Climb Every Mountain The Great Smoky Mountains

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“Climb Every Mountain,

Ford Every Stream,

Follow Every Rainbow,

‘Till You Find Your Dream.”

(from the musical, The Sound of Music)

Do you have dreams for the future?

In any given moment, we are guided by one of two maps: a vision map, which is a deliberate map for our future, or a default map, which is made up of our past. Choices made from our default map---our repetitive, automatic programming---DO NOT nourish our flames, nor do they move us closer to our dreams. AND even though they might feel right to us, they do simply because they are familiar. The right questions wake you up! from page 23, The Right Questions: 10 Essential Questions To Guide You To An Extraordinary Life, Debbie Ford

Have you begun to let some of those dreams slip away? Nearly one year ago, my hiking buddy, Kathy invited me to join her and three friends for a hiking adventure. I immediately said yes, not knowing that this past week, our eight-hour hike up, viewing the sunset from a 7,000 foot vista, and trekking back down in six hours would inspire me so.  After my recent climb up to the Summit of Mt. Le Conte in the Great Smoky Mountains, my dreams have been rekindled. Laughing, singing Rod Stewart, songs from musicals, Carole King, and JT, telling long stories, and “unplugging for a time” all served to rejuvenate and inspire the five of us!

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thanks for this, Melissa Chambers! Let’s Do This!

Especially in light of the horrific current events in Orlando, Florida, it is easy to feel discouraged, defeated, and hopeless, too. If your dreams are trying to die on you, watch this for inspiration!

It has been said that “getting old is not for sissies”, and as I draw nearer to the end of my fifth decade, I am finding this to be true. Life, at any stage, takes great courage. Climbing a huge mountain has helped to decrease my fears and rebuild my courage for the days ahead.

I was able to celebrate my friend, Cyndi’s 60th birthday this past Saturday and a friend I saw there shared that she found it hard to do things for herself during this season of her life, with grown married children and grandchildren now here. I told her about the 3 nights I snuck away to climb Mt. Le Conte with friends, and how doing that ( I am hoping) will make me a stronger and more loving woman, Mother, and Mom-In-Law, as well as a Grandma to our (future) grandchildren. <smile>

So what are the dreams you have had in your past that might be trying to slip away because of time and circumstances? What’s on your list, what “mountains” would you like to climb to gain serenity and hope for the future? Our adventure happened to be extremely physically challenging, but your dreams and my dreams can be whatever they are, unique to each one of us: keeping a journal, visiting a historical nearby community you’ve been thinking of,  increasing your fitness, snagging 15-30 minutes each day for some solitude, some alone time, and more. Take a few moments to sit quietly, perhaps with pen and paper at hand, and jot down a few of your dreams.

Dreams CAN come true, like the rigorous hike that five women, including a social worker, three nurses, and a teacher, all in our fifties took on June 7-8, 2016.  Though there are no showers or electricity at the top, the Mt. Le Conte staff took great care of us feeding us delicious, family style meals. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I will use mostly pictures to share our experience with you. Click here to see a cool, short video about the LLAMA Train that takes place on Trillium Gap Trail 2-3 times each week!

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We hiked up this trail. The first 2.7 miles is part of the AT!
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We hiked down this trail. We were able to see the llamas several times!

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Getting started at Newfound Gap. The first 2.7 miles of Boulevard Trail is part of the AT!
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My hiking buddy, Kathy.
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Connecting with Nature.
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A panoramic view of the vistas and Kathy.
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A favorite spot: Myrtle Point
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A fellow hiker taking in the sunset.
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A panoramic view of our sunset on June 7, 2016, Cliff Top.
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Pure Joy pouring from my new friend, Linda.
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Lisa staying warm at sunset, Cliff Top.
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Our cabin. The bucket was for the hot water to wash our faces with!
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Recorded on my Apple Watch after the hike down.
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Tho we saw no bears, there were lots of sightings in the days just following our visit.
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At 6,593 feet, Mt. Le Conte is the 3rd highest peak in the Smokies.
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The llama train travels 3 days each week, delivering supplies to the Lodge.
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Almost to the end of Trillium Gap Trail.
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Grotto Falls, about 1.5 miles up from Trillium Gap Trailhead.

IMG_3684Let’s Keep Our Dreams Alive!

Small Numbers Brings A Great Impact

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It is good for folks to gather together and a small group can gather for any number of reasons… to discuss a book they’ve read, to laugh, to reminisce about elementary school or college days, to study God’s Word together, to quilt, scrapbook, knit, or complete other creations together, to play tennis or golf together or even work out regularly as a group.

9 Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. 10 If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble.

11 Also, on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 The Living Bible

I bet you can come up with even more ideas regarding why it’s good to be a part of a small group. You may be connected with others to raise monies for a common goal, joining a care group from your church or just hanging out with other young mothers of preschoolers. In my nearly six decades of life, I have joined small groups for most of the aforementioned reasons and I believe I have gained much from being a participant in a  wide variety of small groups. (see recent Huff Post article: How To Have A Meaningful Life)

Here are my five top reasons to consider being a part of a small group:

(1)   The members of a small group can love and encourage one another. I’ve never met an individual who did not benefit from both. Small groups are an ideal setting for this.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” 

Eleanor Roosevelt

(2)  Small group members look after one another. Whether it be an illness, an accident, a sick child, or surgery, a small group is wonderful about ministering to one another with meals, prayer support, and whatever else might be needed.

(3)  We can learn from each other when we are together. My group of eight from Fernbank Elementary and  Druid Hills High School has been together for many decades. With our different life experiences, we learn new perspectives.

(4)  Making life decisions may come easier when shared and discussed with a trustworthy small group.

I’ve been on enough sports teams in my life to have experienced the magic of what can happen when a group of people care for and love each other.” Tim Ryan 

Life is hard and having folks on board and available to share the good times and the more difficult times just makes life sweeter.

(5)   Small groups can serve those in need together. Once a book club I was a member of supplied Christmas gifts for an entire family. Another group I’m a part of prepares dinner for the 21 residents at a nearby recovery center. Pooling our resources together makes giving that much easier.

Women Talking During A Bible Study

If you are already part of a small group, take time out to say thanks to the other group members for being an important part of your life. If you are not, why not consider starting a group with a few others today. 

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. 

Margaret Mead