What’s something everyone around you knows you’re obsessed with and why?

Writer’s Note: I submitted this to the NY Times as an application response for a remote position. Considering that was months ago, and I haven’t heard a single thing from them, I’ll go ahead and think I didn’t get it lol. So I am sharing this with you… 

If you asked anyone what I was obsessed with, they’d give you the answer without hesitation—movies and television. I’ve actually been called a “walking IMDB”—I take it as a compliment.

All of my friends and family know I love all things pop culture. Music is huge for me; my husband literally does not understand why I attend at least 5-7 concerts in a given year, and trust me, I’d go to more if we could afford it. I love reading, but I find I’m not as good at fitting it in, unless I’m on my annual beach trip—then I’ll crush through my reading list.

But movies and television have been my main love for probably as long as I can remember. I was the kid, who at the age of 6, was staying up “late” to watch I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Taxi, and many more classic shows on Nick at Nite with my mom. She’s the one who introduced me to the grand land of television. With her, I watched strong women, like Xena and Buffy, game shows like Supermarket Sweep, and any and every cartoon out there.

Television wasn’t the only visual medium she introduced me to. We were basically at the movie theater every week. Growing up, Disney movies were where it was at. I mean, I’m super lucky I was a kid of the 90s—the best ones came out during my childhood! And right before my teenage years, I got lost in Middle Earth when my mom let me watch my first PG-13 movie: The Fellowship of the Ring.

At the age of 12, my life changed dramatically. On a family trip, my mom died in a car accident.

A scene I’d normally have watched on a TV show or seen in a movie was now my actual life.

So why am I obsessed with movies and television? It brings me closer to my mom. Those memories of going to new places or different decades with her will always be near and dear to my heart. I even dreamed of pursuing film, and deep down inside, I know I am still destined to be involved either behind or in front of a camera one day.

Yes, I can tell you who most actors are and many of the things they’ve been in. I can recall Oscar winners galore. But while many obsessions are just that, obsessions, I would call mine “memoriams” or “remembrances.” Because each time I watch a new show or movie, I wonder, “What would Mom think of this?” Were she alive, we’d probably talk every Tuesday night, right after This Is Us ended, and bawl our eyes out.

I can’t do that with her—but I can live my life the way she would have. And loving movies and television is one way I can do just that.

Jack Turned One!

So I just wanted to quickly share some pictures from Jack’s 1st birthday party!

We had so much fun celebrating with our friends and family. It was a Fireman/Firetruck theme because Jack seemed to get a lot of firetruck-related presents for his birthday and Christmas this year!

We got this super-cute cake from Baked Well, and it turned out so well! Of course Wes had to have a jersey involved in the decor…

As I shared on my “Reflections” post, Jack was not a huge fan of his smash cake on his actual birthday, but boy, did he love this one!

He was definitely intrigued by the whole candle thing.

Jack loved his cake… and then went into a cake coma lol.

One of the best parts about the weekend was that my Aunt Dori came in from Dallas to help! I seriously could not have pulled it off without her! We love you, Aunt Dori!

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And Jack loved his hot dog and mac and cheese! Thanks, Sheila, for our delicious sides!!

We rented this inflatable birthday cake for the yard to add some festivity and got a bunch of decorations from Party City.

Jack had such a special day! Many thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate! We love our one year old!!

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Reflecting on 2017

Hello! I haven’t really blogged in awhile for so many reasons, none of which are that I’m done blogging.

We had a tough November and December for the most part – both Wes and I had different health things pop up, and my grandpa passed away. On top of that, I was working and being a mom, so blogging just didn’t really get any attention.

Jack turned 1 on Christmas Day – for those who missed it, here’s a picture of him with his first birthday cake:

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Yeahhh… He wasn’t a fan

But today begins a new year. I thought I’d be writing a post about looking ahead, but honestly, I felt more drawn to looking at what I’ve learned over the past year. Some are legit pieces of wisdom with deep meaning and some are just silly.

I learned pretty early on that being hungover is even worse when you have a baby. Thanks, St. Patrick’s Day 2017.

