A Weekend in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

There is a sense of freedom that accompanies having the baby years in the review mirror. But while we may no longer be  buried in sippy cups or making sure we packed the stroller, our calendar is now filled with soccer practices, baseball games, scouts, and other activities that make it difficult to escape for the weekend, which was common practice for us when the kids were little. But this past weekend, we bid adieu to our neck of the woods on Saturday afternoon after a morning of soccer games and drove about two hours west to a cabin in rural West Virginia.

Lost River, West Virginia is an unincorporated community near the border of Virginia. It’s namesake, the Lost River, runs through the Appalachian Mountains in the western panhandle of West Virginia. We lost cell service about 15 miles from our cabin and didn’t see bars on our phones until we were heading back home. We’re so connected as a society that it was a bit of  shock to experience a part of the country were cells phones aren’t really a thing.

chocolate_lab_west_virginia

I found our pet-friendly rental on Vacation Rental By Owner (VBRO) and the owners couldn’t have been easier to work with – if interested, please contact me and I’ll gladly pass along the information. We arrived about 4:30pm and spent the next hour enjoying the brisk air, watching the sun set with cocktails and sparkling waters in hand, and relishing in the wide open space surrounding the cabin.

lost river west virignia
lost river West Virginia

On Sunday morning, we cooked breakfast and sipped coffee and hot chocolate on the deck. We knew we wanted to hike later that day but we took our time getting ready. We worked on a puzzle as a family, walked around the property, and lounged on the super comfortable leather couch.

lost river West Virginia

 Thankfully, the cabin had WiFi so we were able to research possible hikes that morning. When planning this little getaway, I looked into super remote and rustic cabins but Clay’s current position requires him to be accessible so we tabled that plan for the future. While we didn’t have cell service, we did have an internet connection in our cabin, which was admittedly quite nice.

White Oak Trail Lost River State Park

We opted to explore Lost River State Park and hike the White Oak Trail to Cranny Crow. The trail itself was perfect for our kids to reach their first Appalachian summit. Hiking is one of Clay’s and I’s favorite things to do together and we’ve enjoyed many trails and summits in various states and countries so we’re excited that the kids are finally old enough to hike 3-5 miles themselves with minimal complaints.

Cranny Crow on White Oak Trail in Lost River State Park

 The hike to Cranny Crow is uphill but it is has plenty of switchbacks so it isn’t too strenuous for kids or people who aren’t terribly active. We were thankful we wore boots because there were plenty of roots and other obstacles on the trail.

Cranny Crow on White Oak Trail in Lost River State Park

It was a fairly cold day so we had the summit to ourselves that day. We passed a few people on the trail but for the most part, it was a very private hike. I’ve read that is typically not the case during the warmer months.

Cranny Crow view on White Oak Trail in Lost River State Park

At the top of Cranny Crow, you can see five different countries with panoramic 270-degree view. Clay and I commented that the view looked similar to some that we experienced during our hikes in Scotland. After spending about 30 minutes at the overlook, we began our descent.

After our hike, we drove about 30 minutes on windy back roads to an unremarkable restaurant that we hoped would be better. The sun was setting by the time we returned to our cabin so we settled in for another quiet evening.

Lost River West Virginia

On Monday, we found ourselves heading back to the city by late morning refreshed and reinvigorated by the mountain air. We stopped in Strasburg, Virginia for a late brunch at Cristina’s Cafe, which was absolutely delicious. We were back home by early afternoon. We really enjoyed our weekend in wild and wonderful West Virginia and look forward to exploring other areas of the mountain state during our time here. What’s your favorite West Virginia town? We’re open to suggestions!

