April 14, 2015

Six Things to do at the US National Whitewater Center

I don't know about you, but I am loving spring. As a city, the daylight savings leap forward and longer evenings has made it feel like we’re stretching our legs after a long, dark winter of bundling up and binge-watching House of Cards. The farmers markets are starting to bustle again, more runners are taking the streets, and all of our favorite outdoor activities are finally opening back up. Since I've lived in Charlotte, one of my favorite spots has been the Whitewater Center - so, today's post is for the locals! Or the tourists. AKA, you should all come explore Charlotte and visit me. I'll treat you to ice cream.

If you are local and haven’t discovered the US National Whitewater Center yet, you’re probably living under a rock – but even if you have been there once or twice, you may not know about everything it has to offer. The Whitewater Center has been a central part of Charlotte since 2006, and today I’ll highlight a few ways that you can spend time there.

Whitewater Raft

I figured I should mention this one first before everyone said “wait, isn’t this just a whitewater rafting center?” – so, yes! You can whitewater raft here, for sure. After you have a little training and are strapped into a life vest tight enough that it’s hard to breathe, you'll launch out into the course with your guide. The course has two big loops that start in the same little pool and end in the same little pool, and then you and your raft-mates ride a conveyor belt back up to the beginning that makes you feel like a Krispy Kreme Donut waiting to be glazed. Depending on your guide and raft-mates, you may or may not get dumped in the water. However, the low water level and hoards of people nearby pretty much guarantee that you’ll still be alive at the end of it, even if you’re a little wetter than you planned on.

Tackle a Ropes Course

If you’re not one for the water but magically aren’t afraid of heights, there are several ropes courses for you to try your hands & feet at. The harder ones require you to take a pull-up test before you jump in, but there are several that are suitable for all strength levels and still will test your will to go on. You’ll climb, jump, push, pull, and swing your way through – and if you’re anything like my former boss who got suckered into the ropes course as part of a “team building” event, you’ll be nervous enough to look the poor girl working straight in the face at the end of it all and say, “Dude...that was so sketchy.”

Flatwater Kayak

If you love water but the rapids aren’t quite your speed, the whitewater center happens to back up to the Catawba River. There, you can flatwater kayak or paddleboard, with or without a guide. It may not give you quite the adrenaline rush that the rapids do, but it will definitely give your biceps a workout.

Run a Trail Race

Tired of Charlotte’s flat roads and looking for a challenge? The Whitewater Center hosts trail races throughout the year that will give you a change of scenery. Whether you’re more of the 5k or 10k type, there’s sure to be a race that fits your level of comfort. Lace up your shoes and prepare to get sweaty! As a bonus, you can always hit the rafting course or river for a cool-down afterwards.

Attend an Event

Aside from the daily adventures offered, the Whitewater Center has special events all throughout the year on their calendar that are perfect for a date night, afternoon with friends, or just an excuse to skip your standard routine and do something different. My husband and I did the Microbrews Cruise last summer, and it was a blast – for the price of a nice meal out you get 2 hours of guided flatwater kayaking, followed by a chef-prepared dinner and craft beer tasting. Did I mention that this isn’t your normal night out? Highly recommended. 

Sit Back and Relax
Photo Cred - Becca Chain

The best-kept secret about the Whitewater Center is Riverjam: twice-weekly throughout the late spring and summer (Thursdays & Saturdays), live bands grace the stage over the rapids. People come out with their kids, friends, spouses, families, and dogs to lay out picnic blankets or camping chairs and listen. They have a full-service outdoor restaurant as well as a bar and biergarten where you can grab a drink, and the music goes until later than you want to stay up on a worknight. My friends and I are there almost every week that it’s not raining in the summer – see you there?


Logistics - A $5 parking pass gets you into the Whitewater center for free, and the outdoor activities range from $15 (for Kayaking) to $58.95 (for an all-day, unlimited pass). There are no extra charges for attending Riverjam. This post isn't sponsored, and the Whitewater Center doesn't know me personally.

April 11, 2015

Don't Let Monday Steal Your Joy

This past week had five Mondays.

Monday: Long day at work.
Tuesday: Spilled coffee on my way out the door, and then backed into my neighbor's mailbox with my car.  BTW: We've lived on this street for like, four days. Great first impression.
Wednesday: Okay, Wednesday was fine.
Thursday: Walked into work with my shirt on inside-out.
Friday: Realized that my wallet was in Steve's car...which was in the Charlotte Airport parking lot.  Then my car didn't start. I took an Uber to work but it came late, so I was about 30 minutes behind by the time I got to the office.

