We all could learn a thing or two from Don Draper

Earlier this year I finally committed to doing something I had consistently put on the back burner: I decided I would finally watch Mad Men. 

What first world problems, right?

I only like to watch one series at a time…mostly because I become obsessed with it and don’t want anything else to interrupt my viewing flow. Knowing this show had season after season had me skeptical about adding it to my rotation because I just wasn’t positive I wanted to invest that kind of a time commitment.I also questioned if it was the kind of show I would like. Luckily Kyle was also interested in watching it, so we decided we would watch it together and hoped we would like it.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.rte.ie

Like it? I freaking loved it!

Beyond the fact that I am obsessed with clothing from that era, the show was actually really good. I have very few complaints about it other than the casting of a few characters who really annoyed me (Hello, you could’ve cast someone way better than who you chose for Megan).

Besides walking away from the season finale with a severe case of the sads (it happens whenever a series ends for me), I actually walked away with some lessons that are very applicable to my own life and yours, too.

Here are a few things I learned from Don Draper and the cast of Mad Men.

1. Dress for the job you want and how you want to be addressed.
The wardrobe for this show was absolutely impeccable. I can honestly say I have not seen a wardrobe this on point since Sex and the City ended years ago. Every last detail was thought of and took this show to another level.

It didn’t matter who we are referring to on the show….they knew that how they dressed would play into how they were viewed within the advertising agency. Even on casual days Don Draper was decked out and looked more professional that most, but 95% of the time he was wearing a suit that was very well put together. If you are working somewhere where you sincerely believe you could do more and be more, dress like it. No one will take you seriously if you are dressed in clothing that you could also wear on the weekend or around the house. Understand that how you are dressed is a reflection of who you are.

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2. Sometimes the quiet riot is a better way to go. 
A lot of people (guys and gals) think that being the loud and obnoxious type will draw people and attention to you. Don Draper was a perfect example of how quiet confidence can help you, not only in your career, but in the dating world, too. Clearly it worked for him if you noticed how many chicks it landed him throughout the series. His demeanor combined charisma and refinement with a quiet, mild tone of voice that usually gave him the upper hand.

3. Everyone is fighting a battle.
It is so important to understand this statement, especially this time of year. On the outside people may seem to really have it all together, but on the inside they may be battling demons or dealing with sadness or turmoil. Don’t assume you are the only one with problems. Don Draper was a great example of this…..on the outside he looked like a classy, successful man who didn’t have a problem in the world. On the inside he was dealing with identity issues, family issues, and sadness. Looks are deceiving. Be kind to everyone, as you may not know what they are going through.

4. Ask yourself, “What would Don Draper do?”
Despite the fact that he was an alcoholic cheater in his personal life, I loved how he presented himself career wise. When a stressful situation arose, he kept his composure and (most of the time) did not let his emotions get in the way of finding a viable solution. He spent a great amount of his time researching his clients and knowing things about them so he could have a strong and lasting relationship with them. Above all, he was direct with those he dealt with and didn’t beat around the bush. I like that in a person.

5. Money does not equate happiness. Don Draper was extremely wealthy and was able to buy his way out of pretty much anything. However, as we know, through most of the series he was unhappy. He had failed relationships and marriages, issues with his children, and the inability to find true happiness for a long time. He masked his problems by working, working, and working to make more money, causing him to miss out on moments that could bring him true happiness in life. Don never was content with what he had; he always wanted more.

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Photo courtesy of a1genius.com

6. An RBF never goes out of style.
Don’s wife Betty had an incredible RBF (Resting Bitch Face) and had the power to throw a side eye that spoke volumes. Sometimes a strong facial expression is more powerful than hurtful words, as she demonstrated consistently throughout the series.

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7. Be the Joan.
Joan was, by far, my favorite character for a bazillion reasons. In my opinion, she demonstrates the perfect hybrid of a classy woman and complete badass, especially when you take into consideration the time frame this show took place in. Joan possessed intelligence, grace, quick wit, and a sharp tongue.

However, the thing that I like best about Joan is that she went through a great transformation during the series. In the beginning I saw her as a judgmental individual who didn’t want success for others. By the end of the series we had watched her transform into an independent girl boss who spoke her mind freely and made tough decisions that, at the time, were often frowned upon by society. I’m not saying she was perfect…we all know she did make some unsavory choices, but her work ethic and ability to be who she is regardless of what others said is something to be admired.

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

8. Appreciate the Rogers in your life. 
Roger was a close second to Joan when it came to my favorites. I was fortunate enough to meet John Slattery on the streets of Tribeca several years ago when he was walking his dog and was pleased to know that he was just as kind and funny in real life as the media had made him out to be. When I was able to watch him in the role of Roger Sterling, I instantly fell in love with the zingers and one liners that I came to expect from him. We all have someone in our lives who fills the role of Roger. Appreciate their zany sense of humor and the one liners that always seem to surface at the perfect time.

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Just a couple of chicks hanging with John.

9. You CAN break stereotypes and do whatever you want in life. Peggy Olsen is a great example of this. She went from being a secretary to one of the most creative advertising execs out there. It took hard work and a thick skin, but she loved being creative and had a dream. She wasn’t going to let a society who thought women belonged as secretaries and nothing else to hold her back.

10. Don’t Sh*t where you sleep. If there is one thing this show should tell you it is to NEVER get involved in a romantic relationship with someone at work. Every single person on this show did it at some point or another (some more than once), and it always ended in disaster. If you are going to engage in an interoffice romance, think about the consequences and how it could impact you and your livelihood should it not work out.

If you have Netflix and are looking to binge on a show, add this to your queue. I honestly didn’t think I could ever like a show about an advertising agency. Now it is one of my all time favorites. Watch it!

And when it comes to life and lessons and all that jazz, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the series….one that I think of daily.

In the words of Don Draper, “Make it Simple, but significant.”

I’ll leave you with some funny Rogerisms.

Let’s talk dirty.

Dirty hair that is, ya creeps!

Hair is one of those topics that I feel always come up during a conversations with girls. I guess it’s a good one….I could talk about hair and makeup all day, especially my weird hair routines (we all have them, c’mon).

One thing that I think drives Kyle nuts is the number of hair products I accumulate. It’s just not my fault!!!!

