Monday, October 11, 2010

How do you know?

This afternoon I was driving through beautiful rolling hills that were dipped in the reds, oranges and yellows of fall in the Appalachians! It was an amazing fall day and I was traveling to visit 2 clubs in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia to meet lots of new students. I was excited to be headed back into the classroom. As the miles ticked by, I realized that those miles were themselves becoming a classroom for me. I was driving past some very important historical landmarks that I am sure I learned about in high school, but have long since forgotten. Unfortunately, my historical knowledge is very limited and I probably shouldn't admit that I was unaware of the importance of some these places until now. (My limited knowledge may be linked to the fact that I grew up and learned American History in the South, where the Civil War is still referred to as the "War of Northern Aggression")

The first passing landmark was the Battlefield of Antietam. This was the location of the first significant battle of the Civil War to be fought on Northern soil and thought to be the turning point of the war. Although it was considered a tactial draw this battle was the springboard to President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation as Union Army Major General George B. McClellan was able to stop Confederate General Robert E. Lee's invasion of Maryland.

Next on my little history trip was Harpers Ferry which is layered with many historical events:  the starting place of  the Lewis and Clarke expedition;  the site of the John Brown raid which precipitated the Civil War; the first command of Stonewall Jackson, who raised and trained his famed Brigade here;  the site of three Civil War battles, the major one involving over 30,000 troops on both sides which resulted in the largest surrender of US troops until Bataan in WWII.

So, how do you know when you love your job? For me, I know when I am driving to a high school to meet and teach new students and I am the one that becomes the student.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Settled In

As I sit here and write the cool, crisp mountain breezes are blowing through my house. Yes, that's house. It is official. We have moved in, closed, and are now settled in our new home.

The inside is beautiful and completely brand new. The outside, well...we have some work to do. The seafoam green is growing on me, but the lack of trees is depressing.  We have already begun work on the landscape and will have new pics soon!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Moving Craziness!

Did anyone ever say moving was easy? Surely not!!! If anyone actually ever uttered those words they are crazy! Not just crazy... maybe completely insane! For the past month our life has been consumed by the craziness of moving.

It seems we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnell. We moved into a rental house yesterday and are set to close on our house sometime around the end of August. Most of our stuff is still in storage but at least we will have a roof over our heads for the next month. 

We owe so many people so much more than a thank you. Although many of them were not officially present for all the moving and packing, they definitely helped get us through this difficult time. The prayers and words of support from so many people including my best friend, Megann meant so much and reminded us how lucky we are to have such wonderful friends. For all the folks that helped us make the move out of Clinton: The Inmans, The Hudsons, David Crotts, and Daniel's parents; we cannot tell you how thankful we are to have you in our lives.

Once we made the long journey to WV we still had quite an adventure ahead of us. There was still the task of unloading the truck and loading it all into a rental house and a storage unit. Thank goodness Tyler Boulware was here to help us unload things. Not only did he help us unload the truck, but he and his wife have welcomed us into their home and helped us navigate this crazy journey for the past several months. Then came my parents to the rescue!! On their first trip to Morgantown, and on their vacation no less, they worked all day helping us get settled into the rental house. Once again we are so blessed to have all the help and support of family and wonderful friends. We could not have made this move without any of them behind us.

Although it is not nearly enough, THANK YOU so much and we love all of you!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Already a Mountaineer

On my second week of my new job I am quickly becoming a true Mountaineer. Last week I toured the football facilities, met a few football players and got my picture made on the flying WV. This week has been no different in my orientation to all things WVU. On Tuesday I met the actual Mountaineer (sorry no pics of that) and yesterday I met Coach Stewart. (For all my ACC fans, Coach Stewart is the head football coach here at WVU.)

Maybe next week I will meet Coach Huggins!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Job Update

As I begin the second week of my new job I am still learning what my title actually means. For some, I am the HSTA (Health Sciences Technology Academy) Program Coordinator, for others I am the Curriculum and Education Program Associate. I think these two title mean the same thing, but what do I actually do? Let me see if I can explain this amazing program and my role in it.

