Evanescent 


ev·a·nes·cent [evəˈnes(ə)nt]- adj.

Soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing.

I’m in the car heading to Miami to fly to Scotland!

I have been participating in the weekly photo challenge each week so far this year and today is my last day to offer a post for this week’s concept. 

Evanaescent is the choice for this week. 


This weekend the girlie had her final soccer tournament as a U14 girlie. They made it to the semi-finals, but not to the championship. The girlie was disappointed of course, but I thought it was an overall good weekend. I got to know a few parents better and she got to spend a little more time with the girls off of the field. 

One of the topics that came up was a parent who has another daughter graduating this year. And that girlie’s last moment on the field before heading off to college. Playing her sport since the age of 7. 

An integral part of her life. 

And it made me reflect on my girlie. And how my girlie has played this sport that she loves since she was seven. 

An integral part of her life.

I look back at photos and I see this little girl slowly transitioning into a woman. This evanescent moment of childhood rushing to a close. 

I love these moments with her spent laughing, hanging out, and creating memories. 


I can only hope that as she grows into a woman she remains as close to me as I am to my mother.

A mother that I am now flying off to Scotland with, along with my aunt, to travels to places unknown…. laughing, hanging out, and creating memories. 

I will be a little more absent in the blogosphere over our journey to Scotland. The best place to follow along will  be on Instagram, where I will update regularly on my Instagram story and also occasionally post to my feed. 

In the midst of all the noise, send yourself to that place where you hear nothing but birds chirping and the rushing water of the cool stream. -Mary Frances Winters . . .My heart goes out to those living through the horrific tragedy in Manchester. These things just should NOT happen . . .#optoutside #wildernessculture #longexposure #longexpoelite #longexpohunter #womenwhoexplore #sheisnotlost #stayandwander #wearetravelgirls #modernoutdoors #blueridgeday #blueridgemoments #fromwhereistand #naturehippys #pocket_allnature #rsa_outdoors #keepitwild #livefolk #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #travelblogger #loveVA #ipulledoverforthis #neverstopexploring #itsamazingoutthere #forgeyourownpath #letyourlightshine #fiftyshades_of_nature #fingerprintofgod #seekthesimplicity

A post shared by Amy Lyon Smith (@amy.lyon.smith) on

I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend and if you observe Memorial Day, that you spent some moments in remembrance for those service members who have lost their lives to protect your safety. 


Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 16

Friday Faves – Edition 16

 

IMG_1275.jpg

It’s Friday!

And I’m up and typing earlier than normal.

Why?

Because around lunchtime today I’ll be heading toward the outskirts of D.C. for the girlie’s soccer tournament.  It’s looking to be a weekend of soccer and rain, so I’ll be packing up my umbrella, raincoat, and rain boots!

On top of sick kids and regular mom stuff, I’ve spent part of the week gathering a few things for my trip to Scotland.

You might recall from last week’s Friday Faves that I thought I might carry my camera in a backpack.

IMG_1274

 

In the end, I’ve decided that isn’t quite going to work for this trip. I opted for this Lowepro Toploader Zoom 50 AW II. While my Sony a7II would fit in a slightly smaller bag, I chose this one because my phone fits into the front zippered pouch and I can also fit my financial and identity necessities alongside the camera.  This frees me up to carry only this bag out during the day. It has a crossbody strap, but another reason I chose the slightly larger model is that is has attachments for a chest harness (sold separately) that I think will be a good choice when hiking.

I also like that stowed in the bottom is its own rain cover. Scotland is known for its rain and I want to protect my gear. It does appear quite utilitarian and due to its construction it has a lunch box feeling to me (probably because the exterior feels like all of the lunch boxes I pack). My husband likes to remind me that “function is beauty”. Which is true. But…

IMG_1270

I still want to look cute when we go out to dinner at night. My purse collection is actually quite small as I usually carry cloth totes. I have the green bag shown on my About page, a black bag of similar size (both of which I won in a silent auction at an American Cancer Society event over 6 years ago) and a small brown Coach bag that my husband bought me for Christmas about 10 or so years ago (its size makes it a date night purse, which is why it’s held up so long).