The thing is…..I don’t go through them very quickly, so they do tend to multiply faster than a hamster in heat. I really don’t have a big secret regarding prolonging the life span of a hair product. I just do one thing.

I let my hair get super dirty.

First of all, let me just say it gets dirty in a good way. I’m not walking around with an oil slick on my head or smelly hair or anything. I have just learned after years and years and years of hair abuse a better way to care for my hair and style it.

And that, my friends, is thanks to my little friend……dry shampoo.

Back in the day I would really pull a number on my hair every single day. Wash it, condition it, dry it, curl it (or straighten it), tease it, hairspray it, fluff it later. Oh yeah, and I used to color it constantly, too. Not a good routine when it comes to having healthier hair. On a trip where I didn’t have much time to be focused on hair, a friend asked me why I wasn’t using dry shampoo. I lacked a reason, so she let me try it and <<<<BOOM>>>> Mind Blown.

Let’s talk about what this dry shampoo does for me, and why you should give it a chance.

-I now wash my hair 1 or 2 times a week maximum! This means that I am not going through as much shampoo/conditioner and saving money there.

-Washing hair 1-2 times a week means I am now only blowdrying my hair 1-2 times a week. To you that may be nothing, but to me that saves me a lot of time. It takes me about 35-40 minutes to blow dry my hair…that’s time that could be spent doing other things! It also means I am not damaging my hair like I used to do.

-My hair actually has more texture and holds hairstyles better. If you have ever been to a wedding and needed a great hairstyle, chances are your hairstylist told you to come with dirty hair. There’s a reason! Freshly washed hair cause hairstyles/curls to fall. Dirtier hair makes the hair stay and look great!

Back to dry shampoo….how do I use it?

When I get up and my hair is a mess I follow a very simple process. Here are my easy steps:

  1. Brush hair and remove anything that may be in it (bobby pins, hair ties, etc).
  2. Take the dry shampoo of your choosing and spray it on the oily parts of your hair…..usually for me I spray it right at the scalp, my part line, and sometimes on the tips of my hair if they need some freshening up.
  3. Wait a few minutes (usually I wait about 5 or so). This is a great time to start putting on your makeup, flossing, etc
  4. Using a blow dryer, dry the spots where you have applied the dry shampoo. I usually just blast the rest of my hair for a few seconds. Sometimes I use a brush while drying, other times I use my fingers to finger comb it. This takes about a minute.
  5. Complete styling, whether it be curling your hair, straightening, whatever.

Since I met and fell in love with the benefits of dry shampoo I have tried a number of products. Has anyone else ever noticed how many options we have when we walk down the hair care aisle at the store? Eek! Products for dayyyyssssss. In true Katie fashion I have tried about a thousand of them and have two favorites that I wanted to share with you today, and both are brands that I use presently.

My little saviors.

My little saviors. Batiste and Big Sexy save my life day after day after day after day after day.

Batiste Dry Shampoo : I love this brand because it is inexpensive and comes in a variety of flavors, plus the bottle looks really cute. The kind that I use most is the cherry scent (as you can tell by the cherry adorning the can), but I can say that I honestly have tried them all, and they are all great. You can purchase this at drug stores, Tj Maxx (if it is in stock), or my favorite place, Ulta. Right now it is buy one get one half off PLUS you can use Ulta coupons on it, so be shoppertunistic. It usually runs about $7.99 a pop.

Big Sexy Volumizing Dry Shampoo: This whole product line is amazing, but it is a little pricey. Some drugstores carry the brand, I’ve seen it at Walmart and of course Ulta, and some salons carry it. A small can is about $18. You don’t use a ton of this at a time, so a can will last you for awhile.

Why do I use two brands? Let me share with you.

Batiste is amazing, but when you spray it on your hair it makes your hair white (hello, baby powder). This goes away when I blow dry, and I love it because it is giving me a no brainer where I need to blast with my hair dryer….you know, for those days where Im not quite caffeinated or awake.

Big Sexy does not have any visible markings, so I use this when I need dry shampoo in a pinch and don’t have the option to blow dry.

Both smell great. Both work. Both make my hair happy.

I encourage you to get dirty and see how you feel about dry shampoo. It may just become your new best friend!

Rock Bottom is worth celebrating


If you have ever been in one of my online accountability groups, you know that this is one topic I discuss every single group. It doesn’t matter if it is a small victory…..like choosing water over pop at dinner….or a big victory….like losing ten pounds. You need to embrace all of the little steps that help get you where you want to be. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It happens every day, little by little.

Today is the two year anniversary of a pretty large victory in my life.

Two years ago today I completed my final workout of T25 and stepped on the scale for my final weigh in. It was a moment that was not only a large victory in my life, but a moment that will always be one of the most defining moments of my life.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how I felt on the morning of November 1st, 2013. Somedays I am simply completing another Shaun T workout and think about how far I’ve come since the days I relied on the modifier. Somedays I am talking to a potential client who feels hopeless and like they can never reach the goals they have for themselves. Somedays I am celebrating with a current challenger about their results. As a coach, it is obvious I get to talk about the programs and the impact they can have on one’s life because helping people get results is what I do. My ability to do so and my belief in what I do is fueled by those feelings that took place two years ago today.

As human beings, it is obvious there are moments (both good and bad) that shape us as people. Moments that help us overcome and triumph, and moments that help ground us when needed. Since today is the anniversary of one of those defining moments, I wanted to take  a minute to share with you the two moments that have completely changed my life and that will forever be the catalyst for what I do.

Defining Moment #1: August 25, 2013

This was the day that Sh*t Got Real in the world of Katie. This was the day that I drove to my parents’ house, asked my mother to take my “before” photos for this silly little online group thing I had decided to do in a last ditch effort to regain control over my health and my life, and put on a bikini that I hadn’t worn in almost two years.

I was humiliated by the process. I was embarrassed and angry at myself that I had dug myself into such a deep, dark hole that putting on a bathing suit made me feel so awful. I missed the days where I could wear all of my beautiful clothes. I missed the days where I liked what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I hated feeling the way I felt.

My mother took the pictures, and I made myself smile even though I was crying on the inside. Then I drove myself home, crying the entire way, and proceeded to get drunk so I wouldn’t be as sad about how the whole picture taking process made me feel. I felt like I would never feel like myself again and could never get back to how I used to be.

