At the tender age of four, I had a bar named after me.
The movie Grease hit theaters the summer I started kindergarten. When I walked in the classroom and realized my teacher looked like Olivia Newton-John, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
My first job out of college was in PR at Alabama Power. I did everything from write speeches for the CEO to dress up like Louie the Lightning Bug.
I’m an ordinary person, but every now and then, interesting things happen. Other highlights of my past include:
I was born in 1972 in the college town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. My mom’s water broke around nine p.m., and thirty minutes later I arrived. Outside the hospital is a railroad track, and when Dad’s car got stopped by a train, Mom was afraid she wouldn’t make it to a doctor.
Thankfully, she did.
The fourth of five children, I was painfully shy as a child. My brother was a local basketball star, and his buddies came over often to play basketball, eat, swim, and shoot pool. Eight years younger than them, I loved to sit in the kitchen and listen to their conversations.
My mom was an only child, and despite a calm Texas upbringing her motto was “The more the merrier.” Whenever my two older sisters added their friends to the mix our house really bustled. Years later, as my little sister and I grew up, our girlfriends took over in generating chaos.
It was Party Central, and the constant stream of people eventually helped draw me out of my shell. It also shaped my affinity for fun personalities. I love to laugh, and anyone who can humor me or recreate the happy, communal vibe of my first home holds a place in my heart forever.
Tuscaloosa’s first college bar was called Kari’s Corner. The place to be in the late ‘70s, it showcased a portrait of yours truly at the entrance. In white tights and a French hand-sewn dress, I’m sure I looked right at home.
How Dad’s bar wound up bearing my name was a fluke, and all I remember is having my fourth birthday party there. Apparently, I insisted on celebrating at “my corner” and had a big time playing pinball and dancing to the jukebox with fellow preschoolers.
Oh, I miss this decade. I indulged in every trend: acid-washed jeans, leg warmers, punk-rock hair, jelly shoes, Esprit, Swatch watches, Converse high-tops…the list rolls on.
Once a year, I submitted snapshots to Teen magazine’s model search. This effort always wound up fruitless.
I knew The Brady Bunch better than my own family and I lived for Saturday night, when Tattoo would race up the bell tower and scream “Ze plane! Ze plane!” in the opening of Fantasy Island. I had a shiny boom box to blare the talent of Michael Jackson, DeBarge, New Edition, and—of course—Madonna.
My best coming-of-age memories involved my girlfriends and the massive sleepovers we hosted every weekend. We’d stay up all night talking and gorging on junk food. It was a blast, fun times I’ll always remember.
I started the University of Alabama in the fall of 1990—moving a whopping fifteen minutes away from home. I pledged Kappa and gained another circle of friends to usher in a new era of good times and misadventures.
Road trips, blind dates, football games, band parties, swaps, formals—all this factored into my college education. In between it all, I studied a lot. Another great four years, indeed.
After graduation, I stocked up on power suits, moved to Birmingham, and started work at Alabama Power—where I gained invaluable experience as a writer, event planner, and media relations rep. I loved my job and dreamed of one day being a vice president.
And then I met my husband.
Actually, we met in college, and ours is the proverbial story of old friends falling suddenly in love. He lived in Huntsville, and after our wedding in 1998 I moved there. Soon after, we both enrolled in Alabama’s weekend MBA program. I started freelancing to pay my tuition and hit a creative stride selling e-card ideas online and writing for an ad agency.
Life as a freelancer suited me: I could work in T-shirts and gym shorts, shower in the afternoon, and snack all day without fear of jeopardizing my image. The thought of wearing pantyhose again seemed unfathomable.
As a final MBA class project, I developed a line of children’s poem prints. I pursued this business for several years, driving across Alabama to peddle my goods and selling at Junior League markets. All in all, around 100 upscale boutiques carried my work.
Ella, Sophie, Marie Claire, and Camille…these are my little girls, also my pride and joy.
I joined the sorority of moms in 2002. Shortly after my firstborn’s birth, I picked up children’s photography, which led to yet another business venture. Connecting with other new moms and capturing their most priceless moments was rewarding. But as my family expanded, the need to focus on my true passion—writing—grew evident.
In 2006, while pregnant with my third child, I made a commitment to writing. I wrote fiction for several years as an escape at night and racked up rejection letters as I tried, unsuccessfully, to find an agent or publisher for my three novels. In 2010, a door opened when two community newspapers began carrying my column. Through Life Actually, I started building a readership and gaining the courage to expand my audience online.
In March 2013, I relaunched my website and began blogging. Four months later, my first blog post went viral. Titled 10 Truths Young Girls Should Know, it caught the attention of Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher, who expressed interest in creating a book. 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know is now available everywhere books are sold. You can find it by clicking here.
Whatever the future holds, I know God has a plan. I’m grateful for my blessings and find peace in remembering that no matter how any personal pursuits ebb and flow, I’ll always enjoy the deepest fulfillment through family and God.