Archive for the ‘fun’ Category


Happiness is two days in the mountains with Walt and my girls.

Shelby & Chaps in their carseats, ready to hit the road!
My grandfather helped build the hiking trails and roads in Cades Cove when he was a teenager working for the Civilian Conservation Corps around 1941.  I grew up visiting the Smoky Mountains at least once a year with both sets of grandparents, so this place is very special to me.
One of the many mountain streams


Chaps loves hiking…


...and Shelby wants to follow every trail.

 I always forget how beautiful this place is, even on a cloudy winter day.

In the higher elevations, at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line.


We drove to Cherokee, NC, which is almost unchanged in 35 years (with the exception of the casino nearby).
A small rain blew into the valley, bringing a rainbow!

Stormy skies

 A new friend gets in a few more bites before the rain starts.


 Taking the back roads…

Cades Cove

 Stopping to watch every waterfall for a while…

Under one of the stone bridges

Rising early for an incredible sunrise…

Gatlinburg, still sleepy

It was an amazing weekend.  And like these two turkeys…


 …we had an incredibly peaceful holiday.  For this I am truly thankful!

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What a week!

Think I should run away as fast as I can?

Hit the open road?

Maybe I’ll stay in town, but wear a clever disguise…

…and hope there are enough hugs…

…and laughter…

…and planking

…and bar-b-que

…and libations…

…to make it all better.

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Random Happies!!!!

I just received a really happy Monday surprise.  I’m so excited!  I’m like a little kid that just won a medal.

How cool, fun, validating, you name it, to hear my email “ding” and get this message:

“I just wanted to let you know that you are a Genuine Blogger. Celebrate your blog, as it is comes across to the reader as heartfelt and genuine. There are no rules with this honor. Accept it and relish in the thought that your blog is “award worthy” without having any strings attached. It is an award that I hope allows recipients to know that their work is appreciated, valued, and noteworthy by a fellow blogger and it does not have the pressure of “rules and requirements” to follow. Receive and value it for the gift and honor in which it is intended. If you choose to give this award to a deserving fellow blogger, please do so with no “rules.” Award it to someone for his or her genuineness in blogging. Free and clear. Here is the post that explains the reasoning behind this award:  https://justramblinpier.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/genuine-recognition/ .”

This great honor is courtesy of my friend at Just Ramblin’, who has the most awesome blog about her dogs, and whose pictures and stories make me laugh every day.

Thank you!  Today, I got to not only laugh about Miss Stella, but grin ear-to-ear that someone I don’t even “know” appreciates the commentary on my crazy life!

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Me and two of my oldest and dearest friends, Rosie, and Andrea – circa 1993, ready for a night on the town…

Diet, day 11.  Yesterday was supposed to be Wednesday weigh-in, but I still don’t have a battery in my digital scale.  That is my life, I’ll get one eventually!  Anyhoo, it’s more than a number on a scale.  Walt and I have stuck to the healthy eating plan this week with gusto, and despite an emotionally draining week, I actually feel better physically…and I haven’t felt better in a long time.  In conjunction with the diet, I’m reading a great book called “Younger by the Day” by Victoria Moran, filled with daily inspirations for reversing the ravages of time.  I was thinking about what it used to feel like to be young, and I started looking at old pictures  for inspiration. 

It’s not that I necessarily want the size 6 back (or the bad bangs, 8-lb earrings, or shoulder pads, for that matter)…but I do miss the gifts of youth: the happy skin, the sparkle in the eyes, the silky hair free of gray, the ability to dance for two hours non-stop, the promise of a good night’s sleep without Ambien.  I’m not sure exactly where we were going all dressed up in that photo above, but I can tell you without a doubt we had a blast that night; and although we didn’t realize it at the time, we didn’t have a care in the world. 

Life has changed, but did we have to?  Was it really that much more simple then?  Sometimes I think I’ve let everything in the meantime take more of a toll than it had to.  So while I’m trying to undo the physical damages of time, I’m also trying to undo the emotional.  Here are a few random, yet powerful, realizations I’ve had in the past 11 days about health and life:

1) I married my soul mate.  How many people truly get to say that?  Every day is precious, and I don’t want to waste a single one.  I want both of us to have many more healthy days on this planet.

2) All of my life, I’ve had the best friends a girl could have.  Some I talk to daily, the best know when I need my space, some know just when I need a smile or a kind word, whether it be monthly or yearly.  Your friends will keep you young if you will let them 🙂

3) My body is SO much happier without carbs and red meat, and eggs taste so much better from chickens that haven’t been tortured.

4) We need more sleep as we age, and in a cruel twist-of-fate, our bodies try to give us less.  Do whatever it takes to get the sleep.

5) I inherited my mom and grandmother’s incredible skin; why the hell did I ever get into a tanning bed?

6) Most of the things I think are tragic end up being ok….and the truly disastrous things slowly but surely heal over time. “Today is the tomorrow that worried you yesterday, and all is well.”

