Fairy tales and farewells

Here I sit, alone at home on a Friday night writing my hardest blog yet. In three days, I’ll be moving to Grand Forks, N.D. to become a TV reporter.

You know how most girls grow up dreaming of the day they will marry prince charming? Well, cynical old Kayla took the road less traveled when it came to dreams. (That’s the first, and hopefully last time I’ll refer to myself in the third person.)

Back to dreams… mine centered on having a career in broadcast journalism. I would fantasize about all of the exciting places I’d get to travel and interesting people I would meet.

Flashback to the nice WARM month of August:

I got the best birthday present of my life, a journalism job in…wait for it….southwest Minnesota. My friends, family and I were ecstatic. After graduating from Ohio State in June, my full-time job had become finding a full-time job.

Hard to believe it’s now November. And I’m moving to North Dakota. Right before winter. What’s wrong with me? Rhetorical question.


When I got notice of the job opening at WDAZ, I struggled with the decision to apply since I had been here less than three months. I truly do love my work and this community. But, after talking with my family and praying about it, a question popped into my mind. It was strange, like one of those light bulb moments, and we all know I don’t have many of those.

Here’s the brilliant question: What would I do if I only had one more year to live?

The answer became clear. I realized I had nothing to lose. And honestly, how can God promote us to a new level in life if we are too scared to leave behind what we already have?

So, starting next week my childhood dreams become reality as I venture into the world of television news. It’s a strange feeling when you work so hard and so long for a goal… then just like that you get it and think NOW WHAT?!

Well, that’s where I’m at. Still in shock, nervous and anxious as can be, but knowing this is God’s will for my life. After all, He closes all the wrong doors and opens ones that no one can shut.

My thank you’s:

The first goes to you, the reader. What can I say, you are my livelihood.

Thank you everyone for being so welcoming and friendly to a new girl in town.

To my coworkers, you are all amazing, hilarious and talented. Thank you for accepting me and having such patience with a very slow writer!

Thank you to my editor for taking a chance on a fresh J-school graduate from the crazy Buckeye state. I’m confident my replacement will bring MUCH more talent to the newsroom than I ever did.

Thank you to my publisher for doing an unexpected favor when I first moved to town. I’ll never forget your kindness, or your great hair!

Thank you to everyone in the talented newsroom staff. I’ve learned so much from each of you. Please don’t laugh too hard if you watch my first couple of stories, and come visit!

Thank you to Mayor Al, Craig and all of city council. You were easy to track down, more than willing to answer my questions, and took the time to explain your complicated work to a simple-minded reporter.

Thank you to my new favorite coffeehouse/church Ben Lees. Your salads and hospitality are second to none.

Thank you to the kind readers who ever let me know that my blogs meant something to you. Words can’t say how much that will always mean to me. I know you didn’t have to read my work, let alone take the time to send a compliment. Just know all the glory goes to God for giving me the message to convey.

Thank you to all of you Minnesotans. My mom and I have never before experienced so many random acts of kindness and giving. We had no idea what to expect when we came here. Since then, we’ve walked right into blessings.

If I were to name each one of you who has impacted our lives, I would quickly run out of room.

Also, thanks to arriving in town before September, turkeys will always hold a special place in my heart. Better luck next year Paycheck!

It’s hard to believe I’ve crammed so many great memories and met countless amazing people in less than three months. I’ll never forget Worthington, and I promise to come back. (Sorry you ain’t rid of me yet…typed in my southern accent that y’all say I have.)

Take care and God bless. And since I couldn’t think of another place to put it in this post, I will end with a thank you for my newly acquired favorite expression:

You betcha.

Lose self-confidence, gain God-confidence

No matter who you are, what you do, what you look like, what you wear, what you say, what you believe or how much money is in your bank account…

People will judge you.

The one perfect man to walk the Earth was even judged and condemned by sinners like us.

My point is that if we’re seeking man’s acceptance we will never get it.

For most of my life I chased after approval from others. I had to look just the right way, say the right things, and get the right grades…basically do all the things I thought would get me accepted by everyone.

And I do mean everyone. I’m the type of person that can’t stand it if someone doesn’t like me for whatever reason.

But what I’ve learned is it doesn’t matter how well I “perform” for people. Sooner or later, they will still judge me, talk about me or just plain not understand me.

