Why We Love Fall in Georgia

Fall in Georgia!

Ah, fall in North Georgia. It is an almost magical time of year when the season beings to come alive. People love the south, particularly for the fall season. The landscape becomes awash with vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow as the leaves on the trees begin to change colors. By mid-November, just about any establishment you enter seduces you with Christmas music and nostalgia. And the smells. Oh, the smells of fall. There are few places on can go to escape the tantalizing scents of pumpkin, pecan, maple, and apple. Not to mention the scent of fire burning. A most comforting scent that drums up imagery of sipping hot cocoa in front of a roaring fireplace, whilst nestled under a cozy blanket and watching our cherished family favorite classics on the television set.

Mountain runs and car shows are a few favorite fall events for the car enthusiast. With the turning of the leaves, the scenery is beautiful, and many car groups gather up their members to take a stroll over the curvy mountainous roads of north Georgia. The scenery provides a most picturesque backdrop for both group and individual photos of their treasured cars. Generally, the rides will include lunch at some newly discovered local mom and pop eatery that is tucked away in the mountains and, often, only the locals know about. In addition to mountain drives, fall is also a popular time for car shows. While car shows can, and do, take place year-round, the cooler temperatures of fall tend to bring out more people, both participating with their own vehicles as well as more spectators out enjoying browsing the collection of classic beauties on a crisp cool day.

The highlight of fall can be the kickoff to sweater weather, scarfs, flannels, and boots. Fall fashion is one thing that most people in the fall, particularly females, look forward to all year long. Shopping is a favored hobby for all people in the fall, between the holidays and trendy fall fashion, building up to  Black Friday shopping will remain a top shopping day of the fall season.

Another particularly revered and time-honored tradition in the fall for Georgia natives is to enjoy a taste of warm liquor for those chilly nights. Whether it be a shot of spiced rum in your coca cola, warm apple brandy in your coffee, or just a plain old shot of Fireball straight out of the bottle, there is not doubt the warm liquor will heat you up a few degrees. For those daring enough to try it, there is also the occasional opportunity in the south to partake in a “swig” of good old-fashioned moonshine. Generally taken right out of the mason jar it was stored in. Most old-timers around north Georgia, live and die by the healing properties of pure moonshine and will forbid you to leave the house without a good  hefty swallow if you have any sign of a cough or sniffles in their presence.

Hot drinks to warm the soul.

You cannot say fall in north Georgia without talking about football! From the NFL to college rivalries, to high school playoffs, on thing about it, Georgia loves its football. One would be hard pressed to get out and about on a Saturday afternoon without seeing team colors abound and hearing an endless array of fist pumping dog barking sounds, or Roll Tide or even a War Eagle or two, or ten. Sundays are reserved for NFL team gear and an appropriate display of “game day’ snacks. However, no matter how much the people love their college or NFL teams, there is one thing you can bet your bottom dollar on. When it comes to Fridays, there is something that transpires once those Friday night lights turn on that will transform even the most apathetic football fan into a screaming, standing in the bleachers, excited fanatic. The energy that takes place during a high school football game is unlike anything else. Of course, it also is an unwritten rule that you cannot attend a high school football game without enjoying the display of treats offered up at the concession stand. Nothing like a concession stand hot dog or tray of nachos at the football game to get you in the spirit for a good old time on a Friday night.

Hot cocoa is a must, and most often, a staple in homes across north Georgia in the fall. Sipping hot cocoa while curled up on the couch under a fuzzy blanket and binge-watching Hallmark movies is a time-honored tradition. Not only is hot cocoa enjoyed in the comfort of homes all across north Georgia in the fall, but a must in most of the fall outing festivities enjoyed throughout the state. Football games, hayrides, and holiday shopping are all valid excuses to grab a hot cocoa to sip on and warm up one’s insides, not that any excuse is necessary to indulge.  In addition to hot cocoa, no home in north Georgia is absent the fall favorites chili, and a vast array of hearty soups to suit every taste bud one my possibly have.

Pumpkin farms and hayrides are the literal epitome of fall in north Georgia.  It is almost considered a shameful tragedy, almost a sacrilege of sorts, for anyone to make it through an entire fall season and not make a single visit to a pumpkin farm, or apple house to enjoy a nice family hayride. North Georgia fall is pumpkin farms and hayrides, and you will be blessed with an abundance of them on any given weekend day. In addition to all the local farms, local churches also get into the fall spirit by hosting a variety of fall festivals, that almost always include a fun filled hayride.