I will be wearing predominately black in Scotland and therefore wanted it to be a black crossbody purse. It also needed to be small enough so that if I wanted to wear it along with my camera bag, I would not be killing my shoulders and back.

Enter this cute little Rebecca Minkoff bag. I will tell you that I found this at TJMaxx. I don’t know if that means it’s out of season or if there’s a slight flaw.  I saw no problems and its classic style means I don’t care if it is the current seasonal trend.

IMG_1272

Another purchase that showed up this week was a new scale. We’ve had our old scale since right after my oldest was born (he’s 17). I’m not a fan of diets, but I am a fan of body awareness. I was increasingly frustrated by the body fat % portion of the scale. While I know that these are typically inaccurate and watching the movement is the better way, the fact that it showed my percentage as being in the “obese” category aggravated the heck out of me. Given the fact that I fall within the healthy weight and normal BMI for a 5’8″ woman, I wondered if it was because the scale was so old.

I ended up purchasing this Balance scale from Amazon based on its reviews and it being listed as a #1 Best Seller. When it arrived I was happy to learn that the company who makes the scale, Greater Goods, sets aside a portion of every purchase for charity. The Balance brand is built in collaboration with Love146, which is a non-profit dedicated to ending child trafficking. They provide long term care for survivors and also operate prevention programs.

The scale was accurate in its weight feature and my body fat % was around 13% lower. I think this is probably slightly lower than what is accurate, but puts me a lot closer to what I thought the reality should be.

IMG_1271.jpg

Which leads me to my next fave of the week. I can’t say that I’m ever thrilled as bathing suit season comes upon me. I have plenty of self conscience issues when it comes to my body in a bathing suit. Last year was the first year that I’ve wore a bikini in public since I saw a photo of me in one back when my daughter was 2. And last year I only wore a bikini at the beach. I’m still not prepared to wear one at smaller gatherings like our local pool.

Each year I go through the torture of finding one that fits properly. Standard assumptions about ratios do not work with my body. I like a slight ruching across the belly to detract from the “pooch that just won’t go away” that I earned birthing three giants. A lot of suits are in the “no” pile because my cup runneth over (also earned by birthing said giants).

The J. Crew Clearance store in Lynchburg closed this year. I was so disappointed as that’s where I found some suits last year. I’ve often had good luck with Michael Kors shirts as he seems to know that some women have slightly larger chests and doesn’t then assume that there is no waist. He worked his magic in this swimsuit as well. Now I just need a little sun on these pale legs that have been hidden all winter and I’ll be all set!

IMG_1273.jpg

My next fave isn’t so much about the mug. In fact, it was one of the gifts I purchased for my husband at Christmastime. It’s because the quote is from Game of Thrones. We decided to watch Game of Thrones a little over a year ago while I was fascinated by some medieval research I was doing with my genealogy. We were hooked and binge watched the first 6 seasons right in time to watch season 7.

If you are familiar with the show, then you have likely heard of Winterfell. The castle used for Winterfell in the pilot is Doune Castle located in the village of Doune, Scotland. The castle is also the well known film location for Monty Python and the Holy Grail as well as Outlander. Even though it was only used in the pilot, I plan to make my way to Doune Castle as we already had plans to visit nearby Stirling.

Now I’m off to pack. I have limited time after I return from the tournament before I head to Florida to meet my mother and aunt and we fly off to Scotland!

Couldn’t leave you without a song this week:

I hope that you all have a lovely weekend and find many moments of peace and relaxation.

IMG_1269.jpg

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

What Is Your Mantra?

What Is Your Mantra?

 

IMG_1250

Mantra: /ˈmantrə/ (noun) – a statement or slogan repeated frequently.

The origin of the word mantra is Sanskrit and its literal meaning is “a thought behind speech or action”.

Recently I read quite a few posts about having a personal mantra and then I skimmed  read through quite a bit more.

The concept is to have a 3-4 word mantra. As a business or personal brand, it is not your mission statement, but should sum up your core values. Many large companies have mantras as well. A quick google search will turn up many.  The ones reiterated in almost every post I read mentioned Google, Apple, and FedEx amongst some of the big names.

