The last few years have been, for me, at least, a perfect storm. Circumstances have conspired to create the most challenging years of my life.  So much so, that there have been times I have almost had to laugh at the continuing onslaught.  Although 2014 has been a year of challenge, there have been moments of joy and signs of better times coming. What we learn during the bad times is that there can be no light without the dark, no true happiness without deepest sorrow. As trite as that sounds, it is the truth. I have high hopes for 2015, and plan to do my best in continuing cultivation of a positive, and optimistic, outlook. For now, I wish to share with you the best moments of 2014, it has certainly been one hell of a year!

Randy’s remarkable recovery from a double lung transplant in September 2013 continues! The story is HERE.

In January 2014, friends of Randy’s from around the country came to celebrate Randy’s incredible continuing recovery from a double lung transplant, September 2013.

My cousin Kathy and I took a quick trip to the Exumas to swim with feral swimming pigs!

I took a dive trip to Thailand, and was joined by my daughter! It was an incredible trip for us both.

Phang Nga, James Bond Island.
Volunteering at an elephant sanctuary

Engagement! My son, Wes, and his fiance, Carisa, with their animal family!

Randy’s first trip out of Dallas since his transplant, we headed to the Texas Hill Country.

The Hill Country is beautiful

In June of 2014 Randy and I took a glorious drive on the Pacific Coast Highway, all the way north to Shelter Cove, CA. Then we met up with friends in Tahoe. This trip really pushed Randy to a whole new level in his recovery. Since then, he has gone up, up, up.

Incredible view from the hills of Santa Barbara
spending a day with my niece and her children in Santa Barbara
Whale Watching in Monterey Bay
Big Sur’s elephant seals!
Randy in the redwoods
Black Sand beach in Shelter Cove

and Lake Tahoe with friends we hadn’t seen in 15 years!

Enjoying good friends.
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, has to be one of the most beautiful spots on the face of the planet.

I had a chance to go to Cozumel in August, and met up with an old friend I volunteered with in Mozambique, Leslie. Of course, she’s young enough to be my daughter, and many people thought shewas!  A couple of my yoga buddies came along as well!

In August, my daughter, Alexandra, became engaged to be married!  She and her fiance, Mike, plan on an October 2015 wedding.

Alexandra and Mike

Then, in September, I went on a volunteer science expedition with Marine Megafauna Foundation. Off the coast of Ecuador 3 currents converge at a small island called Isla de la Plata, and with those currents come Giant Manta Rays and other pelagic sea life. I volunteered to dive and photograph the animals. It was a very physically demanding trip, but I loved every minute.

The wonder of these graceful, beautiful animals is beyond words.
Rescuing a sea turtle from fishing line
Meeting up with Marine Megafauna and volunteers, some of whom I’d been with in Africa.

Then, a one year “Re-Birthday” celebration for Randy….one year post double lung transplant.  An important milestone, and just the first of many I know he will reach!

Celebratory brunch at Lark on the Park.

Next, a wedding and Randy’s 40th High School Reunion.  What an incredible night it was, we were all so thankful that he was able to be there.

High School Reunion

I visited my family and friends in Ohio in October, which was wonderful, and I even went on a hayride with my sistah Holly’s granddaughter, Becca.  Then, off to Kentucky for my cousin Brittane’s wedding!

I hadn’t seen an Ohio autumn in 20 years, at least!
High school friends meeting for a great dinner!
Randy and the bride
My daughter, Ally, was Brittane’s Maid of Honor, doing the Cotton Eyed Joe!
My cousin Lisa and her daughter Brittane
My son performed the music at the wedding.

A quick, and successful, trip to Vegas!

How I love it when I hit Aces!

Then, time spent with family and friends during the holidays.

My brother helps with decorating
Ally and Carisa with their dogs at the Turkey Trot 5K
Watching Lyn’s grandchildren opening gifts.
Poker on Christmas Eve with the Mintons and Greenbergs

I do believe the signs for 2015 are looking good!  Two weddings coming up should give us plenty to celebrate!

Happy New Year to you and yours!  Let’s all look forward with joy.

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Tam Warner

Award Winning Travel Journalist and Blogger, writing about Eclectic Travels in the Empty Nest! From scuba to luxury cruises to kayaking to expeditions, Tam is ready to go! Contact me at travelswithtam@gmail.com

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Tam Warner

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