How did this miserable moment end up being a moment I classify as one of my defining moments in life?


I will never ever ever forget how I felt that day. From the moment I stepped on the scale to do my weigh in to the moment my mother took these pictures….I will ALWAYS remember how I felt.

I remember the sadness.
The embarrassment.
The anger.
The feeling of defeat.
The questioning of self worth.
The loneliness.
The shame.

I think back to that day and know that I never want to feel that way again. It is a reminder to me of my Rock Bottom.

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Defining Moment #2: November 1, 2013

This was the day that, once again, Sh*t got real in the world of Katie. I had completed the sixty day online challenge group, not missing a single workout in the T25 program. I had modified my meal plan and had incorporated a superfood packed shake into my routine to help with my nutrition. Somehow I had stuck to a promise I made to a complete stranger in the group named Theresa that I would not step on the scale a single day during the challenge. I had completely given up alcohol. And as a result of all of that, on November 1st, 2013 I stepped on a scale to realize I had lost 47. 5 pounds.

I cried like a baby. I instantly took my “after” photos and could not believe the difference.

I will never ever ever forget how I felt that day. From the moment I stepped on the scale to do my final weigh in to the moment my roommate at the time took these pictures….I will ALWAYS remember how I felt.

I remember the happiness.
The feeling of accomplishment.
The confidence I had gained.
The strength I felt.
The pride.
The rebirth of a mindset and a person.
The thought that this was only the beginning for me.

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Why is this a defining moment for me?

I think back to that day and see it as a constant reminder that I can do absolutely anything I put my mind to. I think back to that day and want EVERY SINGLE PERSON I WORK WITH TO KNOW THAT FEELING. I want every single person to someday look back at their after photos and feel the sense of the accomplishment like I do when I look at mine.

The photos I took on November 1st, 2013 serve as a badge of honor to me. They were the end of an awful time frame in my life and the beginning of the most incredible.

Side by Side Results!

Side by Side Results!

Awhile back a stumbled across a quote by J.K. Rowling that I 100% could relate to, which I have shared below.

I hit rock bottom. It absolutely sucked.

However, that rock bottom became the foundation for my life. I could never be where I am now….personally, professionally, mentally, financially…..had it not been for me hitting rock bottom.

Because of that, I will continue to think of these two defining moments every single day of my life and be thankful they both happened as and when they did.

I’m proud of my failures, and I love them just as much as my triumphs. Both have made me who I am. Both have impacted the way I live my life and the way I hope to help others. And both should serve as a reminder to you that regardless of how bad you think things are or how unhappy you may be with yourself, you ALWAYS have the ability to change.

Here’s to all of our rock bottoms and the amazing things that come from them……..

Photo Courtesy of fearlesslifequotes.com.

Photo Courtesy of fearlesslifequotes.com.

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Squash the stereotype….Italians can survive without pasta!

Little Pop Quiz for Ya….

Q: What is the one food item that is the most difficult to give up when you are trying to eat healthy AND have Italian in your blood?

A: Pasta, Pasta, Pasta

Don’t get me wrong….pasta isn’t entirely bad……especially when you eat the proper portions. However, what Italian do you know that actually eats the proper portion of lasagna, spaghetti, etc? I know I struggle with it.

Until Now!!!!

I found a way to disguise vegetables as lasagna!

It was a squash kind of week!

This week I made the most amazing lasagna that allowed me to have a pretty substantial portion. Since I am now obsessed with this recipe (I think I will be making it weekly), I had to share.

                                                      Katie’s Bombdiggity Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

         (I know what you are thinking….spaghetti squash, yeah right. Be openminded. Veggies are good for you!)

What you need:

-1 cup ricotta cheese
-2 1/2 cups of Italian turkey or chicken sausage ( I use the Fit and Active brand at Aldi’s)
-1 spaghetti squash (cooked)
-2/3 cup mozzarella cheese
-1 1/2 cups homemade tomato sauce (I use a family recipe or the one in the Fixate cookbook)

To cook the squash:

-I place mine on a cookie sheet and bake for about 55 minutes at 400 degrees. I literally do nothing to the squash other than plop it on the cookie sheet.

***Sidenote….Aldi’s presently has squash on sale for about $1.29 each! Stock up!

While squash is cooking:

-Brown the sausage (make sure to remove the casing….what a fun, slimy, gross job) and spray a casserole dish.

Once you remove the squash from the oven, set it to 375 (the temp for baking the lasagna). Cut the squash in half, remove those blasted seeds, and use a fork to remove the “spaghetti”.

Then break out your inner Italian and assemble the lasagna in the casserole dish as follows:

– Spoon about 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish
-Place spaghetti squash on top of sauce
-Add the sausage (make sure it is drained…no one likes that extra grease)
-Add 1/4 cup sauce, then 1/3 cup of mozzarella cheese
-Spread ricotta
-Top with remaining sauce and mozzarella

Bake for about 15 minutes at 375.

So freaking good!

That’s it! Super easy, and it is absolutely delicious! You can change this up if you want…maybe you don’t want the meat; you can go without. Pair it with a nice salad, and your Italian heart can be happy.

21 Day Fixers, one portion of this is equivalent to ONE GREEN, ONE AND A HALF RED, HALF A BLUE, and ONE THIRD OF A PURPLE.

Don’t be a squash snob…..spaghetti squash is so versatile. And with this recipe the Italian in you doesn’t have to feel guilty about lasagna!

Enjoy, my fellow health conscientious Italians!

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Dinosaurs, Diamonds, and Dancing, OH MY!

You know what’s crazy? Weddings take months and months…..sometimes years…to plan, and then they are over within a blink of an eye. Seriously. I cannot believe that it has been over a week since our wedding, and even though many of my married friends tried to warn me about how fast the actual day would go, I was convinced they were a bunch of liars (Sorry friends). They were right. I felt like it took forever from the time I woke up to get to the moment where Kyle and I did our First Look….then everything else flew by. Time really is so precious.

Our wedding day was nothing short of perfect, and I am so thankful for our family and friends for helping us celebrate. Since we had a smaller wedding, many of you followed our day online by using the hashtag #kramereverafter….that hashtag was great when it came to catching up on the moments we missed, plus it allowed us to share the day with my grandmother, who was unable to attend physically due to health reasons.

