30 Days of...

30 Days Of…September Challenge

Yesterday I shared what I learned during my 30 days of no alcohol.

As promised, today I’m announcing what my September “30 Days Of…” Challenge will be.

30 Days of no single-use plastic shopping bags.

Now before you roll your eyes, I did promise that this one would be somewhat easy.

I realize that quite a few of you live in cities, states, or even countries where these are banned or have a surcharge that makes them very unappealing.

That’s awesome! That means that you will be able to crush this challenge!

I have never lived in such a city.

I have been using reusable bags for probably 10+ years. I’m really good at remembering to take them to the grocery store.

However, sometimes I don’t bring enough for my purchases at big box stores. I don’t know why because I own enough. One big box store will put 1-3 items per plastic bag. This is a massive pet peeve of mine. So after many times bitching  informing my husband of my irritation, I began using the self-checkout lane. I know how best to pack my reusable bags and if, on occasion, I don’t have enough then I will cram that plastic bag full. I don’t care if its seams are about to split. I know that I can cradle it like a little baby for the few steps from my car to my house.

But where I notice my big failing is when I head to department stores. It doesn’t always occur to me to carry a bag inside.

I am getting a better about  it, which is why I chose this as my first challenge.

By making it a challenge, I will be more mindful about always having a reusable bag available.

Recently I read an article about how Americans use 500 million straws per day

Yes, you read that right.


I can’t find the exact article, but you can read about the problem and the initiative to eliminate the massive amount of straw consumption at The Last Plastic Straw.

I was in shock. Straws were not something that I ever even thought about. I don’t keep them in our home, but if I eat fast food or at a restaurant, I’ve always used a straw.

A one-time use item that then ends up in landfills and our oceans.

They say that knowledge is power.

So the question became… now that I had the knowledge, what would I do?

I haven’t had much of a chance to put it into play, but I have forgone the straw when possible (I didn’t on Mr. D’s birthday dinner because that was shortly after I read the article and it didn’t occur to me that they would bring the drinks with the straw already inserted. Lesson learned: inform the waitress upon ordering that I don’t need a straw).

So if I’m talking about plastic straws why is my challenge about plastic bags?

Honestly… because I need a win.

It’s my birthday month and the beginning of my official “30 days of” personal growth challenges.

In a recent conversation with my daughter about that wastefulness of the plastic shopping bags and plastic straws, she pointed out that sandwich bags are one time use as well. I have some reusable items, but not enough to cover each component of three lunches that I pack each day. Then there are the prepackaged items like single servings of yogurt.

When it comes to the environment, it’s easy to think “I’m just one person, what I do doesn’t make a difference.”

But it does.

And if you’re vocal about what you’re doing, you just might see a trickle effect. When I told the hubby about the straw article, he was in shock too. And then he began forgoing the straw. I have always been better at “no plastic bags” than him, but new knowledge about the sheer amount of plastic waste and the insane amount of time it takes to decompose (I found an infographic here) has prompted him to be more conscientious about his role in bettering the environment as well.

I understand that environmentalism and sustainability and green living are things that millennials and post-millennials have been exposed to their entire lives. I have not. The internet has made the spread of knowledge about the harm that we are doing much more readily available, but you still have to be searching for the knowledge.

My 30 days will be based on plastic shopping bag usage, but I will also be monitoring my consumption of one-time use plastic.

While I may share what I discover across my household…

The only person that I can change is myself.

I hope that you’ll join in the challenge. I’ll be sharing how it goes after the 30 days.

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

Let your light shine!


What I learned from 30 days of no alcohol

What I Learned From 30 Days Of No Alcohol

30 days of no alcohol.

[blankly stares off into space. nope. not me.]

That’s what I thought when I first read something about it being the perfect time to try 30 days of no alcohol as we were heading into Virgo season.

Obviously, it was on some astrology site. I can’t even remember which one now.

I know there are a lot of people who don’t believe in astrology. I’ll be honest. I’m not even sure what I believe when it comes to it. If my faith were to be placed into the box that it’s supposed to neatly fit into, then it would say I’m not allowed to believe it. However, I don’t believe in legalism when it comes to religion…and that’s about as far as I’ll delve into religious beliefs.

I have always believed that I am characteristically a Virgo. Plus, I am an extremely curious person who wants to know everything about every thing. So in that curious process I looked at my natal chart and discovered that the Virgo personality does claim to be strong. My Sun, Moon, and Mercury are all in Virgo, which is my 9th house. I don’t really know what that means…but if that’s you’re thing and you wanna share some insight, feel free to leave it in the comments.


That was how I stumbled upon the idea of no alcohol.

I really wasn’t sure if I would succeed.

