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.

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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.

Hugs,

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.

Hugs,

Monday, February 4, 2019

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

Two People in Love enjoying the fireplace  (March 2018)
Holy Cow,   Has it been a year??????   YES --it has!   At this time  in 2018,  I was not in a good place!!!! First, I was in the hospital with a very serious stomach infection (Jan. 30- Feb 1st).    I went home for a few days and then from  Feb. 5-8,  I was back in the hospital where they diagnosed me with Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib).

I had had stomach problems off and on for years --but never any indication of heart problems.  I was shocked to say the least.  There are no heart problems in my family.   You might ask what could have caused this to happen to me,  a relatively healthy and active woman who has never been in the hospital other than surgeries  (Knee, etc.)...

WELL---in a few words,  the experts do NOT know what causes A Fib...  But--there are several possibilities...  For me,   it could have been the stress I was under due to family deaths and illnesses at that time..  Another possibility could be the wicked stomach infection I had right before A Fib.. And  a third possibility could have been my anemia..... The list goes on!!!!  I don't really know what caused my A Fib.

Most everyone these days knows what A Fib is  --but in case you don't,  it is a VERY Rapid Heart Beat. There are four kinds of A Fib.  Some people are out of normal heart rhythm just on occasion --but when they have an 'episode',  their heart rate could be dangerously high.    My A Fib is called  PERSISTENT.   That means that I am NEVER in normal rhythm.  My heart rate is high ALL of the time--even when I'm sleeping.

I spent over six months dealing with different medications,  many of which had terrible side effects.  Losing my ability to be active like I used to be,  plus the side effects from the heart medications  (weight gain,  elevated blood sugar,  weakness,  fatigue,  depression,  etc.)  made for a hard year for me.   I was afraid to do anything really active.   I was allowing the A Fib to totally control me.

But ---as the year progressed,  I continued to press onward....  With George's help and love,  and the love from each of you,  I knew I was going to get better and be able to do some of the things I wanted to do..



Nothing Better than a little Cabin in the Smoky Mountains 
My first little adventure after getting  A Fib was in March.   We spent a couple of nights in this awesome cabin at the Black Bear Resort in Townsend,  TN  to celebrate George's Birthday.  The picture at the top  of the post was taken inside of that cabin where we were enjoying a roaring fire in the fireplace.



Look at that Happy Tree-hugger!!!
Also in March on that same little trip,  I  took my first TINY hike.... It was only about 1/2 a mile  on fairly level ground---but I needed to do it!!!!  I did!! Yeah!





Whitewater Falls,  NC (March, 2018)
After George's Birthday trip,  we took another short trip the end of March.   We went to Cashiers,  NC and stayed at one of our favorite places,  Laurelwood.  While on that little trip we hiked down a bunch of steps to see Whitewater Falls.   What a marvelous waterfall!  I was proud of myself for being able to make it down (and back up) all of those steps....





Biltmore is gorgeous in APRIL.
After I did so well with the little trips in March,  we decided to do another one in April.  We went to Asheville and spent the night.  While there,  we visited Cataloochee --but didn't see any elk like we did in October of 2018.  We also enjoyed seeing all of the flowers in bloom at Biltmore....





Lazy Girl resting in the Smokies!!!
A couple of happenings in May are highlights to me.   Son Mark gave me one of the best  Mother's Days I have had in a long time.   He took George and me to the Smokies in his shiny red jeep.    We rode all over the place  --stopping to take pictures on a beautiful spring day.   THEN ---Mark fixed lunch for us at the Metcalf Bottoms  Picnic area....  YUM...... After eating,  you can see what I did!!!!    Then --on the way home,  Mark stopped again at a neat Ice Cream place.... Another YUM.....  What an awesome day for me...


George, me,  Diana,  Mark --May, 2018
The 2nd event in May was when Mark brought Diana to our home.  This was Diana's first trip to Tennessee  --so we were excited to show her our little corner of the world.  We took them to lunch and then the four of us went hiking at Burgess Falls near Cookeville,  TN.

I scared Mark when my heart rate shot up to 180 on that hike... Actually it scared me too ---but the heart rate came back down QUICKLY.   I was more careful for the remainder of that hike.  That was my first hike where there was an elevation change...    Oh the joys of having A Fib!!!!



A gorgeous day along the Blue Ridge Parkway  (June 2018)
We took another short trip in June to celebrate our Anniversary...   Anytime George asks me where I want to go in June,  my answer always is  "the Blue Ridge Parkway"...  It's cooler up there ---and this year, the weather was perfect since it truly was  'clear as a bell'!!!!!!!   This picture was taken at the Craggy Pinnacle.    We thought about hiking to the top of the mountain at the Pinnacle (which we have done many times) ---but I decided that I wasn't ready to do that yet!



On a Clear Day,  You can See Forever!!!
I'm not sure we have been along the Blue Ridge Parkway when it was this clear, until this trip.    This is a Panorama I took.   Isn't it gorgeous?

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AND ---what I have showed you today wasn't everything...  A couple of special Day Trips we took were to see my Great Granddaughter,  Vivian Lee,  in May,   AND we took our annual trip to Fall  Creek Falls in April....  Then there were several visits from and with FAMILY and FRIENDS.  When I write all of this down,   I'm impressed as to how busy we stayed!!!!!  That is a good thing!

YES ---A Fib is a 'bitch' for sure.... But--as you can tell,  I didn't allow it to stop me...  There were days that I couldn't walk from one room to another because of being out-of-breath....  I had to learn how to go to sleep without allowing a pounding heart to keep me awake...  I can't tell you how many different medications  I tried before finding some I could live with.... ALL medications have side effects --and these heart meds are powerful.  BUT--they are keeping me alive and helping me get through another year.

I'll share Part II next week  (July- Dec) and talk more about this crazy A Fib!!!!!  I'm sure that many people don't realize what I've been through (or others who have A Fib)  since I try to stay positive and haven't talked much about  A Fib...  I try not to complain  ---and IF I can ever help someone with A Fib,  I would tell them NOT to give up, and to remain positive even when times are rough...  This post is proof that one can keep moving and can learn to live with A Fib!!!!

Hope you have a great week, my Friends,  and thanks again for being here for me during that very hard year!!!!

Hugs,