Wednesday, December 26, 2012


 What is "wellness"?  When I first heard that term over three decades ago, I was working as a Registered Dietitian at the hospital in Harrison, Arkansas.  At our state dietitians' meeting back in the 1970's, one of the physicians who spoke to the group talked about dietitians changing their paradigm from nutrition professionals who worked with sick people, to instead, working with ALL people, to KEEP them healthy, so that they did not become sick in the first place.  After that seed was planted in my mind, I attended  a couple of annual "National Wellness Conferences" in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, that broadened my horizons even more on the topic.  The world-class speakers challenged the health care professionals in attendance, to see that good health included more than just physical well being.  It also included spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being.  Back at my place of employment in Harrison, Arkansas, a core group of the hospital  employees and community members formed what we called the "Boone County Wellness Task Force."  The logo on our letterhead read "Toward a Healthier Community", and we met regularly to plan events that would promote that mission.  So it is with great satisfaction that I am once again in the position to be promoting "wellness", by leading a new session of First Place 4 Health ( ) with a book called "Motivated to Wellness"!
 Instead of a hospital setting, these classes will take place at First Baptist Church, 400 Club Boulevard, in Mountain Home, Arkansas.  Based on proven techniques and more than 25 years of experience, First Place 4 Health invites you to try the most complete Christ-centered healthy living program available.  First Place 4 Health will help you create balance in the four core areas of your life---emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical.  Doing so will promote good health (aka, "wellness") from the inside out!
 Although this church has a modern look on the exterior, it is actually older than Baxter County itself!  That is because the church was chartered BEFORE the area we now know as "Baxter County" had been designated.  Previously this area was a part of what we now call Marion County, Arkansas.
 I learned a lot about the history of FBC Mountain Home, when we celebrated the 25 year anniversary of the church's move from its old location near the Mountain Home square, to its present location on Spring Street.  The Christian Life Center addition (shown in this photo), was the part of the physical facilities of FBC that originally peaked my interest, when I first started working in Mountain Home back in the 1980's.  The Christian Life Center ( CLC ) had a gymnasium in it, and an indoor walking track, and they had aerobics classes, and a pool table, and a ping pong table!  I liked the fact that physical activity was recognized as being important to the members there. (  For information on all the exciting events and worthwhile ministries taking place at FBC, just log on to  or phone 870-425-6961. )
 And if you prefer outdoor activities, the expansive lawn and 30+ acres of campus provides multiple opportunities for enjoying the outdoors.  In addition, there are just a few yards separating the great facilities of First Baptist Church, Mountain Home, from the beautifully landscaped acreage of the city's expansive Cooper Park.
 This photo shows the prayer chapel on the FBC campus, and reminds me to say that my prayer is that you will consider participating in the upcoming session of FBC First Place 4 Health, using the book "Motivated to Wellness".  The book can be ordered from most Internet book sellers for under $20, but there are no other fees to participate.  The classes will meet weekly from January 9 through the end of April.  The first class will be at 5:45 PM on Wednesday, January 9.  If you have additional questions about First Place 4 health classes, you can email me at  .   My thoughts as we begin a new year,  reflect the prayer from III John 3:2 that says "Dear Friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well."  Praying you will have "Miles of smiles" in 2013!  Tricia
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Friday, December 7, 2012


 December 7, 1941, the world was turned upside down; this is a photograph of a postcard I purchased several years ago when my son and I visited the location in Hawaii, known as The USS Arizona Memorial.  (When this photograph left my computer, to make the trip through cyberspace to be published on my blog, it was in correct alignment.  Despite several attempts, it kept showing up on the blog, "out of kilter".  I finally decided that perhaps the improper alignment would make the point of how this single event knocked almost everyone's life, at the time,  "out of kilter"!) The location shown in the postcard  is operated by the National Park Service, and  was built in remembrance of  the Pearl Harbor attack, where 2,403 people were killed in a very short time.  Hence, the day of December 7 was given the name everafter as "Pearl Harbor Day". 
