Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Uniform

"Mother, this is absolutely incredible. I am floored."

That was Nicole's text message last Sunday, sent during first official photo shoot as a UCLA Bruin.

This relatively recent, annual tradition with the women's basketball team is rumored to cost tens of thousands of dollars. More importantly, it is intended to set the tone for a season of excellence.

Her brother calls these pictures "over the top." Her dad is not a fan of the long hair and makeup. I will always prefer her hair in a ponytail, so I can appreciate her cheekbones.

Yet I must share a key story behind the scenes of this photo shoot.

Location: Quizote Studios in West Hollywood

The girls are getting the full hair and makeup treatment, emerging one by one for their individual pictures.

It's Nicole's turn to put on "her blues."

She sees this jersey for the first time.

Nicole emerges from the green room into the open studio, where production assistants, basketball coaches, and other team employees are hanging out waiting.

"Nicole, when you walked out, when I saw you in your uniform, I almost cried." said Luke the videographer.

"I felt it too, Luke." Nicole replied.

She tells me later on the phone that this is the feeling she had always dreamed about: a mix of joy and pride, satisfaction and belonging.

According to my journal, it was one year ago tomorrow when Nicole mustered up every ounce of strength, called her coach at the University of Oklahoma, and told her she wasn't happy. That she wanted to play basketball in California.

It was one year ago tomorrow when Coach Sheri Coale offered to grant Nicole a release.

As they say, the rest is history. But not without much doubt, tears, risk, faith, and incredibly hard work, sitting out a full year and practicing like every day could be her last.

I can assure you, Nicole has never felt this satisfied. Stimulated. And gratified.

She has never worked this hard for anything.

She adores and respects her teammates.

Her classmates, coaches and teachers aren't too shabby either.

Every day in California is an adventure.

Plus, she keeps running into people like OKC's Russell Westbrook.

If there is a lesson to learn for the rest of us, it is to never give up on your dreams.

The biggest rewards often require the biggest risks.

I have a feeling this will be one heck of a basketball season. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Darkness Detox

If you want a quick pick-me-up, buy a nun her morning Starbucks.

I went skipping through the Nashville airport, after the sweet sister behind me blessed me for it Friday morning.

It was 5:45am. My daughter had just boarded a plane back to LAX.

My husband was heading to Louisville to coach his high school girls in a weekend basketball tournament.

Coach Kornet with his Harpeth Hall Varsity Girls

I was heading to NYC for a last-minute, musical fix with some girlfriends.

Bucket List Billy Joel, Madison Square Garden

It was probably midway through May sweeps last month when I realized I had to escape the heaviness of the news breaking all around us. Just for a weekend or two. Something to put some positive balance back in my life.

I tell you what, speaking such dark details, out loud, for hours and hours on end, used to go in one ear and out the other. But the terror attacks, drug-related crimes, and acts of hate and abuse are really starting to get to me.

So these last two weekends, I have enjoyed some soul soothing: first, while speaking at the 10th anniversary banquet for a wonderful organization called Hearts for Homes, a Denton, Texas-based non-profit that repairs indigent seniors' homes.

Hearts for Homes 10th Anniversary, Lewisville, Texas
The stories of hope, love, generosity, and God actively answering prayers and meeting needs were incredibly inspiring. They touched the hearts of everyone assembled in the Lewisville Hilton Garden Inn ballroom, which donated the lovely space and all of the food. Major shout out to them!

I packed in multiple coffee and happy hours with girlfriends and former colleagues before and after the event. It was heavenly.

Finally got to meet baby Max!

Secondly, this morning I returned from a musical-infused weekend with girlfriends in New York City. Perfect weather. Fantastic vibe. An incredible few days.

Got to see the Broadway show Waitress, with music by Sara Bareilles, the jazzy pop star's first musical. Two high school girlfriends, with whom I sang in concert chorus and show choir, joined me.

And then there was Friday night and last-minute tickets to Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden.

Belting out "Uptown Girl"
"'cause it just may be a lunatic you're looking for"

The whole weekend I wanted to burst open with the joy of a 15-year-old.

I knew this girl at age 15, when we didn't need readers!
As much as life has been off-the-chain fun with my kids filtering through our home more often than ever before, a healthy dose of artsy enrichment is greatly needed now and then.

That lesson was reiterated by multiple medical experts, in fact, in our first Channel 4 prime time health special last week.

They call it "self-care." I call it critical -- both to answering my own calling and to feeling God's reassurance that He is in control. Light will always overcome the darkness.

We must trust and know that He's got this, world. In HIS hands.

No matter what news breaks.

Friends forever

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

#WorkChic of the Week: CMAs & Chambray

I've become quite adept at identifying "good tv dresses." Which means I have about 50 sheath dresses in loud, solid colors.

