Tag Archives: friendship

A Lesson From Long Lake

A year ago, I was given a gray t-shirt depicting two bears, a mother and baby, across the chest. They were printed in white, and the words “Long Lake” stretched beneath them like a path. It was a gift from my boyfriend, Robby, who visited me where I worked as a camp counselor. He had just returned from a trip to his family’s cabin on Long Lake’s shore. The lake is tucked safely away in Adirondack State Preserve, located in upstate New York.
As I unfolded the t-shirt, stories began to fly.
“You would love it there, Hannah,” he said. “My sisters and I went there all the time as kids. We used to pick blueberries from the bushes outside and my dad would make incredible pancakes.”
Long Lake sounded like something out of a fairy tale. Water so still that you could hear a far-off whisper, tiny islands with names like Pancake and Feather, chipmunks eating popcorn kernels right out of your hand.
“Next summer, we’ll go,” he said.
This past July, his statement came to fruition. We made the twelve-hour haul up to Long Lake with Robby’s three roommates. Toward the end of the drive, the air got cooler, the sky got brighter, and the tiny service bars on our phones began to drop.

IMG_0656“The cabin’s pretty isolated,” said Robby. “There’s no cell service or electricity.” He had said it before, but as buildings turned to houses and houses gave way to trees, the word “isolated” began to crystallize around us. I looked at my increasingly useless phone, realizing with a twinge of shame just how much time I let my world shrink to a five-and-a-half inch screen. Scrolling through Twitter and Youtube had become a go-to activity in between daily events. While I once painted or wrote or did yoga at random times during the day, I now found myself increasingly complacent, drawn into the hypnotic, humorous worlds behind the square-shaped apps. My battery was nearly dead, my laptop was back in Virginia, and I smiled calmly at the thought of being unplugged. Every few minutes, another phone would lose service and its owner would join the growing conversation.
A grocery trip and a boat ride later, we were floating up to the cabin in the suddenly-pouring rain. Two people jumped out of the boat and secured it to the dock with ropes, and the five of us ferried in backpacks, hiking boots, and cases of beer. When we were done, I walked back outside to look at where I would be living for a week. It was exactly as Robby had described. Wide planks of dark brown pinewood formed the walls of the cabin, and a green roof the color of aged copper stood in a high triangle. Simple, unadorned windows lined the sides of every wall, and a small deck wrapped around a corner. The entire thing was hidden shyly behind pine trees and blueberry bushes.
“What do you think?” Robby asked when I went back inside.
I smiled and said, “This place is perfect.”

IMG_0671And so began the delightful withdrawal from civilization. This particular group, excluding myself, was made up of video game enthusiasts. Gaming is used to bond and entertain, but also to fill the time in a way similar to what my iPhone had become. With zero access to anything electronic, the hours were filled with cooking, fishing, boat rides, and swinging in hammocks. It wasn’t until the fourth day there that I realized how much my lack of a cell phone had impacted me. It was the first time since our arrival that the weather had been anything but clear and sunny, and someone dusted off the board game “Risk.” I had never played Risk due to a deep and genuine loathing for strategic board games. I was handed dozens of tiny red pieces and told to learn as we went.
Playing a board game on a rainy day is an instance where I may frequently check out of the game and into my Twitter account, but I was left with no other option but fully engaging. I loved the game and almost won. Each person spent the whole time laughing and strategizing and pleading and making bets, as opposed to wasting significant chunks of attention on cell phone screens.

IMG_0657Conversations throughout that week were more meaningful, not split between a person and a device. With no alternative for distraction, we learned to really listen to each other, and creative outdoor activities replaced what would certainly be a Netflix binge for some. In a way, it was heartbreaking to see how different things could be without the widespread addiction to technology. It does not take a genius to distinguish between cyberspace and real life, but I required a brief withdrawal to observe the sheer power that my phone has over me.
Since that week of quiet water and leaping fish, stunning sunsets and group cooking efforts, I have tried to be less attached to my phone. My goal is to only go to it when I truly need to communicate with another person. When I find my eyes roaming automatically toward it, I try to catch myself. I breathe and picture a birch tree surrounded by blueberry bushes. It’s not always successful. It’s tough when I’m alone or when others around me are absorbed in screens of their own. However, my prayer is that people will collectively rediscover the value of human interaction, the value of silence, even boredom. Flicking off the screens gives me an incentive and venue for reflection, creativity, and friendship building. With this in mind, I pull on my Long Lake t-shirt and leave the phone at home.


Written by Hannah Bridges

Backyard Fun!

backyardWhen summer arrives do you see even less of your kids than you did during the school year? Too many American children, tweens and teens spend those extra hours of free time indoors playing with technology, rather than engaging in healthy outdoor activities. Even when you know where your kids are, you may not understand what they’re doing with all those devices and game controllers.

This summer, why not help your children get excited about a healthy and fun time outdoors? You can make your backyard the neighborhood hotspot that no kid can resist by providing three key ingredients to a great summer: fun, food and friendship.

Fun in the sun

To compete with smartphones, PCs, tablets and other digital devices, you need outdoor excitement – the kind that only water can provide. Installing a backyard pool may not be practical for everyone, but a backyard water slide is a great substitute.