OH, Halloween. Haunted houses, haunted hayrides, and haunted hikes are abundant in north Georgia. While north Georgia loves all things fall, Halloween is the first official holiday of the fall season, and, well, they go all out. From makeshift graveyards out on the front lawn, to skeletons hanging from their trees, to dancing ghosts swirling across the front of their homes, Georgia folk love a holiday and they love to celebrate. Halloween parties and trunk or treats begin as soon as the first weekend in October. They start buying up Halloween candy for their expected array of trick or treaters, but not too soon. It can be a much too difficult task for many to hold all those delicious candy treats in the house without breaking into them and eating half of the stash before Halloween night.

Some people are known for starting to ramp up for the Christmas season as early as October. But generally, as soon as Halloween has passed, you can begin to find the happy Christmas décor out in abundance. While there are a few who linger in the fall vibe a little longer, at least until Thanksgiving Day, many get all excited and start on their Christmas season early. For everyone else, they will revel in the fall season as long as possible. Sunflowers, Mums, and pumpkin spice everything is the season they have longed for all year, and they are not willing to cut it short. Even so, fall does provide the Segway into the Christmas season, and beginning in November, there marks the kickoff to the season in various towns. Many north Georgia towns will have their Christmas parades, and official lighting of the town tree during mid to late November. Stores will begin playing the festive Christmas music and putting the holiday décor out to get the local patrons in the holiday shopping season mood.

So, no matter what your passion, your hobby, or your taste is, you are sure to find something in North Georgia during the fall to satisfy each. It is an almost guarantee that you can enjoy a most pleasurable and memorable time in North Georgia, and take back with you, laughs and fond recollections of a time well spent in a place well loved.

My Must-Have Office Supplies

Planner – The most essential part of of my office arsenal is my planner . It is literally the heartbeat of my day. Even though I work from home, I try to maintain a very detailed cleaning schedule for my home, and am a full time online college student, as well as trying to schedule in time for my personal development practices, on top of having a full time job. My life would be hectic and stressful, as well as messy from having post-it notes strewn all over my house if it was not for having my one personal planner to organize and maintain all of my tasks that I need to complete. Having a functional planner is essential to planning out the monthly, weekly, and daily tasks of my life to keep me balanced and organized. I have tried a wide variety of different styles and brands of planners. I have some that worked for me in terms of functionality, and I have found some that just did not really vibe well with me. Finding the perfect planner set up is like finding the perfect pair of jeans. It needs to be comfortable to write in and yet stylish enough to encourage you to look at it every day.

Pens and Highlighters– Aside from the traditional black and blue inked pens for daily writing purposes, I also make a point to keep some colorful and pretty writing utensils on hand for decorating my journal and planner. Both the Paper Mate Flair Medium and the Click Inc are my top choices for use in my planner and journals. Along with an assortment of color highlighters to use, I try a variety of all things writing from packs I pick up at the local Dollar Tree to a pretty and fancy pen spotted while running into Staples to grab a pack of printer paper and ink. It pretty much goes without saying, that no office could be remotely functional without things to write with.

Accessories– You know, those little treasured trinkets that every self-respecting office contains- paper clips, binder clips, index cards, and such. In addition to those types of accessories, I also keep a collection of thumb drives on hand in my office. Between blogging, and taking my college courses, I tend to do a lot of writing assignments, and I have found from past experience, the hard way, that it a great value to save those writing assignments to an external memory drive in the event that my laptop takes an unfortunate tumble into the floor and all things on it are forever lost. Understandably, a memory drive is now considered a must have for my office so that in the event of a recurrence of such tragedy, at least I will still have access to all of my hard work. Finally, an understated office supply that I must have on hand is something to jot down quick notes, phone numbers, websites, or names to reference. I try to keep a small stash of memo pads and a few blocks of post-it notes on hand for such. That way when I am online researching something, and I just need to quickly write a name or address, or even a website to look up later, I can jot it down quickly on the post-it note, and not have to worry about having a bunch of random names taking up space on a full notebook page that I have to look at later and try to remember what it is for. The sticky notes are perfect to stick in my planner on future dates, in my notebook for future reference on pages where I am currently writing ideas on that particular subject, or to the top of my laptop when I need to return to a specific website when I get logged back online.

