Time Marches On

The Evolution of Me.

We are always changing.

Right?

Just by the sheer nature of life surrounding us, it is almost impossible to be stagnant.

I started this blog about 2 1/2 years ago.

As a journey of discovery.

A seeking of who I am outside of society’s definition of me (mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend).

I have been fully immersed in the role of mother for over 18 years. I lost myself in that role because that was role I was and am passionate about. But if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, then you know my nest will slowly be emptying. The oldest, Big Mr. heads off to his University in a month. Mr. D graduates from high school next spring. And my youngest, Miss Sunshine, starts high school this fall.

I look back over the journey that I have recorded on these pages and I see that I have indeed changed. I have evolved. And yet, in some ways I remain the same.

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Time Marches On.

Time always has a way of marching on.

It has no sympathy for the plights of man.

I last caught up with you all in my Seaside Chat IIIt’s hard to believe that a week ago I was heading out to begin my long drive home after a three week journey to see family and friends.

I left you with the fact that I’d be stopping in Gainesville, Florida for two days to visit family before returning to Virginia.

On the way down, I stayed with Jami (my dad’s sister- on the left). If you’ll recall, we are only 5 days apart in age.

On the return home I stayed with Jenni (my cousin- in the middle). I missed her on the way down because she and her fiancé were in Hawaii (lucky!).

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On Sunday, she hosted lunch and my grandparents came over.

When I was 12, my grandparents and Jami moved next door to us. They lived there until shortly before Miss Sunshine was born. Then they moved near Lake City and I saw them much less frequently. They were surprised to see how tall Miss Sunshine had gotten since they last saw her. It was wonderful to catch up and to laugh as we reminisced over my younger years.

Some of the laughing and joking was about how I was the “alpha” of a specific relative cluster that I grew up around. If you follow birth order traits, it would seem likely this was because I am the oldest of my sibling group and older than many of my cousins. However, Jami is technically older than me.

That never swayed my “take charge” personality as a child and teen.

Interestingly, I don’t see myself in that role in all social groups.

Part of that is because I am an introvert.

You wouldn’t think so when I am around my family.

I AM LOUD.

I use the “Scott” voice. That’s what it’s known as throughout both sides of my family. My mother is an extrovert and has extroverted siblings. They are exuberant when speaking…AND LOUD.

It’s a contagious thing.

Loud voices. Loud laughs. Happiness exuding.

My cousin and I have a running joke about being Grandma’s favorite.

I am the oldest of the females and she is the youngest.

She has “alpha” tendencies too, but we don’t have any frictions and I consider her one of my besties.

She and Jami and known me and loved me through all the ins and outs of my life. Each time we are together, we can easily pick up where we left off.

Emptying the Nest.

After I made it back to Virginia, the next day I went to visit my mother-in-law. She lives about 1 1/2 hours away. She had been keeping our dog for the week because the fence is being replaced at our home (courtesy of manual labor executed by Big Mr.)

On Wednesday and Thursday, we had Big Mr.’s freshmen orientation. If I’m being honest, it was overwhelming. The campus has over 30,000 students. That is more people than our current suburb. At the same time, it is quite exciting to be a part of this journey. I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

The Passage of Time.

Alas, that isn’t me in the lovely sunset shot. It is a young couple embarking on some level of the journey of their love. They just happened into my frame during my last night at the beach in Naples.

On Saturday, the hubby and I celebrated 20 years since the first lunch date that set into motion this journey together.

I don’t like that I’ve posted so infrequently. One of the lessons I’ve learned during this season of my journey is that my summertimes are filled with times that I need to set aside for motherhood. Things have come up that I have needed to deal with. When I set out on this path 18 years ago, I knew that the walk would sometimes be all-consuming. And sometimes it is.

As I continue to learn, I see that I need to have posts prepared in advance for those moments when I can’t possibly set aside any time during the day because I am consumed by my other responsibilities.

My teens return to school in a month and I will have time to sit down and process photos and gather my thoughts in a cohesive manner.