Three Actions That Are Helping Me Change for the Better

The other night, the kids had absolutely no obligations aside from their required nightly reading. It was the quintessential fall night at home – the end of daylight savings time ushered in a dark sky by 5:30pm. Dinner was prepped, there was a glass of Apothic Red on my desk as I typed and a snoring chocolate lab at my feet, which happen to be encased in my favorite socks (a gift from my favorite husband). Speaking of whom – that night I was waiting on a text from him in regards to his ETA because I had hoped we would be able to eat dinner together as a family. I had about 20 minutes before I’d make the executive decision to feed the kids and set aside our meal for later. Those 20 minutes became the perfect amount of time to write down ALL THE THINGS I happen to worry about on any given day…

  • being attacked when running alone in the woods in daylight
  • dying before setting foot on every continent
  • breaking my phone screen
  • my children not feeling loved
  • developing an intolerance to coffee
  • my husband being killed
  • being offered essential oils
  • failing miserably
  • not living up to my potential
  • Mad Cow disease
  • Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson breaking up
  • my deodorant giving me breast cancer
  • 2020
  • the children trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty
  • whether I am good enough
  • not living enough in the present
  • where we will move next
  • breaking my favorite mug
  • leaving this world feeling unaccomplished
  • becoming apathetic
  • losing empathy
  • becoming complacent
  • developing an aneurism
  • the past

Clay walked in the door just as I finished typing the last bullet. My list ended there that night but there are far many more things – big and small – that cross my mind on a daily basis.

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about how September was a tough month for me. The sun has been shining brighter inside my head for quite some time now. That being said – when looking at the list I typed on a whim the other night, I am able to see the common thread woven through what I worry about, particularly:

  • failing miserably
  • not living up to my potential
  • whether I am good enough
  • becoming complacent

So how can I stop worrying about failing or whether or not I am good enough?

Don’t Pretend to See a Dragon. I think the first step is recognizing that complexity is difficult to visualize. When something seems overwhelming – of course things may end up feeling hopeless and the fear of failure can overpower whatever excitement is fueling the initial “LET’S DO THIS!” vibe. Breaking down everything into bite size pieces is allowing me to simplify steps and focus on each line-item rather than the beast itself.

Eat the elephant one bite at a time

That’s not to say that I need to lose sight of the large picture but it is best not to stare at an idea or a project as if it is one of those Magic Eye posters. I never could see the image and would find myself lying to my friends at sleepovers anyway – “It’s a dragon! I can see a dragon!” By breaking down my ideas, goals, wishes, and dreams into tangible acts of action, I feel less overwhelmed and minimize the feeling that I am not good enough.

Write it Down and Then Write it Down Again. In college, I was an avid notetaker. I wrote as fast as I could during lectures and would rewrite my notes later that afternoon in the library. Doing so served two purposes – (1) my notes would be perfectly organized and visually appealing and (2) the act of writing my notes a second time often cemented ideas to memory. My practice of organizing my thoughts and ideas on paper waned throughout the years – aside from the random to-do list or rough outline.

Repetitio mater studiorum est. Repetition is the mother of all learning.

But over the past few weeks, I have made a concentrated effort to physically write down thoughts, ideas, concerns, and plans on a piece of paper and then rewrite them in a nice notebook. I know, I know – who has time for that? Actually, I have found that it takes very little extra time and doing so has increased my productivity and help reduce fears of failure.

Stop and Hammer Time. We all have moments when feelings of inadequacy are more powerful than our confidence. It is all part of the human experience.  It is unrealistic to think that our fears and other limiting thoughts will disappear completely from our lives. But we can develop habits that reduce their power. When I recognize that the self-deprecating thoughts are overwhelming the positive ones, I immediately stop what I am doing (if applicable) and shift gears to a task or an activity that I am 100% confident in my ability to succeed. There are times when I’ll add an item to my to-do list that I’d do mindlessly without the reminder just for the satisfaction of crossing it off.

We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained. – Marie Curie

It is as if I stop in my hammer pants and shimmy my way over to an area where I am confident in my abilities and success. That shift allows me to ride the high of “I can do this!” and use those endorphins to power through those tasks where I am not as confident.

All in all, the three actions that are helping me push through these fears of failure and fears of not living up to my potential are breaking down goals (no matter how small) into tangible tasks, writing down ideas, goals, steps, tasks, etc… and then writing them down again, and shimmying away from negative thoughts by briefly shifting gears to do something I know I am good at doing in order to experience a boost of confidence.

What are some tricks that you employ to feel more confident or to squash the fear of failure?