HSTA was developed in 1994 to provide math and science support and enrichment to minority and underrepresented students from West Virgina's rural communities. The goals of the program included shepherding these students through precollege, college and graduate training in health professions and programs and encouraging these students to return to practice their careers in an underserved area of West Virginia. Through school year club programs and summer campus programs at WVU, Marshall University, and West Virginia State all of the HSTA students are exposed to intensive academic enrichment emphasizing science and math for each grade from 9th through 12th as well as laboratory experiences where students work with scientists/clinical practitioners. Our ninth grade students participate in a Fun with Science camp, our tenth grade students participate in a Forensics science camp, and our eleventh grade students are involved with a Biomedical component.

Since the inception of this program the focus has been on relevant issues of WV Health. Currently the focus of our program is the obesity and Type II Diabetes epidemic in WV. Much attention has been drawn to the fact that WV ranks number one in the nation for percentage of the population that is obese and  the  prevalence of Type II Diabetes. HSTA students in our Biomed program (11th grade) are currently invovled in a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) project in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh.  One of the goals of this project is to guide students and teachers in research projects involving life-style interventions in communities where they transmit their knowledge and understanding of research and clinical trials to their parents and community members in order to address critical barriers to progress in healthy lifestyles.

So, what does all that mean to me, and what do I do? In a very simplified answer:  I support the teachers in the clubs accross the state with their research projects related to our Diabetes Education project. I organize the summer Biomed component of this research project., and I act as a research associate on the diabetes research project. It all still seems a little fuzzy to me,  but I am learning everyday and LOVING every minute of it!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Go Mountaineers!

I had my first experience with WVU Football today as I got to tour the facility as well as the Hall of Traditions. I must admit, I had goose bumps!! As a Clemson fan and graduate, I am well aware of the excitement and traditions of college football. WVU football has its own brand of excitement and traditions that I am so excited to be a part of.

My blood still runs orange and I will always be a Tiger at heart, but it won't hurt for me to get swept up in the Mountaineer fever and try out the Gold and Blue for a little while.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dorm Life

This morning begins my adventure in dorm life at WVU. I am living on the second floor of Lincoln Hall in a suite. While this room is MUCH nicer than my previous dorm experiences at Clemson, and probably nicer than some hotel rooms, it is still a temporary living space.

Not so bad. Of course I had to bring a few comforts to make it actually feel like a home for the next two weeks.

Monday, July 12, 2010


The time has come for me to say goodbye to my Carolina home and I am at a loss for words. I knew that this would not be easy, but it has been so long in the making that I really thought it would never happen. I leave tomorrow to begin my West Virginia adventure. Although I will be without DH and without a permanent home (I will be calling a dorm my home for 2 weeks), we are hopeful that this is only a temporary and minor speed bump on this crazy ride.

Words cannot describe the emotions that fill me tonight as I prepare to leave in the morning. South Carolina has been my home, my refuge, and my perfect Southern state. Not to mention the place I met my husband, married him and eventually settled into our first home. It is because of all those reasons and so many more that this move is particularly difficult.

So, farewell to my Carolina. And farewell to all the wonderful friends I have met while I have been here. You have held me up in some of the most trying days of my adult life. Without your friendship and support I could have never made it to this point.

As I left my sweetest neighbors tonight Miss Kat sang me this song:

Tho' goodbye means the birth of a tear drop, 

Hello means the birth of a smile. 
And the smile will erase the tear blighting trace, 
When we meet in the after awhile.
Ev'ry tear will be a memory 
So wait and pray each night for me 
Till we meet again.