The same goes for you.

But, the good news is all of that means NOTHING. Start living your life to please God, and you will find acceptance like never before. You will have the kind of confidence that only God can give.

Case in point:

It’s incredible to me how our weaknesses can be turned into our strengths.

Reporters open themselves up to a world of criticism from the public. We are entrusted with providing people what they need and want to know, but with that privilege we must accept public feedback, whether good or bad.

Along with being a VERY picky eater, I’m also one of the most self-conscious people I know. I’ve struggled with these things (and many more!) since I can remember.

Because of this, journalism was probably one of the worst fields for me to choose.

But, lo and behold, that’s what God had planned for me. And I love every day of it.

Without God, I would NEVER be able to put myself out there as a reporter, let alone write personal blogs. The only way I’m able to do my job confidently is by knowing that God has my back, and that’s all that matters.

As long as we’re doing His will, we cannot fail.

This is not to say we all don’t make mistakes. If you’re thinking, tell me something I don’t know, well here you go: I’m a Leo and I think baseball is the greatest sport ever.

Anyways, back to mistakes.  After looking through every story I’ve ever done I always see not one, but several mistakes. I think about all the ways I could have done better.

But, instead of condemning myself and getting down, I’m thankful to have learned and vow to get better with the next story I’m lucky to be a part of.

No matter how long you’ve been doing your job, there’s always something you can strive to improve.

Learn from mistakes and move on.

Shake off the self-doubt, condemnation and overall negative attitude you might have about yourself and others. Like really, shake it off. You’ll burn some calories.

Wear a quirky outfit. Put on bright lipstick. Talk to a stranger. Don’t get caught into the trap of gossip. Dare to be different. Don’t concern yourself with negative things others say about you. Be concerned with what God says about you.

By seeking God’s approval, you’ll realize that even with all of your flaws, He accepts you. Try to be a better person every day, not for yourself or your fellow man, but for God.

Have a blessed week!

My dessert-free thoughts

I have many, MANY bad qualities.

Motivation is not one of them.

When I set my mind to accomplish something, I bet my life it will get done. OK, maybe not my life, but you get the point.

It’s hard for me to understand why people don’t chase their dreams, however silly they may be. And trust me, I know silly.

You may not reach all of them, but why not pick one and try?

When I was a senior in high school, I had a slightly above average GPA, no special talents, an average extracurricular activity list and no money.

What led me from there to getting my college diploma was the one thing I didn’t lack, you guessed it…motivation!

I was bound and determined to graduate college and become a journalist.

So, I did.

During my college years, I went endless nights without sleep to finish homework and study. I lived off Red Bull, coffee and 5 hour energy drinks. My nights and weekends were spent working at hair salons, which made my social life pretty much non-existent.

But getting to work in my dream field makes these sacrifices more than worth it.

To get to where you want to be, you have to put in hard work. You have to set priorities, and stick to them. But what’s the other option, settling?

Ugh, just typing “settling” makes me queasy.

While I certainly don’t lack motivation, contentment is another story.

As stated earlier, and anyone who knows me would gladly agree, I have many bad qualities.

Common with my personality type, I’m pretty much never content. I’m sure God will always be working with me on that.

These topics are currently on my mind, and stomach, because of another goal I’m working on: completely changing my diet and exercise habits for the better.

It’s been one LONG week so far, but every day I get closer to my goal.

I pray each day brings you closer to your goals as well.  If your’s don’t involve skipping dessert, please eat some chocolate for me.

Anything worth having is worth working hard for. To sum up my point about chasing your dreams, Nike says it best:

Just do it.


Everyone has a name

When it comes to my mom, there’s one thing I’m sure of:

She’s the most annoying woman in the world.

Since I want more than coal for Christmas this year, here’s something else I’m sure of:

She’s also one of the kindest people I know.

This was evident Sunday night. As soon as I got home from working, I could tell she was a little down about something. Being the caring daughter I am, I asked what was wrong.

With concern in her eyes, she explained her encounter with a homeless man at the gas station on her drive home from work. She normally stops at a different one, but she had a feeling to go to this particular one.

The man was sitting outside by the front door, with temperatures in the 40s, holding a cat that was bundled up in a sweater. He had a hooded sweatshirt on. Next to him were food and water dishes for his cat, and a back pack.

