Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The most meaningful Valentine

Ladies and gentlemen, this is where I spent Valentine's Day -- Fall Creek Falls State Park in my (now) home state of Tennessee. It was the most romantic, exciting, peaceful experience I've ever had with my husband, and I'm more than grateful for this mini-vacation. We both needed it, and I think we've returned to the real world refreshed, invigorated, and more sure of our relationship than ever. Last night, to cap off the lovefest, we attended a 100-city international event sponsored by Imago therapists, that showed us more ways to appreciate and communicate with each other. Now, I have to admit, some of it was a bit hokey and felt unnatural, but it was well worth the time spent and we did come away with a rosy glow that contributed greatly to our both having a wonderful, peaceful night's sleep.

We left Nashville Sunday afternoon, and drove through the countryside to Fall Creek Falls. The closer we got to the park, the more snow we saw, and then the more snow that fell, as we climbed up into the hills. As you can see by the pictures, it was truly a winter wonderland. I was reminded of the 2 weeks I spent in Norway a few years ago at Christmas/New Year's, and longed to return.

Our "Fisherman's Cabin" overhung the water, and there was no shortage of waterfowl nearby at all times. We were fortunate enough to have a southeast-facing cabin, so we were treated to both sunrise and moonrise, which was wonderful on the 13th, as the sky was clear, so we could enjoy the waning gibbous moon. The living area of the cabin had a wall of windows overlooking the deck and lake, so we kept the curtains open the entire time. We cooked, we listened to music, we read, I knitted -- it was bliss.

On Monday, my husband had arranged for a couples' massage in nearby Cookeville, and it truly made a difference for us both. We had lunch at a local (what turned out to be) dive, and then returned to the park. This was the afternoon that we took the snowiest pictures posted above. As Tuesday was my husband's birthday, I baked a chocolate cheesecake for him (thanks Purr!!), which was a marvelous finale to a wonderful meal of broiled steak, baked potatoes, and garlic caesar salads. Some friends gifted us with a lovely bottle of bubbly, which we enjoyed with our meal.

Tuesday was warmer, and things were beginning to melt, so we headed for the falls again. This time we were able to get much farther down the trails, and got the beautiful waterfall shot you see above. There are quite a few more pictures, but these were the ones that were most attractive to me. I really enjoyed the physicality of hiking and climbing -- I'm not known as much of an exerciser. ;) But I truly enjoyed being so close to such natural beauty, and am looking forward to returning to this park in a warmer time of year to see how much farther we can go when snow, ice, slush, and mud are not such problems.

I read a little during this visit, mostly about finding more peace in one's life, and about female mid-life crisis. It was comforting to hear that other women have also been where I am, and have made major and lasting changes to their lives of their own volition. My goal is to lead a more authentic life -- a life that is more suited to who I am and what I am. The key, of course, is being clear on the who and the what, and I'm working on that. Tomorrow I see my therapist for our weekly session, and truly look forward to telling her about this weekend.

The skies are clouding up here, but it's too warm for anything but rain. The forecast shows that snow/ice are possible this weekend, which is fine with me. My husband has Monday off work, as it's President's Day. There's a great thing about being a government employee -- all of those lovely holidays! I am very much looking forward to another fabulous weekend with him, but this time here at home.

On a different note, this morning I drove down to pick up an 88 year old woman, a member of our church, who wanted to visit another church member who's had a stroke recently and is in an assisted living facility. She was such a delight, and very very interesting -- actually, so was the stroke victim, who had been a social worker in her earlier life. It felt great to be able to help these two connect, and to make two new friends. On the way home from the facility, we stopped at a local Starbuck's for coffee, and we had a marvelous time just chatting. After dropping her back at her apartment, I began to return to my home. I drove through parts of town I've never visited before, and enjoyed that part. However, as I was crossing a bridge, I could see two police cars parked in the right lane ahead of me, and as I got closer, I realized there were two officers actually pulling a man back over the rail of the bridge to safety. Apparently, the man was attempting to jump. When I got even closer, I could see the man clearly, and was surprised to see that he looked so 'normal'. What could have been so bad that he'd consider jumping from a bridge?? Was it a lonely Valentine's Day? Was it a drug or alcohol problem? Was it 'simple depression'? I was gratified to see that the police officers (one a Caucasian female, one an African-American male) were very gentle with this man (a Caucasian, approximately 45-50, dressed appropriately and not looking drunk or drugged). I hope they were able to do more than transport him to a mental health lockup, and I hope they know how precious they are for doing their job so well and so compassionately. I will be praying for this man, and hoping he will find the hope he apparently was bereft of this morning.

May we always have hope...


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