I tried to think about how I might sum up these questions.

  • Who am I at my core?
  • What are my values?
  • What is it that represents me staying true?

I knew that one of the things I try to promote is kindness. I knew that I find peace in nature. I knew that I am working to reframe negativity into a positive light.

And that’s when it occurred to me that I’ve had a mantra all along.

I’ve been using it since my very first post.

calligraphy4

Let Your Light Shine.

That is my mantra.

It is the statement that sums up who I am, who I am striving to be, and who I will become.

It helps me reframe how I might react in a situation. Am I perfect at letting my light shine? My immediate family would say a definite “no”. Unfortunately, they are the ones who see me at my worst. I am a work in progressbut I won’t let that dim my light.

See the light in other and treat them as if that's all you see -Dr Wayne Dyer

I share my hardships along with my joys because that is the reality of life. There are ups and downs along any journey and it is helpful to know that we don’t walk alone.

I hope that I will encourage others to be a shining light.  There is a lot of sadness and injustice in the world and I am just beginning to discover how I might be able to do my part in lessening that.

When I was young, we used to sing this song:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Hide it under a bush? Oh no. I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. -Desmond Tutu

I’ve planned to write this post all week. I was so excited by my discovery that I already had a personal mantra.

As I sat down this morning to begin, I received a call from my mother that my Great-Aunt Frances has passed away. You may have read the post that I wrote when her sister, my Great-Aunt Wilma, passed away three months ago. I am still processing it and am sure I will have more to say once the feelings move from my soul into my mind and my mind processes it into thoughts and then I am able to process those thoughts into words that can be written down.

The reason I’m sharing it here is because not only is this my present reality, but because she was the last remaining sister of the Van Hoose four (they have half-siblings so this is not to disregard that). My three great-aunts and my grandmother were the pillars of strength on my mother’s side of the family. Even when life threw them curveballs, and it did, they never lost their joy. They embodied and were the ones who taught me the mantra that I now embrace. They let their lights shine brightly. They were beacons in a stormy world. Their laughter could light up a room and often did. Their zest for life was contagious. All who met them walked away with a smile on their face and joy in their soul.

IMG_1245.jpg

I’m not sure yet how my mantra will continue to play out in my life. I am spending some time in self-reflection to be sure that I am still on the path that I think is meant for me. I am listening for the still, small voice that assures me that I am in the world for a purpose. Even if that purpose isn’t obvious to me.

IMG_1246.jpg

I am tweaking little parts of my life to continue to reflect that. One way is through the decluttering I have been doing to achieve my desire to simplify and embrace minimalism a little more. Another is through educating myself more about how my consumer choices   affect the world.

I am also learning how to bite my tongue and smile more when I encounter rudeness. This is where reframing is really teaching me lessons. I try to imagine that I don’t know what has happened in this person’s life to make them rude today. Perhaps they have a sick child at home that they would like to be with, but have to be there to make enough money to take them to the doctor. Does this mean that it’s okay that they are rude? No. But when I have lots of stress I don’t tend to be the nicest person either. And this reframing helps me offer kindness instead of hostility to their rudeness. Do I always manage this perfectly? Of course not. But even one time more than before can change the world.

As we journey along this road called life, all we can control is how we treat others. Choose kindness and don't let their reaction define you.

I am learning that the choices of others do not get to determine who I am.

I am changing.

I am learning to live out my mantra.

I am learning how to let my light shine.

How about you? Do you have a mantra that you are choosing to live by?

Rumi quote "Don't you know yet? It is your light that lights the world.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

Local Colors Festival Roanoke, Virginia

Local Colors Festival

 

IMG_1212.jpg

Normally, most of my spring is filled with traveling to the girlie’s soccer games.  We found ourselves with an empty weekend and I wanted to head to downtown Roanoke. I love strolling around downtown, perusing the shops, often stopping in the Taubman Museum and heading to the rooftop of Center in the Square. And of course finding something yummy to eat.