Until then, I hope you’ll bear with me and continue along with me on this ever-evolving journey.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Seaside Chat II

The Journey.

My three week journey is coming close to an end.

It is a bittersweet moment as I prepare to leave my parents. I will miss them, but at the same time, I miss my hubby and my two sons.

I wanted to pop in for a quick chat. This post won’t do justice to all that I’ve done since my last seaside chat so I will likely revisit some of the topics in the future.

Seaside Chat. Round 2.

We did do all the things that I mentioned in my last seaside chat. The was an escape room, a celebration of the Fourth of July with food and family. Later in the day there were fireworks. The next day was a giant excursion to Tampa to Busch Gardens. That day was quite eventful!! I promise that I’ll be back to tell all about it. After catching up on some sleep, we had a lounging day on Friday.

I have missed my conversations will all of you. I did try to catch up on my emails and comments on Tuesday, but I still have quite a ways to go.

Mostly, I didn’t want you to think that I fell off of the face of the earth. I am here, but have been soaking up the last of my time with family.

I’ve just finished breakfast and most of my packing. After a quick shower, I will be jumping in the car to head to Gainesville to see family before the long drive back home on Monday.

If you’ve followed my Instagram stories, I shared a tour of the cottage on the day of our departure. I will be adding it to my Instagram highlights. There is also a small car tour of the streets where I grew up, which is much more inland than the beach.

Where the water pools along the ditches and in the low areas of the yard during rainy season.

Where the frogs sing their lullabies in the darkness.

Where the alligators roam the canals and the box turtles make their way into your yard.

Where the cypress trees indicate swampland that waist high in water during rainy season and completely dry ground in the dry months.Where the palmetto bushes, slash pines and oak trees are added by nature and the palm trees are added by man.

I leave you with last night’s sunset as seen from my childhood home.

Let your light shine!

Amy

30 Day Challenge…July

30 Day Challenge.

I can’t believe that I’ve made it to month 11 in my year of 30 day challenges.

If you are new to the blog, I have been doing a 30 day challenge each month since I turned 40 last September. They vary between physical and mental challenges, but are always meant to encourage personal growth.

July Challenge.

Normally, I announce my challenge prior to the beginning of the month.

However, I am on vacation and most of my days have looked like the photo above. That view makes it hard to think about little more than staying in the present, soaking up the beauty and tucking it away for me to draw upon on the days where I’m not so happy with what life is throwing at me.

A reminder of gratitude.

A reminder of my happy place.

The place where my soul feels at ease and the pace of my life slows.

The place where procrastination is almost a given.

The Challenge for July is…

A 30 Day Fitness Challenge.

 

Since I’ve been lounging for a large part of June, I thought that I’d take on another fitness challenge.  Last night I dug around on Pinterest to find a challenge that would work with the fact this I am still traveling and that when I return, I have two full days of college orientation with Big Mr.

I’m a little nervous about the amount of push-ups because I have shoulder issues, but I did make it through the plank challenge. 

If you are interested in joining in the challenge, you can find the infographic here on Pinterest. Or on this Fitbit page, which also shows you how to do each move.

I’ll still be lounging at the beach for the next week, but I’ll be fitting in the pieces of the challenge as well.

I hope that your July is off to an amazing start!!

Look closely at present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming. -Alice Walker

Let your light shine!

Amy

Seaside Chat

Friday.

It’s technically Friday, although I struggle to keep track of the days.

I suppose this is sort of like a Friday Faves, but as I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, it’s more like a seaside chat.

Seaside Chat.

Miss Sunshine and I moved into our little cottage last Friday. We are some blocks from the beach, but I’ve timed it and it’s about a 7 minute walk.

Sunset.

I’ve been able to get down there most nights for sunset. The two that I’ve missed were due to rain, not laziness on my part.

The colors in the sky are always spectacular, even on the less than stellar sunset nights.

Dinner and Dancing.