Planning my wedding was an absolute blast. I’ve known so many people who shared their terrible bridezilla-like stories with me and who complained about the crazy amount of stress associated with their big day, but I likely did not experience any of this. There was only one brief time period where I had a little bit of stress, and that was over a small insurance snafu with the museum that we had fixed within days. I’m sad the planning is over, so if you are overwhelmed with planning, let me know…I will gladly help. I actually found it really fun!

I had a lot of questions surface about different elements of the wedding because we did things so differently, so I thought I would share some of the common questions I had with all of you to share a little more about the greatest day of my life. Hopefully some of the tips and resources I share can help you with your big day, too!

What kind of dress did I wear and was it really pink?

Yes, it really was pink…..blush pink to be exact. The dress itself was Vera Wang, and as with anything Vera makes, it was beyond fabulous. I knew from the beginning that I wanted this dress and was so nervous when I went to try it on that it wouldn’t live up to the image I had in my mind. Fortunately, the minute I put it on I started to cry and knew it was “the one”. My advice to anyone wedding dress shopping? Don’t settle for a dress….get one you absolutely are in love with. Also, have someone in alterations insert padded cups so you can go without a bra. Trust me on this one, no bra is a good thing, especially on a day you are running around like mad!

The first time I got to try on my dress!

Where was the wedding held?

The ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception were all held at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. We knew we didn’t want to do anything in a church or anything religious, so we opted for a venue that would be a lot of fun for our guests. To us, we didn’t want our wedding to be just another cookie cutter wedding. We truly wanted it to be a memorable experience that our guests would never forget. If you are local, visit it sometime! It really is a cool place!

Click here to learn more about this neat museum!

What an amazing shot our photographer Stacy captured....first dance photobomb with a dino!

Who designed our invitations?

I am a huge believer in supporting small businesses, so the bulk of our wedding utilized vendors from Etsy. Our invitations were custom made by a vendor called Riverkiss Weddings, and even though they were custom designed they were still exponentially cheaper than other places I looked from the mainstream sites. Plus, they were perfect for our theme. I got a lot of weird looks when I told people that I did so much through Etsy, but the truth is the quality is fabulous, and the vendors are very easy to work with. If you have an issue, the vendors I have dealt with were very quick to remedy the situation. I like that they were different and no one else had ever had these, and I found them incredibly whimsical and beautiful.

Our invitations!

Our invitations!

What were the wedding colors?

Since my dress was blush, I chose blush pink for the flowers and tablecloths at the reception hall. My bridesmaids all wore mint green, so the pink looked awesome with the mint. I also accented with a gray and white chevron. The guys rocked bow ties with the exception of my dad and grandpa; they wore the same ensemble as our groomsmen but sported regular bow ties in the wedding colors instead of a bow tie to show their distinction.

What a beautiful bunch!

Where did my girls get their dresses? 

David’s Bridal. I wanted each of my bridesmaids to get whatever dress they wanted and figured this would be the best store with the most options. My bridal party was made up of ladies from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Michigan, so all of the locations really helped us with our geographical needs.

Were your placecards expensive?

No! Again, I had these made through an Etsy designer named IvoryIsleDesigns. Each card was customized with the name of the guest, their table (which was a dinosaur name) and a small picture of their meal choice. Each placecard cost about $1.10. I highly recommend you be creative and spend some time looking for options for paper products. You don’t have to spend a ton, and if you have time, you can always make them, too. Here’s a look at my friend Heather and her fiancé Alex’s cards:

Sparkle Sparkle everywhere!

What kind of eyelashes did I have on?

One of my favorites….these were the Miami mink falsies from Lilly Lashes. These lashes are amazing and worth every penny! The mink lashes are a higher quality, but the other lashes are just as great!

My main squeeze Marenda who handled all of my makeup needs!

What were our favors?

We didn’t do actual favors…I’m not the biggest fan of knick knacks or things that don’t have a great purpose. Instead we decided to bring some local culture to our guests and rented the Swenson’s food truck. Swenson’s is a classic in Akron….if you have never tried it’s deliciousness, please make time to do so! It showed up the last hour of the reception, so as people hopped on the shuttle back to the hotel they could have a snack…and satisfy their greasy drunken needs. I am obsessed with galley boys and potato teasers, so I ended my night eating both in my dress. It was perfect! I think our guests liked it, too!

Where were our photos taken?

The weather ended up being a really big jerk, but it worked to our benefit. Instead of taking pictures outside at the Cultural Gardens as planned, we went to Metropolitan on the 9. Our best man’s aunt and uncle own the hotel, so they hooked us up with some unique and fun photo spots. This is honestly the best hotel in the area…Kyle and I both had our bachelor/bachelorette parties here and loved the accommodations. Our photographer posted some sneak peeks on my Facebook page, and I am obsessed with how the pictures turned out. Sometimes rain isn’t a bad thing….in this case it really helped us have even better better photos than I had imagined.

This was taken in the main lobby!

Where did Kyle find his socks?

Kyle decided to get the bridal party (including my dad and grandpa) unique socks that matched the wedding colors. They looked awesome! We found the socks from a site called Sockbroker. If you love socks, check it out!

Stylin Feet!

Did you do programs?

Yes! This was the question I got more than any and was sparked after a friend posted one side of our program on Instagram. I purchased a digital download that a woman customized for me on etsy and had them printed for our guests. The programs had some fun random facts, and I was so pleased with the final product! Here’s a look!

Did you really do your center pieces for under $5 a table?

Yes! Let’s get real. No one cares about center pieces. No one remembers them. I wanted simple center pieces that didn’t break the bank. Since our table cloths were pink and the napkins were mint, I wanted to tie in the chevron and dinosaur theme. My mom made awesome chevron squares for the center of the table with fabric we found at Walmart, then we spray painted vases we found at The Dollar Tree and frames. Each vase held a realistic rose we purchased from Hobby Lobby when the silks were half off, and we printed the table name pictures at CVS for $0.17 each. I loved the final look….it was still “us”, but it was classic, simple, and didn’t clutter the heck out of the table.

I honestly would not change a single thing about our big day and felt like our wedding was a perfect representation of who we are as people and as a couple. My hope is that everyone can say that about their big day. Have fun with wedding planning….become friends with Pinterest….and don’t do anything you feel you “should” do. Your wedding day is all about you. As Janis Joplin once said, “Don’t compromise yourself; you’re all you’ve got.” I find this quote to be true about everything in life….right down to your big day.

