My Trip To Elkins, WV

Last week I was in Elkins, WV talking to middle school and high school students about eating disorders, how to develop a healthy body, and how to help someone with an eating disorder. I greatly enjoyed my visit to Elkins; the students asked smart, thoughtful questions, and every single person I met in the state of West Virginia was friendly and welcoming. I stayed at the Graceland Inn & Conference Center (http://www.gracelandinn.com/) on the Davis & Elkins College campus, and I also ate dinner there on Thursday night. I had the grilled cheese and tomato basil soup, and it was delicious!

One thing I really miss about living in the east is how outgoing people are there. The servers at Graceland went out of their way to talk to me, and they were genuinely nice, friendly people. In the room where I ate dinner, there was a campus ministry meeting being held, and the campus chaplain chatted a bit with me, and when I went to pay my bill, I found that he had paid it for me. Because of his kindness to me, I’m going to pay it forward for someone else. I found this kind of friendliness and hospitality to be the norm while I was in West Virginia.

Another thing I miss about the east: mountains! I flew into Pittsburgh and drove to Elkins, and the drive down I-79 was gorgeous. Pennsylvania and West Virginia seem to have gotten a lot of rain this year, and mountains and hills were quite lush. It was beautiful, and it made me so happy to see mountains and hills (we don’t have much in the way of mountains and hills in MN!).

Here is a picture I took as the sun was setting behind Graceland:

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While this isn’t the best picture, you can see the mountains in the distance, and how green it is there. I also really liked the stone fence.

My presentations at the high school and the middle went really well. This is the first time I spoke to high school and middle school groups (I’ve mostly spoken at colleges and treatment centers) and I was a bit apprehensive before I flew out, but I was so excited, and I felt confident on the day of the presentations, and for the first time ever, I did not experience any public speaking anxiety! I feel like I’ve finally overcome the public speaking anxiety. I had a sort of epiphany where I realized that I know what I’m doing, I’m good at what I do, and I’m prepared for this. I thoroughly enjoyed giving my presentations and answering questions. My hope is that it helped the young women of Elkins.

After the presentations, I went out to lunch with an AP Literature class, which was fun. The students were bright and talkative, and I learned a lot about Elkins and the surrounding area. We went to a restaurant called C.J. Maggie’s (http://www.cj-maggies.com/) where I had a quesadilla and a big cup of sweet tea. I LOVE sweet tea, and except for McDonald’s, I don’t know of anyplace that sells it in Minnesota.

When lunch was over, I started the drive up to Pennsylvania. I spent Friday afternoon-Sunday morning hanging out with my grandma and my aunt. We had a good time, and we hit up some of my favorite places including Dunkin’ Donuts (the closest one to me is in the Wisconsin Dells!), Rizzo’s, which is my favorite Italian place, and we went to the mall so I could get a women’s fitted Troy Polamalu jersey. We spent a lot of time going for walks and just catching up, and I unexpectedly ran into some of my cousins, and a family friend. It was a good visit. 🙂

I am an anxious flyer, and I had some rough flights on the way in, and even though I was a bit of a wreck when I landed in Pittsburgh, I had the wherewithal to take a picture of the Franco Harris statue in the airport (which is right beside a statue of George Washington–only in Pittsburgh):

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It was a great trip for a number of reasons, and I hope that someday I can go back to West Virginia because I had such a good time there. The AP students were talking about something called Forest Fest, and another festival that celebrates Appalachian heritage, and that sounds like something I’d like.

My next speaking engagement is at the University of Wisconsin-Marinette, with a class visit at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and I’m looking forward to that trip now! I love that I get to talk to students about eating disorders, writing, etc. It’s such a privilege, and it’s just so cool, and so much fun, and such an honor. This is by far the best thing to come out of having published Purge: Rehab Diaries.

 

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