I checked to see if there were any events happening over the weekend and found out that the Festival of Local Colors would be taking place.  I was excited to be in town for a festival. They add such vibrancy to a day downtown.

The Local Colors Festival is an annual event that celebrates Roanoke’s diversity and promotes multicultural understanding. This year was its 27th annual festival.

They also offer educational and services throughout the year. To learn more about them you can find their website here and their Facebook page here.

IMG_1206.jpg

We went out to lunch with one of our sons and his girlfriend and then took in all the sights and sounds and smells of the festival.

The booths listed on the map represented a wide range of heritages which included: American Indian, Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway (Finland and Sweden were represented here as well), Philippines, Romania, Russ, Scotland, Sierra Leone, Somalia-Bantu, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

IMG_1211.jpg

Some booths offered information. Some booths sold foods associated with the respective culture. And others sold wares from their homeland.

IMG_1210

The information booth sold raffle tickets, t-shirts, tote bags, water bottles and more. They also had maps available with the times and locations of booths and performances.

There were performances held on the stage at Elmwood Park’s amphitheater and also educational programs at the library, which is adjacent to the amphitheater.

We wandered into the amphitheater to enjoy a few of the performances. The Capoeira performance was finishing up as we found a seat.

IMG_1209.jpg

We then watched the 15-50 dance group. They are a group of Blacksburg Chinese women ages 15-50. I believe all of the members are students, Virginia Tech employees, or spouses of employees. It was such graceful dance set to beautiful music.

IMG_1208.jpg

As we sat and watched the dance, a group slowly formed in front of us that I suspect was going to take the stage in the future or had possibly already been up there.

IMG_1207.jpg

The next performance was Tricolor y Siete Estrellas who were representing Venezuela. During the stage set up of the microphones, the sister in the front described her instrument. It is called a cuatro and has four strings.  While it looks similar to a ukulele, it is not the same and it is played differently as well. It is used in the traditional Venezuelan Joropo.

But while waiting for the other band members to finish setting up, what she said about diversity is what struck me the most. I don’t have a direct quote, but it was about how “we all complement each other.” All races, all people, all colors…we complement each other.

And I thought that was such a beautiful truth.

I marveled at all the different cultures just right here in Roanoke.

I marveled at how the United States is filled with many cultures. Many that I know so little about.

I contemplated the sights that I came upon during my recent overseas trip. All that I had seen during my first time leaving the U.S. soil. The serenity of the canals in Amsterdam. The awe of seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

I thought about my upcoming trip to Scotland. About how although I identify strongly with my Scottish heritage, that is because that was the piece I have always known. My maternal grandfather was born in Nova Scotia, Canada to a father from Plains, Scotland and a mother from Wigan, England. Both having emigrated to Canada as children. His mother died when he was young and his Scottish grandmother came to live with them so the Scottish side was talked of often.

My mother used to ask my grandmother (her mother) if she knew her ethnicity. She would always laugh and say she was a mutt. Despite the negative connotations associated with the term “mutt”, she didn’t feel it was a negative thing, just a humorous way of stating that she had no clue as her family had been in the foothills of Kentucky and Tennessee for many years.

Amy Lyon Smith with her grandma and mother

I think a lot of multi-generational Americans would find this to be the case with their history. When I took the DNA test with Ancestry.com, which I shared about here, I had no clue what might turn up. Turns out that I was more British than the British (my results were 79% Great Britain and the typical native is 60%). As I began to trace my maternal grandmother’s line, it would turn out to have a strong German lineage. While her maiden name of Van Hoose has been traced back to the man who brought it to America, Jan Frans Van Husum, it is not know if he was Dutch, Danish, Frisian, or German. Her mother was the union of a Yount (Jundt) and a Redwine (Reitweil). Quite a few names on my maternal great-grandmother’s side appear to be Palatinate German.

Most of my father’s line originates from different parts of England, but I have some family lines on all except my maternal grandfather tracing back to the 1600’s in America. At that point, I am at 9th great-grandparents, which means there are over 4,000 direct ancestors and sifting through the ones that I’ve been able to trace to the point they left their homeland for America is a slow process.