Kyle and I are so thankful for all of the love and support, not just on our wedding day, but since we have been together. You guys are the best!

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My New Normal

I remember a couple of years ago when my mother was all hot to trot about a show called “The New Normal.” It was a show I somehow never got into, which is surprising because my girl Nene Leakes was in it, but I got to thinking the other day about the concept behind it. The show was based on the family dynamic of a wealthy gay couple who want to have a child, so they move the surrogate mother and her daughter into the home. Thus, a new “normal” regarding a family lifestyle is born.

Last week was the first week of what I like to refer to as my new normal. No, I didn’t do anything like the characters on the show did, but I did make a lifestyle change that once seemed impossible. I left the career that I dedicated fifteen years of my life to. It still is crazy to think that I was able to make it happen.

Let’s talk about my “old” normal. I started working in the higher education field when I was eighteen years old, starting at the bottom of the totem pool in my college’s admissions office. After graduation I fell into an opportunity that made me a department director at the age of twenty-one. I was young, clueless, but eager to learn and make a positive impact. After about a year I made the decision to take a great opportunity in an Admissions department at a college in Pittsburgh, which led to me an even better opportunity, and then another, including providing me with the opportunity to open a brand new campus and obtain various management roles. To say I loved my job was an understatement; I greatly enjoyed meeting with individuals who needed a change in their life and had goals of doing more.

However, as much as I loved the ability I had to help people gain a new career, there were things that I absolutely had grown to hate. I hated that over the years people were seen as dollar signs instead of people. I hated that I worked alongside people and under managers who threw integrity in the trash and lied to pad their bottom dollar. Most importantly, I had grown to hate the hours and expectations. I have always been a hard worker, but working 50+ hours a week was not something I liked. Being forced to work on holidays instead of spending those moments with my family was not something I liked. Getting the third degree if I was sick and had to take some time off was not something I liked. So I made the decision to take a huge pay cut and return to the department where it all started: Career Services.

I remember a conversation with the Campus President soon after I started my new role in Career Services where we discussed my career goals with the company.  During the conversation I had told her that this would be the final school I would work for. I would either choose to remain working for the college and move up within it, or I would leave it and pursue something else. She laughed and said, “that’s what everyone says. This is a great company. You won’t leave.”

Two years after that conversation I came to a crossroads in my life. Not only had my personal life fallen apart, but I had met a new level of frustration with my career. I hated driving to work every single day to feel under appreciated. I hated that my performance was based on things that were beyond my control. I hated that I felt I was one of only a select handful of individuals who cared about the students and their success. And I hated that the combination of a miserable job and a hot mess personal life had led to me gaining 60 pounds. Sunday nights I had such extreme anxiety about driving to a place that I felt was literally sucking the life out of me that I often could not sleep or had anxiety attacks.

So my “old” normal life went a little something like this:

Get up. Go to work. Grab some kind of fast food on the way. Put on a brave face and take on the day. Grab fast food for lunch. Leave work. Grab fast food for dinner. Stop and grab liquor. Go home. Eat fast food. Make White Russian after White Russian. Watch reality tv. Eventually pass out. Get up and start the cycle again.

It was awful.

Around this time was when I made the decision to get started with Beachbody. I’ve talked about it numerous times before, I truly believe that buying that little challenge pack and joining an online challenge group saved my life. I started the end of August and completed the challenge November 1st, losing 47.5 pounds during that 10 week program, while modifying my eating and giving up drinking completely. More importantly, I learned about this little thing called “coaching”, and I fell in love with it.

Shortly after I completed my challenge group, I attended my first online team call led by some chick named Brittany who I had never heard of in my life. I remember her talking about how she had retired from nursing thanks to her income from coaching and the freedom it had brought to her life. Something about that call lit a fire inside me that made me want the same thing. I heard Brittany talk about the same things that I was struggling with……working long hours, being away from family, feeling under appreciated…..I knew deep down I could make this work for me, too. After all, the one thing I knew was that I was incredibly passionate about coaching the products and opportunities through Beachbody. I had seen first hand how they could transform someone’s life because MY LIFE had been transformed, and I wanted to help as many people as possible feel the satisfaction and triumph like I had felt when I realized I had taken control of not only my health, but my life.

I knew going full time with Beachbody would not happen overnight. I knew it would take hard work, consistency, and patience. I knew that there would be ups and downs, but I knew that it would be worth it.

For almost two years I worked my higher ed job in misery, anxious every day to come home to work on my business and growth. My doctor had me take anxiety medication so I could handle my job and the ridiculous management there. After 8 or 9 hours at the daytime job, I would come home and get to cracking at my to do list. Some nights I wouldn’t have much time to dedicate to my business, other nights I would put in some long hours. I never complained. I never felt like I was doing “work”. I had fallen in love with this opportunity and wanted to spend more time doing it.

There were times when I sacrificed activities or events because I knew I needed to get work done for my challenge groups. There were days I did not want to workout but did it because I needed to hold myself accountable and be an example to my challengers. There were days people I “thought” were my friends badmouthed me and made fun of this “stupid Beachbody thing” on Facebook posts and in messages. There were days I got defriended. No one ever said being an entrepreneur would be easy, especially not when so many people have misconceptions about multi level marketing companies. I knew that eventually it would be worth it, and all of the hard work would pay off.

On September 18th, I packed the last of my cubicle up and officially said goodbye to higher education.

Goodbye, Cube life!

I had done it.

I had fired my boss and officially become my own one. That thought I had two years prior….the one that Brittany, now a dear friend and mentor, had gotten me to think about…..it had left the dream category and had become a reality.

Last Monday was Day 1 of my “New Normal.” Look at how different my daily routine is from that “Old Normal.”

Sleep In. Wake Up Rested and Refreshed. Make a healthy breakfast. Work for a few hours (depending on what else I have going on). Workout. Make breakfast for Kyle. Walk the dogs. Take some selfies. Clean. Spend time with Kyle. Work a few more hours. Chat with my team. Give away prizes. Brainstorm fun and creative groups and concepts.Go to bed when I want. Wake up and repeat.

Just another day at the office with my assistant.