Notebooks– My home office would not be complete without a vast array of notebooks. I have everything from hard notebook binders, to basic dollar store composition books, to journal style notebooks, to a small collection of Happy Planner notebooks created from packs of Happy Planner brand filler paper sheets. I use them for a variety of purposes. I have some that I use specifically for journals, in which I jot down my daily affirmations, log my list of daily things I am grateful for, or just purge as my thoughts ramble on about life and all its mysteries. I have notebooks that I use specifically for work to jot down things to follow up on for the next day or to track my productivity from time to time to give myself a reality check about how much time I wander off from my actual work related work. I have several that I use for school, as I am currently enrolled in an online college to complete my bachelor degree, I keep a few notebooks to work out homework problems and jot assignment details for reference. And, I keep a few notebooks on hand for my personal development in which I jot down blog ideas, social media challenges that I wish to participate in, or note from any personal development online course I take or self-help audio books I listen to.

Desktop Calendar– I know it sounds crazy in a world where cell phones have taken the place of our calendars, our calculators, and even our alarm clocks. And, given that I keep a personal planner that I refer to on a daily basis morning and night. But, I work from home and there are times when I am working at my desktop computer and I need a quick reference to the date, either the current date or a future date, and it is just so convenient to not have to stop what I am doing in my work to pick up my phone and open the calendar app or go fetch my planner to flip through, but to just glance up to my handy, ever-waiting desk calendar. I do not write anything on the desktop calendar, but I do circle the weekend dates that I am scheduled to work, and that provides a quick and easy reference at a glance for days that I cannot plan anything, at least until that evening, for that day.

Laptop– My personal laptop is an older one that I purchased roughly about five years ago. I know, with the rate in which technology advances, I am sure it is darn near obsolete at this point. However, it still works perfectly and does anything I need it to do in order to complete my writing tasks or perform any homework assignment that I currently have to complete for school. Therefore, I see no need to update at this time. My laptop is a crucial part of my everyday life, however, and it is generally turned over every morning by 7:00 am at the latest. Ironically, I do not use my laptop to surf the internet or look at social media. I save that for my smartphone and look at Pinterest on my Ipad. I really only use the internet on the laptop to do research for a writing project or to access a website in which I will need to download or print something, such as when I purchased my annual parking pass for the beach. Laptops nowadays come in a variety of price ranges and can be very expensive to very affordable, depending on the purpose in which you intend to use the laptop. So, I know that when the unfortunate time comes in which I will need to put my current laptop down, I will have no choice but to replace it, as it is now a vital part of my daily existence.

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Who’s Identity Is This Anyway?

The family dynamic is often different from family to family. But, sometimes, one, or both, parents will form an unhealthy attachment to another member of the family, be it a spouse or child, that can cause a great deal of undue stress to the family system, as a whole. A problem in living could arise when a single mother becomes too dependent on her children. She may use them as a crutch. As the children get older, and get jobs as teenagers, the mother uses their income as “family” income to cover the bills and family expenses. The mother does not want the children to date or have relationships outside of the home. As the children grow into adulthood and eventually do leave home, the mother becomes very bitter and grudgeful toward them. The mother tries to make her children feel guilty for leaving home, and continually expressed to them that she is struggling to make it in life because she does not have their financial support. She expresses to her children that she is depressed, the home is unkempt, her health is declining, and she lies in bed all the time. She makes suggestion to them that she just “wants to die” because she has nothing to live for since her children have “abandoned” her.

            The problem with using her children as a crutch and trying to make them feel guilty for living their own lives, not only affects her, but can have an enormous strain on her children. The relationship they now have with their mother can be strained and stressful. Some of the shadow side of her thinking can include the limiting beliefs that she needs the financial support of her children to survive, or that her children have abandoned her when they have simply pursued their own adult lives.

            Some of the goals that can be beneficial to her can be, finding hobbies or interests that may get her out to social situations where she can make friends, she could take an interest in dating and develop a relationship that becomes important to her so that she does not feel alone, and she could work on restructuring the relationship that she has with her children in a way that is more of a parent of adult children, rather than a mother who is dependent on them.

            The outcome of achieving those goals could include a future where she no longer has a strained relationship with her children, but a healthy one in which they can progress through the future in a normal family system. She could find someone to date, and find happiness in developing a relationship with someone who could be a potential spouse and they could build a life and home together. Also, she could find things that she enjoys doing and make friendships that will get her out of her home and socialize more instead of lying in bed all the time feeling like she has no one or nothing in the world to live for. Achieving those goals can also influence her declining health. By taking an interest in having friends or dating, she may be more inclined to take an interest in herself and work on the things that are contributing to her poor health, such as taking her medications, eating properly, and being more active versus just being dormant by lying in bed when she is not at work.

