January 13, 2017

My Year of Not Running

Hello, my name is Kim and I'm a reformed compulsive exerciser. It's been one year since my last run. You may know me by the infamous expression, Go HAM. And Go HAM I did. Until I didn't.

I slept in today until 7:00am, and woke up without the need to look outside to see if it was raining/snowing, check my phone for the current temperature, or spend ten minutes deciding how many layers to put on to be outside for 30-60-120 minutes. Is it a holiday? Am I on vacation? No, friends. It is a Friday in my post-running world.

I started running by accident in 2009. I signed up for a charity 5K and surprised myself by running most of it. I ran on my own for a few months to make sure my body could do it, that it wasn't a time-limited offer from my joints, and then I joined a couple of running groups and started running. In five years, I completed 7 half marathons, 10 triathlons, and 1 Half Ironman.

The mark of a true runner is how much money they've spent on physical therapy. I was in physical therapy off and on from 2010 to 2014. First for my left hip, then my left ankle, then my left knee, then my right knee, then my shoulder, then back to my knees. I also paid for x-rays, cortisone shots, prescription anti-inflammatories, sticks, foam rollers, an orthopedic sports doctor, a rheumatoid arthritis specialist, acupuncture, shoe inserts, ankle and knee braces, and kinetic tape. Let's just say if what I spent on being an injured runner were a car, it would not be a seven year old, manual transmission Toyota Camry with no hubcaps.

You might be wondering, is she made of glass? Did she not receive enough calcium as a child? No, my bones are fine, all of my injuries were due to overuse. In fact, this is tame compared to what most long distance runners go through. You see, I never made it past half marathon level. There is another echelon of injuries and physical therapy for those who run full and ultra marathons. If you're reading this and you're in high school, or early college, become a physical therapist. You will always have a job.

Around this time last year, I got up at 4:45am, looked outside to see if it was raining/snowing, checked my phone for the current temperature, spent ten minutes deciding how many layers to put on to do a 40 minute run, then got in my car and drove to one of my weekly group runs. My heart wasn't in it, so when my knee gave out a mile into the run, I called it, I was done with this sport.

In early fall, when the weather changed, I missed running for the first time. There's nothing like the first cool run of the year after a long, hot, southern summer. Luckily, I'm not the only one in my friend group who quit running, so I called on my fellow non-runners and we started hiking. That scratched the itch and the running bug went back into hibernation.

I did it. I went one whole year without running. God knows what I've saved on race registration fees. I'm hoping quitting running is like quitting smoking, that for every year you don't run, you gain ten years on your knees' lives.

I didn't realize how much pain I was in until the pain wasn't there anymore. One day it was just gone and I realized, 'Holy shit, I have been in pain for six years!'. I live in a sixties era, split level house, with full and half flights of stairs everywhere. Basically, I live in the house in Labyrinth. For six years, I've been hobbling up and down these stairs, usually going down them sideways. Not anymore! It is glorious.

I didn't quit running to replace it with something else. I quit because it was something I was wearing that didn't fit anymore, so I took it off. I finally had the space to think about what I wanted to do. Turns out, I wanted to twerk. So now I twerk, hike, walk, ride my bike, and ride a cardio machine at the gym when I feel like it. My body is different than it was when I was running, but I'm okay with that. None of the things I want in life are related to my physical fitness. It's time to give my body a break and focus on my voice, creativity and writing. It just fits.

P.S. If you're interested in my thoughts leading up this post, read Diet Industry Drop-Out.

P.P.S. An embarrassing look at where I was at a year ago Eff You, January Body.

January 9, 2017

An Interview with Executive Assistant Melanie Howard

Today's bitch came into my life via a weekly running group where we met on Friday mornings, ran three miles, and then ate breakfast together. This was probably six or seven years ago. Melanie and I became fast friends and started running together two-three times a week. I can't think of a race during that time that I didn't run with Melanie, sometimes in matching turkey hats and/or Santa outfits.

Melanie has a soft, sensitive, huge heart, which I love about her. She took on the task of trying to teach me how to make cocktails, which turned out to be futile, but was a master class in patience and dedication. That's who Melanie is. She's a born problem-solver, and I've missed that since she moved away. Meet today's bitch, Melanie Howard!