That was all.

His name was Ryan. The cat’s name was Chaos.

There was change scattered on the ground around him, as if people had tossed it, instead of handing it to him.

He said he was bipolar, and chose to live outside because he couldn’t stand being surrounded by walls. He was looking for a ride down south to warmer weather.

My mom bought him a couple of sandwiches, and the only drink he wanted- water. She also gave him a few things from her car that she thought useful.

But more importantly, she looked him in the eyes, said God bless you and told him she would pray for him.

We may not all have extra money to spare, but we all have a smile and a kind word to give.

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never even said hello to a homeless person on the street.

In my defense, I’ve never lived in a large city where they’re more prevalent. But still, I’ve passed by my fair share.

These are people too. They have names. They have a story. They have feelings.

After telling me about Ryan and Chaos, my mom made a good point (for once).

Her point:

There are so many churches that go unused throughout the night. Why not turn these into homeless shelters?

Before you start thinking about all the reasons why this wouldn’t work, think about reasons it would.

The Bible tells us to open our hearts to those less fortunate. We are to take action in faith, not to be mere passerby when we see someone in need.

Have you ever slept even one night outside in the cold with only a sleeping bag to cover yourself? Alone, scared and hurting?

Me either.

I appreciate huge churches with infinite money invested in them to ensure a beautiful place to worship. But, I appreciate even more churches that are simply built. Physical surroundings are just that, physical.

There’s a small church in my hometown that offers a warm place to sleep and a hot shower in the winter for those in need. I’m not sure exactly how the whole process works, but it does. Different volunteers stay there each night to help out and prevent any problems. The people staying there must be out by a certain time in the morning, and may come back at night.

This is a great idea that I pray more churches can accomplish.

You might be thinking, well many homeless people brought it on themselves through drugs, alcohol and whatever else. You might also think they are lazy and depend on others instead of working for themselves.

Why help, or even talk to people like that?

Well, Jesus talked to people like that.

He talked to prostitutes and tax collectors. He was a friend to the worst of the worst. Instead of judging like we all do, he offered them kindness and forgiveness.

As my Nana likes to tell me if she catches me judging someone, by the grace of God go I. People with a home are no better than those without homes. After all, we all have the same Father.

I’m sure there are a million reasons why turning a church into a homeless shelter, at least for colder months, wouldn’t work. But if there’s even one reason why it would, why not try?

If you take only one thing from this post, please let it be this:

Be kind to people. Be especially kind to people who have nothing to give you.

God bless!

For interesting insights about this topic, see below.




Stephanie’s Smile

The first time I caught a glimpse of her, she was smashing pies in teachers’ faces at the Worthington High School homecoming pep rally. Literally.

She sneaked up behind the blindfolded victims, carefully choosing each one while being cheered on by her peers. After getting covered with pie, one teacher stood up and gave her a hug, thereby smearing pie all over her as well. The whole gym erupted with laughter.  Grinning from cheek to cheek, she was finally satisfied with her pie-smashing skills.

While shooting video after the pep rally, I realized the festivities revolved around that girl with the fierce arm. She is Stephanie Romero, a high school senior fighting her second round of cancer. During her first battle, she lost a finger but was told she was cancer-free. Recently, she learned it is now in her lungs and only one treatment option remains.

Can you imagine?

This 16-year-old beauty must fight an evil disease in the prime of her life.

When I was 16, my biggest worry was deciding my weekend plans and how I was going to style my hair the next day.

As I sit here comparing my high school life to hers, I can’t help but feel ashamed. Who am I to have an abundance of carefree days, while this young woman must fight for life each day?

As a senior, I prepared for my new life as a college student and was ecstatic to explore the world outside of my hometown. During her senior year, she must plan for more treatments.

The only thing that made me tired was studying. She gets tired walking up stairs.

Ever since I learned of her story, I’ve been wrestling with God trying to understand just why things like this happen.

Why do some people have so much, yet complain about menial things? Meanwhile, this teenager keeps a smile on her face while fighting for her life.

If you could have heard my coworker interviewing her for a story on the Zumbathon fundraiser, you never would have guessed the event was for her. The conversation was so animated, even on the phone I could tell what a positive and upbeat person Stephanie is. They were laughing and talking enthusiastically about life in general and about the Latin dance craze that is Zumba.

