The scary dreams are the ones worth chasing. Recently I visited Oklahoma City and was filled with all sorts of emotions, fueled by life’s natural high. Passion. Excitement. Fulfillment. I’m just a person who went for it and put myself out there to accomplish some bucket list items...
To speak on a stage passionately.
To host an in person wellness event.
Those dreams became a reality September 2019 as I stepped on stage at TEDxOU (9/13) and hosted an all day health & wellness event called the Legg Up In Life Movement (9/14) at the Sheraton Downtown Oklahoma City Hotel. These accomplishments were for a bigger purpose than just checking things off a bucket list and that’s IMPACT. At the end of the day, before my time is up on this earth I just want to connect, inspire, be inspired, teach, learn, grow, smile, laugh, feel accomplished, love deeply and to love out loud. Life is so short. Chase those dreams. Do things that set your soul on fire. Create your happiness NOW.
There are special places that resonate with you in life and one of those places for me is “OklaHOME.” I love and adore the state of Oklahoma. I got emotional on the plane ride there. My deep connection for this state stems from many memorable moments in my life. I moved there in 2013 after accepting a news reporting job at News Channel 4. It was my first job away from home or family. I met my now husband Ryan in Oklahoma City at the gym within a month of moving. We adopted our rescue dogs there, Cowboy Buck & Dixie. We got married there because our families are located all over the U.S., it was the perfect central spot.
This trip I partnered up with Visit OKC, Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, to reconnect with some of my favorite places to see and eat, and explored some new hot spots along the way. There is so much culture there and the city has evolved immensely, offering modern metropolis amenities in one of the most friendly environments I’ve ever been in. I’m a midwestern gal having grown up in South Dakota, so I fully embrace it’s cowboy culture too. But beyond the fun list of things to do, it’s the people that make Oklahoma incredible. The Okie spirit that touches your soul and keeps a soft spot in your heart forever.
I checked into my hotel, 21c Museum Hotel, located along Film Row, revitalized from its original purpose as the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. It’s now a boutique hotel with a contemporary art exhibit inside that’s free to the public to admire. Inside you can’t miss the iconic purple penguins, interactive pieces of art that move throughout the venue, surprising and maybe even startling you throughout your visit. At check in the staff was so friendly and aware of my reservation. They handed me a welcome gift bag from Visit OKC and presented me with a gift card to their restaurant, Mary Eddy’s Kitchen x Lounge.
As I headed to my hotel room I was immediately mesmerized by the high ceilings, wide open spaces and bright art structures. When I entered my room, the exposed walls and large windows stood out, giving it a historic feel with a modern touch. I couldn’t wait to open my gift bag, filled with all sorts of Oklahoma goodies from dad hats with the letters OKC on them, mouth watering Bedre chocolates, Coop Ale Works beer and Visit OKC suntan lotion and chapstick. You can never have too much chapstick. Plus, there were passes inside for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Wheeler District, Riversport Adventures and restaurant gift cards. What a welcome!
First things first though, I needed FOOD. One of my best friends Stacy, who I met at the gym back in 2014 in Oklahoma City, went with me to this neighborhood cafe called Stitch OKC. It was super neat located in a plant-filled garage, hanging string lights, and greenery everywhere. The house brewed coffee was smooth and strong, the food light and fresh and the service, friendly. I wouldn’t expect anything less. I ordered the “Grain Bowl, with organic farro, homemade vegetable stock, sautéed seasonal veggies, balsamic grilled chicken, topped with pickled red onion, cotija cheese and toasted almonds. It was exactly what I needed, protein, healthy complex carbs, healthy fats, micronutrients, fuel after a long travel day.
Next up I headed to Botanical Balance FREE yoga at Myriad Botanical Gardens. It was the perfect place to relax and center in nature surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of the outdoors to help relieve stress, quiet the mind and stretch the body. FREE yoga is available to the public Tuesdays at 5:45 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m.