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Too good not to share

I learned that there are no “sick days” for moms – we are always on the job, even when we don’t feel well.

I learned that when God wants you to do something, He will not let you off the hook until you do it. Story:

When my grandpa passed away November 30th, I had to decide how I was getting to Dallas for his funeral. Would I fly or drive? For those who don’t know, I am terrified of flying. It is my number one fear these days.

Yes, I am very aware it is the safest means of travel. It has nothing to do with that. Quite frankly, unless you have a fear or suffer from anxiety, you probably won’t get it. And that’s fine. But I can promise you, those of us who struggle with panic attacks, anxiety, and fears wish we didn’t and wouldn’t be the way we are if we could change it. At least I wouldn’t. And yes, I’ve been to counseling for my fear of flying, and yes, I’m going back to deal with it more. Maybe I’ll write a whole post on it one day.

Anyway—I knew God was telling me I needed to fly. But I so didn’t want to. And He kept putting Jonah on my mind. Flying was my Nineveh. And as soon as He gave me that picture, I realized that if I ran by driving, He would send a whale my way. I didn’t want to deal with a whale by myself, so I chose to fly. I tried to get out of it many times, but He kept pushing me.

But the Lord was gracious: He put amazing people in my life to help me during the flights (thank goodness for wi-fi in the sky). We also flew in and out of Atlanta, meaning it was a shorter flight than normal.

I still hate flying. It terrifies me. But I knew I was supposed to fly, and I’m glad I did. See, when we trust God and we obey, it usually goes well. And if it doesn’t, that’s only in “our” terms. God’s plan is always better than our own, even when we don’t think it is. That’s how I get by. That’s how I got on a plane. I may have cried on both trips—like a lot and in front of strangers—but I still trusted Him, and I think God honored that.

Okay, back to things I learned… (maybe that should have been its own post lol)

I finally figured out (at least I think I did) why God had Jack be born on Christmas. Again, for those who don’t know, when I was pregnant, I basically kept saying I’d be happy as long as Jack wasn’t born on Christmas Day. Well.. he was. And of course I wasn’t mad at God because I had a healthy baby boy, but I still was just like, “Oh gosh, this sucks.”

I struggle with control—that’s why I have the whole fear of flying thing (well part of it). Since I lost my mom when I was 12 in a sudden way (car accident), I have tried to control my life ever since. It just doesn’t work. I’m still learning this. And God having Jack born on Christmas was a nice way of saying, “Uh yeah, I’m in charge, not you. My timing is perfect. It will be okay.”

Friends, we just celebrated Christmas AND Jack’s birthday, and guess what? It was okay. Truly. And in the coming years, it will be okay.

I know I’ve learned a lot of other things this year, like the fact that food is better at room temperature (for the most part – shoutout to Sheila for that one). Also that going to bed at 7:30 isn’t lame (I did that at least twice this year, a definite first for me).

2018 is going to look really different, I think. Jack is starting to walk, soon he’ll be talking. I’ll be continuing to write, but I’m also adding some new ventures into my life.

I used to think that a new year meant a new start and that “anything is possible.” I think I might have even thought that up until this past weekend. But Wes wisely pointed out that a new year doesn’t mean anything, January 1st is just another day. This isn’t a “downer” comment, it’s actually really relieving. It means that we are capable of doing anything at anytime—we don’t need a “new” year to make changes.

So as I look towards this new year—yeah, I have goals. I’m really trying to lose weight (see this blog if you want to know more about that). I’ve gotten back into counseling again. I went almost a year without going, and it’s definitely time to get back. No dramatic reason, it’s just really healthy to check in and adjust things (like working on fears and things of that nature).

A few days ago I would have said, “2018 is going to be SO much better than 2017.” But today, I say, “2018 will be as good as I make it.” If I want it to be a “good” year, I have the ability to do so. All it takes is to be content with what I already have. I’ve always struggled with that, but again, I think I’m finally learning. So maybe this time next year I’ll have a reflection post on 2018, and I’ll have a nice update on that.

But until then, I hope you’ll keep up with me here to see what’s going on in my life.