Though this song was originally intended for lovers facing separation due to the first World War, the meaning still rings true... We will meet again and this is definitely not goodbye. My WV porch will always be waiting for your company at the close of the day. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I can't believe that in 2 weeks I will be living slightly south of this famous, dividing line between the North and the South. Thus begins the journey of this Southern Belle in the not so Southern, West Virginia.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sometimes a Sign

Music has been a huge part of my life since I can remember. I am not the most musically gifted person in terms of playing instruments, but I LOVE great music and can call a song to mind for almost any occasion. For me to have such an appreciation of music and lyrics, I believe that my parents have been playing music for me since before I was born. So it is no surprise that every big decision or turning point in my life can be accompanied by a song that either I have found or my father has found for me. This move to WV is no different.

DH and I were set to leave yesterday morning to head back to WV for the weekend. Unfortunately there were a few minor things that needed to be taken care of before our weekend excursion...The lawn needed to be mowed, so I donned my grass cutting gear (I - Pod, sunscreen and shades) and set out to tackle this feat. As I was grooving along to the shuffle on my I-pod, I was serenaded by Lyle Lovett. As I started to listen more carefully I realized the song was truly singing to me. It was a sign. I'm not sure I could say it better myself, so I will let Lyle:

Pack the sofa
And pack the old arm chair
Tell the china
To ask the silverware
To pray we find that
They speak the language there
And say good-bye to Carolina

Go west young man while you still can
Before you're old and gray
Go west and make a better life
Than you could if you stayed
So tell your family

And tell your friends good-bye
Say you'll write them
And keep them on your mind
And say you'll see them
Whenever someone dies
And say good-bye to Carolina

We will just pretend that "Go West young man" implies West Virginia and that we will definitley see our Carolina friends and family more than when someone dies. Regardless of those things, this song was a sign since I was offered the position of Program Coordinator for the Health Sciences Technology Acadamy at WVU about an hour after my yard work concluded.
Funny how things work out...
Thanks Lyle!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We Have a Plan...Sort of?

It is shocking to most people that know me that I was in such a state of limbo for so long. However, some of that limbo has been replaced by a small inkling of a plan. The house is currently under contract and set to close sometime around the 1st of August. With that one puzzle piece set into place, DH and I set several other pieces in place as well.

Since the house is on track to be sold we will go ahead and make the move to the great state of West Virginia. I still don't have a job, but am patiently waiting to hear about a job I interviewed for last week (Who am I kidding...I am not sure patient is the right word!). We will begin the packing process and shoot for moving sometime around the end of July. Where we will move in Morgantown has yet to be decided. We are still looking at houses and hope to have something in place by August. (We realize with lending the way it is currently, it will be more like the middle of August. But, we will figure something out.) Our wonderful realtor has been combing the listings and has put together a list of houses for us to look at this weekend. Hopefully, one of those listings is our future home.

Since we have been lacking in any plan for so long, this small piece of a plan is so exciting! We are thrilled that something finally worked out and our West Virginia future looks more certain now than it did several months ago.

More to come on our job

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Birthday Fun!

No birthday for me would be complete without a trip to my all time favorite place...Charleston. DH (Da didn't stick, turns out my sweet husband hated that nickname) and I loaded the car and headed down to the steamy Lowcountry for the day. Could it have been a more perfect birthday? Lunch at Poes, Spoleto festival downtown, King street shopping! So great.

My birthday celebration did not end on Friday, I got to have a birthday weekend. Saturday we spent the afternoon with DH's family for a special request birthday dinner: Cubed Steak with golden mushroom gravy, creamed corn, fried okra, speckled butter beans, homemade biscuits, and all topped off with a Strawberry Cream Cheese Birthday cake. YUM!! So much for my diet! All those extra calories were worth it since I got to spend the day with my two nieces and the rest of DH's family.

To end my weekend long birthday celebration, Megann made the trip from Al and arrived Monday morning! So wonderful to get to see her. Great birthday present!!


If there is another, more perfect word to describe our life right now, I just haven't found it. I wish I could say that our "limbo" reffered to the fun dance centered on shimmying under a low placed bar, but DH and I sadly are not dancing that dance. We are, however, dancing the uncertainty dance. Not nearly as much fun!

In one week I am interviewing for a program coordinator position at HSTA ( After that interview we hope to have a better idea of what the future will hold for us.

