Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

1st Anniversary Repost: The Best Laid Plans…

Our View From Here is one year old! In celebration of this occasion, we’re reposting our favorite post from the last year! Enjoy!

I’m a planner. When I graduated high school, I had a plan. I was going to Penn State, where I was going to study kinesiology for a few years. After I got most of my general education credits under my belt, I was planning on transferring to Slippery Rock University (yes, this is an actual college) to become a physical therapist.

I diligently followed my plan…for a semester. I learned all about pronation and supination and realized kinesiology was not the field of study for me. To be honest, I’m really not sure where this interest came from initially. I have never utilized a physical therapist; I wasn’t athletic. In fact, I think my sole experience with physical therapy came from listening to my dad grumble about doing his after his hip replacement surgery. After a mini-crisis of trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, I settled on going back to my volunteering roots. I began volunteering with the Red Cross and decided to major in Business Management, like my supervisor did, so I could go eventually be a manager at a nonprofit. Eleven years later and I’m finally a Program Manager at a nonprofit foundation. This is one of the few aspects of my life plan that seem to have come to pass.

Had someone told me back then that in just a few short years, camping and hiking would be among my favorite pastimes, I would be skeptical, but I could concede that it was possible. Had the same person told me that in a few years after that, I would enjoy skiing so much that I would go out and buy my own equipment I would have probably had a bit of a chuckle. Finally, if someone told me that in 10 years I would have started scuba diving and be well on my way to finishing up several advanced certification courses, I would have nodded and smiled politely, while slowly backing away, for fear I was speaking to a complete nutjob who could go postal on me at any moment. But alas, here I am, looking forlornly at the skis I bought this season but probably won’t have a chance to try out. In my work bag is a course book to teach me how to dive with enriched air, rather than regular 21% oxygen air. And I’ve been working with friends to coordinate our schedules for a camping trip in June. I have one person to blame for all of this, my husband, Darren.

Us, several years ago

Darren first went camping before he was a year old. He is an Eagle Scout (that’s the highest level of Boy Scout) and has been skiing for over half his life. The scuba is new, but an interest he’s had for years. He finally convinced me to take the class too, and I have to admit, it was nice to learn something together, rather than always being two steps behind. The point of this post isn’t to pay homage to Darren, the outdoor Adventure-Boy (though I happen to think he’s pretty swell). No, the point I’m trying to get across is that I think it’s important to have someone in your life that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Someone who can challenge you to do things you might not otherwise do. For me, it happens to be Darren, but I don’t think it needs to be a significant other – a good friend, a relative, even an arch-nemesis can fulfill the role. Whomever it may be, the trick is to find that person, and let them push you, because you might find there’s a whole lot of fun to be had once you do.

As I was writing this post, the song from the below video popped in my head. I have no idea if it makes sense, or is completely antithetical to my point. I read comments from others about the meaning of the song and the comments ran the spectrum from “live life to the fullest” to “you’re going to wake up in 20 years and regret your life.” Since no one else seems to know what it means either, I’m just going to go with it. At least it’s catchy.

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Climb Every Mountain

Well not EVERY mountain. I enjoy hiking up mountains. Little mountains. Mountains that you can get to the peak of and be home in time for dinner. Maybe enjoy some nice vistas in between. The first mountain I hiked up happened to be the tallest peak in the North East; Mount Washington in New Hampshire. If I could recommend anything when it comes to hiking it would be to not start out with the highest peak in a geographic region. My second piece of advice is to not do it with a hangover.

I had decided to do the hike on a bit of a whim. A friend from work had gone to school in New Hampshire and was planning a trip back to visit and to climb Mt. Washington. I thought, New England is nice and it’d be pretty cool to climb Mt. Washington ( Then I could say I had climbed it), so I tagged along. In the weeks leading up to the trip I checked on the specifics of Mt. Washington. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid. The more I researched the more nervous I got. What was I getting myself in to? I expressed my fears to my friend who assured me it wasn’t that bad. He didn’t even train the first time he climbed it. I’d be fine.

The night before our hike we went out with some of his old friends from school. I may have had one or two cocktails too many. I really should have thought about the mountain waiting for me the next morning. I woke up the next day with a nice little hangover. My friend was unsympathetic. Hangover or no we came to New Hampshire to climb a mountain.

We set off at the bottom of the trail planning to hike up and down. The first few miles of the hike I felt miserable. My friend was pointing out the beautiful nature all around me. I mostly wanted to pick up a piece of that nature and hit him over the head with it. A few miles into the hike my hangover was finally gone. The bright side is I learned a new way to get rid of a hangover, just climb a mountain. The middle few miles of the hike I was doing fairly well keeping a good pace enjoying the nature around me. Then we neared the top of the tree line. On this hike I learned about terms such as “false peak.” Those are little humps in the mountain that make you think you’re at the top. You get to them and there’s another chunk of mountain rising above you and you want to cry. Mt. Washington has more than one. Toward the last third of the hike I was laboring (to put it mildly). My friend was not.