My aunt that traveled to Scotland with us last year has joined some social groups and on Wednesday they go to a restaurant that has a live DJ/singer and dancing. She invited Miss Sunshine and I and my mother to join her. The singer was crazy good. I had to do a double take to make sure that he wasn’t just playing music.

Miss Sunshine declined to join us in dancing, but the three of us got out there and “shook our groove thang”.

You might be wondering about that spectacular bruise on my arm. If not, I’m gonna tell you about it anyway. While traveling down, Miss Sunshine and I stopped for gas and a bathroom break. The door to the stall was somewhat unwieldy and as I turned to close it, the purse hook scraped my arm.

It was enough that I thought I’d bruise since I bruise so easily. However, the scrape covered less than a dime sized spot. I did not expect a bruise so large. It’s so glaring that every single family member has asked what happened AND I’ve gotten to sport that monstrosity at the beach for a week. It’s fading, but it’ll still be a while.

Biking.

The cottage has two bikes so Miss Sunshine and I have done some exploring on them.

Paddleboard.

We brought our paddleboard down with us. The Gulf is pretty calm at this time of year so it’s been fun to take that out.

When we were down on Wednesday, a manatee came swimming along the coastline and later we could see a dolphin out frolicking and heading toward the pier to catch the fish that congregate there.

Shopping.

Yesterday, Miss Sunshine and I did a little shopping for her school clothes. Then we met my mom and sister-in-law for lunch. Later, we went to both of my aunt’s house to visit. Today, we will go visit my grandfather and tonight will be meeting one of my aunt’s at the beach to watch the sunset.

It sounds like go,go,go…and sort of is, but there are moments of relaxation as well. I’m still finishing up my month of writing and just realized July is almost upon me.

Time to figure out my challenge for that month. Any suggestions?

Upcoming.

Along with more family visiting, we have some upcoming fun times in the works. We are supposed to go to an Escape Room. We have a family dinner out planned with my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two nephews. We’ll be celebrating the 4th of July. How and where is still in determination mode. We are also taking a day trip to Busch Gardens to seek out some thrilling roller coasters. I’m sure I’m leaving things out, but we will also stop once again in Gainesville on the return home and I will see my grandparents and my cousin that I couldn’t catch on the way down.

I’ll also be making sure that I try to catch as many sunsets at the beach as I possibly can!

As I mentioned before I began this trip and as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am slow on my replies and making it by to read what many of you have been up to. Most of my evening downtime is spent chatting or playing board games with Miss Sunshine. I will get through my emails and comments, just bear with me in the process.

I hope that you all are having a beautiful Friday!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Still Here

Still Here.

Just in case you thought I’ve disappeared from the blogosphere, I wanted to pop in and tell you that I’m still here.

I think that this may the longest that I’ve ever gone without writing a post.

11 days…in fact.

I’ve missed you all, but have also found little time to sit down and write. I have fully been embracing living in the moment.

This morning Miss Sunshine is sleeping in so I thought I’d pop in to catch up with you all.

After my last Friday Faves, I started preparing for my 3 weeks journey down to Florida.

Our upstairs bathroom needs a complete remodel and the hubby and Big Mr. will be working on that while I’m gone. I picked out tiles and a few other things that I didn’t want to do via text.

Big Mr. returned from his week down in Myrtle Beach. A high school graduate. It still seems surreal.

Gainesville.

We packed the Jeep on Monday night and then Miss Sunshine and I set out early Tuesday morning. We knew that it would be a long day. The GPS said about 9 1/2 hours of drive time. Once you included stops, we were on the road for 11 hours. Luckily, it was an uneventful 11 hours.

Our destination that day was to stop at my Dad’s sister’s house.  If you’ve been following my blog for some time, then you are already aware of the fact that she is only 5 days older than me. The relationship was more like cousins and sometimes like sisters {probably the fighting part. ;)} . I’ve spoken about her Lupus and of my travels to her wedding. She is one of those few in my life who have known me since the beginning and no matter our length of time apart we can always pick up where we left off.

…and that we did. We stayed up until 2 in the morning, catching up, and reminiscing. I stayed until about 1 p.m. the next day, but then we needed to get on the road to Naples.