Other than that, here's how everything stands right now:

1. The house has not sold.
2. DH doesn't have a job here (in SC) next year.
3. I don't have a job in WV for next year.
4. Although, I have several job offers here for next year, nothing is concrete yet.
5. DH needs to be in WV in July to begin full time school.

As we go through all the options in front of us, we still have not come up with a solution as there are so many unknowns right now. We are getting alot of questions like "what is your next step?"; "what will you do next?"; and my favorite "what's your plan?" . Right now we don't know what our next step is and we don't know what we will do next, and we just don't have a plan. So thank you very much for asking, but I can't give you any other answer but that. Please don't look at me like I am crazy and that you can't believe I (of all people) don't have a plan. There are just too many variables and too many unknowns right now.

So again, thank you for your support and believe me when I say that I will be shouting from the roof tops as soon as we have a plan, since the limbo is not something I do well.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Menu

Since I am no longer employed and Da (I'm trying out this new nickname. "D" just didin't seem right since I always see David Cain when someone says D) is in WV, I have been home alone all weekend catching up with my back issues of Martha Stewart Living and Southern Living. After combing through each issue with a careful eye, I have decided that entertaining Da's family for the Memorial Day holiday will cure this itch I have to be Martha. Here's what's on the menu:

Eastside Cafe's (Austin, TX) Salsa with Blue Corn Chips
Fresh Peach and Arugula Salad with Garlic Vinagrette
Mustard Barbeque Chicken
Papa Tom's Famous Potato Salad
Broccoli Salad
Mimi's "P"-Slaw
Caramelized Onion and Cheesy Cornbread Muffins
Key Lime Cheescake

I am so thrilled to have the chance to spend the day with family and friends doing what I love the! I only wish my own family were here to spend the day with us. I am looking forward to days when that may be possible!

In the meantime,  Happy Memorial Day to everyone. Enjoy time with friends and family and remember those who have died in our nation's service so that we can enjoy the freedom's of our life.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Farewell to the Woodruff Wolverines

One more day... one more morning drive... one more sound of the morning and afternoon bells... one more set of grades to enter. That is all that is left in my time at Woodruff High School. To say that this year has flown by would be a major understatement. To say that it seems like I just opened my doors to an unfamiliar school and unfamiliar students on the first day of school seems more likely. All the uncertainty and uneasiness I felt beginning this school year was quickly replaced with a familiar ease and comfort. This school and these kids have made me love every minute of being a teacher and for that reason I will truly miss being a part of this school! So, it is off to West Virginia I go knowing that I am lucky to have been a part of an amazing community for at least this one year. Although I am not an alumnus of Woodruff High School, I am touched by the chorus of the Alma Mater:

Hurrah, Hurrah, for the Woodruff High
We are true as the stars above,
So off with your hats and three times cheer
For the dear old school you love!

Best of luck to all my students! I hope that our paths will one day cross again!

Hurrah, Hurrah for the Woodruff High!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekend Excursion

At the close of this week after much excitement (an anticpated interview for me in WV) D and I decided to take a little break. Our break of choice this weekend was a backpacking trip into Panthertown Valley in the mountains of Western North Carolina. We not only needed a break from the stress and uncertainty that has become our life right now, but we also needed a break from the heat that has seemed to permeate every nook and cranny of this upstate corner of SC.

With hopes of cool breezes, clear mountain streams, and a simpler life for a day, D convinced me to put on a backpack and carry my house with me for a night. (I must really love this man since I am not sure I would do this for just anyone!)

At the end of our short hike, only 1.5 miles, we found ourselves amidst a land of countless waterfalls, pristine sandy bottom creeks, and tangled mountain laurel and rhododendron thickets. This small parcel of land (6300 acres) was designated as an addition to the Nantahala National Forest after several attempts were made to convert it into an upscale resort area, Christmas tree farm, and Duke Power's land for  high voltage transmission lines. Regardless of the multiple intended uses, it's primary use today is as a recreation area and it's beauty is amazing! We found ourselves breathing a little deeper and walking a little slower. The dogs felt as if we had taken them to their own personal heaven.

