Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. My Header this month is of a beautiful sunset from our cabin in Mt. Nebo, Arkansas.

Monday, February 18, 2019

2018 --- A Year I will NEVER Forget --- Part II

One of the many roads I traveled in 2018;  This was at Mammoth Cave National Park,  Kentucky in July.
Dear Friends,   Two weeks ago,  I published  Part I of my Journey with A Fib.... IF you missed that post,  please  click HERE to read it first...

Today I'll share more of our 2018 adventures  despite my health problems.  In Part I--I featured   January-June,  so today I'll share a bit from July -December...

The family of Ken Adams at his funeral, July 16, 2018.
In July,  we took two short trips.  The sad one was when we drove to Indiana for the funeral of George's brother, Ken.  Ken had suffered with Cancer for a few years ---and no matter how hard he tried to beat that disease,  he lost his battle on July 9.

The happy July trip was to Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky,   where we spent a couple of awesome days with our good friends,  Neal and Patti.

In August,   George took me on my 76th Birthday Trip to Mount Pisgah along the Blue Ridge Parkway, west of Asheville,  North Carolina.   We stayed at the Pisgah Inn and enjoyed this view from our room.  It was such a wonderful and relaxing  trip!

Our 'big' trip for 2018 was a wonderful journey out west from September 6-17.  We visited  South Dakota,  Montana  and Wyoming.  There are so many highlights that it is hard to narrow it down to one or two... The picture above was taken on our amazing journey across  the Beartooth Mountain between  Red Lodge,  Montana,  and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

Another highlight for me was seeing the Grand Teton National Park.   This picture was taken at the Schwabacher Landing ---as we looked at the mighty TETONS...  I always tell George that THIS is my favorite place in the world  (after our Great Smoky Mountains here in Tennessee)... ha

The only long hike we took on our West Trip was our hike around String Lake in the Grand Tetons.   What started out to be a 'short' hike (so our hiking book said)  turned out to be a LONG hike ---since when we thought we were lost, we back-tracked a couple of times... My A Fib really caused me to struggle on that hike --but with George's wonderful help,  I/we made it back to the car!!!!!  We can laugh about it NOW --but at the time,  I was SCARED that I couldn't make it out of that area!  But ---isn't it gorgeous (when looking at the picture)?????

Soon after getting home from our Western Trip, we made a trip to BILTMORE to see the CHIHULY Exhibit there at NIGHT.... Wow---what a highlight for us!   (We had seen the exhibit during the day when we were there in August --but just HAD to see it at night.  it was SO awesome!)

Here's one more picture showing some of the awesome glass displays at Biltmore.

October  brought our annual Autumn Trip with our friends,  Neal and Patti.  This year,  we spent several days in Maggie Valley,  North Carolina  checking out the Fall colors,  the views,  the food (ha), the Blue Ridge Parkway,  and, best of all---- just having fun together.  One of the highlights of that week was seeing the ELK at Cataloochee.

On October 28,  with my son's encouragement,  George and I went with Mark and Diana to Elkmont in the Smokies and hiked to the AVENT CABIN.   I wasn't sure I could make that hike since it was 4 miles round-trip plus some elevation changes.  BUT--I was willing to try it  and I DID....  I made it and was so proud of myself....

Although I did many short hikes and walks this past year (and did fine),   this  one  and the long hike in the Tetons were the only two that I would even consider hikes more than 2-3 miles...   Since  I did TWO of these hikes in 2018 ---my goal is to do at least FOUR in 2019....  Can I do it????  I hope so.

November was family month ---and I was thrilled to have all 3 sons  together here for Thanksgiving.  It is so seldom when I can manage to get them all together ---so you can imagine how happy I was!!!!

December was our annual trip to OCEAN ISLE BEACH.  Like Pisgah Inn (in August),  this is another trip which we can truly relax and enjoy every minute.   It was wonderful to see the Sunrise from our balcony...

Another big highlight of the year for me was our special trip to Asheville,  North Carolina,  to attend CHRISTMAS at BILTMORE.   What an awesome evening.   This was taken inside the Biltmore Mansion.

Before we toured the big home at BILTMORE,  we walked around the front and captured this photo.

After our tour of the BILTMORE House,  we drove to the Antler Village area which was also all decorated with many lights.   This was the first time we have seen that area at Christmas.   Since there was a little snow on the ground,  it truly felt like Christmas.  What an awesome evening we had...

But---December wasn't over!!!!   On Christmas Day,  we drove to Georgia and had a fantastic dinner with son Jeff and daughter-in-law Dawn,  along with Dawn's parents.   Thanks be to God also for all of our family which we saw off and on ALL year,  not just during the Holidays.

WELL ---that's my/our year in a nutshell...   As I look back on everything we did ---I am amazed at how little the A Fib affected me most of the time.  BUT---I also know that I still do NOT have the energy or stamina that I used to have.  I have really slowed down --and it has been frustrating not being able to do what I want to do.  As I have mentioned before,  my medications keep me alive but they all do have side effects...