With the wedding only a few days away, my days have had a lot more packed into them like running errands, making phone calls, and organizing events. It’s been so nice to not have to worry about whether or not I can get everything done on a lunch break. Yesterday I woke up with a nasty headache; I didn’t have to think twice about whether or not I should call off work…..I just slept a little later, woke up and felt better.

My driving force this entire time has been my family, not just Kyle, but my parents and immediate family, too. I didn’t want to have to structure my visits around one day on a weekend here and there. I wanted to be more present in their lives and be able to be there when they need me. With Kyle working a nontraditional schedule, I wanted to be home when he was home so we could have meals together and do the things we love. Life is so short….I wanted to spend my time with those I love while also doing something I love….and I wanted to truly live life.

I never in a million years thought this is where I would be at the age of 34. The possibilities that lay in front of me are endless. It is amazing how you see life when a passion and career come together. I still get to help people, just in a different capacity, only now I get to say whether or not I want to wear pants to work, if I want to wear makeup, and what time I want to work.

The greatest lesson I have learned through all of this: Life is too short to spend 40 hours of your week doing something that is harming you more than hurting you. Unhappy with where you are? Do some soul searching. Find something that will make you happy. Then come up with a plan to get you there. Be realistic: Most times this change is not something that can happen overnight. Actually, if something can transform your life overnight you might want to be a little skeptical about it. Good things take time, energy, and an investment in your self and belief in yourself. For me, it took almost two years. I kept my eye on the goal and was determined to make it happen. You can, too.

Maybe you want to do what I do. Maybe you want to own a pet rescue. Maybe you just want to write. MAKE IT HAPPEN!  Trust the dots will connect. Follow your heart. Do Great Work. And never, ever give up on your dream.

Now go watch this and get some goosebumps…..





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Tell Your Man to Get You…..I Mean, MAKE YOU a dozen.

If there is one thing that always make me feel like home, it is my mother’s apple pie. She is an incredible baker, and her apple pie is out of this world.

Since she makes fabulous pie it is no surprise that I love it. Apple is one of my favorites (please note: one of. I can’t 100% commit because I have a few favorites, and that’s okay), so naturally, I use a lot of apple recipes when cooking for Kyle.

Last week I stumbled across a beautiful rose made out of apples while I was mindlessly trolling the internet and immediately decided I wanted to make them. I already had planned on making a pork dish of some sort this week, so I planned on adding the cute apple roses to that meal. After all, apples and pork are a beautiful couple together.

Look at this beauty!

Look at this beauty!

If you love apple pies, especially tiny bite sized ones, or if you just love making cute food items that people will swoon over, I suggest you make these. The prep time is minimal, and you can change things up if you aren’t a fan of the apricot preserves. They are so easy that you could easily make these with kids, and guys, you can 100% make these for your ladies, too!

Here is a quick video I made showing you how easy they are!

More than a #hashtag

Hashtags can be sooooooo annoying!

Am I right, or am I right?

As annoying as they can be, I can tell you that I am 100% guilty of using and abusing them. After all, when you run a business through social media, they just kind of……..#happen (couldn’t resist).

Unless you have been under a rock or are new to the blog, you know that I am getting married October 3rd (eeeekkkkkk, so close) and, like most weddings these days, Kyle and I have a custom hashtag for the event, #kramereverafter. However, this hashtag is extremely important to me for more than the obvious reason that it symbolizes the day I marry the love of my life.

One thing that I talk about a lot is my incredible family. I am very lucky to have a tight knit bunch who have supported me my entire life and have always had a presence in whatever I did. High school sporting events, graduations, college basketball tournaments, marathons, birthday parties…..my family has always been a part of absolutely everything, and for that I am so grateful. I couldn’t imagine celebrating the milestones in my life without them all with me.

Except now that I have to.

The one part of growing up that I never considered was what I would do without one or more of them at a life event. I think as little kids….even teenagers…we look at our loved ones and relatives as invincible people who will always be there. I can’t help but selfishly wish this was the case.

I have written about my Grandma Bubu on numerous occasions. Over the past 15 years I have slowly watched as Alzheimer’s has taken over her life, and it has been extremely difficult for me to handle. I am convinced that it is one of the worst things that can happen to a person and their family, and while my family and I remain crusaders in the fight to end this disease, we also are heartbroken that this wonderful person is no longer who she once was. In my case, I’ve known for a long time that she would not be able to attend my wedding when the time came, and I somehow managed to accept that idea. I think when it comes to dealing with Alzheimer’s you kind of have to. Some aspects of wedding planning, such as working with a florist, have been more difficult than others because I think about how much Bubu would’ve been involved in the process.

In March of 2014, my family suddenly lost my Aunt Jean after an unexpected heart attack. It was a loss that deeply impacted me and is a loss that I have not fully coped with since it happened. As the only niece on my father’s side, my aunt and I were very close growing up and even though we had some rough patches, I know how much she would love Kyle and enjoy helping in the wedding planning. People laughed at me last month when I mentioned wanting to see The Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, when she comes to Youngstown in November, but the truth is my reason for wanting to see her is the hope that I can make peace with some unanswered questions. I don’t care how ridiculous that sounds.

While I had grasped the fact that both of these important family members would be absent on my big day, I had never considered the fact that my Grandma Rosie, who I am very close to, would not be able to attend. In fact early in the planning process, Kyle and I decided against a small destination wedding because it was extremely important to me that she be able to attend. Several months ago my Gram broke the devastating news to me that due to her health she would be unable to attend my wedding, something that had never crossed my mind. Being almost 93 years of age, I understood the health and travel concerns even though the venue was just an hour away from her residence, but deep down my heart shattered, as I know hers did, too. As someone who likes to find creative solutions and solve problems, I tried to think of a million ways to get her to my big day, but I came up empty.

I love this woman!

Which led me to the hashtag that will allow me to share the greatest day of my life with one of the most important people in it.

Kyle and I have incredibly talented photographers on hand to capture the important moments of the day, but it’s the little candid moments that I want to make sure Gram can see. For all of you who are attending the big day, I’d love for you to snap pictures and take videos like crazy, posting with the hashtag #Kramereverafter. My hope is that I have some incredible memories captured by our guests that will make my Gram feel like she was there as I said “I do”. As much as I sometimes get annoyed by social media and hashtags, this one will mean a lot to not only me, but to my grandmother, as well.