Kiersten

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A Letter from a Fan

Dear Future Owner of the Carolina Panthers,

I don’t know who you are yet. You might not even know that you will be buying the Panthers in a few months time. But, I do know that I’ve been thinking a lot about you ever since Jerry Richardson announced he was selling my team.

Yes – “my.” Why?

Because my dad has had season tickets since the inaugural year.

Because I grew up going to the games with him, which was sometimes the only time I got to spend with him due to his busy schedule. He was busy making money to support my mom, brother, and me.

Because the first season after my mom died (just months prior), we went to the Super Bowl for the first time. I can’t tell you how important that season was to me and my family. How it brought us some joy in the hardest months of our lives.

Because we still haven’t won a Super Bowl, and Charlotte deserves a parade.

Because I’m one of the few native Charlotteans, and I know what a positive impact this team has had on our Queen City.

Because my son should be able to grow up going to Panthers game, just like I did.

Because I bleed black and blue. “Keep Pounding” is a way of life. Bank of America Stadium is a second home.

I implore you, Future Owner—please don’t change our team. Please don’t take them from us.

Embrace Charlotte. Embrace the Carolinas. Embrace all who live here and call the Panthers “My Team.”

Put together a team of PSL Owners for feedback on what we love and what could use improvement. Listen to your fans. We will embrace you, if you will embrace us.

I look forward to finding out who you are, and I would love to help with this transition in any way I can, even if that’s simply being in my seat—Section 322, Row 13, Seat 7—for the first pre-season game of 2018.

Thanks for reading,

Kiersten Hogan

Panthers Fan Since Age 4

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Raising a New Panthers Fan

 

A Response to My Weight Blog

I just needed to share that I have had a crazy day—crazy in a good way!—since posting my blog about my weight struggle.

You all need to know a couple things:

  1. So many women have reached out to me about how they identify so much with what I expressed in my blog. I’m not saying this to “toot my own horn.” I’m telling you this because you need to know if you have had these thoughts or are currently having these thoughts, you are not alone! I hope that if you struggle with your self worth, you will find someone you trust to talk about it!
  2. Today I accomplished my exercise goals! I genuinely did not think I could do them all, but I made it. And do you know how? Wes literally was by my side the entire time. Okay, not the cardio part, but that was easy enough, I used to do cardio all the time. But I was so hesitant about the weight lifting—he took time out of his work day to walk me through it, and that alone probably got me through 3 sets of 12 pushups that I did not think I could do. Who is in your life that will walk with you through your goals? Can’t think of anyone? I’m here! I will do whatever I can to hold you accountable!
  3. Not only am I trying to make my body healthier physically, but I’m also trying to make it healthier spiritually and emotionally. You have to work on all 3 parts in order to truly make change. I could be 100 pounds and still not think I look good if I don’t work on my emotional and spiritual sides. So today, I went to Target and bought 4 cards that I’m sending out tomorrow. Two are for my grandparents, one is for a family who just experienced great loss (which I unfortunately know too well), and the last is for a friend, who I just want to send a card to because she’s just that kind of person. Again, I’m not telling you this to say “Go me!” I’m telling you this to give you an example of something you can do to make both others and yourself happier. Seriously, you will never regret doing something kind for another person. How can you help someone today?

Please remember how you never know how something you say can positively affect someone! I had a person in my life affect me in a profoundly positive way today because of her words. If something is on your heart, be sure to tell that person! You never know how it can change their life.

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Workout complete! I’m supposed to drink a gallon of water today… Maybe Batman will help me lol!

Let’s Talk About the Dreaded “W” Word—Weight

It’s time we get real honest about something many women struggle with: the identity they find in their weight.

As those of you who have been reading my blog since the beginning know, I want to be 100% honest and transparent with you. So here’s my honest post about my weight:

The first time I felt fat, I was about 9 or 10 years old. A friend of mine at the time noticed “weird marks” on the inside of my thighs and asked her mom what they were… right in front of me.

“Those are stretch marks, honey. You get them when you grow too fast or too much.”