I am just one person. One person filled with a history of differing backgrounds. My DNA may show that I am predominately a certain ethnicity, but my genealogical records will show pioneers coming from different areas of England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Denmark and all the little towns amongst them that I’ve yet to discover. It shows them coming into Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania to name a few. It shows them settling in the frontiers of Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Carolinas. And eventually, you make your way to me…born and raised in Collier County, Florida.

I am just one piece of the diversity of Roanoke, Virginia.

Roanoke, Virginia is a microcosm of the diversity of the United States.

The United States is a microcosm of the diversity of the World.

And we all complement each other.

IMG_1203.jpg

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves – Edition 15

IMG_1158.jpg

They say time waits for no one.

And I would say they are right.

Friday seems to roll around faster and faster as the school year winds down for my children and as I approach my departure date for my trip to Scotland with my mother and aunt.

While my week on the whole wasn’t as intense as last weekit still had plenty of ups and downs.

IMG_1160

The oldest had Prom on Saturday night. That day I had to take the girlie to a soccer game in Charlottesville. I walked in the door 5 minutes before he had to leave to pick up his date. He told me that parents were taking pictures in front of the prom location, The Hotel Roanoke. The hubby and I headed that way to have a chance to snap some photos. We arrived before him, but I had no idea where the group was taking photos. Long story short, I was not where his friends were taking photos and by the time I threaded my way around the building, the large group had dispersed. The group began taking couple photos. It was windy. He wore his hair down. My photos are not usable. And I left on the verge of tears with only the pictures I grabbed while he tried his tux on a few nights before.

I moped around a bit and then decided to sit by the creek still filled with water. There is something about rushing water, whether it be a creek, stream, river, or ocean that just soothes my soul.  I decided to practice one of my favorite types of photography – long exposure. I shared a few over the week on Instagram.

Sitting there listening to the music of the water as it played across the rocks, my soul gradually found peace.

He had a lot of fun at Prom. And in the end, the day was really about him, not what photos I was able to take to preserve my memories.

IMG_1153

I spent Mother’s Day in Blacksburg cheering from the sidelines for the girlie’s soccer game.

But not before I was presented with tulip bulbs and chocolate from the hubby and kiddos.

IMG_1156

 

The girlie also made me a clay sculpture of a camera.

It felt wonderful to feel known so well.

Tulips…Chocolate…Cameras…

These are a few of my favorite things (cue The Sound of Music).

IMG_1165

 

This week my Papa had a stroke (he is recovering and heading to rehab) and my close friend lost her father. It really made me want to be sure to cherish the relationships I deem so important.

I knew that I wanted to spend some quality time with the girlie after the loss of our dogso we decided to watch the Harry Potter series.

Because… I’ve never watched them.

What?!

I saw some pieces of the earlier ones, but you are lost if you don’t follow the storyline. So I stopped trying and figured I’d watch them all in a row at some point in the future.  That time has come.  We are halfway through the third movie.

 

IMG_1152.jpg

 

One of my big faves this week is that I finally decided on a camera and it came in on Wednesday!

I went with the Sony Alpha 7 II, which is a mirrorless camera. I bought it with the 28-70mm lens. I do plan to add more lenses, but I will not be doing that before my trip to Scotland. I would say that it is the same size as my Nikon D3200 and perhaps slightly heavier. However, it is a full frame camera and I suspect smaller and lighter than my second choice of a Nikon D810, which is still a camera I might want to add someday (if you want to see what that beauty can do, you should check out Deborah at Circadianreflections because she just added it to her gear).

IMG_1151.jpg

At the same time, I also ordered the Lowepro Flipside 300 camera backpack.  The layout is inserted by velcro and can be rearranged.  I have not tried it out, but am hoping that I can put enough other things inside for it to be my carry-on to Scotland. What I liked best about it was that the zipper is on the backside so there is not a need for concern that somebody may open your pack as they pass by you.

IMG_1157

I am planning to get out this weekend to really test out the camera. This was the very first photo that I took with it. A flower blooming in my backyard.  My friend and I think it’s a peony.