What is your job title and where do you work?

I’m Executive Assistant to the CEO, to the COO and to the VP of Finance at the Dumb Friends League in Denver, CO. The Dumb Friends League was founded in 1910, and named after a London, England, animal welfare group called “Our Dumb Friends League.” In those days, the term “dumb” was widely used to refer to animals because they lacked the power of human speech. Today, the Dumb Friends League is the largest community-based animal welfare organization in the Rocky Mountain region—providing a strong, compassionate and steadfast voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.

When did you first learn about this field of work?

So I guess everyone knows what a secretary does, or believes they know based on shows such as Mad Men. I learned what a present day Executive Assistant does from my close friend and predecessor at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.

How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I definitely didn’t set out to be an Executive Assistant. While at the Y, I was asked to be the EA to the CEO when his current EA left to open her own business. Once in the role, I realized I was good at it.

What was your path that lead you to the job you have now?

The short version is that after 15 years at the YMCA, I decided to move on. I became an Executive Assistant at a software company in Franklin, TN, which was a great job, but not a great fit. When Troy, my partner, was offered a position in Denver, we moved, and I started looking for a new job.

Luck opened the door at the Dumb Friends League to allow me to do a job that I’m very good at in an environment I believe in. My passion is rescuing animals and helping find them find homes. While I don’t work directly with the animals we serve, I am able to support those that do. In fiscal year 2016 alone, 19,218 pets and 108 equines were adopted, reunited or transferred.

Plus, being able to pet puppies and kittens on break isn’t so bad and is a great stress reliever.

Favorite piece of advice, business or otherwise?

I’m not great at advice, but I love quotes. A favorite from Marina Keegan is:

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.

Also, don’t discount the EA. They are your gateway to the CEO and they know everything that’s going on in a given organization/situation.

Failure you learned from or that helped you improve the way you work?

Oh my. There are too many to count. I tend to be a perfectionist, so what I see as failure may or may not truly be. At the most fundamental idea of a failure, what matters is what we do with it and how we recover. I’m still moving forward, so I’d say that’s a success.

Another quote is, “Success is not built on success. It's built on failure. It's built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe.” -Sumner Redstone

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

I’d love to say work out more, but time isn’t my issue, motivation is...

What is your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your professional life?

I think having the trust of those around me is something I’m most proud of.

What’s the first app or website you open when you wake up in the morning?

Personal email or Instagram. I love seeing friends’ lives in photo format.

How do you decompress at the end of the work day?

Run, pet my dogs and/or watch TV.

What’s the hardest thing about your job that isn’t obvious?

I work with lots of personalities and navigating all of them on any given day can be a challenge. I guess that’s true for any position.

What is one thing everyone gets wrong about what you do?

I’m not a gofer.

Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

I’m a bit of a TV junkie. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. Favorites include pretty much anything out of BBC, Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries, OITNB, Grand Tour, Transparent and Fixer Upper. As for snacks, my current guilty pleasure is Cinnamon Bun Oreos.

All photos courtesy of Melanie Howard

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Songwriter / Singer, Marchelle Bradanini!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

December 29, 2016

2016 Reading Round Up, Part Four

Whoa, I read 53 books in 2016! Well, that's crazy. I read some really great books this year. Here are the books I gave five stars to:

  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  • This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  • LaRose by Louise Erdrich
  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
  • Rising Strong by Brene Brown
  • Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3) by Robert Galbraith.

As a reminder, these are off-the-cuff reviews that I peck into my phone as soon as I finish the book. A literary critic, I am not.

Here's what I've been reading!

Today Will Be Different 
by Maria Semple

I really liked this book. It's weird, but hard to put down. I read it in two days. Strange ending, but I'm not mad at it. Definitely read it if you like Maria Semple's writing. 

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss 
by Anderson Cooper

I read this book because Ann Patchett told me to. It's fascinating and surprisingly touching. And you can read it in two sittings. I recommend it, and so does Ann Patchett.

Superficial: More Adventures from The Andy Cohen Diaries 
by Andy Cohen

You guys, I loved this book! I couldn't put it down and laughed throughout the whole thing. Such a great read! It's the first Andy Cohen book I've read, but now I'm going to go back and read his first two. Who knew?!

