Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. My Header this month is a picture of one of my favorite birds, the Eastern Bluebird. He looks cold, doesn't he????? Welcome to January!!!!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Life's Changes

Mark --in the Smoky Mountains
Dear Friends,  how are you today?  I know that most of you remember my sad news  in August of 2017.   Son Mark's  wife  died suddenly.   Mark and Debbie had been together for 2 years  --but had only been married for about 2 months when her Bi-Polar condition which she had battled for years,  WON the war!  

Her death was listed as a suicide --but Mark thinks that she had been doing so well the past couple of years that she decided to get off of her medications.  Of course,  neither Mark, nor Debbie's four daughters, nor her friends had any idea that she wasn't taking her meds....   In the end,  when Mark was out of the house,  Debbie took WAY too many meds and over-dosed....

There is so much most of us do not know about mental illness.   Mark learned a lot during their relationship --but he learned MUCH more after her death...   Nobody likes to take those powerful medications.  Even I HATE taking my A Fib meds because all medications have side effects...  I'd love to get off of those drugs --but I know that I CANNOT.  

Debbie and Mark had been so happy together.  Her daughters and friends have always said that she was the happiest with Mark than she had been her whole life.  All of us in the family loved her and her vivacious personality.  Mark thought that he had found a partner for life ---and then she was GONE.

WELL---this post is not about Debbie --but is about MARK,  and what has happened since that horrible day in August, 2017.   Mark grieved hard (VERY HARD) for several months --and I was SO worried about him.   BUT--he finally took a step toward living....

Even though he had a fabulous job in Texas,  Mark decided that he was ready to come 'home'---back to Tennessee.  That was a huge decision for him.  But--he knew that he needed family, and a new place with fewer memories.

SO--in APRIL 2018,  he and brother Bert moved to Maryville,  Tennessee.   Since then,  there have been a few hiccups --but overall,  he has done well.  His job in the Home Building industry  (where he had done so well in Texas) didn't work out.   BUT--he got his 'dream' job as General Manager of the Pour House (sports bar selling craft beer) in Knoxville.

Mark (and Bert) both love the Smoky Mountains.... SO---they spend every spare minute they can hiking in Smokies.   That THRILLS me so much since I also love the Smokies and have hiked to many of the same places in past --where they are hiking now.   I'm re-living that JOY through them.

Mark's picture showing one of their hiking trails in the Smokies

One of Mark's photos in Cades Cove in the Smokies

Photo taken in Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains
To make the joy of hiking and riding in the mountains even better,  Mark bought a shiny little red Jeep!!!

Mark and brother Bert (who have so much in common) enjoy being together  when they hike,  go to games --or just enjoy a meal with us!!!!

Besides hiking in the Smokies,  Mark (and Bert) have enjoyed going to both the Tennessee Vols  Football and now the Basketball games.  By the way,  our Vols Basketball team is doing GREAT so far this year!!!!!!

"Pappa" Mark and Vivi

In January of 2018,  Mark's granddaughter,  Vivian Lee, was born.   That's another blessing --not just to Mark but also to all of us in the family.  

Diana and Mark
Between the new job,  the love of the Smoky Mountains, and being closer to family ---Mark has done really well... AND   2019  looks great so far also.  His best friend and Sweetheart from Texas,  Diana,  is moving to Tennessee in February to be with Mark.

a 2nd Granddaughter is coming!!!
Then in MAY of 2019,  Mark's daughter Brooke is expecting another little girl  (Veronica). How awesome is that!!!

Mark brought Diana to Tennessee in the Fall to see if she liked it...  She DID.
I am so happy for Mark and Diana,  and especially happy that I see the joy and SMILE back in Mark's face.  

YES---life can be hard for any of us.  BUT--when life does throw those tragedies in our face,  we either choose to sit around and let it consume us --or we find the strength to move on with our lives.   There is ALWAYS joy to be found if we keep the right attitude and be willing to search for that JOY.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Mark and what is going on in his life now.


Monday, January 14, 2019

A Year Full of Pure JOY

Great Granddaughter,  Vivian Lee,  born 1/11/18
When I look back at 2018,    I don't just think of all of the health problems I have had.   Instead,  I look at this little Bundle of Preciousness  who has brought so much love and joy into the lives of my entire family.