Easy to set up and use, a water slide is a cost-effective way to create outdoor fun this summer. For example, we love H2OGO! backyard water slides for their modern but comfortable products. They feature the Speed Ramp, an inflatable launch pad that creates a smooth belly-flop landing at the start of the superfast 18-foot slide. A Splash Lagoon funnels water throughout the entire slide, reducing friction and increasing speed. Learn more at www.bestway-global.com.

Food for fun

All that water sliding and other fun activity is going to make kids work up an appetite. They’ll need fuel so they can keep having fun. Look for fare that is easy, kid-friendly and nutritious. For example, instead of serving high-fat, high-sugar ice cream, consider frozen fruit or fruit pops. Replace sugary, calorie-laden sodas with flavored water. For kids who crave crunch, replace chips with fresh-cut crisp fruits like apples and kid-friendly veggies such as carrots or cherry tomatoes. You can serve them with a variety of delicious, yogurt-based dips. Whip up a nacho platter that incorporates low-fat shredded cheese, fresh salsa and lean protein like beans or grilled chicken.

Friendship and fun

With your backyard gaining the reputation of the neighborhood hot spot for great food and fun, you may notice some new faces showing up. Encourage children to engage in games that can help them get to know each other and create new friendships with others in the neighborhood.

Some of the simplest games are great ice-breakers. One game that’s great for getting to know each other is to have kids stand in a circle and toss around a bean bag or small ball. The child who throws asks a question – such as “What’s your name?” or “What’s your favorite sport?” – and the child who catches has to answer.

Another fun idea for older children is a biography building circle. Kids sit in a circle and start with one child making a simple statement about himself, such as “I like to play baseball with my dad.” The next child in line adds his or her own information by building off something the first child said, such as “My dad is an airline pilot.” The play continues with children each saying something new that is somehow linked to what the last child said.

Each of these activities will help keep your child healthy and happy this summer. Inspire them to grow and make good choices by fostering outdoor play in your own backyard!

Rethinking “I’m Sorry”


Last year, I made a personal commitment to stop saying “I’m sorry” for things that should not require an apology. I found I used those two little words far more often than I should– and I finally made the connection to how detrimental it was to my self esteem. I’ve eliminated “I’m sorry” from the following situations in my life and it has resulted in a  level of genuine happiness I was unable to experience before.
On the surface, these situations seem like obvious moments to forego saying, “I’m sorry.” However, it took the wise council of a friend to point many of them out to me, and I am not too proud to admit that her advice truly opened my eyes. So, without further ado, the apologies that I will strive to never utter again:

  1. “I’m sorry, but I just can’t deal with the drama you add to my life.” Stop being sorry for distancing yourself from toxic people. This includes those you once thought were your best friends and even family members. Grandparents that don’t make the effort to have a relationship with their grandkids. Parents who lie or emotionally, mentally, or physically abuse their children. If someone’s actions are becoming detrimental to your own well being, you do not have to feel bad about letting them go.
  2. “I’m sorry that my physical appearance (tattoos, clothing, hair, etc) offends you.” It is not the responsibility of a tattooed person to ignore your negativity. It is your responsibility to avoid making assumptions about other people based on decisions they made that have no impact on you or anyone else. The same is true for the girl you think should not be wearing a bikini on the beach, the soccer mom who accidentally spilled coffee all over her white shirt on the way to the game, or even a bank teller with a mohawk. How a person looks doesn’t influence how they treat you, but even the best of us can crumble when we are greeted with criticism based on what others believe are flaws in our physical appearance.
  3. “I’m sorry for changing my opinion or that my opinion is different from yours.” Not always as cut and dry as it sounds, this apology often comes when faced by peers who once shared your opinion on a matter find out that you now support the opposing side. If you become an outcast because you made an informed decision to change your mind, then it’s time to make new friends who can be kind to you regardless of a difference in opinion.
  4. “I’m sorry for everything, including my existence, that makes you uncomfortable.” Many “modern” families include divorced parents, step siblings, and all kinds of unique situations that have the potential to be awkward for certain members of the family. No one should have to apologize when the effort they make to build a relationship is never enough or for the jealousy that others feel when they have to share the spotlight for a few tiny moments. Apologizing for unintentionally being the face of someone’s insecurities is useless. Until they figure out to conquer their personal issues, you will waste so much energy trying to understand what you are doing wrong— when the answer may simply be that you are enabling a bully.

11011176_948260001893397_446509867776045038_nApologies are powerful, and we certainly should not do away with them. Unfortunately, when they become a substitute for a real conversation or a way to deflect bullying, they lose any ability they ever had to heal the broken. Ask yourself if you are truly sorry– if you have a reason to be, or if you “being sorry” is to justify someone’s inability to communicate and behave like an adult.

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

14 Days of Love: Just Dance Roanoke Membership!

14 Days of Love: DAY ELEVEN!!

ppl-JustDanceRoanokeGet started on your fitness goals with a fabulous prize from the even more fabulous Just Dance Roanoke! Just Dance Roanoke is Roanoke & Salem’s home for dance-inspired fitness, and they offer multiple classes throughout the day to fit your busy schedule. Additionally, their fun, high energy classes are led by qualified fitness professionals who love to see you enjoy yourself and work towards your goals!

Today we’re giving away one free month to one lucky winner and a friend!!!! So you can dance your heart out with your BFF all month long.

Visit our Facebook page for details on how to win!