After our wonderful day we called it quits at our home away from home and settled in to a dinner of udon soup and terriyaki noodles. The dogs found a place to settle and finally made peace with the wilderness.

At the end of our trip we left feeling more refreshed and grateful for our time away from the distractions. We found that even a 2 hour car ride and 1.5 mile hike can make us feel like we are miles away!

In the words of  Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas "..... to be whole and harmonious, man must also know the music of the beaches and the woods. He must find the thing of which he is only an infinitesimal part and nurture it and love it, if he is to live."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ever Wonder?

Maybe Daniel and I should investigate this new hobby once we get settled in West Virginia. How hard could it be?

Jib Jab

Thanks Anna!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

At the close of this weekend I have been reflecting on all the mothers in my life and the importance of my own. As I spent this celebratory day with D's mother and grandmother, I am reminded of the special place that mothers hold in our hearts.  This one title, whether it be Mom, Mommy, Mama, or Ma seems to encompass so many different roles. For me, my own Mom is my confidant, my support, my friend, my strength, and most importantly the voice of reason for me when things seem to get so out of control. Yes, we have had our fair share of ups and downs (what Mother and Daughter hasn't), but in the end she is the one that I turn to when I really need to know who I am and who I am supposed to be.

After all these reflections on my mom and my relationship with her I was left wondering how this special day came to be? It turns out that this day for honoring our mothers originated with a West Virginian named Anna Jarvis (it seems West Virginia pops up everywhere I look). Ms. Jarvis, in 1908, wanted to accomplish her mother's dream of making a celebration for all mothers. Unfortunately this idea didn't take off until several years later when President Woodrow Wilson made it an official national holiday in 1914. The story goes that Anna Jarvis later became disgusted with the commericalism of her own creation, and was arrested several times for protesting against the commercialization of Mother's Day.  She finally said that she "wished she would have never started the day because it became so out of control ...". Regardless of the commericialism and discontent that Anna Jarvis felt over her creation, this day still gives us all the opportunity to tell our Moms how much they mean to us and how much we appreciate them.

I wish with all my heart that I was nearer to mother not just today, but everyday. So, Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers out there and a very special Happy Mother's Day to my own Mom... Love you!


Friday, April 23, 2010


It is now April 23 and we are less than 2 weeks away from D leaving to begin his research at WVU. Once he's gone, the ball really starts moving towards our future in Morgantown. As exciting as that should be, there is a dark cloud brewing over this move. I found out yesterday that it is very unlikely (in the words of the HR department at Mon. County Schools: "slim to no chance") that I will be able to get a job in a WV public high school.

You see, the WV Department of Education's hiring policy is one of Seniority. The process works like this: Jobs get posted, teachers already in the school system bid on the job and the most senior candidate gets the job. This is the simplified version as there are several other factors that contribute to this process, but the trump card is the seniority factor. I was completely baffled by this process as the HR lady explained it to me yesterday. Unfortunately her sweet tone did not sugar coat the fact of the matter: I will not be teaching school in WV.

As D and I figure out how to deal with this newest development, I am researching other reasonable options. I really doubt my ability to work at the local "Gentleman's Club" or the legality of other older, similar professions.

Any ideas?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Blue Hose go Green!

Today marked the first Green Auto Show in Presbyterian College history. (We are pretty sure it's the first  auto show in the United Statest to feature only fuel efficient "green" cars, but don't quote me on that.)

Cyrus (the Scottish Highlander) promoting the Green Auto Show

On this beautiful, 85 degree day about 400 middle school students, PC students, and community members joined the Green Hose (a committee of students and faculty committed to sustainability) in an effort to bring awareness to our dependence on oil.

