn’t be happier.

But the two other things — a healthy lifestyle and financial freedom — are works in progress. So that’s what I’ll be sharing moving forward.

One thing I’ve been dealing with since the age of 19 is ongoing thyroid issues. My pediatrician found nodule on my thyroid back then and ordered a biopsy. They were so small that the test came back inconclusive. We’ve been keeping an eye on them ever since, as well as checking my T3 and T4 thyroid levels. I was always borderline low on these levels, and I’ve been on levothyroxine her and there, but never consistently.

Since age 19, my weight has been an up-and-down battle. Around the time I got the thyroid nodules, I dropped 20 lbs, down to 125 lbs — and people were asking me if I might have an eating disorder. I was wearing a size 4/6 and felt very confident. Plus, I was 19 and 20 years old — who is’t gorgeous at that age! (more on this later)

Then, I ballooned up, gradually, to about 175. I stayed that size for several years, but remember being about 185 around the time Brian and I were engaged in 2008. I managed to lose some weight and weighed around 170 at our wedding in 2009. I also had some gastrointestinal issues during this time period.

I continued gaining weight until 2014, when my dad passed away. At that time, I weighed about 205 lbs., wearing a size 14. Then lost about 40 lbs., getting down to a low of 168 and a size 10/12 through Weight Watchers — all in 6 months!

I then lost a job and we moved to Atlanta. I enjoyed the food there, and my husband and I went through a lot of stress that year, so all the weight I lost came back, and then some. While in Atlanta, I received a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder and started on Lexapro, which greatly relieved my symptoms and helped me feel same for the first time in a while.

Flash forward to early 2017 and I’m at my highest weight ever. I am a miserable, bloated size 16.  My knees creak when I walk. I am tired all the time. And I am fat.

In March, I switched doctors. And for the first time, she ordered tests to look at my thyroid antibody levels, along with B12 and Vitamin D. A week later, the results: My thyroglobulin antibodies should be no more than 116 …. and they’re at 895.3. Antithyroid peroxidase [anti-TPO] antibodies should be no higher than 34… and they’re at 50.

I finally get a diagnosis for something that runs in my family: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s an autoimmine condition in which my body attacks my own thyroid.

Along with that, my Vitamin B12 levels are low, and my Vitamin D levels are borderline. No wonder I’ve been so exhausted.

Healing Hashimoto’s

Hashimoto’s is a complicated autoimmune condition that shouldn’t be treated with medication alone. I’m approaching my diagnosis in a few ways and concocting my own functional medicine approach:

Reading & Research: I’m currently reading Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause by pharmacist Izabella Wentz. Next up on my list is her second book, Hashimoto’s Protocol. After that will be How to Heal Hashimoto’s by Marc Ryan, which is a new release for June.

Traditional medicine: My doctor prescribed me Unithroid medication, as well as Vitamin B12 injections. I also started on Vitamin D supplements. It’s been a little over a month now, and after receiving a B12 injection weekly, I’m definitely seeing an improvement in energy levels and morning brain fog. I go back in July to have my levels re-checked and my Unithroid adjusted.

Herbal medicine: I consulted a former coworker who is a newly certified herbalist to discuss natural/herbal remedies for my condition. She recommended turmeric capsules, which I now take daily, along with ashwagandha root drops, which I bought in a tincture and add to my big Yeti full of ice water every morning. Turmeric has a lot of health benefits, including being anti-inflammatory, while ashwagandha is known to improve thyroid function, help heal adrenals and ease anxiety. I also now eat two Brazil nuts every morning, which contain a high amount of selenium, a trace mineral vital to thyroid function. Lastly, she prescribed me a specific tea blend that I’m going to start drinking daily.

Diet: Admittedly I have done no major changes here yet, other than adding in Brazil nuts — but come June, I will. My herbalist passed along a list of foods that are high in tyrosine, another antioxidant essential to thyroid function. And in June, I’m going gluten-free to see how that improves my symptoms. I’m also researching if I need to cut out other foods, such as dairy.

I hope that these changes can help me finally feel myself again. Wish me luck, y’all.


Circling Back and Failing Up

quotes_xkcd_success-people-think-really_tribal-simplicityIf you had told me back in January that by the end of this year, I would be working back in the local news business, I would have looked at you like you had two heads.