Both of my grandmothers and aunt may not physically be there as I walk down the aisle, but I will have a small piece of them with me as I do. For my “something blue” I have collected a blue shirt from Bubu, an apron from my Aunt Jean, and a handkerchief from my Grandma Rosie that my mom has cut into hearts. These three hearts will be sewn inside my dress and be a part of everything I do October 3rd. All three will be deeply missed but I know they will be in my heart the whole time and be there in spirit.

 My Gram may be hip for being 92…..after all she can text. When I told her I would have a hashtag with lots of pictures for her to see after the big day, I am positive she had no clue what I was talking about…..and that’s okay. She will learn soon enough.

Thank you in advance for everyone who helps me share my special day with such a special lady. It truly means the world to me.

My Bride Tribe!

Im really really really really really really really REALLY excited for tomorrow!

I’d like to emphasize the “really” part.

Just so freakin' excited! Thanks pop sugar for this pic!

It’s my bridal shower and bachelorette party day! It is so hard to fathom that Kyle and I are getting married in 50 days…..it seemed so far away, then suddenly BAM! Things are creeping up! We are both super excited and can’t wait to celebrate like crazy on October 3rd!

I’m just as excited for tomorrow and can proudly say Kyle and I haven’t peeked at the registry once (I swear) and somehow I have been left in the dark with the events of tomorrow. Those that know me know I don’t like secrets and am very investigative, so this is really a rare occurrence!

Knowing I will spend the day tomorrow surrounded by family and friends makes my heart so happy….I don’t think I ever have had all of these amazing people in one room, so that will be a really wonderful feeling getting to see them all meet each other and finally talk to people who they have heard me talk about or seen pictures of on Facebook.

There are many elements of my wedding day that I have kept private mostly so our guests will be blown away on the actual day and not know what’s going on in advance. I don’t like secrets, but I sure enjoy keeping them!  Kyle and I have worked really hard to ensure our wedding will be a fun experience for our guests and one that is truly reflective of our personalities. It will be neat to see the enjoyment of our guests!

One element that is by no means a secret would be our wedding party. I am extremely lucky to have an incredible group of friends, and while I have added many great friends in my adult life, my bridal party is made up of individuals who I have had in my life pretty much for all time….or at least it seems that way. I know many of my readers follow me on social media, so these faces are all people who you have seen countless times, but I wanted to introduce you to the ladies of my bride tribe!

Matron of Honor: Kelly

Kelly and I literally have been best friends our entire lives. We met in preschool, lived right down the road from each other, and have more memories together than I could ever even count. It is such a cool thing having someone in your life who has been present for EVERY stage of your life and EVERY big moment. Having someone in your life for 30+ years means they know the best and worst of you, and the fact that our friendship has lasted means one very simple thing: she is just my soulmate, and we will be the old ladies causing a ruckus together in a nursing home someday.

Matron of Honor: Whitney

There’s a saying I once read that stated that every female needed to have a blonde and brunette best friend. I am lucky to have both. Whitney and I became immediate friends about ten years ago after her husband started working with me, and I’m not 100% sure why it was facilitated, but Ryan, her husband, hooked us up on a  friend date at Wal-mart (random, I know). The rest has been history. Our birthdays are a week apart, we have the same sense of humor and love of coffee, and both quote Mean Girls more often that it should. It was a match made in heaven. I’m positive that Whit will be in the nursing home with Kel and I, and I am also positive she will still be able to show a spreadsheet what’s up even then.

Bridesmaid: Erin

Erin and I met through Kelly back in junior high when we all decided to play in a summer basketball league together. While Kelly and I were Leetonia Bears, Erin played for one of our rivals, the Crestview Rebels. Once school resumed we started a friendly rivalry in volleyball, basketball, and track. Our friendship continued to grow once we graduated college and Erin chose to move to Pittsburgh. We got an apartment near the city and lived together until I made the decision to relocate back to Ohio. It was Erin’s encouragement that got me to sign up for an online dating profile, and without her support,I most definitely would not have met Kyle and this blog would definitely not be happening.

Bridesmaid: Krista

Krista and I met through Erin (funny how this all works, out, eh?) in the same summer league I mentioned earlier. She was also a Rebel and I immediately loved her sarcastic and witty sense of humor. Since our circle was very intertwined, we were able to see each other and hang out often once we hit the adult world. Once I moved back to Ohio, I moved nearby Krista, and we started having regular American Idol and chinese takeout dates…which led to Super Mario Brothers dates…and then puppy playdates, as my pug Simon and her puggle Harley were close friends. It is such a cool thing seeing her now as a mom to one of the cutest little guys I know, Wesley, yet still having the same spirit and zest for life that she had when I first met her.

Bridesmaid: Jodi

Jodi and I met through Erin and clicked absolutely immediately. I’m not sure if it was our love for running, the weird and random inside jokes we seemed to have right away, or our love for shopping, but our instant connection led to us signing up for the Pittsburgh Marathon together on a whim. This led to us running it together with no training, then taking on countless races and marathons together since. We even have shirts that are like the old school best friends necklace where my shirt says “Running” and hers says “partner”. Beyond our love for running, her house has always been my getaway spot and there have been many times I have felt like her couch was a therapist’s chair. I can always count on Jod to tell it to me straight, make me laugh, then hook me up with my favorite crab artichoke dip to feel better, and I can always count on both her and Krista to warn me about puddles.

Bridesmaid: Laura

Laura….well, Laura had no choice when it came to her involvement in my life. As my cousin, she has been there since I was a brat in diapers. Lucky for me, she decided I was okay and decided not to torture me as a little girl. Since our family is small, we have many fun memories at our Great Grandparents’ house (pretty sure most involve some kind of amazing Italian food), and since she is only a year older than me, we were able to be active in many sports and events in high school together. Some of my favorite memories during high school involve hanging out in the hot tub at her house and just chillin out. I’m so happy to have her as a partner in crime, especially in events that involve mud and obstacles.