 Long before the date of December 7 was given the official title of "Pearl Harbor Day", the day was significant to the man shown in this photograph, because it was the day of the year he was born.  At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, he was working as a teacher and basketball coach in the small community of Olvey, in Boone County, Arkansas.  I took this photo of the dedication page of the Bergman, Arkansas, yearbook, because that was where he was serving as superintendent of schools, at the time he left the field of education, to open a business, selling school and office supplies.  This man is very significant to me because he was my father!   Back in those days, small town yearbooks were put together by hand, and the printing shown under his photograph, is that of my mother, who was also a teacher at Bergman, and in charge of the school yearbook publication.
 After my father sold his school/office supply business (known as Home School Supply, in Harrison, Arkansas), he had more time to devote to one of his hobbies, which was woodworking.  I used some of his creations earlier this week, as the centerpiece for the First Place 4 Health ( ) Victory Celebration.   Having been raised during the depression, my father was "in to" recycling, long before it was fashionable! The "globes" on the candle holders are made from green, 2 liter, soda bottles.  The candle holders are all of different types of wood, because Dad was using up the small scraps of wood from some of his bigger woodworking projects.
 Last night, I used another set of the wooden candle holders he made, as part of the decoration for a table I hosted at my church's Christmas banquet.  Dad also made the wooden stand in the center of the table, with its multiple layers for holding fruit, or in this case, Christmas ornaments!
 My table was just one of 22 tables that were festively decorated to celebrate another birthday---that of Jesus Christ!  You can learn more about Christmas activities scheduled at First Baptist Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas, by logging on to  . 
 I was honored to have guests at my table that kept the conversation lively, with talk of their travels----both past, present, and future!
 To take this photo, I was able to get the attention of these ladies at my table, but the gentleman was busy looking at a beautiful butterfly photograph that made the cover of a  well-known bank's annual publication, and was taken by one of the guests at our table!
 This photograph shows not only the legacy of  my father's woodworking efforts, but also the legacy of his DNA!  (that is "yours truly" in the center)
 These "Grandfather Clocks" were also made by Joe Keeling, so it is appropriate that the photo also represents a grandfather with his grandson.  This entire week that I have been working with the candle holders dad made, one of the memory verses from First Place 4 Health has been foremost in my mind.  Ephesians 2:10 says "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  (the fact that my son's last name is Shipman, and he works---hence "workmanship" reverses to "shipmanworks" makes this one of my favorite memory verses!)   To paraphrase this verse another way, "For the clocks, candleholders, (and his descendants!),  are Joe Keeling's workmanship, created by him, to do good works, which he prepared in advance for them to do."  Likewise, each of us was  created by God, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  So let's get busy doing good works during this Christmas season, and in so doing, we will not only give, but also receive, "MILES OF SMILES"!  Tricia
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Saturday, December 1, 2012


 A group from the North Central Chapter of the Arkansas Master Naturalists ( ) was blessed with "short sleeve weather" on the first day of December, as they gathered at Kyle's Landing on the Buffalo National River in northwest Arkansas, for the purpose of hiking Indian Creek Trail, which is one of several trails in the area.
 Since most hikers these days are either carrying a phone that takes photos, or a camera, it is always a good idea to take a photo of the map shown on a sign  at the beginning of a trail head.   This can serve not only to identify the area when you are reviewing the photographs months later, but also as a reference in the event you were to get lost along the trail.
 There is no official trail through the area, because of the constantly varying water levels in Indian Creek.  On the day our group went through, the creek bed was mostly dry, and covered with leaves.  The trek is about five miles, round trip.
 There are several places along the stream bed where the water flow goes underground, then re-emerges hundreds of yards away.   Seeing some of the places where the water was coming out of rocks reminded me of the verse in Exodus 17:6 where God tells Moses, "Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink."