Number of barrels of oil used per person, per year and the country of origin

Students and attendees mingled among the cars and other informational booths throughout the day. Among the vehicles present were Toyota's Prius and Yaris, Honda's Fit and Hybrid Civic, Ford's Fusion, Hyundai's Sonata and Elantra, Volkswagon's Jetta Wagon and Golf, Star Electric Cars, and a completely electric car provided by PlugIn Carolina (

After the middle school kids left, I took a break to check out some of the rides.

Jetta TDI Station Wagon

Segway...So Fun!!

Even Bonnie Blue took some time to enjoy a Michelin Tire Frisbee.

After it was all said and done, I got take home the Prius...Not to keep, granted, but just for the weekend. (I have to return it to the dealer on Monday.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Favorite Things

Last week we decided to list our house, officially, with a real estate agent. (Luckily that agent happens to be a good friend of ours, so it made this step a little easier.) While we were filling out the paper work for the listing she asked us what our favorite thing was about our house. D and I looked at each other a little dumbfounded. Favorite thing...just one? As we both went through our lists of the things we loved about our house, it struck me that we couldn't narrow it down to just one thing. The 2 years of renovations must have made it that much more endearing to us. Granted, those first years here were a little tough...

 but somehow D and I made it through all the renovations and got a house that we both love!

After all the blood, sweat, and tears we are leaving this sweet house with all of our memories and lots and lots of pictures.

As for my favorite things, here's a short list:

1. The secluded side porch with a hedge of susanqua camillia and privet which overlooks a fish pond with a bubbling waterfall.

2. The azaleas of every color that dot the lawn with color the first months of Spring.

3. The openess that allows me to be in the kitchen and still part of everything else in the house.

4. The windows and sunshine that brighten my days even in the darkest months of winter. 

5. My wonderful whirlpool bathtub (that has provided many hours of relaxation after the aforementioned renovations).

And last, but certainly not least...
6. All the wonderful neighbors who have so graciously accepted us into this community and made it truly feel like home.

We feel so blessed to have called Clinton( or as us locals say...Clinnon), SC our home for the past 5 five years. We are hopeful that our travels will bring us back to this neck of the woods someday after our WV adventure.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Luck or Something More?

Last night D and I were asked to join the President of Presbyterian College and a few donors to the college for dinner. The dinner was showcasing the sustainability initiative that D and a colleague of his have taken on this semester as well as the Green Auto Show on the PC campus next Friday.

As we sat down to a dinner highlighting local farms we were joined by a couple from Atlanta. As it turned out they were both PC alums and their daughter was a former outstanding senior in the Biology department at PC.  D remembered her fondly and was excited to meet her parents. After some discussion of their travels and their daughters career path, the topic turned to our move to WV. Since I am still unemployed for the next school year we discussed my difficulty in getting my foot in the door of the WV schools. As luck (or something else) would have it, it turns out that our dinner partners are very well connected.

Very well connected may just be an understatement...Mr. B is currently the president of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), has several good friends that sit on the WV Board of Education, and is a close friend of Gov. Joe Manchin (WV). Needless to say, as D and I walked to dinner last night we were hoping to enjoy good food and good company. We could never have imagined the twist of fate that would be presented to us. As the evening drew to a close I was set up with, what I hope will be, a great step towards a job in WV.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Friends of Coal?

While I realize that not only does coal power 99% of WV's electricity and coal mining provides about 30,000 jobs in WV, the economy is serviced by the Coal Severance Tax which adds around $214 million into West Virgnina's economy each year. All of those facts aside,  it is very hard to digest the bumper sticker seen above when you hear the stories of the families who were affected in the latest mining tradegy. 

On Monday at 3 PM the explosion in the Upper Big Branch mine rocked through the subterranen walls of this mine in Raleigh County, WV. The mine's operating company, Performance Coal Co.(a subsidiary of Massey Energy) didn't even call the victim's families to let them know of the catastrophe. Most of the victim's families learned of the explosion from governmental officials or media outlets. This giant company, that has made it's fortune from the miners that have risked their lives in the underground mines, couldn't extend the smallest courtesy of a phone call.