Irony Wine Cork macro photo

Which is why I didn’t bring it up in Friday Faves until later.

I don’t drink heavily or even drink every day, but there’s enough times that I knew that 30 days would take effort on my part.

Especially because the hubby was not joining me on this particular experiment of mine. And yes, I call it an experiment. That’s because I often do these mental or physical experiments or research projects in which I am the subject.

That's what I do. I drink and I know things coffee mug

Alcohol Detox.

I’m not gonna lie, the hardest day of each week during the alcohol detox was Sunday night when the hubby and I would sit down to watch Game of Thrones. It is the only show that I stop what I’m doing to sit down and watch with him. We usually have our wine or our beer and decompress while watching this epic storyline before heading into the work/school week.

My detox did end prior to that season finale though!

Since I know some of ya’ll are still catching up..no spoilers from me.



Lessons Learned.

So what did I learn?

I thought that I would have some epiphany or mental clarity once the supposed brain fog lifted.


But what I learned is that I have the mental fortitude to push through to the end of a goal that I set for myself…. even when no one is watching.

It would have been easy to say “I don’t feel any different”, “my skin isn’t clearer”, “I haven’t lost any weight”…”why am I doing this again.”

And there were moments when I wanted to do just that.

But I didn’t.


Future 30 Day Challenges.

I do want to keep pushing my comfort zones. In recent conversations, I’ve discovered that I have a strong fear of failure and so quite often I just don’t try.

In keeping with the “30 days” concept, I’ve decided that each month of my 40th year I will do a “30 days of…” challenge. I haven’t figured out what each challenge will be, but they will likely focus on mental health, fitness, nutrition, hobbies, or the environment.

To keep things more streamlined, I will start them at the beginning of the month. I plan to let you all know what each challenge is a few days prior to the new month, just in case you are interested in joining me. It’s very likely that I will have failures during some of the challenges and this will be hard for me, but I feel like it’s the next step in my growth.

Check back tomorrow where I’ll announce my September challenge!

p.s.- The first one shouldn’t be too hard. My 40th birthday isn’t until the 12th, so technically, I’m starting 2 weeks before my 40th year. Plus, you gotta succeed for your birthday month. Right?!

Let your light shine!


Street Corners of Amsterdam

Street Corners of Amsterdam


One thing that I’ve noticed about traveling to new places is that around every corner there are exciting things…unfamiliar and yet, exhilarating.

Street Corners of Amsterdam.

So today, I thought we’d take a stroll around the street corners of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam was the first place that my feet trod on foreign soil (outside of the German airport layover…but we’re talking “literal” soil).

Strolling Along.

If you’ve been reading my blog for sometime then you know that I traveled to Amsterdam this past April… a mere 4 1/2 months ago.

If you’d like to read some of my other posts from Amsterdam, you can find a few here, here, and here.

One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to just stroll along the streets.


I love to see the architecture.

Europe has much older architecture than in the United States so it was a treat to see the historical buildings as I walked along in Amsterdam.

While I admire architecture, I am not well versed in recognizing the period in which the styles came into construction. History, as well as geography, were never my strong subjects. I was a math and science girl with a little creative writing thrown in to round me out. It wasn’t until I became interested in traveling that I began to take interest in history and geography. Given that I’m still new to foreign travel, I have quite a bit to learn.

History and Ancestry.

Amsterdam’s history dates back to the 13th Century.

At the time of my visit, I did not realize that I too have a history that winds its way through the streets of Amsterdam.

Van Husum.

My 10th great-grandfather was Jan Frans Van Husum (Van Hoesen, Van Huss, Vanhooser). He was from Husum in Schleswig, which was part of Denmark at the time. He married Volkje Jurrians from the island of Nordstrand. Little is known about them prior to their marriage, but there was a great flood in 1634 that was devastating to Nordstrand and the coast of Denmark, including the city of Husum.

They were married in 1639 in Amsterdam and were living on Tuinstraat.  Little did I know while I was visiting the Anne Frank House, that across the canal and up a bit, once had lived my 10th great-grandparents. I do not know how long they lived in Amsterdam prior to their marriage, but a few months later they would set sail for America.

United States of America.

They sailed for New Amsterdam, which was the southern tip of Manhattan.

In 1662, he would purchase hundreds of acres around Claverack from the Mohicans.

He was the first of his name to come to America. All variations of his last name eventually make his way back to him and Volkje.

My line would make it’s way down to North Carolina and eventually Kentucky. I once read that the family name change from Van Hooser to Van Hoose was a disagreement between brothers over sides during the Revolutionary War. There are those much more knowledgeable than me into the genealogical history of the name that would know the details.  My 6th Great- Grandfather was John B. Van Hoose who was married to Mary Bryan. There is great debate and mystery over her heritage as the Van Hoose’s did travel to Kentucky with the likes of the Boone’s and Bryan’s.