 There were still a few deep pools of water along the creek bed, and there are various ways to try to get around these pools, depending on whether a person wants to climb up and around the "obstacle", or risk traversing the slippery rock sides of the pool.  One of the hikers in our group, took an unexpected slip into the cold water, trying to navigate the bluff line in this photograph.  It is a reminder that it does not hurt to carry a change of clothes, and your electronic devices in zip lock bags!
 There was alot of communicating between hikers above the creek, with those below on the creek bed, sharing information about the best way to proceed.  Sometimes, if you were up high, you could see a passage way that was not visible to those at creek bed level.
 When the water is low, it is easy to find scenic spots for lunch, where everyone can sit down, even if your group is large, like ours was.
 Another advantage of going when the water is low, is that it enables you to see the interesting rock formations that would be covered up with heavy spring rains.
 There are a couple of caves along the Indian Creek hike, but the National Park Service has posted these notices, with the hopes of protecting the cave inhabitants from devastating diseases, carried by humans.  In particular, there is concern that a malady called "White Nose Syndrome" is destroying entire bat colonies in the eastern United States.  (So when you hear someone talk about "White Nose Syndrome", they are probably NOT referring to the lifeguard whose nose is plastered with white zinc oxide to prevent sunburn!)
 Perhaps you have read about hiking the slot canyons of Utah, but the Arkansas Ozarks also has some moss-covered examples of slot canyons, as well!  The hiker with the orange shirt shown in the photo, is dwarfed on both sides by the towering limestone bluffs that line both sides of the creek bed near the area where our group turned around.
 At the spot where the creek bed "dead ends", there is a a very tall bluff line, that some members of our group decided to climb.  One book I read said that the National Park Service reports more injuries in the Indian Creek area, than any of their other wilderness sections.  And in fact, one of our members did come out with their arm in a makeshift sling, after slipping on the limestone, and catching their fall by landing quite hard on their hand.
 When climbers are scaling the various levels of the bluff line, the crumbling rock ledges often break off, sending a rock slide upon those below.  Hence, another reason to use extreme caution, even as a spectator in this area.  I did not try scaling this bluff, but I was still able to see part of the "Eye of the Needle".  In the upper left corner of this photo, there is a small blue dot.  That is actually a very large opening in the bluff, where daylight (and people) can get through.
 Some of our members used a (very old looking) rope that they found tied to a tree, to access the upper levels of the box canyon.  If scaling the summit is important to you, it is probably wise to carry your own rope, so that you will know that it is strong, and not weakened by being out in the harsh environment, in constant use. 
 It is easy to understand why photographers like for their subjects to wear brightly-colored shirts when climbing, so the camera can more readily "capture" their whereabouts.  For example, the three men in dark clothes, two thirds of the way up the bluff, are barely visible against the muted tones of the stone and vegetation.
 The guys were not the only ones who did some climbing!  This photo shows my friend Joan on one of the Indian Creek bluffs, and she is a good example of wearing bright colors, to stand out against the stone.
 Even I found myself clutching the slick, moss-covered rock at some spots along the creek!
 Of course, when the camera is turned in its proper, horizontal position, you can see that the previous, so-called "climbing photo" of me, was trick photography, taught to me by my rock-climbing son!
 As Master Naturalists, people in our group are not only looking at the "macro" scenery, but the "micro" scenery as well.  In this picture, Dwan is shown getting a photo of an itsy-bitsy mushroom that caught her eye, as it was different from any that she had ever seen before.
 The North Central Chapter of the Arkansas Master Naturalists will be starting a new "semester" of training in January, 2013.  If you are interested in learning more about the activities of the local chapter, or enrolling in the next session of training, you may phone the Bull Shoals-White River State park at 870-445-3629.  Being a part of this very worthwhile organization is sure to bring you "miles of smiles"!!  Tricia
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Saturday, November 24, 2012


 I titled this post " S'MORE HERSHEYS! " because I already published an article about my visit to Hershey, Pennsylvania in a previous post.  However, that article did not mention the lovely Hershey Gardens, that is also part of the philanthropic heritage, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Milton Hershey to all visitors of this Pennsylvania town. 