How can a mine such as this one be allowed to continue to operate after one of the deadliest mining disasters in a decade? Furthermore, how was this mine even allowed to remain operational after the hundreds of mine violations in the last few months?

I recognize our country's dependence on coal and the industry of coal mining, but when the coal and energy company's no longer value the human lives that it takes to power this industry, we have a problem! From all accounts that I have read, it seems that the company's official statement is that they are "taking every action to locate and rescue those still missing." While this statement doesn't change the fact that 25 families are missing brothers, husbands, and fathers, it does give you a glimmer of hope that the company cares about its employees and not just the bottom line. I am sure the families of those missing and dead would like to put their faith in that. As these families mourned the loss of their loved ones, Massey Energy shares ended the trading day down 11.4%.

Which of those numbers is more likely to register with the energy company, 25 dead or stocks down 11.4%?

Saturday, April 3, 2010


GNP - Gross National Product
GNH - Gross National Happiness

There really is such a thing as Gross National Happiness, and there is actually an entire nation that measures its success on the Gross National Happiness instead of the Gross National Product. Blown away? Maybe not, but I was as I found myself 65 pages into The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner. The concept of the small nation of Bhutan adopting a way to measure their success based on happiness was intriguing! How did this come to be?

In November 2008 the Bhutanese people coronated their 5th king, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and with him adopted the concept of GNH. Their belief was that the Gross Domestic Product indicator was a measure of physical output of  a society and was biased towards more production and consumption regardless of the need or want of that output. The government of this 691,141 person nation in South Asia wanted indicators of sucess that showed a direct causality of happiness and well-being with respect to the variables being measured. They developed nine dimensions that the define happiness and well being in Bhutan. They are:

1. Psychological Well-being
2. Time Use
3. Community Vitality
4. Culture
5. Health
6. Education
7. Environmental Diversity
8. Living Standard
9. Governance

Under their definition, true happiness is when you attain a balance of all of the above dimensions.

Granted, Bhutan is a small nation compared to the United States. But, what would our government look like if they adopted this philosophy? How would we compare in a rating of nations based on the Gross National Happiness rather than the Gross National Product?

We may not measure our success as a nation on the GNH, but it turns out that we can see how, as a nation,  we measure up in terms of happiness. The World Database of Happiness based in Rotterdam, Netherlands registers scientific research on the subjective enjoyment of life. Data can be found for every country in the world.

So, how happy are we?

Maybe instead of Morgantown, WV we should move to Costa Rica?!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Charleston Lunch

Travelling to Charleston is always such a treat for me. Crossing the bridges and seeing the Charleston Harbor and the many steeples that punctuate the sky make me feel at home in a way that very few places do. Yesterday the trip was equally, if not more special, since we were meeting my aunt, uncle, and cousin Sam (who is also my God Son) for lunch. What a perfect Charleston day!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You're From West Virginia?

What do you think of when you think of West Virginia? Hillbillies, marrying your cousin, dueling banjos, or more currently the Final Four? Surely one of those images comes to mind. Several of the more unpleasant of them would come to my mind before we made the decision to make this move.

How about these images instead:

(Techincally she wasn't born in WV, but she grew up there.)

 So, West Virginia should be known more for all the amazing people that are from the state than for the typical stereotypes that we associate with it. For a complete list check out:

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Break in Texas

As Spring Break begins, I find myself in the great state of Texas. Houston, TX is home to all of my immediate family and anytime I get to spend a few days here it feels like a vacation. Spring is in full bloom and the air is thick with pollen and wonderful springtime blooms.

My parents moved to Houston 3 years ago from their home in Little Rock, AR and my brother and sister in law ended up here shortly after my brother worked in Houston in a consutling position. Coincidentally, my parents and brother both settled in Houston while D and I stayed in South Carolina at PC. Since we get together so infrequently it is always a great time when we all get to spend time together over dinner.

While I enjoy cooking and enjoy finding different things to cook, my brother takes the joy of cooking to another level. He continues to impress all of us with his amazing culinary creations. Tonight was no exception. As I enjoyed meeting the newest addition to his family, Gray the boxer, my brother worked on his latest delectable dinner of pan sauteed Halibut with a Meyer lemon aioli and Morel mushroom and asparagus salad. WOW!