After working up an appetite once again, it was time for dinner. My girlfriend Stacy picked me up and we headed to VAST in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City for the Chef’s tasting with wine pairing. The staff was expecting us, greeted us with a smile and walked us to our table located in a private corner of the restaurant with the best view of the city; lights as far as you could see. What I enjoyed about this experience is their commitment to locally sourced foods. I loved my main course, the filet, prepared perfectly medium rare the way I like it. Every bite melted in my mouth. The ultimate treat though had to be the homemade pina colada sorbet to cleanse the palate. The sweetness took me right back to the beach. I highly recommend making a reservation at VAST, OpenTable’s 100 Most Scenic Restaurant in America. Click here to check out more information.
Onto OKC day 2, which was more than just OK. Get it? OK for Oklahoma, I had to :) It was another success. I kicked off the day with a full body kettlebell workout at Lifetime Fitness, which is fairly new to the metro offering top of the line amenities and workout classes. Then, I had an amazing photoshoot with one of my favorite local photographers, Leia Smethhurst. It was quick & easy and got so much great content for my personal brand, Legg Day Fitness. Leia is most known for wedding photography but also captures a variety of styles. She’s truly talented and connects with her client’s visions. Check out her work HERE.
After my shoot, I met up with my mom who had arrived late at night after one heck of a travel day of delay after delay. I was so excited she flew in to support me and it was fun we got to explore OKC together once again. She has been my #1 supporter and will be my best friend forever. We had the most delicious meal at Plant OKC, a fresh and local plant based cafe. I got the roasted roots bowl with beets, carrots, sweet potato, onion, quinoa & cashew miso dressing. Plus I got “The Athlete” smoothie which tasted WAY TO GOOD. Somehow we ended up shopping, which we always do, and I got to see some familiar faces like Rachel at The Black Scintilla, which carries clever nicknacks, novelty gifts and clothing. We also stopped by Nhu Avenue, a contemporary apparel store with high quality pieces at an affordable price. I love supporting local, just feels good.
It was a fun day of eating and shopping and we continued the celebration with dinner at Mary Eddy’s at the 21 C Museum Hotel and it was divine. My mom and I ordered our own version of surf & turf by splitting the Missouri Trout with charred napa cabbage, scallion rice, bacon, red pepper puree and the Prime NY Strip with yukon au gratin, smoked mushrooms, red wine jus. It was PHENOMENAL. Dessert was glorious too, we had the key lime semifreddo with toasted meringue and graham cracker crumble. We savored every bite. Let’s just say I went to bed with a full heart and full tummy.
OKC Day 3 was one for the books. It started with coffee with one of my great friends Emily. We tried out this new spot called Eote Coffee which reminded me of a speakeasy because it was hard to find in this new development area on NW 6th street. EOTE stands for “End of the Earth,” which embodies the business going to the ends of the earth to source the best coffee beans. From land-locked country of Burundi in Central Africa to the mountains of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. We shared the French Press and it was divine.
After coffee, I met up with my mom to explore the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, where there are so many traveling exhibitions and collections. We walked through the Van Gogh, Monet, Degas: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It was fitting because last year my mom and I were exploring France, so the visual experience took us back to our trip. It was fascinating.
Next, we headed to Lake Hefner to have lunch at Mama Roja Mexican Restaurant. We were seated on the outside patio with the best view of the water, boats, ducks and turtles. It was a crystal clear day, perfect temperature. I used to love coming to this place for the vibe and the food. Their chips and salsa are top notch. I ordered the fajitas with chicken and shrimp with corn tortillas and lettuce wraps and they were so delicious. The service was great! For dessert we headed to my ultimate favorite sweet tooth spot in OKC, Roxy’s Ice Cream Social, Plaza District location. I can’t visit OKC without getting the salted caramel ice cream sandwich. It is rich, it is sweet, it is salty and oh so delicious. Every bite was 100% worth it.