Naples.

It’s about a 4 1/2 hour drive to Naples from Gainesville.

In Ocala, we stopped at Chick-fil-a to grab a bite to eat. Imagine my surprise when I came out of the bathroom stall and ran into one of my girlfriends from when I lived in Okeechobee. It was one of those “it’s a small world” moments. Miss Sunshine and I continued south, but did get stuck for 45 minutes in a wreck around Englewood. It was a great relief to finally get to my parent’s house.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. catching up with my dad and brother (see a pattern here)

The next day I met a girlfriend for lunch. We were neighbors when I lived in Naples and our children are similar in ages. It was great to catch up in person.

I met my mom and Miss Sunshine over at my aunt’s house. Then my uncle stopped by. Then my other aunt showed up. And then my cousin. It was all impromptu. They didn’t even know I’d be there.

…these are some of the things I miss about home.

That night I only stayed up until midnight!

We moved into the cottage on Friday. It’s within walking distance of the beach. And so I made sure that I was there for sunset.

On Saturday, Miss Sunshine and I went for a morning run. The first photo is the view that morning. Later in the morning, Miss Sunshine and I took the paddleboard down to the beach and spent some time on it. Then my mom, sister-in-law and my two nephews met us there for some more fun in the sun.

Miss Sunshine and I had planned to go with my mom and aunt to SummerJazz on the Gulf at the Naples Beach Hotel, but the weather was rainy so we opted for dinner instead.

On Sunday, we met my mom and aunt for a kayak trip. We left out of Isle of Capri from the Fish House Restaurant. We skirted along the mangroves of Johnson Island and decided to beach ahead. I don’t think that beach has an actual name because I’m pretty sure we didn’t go as far as Sea Oat Island. We hadn’t seen any dolphins so we thought we’d travel a little farther up the coast of the beach and suddenly we saw a set. I was last in line because my mom hadn’t ever kayaked and I wanted to keep pace behind her. Miss Sunshine took off and they even swam under her boat. She was close enough to constantly see their shadows. It was very exciting for her! I love dolphins and was happy that we were able to see a set.

After that, we kayaked back and had lunch.

Monday was another morning run and then some beach time.

No rain that night meant I went back to bask in another sunset.

I am a lover of shells so I am constantly scouring the piles.

The floor of the Gulf right now is filled with thousands of sand dollars. They even turn our toes yellow because they are constantly below our feet.

They are sea urchins that are brownish with many hairlike spines that help them move along the ocean floor. But they are alive, so we pick them up to stare and then return them quickly to their home. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to take a live one. Often you will find broken pieces of them amongst the shells.

However, last night I found a complete skeleton.

And then I watched a glorious sunset.

I hear Miss Sunshine beginning to stir and I am planning to cook her some bacon, eggs, and toast. Add a cup of OJ and a little sea breeze and I think it’ll be a lovely morning indeed.

I’ll be back to check in during my time here, but my posts will be more like seaside chats.

I hope that you all have been living in the moment as well.

I’d love to hear about what has been going on in your days.

She loved the sea. She liked the sharp salty smell of the air, and the vastness of the horizons bounded only by a vault of azure sky above. It made her feel small, but free as well. - George R.R. Martin

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves Edition 66

Friday.

It’s Friday and as promised, I’m back!!

Last Friday, I was preparing to watch my oldest son graduate from high school!

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Friday Faves.

Sometimes the term Friday Faves doesn’t seem quite the accurate statement. I definitely have some faves to share, but I also have things that are not faves (far from it, in fact) that I need to talk about as well.

Life.

A conversation about life…my life…the lives of others…life in general.

Before Graduation.

Leading up to Big Mr.’s graduation, our schedule was pretty chaotic.

Mr. D had a random schedule because he had some finals to take and they are given in two hour windows.