But I have long struggled to try different dress styles or piece together separates. I am often at a loss choosing the right necklace and earrings. I consult my husband almost every day before leaving the house and ask "gold or silver? Long or short? Does this actually work together?"

For the last 18 months I have relished the help of the uber-talented Danielle at Dillard's at Green Hills. The store sponsors my wardrobe, which means every day I get to wear something shiny and new on Channel 4 News at 4, 5, 6 and 10. This is a gift beyond measure.

Danielle is the one who suggested last Friday to wear a long, gold necklace with this new, blue layered Tahari dress. This dress is an example of something I wouldn't have chosen on my own. It's layered and a clingy material.

 I thought silver jewelry was an automatic with baby blue. Not so. I texted Danielle this dorky selfie with her suggested long, gold style. She approved.

The long necklace is gold and rose gold.
The expertise and passionate heart of Danielle has opened my eyes.

I KNOW I'm not alone. We women get stuck in our boxes and must be forced to stretch our fashion boundaries. So it really helps when we have the validation of a fashionista behind us.

I hope to designate an occasional blog post to helping my fellow, struggling working women with some wardrobe advice. Danielle is extremely talented at this endeavor, especially with the Antonio Melani line at her fingertips. I've worn Melani almost exclusively, long before Dillard's became my clothing sponsor.

As for more casual looks, Danielle put this together for my CMA coverage this week.

On TV it will likely be dress only.
But feel free to go to town, if you like the look.

Apparently, chambray is the "It" material this season. She chose several different styles of shoes, so you can mix it up depending on your function and objective. Each has the power to change the look.

Here is another casual look Daniel assembled for me for an emcee event for the Rally Foundation. The fundraiser for pediatric cancer research was a songwriters' night in downtown Nashville.

I must admit, the suede, fringed vest was a stretch for me...but fun. I felt...well...fashionable!

Hope this weekly blog with Danielle's top tips helps you feel that way, too!


Monday, May 30, 2016

Pillow Talk

John, Nicole & Luke on Venice Beach

They burst through the door and plopped on my bed at 6 am this Memorial Day.

My two handsome, long-limbed sons had just landed on the red-eye from LAX.

In newly-adopted, thick Boston accents John and Luke proceeded to share story after story about the fun stuff they did while visiting their sister.

I lay there in bed laughing my head off, while they deliriously recounted tales of the drunk lady on the plane, shooting baskets on Venice beach, and needing to throw up after eating the world's largest pumpkin pancakes.

I felt so much like my mother.

How many times would I come in from a party or high school show, plop on her bed, wake her up, and tell her all about it.

My mom would be so entertained. She'd soak up every word, with this massive smile sprawled across her face. I especially loved it when my brother(s) would be in there with me, razzle-dazzling her with stupid details and uproarious laughter.

Now I totally get it.

About an hour ago between newscasts, I called my daughter to see how she was doing all the way out there in California alone, now that her brothers were gone. She was sunbathing in Malibu. (I know, tough life.)

Visiting their sister at UCLA

"Mom, I'm so glad they came. I had forgotten how fun my brothers are!"

And to think this trip almost didn't happen.

I credit my Dallas girlfriend for making it easy to pull the trigger, once we found reasonable last-minute tickets and a plan that worked.

For decades Sharon had a very real fear that she wouldn't be alive to see her children grow up. She told me recently that she promised her now 20-something son and daughter, that there would always be an account to cover travel costs, whenever the siblings wanted to see each other.

That powerful story forever changed my perspective to seize the moment and not take opportunities to hang out for granted. I am committed to financing such special visits for John, Nicole, and Luke to help keep these siblings close.

I have no doubt the days they spent together in California will pay a lifetime of dividends in memories.

I can't wait to hear more silly stories and conversations trickle out over the years.

Particularly, if they happen at 6 am.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Mother's Day High That Just Won't Die

Mother's Day weekend wine tasting with my Johnny

 Oh, these college years.

They're like an insidious torture device.

First, you're forced to let your kids go after the super-glue-bonding, high school years.

Just when you finally get used to the quietness and same-ole, same-ole routine of you and your spouse, they come back to visit.

They fill your home with hi-jinks and laughter, only to leave again.

You can barely bear the silence.

Then they come back for a weekend like Mother's Day and smother love and kindness all over you.

Luke and John making me feel SO VERY LOVED on Mother's Day

And then they leave again.

And don't even get me started on May.

 Luke has been out of school for almost the entire month.

Luke playing the theme from The Office. Over and over and over again.

I have been RELISHING the meal making, constant conversation, delightful expressions and bonus hugs.

But in two days he'll be gone again.

What the heck? Who does this to people????!!!!

I realize some of you parents are shouting hallelujah that your kids have finally launched. You are loving the me-time, clean house, and spare bedrooms. You are cherishing the quiet evenings sipping wine with your spouse.