7) I have learned something from almost everyone I’ve ever met; every family member, every co-worker, even strangers, and of course, my animals.  The older we get, the more we tend to ignore those lessons.  Pay attention.

8) Fruit is the best dessert.

9) Never work late.  Nobody appreciates it, so it just leaves you bitter…and bitterness makes you old.

10) The world is not coming to an end this Saturday at 6 p.m. – but let’s assume for a minute that were true.  How would you live tomorrow?

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Since it was recently suggested to me by my doctor (and my mother) that I might be experiencing BURNOUT, I thought I’d better investigate.  There is a great deal on the internet about the differences between burnout and every-day, garden-variety stress.  Turns out, I’m a poster child for burnout.  The fact I threw my phone across my office yesterday should have been a clue.  The signs that adorn my closet-office, all given to me by friends over the past year, might have also provided insight…



It’s not that I don’t love my coworkers at Jackson Radiology; and the dog rescue work I do brings me immeasurable gratification.  But basically having two full-time jobs, one with negative income and its own built-in emotional rollercoaster, is taking its toll. 

There are hundreds of great tips online for preventing and recovering from burnout.  I’m going to do my darndest to implement a few of these daily until I’m ME again, and I hope you’ll do the same!  Today’s assignments are:  1) Practice Gratitude and 2) Make Work Fun!

It takes a LOT of practice to focus on the good in everyday life instead of the bad; it’s surprisingly hard when we’re stressed!  But when you actively practice gratitude, it seems as though more good things actually happen.  Today, our radiology group wanted to show appreciation for the CT department for always being so cooperative and helpful, so we bought them pizza for lunch as a tiny gesture.  An hour later, when we went to our accountant’s office to pick up our big mail basket with all the work we’d given her to do…

…look what we found inside underneath the manilla envelopes!

…a little bit of Easter heaven, complete with Peeps!  This from someone who 48 hours ago just finished the marathon of Income Tax season…yet she found the time to give someone else a little happy.  This inspired us to think of even more ways we can show our coworkers, clients, and patients appreciation!  Thanks, Angela, for making our day special :-).

We rounded out the day by reviving a ritual we haven’t done in a LONG time here at the clinic – the afternoon dance!  About 4:00 p.m., when we’re on the home-stretch, we put on a little great music and invite everyone walking by to join.  3 minutes of dancing provides a little cardio, a little stress release, a little shot of energy to increase productivity for the rest of the day – and a LOT OF HAPPY!

Mary, Mel, Zebo, Kimba, and Carla – part of the FUN team of people I work with! 

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I have a saying that you can’t listen to Donna Summer and be in a bad mood. This also works for listening to Kid Rock, Earth, Wind, and Fire, or Cher; being at the beach, eating macaroni and cheese, watching snow fall, and a select other few activities. Singing along with KC and the Sunshine Band is at the top of this list. I can’t believe they were in Jackson, TN, performing with the symphony of all things, and I got to go. KC is 60 and has put on a few pounds (who hasn’t), but totally makes fun of himself (“KFC and the Sunshine Band”) which I love.

If we can’t laugh at ourselves, what have we got left? What a fun guy, what an awesome energetic band, great venue – could I have ever imagined i’d see my 2nd grade piano teacher on the same stage with KC performing Shake Your Booty? Surreal.

Good times with my mom, new friends, old friends, good food, good wine, and putting on my boogie shoes with KC.

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A Night of Normal

Walt and I have been married for 15 years.  Most of that time, Walt has worked the “graveyard” shift, and for many years, I taught night school after my day job.  We rarely get to spend much time at home, and almost never at the same time.  Last night in a rare occasion, Walt took off work…so I got a taste of what it was like to have a ‘normal’ evening.  It may not sound like much to celebrate for most people, but for me it was a rare treat.

Walt had a bay breeze, my spring/summer drink, waiting for me when I got home.  While he cooked catfish the old-fashioned way – outside, over a flame, in a big cast-iron pot – I took my kick-ass new camera around the yard and made a few pictures of things that made me happy, including the perfect bloom on the Japanese magnolia tree that’s the header for this blog.

Don’t roll your eyes!  This is not one of those blogs…you know, the ones, where I try to make you think my life is perfect.  I’ll go ahead and tell you up front, it’s messy as hell.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t share the good stuff.

I’m amazed at the ivy growing on the side of our house.  When Walt planted it, it was a 3-leaf sprig that I told him would never live.  Now it is all over about 1/4th of the side of the house, to the roof, and some of the leaves are as big as my palm.  While I was photographing it, I noticed 3 of my cats watching…L to R: Maddie, Junior, Patches.

One of the dogwoods in full bloom.

Walt with Zeke, Bandit, and Doc in our field behind the house.

The winter wheat – one of my favorite things about spring.

This is one of the gates going into the dog sanctuary.  My grandfather had some old signs in the barn, and I can’t believe Walt thought of this.

In the storms last week, our Russian olive tree blew down.  I’m sad about the tree, but the branches are still pretty, framing the barn.

Mama Bluebird, in for the night.  Can you see her peeking out at me?  She was pissed.

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