Rewinding back to 2012… it was that year that I ran away, screaming, from my last local newsroom, after working in local news exclusively for 7 years. That year, on my 29th birthday, I was told that I was a square peg, that I was not a fit for that newsroom, and that I had 6 months to find a new job.

I was so heartbroken and shocked at being let go for the first time that I turned away from local newsrooms altogether. I felt as though I had failed. I left the following month to embark on a 4-year journey into digital marketing and project management.

So by January 2016, I had pivoted to a digital agency project manager life that I had set out on in mid-2014. But if I’m being really, really honest with myself, living in that world wasn’t an awesome fit for me.

The long hours and client interactions exacerbated my anxiety, and while being a project manager spoke to my strengths as a communicator and taskmaster, it didn’t speak to my creative strengths, and left me feeling exhausted, stressed out and drained. I also found the start-up atmosphere to feel contrived – as though the agencies were putting on a show for clients.

So, here I am, in the last week of 2016, having circled back to what I really love. And I couldn’t be happier, because I have finally realized that what happened back in 2012 was entirely about that particular newsroom, and that particular leadership team. It’s even been echoed by new coworkers who once worked there, too.

Here all this time I had felt like a failure. I thought I was no good at what I was doing, and ran away. But being told back in 2012 that I wasn’t a fit was the catalyst for all of the experience I’ve gotten since, allowing me to “fail up” into a corporate social media position that would have been a dream job back then.

So, while 2016 hasn’t been the best year, in the end, it did provide me with this unexpected but totally amazing circle back to what I love. I feel at home with the people of my new employer and my home base. It’s a great feeling and one I haven’t had since my time with local media in Alabama, more than 5 years ago.

And if I’m being really, really honest, I don’t think I’d do anything differently.

Cheers and Happy New Year!


When Faith Supplants Fear

faithoverfearI’ve been on a wild goose chase for five years.

It all started when my husband and I first relocated to Orlando from Alabama in August 2011. News and social media were my passions. I took a job managing the website of one of the local news channels. They even paid for my relocation.

Six months later, it all came crashing down.

One afternoon, I was ushered into the news director’s office. There, I was told that I was a square peg, that my contract would not be renewed, and that I had six months to find a new job.

Did I mention that I was told all of this on my birthday?

I had never experienced any sort of career setback before. I was gut-punched. Granted, I was not loving my job at that point, having butted heads with leadership on issues I felt were important for digital, such as having website staffers cover more hours of the day. I was already plotting how best to find something new once my contract was up.

I spent the next six weeks going to work knowing that I was not wanted. On top of that, I had a non-compete, and couldn’t take a job at a direct competitor right away.

Luckily, I stumbled upon an opportunity at a niche magazine publisher, as a digital content director for a group of enthusiast magazines. There, I managed editorial and website projects for a year. But the company was going through the same major issues that all publishers have been facing, and had to shut down some titles and  lay off several people.

And I was one of them.

Here we go again. At least this time, I got a glowing recommendation letter from my manager.

From there, I began floating from one opportunity to the next. I was no longer in charge. I just wanted a job that would pay me, that didn’t hate me or lay me off. And from there, I made the mistake of leaving the news industry, and leaving my passions behind.

Since that layoff in April 2013, I’ve held four different jobs in marketing and digital agencies. Four jobs in 3.5 years.

I didn’t plan it that way. I didn’t want it that way. And deep down, I hated it. I hated working on projects with no meaning, that only existed to sell, sell, sell. I hated the sometimes-contentious client relationships that my anxiety-ridden, overly trusting, too-nice self had to deal with. I hated that I had to work with clients who I sometimes felt morally wrong dealing with. I hated having to lie to clients about who was really doing their work — often interns or contractors.

I was also operating on fear: fear that I would be fired or laid off everywhere I went. And when fear is running your brain, it has a way of manifesting itself. Of those four jobs since April 2013, I was laid off once (budget cuts, again) and fired twice. In the process, I dragged my poor husband to Atlanta and back. He was unemployed for a year during our time there. And since April 2013, I’ve spent nearly six months unemployed myself as fear ruled my heart.

