Time Travel Tuesday – Over the Rainbow

 

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Last week we had a spectacular double rainbow.  It was so spectacular that my husband called me from his commute to tell me to grab my camera and shortly after that a friend texted me to grab my camera because the rainbow was just that awesome!

Unfortunately, my first sighting of it came before these calls and texts and it was as I was walking to the jeep to take my daughter to school. Because that’s how mornings roll, it was already the last possible moment to leave. Normally she takes the bus, but her bus pulls into her school 3 minutes before the bell. With soccer training she has extra bags and those bags must find a home before the bell…and that’s where I enter. Usually looking unkempt, but not in my pajamas in case the need ever arises for me to have to exit my car, I drive her to school earlier. I took two quick snapshots with my phone from the driveway and the rest of the views I just admired on the drive. Before we even finished the 10 minute drive to school, it was gone.

A fleeting memory.

And I am taken back to some childhood memories involving rainbows. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I did not have the conventional “child of the 80’s” childhood. For a while we lived in a converted school bus (yes, a tiny house) on our property in rural South Florida. Our power source was a battery and later a generator.  In fact, we would live on that land for 5 or 6 years without traditional power. This meant that things like the TV needed to run on 12 volt.

We had a 12″ black and white TV. I can remember there was a knob on the bottom that you turned to turn it on and control the volume. There was an upper and lower knob that  would click as you turned through the stations. We had four channels. ABC & NBC (channels 20 & 26 on the upper knob) PBS (channel 30 on the upper knob) and CBS (channel 11 on the lower knob). Sometimes the stations required a very precise lining up of the rabbit ears to get the station to stay tuned.

Every year, one of the stations played The Wizard of Oz.  I loved that movie! When traditional power came along in the mid-to-late 80’s, my uncle bought my parents a color TV for Christmas.  I had only watched The Wizard of Oz at home. That year, as we sat and watched it, my eyes were just as enraptured as Dorothy’s as she walked out of her home into Oz. I had no idea all those years that when Dorothy crossed over the rainbow, her world became a technicolor dream.

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Going “over the rainbow” was also one of my favorite childhood imaginary feats. Our driveway had a dip where it crossed a ditch.  If I closed my eyes while I walked down the driveway, it felt as though I were going uphill and then back down. In my mind’s eye this became a rainbow.  My heart would beat a little faster as I climbed that rainbow, towering above the clouds, and then I would slowly come down the other side. Sometimes my brother, or my dad’s sister would join me. When my cousins came to visit they would travel over the rainbow as well.

The question became “What was on the other side of the rainbow?”  The answer: different lands.  Whatever you could think of, we could visit there. Time has faded most of the memories of where we traveled, but sometimes a pegasus would save our weary bones from traveling down the rainbow.  He would meet us at the top and carry us off to the land that we had requested. The wind blowing in our faces as his wings flapped up and down and propelled us forward. When we traveled across the rainbow, it was imperative that we all hold hands, that way we could make sure that everyone made it back safely.  Eyes had to remain closed on this journey or the vision might be lost and there was the possibility you would be trapped.

I knew this land we ran across.  My feet had covered most of its surface for almost a decade. I have distinct memories of two lands we visited. Dinosaur land and Candy land. We wandered around the front fields of calf-high, dry summer grass, walking amongst the legs of giant dinosaurs. We dashed and darted behind bushes planted in a row along my uncle’s property, hiding from the guards in Candy land, who most definitely did not like humans and did not want us there. Our feet would always find their way back to the gravel on the driveway to begin the journey back to the rainbow. Sometimes we would saunter back to the rainbow. Other times we were on a mad dash for escape.

The air would change at that rainbow. It was lighter and full of magic. I remember the day when it became harder to see the rainbow. How I was disappointed that my mind couldn’t see beyond the dip in the driveway. And one day the rainbow was gone.

A fleeting memory.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Graceful Roanoke, Virginia

 

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I have to admit when I saw “Graceful” as the photo challenge of the week, I was a bit stumped.  There are no photos of swans, ballerinas, or princesses in my archives.  And, alas, I was not going to be able to find any to go out and photograph.

Those are the things I think about when I hear the word graceful. As I pondered it more and thought through the description used in the photo challenge: “something that exists harmoniously with its surroundings,” I decided on a direction.

I think the city and surrounding area of Roanoke, Virginia does just that.

Downtown- facing the city market building (shorter brick building in center), the Norfolk Southern building (Hi-rise in center.  I assume it will get a new name since it was sold when Norfolk Southern relocated most of their people to Norfolk and Atlanta), and Mill Mountain (If you look closely, you can see the famous Roanoke Star atop it.)

