“Almost Heaven … West Virginia … Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River …”
Keep singing. You know the words.
“Country Roads take me home to the place I belong. West Virginia …”
I have mixed feelings about my heritage. I have never lived outside West Virginia, never been that far from it. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong. I want to see more of the world, and it’s my greatest embarrassment that I’m approaching 35 years old and I’ve never flown anywhere on an airplane. On beach trips as a kid I’d kinda dread leaving for the hills when the week was over. But I hear a hillbilly or a redneck joke? I’ll jump to the defense of my people.
I am in and of West Virginia, for better or worse. I might end up someplace else someday. I hope eventually I will travel the world. But like it or not this place is part of what makes me who I am — and there is, after all, actually a LOT to love.
For now, maybe forever, I do belong here, and many of our adventures take place on the Shenandoah or in the Blue Ridge. There is so much I failed to see as a little girl who longed to get away. I will make the most of it. I love to shop local, explore local, run local, explore my backyard, and that’s much of what I plan to share with this site.
Don’t expect any advice columns from me. When I first attempted blogging, back during our diaper years, it came off like I was claiming to be an expert. My mistake, because I’m clearly not an expert at anything. For every running selfie I post, I totally get that my pace is on the slow side of average and that had I not cropped it better you’d probably be questioning my muffin top. I don’t think I am good at most anything I do. It might be because I’m actually not, though more than one person has suggested I’m just Debbie Downer. The truth is I NEVER would’ve thought I could complete a half marathon, regardless of pace. Or that I’d survive backpacking for five days lugging 40 pounds. So what if I’m slow?! I’m surprised that I can do it at all! It’s just a curse that I tend not to have faith in myself, but I want my kids to believe they can achieve anything. And so I started trying to believe in myself. Plus, as a mom of three boys, I knew I’d have to be able to keep up and expand my horizons if I want to stay a part of their life (which I do want more than just about anything).
My kids are the reason for it all, and through them I have come to embrace trying to push myself and trying new things. This space will be a place to share our trials and triumphs as we continue to explore and adventure. We will hike, and bike, and rock climb and kayak. We will fit adventure in wherever we can and encourage others that they can, too.
I distinctly remember doing an assignment in 3rd or 4th grade about where I saw myself in 20 years. I would be an author, with a two-story house. I already knew I wanted to write. Years later I chose journalism for a couple reasons. One, I knew of a lot more newspaper people than novelists, and, two, I felt by choosing journalism what I was really doing was avoiding making a choice at all. It turned out I was pretty right. From college through my 7-8 years as a newspaper lady, I got glimpses at everything from surgeries to doll designing to pepper farming and town planning. When I became a mom, I also took a turn at writing a lifestyle column for a couple years. I was ready to have my own voice, and I liked that, too.
When our family was about to grow again, I made the important and necessary decision to leave newspapers behind. The past few years as my three sons have kept growing and my family’s interests in all kinds of adventures have too, I have felt the pull to write in my own voice once again. Not to offer advice, but to just share what we do. Maybe it’s more for me. Or maybe they’ll want to read it someday. Or maybe, I can hope, we can be an inspiration for other families, proof that it’s worth a shot to try something new as often as possible.
I might never have gotten the courage but for what has been a very fortunate turn of events in recent months. Looking at my planner for 2018, I knew it had to be a big year for us. In 2016 I did some of my biggest runs including my second attempt at a half marathon and the Army Ten-Miler. In 2017 I scaled back, focused on hiking and accomplished my first-ever backpacking trip with two girlfriends: 60ish miles on the Appalachian Trail over five days. I wanted more for 2018. More everything. Then I saw a Facebook post that a local running store, Two Rivers Treads, was looking for ambassadors. Those chosen, among other goodies, would receive free entry to the races they produce including one I have had my eye on: The Harpers Ferry Half Marathon. Without hesitating, I applied. Somehow, I was lucky enough to be chosen among other much more accomplished-looking athletes comprising the Two Rivers Treads Thunder Squad. Now there are no excuses. I have every reason to make this my best year ever. It has been such a motivator for me, and I’m so excited to promote their mission of health and being active. And it was the little push I needed to dive into something else I’ve been toying with for too long. And so, welcome to my blog.