I’ll never have the answers to the questions that stir in my head. But perhaps the answers don’t matter. What matters is knowing that God gives us beauty for our ashes, and He will never leave our side.

It is said that good can be found in every situation, and Stephanie’s story is no different. The good comes in the warmth of her eyes and the thankfulness in her heart. Her strength and grace as she must face monstrous obstacles is amazing in itself.

The only certainty in life is uncertainty. Whatever battles we each must face, I pray that we can have even half of the courage that Stephanie has.

Sometimes we forget that each moment in life is a gift- leave it to a teen to remind us.

If today brings you even one extra minute, please use that time to pray for Stephanie and her family.

And keep this in mind:

“Although the world is full of suffering, it’s also full of the overcoming of it.” This is evident in Stephanie’s smile.



Thank God I’m a Country Girl

Get out of your comfort zone and live a little, or a lot.

Do something new today, even if it means doing it alone.

Here’s a story of how I took some common advice to heart:

As you may or may not know, the Worthington Concert Association had its first concert of the season, “Take Me Home: The Music of John Denver,” starring Jim Curry at the Memorial Auditorium on Friday night.

I learned of this while writing a story about it last week.

After speaking with ladies from the concert association, and with Curry, I was intrigued and wanted to go.

Partly because I got a ticket from one of the nice women I interviewed, and partly because I love the songs “Take me home country roads” and “Thank God I’m a country boy.” Plus, I’m trying to become more “cultured”, whatever that means.

As Friday night rolled around, things worked out perfectly to where I got off work, and didn’t have any other plans. (Normally, I’m a very busy woman with TONS of adoring fans vying for my time.) But come show time, my schedule was clear.

The problem: My mom was working and I couldn’t recruit any of my coworkers to go. I mulled over not going for risk of looking like a “loser” being by myself.

Normally, I consider myself outgoing and personable- you pretty much have to be as a reporter.

However, I strongly considered staying home because I was embarrassed to go alone and wondered what others would think.

Thankfully, my adventurous side got the best of me. I decided if I was going to explore this area and experience new things, I better start with going to the show. Alone.

I showed up about five minutes late, punctuality is not one of my strengths, and was greeted by smiling faces eager to help me. People talk about southern hospitality, but I’ve been raving about southwest Minnesota hospitality. I was escorted to the upstairs section and took in the beautiful architecture of the huge open ceiling. I waited for a song to be over, and then took my seat.

Surprisingly, I didn’t feel too self-conscious. I truly enjoyed myself. While most of the audience was older than me, I thought it charming to look around at them having a good time listening to music they probably grew up on.

I soaked in the music and was thankful to get to see it live. I only knew about three or four songs that we’re performed, but it didn’t matter. I was there to experience something new, and that I did.

I loved watching the band and could sense the same passion that I feel for journalism, they felt for the music they played.

Granted it was no Bruce Springsteen concert (I love the Boss, and have him to thank for my parents meeting), it didn’t disappoint. Curry, his wife, and the four other band members had great on-stage chemistry. Their remarks between songs were witty and seemed unrehearsed.

While I didn’t necessarily get into all of the music being played (one song was about home-grown tomatoes, I don’t like tomatoes) I was thankful to witness live music and the “old school” crowd enjoying it.

I’ll have to admit though; one of my favorite parts was during intermission, admittedly for selfish reasons. I noticed the women seated below me had copies of the Daily Globe sitting out. It was a great feeling seeing other’s care about something I’m a part of.

At the end of the two hour show, I walked out of the auditorium with a smile on my face. I was content and proud of myself. My thoughts drifted to a difficult situation I faced last year. My circumstances had left me anxious and very uncomfortable in public. Even simple things like eating out or grocery shopping were difficult for me. But thanks to God, I overcame that mountain and have since changed for the better.

By attending the concert solo, I proved to myself that through Christ, I can do things I never could before.

I felt so alive sitting there alone. I realized that even if I did look out of place to others, I didn’t mind. I was doing what I had set my mind to do.

If you don’t take chances and step out of your comfort zone, are you really living the life that you could be?


Painting is good for more than just walls

I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that your Saturday was infinitely more exciting than mine.