Then it was onto TEDxOU rehearsals, the night before the big talk! Rehearsals were a little rusty for me. My nerves were off the charts. I kept forgetting my place, I was getting in my own head. TEDxOU organizers were so supportive and encouraging, cheering me on! Afterwards, I got to meet all the other speakers and organizers at a mixer to celebrate and gear up for Friday where we got to deliver our talks we’ve all been working on for months. Surreal.
OKC Day 4…TEDxOU day!
I was awakened next to my Husband who arrived in the middle of the night, to support me for my talk. It was just what I needed. His support, his love and encouragement. My adrenaline was pumping. We went straight to the gym to run off some of the built up energy, where I practiced my talk, mouthing my words in silence with hand gestures. The other gym goers probably thought I was crazy, but I was in the zone. This was it. I was ready. From the gym, I hopped in the shower and was done just in time for hair and makeup with my dear friend Malorie Avaline.who also happened to be one of my Legg Up In Life speakers. More on her excellence later in the blog. This glam session was more than just that, we talked about our worth, our messages, our visions for the future. Just what I needed heading into the big talk. And just like that, I was off to the University of Oklahoma for TEDxOU.
There was one word to describe my TEDxOU talk, ELECTRIFYING. That is how it felt to step onstage under the bright lights. The energy of the crowd calmed me, I felt supported the moment I spoke my first word. Then, I just let it all out. I poured my heart & soul into every second of the clock ticking. I knew exactly what I wanted to say, how I wanted to connect and the message I wanted to resonate with every human in the audience and beyond. I had worked on my talk for more than a year. It evolved over time, throughout many growing stages in my life, throughout my husband and I’s miscarriages, throughout the seasons of pain and healing.
It was in the dark when the light started to shine and I found healing in sharing our life experiences on social media to open conversations about taboo topics and to connect with women/families to let them know they’re not alone. After living out loud, exposing our heartbreak, being vulnerable and transparent in life from the good to the happy and sad to the unthinkable. I knew my topic. So here’s my BIG IDEA.
To post with a purpose.
To share you to connect and inspire.
To build relationships to seize your online tribe.
To seek opportunities to create lasting impact.
I look forward to sharing my talk in its entirety soon (takes about a month for it to be edited and approved by TED). I have to take this moment to say THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me along the way. This trip was eye opening for me. I’m human and have doubted myself so many times, felt resistance, questioned my purpose. BUT coming back to Oklahoma for this opportunity, I felt like I truly embraced my worth and I’m proud of myself. I know that strength came from the love and encouragement I received from my family, friends and online tribe! I cried so many happy tears this trip.
Also, I wanted to take the time to thank all the TEDxOU organizers for their hard work. They were incredible to work with and always there to answer questions and offer support. I also enjoyed meeting the other speakers and listening to their talks on so many diverse and interesting topics out there. The concept is truly fascinating, ideas worth spreading and there’s always something to learn.
After the talk we grabbed lunch then checked into the Sheraton Downtown Oklahoma City Hotel, where I was to host the Legg Up In Life Movement, an all day health & wellness day dedicated to improving health and confidence both inside and out. We were greeted with a smile, staff ready to assist us at a moments notice. The Sheraton upgraded our room to a suite and it was so spacious. On one side the suite was our bed and a bathroom and on the other side was a big living room, additional closets and another bathroom which made it super convenient for my personal clothes and event materials.
Later that even we went to Wheeler District to ride the historic Ferris Wheel , formerly the Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel. The Wheeler Riverfront Plaza is neat too because there are so many places to sit, relax, play games, take pictures. It's a hot spot to make memories at, plus has the best views of the city!
Then we had dinner at The Parlor located in Automobile Alley. This is a neat concept of bringing a variety of chefs and mixologists together under one roof, which gives the consumer options on what food style they want to eat. It’s set up like a combined gathering space so people can order food, pick it up then find a seat. We were on the rooftop for a friend’s birthday, Lacey, who I used to work with at News Channel 4. It was nice to reunite with my morning news team and other journalists I spent years working side by side with. While I wanted to celebrate the night away, duties called and we needed a good night's rest to prepare for the Legg Up In Life Movement the next day. We hit the bed and I was out in five minutes.