That was all it took to make me question my size. I was bigger than my friend for sure. But looking back, I was healthy. I played sports, and I certainly wasn’t “too big” by any means. I just had a little more meat on me than most girls my age. I’m pretty sure puberty hit me a little earlier, and I had curves! But all I could think about was that I was different.

My mom struggled with her weight, and she was pretty vocal about it. She’d make comments all the time about how she needed to lose weight. I remember her dieting a lot. She hated being in home videos or having her picture taken because of the way she looked.

Her size never mattered to me. 

In Middle School, my insecurities only grew and grew. I began the 7th grade without my mom, with glasses, pimples all over my face, and with a new “friend” that visited once a month. Life freaking sucked.

In the 8th grade, my friend group changed pretty dramatically. I really began to feel low about myself. I felt really ugly and really fat. I can remember going to a pool party and wearing a towel around myself, and a boy telling me I was nowhere near fat. That made me feel good, but I didn’t really believe him. I thought he was trying to be nice. Oh, how wrong I was.

Sure, I had good days. I would feel confident for a bit, but then that comparison game would come back into my head.

“She has thinner thighs than me. She doesn’t have this huge, embarrassing butt. She doesn’t have pimples.”

All I could do was compare myself to other girls and think of how much uglier I was.

By my senior year of high school, I might have gained a little more confidence, but I still saw myself as “bigger than the other girls.”

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This is me my senior year of HS in a play. If only I knew how good I looked then! But alas, I thought I was fat.

In college, a whole new world of insecurities was upon me. There were new girls to compare myself to. And there was a world of “going out” where I judged my attractiveness by whether or not guys asked to buy me a drink or wanted to talk to me at a party. (It’s so sad, isn’t it?)

I actually lost weight at the beginning of my freshmen year. I was feeling really good about myself. I was partying—a lot. I found my identity in how others treated me, what they invited me to. It soon imploded on me.

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New Year’s Eve of 2009, going into 2010. I felt about as good as I had ever about myself at this point.

Between my freshmen and sophomore years, I went back home, and found the “old me.” I ditched the party scene when I got back to school and fell into the theatre scene, a place where I felt right at home. I started dating a guy from my group, which lasted until the end of college.

I gained a lot of weight during this time. Our habits were either rehearsing or watching movies/tv, playing board games, or going to do karaoke. We did everything together, and I quickly forgot about everything else in my life, including fitness.

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I felt like I was huge.

When I graduated and we broke up, I moved back home and began going to the Y with my dad. I have no idea how much weight I lost, but within 3 months, I was looking really good (at least I thought so).

My freshman year of college, when I had lost weight, I was about 140 lbs. I got to about 158 after working out when I moved back home, and as good as I felt, I wished I had lost more and gotten back to that 140 range. I was never good enough for myself.

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This is me around the 160 lb range, NYE 2013 going into 2014. See how my legs are? That’s cause I hate my calves.

I stayed around that weight until Wes and I started dating. In July of 2014 alone, I gained 15 lbs.  From there, I just kept going up.

We got married, and 8 months later, I was unexpectedly pregnant. At that time, I was 188 lbs and talking with a nutritionist about how I could lose weight. And then I got pregnant.

I was so unhappy about getting pregnant because it meant I had to gain weight. I was already so depressed about the way I looked then, that I couldn’t imagine putting on more pounds.

Nine months and 40 lbs later, I had Jack Milton Hogan, and I didn’t care about how I looked!

Nope, that’s an absolute lie.

As happy as I was to have my son, I was so unhappy with how I looked. I couldn’t wait to get to working out as soon as the doctors let me. But I had no idea what having a newborn was going to do to me.

Oh my goodness, I can’t remember being so tired as I was for the first 4 months of Jack’s life. There was no working out. There was no eating healthy. Any weight that I lost was put back on.

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When I look at this, I don’t see a precious moment. I see my weight.

It’s been 10 months since Jack was born. I was 231 lbs the day before I had him, and I’m about 210 today. I had gotten to 201 a couple months ago, but I obviously gained some back.

Why am I telling you all of this? Women aren’t supposed to talk about how much they weigh!

