My Promise

It has been a murky day today, not just outside but in my head.

As we continue to wade through the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am not sure that I have ever felt the importance of my job as a journalist more nor have I ever felt the weight of the service I provide so heavy on my shoulders.

Throughout this pandemic, people have been accessing the news at a higher rate than ever before. During the fear and confusion and chaos, all forms of media have now been deemed essential in order to continue to provide the people information they need not only to calm their minds, but to survive.

My company – APG – started a new form of reporting amidst the coronavirus public health emergency. Instead of just covering local news and interviewing our neighbors and leaders for their opinions and expert advice, we have moved to regional coverage. Now, when I want to write about how COVID-19 is impacting open meeting law or detention centers, I am reaching out to four times the amount of people that I normally would. These people range from over an hour away from my town to those down the street, encompassing a five-county region so that we can best use our reporters to cover the most unique situation any of us have ever witnessed in our lives. This type of reporting is difficult and time consuming, but it is important and crucial.

Today, I received the difficult news that our company will be scaling back the hours of all their people nationwide to 30-hour work weeks – a far cry from the 50 hours a week I typically require to do my best work. This is a direct result of the way this virus is crippling our nation’s economy, as businesses have to shut their doors and revenues drop to below 20% of their normal intake and these companies can no longer prioritize marketing and advertising.

When I first heard of this drastic change to my work, my first thought was not how I will survive financially. Instead, all I could think about was how I will be able to continue to provide the service I feel obligated to provide to the people of my community and my region. It hurt and it broke my heart to feel that obstacles were being put in my way to prevent me from doing what I believe I am supposed to be doing with my life. I felt that a piece of my identity was being slowly stripped away, and while some people may feel that is dramatic to say, it was truly how I felt.

Lately, I have found myself revisiting an op-ed piece I wrote following the June 2018 massacre at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland. That was a turning point in my life as I felt my profession was being exposed for both its vulnerability and its lack of understanding by the general public. I wrote out of desperation to bring understanding to the public how my job isn’t just my job – it is a passion, a calling, an identity. One part that has been running through my head continuously over the last couple of days reads:

“The pursuit is somewhat altruistic, but not entirely. We love this damn job… we are behind you in line at the grocery store, beside you in the pew, in front of you in the stands at little league games.”

While we may not be near you during this time, we are still with you – every step of the way. We want you to be able to arm yourself against this unprecedented time and whatever it may bring in the future.

My promise to you – Owatonna, Steele County, southern Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and every single person out there who has ever picked up a paper or logged into a computer and seen my byline – is that I am still next to you. I promise to do whatever it takes to continue to bring you the information you need and deserve.

Everything in my power. Whatever it takes.

I promise.

100 Days Sober

To some people it may not seem like a big deal, to others it may be a daunting task, but for me it was what I needed to reshape my entire life.

I had so many reasons for deciding to give up alcohol for 100 days, the biggest one being that I just wanted to prove to myself that I could. But throughout the past three-plus months, those motivations have evolved while others have appeared from what seems to be thin air.

So to avoid being too wordy in what is undoubtably going to be a lengthy post, I’ll just get right into all the things that I have accomplished and learned on my road to 100 days alcohol free.



The first thing I noticed, almost instantly, was how much more energy I have without alcohol in my system. Within only a week or two I was needing less coffee to make it through my mornings, and about a month later I realized that I had actually started sleeping through the night. The only word to describe how I feel is amazing.


Like any grown woman, my weight has been nothing short of a roller coaster throughout my adult years. I went from defying the freshman-fifteen in the beginning of college, to reaching my heaviest weight by the time I graduated. Since then I am happy to say that hard work in the gym and strong discipline in the kitchen has gotten me to a much more appropriate number, but since then I feel like it’s been a constant back and forth between about 20 pounds. I realized around the halfway point of my sober journey, though, that all the fluctuation had ceased. I’ve read for years that alcohol could be the biggest obstacle for women to face in weight loss, but now I’ve lived it and am confident in saying it is a true fact.



Now, I am not ashamed to admit that although I may be approaching my ten year high school reunion this summer, my skin has yet to get the memo. My teen years may be in the past, but the breakouts aren’t willing to let me forget that anytime soon. That was, however, until I stopped drinking. Since then the breakouts not only have been less frequent, but less severe. This girl no longer spends boku dollars on skin treatment every month, all I reach for now is basic lotion.


Speaking of money, I can’t remember that last time I had this much extra laying around without working 80+ hours a week. A dinner out is a minimum of $15 cheaper, every time, and I am no longer spending extra on trips to the liquor store. Considering money is usually the number one ambition of all twentysomethings, and we all spend an unsettling amount of time chasing the dollar, I would call this a huge bonus.