If you aren’t familiar with Roanoke, it is located in the Southwestern portion of Virginia. It also happens to have become my adopted home for the past 3 1/2 years.

According to the City’s government website, the first pioneers explored the Roanoke Valley region as early as the 17th century. As a side note, my genealogical  search has turned up with family lines in the surrounding counties as far back as the late 1700’s.

The city of Roanoke was originally called Big Lick, named after the salt that fed the wildlife along the Roanoke River.  The town was established in 1852 and became the town of Roanoke in 1882 and a city in 1884.

Its location helped it flourish.  To me, the downtown area has a industrial/urban feel.  This may be biased as I come from an area of South Florida, where there are no railroads and little to no manufacturing since the establishment of the area was at a much later time.

I like this urban feel to the downtown area.  The area has been undergoing a revitalization for some time.  I did not move to the area until the summer of 2013 and quite a bit had already taken place in the pedestrian friendly downtown.  Since then, more shops and restaurants have spread beyond the initial square to create even more space to wander downtown.  Condos have have been built in the upper floors of the historic buildings.

There is almost always something going on. There are festivals, 5k’s and for any of you that are hard core runners (this is not me…my zen is yoga, but one of my 40 before 40 goals is to run a 5k!) the Blue Ridge Marathon will begin and finish downtown in April.  Elmwood Park’s amphitheater and The Berglund Center have both been venues for some amazing concerts.  There is a Greenway that runs along the Roanoke River, filled with runners, walkers, and bicyclists.

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Taken from the Roanoke Valley Greenway

Given the history of having a child involved in a accident and being medflighted to a Level 1 Trauma Center with a brain injury when we lived in Florida, I was relieved to find out the city I was moving to had a Level 1 Trauma Center located in it.  It’s not something that I would have ever thought about before living through it.  Minutes are critical when there are life-threatening emergencies involved.

Located near the hospital is the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. I find it absolutely fascinating that this is happening where I live. Before I moved, I had gone back to school to work on a degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. The area I was living in Florida had a strong biomedical community and the Bachelor degree was being offered at the local State College. It had great potential because I was busily raising kids, so going off to a University was not an option. I didn’t get too far along before we moved (but I aced Chemistry, Statistics, and A&P after being out of college for 18 years!).  My focus changed when I moved here, but I still hold a special place inside for medicine and how the human body functions.

The Roanoke Valley (which encompasses the city and county of Roanoke and the city of Salem) exists harmoniously within its environment.  There is a love for the outdoors.  A love for green space.  It’s nestled between the mountains.  Everywhere that I drive, I am facing a mountain range.

And the Blue Ridge Mountains are a sight to behold.  My photos only offer a glimpse of the spectacular scenery.  A great website to check out about the area is Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.  They have great things on their blog about things to do and see in the region.  They also share some amazing Instagram photos (one of mine is in the first snow of 2017 photo album).

Quite a few people travel along the Blue Ridge Parkway every year. Excepting the photos in the city, all of these photos are taken on the Parkway from either Mill Mountain or Roanoke Mountain.  The loop road on Roanoke Mountain is now closed for the season.  If you plan to travel the Parkway in the winter, always be sure to check with the National Park Service for road closures.

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City view from Mill Mountain.

If you should find yourself this way, I think you’ll agree that the cityscape and the surrounding natural landscape exist in a symbiotic relationship.  That there is grace and harmony in their coexistence.

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Sunset view from Roanoke Mountain

Let your light shine!

Amy

Ambience & Hygge

Ambience & Hygge

 

Hygge.

What does that word even mean?!

Ok.  Most of you probably already know since it was shortlisted by Oxford Dictionary to be a Word of the Year for 2016.

I, however, live in the dark ages and stumbled across this word last Sunday. We were driving to my mother-in-law’s and I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw this word used as a hashtag on a photo that I liked.  They also had a photo of a book written called The Year of Living Danishly.

 

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Synchronicity

I was immediately intrigued.  For the past year, I have stumbled across stuff about Copenhagen (a city I knew nothing about, other than its name) on such a frequent basis that I was convinced that I am supposed to visit there.  I’m a big believer in paying attention to synchronicities and it was happening so frequently that even my skeptical husband was beginning to wonder if I should just hop on a plane and go.  We considered it for our first overseas trip this spring break, but I was worried about it being cold.

Yes, I know there is old Scandinavian saying “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing” – and I don’t have good clothing!