Knowing that I cannot walk these big hills in our area anymore,  we knew that we still needed to find ways of getting  'real' exercise while here at home.   SO ----we bought a fantastic STATIONARY BICYCLE  in December.  We both use the bike  ---and most days we both do 2 --30 minute rides per day... This new purchase is sitting right in our Living Room ---and is very convenient (especially after/during all of the RAIN we have had this winter--which keeps us inside)...

Working on our health is the most important goal for 2019 for both George and me.  Right now,  besides putting a priority on our Biking,  we have changed our eating habits so that hopefully,  we both can lose some of this weight we have gained this past year.  As I talk to others with A Fib,  I know that one of my medications  (a Beta Blocker) does cause weight gain in many...   Getting the 15 pounds off that I've gained since getting A Fib in Feb., 2018 would surely make me feel better.   I'm TRYING!!!! At least,  I do NOT want to continue gaining!!!!  Grrrrrr.....

WELL my Friends,  as I write this,   things may change quickly this week.   I have an appointment with my Cardiologist on Thursday,  and both of us see our regular family doctor on Friday!!!!!  These are our 6-month check-ups.    We'll go to the Lab tomorrow morning for our fasting blood work.   I would appreciate prayers as we go through this week.

I don't know if any of you have A Fib  --or know someone who has it,  but just remember that A Fib is DIFFERENT in each of us.  My A Fib is called  Persistent A Fib ---and I am 'in' A Fib constantly (rather than others who may have occasional episodes)...  Each type is treated differently.  So far,  mine is being treated by 4 different medications...   Be patient with us ---since even though we all may look the same as we did,  most of us have had a HUGE lifestyle change.


Monday, February 11, 2019

A Wonderful Day with Family

George took this picture of Mark, Diana and me standing at the brink of OZONE FALLS. 
Dear Friends,   Many of you know exactly what I mean  when I say  "It's a fabulous day when this Mama can spend it with her kids".....    Mark brought his girlfriend, Diana,  to live fulltime in  Tennessee last week.   Diana has lived her entire life in Texas ---so I'm sure that Tennessee is culture shock for her--even though she has been here a few times this past year to visit.

I was thrilled when Mark said that he and Diana wanted to visit us  this past weekend  (Saturday, 2/9/19).  It was wonderful to see Diana again.   Now,  we can officially call her a Tennessee Lady!!!!!  She will be looking for a job soon --and already has some good possibilities.

We 'ordered' a NICE day for their visit...  Luckily,  Mother Nature provided some RARE sunshine even though it was quite cold while out-and-about....  We started by having some lunch together.  Then George and I took them to one of our 'local' waterfalls not far from our home, Ozone Falls.

When George and I moved to Fairfield Glade in 2003,  we visited many of these area places during those early years --but hadn't been back to most of them in several years. SO --it was a fun day not only for them but for us!!!!!   I always enjoy showing people the sights --especially when they enjoy being out in nature as much as we enjoy it.

I'll share a few pictures from that TERRIFIC day with Mark and Diana!!!!

Ozone Falls  State Natural Area  (located near Crab Orchard,  Tennessee)

Mark and Diana at the brink of Ozone Falls;   It was quite chilly --but Diana did manage to take off her coat fairly quickly. The sun was NICE.

George always loves to take water-pictures...  He got some great shots  above the falls and below ...

I love this picture of Diana.  She's a gorgeous woman,  and she and Mark are SO happy together.

Mark and George walked down the rocky path to the bottom of the falls  while Diana and I sat above and had a chance to chat!!!!   The gorge around that waterfall is filled will all kinds of little 'caves'...  Wonder what lives in there at nights???????  Hmmmmmmm...  

This is one of George's awesome pictures of Ozone Falls,  a 110 foot waterfall.

Mark spotted this old wooden train trestle  across the road from Ozone Falls...  I did some research on this old trestle and the train track  and found out that it was probably built between the 1880's--1890's....  

After leaving the Ozone area,  we drove farther east to the Mount Roosevelt Scenic Overlook.  From there we could see the Smoky Mountains in the distance.

Our new Tennessee Beauty wasn't too sure she liked the roller-coaster ride up to that overlook.... ha ha

Two Sweethearts   enjoying the view at Mt. Roosevelt Overlook.  Below them  is the town of Rockwood,  Tennessee.

One more view of the Smoky Mountains in the distance from Mt. Roosevelt Overlook

We came home and watched the Tennessee Vols Basketball team beat Florida!!  YEAH....

George and I welcomed Diana to Tennessee by giving her a plaque to put on the wall in their home.  The plaque says:
"Live by FAITH;  Grow in GRACE; Walk in LOVE"
Welcome to TENNESSEE   Sweet Lady...  Hope you love it here as much as we do!!!!!  Thanks for coming to see us on Saturday... Come back anytime!!!!   We have MANY places to show you in our area!!!!

Blog Friends,  I hope you enjoyed my post... It is so great to have family closer now...  The older I get,  the more important family is!!!!

Have a great week.... Next week,  I'll do Part II of my 2018 Review.