But, nonetheless, that heritage that would travel to my maternal grandmother, Reva Van Hoose, would start with a marriage that took place in Amsterdam.


I wonder what the street corners looked like as they strolled along them?

Did they wave hello to Rembrandt as they made their way across town?

Did they stop and admire tulips or were they not in Amsterdam prior to the Tulip Bubble burst of 1637?

Street corners hold thousands of daily tales.

Do yours have any to tell?

Let your light shine!



wpc: corner

Friday Faves Edition 28

If you read Wednesday’s post, then you know that my teens went back to school this week.

They started Wednesday so it’s a short week for them.

So a whole lotta faves this week for this mama.

Over the weekend, Miss Sunshine had a soccer tournament. It was blazin’ hot! It was a home tournament, so no traveling… yet! They were playing up an age division and knew that it would be hard.  They didn’t win, but played with some good skill. He switched up the line-up some on the second day, so Miss Sunshine played an attacking mid in part of that game. She ended up with a couple of assists…and…a goal! Of course, I didn’t bring my camera, but I woohoo’d it from the sidelines.

As part of some of the changes I’m anticipating for this year, I decided that I was ready to change it up with my hair.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until I sat down in the chair at the salon. I had a very strong urge to do set of thick bangs since I have an ongoing internal “bangs or botox” debate. I opted not to do bangs because apparently I have a cowlick that might be a little too stubborn.

I spent a year being a brunette…which is my natural color, but I decided to go with some heavy highlights and add in some layers.

After a weekend of soccer, Miss Sunshine had Monday’s practice off.

Which was good, because…

She got braces!

The pain is finally subsiding, but I’ve been packing her soft food lunches this week.

Amongst the shipments for back to school stuff, I ordered something for myself.

A new tripod!

I couldn’t justify the expense for a carbon fiber tripod. Maybe if I ever get to the point of selling my photography, I’ll spring for the lighter weight. The reviews for this Vanguard Alta Pro were really good. I wanted the travel size with a ball head.

I haven’t had chance to try it out yet.

Maybe this weekend!

Of course, my faves for back to school week wouldn’t be complete without pics of my babies.

I made Miss Sunshine take some more photos for me when she got home from school.

Big Mr. and Mr. D were surprisingly cooperative with standing there while I snapped some first day pics.

I still can’t believe that the boys are Juniors and Seniors in high school.

I blinked my eyes and up and up they grew.

I also was able to make it Pilates and Yoga once they returned to school.

This morning I met a girlfriend for coffee at this great local coffee shop called Mill Mountain Coffee. The weather was cooler than it’s been and we were able to sit outside and catch up.

I left our coffee session, came home home and smudged my entire house.

I just feel like this is gonna be a good year.

So my song choice this week is twofold: One reason is because I know lots of people who will be watching Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather fight this weekend.

But the overriding reason for my song choice is that I hope that whatever path my children choose to take in this world, they give it their all and that they are passionate about the path that their feet walk upon.

I hope that you have a light -filled weekend!

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. -Soren Kierkegaard

Let your light shine!


Back to School

Back to School

Today was back to school day for my teenagers.

It’s always such a bittersweet day for me.

On one hand, I’m happy to get back into routine…and have some silence.

On the other, it marks a moment in time of being one step closer to having my little birds fly from my nest.

I have taken “first day of school” photos from the moment their tiny fingers left my grasp to enter into the preschool building.

Miss Sunshine wasn’t sure if she was riding to school with a friend. When she discovered that she was, there was a mad dash to collect her backpack and race out the door.

I grabbed my camera to snap a photo before she raced away. I forgot that I had been playing with the camera the day before and the settings were completely incorrect for this shot.

I quickly tried to switch to auto mode for one last chance…

I didn’t make it.

I’ve already told her, that after school she will have to pose so that I can to collect my memory shot.

However, for me, this photo sums up this phase of my motherhood.

This passage of time.

Like a river flowing.


Fighting the distractions as I try to breathe these moments into my soul.

My children are becoming more and more independent.

As they should.

I am keenly aware of the marking of days until Big Mr. will leave the confines of high school. I have heard that his his Senior year will fly by.

And as it does, those days will sweep my other two children along as well.

Suddenly, we will be at the precipice,  looking out at the horizon, and my first bird will be flying. Mr. D will see his moment. He will be there in eager anticipation knowing that he is only a year behind. And on that precipice, even Miss Sunshine will see the changes. A brother leaving, the other one planning his flight, and her entering into high school.