But then, something started to change. Over the last month or so, faith has supplanted fear in my heart. I finally had that aha moment about my passions, my fears, and my dreams. And what I realized is that I belong back in the news industry.

And as luck would have it, the perfect fit of a job came along. I start Monday as Social Media Strategist for Hearst Television.

Here’s how perfect it is: I’ll be reporting to a guy I have known for years. Above him is a guy who was my equal at different news stations back in 2008-10. On my team is a guy who I once interviewed for a job with me, and a gal who I recently figured out is my sorority sister from another school. On top of that, my old news station in Alabama was acquired by Hearst, and I may have the chance to work with them again.

How cool is that?

The moral of the story: Don’t let fear rule your heart. When faith overrules fear, great things can and will happen.


Professional Job-Seeker

A cover letter from the old Kristen.


Dear HR Person at Your Awesome Company,

Hi! I’m Kristen. I’m a professional job-seeker who has spent nearly 6 months of the last 5 years unemployed. My longest stint of unemployment was 3 months. My shortest: two weeks (booyah!).

I consider myself to be an expert at the following: Checking 4 times daily for the perfect job, applying for jobs on LinkedIn at 3 a.m., interviewing well, knowing all the third-party recruiters in the area by name, and tweaking my resume often.

If you offer me a job with a decent salary, I’ll more than likely take it, because my biggest fear is remaining unemployed. I feel immense pressure to keep my home and my car, provide for my family, and not go into bankruptcy. 

Thank you for your consideration,



Seriously, y’all…. that was my mindset until recently. Of course I’m still wanting to find a job. Of course I still worry about my financial obligations. But what I’ve recently let go of is the FEAR. I’m no longer scared of the what-ifs. I’m no longer tied to a certain salary. And I know in my heart what I’m good at and what I can offer. And I have complete faith that things will work out for me.

napoleon-hillA book I can recommend to help you through a tough time, and achieve a breakthrough in your life: Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success by Napoleon Hill.

Napoleon Hill is long gone from this world, and this book was written in 1938. The catch: it wasn’t released until 2011, when we were in the throes of our latest economic downturn.

Fun fact: Hill is known as the father of today’s self-improvement book category. This book is as relevant now as when it was first written. I’m not even finished with this book, and it’s already changed my mindset. If you’re feeling challenged in life, do yourself a favor, spend the $9 on Amazon and read it. I wish my dad was around so that I could have him read it and share his thoughts with me.

Have you read any Napoleon Hill books? Any other self-improvement books that you would recommend?



Clear Eyes, Full Heart, Can’t Lose: Reigniting My Passion for Social Media

I’m unemployed. My husband is unemployed (but nearly done with school to become a front end web developer). We’re in debt. We have a lot of financial obligations.

Normally, in this situation — and I’ve been faced with it before — I would commence to FREAK THE F*CK OUT and take the first job I could get that somewhat matched my salary expectations and experience. Because I was motivated by fear: fear of creditors, fear of not having a place to live, fear of not having a car, fear of not having a professional identity.

This time, though, it’s different. This time, there is some real clarity about what it is I need to do.

If you time-travel back 6 years ago, to 2010, I was reveling in my passion: social media and social journalism. I was executive director of the Alabama Social Media Association. I was managing social media at, Alabama’s largest news media website.

I’ve since veered off-course. After moving to Orlando, I held positions in the digital space, but none of them involved social media to the extent that it was my entire job. And the past two years have been somewhat of a nightmare for me, working in digital agencies in Atlanta and Orlando. There was no social media, no community engagement, no digital content for me to work on directly, just managing digital projects for clients that I sometimes didn’t even morally feel right working for. It was anxious, soulless busywork — for me, at least.

So now, I’m setting out to course-correct. The work I enjoyed the most is the work I was able to do in Alabama, teaching journalists to engage on social with their readers and viewers, and engaging with them myself. Whether I’m working with local news media, a web-only operation, or something on the national level remains to be seen, but it’s what I want.

Writing, editing, teaching, mentoring, analyzing, tweaking, improving, and creating great content is my passion. I’m not sure how, exactly, I veered this far off course, but I’m glad to finally be back, to be myself again, to really feel again.

Have you ever had a moment of clarity like this in your career? What did you do about it?