Miss Sunshine had an 8th grade field trip to Washington D.C. on June 5th. We had to have her to the school by 4:45 a.m., with a “planned” pick up time that night of midnight. The best laid plans…right?! I know that they can’t calculate traffic and never come back at that time. We had Big Mr. on standby to pick her up. I stayed awake, but barely. She got in about 1:00 a.m. Her English teacher had told them there would be a quiz the last day of school, so she chose to go in for that morning block. I’ll refrain from publicly making commentary on my thoughts surrounding the situation.

My parents got in Wednesday afternoon. We took them up to the Roanoke Star on Thursday and then Thursday night, I took them on a drive through downtown Roanoke. Mostly we stayed around the house visiting.

Dress Rehearsal.

Big Mr. tried on his cap and gown for us and my mom and I snapped a few pics. There are some that are quite hilarious because his attention span for photos is rather short and he starts being silly to indicate “enough”. I’m sure if he could have gotten away with wearing flip flops to his actual graduation, he would have.

Graduation Day.

While he did wear khakis, boat shoes, a dress shirt and tie to his graduation, his one claim to his own personal style was the necklace.

The necklace is a strand of cedar beads. That is what I was told they are called when I bought them from a roadside stand in Arizona on my honeymoon. I purchased them because they keep nightmares away and while they were worse in my 20’s, nightmares are a frequent part of my dreams. In digging around, it seems that the necklace is mainly known as a Navajo Ghost Bead Necklace and is made from Juniper Berries.

Big Mr. was wearing them because he’s been wanting to rock some beads recently, but it still felt special because even though I purchased other jewelry and pottery on my honeymoon, this is the once piece that I bought because of the story behind it. While I don’t sleep in necklaces (I have a fear of strangulation) and so didn’t advocate it for my children, I did hang them above the bed of one of my children when they were having night terrors.

The beads are also thought to represent an interconnection of the earth, trees, animals and humans and bring harmony and safety to the wearer. What a perfect thing to wear on such an important day. One teacher did suggest he remove them, but he just tucked them in a little.

Party Time.

In my past, I used to host our entire family in Florida for parties. It felt a little strange that it was only my parents, but we embraced the time to celebrate together.

Photos.

Big Mr. had already stripped out of the cap and gown before I made it through the nasty graduation traffic and back home. I may have him put it back on and snap more photos, but for today, I’m happy with the few that I was able to capture.

Beach Week.

Big Mr. left for beach week along with many of his graduating classmates. He will return home soon. The house feels a little quieter with him away, but I know it won’t be long until this is the norm.

Death.

I don’t know how far news travels, but you may have heard about the triple homicide in Bent Mountain, Virginia. If you hadn’t and your breath has just been taken away, that is how I felt Wednesday morning. I don’t watch the news very often and hadn’t recently. I heard about it from my hairdresser. When she told me their ages, I suspected that either Big Mr. or Mr. D might know the people. She didn’t know the names, but I pulled out my phone and googled it. I knew right away that it was likely that the boys might know them. They did. The 20 year old was a skateboarder, something my boys did quite often when they moved here. The 18 year old girl, a classmate of Big Mr.

I knew her name.

It’s strange the little things you remember. Her name felt familiar because the last name is the same as someone well-known in this country. It made me stop a little longer and notice it at that time. I had read a quote from her in the yearbook. They were words about travel and culture, something that you know I am passionate about. Words that she will never get to fulfill. Ones that have been horribly stripped away from her. It broke my heart both as a mother and as a human. A week ago, I watched her walk across the stage and take her diploma in hand. The world a bright, open future. A world stolen.

The community is in shock, three families left without a piece of their lives and countless others heartbroken over never seeing their smiling faces again.

Be the light.

I have to believe that the good in the world outweighs those who are blackened with evil. Many days I fail to be the person I’d like to be, but I still try to spread my light through the little circle of influence that I have.

I encourage you to be the light as well.

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet on the blog and social media front. I have been writing more and reading more and trying to be fully present when my family  is home.

Miss Sunshine and I head down to Florida next week. While I will miss my hubby and the boys tremendously, my heart is happy that I will be seeing family and friends that I have missed. I will be letting them know how important they are to my life by making time to just be present with them.