Any flower experts know for sure?

I did not do any editing to this photo. I am still figuring out the controls so I have not moved off of auto yet. The photo settings were: 41mm | f/4.5 | ISO 250 @ 1/60.

As always, I offer a song this week. This one is chosen because as the news has shared Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and AudioSlave has committed suicide. Metal is not my preferred genre, but I was familiar with Soundgarden in the 90’s, with this song being in the Top 40. It came out right as I was graduating from high school. I was 16 and had no clue about where my future might lead.

I have shared on this blog in the past that I have had periods of time when all was not right in my inside world. At various points in my past, I have chosen medication. My worst despair happened with leaving Florida for Virginia. The waves engulfed me. I felt alone. I felt overwhelmed. I did not want to commit suicide, but there were moments when I thought I might not want to live if every day for the rest of my life were going to feel like this. Moments when I thought that I’d rather God call me home than have day after day of this feeling. The thought of people I loved being sad if he chose to do that was what made me not wish to hard for it.

But I had a concerned husband who opened the blinds every day for the sun to pour in, who kept after me to go to the gym, go for a walk, go see a doctor, but do something. I decided that this time I would spend time in nature and exercise and eat differently before I went down the medication path. And that plus time worked for me. This is absolutely NOT the answer for everyone. I am not a doctor. Medicine is the BEST choice for many people.

But whatever you do, don’t sit in despair. Find help. Talk to a professional. If you know somebody who needs help, do your best to help them get it.  In the United States the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. A Google search shows that there are numbers in other countries as well.

I’m glad that as a world we are beginning to reduce the stigma associated with issues relating to mental health, but there is still a long way to go.

Today, a family sits alone without a person they love. In the U.S. alone, there are an average of 94 completed suicides EVERY day (based on statistics found at the Emory University website).

This is 94 to many.

I hope that as you go into the weekend and meet people along the way that you offer kind words and smiles. That could be all that it takes to change a person’s day. Yes, some issues go deeper, but when hasn’t kindness made the world a little brighter.

IMG_1163

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

What a trip to Oude Kerk in Amsterdam taught me about Experientialism

What A Trip To Oude Kerk In Amsterdam Taught Me About Experientialism

IMG_1130.jpg

First things first.

What in the heck do I mean by experientialism?

This is not a lesson on apologetics or whatever else may come to mind when hearing this word.

This is about experience vs. materialism. Experientialism is the term used in the book that I am currently reading : Stuffocation by James Wallman. You can check out his website here. You’ll see a recurring theme in most of my recent reads… nonfiction books advocating minimalism, simplicity, experientialism, hygge, etc. Whatever you want to call it (I prefer simplicity as it doesn’t make me feel like I’m trying to fit into somebody’s prescribed box of must do and be a certain way), one of the overarching premises is that material possessions do not bring long term happiness and in fact, can often bring the opposite.

IMG_1124.jpg

So what does a trip to Oude Kerk have to do with experientialism?

Well according to a group of psychologists and sited in the book, experiences are more prone to “positive reinterpretation”. Unlike a material good that can just turn out to be a bad choice, an experience “gone wrong” tends to be reinterpreted in a positive way. As stated by Wallman, that’s why we sometimes say “we’ll look back and laugh about this one day.” And one day, we do.

IMG_1122.jpg

When we visited Amsterdam in April, one day I wanted to see Oude Kerk (“old church”). I love old architecture and churches tend to be quite magnificent. Oude Kerk is Amsterdam’s oldest building and oldest parish church. It was founded ca. 1213 and consecrated in 1306. It stands in De Wallen. And if you aren’t familiar with where this is in Amsterdam.

It’s the Red Light District.

I had read that it was tame during the day and that there wouldn’t be much to see so I decided we should venture there because I had to see this church. I assumed that perhaps we would would skirt the edges of the Red Light District.

I would be wrong.

That’s fair warning for where this post is going.

We decided not to take the first turn that the GPS suggested as the shops names were somewhat questionable.