Because maybe if I own up to what embarrasses me so, it will no longer have power over me. Maybe if I just publicly admit to you what I try so hard to cover up in photos or with the outfits I wear—what I really weigh and how I really feel about it—I can stop stressing about making myself look thinner. Because it’s exhausting.

I am who I am. I weigh what I weigh. My identity should not be found in my appearance. It should wholeheartedly be found in who I am as a daughter of God. Sometimes I focus so hard on my appearance that I lose sight of how I am doing as a wife, as a mother, as a friend, as a daughter, as a sister. When we’re young, we’re told “it’s what’s on the inside that counts!” And as cliche as that is, I’m certain it’s 100% true.

Today I’m beginning a new diet and a new workout plan. I’m doing this for my health—both physical and emotional. Because as much as I wish I could say to you, “I love who I am!” I don’t. And as much as I wish I could say to you, “It doesn’t matter to me what I weigh!” it does.

I’m not looking for your pity. And I’m not looking for you to tell me I’m beautiful. You may very well think that, and I love you for it, but that’s not why I wrote this post.

I wrote this post so that I can talk about the “elephant in the room” and just let you know where I’m at. I’m letting you know that by Christmas, I’m trying really hard to lose 20 lbs and get back to about where I was when I got pregnant. And from there, I want to lose even more. I want to get to at least where I was when Wes and I started dating, but I’d love to go even a little lower to give myself some “wiggle room.” Because, y’all, I like to eat. I love food. I love wine. I love the social aspect of people around a table, eating to their heart’s content. That’s probably never going to change, so I’d like to prepare for it.

Here’s a pretty current picture of me:

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That’s me. No makeup, untidy hair, 210 lbs. I think if high school Kiersten saw this, she would immediately break down in tears because she’d be so scared of her future. But when I see this, I see my beautiful baby boy and my husband that loves me a lot.

So I’m good. But soon I’m going to be even better. You might be thinking, “Don’t say that! You’re perfect the way you are right now!” But honestly, this isn’t about what you think of me. And maybe I’m wrong to be concerned with my weight so much, but I am. That’s just the truth. And I’m being honest, remember?

But will you do one thing for me? Will you pray for me? Will you pray that I keep up with my new plan? Will you pray for strength and self control? And will you pray for my emotional health, that I will see myself as beautiful, no matter what? Compliments go in one ear and out the other for me, but I know that your prayers will do so much more.

Thanks for reading,

Kiersten

Why I Want to Quit Facebook

I’ve never been more depressed while scrolling through my Facebook feed than I have been in the last few months.

I thought 2016 was bad. Hello, 2017.

I’m pretty tired of reading hateful posts, comments, memes, etc., all over my feed. And guess what? It’s from every political party, every religion, every sexual orientation, every gender… Pretty much everyone is guilty. Heck, I’ve probably been divisive in the last few months in some capacity!

It’s inescapable. And I hate what it’s doing to me.

People think they know everything these days, and that they should share those opinions, no matter how nasty, negative, or degrading they are.

Well I’m tired of it. And if my Spotify account wasn’t connected to my Facebook, and all of my playlists wouldn’t be deleted if I got rid of it, I’d be gone by now.

I also stay because not all of you are like this, in fact, most everyone I actually know does not fall into these camps.

But you share things with hateful comments that I see—and you can’t help it! There are hateful comments on Delish videos! They are everywhere! Literally every article/post/video, even if it’s a silly cat video, has some sort of divisive comment on it.

Will it ever end?

I am getting to the point where I can’t take it anymore, and I am looking at my options. I’m probably going to keep my Facebook account, but have Wes make a new password and not tell it to me. I’m deleting the app from my phone for sure. It’s a time waster anyway.

So if you’re interested in me and what’s going on in my life, I highly encourage you to follow my blog, find me on Instagram, or add me on Snapchat. If you aren’t sure how to do so, PM me or comment here and I’ll reach out to you.

I’ll keep Facebook for a little while longer, but hopefully, I’ll be going away soon. At least for a little while. Maybe the world will learn how to behave, but right now, I doubt it.

Sorry for such a downer post, but I just feel like it needs to be said.

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