After reading this, let me know if I’m wrong and I’ll give you a cookie. Just kidding, I’m never wrong.

Here’s mine in a nutshell:

Woke up groggy. Got a large coffee (with EXTRA cream and sugar) from McDonald’s. Decided today was the day to paint my new place..ugh! Went shopping for the supplies. Took about 20 minutes to decide just which neutral I wanted (I rent). Decided on a WARM neutral, because warm makes ALL the difference. Watched in awe as the “paint mixer machine” worked its magic. Got back home and, you guessed it, painted! For. Eight. Hours.

While picking out the color was fun, actually putting that color on the walls was not so much.

Being 15 hours away from my loved ones, I had no one to entice into helping me. My never-fail bribe of pizza and beer didn’t work on my dog Sady. She lounged around the whole day, unwilling to lift a paw to help her mommy. How rude!

The paint brush and I were on our own.

At least I had some Johnny Cash and Dwight Yoakam playing to keep me company. Not bad company if you ask me.

So about two hours in, OK more like 30 minutes, I started getting down on myself. I was wondering what in the world I was doing 15 hours away from home, with no one to help me when I needed it. The dreaded thought…If only I had a man…even occurred to me. I was tired, lonely and missing my family.

Then, with some divine intervention, the most random thought occurred to me: People in prison would love the opportunity to paint a place they called their own.

As I painted away, more thoughts kept creeping in.

I thought of people in Haiti whose homes got destroyed by hurricanes, and are now living in tents. I can’t even imagine how overjoyed they would be to have walls to paint.

I thought of how my grandparents must have felt during the 2006 holiday season. In the middle of the cold night, with only the clothes on their backs, they watched in horror as the home that their children were raised in shriveled up in raging clouds of smoke and burned to ashes before their eyes. How they would have loved to decorate their home for Christmas that year.

I realized that I’m truly blessed to get to put some elbow grease into my new place. Somehow it makes a room more than just four walls. It makes it a loving home. Investing valued time and hard work into your house makes you appreciate and love it that much more.

As mentioned before, I’m renting, so one day I’ll move from here. But I know I’ll leave behind walls that stand for something deeper than the “perfect pecan twist” color they are painted.

The next time you dread starting a household project, or even just doing everyday chores, think about how lucky you are to have a house to do chores in.

Then put on some good old country tunes and get started.

Good luck and God bless.

“Radio” and Romance at the Theater

It never ceases to amaze me how the simplest of days can bring the most unexpected blessings. Thursday was one of those.

After finishing my story early, I left work to explore the beautiful September day that Minnesota had to offer.

This “exploration” took me to the quaint coffee shop in the heart of downtown Worthington. Aside from my vice, (coffee, did my theme give it away?) I got a large chocolate brownie with rich fudge and marshmallow icing. Did I mention I have a slight sweet tooth?

While enjoying this delicious treat, my heart of gold took over and I decided to share some with my mom. Well, she did buy it in the first place. Never mind that’s irrelevant. What is relevant, however, is that my heart truly is made of gold.

Anyways, if you remembered that I’m from Ohio and are now wondering why my mom was there selfishly eating my brownie, let me explain. She was able and ready for a new start, so she moved with me. Yes it’s crazy, I know. No I don’t need my “mommy” to keep me from getting homesick. OK, maybe a little. But seriously, she wanted to see some new sights, so she is. I wonder who I get my adventurous spirit from…

I promise I’m getting to the title:

Thanks to my mom’s “touristy” mindset, she browsed through her extensive collection of travel brochures and informed me there was a free movie playing in Luverne that night. Turns out this happens the first Thursday of the month at the Palace Theatre; I’ll give my mom your thanks. Better yet, I’ll keep it for myself. You’re welcome.

Anyways, with nothing better to do we decided to make the 30 minute drive to see “Radio”. This proved to be a trip well worth it.

The movie was great, an oldie but goodie. I was choked up fighting tears, while my mom let hers flow free. It touched my heart to hear kids laughing at the part where “Radio” sits in a shopping cart and rolls down the street. There’s something to be said about the sound of children’s laughter.

Now to the romance:

At the end of the movie, they draw a name and that person wins $50. I guess this is to carry on an old tradition, which was fine by me and everyone else in attendance. Despite me crossing my fingers, an older man won. While he was being handed the cash he laughed and said, “Here just give it to my wife.” The saying, “There’s no school like the old school” is very fitting. (Someone once told me that and I’ve always wanted to use it.)