OKC day 5...Legg Up In Life Movement day!
I got to sleep in and it was glorious. After a day of sensory overload, I needed it. I was awakened by excitement though, it was Legg Up In Life Movement day, a day dedicated to mental and physical transformation. I’ve had this idea for a long time, hosting an in person event where like minded people could come together to connect, be inspired, have breakthroughs, grow and leave feeling a fire in their bellies that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.
I wanted to create a safe place for people to open up, not be afraid to be vulnerable or have the fear of being judged. Hmmm, sounds like my TEDxOU talk :) I had spent about two months organizing this event, which should have been way longer, but I definitely bit more than I could chew preparing for the talk and this event. There were days I was completely overwhelmed, but it was 100% worth it and I learned a lot along the way.
The morning was spent setting up for the event. The event space was nothing short of perfect. It took place in the Plaza North ballroom on the second floor of the Sheraton Downtown Oklahoma City Hotel. The room was set up to have a classroom setting on one side where the workshops and speaking sessions took place and open space on the other where the movement portion was.
I was amazed by our event backdrop which was made by Marissa with Cultivate Event Planning. I envisioned an arch with balloons that people could stand under together uniting us all. I explained the design and color scheme to Marissa and within an hour she sent over a sketch to me. She used her creativity to bring my ideas to life and ultimately created an eye catching backdrop that was even more elaborate than I envisioned. It was so aesthetically pleasing and truly represented the event.
The event was designed for all ambitious souls out there to have the tools to ultimately create the life you love on your terms with mindful eating, movement, discipline & passion for life. We all owe it to ourselves to have the courage to take that scary leap, to put our mental & physical health first, to take our happiness to the next level, EVEN in the midst of life’s chaos.
This event was a one stop shop to motivation, empowerment, endorphins, personal success and growth on so many different levels. Some of the highlights included were: endorphin building workouts, mindset breakthroughs, self confidence workshops, empowering tools, inspirational speakers, health & wellness vendors, wellness swag bags, networking, photo booth station, plus food & social hour!
The food came out excellent too and fit the theme of healthy and intentional. I expressed to hotel event staff that I wanted food options to be fresh, with clean ingredients and balanced. I strongly believe in meals balanced with a lean protein source, complex carbs, healthy fats and micronutrients which are fruits and veggies. The chef took my ideas and created a spread that tasted good, was nutrient dense and looked decadent. For brunch we had a savory egg bake with veggies, sweet potatoes, lean protein sliders with fruit on the side. For our healthy snacks there was lean meatballs, hummus with pita bread and veggie, plus more fruit!
The goal was to have all participants feel empowered and inspired with mental/physical exercises designed to push you outside your comfort zone, to increase confidence inside & out and to make yourself a priority every single day. Together we rewrote our stories about confidence, purpose & healthy success. All of our participants left the Legg Up In Life Movement with knowledge, connection and love for ourselves and each other. It was INCREDIBLE!
I have to brag about my speakers and their topics too. These people are all good friends of mine with positive and impactful stories of strength, resiliency, passion, drive and more. They say surround yourself with people who support and push you and all of these incredible humans do just that for me and everyone else they cross paths with.
Scottie Gee Hines is a mouthpiece for LOVE and dreaming BIG. He's finally baring his soul to the world, and sharing his most vulnerable parts. Scottie is a TV journalist, happiness ambassador, community builder, storyteller, host, consumer advocate, and Ironman, who boldly shares with his whole heart and voice. His energy lights up a room and is electric, bound to leave you inspired and hungry for more. Scott led us through some deep breath work and a deep meditation that led our attendees to tears, smiles and open hearts.