Did you read that list? It pretty much said:


None of those things were really that bad, but there were definitely some moments where it felt like I just could not catch a break. I wanted to say "Really, world? Can I just have twelve hours without something dumb going wrong?" And then within another twelve hours, something else dumb would go wrong.

Believe me - it could not get to the weekend fast enough.

At some point in the last five days I've been tired, worn down, embarrassed (did I mention that I hit my neighbor's mailbox?), frustrated, and impatient. Also in the past five days, though, I've been able to laugh at myself (did I mention that I walked into work with my shirt on inside-out?), been comforted by my husband, been reminded that my joy is in Christ and not in good days or bad days, and been thankful for the community that I'm surrounded by. We're finally to the weekend, and there are three things that I keep reflecting on. Hard weeks are...hard. But they happen, and here's what I'm being reminded of now.


When you're already having a hard day, don't let that be the day that you beat yourself up about wanting to lose 5 more pounds, about not moving fast enough in your career, or about the things on your to-do list that didn't get crossed off. When you're tempted to curl up, wallow, and pile on more hate...don't do it. Don't make things harder. Give yourself grace.


I've been learning this week to be better at asking for help, and I've been reminded to take care of my people when they're the ones with bad days. I think that's so counter-intuitive sometimes! In work and school, we're usually taught to figure things out on our own and only ask for help when we absolutely need it...but when you ask other people for help, it gives them permission to ask for help back sometime.

Friday night was the perfect example. Steve wasn't home from his work trip yet, and I told some friends I would babysit for them at the last minute...until I remembered that my car didn't start that morning because it was so low on gas. And with my wallet locked in Steve's car at the airport, I literally had $1.10 and a checkbook from 2011 to my name.

When I told my friend Liz, she offered to pick up gas and come bring it to my house. When I was able to start my car after one last try, her husband met me at the gas station to fill up my tank so that I wouldn't be nervous driving back home that night.

Community is good. Weeks with five Mondays remind me to ask for help when I need it, and to take care of the people who around me. Everyone has hard days.


At the end of the week, there was really nothing that bad that happened, and there were lots of good little moments. This afternoon I'm heading to the Moo & Brew Fest and I CANNOT wait - it's a Craft Beer + Burger Tasting with Live Music at one of Charlotte's hot spots, and I think it will be a blast (buy tickets here if you want to meet me there last minute!). We also got invited to go to a Knights game on Thursday with some sweet friends, and one of my coworkers brought me sushi when I had to work through lunch on Wednesday (she is a GEM). I've been extra thankful for these things - even small things like a really great night of sleep or reading a well-timed passage of scripture have been really sweet this week.

Mondays are hard, and five Mondays in a row is the worst. But... God is good, and life goes on. So this week, friends? Give yourself grace, take care of your people, and don't let Monday steal your joy.


April 10, 2015

Influence Conference Giveaway

Happy Friday! I have an extra-fun treat today - this week, I've partnered with a handful of other bloggers to give away a ticket to the 2015 Influence Network Conference  PLUS $300 in PayPal Cash to help with travel costs!

The Influence Network is something that I've followed for a while now - it's a network of creative women who are trying to make the most out of their online lives. Think about it - so much of life is done online these days; why not make your space and time spent there as fruitful as possible? I think they have a great mission, and there are some really strong ladies who lead it.

For September 17th through 19th of this year, the Influence Network is hosting it's 4th annual conference in Indianapolis for to encourage hundreds of women. Here's their synopsis:

This coming year we’ll be shaking things up, veering away from our tradition life + strategy track and focusing on equipping women in their passions, their projects, and in the places God has called them to. The thing that will stay the same? Our dedication to provide women with real and tangible tools to grow in the influence God has given them AND our commitment to make the Good News our common thread.


So...here we go!  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win the Influence Conference Ticket and Travel cash (again...$300!) For each entry you get entered in the giveaway, the higher your chances of winning will be,  so it's a great time to find new blogs to follow. The winning entries will be verified, and the giveaway is open to anyone in the world who wants to win and attend conference. GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Anna || Elizabeth

Crossing my fingers that one of you wins...and then you should take ME!

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