I am clearly not one of your kind.

The good news is, my husband isn't either.

Late-night dinner in Lexington after a last-minute road trip.
Hey...that's ONE bonus to being an empty nester!

This morning Frank made our temporary, only-child-for-the-moment, the most picture-perfect French toast, worthy of a Pancake Pantry poster.

As I headed to get ready for work, Frank was taking his little buddy to the gym, followed by some sort of golf shopping outing.

My husband loves hanging out with his kids just as much as I do.

Maybe we're just weird...which could totally be the case...but family is something else to us. There is simply nothing like it.

Natural highs like these need to be embraced and savored.

You never know when they'll come again.

Kinda like these parenting years.

Their childhoods went by in the blink of an eye.

So I'm sucking the joy out of every moment with them, every chance I get.

Nicole Elizabeth, you're next...

Friday, April 1, 2016

Top-Down Concert of One

What a day for a drive!

I may have stayed in a one-mile radius from my garage, but dang, did I make the most of it.

As I headed home to get ready for work, a man next to me at the light on West End looked over and asked, "Was that you singing back there? I thought you were yelling at me!"

Duh! My one-year free subscription to Sirius radio delivered Gloria Estefan followed by Sheena Easton. Of course that was me screaming back there! (Clearly, my voice has gone to pot 'cause it used to be called singing!)

I've been prepping for two talks/speeches I'm giving next week, which always seems to fire me up.

Nashville Area Panhellenic Alumni Association Luncheon
Richland Country Club
The responsibility to share a SOMEWHAT substantial message pushes me to read more, which ends up causing me to assess my life and, more often that not, make some changes. 

This time around, it's helped me realize I might be on the right track.

That's major for me. Those who know me well, know I've been rather contemplative these last two years--and not necessarily in a good way! 

So what's changed? I'm pretty sure that sinking my teeth (and free time) into community service--in addition to seeing my kids more regularly, now that we live closer to two of the three--has really lifted my spirits and provided much purpose and fulfillment.
Go Red for Women luncheon, Music City Center

Go Red for Women luncheon, Music City Center

Living one mile from work has helped life slow down a little, something for which I've been praying hard. Even the health stories I now produce twice a week, have fed my mind, body, and soul--knowing the information will actually help people and give some of them hope. 

And that may be what I cherished most about my top down, concert-of-one this morning:
I have my health. I can run and speak and hear and work without pain.
I can belt out Duran Duran and dance while driving down Woodmont Boulevard!

We just aired our first of several prime-time health specials, which I plan to conclude with this same simple phrase, not only because I believe it, but because it honors the life of my dearly departed mother:

We're not guaranteed tomorrow. So let's do all we can today to be Healthy for Life.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Hope Alive: Making the NCAA Tournament

Every parent knows the anticipation of expecting a new baby, the intense mix of anxiety, fear, and excitement.

I've been a mother three times.

Waiting to hear if your son's team made the NCAA Tournament feels pretty much the same way.

These last two months have been the most mentally and emotionally exhausting in recent memory, especially after the disappointment that was losing the first game of the SEC Tournament. The number of times Vanderbilt has switched between "Joe Lunardi's Last Four Teams In" and "Joe Lunardi's First Four Out" has been head spinning.

Who gave this Joe Schmo such power? Forget Trump. The dude should run for President.

The Kornet house has been a Hampton Inn this basketball season: non-stop visitors, excited for Luke and supportive of the Vanderbilt Commodores. We have done our best to accommodate and are happy to share the unique experience with friends and family. Most of the time.

However, when times are tough, like the tail end of this basketball season, I am depleted. Not enough in the joy tank to go around.

Which is why last night with my boys was a gift.

I had the rare opportunity to hang out with my two sons. I'm thinking Luke, too, needed an emotional break from the Joe Lunardi lunacy, 'cause he hung out with us all night. Trust me, this rarely happens.

It's safe to say that when Jupiter aligns with Mars like this, I turn into Mrs. Beverly Goldberg. (see past posts and indoctrinate yourself into the greatness that is Beverly Goldberg, a most magnificent mom on a hit ABC show.)

Due to the collective limb length of the Kornet men, we must take two cars everywhere. I offered to drive. Much to my surprise, my sons chose me. I carted my  beautiful boys to dinner and on a quick jaunt to the car dealership, the latter being a task I consider as enjoyable as a root canal. But with my sons on board, it was utterly delightful.

I'm pretty sure I never stopped smiling the entire evening. We blared Luke's ipod in my car, the rain outside like dry ice at a Van Halen concert. With every mile, I soaked up my sons' angelic, pitch-perfect voices. These clever young men know that when their mother is in this state of delirium, I will say yes to everything. Hence, they make all sorts of outlandish requests and find great amusement in my acquiescence.