 I wanted to write about the gardens because I read on their website ( ) that they are having special programs there during the month of December, that will encourage family togetherness, in keeping with the spirit of Christmas.  The shiny sculptures of chocolate kisses shown in this photo are a another reminder of a Christmas tradition for many people---a Christmas stocking filled with red and green foil-wrapped Hershey's Kisses!
 Milton Hershey started what was later to become Hershey Gardens, with a simple request:  Create a nice garden of roses.  What started as a three and one-half acre rose garden....
 has blossomed into 23 acres of sculptures, arbors, trails, and numerous types of botanical beauty.
 Hershey Gardens also has fountains, ponds, and other features that make photography there a delightful experience.  Not surprisingly, the location is also popular for weddings and other special events.
 The colors you will see when you visit depend on when, on the growing calendar, that you are there.  It was October during my visit, and these rows of purple plants were very eye-catching!
 As you would expect for an October garden experience, bright and colorful mums were plentiful throughout the landscape.
 In addition to blooming plants, Hershey Gardens is famous for having a stately collection of rare, signature trees----like the evergreen shown in this photograph. 
 The gardens are situated on a hillside overlooking the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania.  The two tall pillars you can see in the center horizon of this photograph mark the location of the Hershey's Chocolate Plant, located in the valley below.
 Most of the walkways at Hershey Gardens are paved, making them wheel-chair accessible.  In addition, electric golf carts can be arranged for groups that have impaired mobility.
 Unlike some gardens that decorate extensively with holiday lights during the winter, Hershey Gardens strives for a more natural look.  Their website encourages their winter visitors to concentrate more on the beauty of the evergreen trees during their colder-day visits.  By so doing, they will be able to see more birds and squirrels going about their tasks of seed, nut, and berry "harvesting".
 This gazebo near where the Culinary Herbs are grown can also be a gathering place, for teaching future chefs the value of using fresh herbs in their food preparation techniques.
 This row of all types of coniferous trees will be "ever green", regardless of the month of your visit!
 I was fortunate to be at Hershey Gardens during a time when I could go inside their Butterfly House, and see some of the 300+ butterflies who live there.
 These butterflies clinging to tree branches are reminiscent of the Pismo Beach (California) Monarch Groves, where thousands of butterflies visit regularly during their annual migration.
 This photograph taken inside the Hershey Gardens Butterfly House, gives new meaning to the modern phrase "cocooning".  Each of the colored spots hanging on the shelves represent different types of butterfly larvae.  Visitors can see the various stages of a butterfly's life, right before their eyes!   Likewise, the school that Milton Hershey founded for underprivileged boys and girls, enables troubled youth to develop into adults who are contributors to the well-being of our nation.  The website for the school is or phone 1-800-322-3248 for more information on applying for the school .   Proceeds (after expenses) from the manufacture and sale of Hershey's products go toward the M.S. Hershey Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization.  It is this foundation that operates the gardens.  You can find out more by visiting their website at  .
 The Children's Garden will be a popular place on the weekends of December 7 - 8, and December 14 - 15.  Those are the dates for the special holiday promotion called "Santa's Secret Garden".
 Even when Santa is not making a house call at Hershey Gardens, the Children's Garden is a fun place to visit.  I can imagine this fire pit, with the log benches surrounding it, is a popular spot for making the ever-popular campfire treat called "S'Mores", with its famous signature ingredient of a Hershey's Chocolate Bar.
Marigold blossoms are often used as borders for home gardeners, with the goal of keeping away hungry rabbits, from their still-growing vegetables.  Apparently, they are also used by professional gardeners, as they were present throughout the Hershey landscape!
 The lush beauty of Hershey Gardens is a good visual image for the verse in Isaiah 58:11 that says  "The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."  And so it is for a stroll through Hershey Gardens---a walk that will not only strengthen your frame, but also give you miles of smiles!"  Tricia
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