I should back up in case you are new to my blog. This trip included myself, my husband, and our 13,15, and 17 year old children. While I am not naive about what my 15 (almost 16) and 17 year old sons know about, I like to pretend that my 13 old daughter is blissfully unaware of adult things. We decided to take the bridge a little closer to Centraal Station ( I took the title photo from there with the Kerk’s clocktower in the back.)

IMG_1119.jpg

We sandwiched the girlie in between us as we walked toward the church in case the shops had adult accoutrements in the windows. Yes, we did pass the shop named Condomerie and they were not the only shop with similar items. We also were not the only people walking with children.

 

I understand that not all cultures have the same feelings about sex. I had a friend who was born and raised in Poland. She found it interesting that quite a few Americans have no problem with their children watching levels of violence that they will probably never see in real life, but cringe at them watching sex scenes which are real life. And I admit that I’m in that camp. I squirm a little if I’m watching a romantic scene in a movie and my kids are watching it too (even PG-13 has steamy scenes now).

But nevertheless, here we were, skirting the edges of the Red Light District. We rounded the last corner to the right and I was looking at the church. We made it!

IMG_1121.jpg

But apparently, if I had looked to my left I would have seen the scantily clad woman with her red curtains drawn back and standing at her window. My husband informed me of my missed vision. I asked him if the kids had seen. The boys had. And now I felt like a bad mother.

I had a hard time really taking any photos by then. I just wanted to leave. The light and lens angle weren’t in my favor and I had just brought my kids past a prostitutes window. There were people all around near the church and in my desire to not seem like I’m taking photos of people on the street, I ended up not taking the photos from the base as I would have preferred.

IMG_1118.jpg

My son however doesn’t have that same feeling of discomfort and rather enjoys street photography, as evidenced by his photo above.

But we were still stuck with a dilemma. How to exit? We stood near the canal assessing our situation. Back from whence we came and pass one window. Or left or right along the canal. I could see numerous windows along in one direction. I could see sign names, but wasn’t sure if there were windows in the other direction. I could hear women banging on their windows to get the attention of any passerby. We were standing near a green piece of metal, that encircled inward, presumably for men to urinate behind. At least that was what the smell in the air indicated. I was mortified that there was no preferable choice for leaving. My children were less mortified and wanted me to make a decision.  In the end, I opted back from whence we came. I figured the boys would have no interest in ogling her since their description had indicated that.

IMG_1120

We left and went to Centraal Station where we boarded the hop-on hop-off 24 hr canal ride that we had purchased. My kids like to process experiences by talking about them. I let them know my preference for discussion of it in private, way too concerned about what others might think about what type of parent I was taking my teenagers past prostitute windows. And the sad part as I read what I have written is that I let fear of judgement rule the situation.

IMG_1117

Experiences, like photographs, sear in impressions. Experiences, good or bad, create stories to tell.

I have found that when things go wrong in an experience, it burns the memory in a little deeper. Like how on our first overseas vacation we witnessed a police chase in Amsterdam, somebody almost missed getting on the metro in Paris, and we were within a 1/2 mile of the Paris terrorist attack on the police officer. But those are all stories for another day.

Do I wish we hadn’t walked past those things? Absolutely!

Can I go back and change it? Nope!

Was it memorable? You betcha!

Years from now when we talk about the first time we went to Amsterdam, my kids will say “Yeah mom, remember when you wanted to see that church in the Red Light District and in the process you took us past a prostitute. And then you stood there like a deer trapped in headlights trying to figure out how to get out of there.”

We will look at this moment of experientialism through positive reinterpretation.

And we will laugh.

IMG_1132

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Friday Faves – Edition 14

IMG_1081.jpg

Friday.

I’m so thankful to see Friday this week.

This week has had many rough moments from the loss of our dog on Monday to the stealing of my lawnmower on Tuesday to somebody wrecking into my yard and ending up with the rear of the truck in my creek (and not the shallow part… luckily, it was dry).