Emily Sutton is known for her sense of humor as much as she is for her sense of the weather. She'll encourage you to love yourself, challenge yourself, and have fun along the way. She opened up her talk with a dance off to N’Sync and talked about how pushing the limits will make you discover more about yourself and help you in the long run in all aspects of life! Emily even created a worksheet to inspire our attendees. Her personality, energy and smile will capture you, she's the best!
Ali Meyer whose purposefully public battle with breast cancer doubtlessly touched hearts and saved lives. She shared her story of overcoming adversity and how facing a life-threatening challenge strengthened her. She encouraged our tribe to always have the last say when it comes to our bodies and health.
Adi Mcasland of Yoga Collective, shared her stance about play and hard work not being mutually exclusive. She talked about her surprising discovery that you can't, in fact, do life on your own. Community is key. She led our participants through a yoga session connected to the idea that play and hard work go hand in hand.
Malorie Avaline is the creator of The Avaline Collective. Malorie is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, podcast host, writer and life coach. Malorie teaches women to shed old beliefs about themselves and encourages them to show up in the world in a bold and unapologetic way. She wore her heart on her sleeve and shared some of the most personal and deep parts of her life that have shaped who she is today, giving us all hope to face whatever battle comes our way.
Ryan Ellis of Conquer Training, who dedicates his time to helping athletes make their dreams come true. We were inspired by him and two of his athletes, Rian Smoak and Bryce Wooten. They told their story of how cerebral palsy didn't stand in the way of an Ironman finish. Rian and Bryce are the founders of a dynamic cause that encourages everyone to Do Amazing Things by finding their passion over what possesses them from personal growth. Bryce lives with Cerebral Palsy, but he doesn’t let his different abilities keep him from the competition. These two unlikely of friends recently completed the 140.6 mile Ironman triathlon in Boulder, CO. Keep in mind, this was not just your normal triathlon. Rian towed Bryce in a kayak for 2.4 miles for the swim leg. He then pulled Bryce in a customized cart behind his bike for 112 miles, then these two finished off the day with a 26.2 marathon. They were able to complete this feat in 16 hours and 23 minutes. The story behind the story of these two endurance junkies moved our crew to tears and laughter. See more here:
Lastly, shoutout to our vendors/sponsors which included Nyrvana, a biotechnology company specialized in food ingredients and making “bad foods” good for you. Nyrvana launched their business mission with smart chocolates, chocolate ganache truffles. These are mouthwatering delicates satisfy that chocolate craving with some added benefits. The truffles are 99 calories a piece, 1 net carb and have no bad sugar. The company uses a patented sweetner that acts and tastes like sugar. These chocolates are suited for everyone, safe for diabetics and children. There have been focus group studies that showed 100% people preferred Nyrvana preferred over Godiva and Ghirardelli chocolates. You can finally have chocolate without feeling guilty or worrying about your blood sugar spiking. These chocolates are gluten free, non GMO and burn fat after eating them. Plus the ingredients enhance brain cognition and increases memory and focus. For more information and to place your order head to Nyrvana.com/leggday These are direct to consumer only and are not available in stores so order through my link.
KiZe Concepts, raw energy bars that are made 100% from clean, high quality ingredients. The company operates with a purpose to “change lives for the better by feeding and fueling people’s best.” KiZe is committed to helping people in need, every bar sold helps someone. 10% of proceeds are donated to charitable organizations.
Elemental Coffee a minimalist cafe that prepares espresso & craft coffee from beans roasted in-house, plus tea & pastries. They supplied our participants with their famous “wonder bars,” made with granola, chocolate and other glorious ingredients. They were sweet, filling and delicious.
Get There Company resistance bands that offer an effective and convenient way to achieve great results anytime! Super convenient, easy to pack, affordable and spices up any workout.
It was a standout day that wouldn't have been possible without a lot of people working together to make it special, inspiring and impactful. There is strength in numbers and we are stronger as a community. I can’t wait to continue to grow the Legg Up In Life Movement to be a safe place for inclusion, inspiration, love and hope! I envision dozens, hundreds, thousands of people coming together to support each other and cheer one another on through this crazy thing called life.