The lucky gentlemen’s wife, crippled with age and walking with a cane, looked as sweet as she could be. As they headed toward the door, her husband walked right along her side. When they reached it, a few minutes later, I saw living proof that in fact, chivalry is not dead.

Without the slightest hesitation, he lifted his arm from her shoulder and held the door open for her. It was like his whole purpose for life was to do that one simple act, which he did to perfection. God made him for her, and she for him.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but it was a beautiful moment. Time stood still as I watched them walk out together. When they took their vows, two obviously became one.

If all I ever did was find that kind of time-tested love, I’d call life a ravishing success, wouldn’t you?

The moral of this story, aka blog, is to truly soak in your surroundings and maybe, just maybe, you too will find a moment where you breathe out a sigh of utter contentment and think to yourself-  Ahhhh…. so this is what it’s all about.

Here’s to that moment. Cheers and God bless.

My life in less than 1,000 words

Hello and welcome to the first post of Kayla’s Column. Being the budding reporter that I am, I’m usually more comfortable sharing others’ stories, but for you, the lovely Daily Globe readers, I’ll share some of my own.

I’m a 24-year-old Ohio native who, until last month, had never stepped foot on Minnesota soil. I was born and bred in Mount Vernon, a small town about an hour northeast of Columbus. While I greatly appreciated my roots, I couldn’t wait to break away.

The day after my high school graduation, at the tender age of 17, I did just that. I spent the summer of 2006 on the shores of Lake Erie, working at Cedar Point. If you haven’t been, you’re missing out. In terms of rides, I promise you it’s the best amusement park in the world. Don’t believe me? Google it.

I saved every penny I made that summer (minus a few “little” shopping trips), bought my first car, and headed south for my freshmen year of college.

That milestone year was spent at Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee. This little town, full of southern charm and sweet tea, will always bring me bittersweet memories. Bitter because I lost; sweet because I loved.

After a school years’ worth of learning who I was, I decided to pack my bags and headed back to the Buckeye state. I spent the summer of 2007 working back at Cedar Point; serving at TGI Friday’s to be specific. Being that Friday’s are one of the busiest days of the week for the restaurant business, the slogan “Thank God It’s Friday” was anything but true for employees. But somehow we always made it through to face Saturdays.

Come September, I decided to enroll in online college for one simple reason: It meant I could move anywhere I wanted. So I did, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with my friend Courtney.

We spent almost a year living, laughing and lounging at the beach together. We soaked in the carefree life of a tourist town, working hard but somehow always playing harder. Once again, I learned more about myself and what I wanted, or didn’t want, out of life.

For various reasons, I decided to move back to my hometown in the summer of 2008. I continued to take a full load of classes and worked as a hairstylist, a job made possible by attending a career center my last two years of high school.

In 2009, after graduating with an associate’s degree in criminal justice, I decided to officially become a Buckeye and spent my last years of college at THE Ohio State University. Yes, we capitalize “The” just because we can.

You know the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? This proved to be the the motto for the rest of my college years from 2010 to 2012. For example, after being accepted into the school of journalism, I failed my very first journalism class by a few “itty bitty” points. I feel safe to admit this since the Globe is stuck with me now…he he he.

In all seriousness, I knew being a journalist was the only job for me so I picked myself up and tried again. While school was a top priority, I have always worked full-time as well. To those currently working and going to school, let me encourage you: There is a light at the end of the tunnel! For me to see that light and chase my dreams, I knew I had to buckle down and make school my absolute first priority.

So I did, and here I am. With God’s grace, perseverance and supportive friends and family, I got to walk through the sacred “Horseshoe” to get my journalism degree on a sweltering day in June. That was my “light at the end of the tunnel” moment.

If you have made it this far through the summed up version of my life, congratulations and as Elvis said, “Thank you, thank you very much.”

If you have somewhat, or thoroughly and deeply, enjoyed my sarcasm to this point, don’t worry there’s plenty more to come.

Another reason not to worry: I promise the next post will not be a boring recap of my life, unless I honestly can’t think of anything else to type.

Until then, goodbye and God bless.