My Great Granddaughter,  Vivian Lee,  was born on January 11, 2018.   Since her birth,  most all of us in her family have enjoyed sharing lots of pictures and videos of Vivi's first year.  I think I have shared more pictures of her than I have anyone else!!!!   What a wonderful way to spend a year!!!!   AND --the best news is that there will hopefully be many many more to come.

Today I'll share some of my favorite Vivi-Photos  throughout 2018.    Hope this little angel will bring a smile to your face today!

Here are just a few more pictures I love.

Vivi and her adorable Mama,  Brooke-- all dressed up for Christmas!

Son  Mark with his Granddaugther Vivi Lee;  He is her "Pappa"

My favorite picture of all:   Vivian looking at her mother, Brooke, my Granddaughter

Great Grammy Betsy with her little angel,  Vivian Lee
WELL---I could go on and on and on ---but I'll stop!!!!!   Hope you enjoyed seeing just a dab of Vivian's first year.   As I have said so many times,   she has brought so much joy into our lives.

But --even though the first year of her life is over,  hopefully I'll be sharing pictures for many years to come.   AND --the best news is that Vivi Lee will have a little Sister  (Veronica) in May of this year.   YEAH RAH....

Have an awesome week...


Monday, January 7, 2019

Santa brought us --------WHAT???????

Santa did bring us this cute ornament ---but he brought NO SNOW  this year.   All we have had is RAIN--RAIN-RAIN.
Well my Friends,   how was your Christmas?  Was Santa good to you?????  Even though I was afraid that I'd get coal in my stocking --I must say that Santa was VERY good to me....   WELL--- I wonder!!!!?????  Just read on!!!

Of course,  Santa knew that we NEEDED  (Ha Ha) some new t-shirts...   Here's a cute one,  Advice from a Mountain!!!

George's sister,  Janet,  gave him a gorgeous  WILLOW to add to our collection.  The name:   "Brother and Sister"...   Isn't that just so special?

This is a beautiful canvas made from one of George's pictures taken while we were watching the sunset at Mormon Row in the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming,  this past September.  

Georgie got a post card from his Bride!

Betsy got a new Willow from George named  You and Me...   Of course, I cried.  It is so beautiful. As most of you know,   I collect Willows and this year,  I not only got this one from George,  but got a beautiful one from one of my sons  (named Mother and Son)  and one from friends, Shirley and Robert  (named Grandmother). 

Here's another Canvas from our West Trip this past September.   This picture was taken along the Chief Joseph Highway at the Dead Indian Pass Overlook in Wyoming.  (Yes--there's a great history in this area.)

Another cute ornament we got this year

George took my favorite picture of Vivi (my Great Granddaughter) and me,  and had it made into an ornament.  Isn't it just awesome?

WELL---as you can see,  we really had a nice Christmas,  and Santa was good to both of us... BUT---there's one more thing.    Santa knows that as we get older,  we all need more exercise.   This past year has been one in which, due to health problems,  neither of us have gotten enough exercise.   SO---look what Santa gave us!!!!!!!

A Stationary Bike!!!!!!  For US??????   Oh My --My---My....  I haven't ridden a bike since my children were young.  Can I do this?????  

At least I am TRYING to smile!!!!!!!! ha ha 

Look at this guy!!!!!  He's got this!!!  
Now that it is January and we've had the bikes for a few weeks now,   I must admit that we both are still doing good!!!!!   Unless we are out running errands or going to appointments, etc---we try to ride for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.  

Be sure to ask us in  July if we are still working out on the bikes....   I don't want that bicycle --sitting in our Living/Great Room to just sit there and collect dust......

One thing I have learned this year is that all of the 'stuff'  you see in a blog post like this is just what it is,  STUFF....  Yes,  it brings joy and happiness...  But---what is really important in life is staying healthy--  so that I can enjoy this stuff!!!

2018 was a year of changes.  My life is different than it was in 2017---but I'm not going to let the A- Fib define me.   I am learning to live with this constant 'fast-beating' heart.  There are things I can no longer do --but I can find many more new and exciting things to do.  My 2019 motto is  "I will not Give Up"....

Have a happy and HEALTHY  2019, my Friends.