After the event, we celebrated into the wee hours of the morning. We started at our friend’s Truong spot called The Collective. This is Oklahoma City's first food hall On the corner of NW 10th & N Harvey Avenue in the heart of Midtown, The Collective Kitchens + Cocktails opened in 2019 as a gathering place that reflects the culture and rise of Oklahoma City. It was amazing. My mom and I went for Hawaiian cuisine from Shaka and ordered the "Da Kine Bird" aka Hawaiian BBQ Chicken plate.
It was SO GOOD. The atmosphere was really neat too. A perfect place to socialize, eat good food and have a strong cocktail. We enjoyed every moment. From there we went country dancing at Cowboys and stayed out until bar close. I was very surprised we lasted that long, but were having the time of our lives celebrating one heck of a weekend.
OKC day 6...More hellos and see you laters!
Our final day in Oklahoma City was off to a rocky start, our brains a little fuzzy from a night of celebration. Well deserved. We pulled it together, packed up our luggage, stored them at the hotel and went to site see. I finally got to ride the Oklahoma Street Car.
This was being built when we moved from Oklahoma. It’s part of the MAPS 3 streetcar system in OKC. The 4.8-mile system serves the greater downtown Oklahoma City area with modern, low-floor streetcars. It was pretty neat to catch a ride and experience the vision come to life. It was nostalgic riding right by our old apartment in Automobile Alley, the 5th Avenue Lofts.
I ended my trip with brunch with a very special group of gals. All ladies I met connected with News Channel 4, the station I used to report for. We ate at Social Deck + Dining on NW 23rd Street. Now this was a perfect cozy spot for a late brunch that takes reservations. My meal was amazing. I ordered from the sides list, two scrambled eggs and the sweet potato hash, but the highlight of my meal was the wild blueberry cake doughnut.
One word, WOW. It was so fresh, so flavorful, so satisfying. I savored every single bite. Add some coffee to that meal and we were chatting, laughing and crying for hours. One of my girlfriends gifted us all bracelets that were stenciled with the word CONNECT, connecting us all together no matter the distance. It was the sweetest gesture and made me feel so loved, even from afar! It was the most beautiful way to say farewell to the city and people I love here.
From brunch I headed to the airport to start the long journey back to the east. While I was sad to say goodbye, or better yet, see you next time, I was ready to sleep in my own bed and to see my doggies. It was bittersweet being back in New Jersey, but there was a light shining in me that I carried with me all the way from Oklahoma. It was that Okie spirit that lives on. I caught myself dancing randomly, doing the shimmy, smiling from ear-to-ear, crying (happy tears), just oh so happy following one of the best weeks of my life. To fully embrace the natural high I was feeling, search “pumpkin” in the GIFs section of your smartphone. Yup, that’s me. In a pumpkin costume, doing the running man. One of the highlights of my TV career.
I’m still processing everything that happened. The overwhelming feeling of so much hard work coming to fruition, having so many reunions with the people I love, meeting new faces, going back to the place where I met my now Husband, being able to shine a little light in this world, to make a difference through openness, connection & impact. Not only is it clear I love to speak up on a stage, it’s clear I want to host powerful wellness events over and over again, helping people take control of their health mentally & physically, to encourage them to believe in themselves 100% and to show them they are worth it!
I left Oklahoma with an even bigger fire in my belly to chase my dreams, to continue to create the life I love, to create lasting impact. I didn’t even think that was possible. So here’s to LEVELING UP and always believing in yourself! You are capable of so much, just gotta believe.
Before I close end this action packed blog, I just want to say thank you to all the OKIES for the warm welcome and to all my friends & family for the constant support. I’m so grateful for every text, every call, every email, every social media contact, every hug. All ya’ll know how to make a gal feel loved. Until next time…