Bridesmaid: Julie

Julie (aka AF)and I became friends when I decided to join a sorority in college. We ended up in the same pledge class and quickly realized we had the same ridiculous  personality and sense of humor, thus, an obnoxious and everlasting friendship was born. My days were always instantly better when we got to have lunch and the Thiel cappuccinos together, because I always knew I would leave with a side stitch from laughing so hard. Besides being one of the best pool players I know, I can always count on this chick for the best food recommendations, incredible musical suggestions, and really down to earth advice. She has stuck by my side through some pretty rough times, and I could not imagine my life without her.

Bridesmaid: Em

Emily (aka Em) is my sister from another mister. Somehow she ended up in my big family in our sorority, and I honestly believe that was on purpose so we could meet and have the bond we do.  Our first meeting involved a visit to Thiel with my pug, Simon, which led us to realize we both were obsessed with pugs. Now, as adults, we are still obsessed with pugs, only now we can have playdates with ours, and we both have our own cars so we don’t have to “borrow” them without permission. I’m so happy our friendship and shenanigans have not fizzled over time.

I’m so so so thankful to have such a Ride or Die group of friends in my life. When I think about all of the good and bad times of my life, these ladies have all been there to cheer me up, laugh with me, and support me. I truly would not be the person I am today without each and every one of them, and it is an honor to have them stand next to me on the most important day of my life! But can someone promise to make sure I cross my legs in pictures???? I don’t want a repeat of my preschool picture when Kelly is seated politely next to me, and I’m…..well…..you can see what I’m doing.

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Here’s some more fun memories I just had to share!

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The Domino Effect of Life

Life is a crazy thing.

You wake up, you go places, you do things, you meet people, you eat, you exercise, you go to bed, then you wake up and do it all over again. Every day you have the opportunity to start over and do something new. Every action, every decision, every person has the ability to set forth a change of events that can forever alter your life.

Have you ever sat down to think about how actions and choices have the ability to lead you into other directions that perhaps you would never consider? How certain people may not have come into your life had it not been for certain events?  I really started to think about this last night after our Summit Athletic Running Club meeting and almost reverse engineered my involvement with the club. Let me break down to you how running led me to an awesome evening last night:

Many of you know that my father is an avid runner and a real life Benjamin Buttons, as his racing times get faster the older he gets. Because of him and his love for running, a domino effect of choices and decisions took place to bring me into the running world.

I made the choice in 2010 to run my first 5k with the hopes of someday beating my father in a race. (I still haven’t)

I then relocated, gained 60 pounds, fell in love with alcohol, and gave up on running because “I was too fat.”

I entered into a sad relationship with my couch, and one day decided to type running clubs into an internet search engine, realizing there was one in my area named the Summit Athletic Running Club.

I decided to get healthier so I could run with my dad again. After losing most of the 60 pounds with at home workouts, I finally reconnected with my inner runner and made the impulse decision to show up at the Summit Athletic Running Club monthly meeting. I was terrified.

I knew no one at the meeting, and chose to sit at a table in the back of the room. Sitting to my right was a gentleman who told me he ran the Naked mile previously. Sitting to my left was the club president. I didn’t know what to think. Over the next three years, I became friends with many club members. I ran countless club races, volunteered at many events, met incredible speakers, and found myself immersed in a wonderful, supportive running community. That naked miler, also known to the world as Steven Sisco, is now one of my dear friends and one of my favorite people to run with (especially with headlamps). The club president, Steve Hailer, is not only a friend, but a mentor. Steve eventually asked me to serve on the SARC Board of Directors, an invitation I greatly accepted.

Throughout this time I remained motivated, not only by my father, but by others in the running community. I loved stories of hope and positivity and would often find myself searching youtube videos for inspiration and reading articles in various running magazines. One night I came across the story of  Rick and Dick Hoyt, and I truly realized what a gift running is. Two years ago I read a story about a local duo also inspired by the Hoyts, Zeke Petrie and Andre Travis, and followed their story. I was fortunate to watch them finish their first marathon together in Akron, cried like a baby with pride for them, and thought to myself, “those are the kind of people I’d like to know.”

Fast forward to a board meeting back in the spring when Steve asked us members to think of some speakers for our upcoming club meetings. I knew I wanted someone inspirational to come and talk, so I got creepy on social media, located Zeke, reached out to him and asked if he and Dre would be willing to come talk to the club. They agreed. I was elated.

Last night was our monthly meeting and the meeting where Zeke and Dre were finally able to speak to our club. It was incredible. I loved hearing more about them and their journey, and I loved their message. Both men came from rough backgrounds….Zeke had been imprisoned in Haiti and later cleared of all wrongdoing; Dre had a difficult life coming through the foster care system with a disability. They came into each other’s lives by happenstance, Dre asked Zeke if he would take him running, and the rest is history. Here’s an awesome video taken after they completed their first marathon together:

I am always looking for inspiration and motivation….it is good for the soul! To hear a young man who is confined to a wheelchair talk about how running makes him feel and how his dream of becoming an athlete came true….it is a feeling words cannot describe. It also puts into perspective that our excuses are only as big as we let them be.

Running really is a neat thing because anyone can do it and truly enhances the lives of those chose to partake in it. It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow, what you wear, what kind of training you have done, how strong you are….anyone can get out there and start!  You just have to be willing to try. I’ve often referenced a quote that sums up running to me. “I don’t run because I like the feeling of running. I run because it makes me love the feeling of living.”  

Zeke and Dre have been able to experience this feeling of living through running together and motivate not only each other, but everyone who sees them as the beacon of inspiration that they are. The two continue to run together and last week actually finished their first half Ironman….such an awesome accomplishment!

Had my dad not inspired me to run, I would’ve never tried it. Had I never started running, I would’ve never known the feeling it brought into my life and the feeling I fought to get back in my life. Had I not surfed the web, I would’ve never found SARC. Had I not attended a meeting, I wouldn’t have gained the friendships and support I have gained through events. Had I not participated in these events, I wouldn’t have formed the relationship that would result in obtaining a position on the Board of Directors. Had I not taken the position, I wouldn’t have thought to reach out to Zeke and Dre. Had I not reached out to them, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hear more about their story. Had I not learned more about their story, I would never have had the opportunity to have these two badasses as friends. That domino effect…..man, it is crazy.

Zeke and Dre, thank you so much for speaking to our club! I’m proud of you both and am proud to call you my pals!

Me, Zeke, and Dre.

Me, Zeke, and Dre.

Make sure all of you Facebookers are following Team Dre to learn more about their races and accomplishments!


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