The Month in Words (December)

Yesterday, I watched the Lady Vols play against Oklahoma State. For two hours, I hollered at the TV, paced around my bedroom, slapped the table a couple times, and sweat all the way through my T-shirt.

My FitBit app recorded my activity during the second half of the game as being on an “outdoor bike.” 😂

There’s nothing quite like Lady Vol basketball season for me.

Almost a decade and a half after my time covering the program as a reporter for the UT Daily Beacon and no longer strained by the objectivity required of a journalist, I am now firmly entrenched as a fan.

But if you really want to know what fuels my love of Lady Vol sports, it all boils down to one thing. Or one person, actually.

Pat Summitt.

Let me tell a couple stories I’ve shared before. Just before Thanksgiving my freshman year of college, I was able to set up a one-on-one interview with Coach Summitt. Mind you, she was the most powerful figure in women’s sports and I was just a measly freshman reporter for the student newspaper.

I was petrified. But I needn’t have been. The moment we sat down in her office for our interview, she treated me like I was a reporter for the biggest newspaper in the country or the highest profile news channel. And it wasn’t just me she treated that way.

She treated every person like a VIP, from CEOs to the people cleaning the gym.

Fast forward a few years later. My mom and I went on a post-graduation trip to Washington, D.C., in May 2005. Who should we run into at the Smithsonian Museum of American History but Pat Summitt.

And she stopped there and chatted for a few minutes, asking me about my plans for the future. That was Pat.

During my time covering the Lady Vols, I gained so much. I watched her philosophies on life and basketball unfold—and those are lessons I still carry with me.

She captured some of the best nuggets of wisdom—her Definite Dozen—in one of her three books, Reach for the Summit:

  1. Respect Yourself and Others
  2. Take Full Responsibility
  3. Develop and Demonstrate Loyalty
  4. Learn to Be a Great Communicator
  5. Discipline Yourself So No One Else Has To
  6. Make Hard Work Your Passion
  7. Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart
  8. Put the Team Before Yourself
  9. Make Winning an Attitude
  10. Be a Competitor
  11. Change Is a Must
  12. Handle Success Like You Handle Failure

These are mantras that I live by today, and they drive my work and my life.

And her life’s work, empowering women…that made me into a Lady Vol fan for life.

Best bite

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Each week, I’ll drop in a pic and description of my favorite sip or bite—and a recommendation, too!

I have two best bites for this blog—my first attempt at homemade French silk pie and a new recipe for Green Chicken Enchilada Cauliflower Casserole. Both were delish! That pie was so amazingly rich, and the casserole is like healthy comfort food.

I subbed in low-fat ingredients in the casserole, so it was high protein, lower fat, and completely yummy.

Favorite Reads

I’ve been more committed to getting in reading time lately. It’s so important to my mental health and helps me lower my stress and just plain feel good. So I’ve added up quite a list of recent reads!

While home for Thanksgiving, I read Anita Shreve’s Stella Bain, a McKay find. It was really good and kept me interested throughout. When I finished that one up, I started the first of several Ollie’s purchases (Yes, Ollie’s! They have a good cheap book selection.), Danielle Steel’s Magic. Also a good one—I am typically entranced by Steel’s words, not matter how many of her books I’ve read.

This past weekend, I read Debbie Macomber’s A Cedar Cove Christmas. I’m a sucker for a nicely written Christmas story.

Next up is another Ollie’s find, Shonda Rimes’ Year of Yes. I’m looking forward to it!

I’m also reading Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift Advent devotional for the fourth or fifth year in a row. It’s so powerful, and I get something new out of the words every year. For anyone who’s feeling lost or abandoned, this book is especially for you!

I’m totally engrossed in listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming. I’m making my way through it slowly because I’m sticking with only listening during workouts or long trips. But I was so touched last week to learn that she also lost a best friend to cancer at age 26, and her story of meeting and falling in love with Barack is beautiful.

Auntie’s baby

Now surely, you didn’t think I’d create a blog without my baby love in it, right?!

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Questions I’m pondering…

These things are on my mind—if you know the answer, please share! Sometimes these will be light-hearted, other times they will not.

  • Why can’t more people wrap their words in kindness? This world would be a better place if they did.
  • Why do so many men sit aimlessly staring off into space at the gym, acting like they’re actually doing some type of workout?
  • Why do people suddenly lose their ability to drive along Gunbarrel Road during the holiday season?

Quote of the week

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Wrapping things up

The first two weeks of this month are insanely busy, and the second two weeks will be dedicated to family time and all the joy that the holidays can bring. So this will be my only blog for the month—hence “The Month in Words” rather than the week!

May your days be merry and bright. And if they’re not, know that you aren’t alone. You are loved.

See you next year.

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