Ozone Falls

Another chance to explore our new surroundings sent us towards Crossville in Cumberland County, Tennessee and to a place called Ozone Falls. Strangely enough this place is located right off of the side of the road.

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Before the water takes it final plunge over the falls a quaint little creek precedes it that is perfect for the little ones to wade around in and explore.    

 

This scenic waterfall, managed by the Tennessee State Parks System, offers an array of hiking and naturalist activities. Ozone Falls is a 43-acre natural area. Ozone Falls plunges 110 feet over a sandstone cap rock into a deep blue, rock-strewn pool.  

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Ozone Fall Creek then disappears underground until it reemerges several feet downstream. Because of its picturesque beauty and easy access, Ozone Falls was selected for scenes for last years live action movie “The Jungle Book”.

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So if you are out and about and want to see some of the natural beauty with a flare of Hollywood thrown in check out Ozone Falls.

Adventure Awaits: Mammoth Cave

On one of our weekend adventures we decided to head to Kentucky for a day trip. Who knew that could be possible but given our current location living just outside of Nashville it was doable. Our destination was Mammoth Cave National Park. The cave system is a part of the Green River valley and hilly country of south central Kentucky. This is the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored. We happen to visit on a weekend that was extremely busy and not doing any research we were left with the only option of a self guided tour. Now having some experience in tours from my stint at Gatorland I figured it was something we could handle. So we paid for the tour, which wasn’t expensive at all, and headed off down the trail where we were met by a park guide that informed us on the do’s and don’ts of cave etiquette. As we made our way into the cave you could immediately feel the temperature drop.

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As we made our way into the cave we traveled down a small corridor that at times was just above my head in height but we soon came into a very large room it was at this point it was obvious were the name Mammoth Cave came from.On the self guided tour you are limited on exploration of the cave system, but it is still very informative with signs and displays along the trek.

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The self guided tour had no time limit, but limits your ability to explore this immense cave system. After exploring in the cave we made our way back to the surface and into the light.IMG_4203

 

From there we continued exploring the area by taking a trail down to the creek. Jase lead the way as we enjoyed the sights and sounds of being outside.

 

The trip down wasn’t so bad but by that time Jason was tired of walking and we had a .8 mile hike back up to reach the car.

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Well we started the trek back to the car and I am here to tell you toting an extra 32 pounds uphill for .8 miles is not my idea of a good time. It turned out not to be so bad and thanks to Dominique’s keen hawk-eye type habits, we actually got to see a doe and its spotted fawn on the hike back.

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There is also an on site hotel and restaurant as well as a camping area. All in all it was a good outing. We recommend going when it’s not so crowded and taking one of the guided tours. I think they even do some at night. Check out their website for more information:

Mammoth Cave

Discovering Balance and Mental Health

Let’s just jump right into this: I’m not going to lie, some days I feel like I am losing my damn mind. Between working full time, going to school for my Master’s, trying to be the best mom and wife I can be, and taking care of myself, it can get overwhelming to say the least. Sometimes I struggle. Does that make me a terrible person? Not at all. However, about a year ago I thought it did, but fortunately I was able to get past that.

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I was talking to someone whom I had known for many years, and I don’t entirely remember the conversation, but one part of it stuck out. This person asked me, “So aside from your son, what makes you smile now-a-days?” I legit couldn’t answer the question. What seemed like such a simple question that (almost) anyone could answer, I was entirely speechless. Holy crap, you guys. Where did I go? Who was I? I knew I was a mom, a wife, an employee, and a student; but who was I as a person or a being?

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This shook me to my core. I had no idea what had happened to the person that I was, or where she went, or how I lost her. I had no clue as to when I left her behind, but I knew I needed to get her back. Plain and simple, I started reflecting on the previous parts of my life as I heard that question play over and over again in my head, and I remembered a time where I was a free-spirited, fun-loving person. In my personal “a-ha” moment, I knew more than anything I need to do this and that it was completely up to me. But how would I get it done? I didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone I knew because I didn’t think it would get me anywhere, but I knew I needed someone. So what did I do? I found a therapist near my work and set up a session with her around lunchtime one day so I could be in and out without missing more time than necessary with my job. I needed someone to talk to and to guide me to clarity and inner peace, and she was just around the corner from the office.

 

Therapy-office-design-1024x683The first session, I was nervous. I kept thinking to myself “do I really need therapy? Why is there such a stigma with therapy? Am I wasting my time?” and so many other questions. I was quiet the first session. I didn’t know what to say or how to act. I just kind of sat there and responded to her questions with the shortest answers possible. It seemed like an eternity until finally the hour was up and I was given a homework assignment and a follow-up appointment was scheduled for two weeks later. As I sat in my car, I knew I had made a huge mistake. The mistake wasn’t that I chose to go see a therapist, the mistake was that I had kept my guard up and hid my thoughts, feelings, and concerns inside myself. I didn’t really give her anything to work with and I automatically knew I was hurting myself more than anything else.