So in my intrigue, I googled “what is hygge” (pronounced hoo-guh) and while there isn’t an actual English translation, it can be compared to coziness. The website I came across- Hygge House described hygge as a Danish word that is a feeling or mood that comes by taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments more meaningful, beautiful or special.

And I was struck! This is the word that I have been looking for over the past year. I made it through last winter by looking for beauty everywhere. Mostly, I looked to nature. So when the photo challenge this week was ambience, I thought of my top photo, of how a place or moment in nature makes me feel. But I also thought about hygge.

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Light.

The warm light of candles and fireplaces are one of the first things that come to mind when I think about both of those words and creating a warm atmosphere.  But it goes beyond that.

It is the feeling that I have been trying to create in my home since I moved from Florida to Virginia. A feeling of warmth and joy. Surrounded by things that uplift my spirit when the days are a cold gray that seem to never end.

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Relaxation.

It’s about creating a place of relaxation.  Taking time to savor a cup of warm tea in the afternoon (because, let’s be honest, that coffee in the morning… that’s so I can smile and say “Have a good day” as everyone walks out the door after a morning of chaos).

Enjoying the rituals around the holidays of making cookies and candies with my daughter. And then spending time savoring the richness of our hard work.

It’s about deciding that every day is special enough to pull out the sprinkles and real silver.

Simplicity.

It’s about simplicity and slowing down the pace of life.

Something I’ve been seeking and journeying toward for the past year.

One way that I try to incorporate this concept of slowing down, of a  warm atmosphere where you enjoy the good things in life with good people, is by pouring a glass of wine, putting on my warm slippers, turning on the fireplace, wrapping up in a cozy blanket, and spending time with my husband.

Another way is by having a snack for my teens after school. Sometimes it’s fancy, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s from scratch,  quite often it’s not. But it’s in these few precious moments that my kids tell me about their day.  The good, the bad, things coming up, things that have passed.  These teenagers let me have a little peek into their world.  They eat, they laugh, they play their music for me…and then they head off in different directions.

It’s in these little every day moments that we find hygge.

I hope that you all find some hygge in your life this week.

Let your light shine!

Amy

Time Travel Tuesday – Is that snow?

 

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If you read yesterday’s Blogiversary post, then you know that we got our first snow here in Southwest Virginia!

It was beautiful.

Now I’m ready for it to leave.

When you are born and raised in South Florida, where 70 degrees constitutes wearing a hoodie, it takes a while to get accustomed to the kind of cold that makes your face and fingers numb.

Last year I was smart enough to get a longer down coat.  One that reaches mid-thigh.  After traipsing through snow last year in wool socks and rain boots, this year the hubby insisted I get proper snow boots.  Hooray!

Sometimes an ad on Facebook or Instagram just so happens to be perfectly timed.  Such was the case with my newest beanie.  New accessories for the winter are always fun.  What struck me about this ad was that Love Your Melon gives 50% of their profit to their non-profit partners who are involved in the battle against pediatric cancer.  The original goal was to put a hat on every child battling cancer in America.  To date, they’ve donated over $2.5 million dollars and donated over 90,000 beanies.  That second number is just staggering to me.  That cancer could be such the rampant beast that it seems to be.

Reading their mission and story, I decided that was a company whose accessories I would be willing to purchase.  Another plus for me was that it is made in the U.S.A.  And while I don’t pretend that the majority of my purchases are, it is something that I can appreciate. The beanie was much thicker than any I’ve owned, perfect for negative digit windchill.

I know a lot of people want to know if you are compensated in some way when you mention a product in a blog.  As mentioned, it was a well timed advertisement.  I spent my money, placed it on my head, and am giving my personal opinion with no acknowledgement or compensation from the company.

Since this is a Time Travel Tuesday post…. we should do some time traveling.

This time back to February of 1999.  That would be 21 year old me vacationing in the Blue Ridge area of Georgia.  We took a long weekend near Valentine’s and stayed in a beautiful log cabin (aptly named ShangriLog) situated right along the rushing Toccoa River.

At this point in life, I still had rarely left Florida.  Most out of state trips that I had ever taken were during the summer.Georgia mountains in February were much colder!  The cabin had a giant wood burning fireplace which we kept going during our time there.  The bed had flannel sheets and a thick down comforter.  I thought these were to lend to the ambiance of a classic Dovetail log cabin home, whose walls had no sheetrock. I have since learned that such things are actually for warmth on frigid nights to avoid placing the heat at “parch your skin” temperatures.