You'll Grow Out of It 
by Jessi Klein

This book is great. Perfect balance of funny and sweet. Plus, it's a quick read. Definitely recommend. 

Little Failure 
by Gary Shteyngart

Man, I loved this book. Over the years, I've tried to read his other (fiction) books, but I've never been able to get through them. Then recently, Liz Gilbert made reference to how this book (a memoir) is one of her favorites. I remembered I'd received it as a gift, so I picked it up and started reading. It's so great! Highly recommend. 

You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams: And Other Stories 
by Alan Cumming

This is a really fun little book to read. It's basically just a book of photo captions, but I liked it. And it's interesting, especially if you like Alan Cumming. 

The Underground Railroad 
by Colson Whitehead

I just finished this book and I'm crying as I write this review. I almost can't believe how good this book is. Read it. Believe the hype. And if you ever get the chance to hear Colson Whitehead speak, do it. 

Man's Search for Meaning 
by Viktor E. Frankl

"The world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best." This book was recommended as a way to cope with the election. The insights and philosophies helped me, and I'll probably re-read it. The book is divided into two parts. The first part reads fast, but the second part takes more focus and concentration. Overall, it is a great book. You should read it. 

You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain 
by Phoebe Robinson

I liked it a lot. This book is funny as shit. The end got a little tedious. Maybe they could have organized the chapters in a different order. Strong start, meh finish. Definitely worth reading. Hilarious. 

by Yaa Gyasi

This book is truly a work of art. I loved it and can't believe how fast I read it. I believe this is Yaa Gyasi's first book. I'll read whatever she writes next, hopefully soon. Read this book!

After You (Me Before You, #2) 
by Jojo Moyers

Man, these stupid books are so good. I loved this and couldn't put it down. 

P.S. Forgot what else I've read this year? Here you go!

P.P.S. Are we friends on Goodreads?

December 21, 2016

These My Bitches: Year In Review

When I started These My Bitches, I had no idea if A) anyone would do it, or B) anyone would read it. Well, turns out, most people will do it and a lot of people have read it. So, thanks! As long as you're willing to keep reading, I'll keep posting.

Nominations! I'm thinking about changing it up in 2017 and adding a 'Nominate a Bitch' feature. There are so many awesome women that I don't have a direct connection to. If you would like to nominate a Bitch:

1) you will be responsible for writing their intro
2) candidate should identify as female (sorry fellows, except not sorry because the whole world is yours)
3) email me your nomination.

*If I know the person, there's a good chance I've already asked them. You'd be surprised how many people can't participate. More on this below.

Here are the top ten viewed Bitches!

961 views -- Melanie Bull: Public Policy Director

758 views -- Katherine Tisha Wilson: b.fab.fitness Instructor

671 views -- Emma May: NBA Marketing Director

671 views -- Shannon Wages: Tattoo Artist

663 views -- Freya West: Burlesque Performer

635 views -- Erin Alvarado: Librarian and Media Specialist

633 views -- Shannon Miller: Stay-At-Home Mom

632 views -- Alicia Hunker: Charter School Teacher

629 views -- Paige Seals: Attorney and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher

616 views -- Mary Katherine Rooker: News Producer

Biggest yay moment:  a Bitch got a promotion after her boss read her post.

In addition to the one promotion, a lot of Bitches have seen an uptick in their Etsy sales and website clicks, and a few Bitches have gotten work/jobs out of this. Yay! That was the point! I've also been able to connect a lot of Bitches to friends who are in similar careers, have questions, need an introduction, etc.

Biggest nay moment:  a Bitch got called into her legal department after her boss read her post.

Since then, I've started warning my corporate Bitches to make sure this is cool with their companies, which thank goddess, because a few people checked and they were not allowed to do this. One almost-crisis happened, but thanks to that, many more were averted.

To the 45 Bitches who have done this with me -- I appreciate you so hard. Thank you. There are three different questionnaires and the one for artists/business owners takes the longest to complete, and then you have to round up pictures. It's a job and I'm grateful to those of you who were able to do it, as well as those of you who wanted to, but couldn't. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

See you in 2017!