 

Two weeks had come and gone and I found myself sitting on that couch again. I didn’t do my homework (whoopsie), but that was because I was avoiding it and wanted to start fresh with this second session. I started off being completely honest and told her I knew that my responses and reactions could have been better, and that I was aware that I needed to give more than what I had. She told me that it was quite alright, and she commended me for taking the first step in general, and for recognizing that I needed to participate. Once we got that out of the way, we started conversing and I slowly opened up more and more with each passing minute. Once the session was over, I felt better, and I was looking forward to my next appointment. I was also finally ready to tackle that homework assignment she gave me from our first meeting, which I did.

 

I saw that therapist for several months while we were still in Orlando. I felt like I was making progress, and her words validated that for me. I was starting to understand that I am so much more than mom-wife-employee-student extraordinaire. I was me, and I wanted to get back to the me that I was so fond of. I realized, thanks to her help, that if I’m not the best I can be, that I won’t be able to be the best mom I can be, or the best wife, or friend, or daughter. Whatever it is. If I don’t take care of myself and my needs, I’ll be going around in circles with this who am I, who I want to be, how do I get there business. And quite frankly, that sounded exhausting.

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Per her recommendations, I started taking time for myself. I became aware that taking time for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. I was hesitant at first about having “Dominique Days,” and my therapist said, “It’s not even a day though, it’s really just a couple of hours.” She encouraged me to go to a movie by myself, take myself out to dinner, go for a drive, whatever. Just do something that I want to do and that it was solely for me. She was right. One or two hours, maybe four if I wanted, didn’t take that much time out of the week and it wouldn’t take away from the duties I felt obligated to. If two hours of doing what I want to do isn’t manageable, then there are different problems that I need to uncover. But you know what? Two hours WAS manageable!!!!!

 

One day, I needed to take a day off of work to run some errands that can typically only be completed from 9-5 Monday through Friday, but you know what I did after that? I went to a movie! It was liberating. I didn’t have to worry about seeing something I didn’t want to see, or getting distracted by anyone or anything. I went to a 12pm movie, by myself, got some snacks and a drink, and just relaxed. It was eye-opening, you guys. After that movie, I felt like I was ready to take on the world all over again. I felt refreshed, and tended to, and that put me in a great mood which I hadn’t experienced in a while. That great mood helped me conquer the day and the rest of the week, which sometimes is all we really need.

 

The moral of the story is, if you lose your balance in life and get out of touch with yourself, you can get it back but it takes work. This stuff isn’t just going to fix itself. You have to put some effort into it, and acknowledging the importance of mental health can be difficult, but once it is acknowledged, and you are ready to take the steps necessary to tend to it and to find your personal balance, it is so worth it.

 

I still work on having “Dominique Days,” or hours for that matter, and it is a game changer. As I continue to get in touch with my old self, I learn something else. So now I’m working on taking the best of the old stuff and mixing it with the new stuff to help me uncover this super-being inside of myself, inside of all of us, that will help me be passionate, free, loving, and happy. Give yourself some time, take up a hobby, do something this is strictly 100% just for you, and the other things will start to fall back into place as you figure out who you are and what makes you smile. Don’t rely on others to take care of you, because only you can truly figure out what you need and what you have to do to make it happen.

 

If you need to find someone to talk to if you’ve lost your balance, resources are available everywhere you look, but start here:

MentalHealth.gov

Welcome!

Hey, ya’ll!

Welcome to our humble little page: The Chauncey’s Take on Life.

We wanted to share our adventures in life with you all, if you’re interested of course, as we explore, review, try new things, learn, and laugh. We all are wanting the same thing in life; to do more than just exist, and to actually live, and we have decided to do just that. After all, our fate is in our own hands, right? Totally debatable, we know, but we’re just gonna kind of roll with it… for now.

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So who are we? Funny you ask, my name is Dennis and I’m married to a beautiful, amazing, talented woman (who happens to edit all of my posts before I publish them, so gotta keep it safe, right?) named Dominique, and together we have a 2 year old son. I also have a 23 year old daughter who is now off doing her own grown-up stuff which is cool. Anyway, we originally met in Orlando, Florida working a premier Halloween event of some sort, and eventually dated, got engaged, then married, had sex, she got knocked up, we had a kid, then moved to Tennessee, and here we are. Now, we are currently in the Nashville area, which is new to us, but let me tell you, Davy Crockett’s ghost is calling my name and is whispering to me to “move closer to the Smokies.” Side note: You’ll see a lot of references here and there to Halloween, ghosts, horror, etc. so here’s your far warning if you’re not into that kind of thing.

Back on track: Now, this past weekend we actually went to the East side of the state and did some exploring, and I think just maybe Dominique is on board with moving…. again. Either way, we’re kind of just figuring it out as we go along, and hope you guys will buckle up and enjoy the ride as we “take on life.”

Stay tuned,

Dennis