If you’ve read the post about how I lived in a school bus until my brother was born, then you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I did briefly live outside of Florida as a child. My parents were young adventurers with a baby in tow.  When I was an infant we lived in Alabama for about 3 months, and then again for almost 6 months when I was 2.  It was during that second time that it snowed.  My mom said that I hated it.  I would slide and fall because I wasn’t heavy enough to compact the snow.

That was the last time I saw snow.  And I couldn’t even remember it!  So here I am in Georgia, 18-19 years later, and in my mind I’ve never seen snow!  I was sitting in the window seat of the bedroom, staring out the window, waiting to head into town.  The sky was gray and blustery.  And then there were these little things falling from the sky.  It looked like ice when it would land on the roof and melt.  I thought it might be snow, but I didn’t want to be disappointed if it were some other form of precipitation.

“Look, it’s raining ice”, I said.  My love looked out the window and told me that it was snow.  I was like a giddy child.  He was amused by my naiveté.  Better to seem foolish than to be disappointed was my opinion.

We ended up having a wonderful winter wonderland excursion.  My Valentine’s gift was located at the end of a series of clues on a scavenger hunt.  Most were rhymes that really made you think, but this handwritten clue is one of my favorites.

The next clue was located on a mirror in that room.

Aww… it still makes my heart melt.

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I can’t even remember what the gift was at the end the series of clues.  I’m pretty good at remembering why gifts were given : the anklet for my 21st birthday, the birthstone earrings for our 1 year wedding anniversary, the mother’s pendant with mine and my children’s birthstones for the mother’s day after we finished having children, and pearls for our anniversary the year that I decided I wanted to channel Audrey Hepburn.

But even though I can’t remember the gift, I have vivid memories of that trip etched into my mind.  Walking through the streets of downtown, the snow swirling around us.  Standing by the rushing river posing for pictures while the wind whipped at my face.  Creating poetry out of the word magnets on the fridge.  Solving the clues written on yellow paper. Smiles and laughter.

Eighteen years later, when the snow falls, we’ll still call out to each other “Hey, look, it’s raining ice”.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

The Name Game

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It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to. ― W.C. Fields

What’s in a name?  

Most of you know me as Amy. Some know me as mother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend.  There is one who knows me as wife.  Not one of those names are unique, belonging only to me.

And yet, I am unique.  There is not one duplicate out there who is exactly like me.  There is no one out there who is exactly like you.  It is in that fact that our world becomes even more amazing.

Many of our deepest motives come, not from an adult logic of how things work in the world, but out of something that is frozen in our childhood – Kazuo Ishiguro

I mentioned in another post that my blogiversary was coming up. Today is that day. 1 year ago I set out on a blogging journey to discover me.  To find what made me unique.  To see if there was more to me than just the names assigned to me.

And while I didn’t arrive at an epiphany, I did make steady forward progress.

I’ve learned that I do enjoy taking photos and that this year I should actually learn the technical aspects of photography so I can achieve some of the types of shots that I haven’t mastered yet.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to need to step back and process what I’m doing to be sure that it’s the direction in which I want to continue.

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One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple – Jack Kerouac

I’ve learned that there is peace in simplicity.  I’m still purging unnecessary items from my life.  It is a continual process, but I am learning to not become discouraged along the way.

I’ve learned that there is beauty to be found everywhere…if we just look for it.

I’ve learned that pushing my boundaries helps me to find myself. And helps me learn more about those around me.

I’ve learned that my needs are just as important as those I care about.  And that being kind to myself, in turn, makes me more kind to them.

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Kindness is like snow – it beautifies everything it covers. -Kahlil Gibran

We have had our first snow, which I have learned to embrace by finding its beauty.

We received our passports and now I can press my boundaries and comfort zones even further.

Our first trip out of the country has been planned for spring break!  My first overseas adventure will be flying to Amsterdam for three nights and then taking the train to Paris to spend four nights before flying home from there.

I’m excited and terrified at the same time. My kids haven’t flown since the 13 year old was under 2.  We did opt to pay the extra to pick our seats so I could be sure that she wouldn’t end up sitting alone.  We also paid extra for the oldest to have an “extra legroom” seat.  With him being over 6’5″, we thought that was the only option for an 8 hour flight.   The trip won’t be until mid-April (hooray for tulips in Amsterdam!).

I was a little disappointed to learn that my passport will only have one stamp even though I will have layovers in Germany and will be staying in both the Netherlands and France.  I guess that means I will just have to take more trips!

If you have any tips on how to pack, must see sights, places to eat (especially if you know of any gluten free options for a picky eater), or anything else I’m forgetting… please let me know in the comments!

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Travel far enough, you meet yourself. -David Mitchell

Let your light shine!

Amy