P.S. Don't forget, send me your nominations.

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

December 19, 2016

An Interview with Songwriter / Singer Marchelle Bradanini

I'm lucky in that I become friends with a lot of John's clients, which is exactly how I became acquainted with today's bitch. A few years ago, Marchelle showed up at our house a juxtaposition of camera-ready hair and makeup, and street punk. This was in the era of skinny jeans and knee boots, and Marchelle was wearing multiple leather jackets, ripped men's jeans and spiked black boots with chains. I was like, who are you and please like me.

Fortunately for me, Marchelle did like me, which behooved me when we were in L.A. for the Grammy's and I needed both a boob wrangler and a hairstylist. Without hesitation, Marchelle was like, give me your boobs, give me your bobby pins, and how much time do we have. Turns out, that's a real quick way to solidify a friendship. Marchelle is talented, generous, and hilarious. And her house is haunted. Meet today's bitch, Marchelle Bradanini!

What do you do and what is the name of your business?

I'm Marchelle Bradanini and I'm a songwriter / singer under the moniker Pony Boy. I'm also the co-founder of Cosmic Thug Records and Cosmic Thug Press, along with Adam Landry and Justin Collins.

When did you first learn about this field of work?

I’ve been performing since I was about two years old. Decided to start a label after being through some shit experiences on other labels. Became a fan of small presses when studying poetry in grad school.

How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I’ve desperately tried to do other things, but never feel quite the satisfaction from creative undertakings, even though it feels like pissing into the ocean most days.

What was your path that lead you to where you are now?

Being told no and a lot of failure. Sending blind emails to people I was a fan of (I did this to Adam and Justin after hearing T. Hardy Morris’ album, Audition Tapes) and not being afraid to get out of a comfort zone.

What was the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

Diligence is the mother of good luck. Work hard. Believe in yourself when nobody else does. Find people you admire to collaborate with. Keep reading, learning, listening. Stay inspired.

What is the most difficult part of being your own boss?

Staying disciplined, but also allowing time to be creative.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Failure can be a great teacher.

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

Listen to Tom Waits while walking outdoors. Or maybe just taking a nap and catch up on some Joan Didion in a onesie.

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?

A steady paycheck.

What is your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of)?

That I’m still in music as a woman over the age of twenty! Lucinda Williams recently came to our Cosmic Thug Show at The 5 Spot and had a little chat with me. Her creative drive and career is an inspiration and it was maybe the best honor to have her tell me she was into my voice and songwriting.

What’s the first app or website you open when you wake up in the morning?

I have The New York Times / The Guardian as my homepages, so I usually start with some news, but it’s been difficult not to fall into a dark hole of rage and sadness in the these current times. I do think it’s important to not become numb to all the terrible shit happening in the world and we have a duty to engage through art, activism or any means beyond tacit compliance. I then usually take a quick look at social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook (less so), but not obsessively.

Where do you go when you need inspiration?

I revisit the classics or the people that are my main source of inspiration: Billie Holiday, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Velvet Underground, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Dylan Thomas.

How do you decompress at the end of the day?

Twelve pounds of Epsom Salts in a hot bath! Or I read before bed.

Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

I recently watched the entire run of The Sopranos when I was pregnant and it was perfection. Favorite snack would be anything slathered with peanut butter.

All photos courtesy of Marchelle Bradanini

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Communications Strategist, Holly McCall!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

December 12, 2016

An Interview with Communications Strategist Holly McCall

I've known of today's bitch for years, but we didn't meet and became friends until the 2015 Nashville Metro election. Holly came up to me at a fundraiser and said, "You're The Blonde Mule. I want to get to know you." to which I responded, "You're Holly McCall. I want to get to know YOU." We've been friends ever since.

Holly is the kind of person you want on your team. In addition to her kindness and warmth, she has a genuine curiosity about people and she's a born leader. Do you know the guts it took to run as a female Democrat in Williamson County this year? But that's the thing about Holly, she steps up and does what needs to be done, and she does the hell out of it. Meet today's bitch, Holly McCall!

What is your job title and where do you work?