            This process could be achieved by being empathetic and actively listening while allowing her to set the pace, or be in the driver’s seat, and work on the problems as she is ready to tackle them. When she gets to a place where he is bogged down by her limiting beliefs or procrastination or simply stuck on one problem and does not seem to be making the effort to progress forward, she can be nudged or challenged in a way that will provide the little push she needs. A collaborative effort to work on setting the goals with her that are realistic and will produce the idea future she envisions for herself would be the next step. Then, mapping out an action plan and focusing on a reasonable time frame to put the implementation in motion to mover her along toward her goals would come next. All along, there would be a need for feedback to assess where she is in the helping process and what should be the next step to keep her moving forward.

References

Egan, Gerard. “The Skilled Helper: a problem-management and opportunity development” 2014.  Cengage Learning.

Setbacks, We All Have Them!

Weight loss is complex. That is putting it mildly. It is truly a never-ending series of ups and downs. Highly unlikely do you come across the successful person who entails no setbacks or struggles along the path of their weight loss journey. No, those who set out to lose weight or gain overall better health and accomplish such with no road bumps along the way are quite the rarity. For the rest of us, setbacks are as natural a part of the weight loss journey as is anything.

I am myself working through such a setback in my own personal journey. To give an accurate idea of the setback that I am working through, at this time, I need to paint a picture of how I got to the place that I am mentally in right now. About a year and a half ago, my daughter decided to leave home to move to Minnesota to be with her boyfriend. Now, we lived in North Georgia, and that was a very long distance, and given that she had never been away from me since birth, I was crushed over this. Shortly after making her move to Minnesota, my son informed me that he and his wife had decided at the end of that year to move to Utah. Again, I am in North Georgia, and am being completely blown away by the idea of both my children (and now my grandchildren) moving so far away from me. After some thought I told my husband that if the kids both moved away up north, we should just get us a condo in the Gulf of Mexico. That way, the kids would have a good excuse to come visit me- beach vacations! Within two months of my declaration to move to the Gulf coast after the kids moved, my son and daughter in law decided that Utah was too far to move the grandkids from their family. They had now decided to move to Florida, and instead of waiting until the end of the year, they were moving in a month. Yet again, overwhelmed, that set the wheels in motion for me to make some drastic changes with my own life. I am fortunate enough to work from home for my corporate office, and after doing some research and questioning my management staff, I learned that I could, in fact, keep my current job and move to Florida. My husband and I had begun the exhausting task of selling, giving away, and trashing everything that we owned that was not considered a necessity, in order to downsize and move to Florida.

Things had not worked out for my daughter in her job as well as she had hoped it would, and she had made the decision to move back home with me and my husband three months before our planned move to Florida. We had gotten my son and daughter in law moved down to their apartment and settled in. My daughter had applied for and conducted several phone interviews for work. Things were going smoothly in preparation for the move. Inside of one month before we were to load the moving truck and move our entire life to South Florida to be with my son and granddaughters, my daughter had decided not to go with us. She had gone back to work at the job she had prior to moving to Minnesota, and things were going well for her there. She had decided to stay with a coworker and friend for the time being. To say the least, I was crushed, yet again. I had envisioned this dream life of having my children and grandchildren with me enjoying all the tourist-worthy things Florida had to offer. But I had to respect her decision, and as much as it hurt, I moved to Florida and left her in Georgia.

We got settled in the first week of October and things were going as well as planned. I was always searching fun things to do in the weekends with the girls. We had moved into the same apartment complex as them, and I could walk down on my breaks to visit, or after work, my husband and I would go down and take the girls to the park or for a walk around the pond. It was indeed a nice life. The only thing missing was Bree. However, I did not realize it was not to last. By December, Ryan and Teresa had informed us that they had not taken to Florida quite as well as they had thought they may and had made the decision to move back to North Georgia. Already crushed by Bree electing to stay in Georgia, I was now utterly devastated. Teresa’s parents had also, during this time, moved to the same area to be close to them and the girls. However, they had a daughter back in Georgia as well who was still in college, and they, too, had decided to move back home. Now, Henry and I were in a strange city with absolutely no one. We now faced a life in which we were truly isolated- no family, no friends, and, for me working at home, no coworkers. It was, without a doubt, the third most terrifying thing I had faced in my life.

Understandably, after Ryan and Teresa had moved the girls back to Georgia in January I had gone through a really deep depression. I had lost, for the most part, any motivation to do anything. I did not clean house, except what was absolutely necessary to function, I did not go out and walk around the pond- I tried, but I would just start crying every time I would walk past “their apartment” or think about silly things Elli would do or how Kenlee wanted to race around the pond, and I took to comfort eating. This went on for some time, and I knew it was not fair to Henry. He was devasted too by being here alone. He had to give up a job that he loved and good coworkers who had become great friends to come here and take a huge cut in pay with complete strangers to do this for me. I began talking about wanting to lose weight and researching ideas. Henry suggested that of the ideas I was tossing around, joining the local Weight Watchers made the most sense. He thought the idea of having a reason to get out of the apartment and socialize with other people would be good for me. Not only for support and encouragement in my weight loss endeavors but would help with the depression. So, I signed up.