Those first four points were, in all honesty, pretty superficial, but they were true and couldn’t be left unsaid. Now that they are out of the way, I can delve into the much deeper lessons I have learned that I will be able to carry with me for far longer than a few extra bucks and a more manageable waistline.



I am above and beyond more creative without liquor clouding my mind. My thoughts run much more fluid, I am never at a shortage of new ideas (some that I am not afraid to admit are a bit crazy, but you always have to work through the weeds to get to the flowers), and I am able to put everything down into a tangible format. This in turn has made me far more goal-oriented, because you better believe I am going to take full advantage of this clear head I have obtained. No more excuses.


I am so much less irritable. Seriously, it’s unreal. Without alcohol, my patience for a plethora of people and situations has amplified. Instead of being frustrated with something, I now am able to laugh it off or even find the situation fascinating. As my insightful (and equally sober) boyfriend pointed out, we can now be more of a Jerry Seinfeld than a Jerry Springer. Extra perk: my road rage has almost entirely dissipated.



I am not going to be able to even scratch the surface on this one. This journey has allowed me to look at myself in a very different and exposing light. I have pointed out my own insecurities, realized the other toxicities in my life (including some counter-productive relationships I was holding onto), and have straightened out my priorities. Instead of chasing a good time and searching for surface-level approval of others, I now desire only to enhance the relationship I have with family members, devote myself to writing, grow within my faith, and continue living in and with love. I was so blind to how distracted I was before, but now my eyes are wide open.


This isn’t necessarily something I learned about myself, but it is something I think is without a doubt needing to be more exposed. Never before did I realize how large, powerful, and prominent the drinking culture is today. I have a day-by-day calendar that more than once a week makes a joke about drinking, blacking out, or being hungover. I went into one of my favorite clothing stores the other day (which has a wide target market reaching as young as early teens) and saw a clutch that referenced drunk texting. When I go to get my hair done I am instantly asked if I would like wine or a beer (for the record I think my salon is absolutely wonderful, I love all the women who work there, and I wouldn’t dare change a thing or even criticize them). Millennials are obsessed with microbreweries, wine tastings, and pub crawls. I never before realized how surrounded I am by alcohol consumption until I tried to walk away from it all together. It’s just proof how desensitized our society is to it.


So there we have it, 100 days sober from alcohol and the lessons it has taught me.

Just kidding, one more lesson.

I now am a strong believer and advocate for 100 day goals. I think that whether you are removing something, adding something, or changing something, giving yourself the goal of 100 days will help bring a new level of balance to your life. Whether it’s yoga, clean eating, quitting smoking, or learning the guitar, challenge yourself to alter your life forever.

Push it.

A Dash of Double Standard

I’ll admit that I’ve been a bit intimidated to finally write my first entry. I want to live up to the expectations for Fair Play that I had set in my head and have been nothing short of terrified that I won’t deliver.

I don’t want to let anyone down with some mediocre post. More importantly, though, I don’t want to disappoint myself by not jumping in the water. So, whether I dive in perfectly or take a leap with my arms and legs flailing, I’m ready.

I’ve been kicking around a few heavy-hitter issues in my head: Hawaii’s decision to raise the legal smoking age to 21, President Obama’s address to the nation where he revealed his plan for stricter gun control, and the never-ending battle between Vikings and Packers fans. Today, though, something finally jumped out at me enough to help me kick both my fear and writer’s block to the curb.

Stacey Dash, a star of a cult-classic favorite of mine, Clueless, has ignited a fire in many Americans today, myself included.

Dash, who is now an active political commentator, is known for being a strong conservative who leans to the far right and thus is commonly appearing on Fox News programs. Despite being African-American, Dash told Fox & Friends Host Steve Doocy that she believes channels such as B.E.T., award shows specifically designed to acknowledge people of color, and Black History Month only maintain segregation and should be put to rest.


I hope she strapped on her Kevlar vest for the rainfall of hate-fueled bullets coming her way.

People have really been enjoying calling out and tearing apart not just Dash’s opinion, but Dash herself. A fan favorite seems to be pointing out how “clueless” the woman and her ideas can be.

What gets me more, though, is the refusal of understanding. While many are quick to exclaim that Dash is belittling the strides of people of color and that her statements were mindless, few are taking a chance to step back and think critically about her remarks.