Dinner was exceptional and the company was even better. As the Mountaineers of WVU made it to the Final Four, we wined and dined and took a few family pics. Sadly, D was not able to join me on this visit and so is sorely missed in these photos.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Unhealthiest City to Congressional Measure

Anything about West Virgina tends to peak my interest these days...Especially anything that combines my new home with my most favorite hobby, food and cooking. So when I read recently that a Food Network celeb was airing a show about a very unhealthy WV town, I was very curious. What could possibly be so unhealthy about my new state?

It turns out that Huntington, WV was recently named the unhealthiest city in America by the Associated Press based on data from the CDC.  A little digging on Huntington led me to find out that it sits on the Ohio River in the Southwest part of the state. To the south are large coal mines that feed our power plants. Prior to the modernization of the coal industry Huntington was a hub for manufacturing jobs in the chemical and locomotive industry. The primary diet consisted of rich, fatty, fried foods with gravies and sauces that were worked off with manual labor. Since modernization, the manual labor that burned the calories of that food has all but disappeared. However, the diets of most of Huntington's residents have not changed with the times. Fast food resturants dominate the town and there is very little emphasis on exercise. The economy has suffered so much since the change in industry and with that the town has gotten increasingly unhealthy. It is said that Huntington is tied with a few other metropolitan areas for the proportion of people who don't exercise, have heart disease and diabetes.

Unhealthiest City is not the way city leaders probably want their town to be recognized. That doesn't exactly make me want to hurry up and get there. Luckily, help is on the way. While things can't be changed over night, small steps can be taken to help the citizens of this town change their attitude about healthy eating.
Tonight on ABC (if you can pull yourself away from the Sweet Sixteen) Jamie Oliver, of the Food Network, begins his new show called "Food Revolution." The show will attempt to persuade the people of Huntington to go for fresh, affordable foods and produce over processed foods.

Not only does he hope to help the town of Huntington, Oliver hopes to help begin a Food Revolution in the lunchrooms of our schools. As Congress considers legislation to toughen rules that regulate school lunches the former "Naked Chef"  plans to take the initiative to the White House at the conclusion of the show.

As an educator, foodie, and soon to be West Virginian I can't wait for this! Check it out tonight at 8 PM (EST) on ABC or check out Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution page and sign the petition to bring healthier options to our public schools.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Mountaineer Soon To Be

In just three short months my husband and I will be leaving our sweet South Carolina home to become WVU Mountaineers. (D will actually be the official Mountaineer, I will just be the support.) It is with many mixed emotions that we make this move. D's thoughts are much more logical than mine: where will we live, what kind of job will I get, how much work will he have to do.  I am much more preoccupied with the fact that we are moving to the NORTH! Forget all the logical worries about a house and a job!

OK...OK, I realize that technically Morgantown is south of the Mason Dixon line (by 10 miles maybe). However, they don't say ya'll and they don't drink sweet tea. Those two things alone define it as the North. On our most recent trip I was talking to the guy in the music department of Barnes and Noble. After several minutes of conversation, he very politely asked me where I was from because he said I had such a great Southern accent. WHAT? If I Motown were truly in the South my accent wouldn't be great, it would be normal!

What have I gotten myself into? If I am going to be a true Mountaineer I need to know a little about this new home of mine. After some research here's a little history lesson...West Virgina was one of 2 states to form during the Civil War, along with Nevada. It is the only state to have formed by seceding from a Confederate State. West Virginia separated from Virginia and was admitted into the Union in 1863 as an official new state. South of the Mason Dixon Line or not, doesn't sound like the south to me.

Regardless, I have so far not met a West Virginian that wasn't a kind and gracious host to me in my navigation of this new adventure. Additionally, I have been overwhelmed with the beauty of the landscape. While I am reluctant to accept my departure from SC, I eagerly await our WV future.