He was right, the people at the weekly meetings were so supportive and welcoming. My WW coach is phenomenal and such a great leader for our group. I started out my first month really amazing, I had lost sixteen pounds. Things were going great again. I still missed my family terribly but was losing weight, so I was feeling better physically and mentally. Henry and I began getting out on the weekends to go to the local parks for hiking and walking. We started setting challenges for ourselves like getting twenty thousand steps in a day, then twenty-five thousand, and eventually thirty thousand steps in a day. As of this writing, we are still working on accomplishing a forty thousand step goal. I had regained my interest in going to the beach and doing things that I had basically stopped doing altogether after the kids left.

Then, the crash happened. We did not have a weigh in or meeting for Easter Sunday. That is when I go to my weekly meetings, on Sunday morning. It seemed harmless enough. The next week, my daughter and her boyfriend (yes, the same boyfriend from Minnesota) came down to spend a week with us. It was so wonderful to have them here. We did so much to enjoy their time down. We went to the beach, went fishing, showed them our favorite parks, and just all around basked in their presence. They left on that Saturday morning, and as it always is, it was so sad to watch them go. The sadness sinks in and takes a hold unlike anything else I know. I worked that Sunday, so I did not get to attend my weekly meeting. I worked the following three Sundays and elected not to attend any of the other weekly meetings during that time from Easter and Bree’s visit until the Sunday after Mother’s Day. What was the underlying reason, the reason of which I did not wish to truthfully admit to anyone, was not that I was working. I did, in fact work for three straight Sunday’s. But after Bree and Ryne left, the reality of missing my family and being isolated hit me again, just as hard as it had in January when Ryan and Teresa left. For two weeks, I did not want to get out of bed, let alone work out or track food. I had gained back six of the sixteen pounds that I had lost. This time, Henry was crushed to see me so broken and giving up on all the hard work that I had put into losing the weight. So, by week three, he had started going to the gym at our apartment complex, going for walks around the pond after dinner, and getting out on the weekends for a hike. Encouraging me to join him, he helped me snap out of the deep sadness that I was experiencing, and in that last week and a half, I had lost back five of the six that I had gained.

That following Sunday when I went to weigh in, my tracker recorded a 1.2 lb weight gain. I wasn’t happy about having any gain at all recorded in my official tracker, but I knew that I had busted my ass the previous week and a half to keep that number from reflecting the entire six pounds that I had gained. I share this story not to make excuses or to make out that I blame my family for my depression or my struggles with my weight. I chose to move to Florida to follow them, and I cannot make them decide to live here or to love it here. I can only control my choices and actions. No, I share this to say that we all encounter setbacks along the way in our weight loss journey. So, the question is never really if the setback will come, it is when will it come and how prepared for it will you be? I did not anticipate Bree’s visit setting the stage for a setback, and I was not prepared for how I would feel after her visit ended and she and Ryne had left. But after working through this difficult time and seeing for myself just how hard it was to get the weight back off, I know now that I need to be more mentally prepared for the next time. There are countless other things to do to work through being sad over missing my family. I could go for that walk around the pond, go out and lay by the pool, listen to some positive affirmation, or journal about my feelings. Also, I could always FaceTime them when I am sad and miss them the most. Now, that is a novel concept!

The reality is, that it is called a weight loss journey for a reason. It IS a journey; a process. There will be good days and there will be bad days. But everyday is a day to push through and remember what you are working for. To think about how much better I can be for my family when I am in better health. How much more I can enjoy seeing my grandchildren when I can run and play with them without getting winded and feel like I have been hit by a truck. But mostly, how they do not need to feel guilty for their decision to stay in Georgia because they have to feel that every time they see me, it makes me depressed and I spiral out of control. That is not their burden, and they must see me be strong, so that we can enjoy seeing each other and love each other. It is important to keep finding the things that keep me uplifted mentally and physically. Self help books, daily affirmations, journaling, and just sitting outside by the water and being in nature are the things that I have found that bring me back to a safe and healthy place. They say that the true key to long lasting weight loss is in that it is not a diet, but it is a lifestyle change. That is true, and this will be a lifelong journey, and a daily process. But, a process in which I am fully committed to giving my everything to.

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