I’m thankful that nobody was injured, but this is also the third wreck on this strip of road in the past two weeks.  It’s a residential neighborhood, not a highway. The first one, I happened to be checking my mail when I heard the tires screeching. I was certain they were going to hit the tree and missed it by some handfuls of feet. They were not injured. Thank goodness. That one bothered me for days. I did not see the 2nd and there weren’t marks in my yard, but the street sign and stop sign along with a piece of car were in the ditch. Yesterday, I was sitting in the kitchen when I heard the screeching tires, the bashing and breaking of glass (this was them taking out the stop sign) and when I ran to the front door, they had slid into the ditch.

IMG_1052.JPG

So needless to say it’s been a crazy week.

However, we are focusing on the FAVES of the week.

IMG_1071.jpg

And the first is that the lawnmower was returned!

WHAT?!

Honestly, I can’t say exactly when it was returned. It’s easier to notice that something is missing than to realize something is back that has been sitting in that location for almost 4 years. But Thursday mid-morning, I went to the mailbox.  My mailbox is on the other side of my road. I have to wait if a car is passing. I did that. Put letter in mailbox. Lifted the flag. Looked to cross back and waited for a landscaping truck to pass. Which reminded me that we’d need to get a new lawnmower by this weekend (rain makes that grass grow quickly!) and that’s when I saw it….the lawnmower was in its spot.

I did chalk this up to good karma (until the wreck into my yard that afternoon) and here’s why.

I bought the girlie a new pair of shoes. There was an issue with said shoes so we went to exchange them. We were at a different location and this one did not carry said shoes at that location so we just returned them. The shoes had come with a free gift (a fob of some sort) that I didn’t have with me when we returned them since I had expected to just exchange them. I felt a strong prodding at my conscience to hurry up and get that returned as well.

Here I was not happy that I had been stolen from, but my still having this free gift in my possession for shoes we no longer owned was not okay either.

The next day I went to the store, explained that this had come with the shoes we had returned a few days prior. His facial expression showed that he was surprised that I returned it and he “okay, you have a blessed day”

I left there feeling like a weight had been lifted and giant grin. My grin was because he had spoken a blessing into my life after my awful situations on Monday and Tuesday.

If you take nothing else from that story, I hope you’ll take away that your words are powerful and 5 little words from a stranger changed my entire outlook for the day.

IMG_1073.jpg

Another fave are these nuts. They were a crucial component to my detox. I like to keep my blood sugar even and these make a great snack. A few days, I have an early Pilates class and I usually eat nuts and a piece of fruit beforehand and save eating eggs until afterward.

I will tell you that I did not complete the entire 10 days of clean eating and no cheese. On day 7, I wasn’t feeling well. I thought it was that I may have had too much caffeine. But as I listened to my body, I realized that I needed some more carbs. If I’d been properly prepared I would have had some whole grain bread on hand. As it was, I ate a Hawaiian roll with a hunk of butter. I felt better the rest of the day.  Looking back, I realize my body was dealing with the stress of knowing what was happening with the dog.

I was frustrated at the time because I had 10 days set arbitrarily in my mind. In the end, I think it is always more important to listen to your body. Mine tends to get panicky and nauseous when I don’t treat it properly and then I have to figure out whether it wants water or a specific type of food.

IMG_1074.jpg

I already talked about the girlie’s soccer season last week, but last night was the Middle School awards program.  The coaches for Baseball, Softball, Track, and Soccer hand out certificates and awards.  The girlie’s team got this medal along with a rose from their coaches. All of the athletes dress up for the program, so it’s fun too see that as well.

IMG_1072.jpg

And speaking of dressing up, the oldest has Prom tomorrow night. He was able to pick up his tux last night and I snapped a quick pic while he tried it on for size.

I’ll be spending most of my weekend at soccer games for the girlie’s travel team and hopefully be back on Saturday in time to snap lots of pictures of the oldest and his date to prom.

I hope that you have some amazing plans in store for your weekend.

Here’s the song that I’m loving this week. Being a mom is a hard job. I can’t even imagine doing it alone.

For those of you that are mothers, I want to wish you a wonderful Mother’s Day.

And if you are one of those out there who have already lost your mother, as I know some who are close to me have, I know that this day can be hard. I wish you love and peace as you wander through your memories.

IMG_1080

Let your light shine!

Amy