I started my own strategic communications firm last year, Morrigan Strategies, but I also just completed running for the State House of Representatives -- which is much like running a small business.

When did you first learn about this field of work?

I don’t remember when I wasn’t aware of politics. My mother was appointed to fill a vacancy on the school board in our home town when I was ten, and was elected six times after that, so I became familiar with the process early on.

How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I didn’t! I always knew I wanted to make a difference somehow, but only recently have I gotten so disgusted with the lack of meaningful work going on at the Legislature, I decided to stop complaining and do something.

What was your path that lead you to the job you have now? 

It’s been a circuitous route, but everything I’ve done professionally - working in campaigns, as a non-profit fundraiser, and as a reporter - has prepared me for this. When I was young, I thought I might run for office. Then I changed my mind, but here I am, back where I started -- and it’s been great.

Favorite piece of advice, business or otherwise?

Don’t be so afraid of failure you don’t attempt new things.

Failure you learned from or that helped you improve the way you work?

When I was managing my first campaign at 27, I thought people expected me to know everything. As I’ve matured, I realize I would have been better off asking questions and not worrying about appearing insecure. Thus, I now ask questions constantly.

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

Work out more and read more.

What is your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your professional life?

My work as communications and community relations director on the Music City Center construction project. We had a great team of people who were united in the mission to get the job done on time, on budget, and with as much benefit to the community as we could enact.

What’s the first app or website you open when you wake up in the morning? 


How do you decompress at the end of the work day?

I work out. Usually it’s running, but in the summer after knocking on doors for six hours a day, I swam. It’s better than therapy and serves like putting my brain through a washing machine. I truly do not understand what people who do not run do to feel as good as I do after running.

What’s the hardest thing about your job that isn’t obvious? 

No one can be the candidate but me. No matter how supportive family or friends are, the pressure to be good natured in public, informed on issues, the pressure to raise money and pay staff, the negative things people think or say about you -- that all falls on the candidate. Every decision about the campaign ultimately comes back to me.

What is one thing everyone gets wrong about what you do?

That it’s glamorous. It’s not. Enjoyable, yes, but it’s nothing like campaigns on TV: you knock on a lot of doors, you get sweaty, and you do most of it yourself without a big staff of handlers.

Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack? 

It’s not fun, I know, but I literally don’t have a favorite TV show. I can’t think of one! But I can mow down a bag of Hershey’s kisses.

All photos courtesy of Holly McCall

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Stay-At-Home Mom, Shannon Miller!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

December 8, 2016

Christmas Card Roundup

Not feeling the holiday spirit? Me either. I usually buy a few boxes of Christmas cards and send them out after Thanksgiving, but I'm not feeling it this year. But then.... I found all of these hilarious cards online! So maybe I'm feeling just a little bit of cheer.

If you can't get it together in time to buy these cards and get them out before Christmas, I feel you. My friend Jess has opened a store in East Nashville called Gift Horse, and Gift Horse is having a Holla Day Market on December 15 from 5-8pm. Go buy your cards there! And while you're there, buy a Dolly Parton makeup bag, or hot pink hotdog wrapping paper, or Golden Girls patches. Buy it all! It's my new favorite store.

In the meantime, here are my favorite holiday cards to buy without leaving your house.

Holidays Be Triflin Card $4 via BettyTurbo




DECK YOURSELF HOLIDAY CARD $4.50 via Emily McDowell Studio

JINGLE LADIES $3.15 via Jolly Awesome

I SLEIGH $3.15 via Jolly Awesome

RuPaul Funny Christmas Card $5 via Ex-Girlfriends Rebellion

Biggie Smalls Funny Christmas Card $5 via Ex-Girlfriends Rebellion

A RUPAUL CHRISTMAS $4.25 via Seas and Peas

I discovered both TAY HAM and Jolly Awesome when I was in Boston. Their cards crack me up and I've bought, and sent, a lot of them. Definitely check them out on Instagram. They run sales all the time.

P.S. While you're online shopping, don't forget to treat yo' self! Might I recommend buying pins and patches for your favorite jacket?

P.P.S. Why you should support independent, shop local, and support Etsy -- An Interview with Artist, Agnes Barton-Sabo.


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