Dash stated during her time on the show that the American public cannot have integration when segregation is still both present and prominent. That statement is pretty self-explanatory and no one can deny that at its bare bones it is accurate. But… it seems to appear that her calling upon the African-American population to end the segregation they participate in was inappropriate. Never mind that her labeling it as a double standard is 100% true, that if indeed there were a White Entertainment television channel and a White History Month that the nation very well would be “up in arms.” It has been unanimously decided that she is wrong and shall be condemned.

Why is that? I have a few theories.

First and foremost, we live in a society where people walk on the eggshells of white guilt.

Think about it. In the last decade the idea of “white privilege” has run rampant through our society, specifically through the young-adult liberals who were trying to find their political identity. The idea that people of a Caucasian descent have an easier path in life simply because of their skin color has strong-armed many on-the-fence Americans into falling to the left on social issues, which for years have been mostly related to racism, regardless of if they fully understand them.

I believe that many people, of all races, simply do not care that B.E.T. or Black History Month exist. They don’t think it’s right, they don’t think it’s wrong, they do not let it affect their lives. However, when the idea of them being taken away is brought to light, these people feel as though they have to protect themselves and their forced socially liberal identity.

Another theory, which I have said many times and has been the biggest proponent for the creation of this blog, is that the young America we know always needs something to be upset about. We can’t help but play the blame game, we love to express aggressive opinions, and we are completely obsessed with pretending we know the absolute highest moral ground. We will deny the double standard and blindly accuse Dash of being a ditz, an idiot, a has-been, and a ridiculous Republican.

Before I reveal my own opinions on this issue, I would like to point out that Dash is not the first African-American celebrity who has called out for the end of Black History Month. As she noted in a blog post following her comments to Doocy, Morgan Freeman once claimed the month to be “ridiculous” during an episode of 60 Minutes, where he further stated, “You’re going to relegate my history to just one month?”

Freeman later asked in the interview which month was White History Month.

This is where I love to hear all the people persist that every month is White History Month because the entirety of history taught is about white men. As someone who is an avid lover of history and studied it in college, statements like that always cue an involuntary eye roll. Not only is the history we are taught far from being solely about white people, but this should entice people to fight for a better, stronger education system, not for separate recognition of a specific history.

There is not a Mexican History Month, a Chinese History Month, an Immigrant History Month, or a Jewish History Month. As famed Jewish Journalist Mike Wallace told Freeman during the 60 Minutes interview, he does not want a Jewish History Month, to which Freeman said he did not want a black one.

“I don’t want a black history month,” Freeman explained. “Black history is American history.”


Now, I would love to see the American people try to tear down the actor most claim is the only man fit to play God in movies just as they have Miss Dash. We all know that will never happen. Maybe this is a moment where people can argue it’s because she’s a woman, but we can save that for another day.

Now, I am not saying liberals are either bad or wrong. I’m also not claiming to be a Republican. I am just pointing out aspects of the situation that so many people have ignored.

I don’t think that the elimination of B.E.T. or Black History Month is anything that will ever happen, let alone anytime soon. I believe, though, that Dash did not ask for their termination from our society to entice any sort of controversy.

I believe that Dash was trying to point out the fault in these existing. We have come a long way as a country in how we treat everyone, minorities and all. We also still have a long way to go. In the eyes of Dash, Freeman, and many others of every race, the existence of these things do not help propel us to further exterminating racism. They believe it prolongs it, because it is in fact a form of segregation.

In an ideal world, history classes would be completely inclusive because of well-funded public education. Award shows would be based solely on who indeed was the most talented. Scholarships would be given out to those who worked the hardest and proved their potential. No one would see color, not because they refuse to, but because it would be widely known and accepted that we’re all the same beneath the surface.

I don’t know what it will take to end racism so we discover the racism free utopia I’ve described, but I do know that crucifying someone who is only trying to help get us there isn’t the way to do it.

It’s Fair Play

Coined by Shakespeare, the term “fair play” represents more than just the rules in which we follow throughout our lives. It also references the demand for fairness and justice amongst everyone.

In today’s world, everyone seems to want to be the loudest voice. It doesn’t matter if we’re discussing politics, something stupid a celebrity said, or the ridiculous Starbucks holiday cup scandal, everyone has an opinion. This coinciding with each person wanting to be the most heard has led to people choosing one extreme or the other, creating a pretty hostile environment.

I’ve decided it’s time to take a step back and look at the things going on in our world with a microscope. I don’t want to be on board an opinionated, pop culture band wagon any longer. I’m not going to shout out in anger or cry out in empathy just because it’s a popular response to have.

Nothing will be blindly condemned, everything will be looked at from multiple perspectives, and all of it will be fair play.