I just knew I needed to come here. I’d been offered an awesome opportunity as an anchor and reporter for KFOR/ Freedom43. I knew better than to pass that up, but in truth, the pull in my stomach felt like more than just job advancement.
It felt like I needed to move here to be a better me.
With very little hesitation, I uprooted my life and my husband’s when I packed my bags and drove west. I kept telling him the whole time that the next chapter in our lives might be hard, but that I needed it. Something about a life in the among the winds dancing around Oklahoma City had my name written on it.
I did this even though it meant my husband and I would temporarily turn our marriage back into a commuter relationship. Even though it meant I’d live in a small efficiency apartment. And even though I didn’t know anyone in town, had no idea if the people would accept me, and wondered if I’d make friends.
These last 25 months have been unforgettable. Without hesitation, I’ll say this time has been the most important in my adult life.
First, working with the journalists at KFOR and Freedom43 has been incredible. That is a phenomenal team full of talent. I’m thankful that, for a time, they included me in that equation. I’m not just talking about the people you see in front of the camera every day. Most everyone in that building is focused on putting a great product on the air–from news to weather, sports, production, sales, marketing, operations, and more. I don’t know anyone there who doesn’t approach their job with grit, guts, and devotion.
Second, in the last two years, the kinds of stories I’ve had a chance to cover here in Oklahoma have been unbelievable. I flew in a T-38, rode along with the AWACS, stripped paint off a B-52, learned all about science and engineering, explored the inside dome of an AWACs, interviewed and met James Marsden, Sweet Brown, Fabio, and Famke Janssen, Chris Kattan, Anderson Cooper, Lester Holt, and Lyle Lovett, completed a USAF combat readiness course in 100 degree heat, and did a hundred other awesome things. On top of it all, I met so many wonderful, friendly, and strong Oklahomans.
Third, I happened to be here when the community showed me their commitment and devotion to each other. May 20th and May 31, 2013 rank at the top of my list as the scariest and most important days of my life. Here is not the time or the place to get into all the details of what happened to me on those days–but I will share that walking around the neighborhood near Plaza Towers Elementary moments after the tornado struck left me forever changed and centered. I didn’t just see destruction and despair on those days. I saw a community look at the face of hell, then decide they were strong enough to fight it back and help each other. I’ll never forget that.
Fourth, my time away from work at KFOR wound up being critical to my life. It was here, in Oklahoma, that I wrote four books in two years. Two of them are published now and available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Two others are in the edit stages. At the Route 66 Marathon in 2011, I had another unforgettable experience, one that I later wrote about in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive. To make it all a little sweeter, I made some real friends in OKC–people I am forever glad entered my life. It’s true what they say about Oklahomans. This is one of the friendliest states in the USA, and the people here band together in a way I have never seen before. I have never met a more welcoming people.
But with all moments in time, change invariably comes. It’s time for me to move back to Cincinnati and rejoin my extensive family there. A lot has happened in the last few years, including a shift in the path of my future. This Friday marked my last broadcast as the 9PM anchor of Freedom43, and my last time on KFOR’s 10PM newscast. It’s a sad day for me, but also a hopeful one. The future is always unknown, but I go forward stronger because of my time in this state.
Thank you for everything, Oklahoma. I will never forget these amazing last two years. I hope as I move forward, that I always carry the spirit of this state in my heart.