By the time we got home, Luke had downed almost a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (he's actually an idiot, because I would have bought him a Tesla at this point) and we were all ready to watch a movie together. Another rarity. I kept waiting for the Cinderella clock to strike midnight; but alas, both boys remained at their mother's side.

We watched the movie Everest. A decent flick. I can only say that because it met my sole criteria for a decent movie--I stayed awake.

It was indeed disappointing Jake Gyllenhaal didn't play a larger role. But with that, the evening ended. Luke assured us he'd be at mass the next morning, for which we all showed up and even shared Chipotle afterward. Luke's darling girlfriend came too. (I love her--and his legion of wonderful friends. Vanderbilt University, you attract some good eggs!)

But make no mistake. All of us were simply biding time for the 4:30pm selection show. Praying...overtly and silently...that somehow...Vanderbilt WOULD get would resume...happiness would return...hope would remain!

Profound thanks to the NCAA selection committee that you revealed our status in the first bracket.

Vanderbilt got in.

We play Tuesday, just after 9pm in Dayton, Ohio.

Joe Lunardi, in the words of Gwen Stefani, why'd you have to go and make me like you?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dreams DO Come True

Senior night at Liberty Christian School, Lantana, Texas
My girlfriend Susan said she saw a picture my daughter posted the other day and said to herself, "They are such a close family."

I consider her words one of the world's greatest compliments.  It's been simmering in my head ever since. It's reminded me of what's truly important throughout this roller-coaster, emotional day.

Vanderbilt had another rough game at 11am in Austin, Texas. This is not easy as a fan, much worse as a player or coach, and totally grieves you as a parent! Trust me.

What I celebrate, though, is how Luke's big brother John was there in attendance. His big sister woke up early in Los Angeles to make sure she cheered on her best friend.

I just got off the phone with Nicole, in fact. The description of her day is what inspired me to sit down and write.

The girl is something else. Her UCLA team is playing out of state. As a transfer she can't travel with them, yet this weekend her schedule is more packed than ever.

She excitedly shared that she started her day by working out a high school girl who lives in Bel Aire, and whose parents had the television tuned in to the Vanderbilt game. They all watched the game over breakfast together. 

From there she took another family friend's daughter to a golf lesson and went grocery shopping for the mom. (You can't understand the profundity of this task. The girl is worse than I. We loathe the grocery store.)

Nicole admitted she was pretty tuckered out. Yet she was sitting in her car, practicing the reading she'll be doing at mass tomorrow. It will be her first time as an official "lector" at her beloved Catholic church nearby. I so wish I could be there!
Courtesy: Sweet person who snapped this photo so mom could see!

My daughter's day warms my heart in so many ways, I can barely contain my joy. What makes it doubly potent for me, is how I just left a two-hour coffee with a former Kentucky colleague and her gorgeous 27-year-old daughter. She told me about losing her dad a few months ago. She turned to her mom there at Starbucks and said, "She's all I've got."

I immediately thought of my Nicole. In that moment, I virtually hugged all of my kids and their wonderful dad. I thanked the dear Lord for the gift of this family. 

Yes. We really ARE close. 

Of all the "big dreams" that have guided my life and career choices, this is my biggest.

And it's really come true. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Did You Just Say the P-Word?

I try to watch my language for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that my station could get fined, and I could get fired, if it happened on live television.

So I am perplexed why people seem genuinely uncomfortable with my recent use of the P-word in print.


Really? This makes you uncomfortable?

It got me thinking about the root of many of our most serious societal ills: how if it makes us wince, we just won't talk about it.

Rape. Molestation. Sexual harassment. Sexual assault.

Discomfort with these definitions--and confusion over what this feels like, and what to do next--only compounds the fear and shame.

If it's male-on-male rape, some say it's even more perplexing to process. Your masculinity is questioned. Add the male physiological response--the fact a man's body responds to certain acts automatically, yes, even when he's being RAPED--and you can only imagine how confusing that must be.

As a male rape victim told me last week, he thought he'd "take his secret to the grave."

The solution? We can start, he says, by asking kids THE question no one ever asked him: "Has anyone touched you in your private parts?" Then be willing to listen. And believe them.

Men, this is particularly powerful if the question comes from YOU, according to experts at the Sexual Assault Center of Nashville.

How is it that our kids have access to music with explicit lyrics, R-rated movies, and pornography at the click of a mouse...yet we're too awkward or uncomfortable to have open conversations about sexual violence?

It's time we all man up.


For free counseling and advice if you or someone you love has been sexually assaulted, call the SAC's crisis and support line at 1-800-879-1999.

5 Days to Learn Spanish: Day 5

Can a person learn a foreign language in just 5 days? After one week in Spanish immersion school in Valencia, Spain, I can officially tell...