Along a hike such as this you tend to pass the same people over and over. There were two ladies in particular that became my cheer leaders. Saying things like “You can do it. Only another mile or so!” when I really just wanted to quit. The main reason I kept going was because of one thought, “The top is closer than the bottom. Get there and you can hitch a ride down and collapse at the bottom.”

The last 500 vertical feet of  Mt. Washington  is all medium to small boulders that I literally crawled over. Stopping every ten feet for a breather (Another thing I learned on this hike. I am very sensitive to the thinner oxygen at high altitudes). All the while I’m watching as my hiking buddy is going over the rocks like they’re stairs with his hand in his pockets. IN HIS POCKETS!! Yet again, I had the urge to hit him over the head with something.

I eventually reached the parking lot where my friend was waiting for me. “You’re not at the peak yet just up those stairs and up that little hill” I wanted to cry. I think I might have now that I think of it. I pushed myself to the top. It wasn’t pretty but I made it. I enjoyed the view for a couple seconds then searched for a bench where I could go pass out.

I was relieved to discover that Mt. Washington actually offers a “Hiker’s Taxi.” For a small fee a van will drive poor saps like me back to the bottom. I rode down with my friend more exhausted than I’d ever been before. My knees throbbing from the torture I’d just put them through. I thought about what I’d just achieved.  No matter how pathetic I was while doing it, I can say I hiked up Mount Washington.  Someday…I’m going to do it again.

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Christine’s Corner…cheesy but true

Happy Thursday Everybody! I like Thursdays because you can feel the weekend is coming soon. And who doesn’t like that? Just like some of the other ladies on here, this is my first adventure in blogging. Bear with me while I try to cobble together my thoughts and forgive my horrible grammar.

My life right now is in a state of impending transition. Whether I like it or not, it is about to change. For better or worse? I don’t know. I’ll go glass half full and say for the better. We’ll visit the whole story of what’s coming on the horizon another week. For the time being, how about a “My Life Pre-Transition” intro?

I turned 31 this year so I am officially IN my 30s. I live in a suburb of a suburb southwest of Philadelphia, PA. I live with my parents in the house I grew up in. Not the same room though. At least I’ve moved down the hall. I pay some rent to make me feel better about the situation. It was only supposed to be for a couple of years after I moved out of my apartment. Those “couple of years” have turned into more, much to my chagrin. Life, being the crazy thing it is, decided to throw a big wrinkle my way that kept me where I am (again this will have to wait for another week).

I have a BS in Horticulture from Pennsylvania State University. I don’t work in a city, quite the opposite in fact. I work on a 250 acre wholesale nursery in rural southeastern PA. I work in the yard that sells to the local landscapers and garden centers as the assistant manager. I am surrounded by trucks, tractors, skid loaders, and a ton of plants. My office is a small, maybe 20′ x 30′, building with no indoor plumbing. Port O Johns are not that bad when cleaned regularly and hand sanitizer/hand wipes are a god send.  My job is great because I’m not always trapped in the office.  Those beautiful days when people are longingly looking out their windows I’m out wandering around in the sunshine. The opposite is also true. After awhile, rain gear does nothing and you just get wet.

I like to go hiking when I can. I’m a fan of vistas so if I can get to the top of a small mountain it’s a happy day. I emphasize small. Mt. Everest is not in my future. After college, “I taught myself to crochet!”.  Really, that was the title of the book. It’s become a fun hobby and my friends usually get the fruits of my labor. I have other things I dabble in but those are the big two.

As far as Christine’s Corner (and to sum up)? I live in the corner of the state in the corner of the house and I work in the corner of the office (not to be confused with corner office). So the title is apt. I apologize for the cheesy title.  It won’t happen again. Uh, I can’t actually promise that.

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Meet Amanda! (is that too vain??)

Hello, world, and welcome to my first foray into blogging! I represent the NY metro region in this blog. I work in NYC but live in NJ with my husband. I got married just over a year ago, but I still like to consider myself a newlywed. It all seems more exciting and romantic that way.

I work at a nonprofit foundation (please don’t ask me how to get grants. I can’t help you.) where I help emerging nonprofits become independent organizations fulfilling a vital need in their community. It’s rewarding and frustrating all at once (more about that in a future post I’m sure).

I’ve been in NJ for about 6 years now. I moved here to be with my boyfriend (now husband) after graduating from Penn State. Despite swearing that I would never go back to school after finishing my undergrad, 2 years later I was back in school, this time at NYU where I studied Global Affairs. I received my graduate degree in 2008 (while working fulltime – not fun) and now I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. Most people would have tried to figure that out in advance. Me? I guess I just like to keep things spontaneous.

I try to keep busy – I like being outdoors and I just became a certified scuba diver. Other than that, I enjoy hiking, camping, kayaking and wine-festing (it’s an outdoor sport!). I have big plans, but less follow-through (I swear, one of these days I WILL start going to the gym regularly) and sometimes I seem to still struggle with basic functions of being an adult….like cooking meals. It’ll all come together though and I try to enjoy the ride in the meantime. More next week!

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