Still, I’ll be working on my photos and the blog in the wee hours of the nights and mornings, but I expect to only be here a few times a week during the three weeks that I am gone.

I hope that you have a stunning weekend and light-filled week. I hope there are more smiles than tears and that you find a moment to speak a kind word into somebody’s soul.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King Jr quote quotes photoquote

Let your light shine!

Amy

Some of My Favorites

 

Weekly Photo Challenge.

Many of you who read my blog regularly are aware of the fact that I participate in a weekly photo challenge.

I enjoy the process because it helps me think about my photos in a different way. Quite often it also call upon my imagination as I try to interpret my take on the challenge.

The photo challenge is hosted by the Daily Post at WordPress. After many years, they have decided that the challenge will come to a close. This past week has been the final prompt.

Some of My Favorites.

I am coming in at the deadline because I lack time management skills I have family coming in for the oldest’s graduation, which is this Friday, and end of school year obligations for three teens keeps me busy.

The prompt for this final week is All-Time Favorites.

I’ve captured many photos that have become my favorites over the course of the past 2 1/2 years. However, instead of digging deep into my archives, time requests that I share some recent favorites.

Photographer. |Sunset at Naples Pier. 2018

This photo was taken by my mother and edited by me.

I don’t always love myself captured in front of the camera, but are moments when I am that can transport me back to that very second.

I arrived into Naples (Florida), which is my hometown, in order to fly out the next day for the U.K. My mother and I visited some family and then made our way to the pier to watch the sunset.

I was in the middle of my yoga pose challenge and she coaxed me into completing it on the beach (I’m not one for striking a pose in front of people). It’s probably one of my favorites of the challenge, you can find it here.

Then it was time to capture some of the sunset.

I was adjusting the settings when she snapped this photo.

Pelican. |Sunset at Naples Pier. 2018

It’s not often that my sots line up just how I’d envisioned them when you are accounting for a moving object.

However, this time I captured the pelican in flight, wings extended and still had the sun’s rays, the pier, and a boat (which would not normally be that close to the pier, but that section is closed due to damage it sustained last year during  Hurricane Irma.)

Arthur’s Seat. |Edinburgh, Scotland. 2018

I’m sure this has its own name, but I haven’t yet discovered it (if you have, feel free to chime in and let me know). One of the things that we wanted to do on our return to Edinburgh was climb Arthur’s Seat.

Arthur’s seat is an ancient volcano and offers beautiful views of the city. It is also the location of the Radical Road, built by the unemployed weavers from the west of Scotland after the Scottish Insurrection. While I do not know if my ancestors helped build the Radical Road, I do descend from some weavers who lived nearer to Glasgow.

We began our hike from the Holyrood Park car parking area. We followed the signs marked “main trail” (which is not the Radical Road because that appeared steeper and my mother is a Floridian flatlander). This peak was a the beginning of the hike.

Be aware that there are numerous routes to the summit. We did not return the way we ascended, which was unintentional. I see the routes listed as colors, but if there are markings I missed those. My experience is seeing the blazes used in the forests surrounding me here in Virginia, so that was what I was expecting.

I will do a future post on the actual hike and include more photos from that journey.

Callanish Standing Stones. |Isle of Lewis, Scotland. 2018

One of our main desires on this journey was to see the Callanish Standing Stones.

We arrived early to avoid the crowds and were mesmerized by the space.

The stones are 5,000 years old.

Even older than Stonehenge.

This is site I. We also visited sites II and III.

I have plenty more to share from this journey so look for that in a future post as well.

Photography.

One of the parts of the photo challenge journey that I have enjoyed is meeting others who were also participating.

As a beginning, amateur photographer, I have learned so much through those I have met.

I plan to continue working on my skills. Since the photos above were shot in raw, which I am just learning to work with, you may see them come back in new, or different, or possibly even better ways.

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. - Dorothea Lange. Photo quote placed over photo of Victoria Street in Edinburgh Scotland

Let your light shine!

Amy