Too soon they will no longer be my little birds.

This fleeting phase of motherhood coming to an end.

I think about that future…

Who will they become?

Who will I become?

But for today, I will breathe and sit with the present.

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will. -Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Let your light shine!




WPC:Ooh, Shiny





Friday Faves Edition 27

Friday Faves – Edition 27

Happy Friday Everybody!

I hope that you’ve had an amazing week so far.

Mine has been pretty packed.  We are on the countdown until school begins. Next Wednesday is the day.

We did our big purge over the weekend. And while we definitely made massive headway (think… I can see the floor of the garage and the storage room), I’m still hoping to make another push.

On Monday, I decided to Google myself because every now and then I like to be sure that everything out there associated with my name is legitimate.

I discovered that one of my Instagram pics was on one of the University of Glasgow’s pages. It rotates through various Instagram pics so it took a bit for me to discover which one. It was definitely an uplifting moment as I’ve been feeling ambivalent about that social media platform. The algorithms are not in my favor and I have no interest in paying a company to get me noticed.

In fact, I’ve spent more time away from social media in the past few weeks because I was devoting a lot of time there and not seeing any growth. That is time away from focusing on my family…and if they are my main priority, then I am not honoring my priorities.

Everyone had their annual checkups this week.

The fun part for me is getting an official measure on my teens, not just my marks on the wall (I do use a level though!).

Big Mr. is 6’5 1/2″.

Mr. D is 6′.

Miss Sunshine is 5’4 1/2″.

They don’t see how tall I am, so I’m just gonna keeping on claiming my 5’8″ [I may have shrunk a little from giant babies compressing my spine, but I’m saying I’ve lengthened it back out with yoga and pilates ;)].

Maverick started puppy training classes this week. He’s a little afraid of other dogs, so I was prepared for it to be overwhelming. However, he just sprawled out and almost took a nap while the instructor talked.

The first class is pretty easy. We worked on sit. He already had this down so he happily received treats from Miss Sunshine for demonstrating what he knows!

He’s pretty well potty trained. Or he has us trained. We take him out often, but I don’t feel like he really lets us know when he wants out, which has led to some accidents. Numerous people have told me about getting potty bells, so this week I did that.

You hang them from the door and each time you take the dog out, you ring them. I put his paw on it to ring them. The idea is that he will learn that the door opens when he rings the bell. I have heard that some dogs will do this just to go outside, even if they don’t need to use the bathroom. We have a fenced yard, so as long as he gets the idea of ringing the bells, I don’t care if it’s just to go out and play.

Yesterday was Mr. D.’s birthday.


We always let the birthday child pick dinner. I used to make their request. Now we go out. He decided on Kabuki. It’s a Japanese Steak House. The kind where they cook the food in front of you and toss shrimp in the air for you to catch in your mouth. They also make a volcano out of onions and light it on fire. I shared a little of our experience on my Instagram story.

It made for a very fun evening!

Stepping up my photo game has been on my to-do list for some time.

Honestly, I’ve been super frustrated because I could not figure out how in the world to change the aperture on my Sony Alpha 7II.

I got the camera so close to heading to Scotland that I knew I would shoot auto while there. I’m sure this caused limitations, but the quality was superior to my beginner Nikon, so I took the Sony.

I’ve watched some YouTube tutorials, but never found one that addressed changing the aperture. Depth of field is one of the things that I like to play with the most, so it was crucial for me to figure out. Otherwise, I just wasn’t going to enjoy the camera.

Since I didn’t make it a priority, it took some time to finally find a website that explained how you change the aperture on the Sony Alpha 7II. With the switch on AEL, you depress the AEL button and then rotate the knob above and to the right of the C3 button. There may be another way to change it, but I’m over the moon ecstatic about discovering how to change the aperture.

Speaking of the moon….

How many of you found glasses to watch the Solar Eclipse on Monday?

Unfortunately, not me.

I decided on a parody song this week. Somebody shared it on Facebook and I found it really funny. I figure after a week like this, we could all use a moment of lightheartedness.

Growth is a part of life.

I hope to never stop having an insatiable curiosity and desire to grow. And I hope you don’t either.

Have a peaceful and relaxing weekend!

Miss Sunshine has her opening soccer tournament this weekend, so I will be cheering her on from the sidelines!

Let your light shine!


Shine Bright

Shine Bright

Hatred exists.

Sometimes I still just have the hardest time wrapping my mind around this fact.

And yet, it's there.

You'd think that as a human species who claims to have evolved we'd have learned that hatred solves nothing.


Charlottesville is just a tiny fragment in the whole of this hateful divisiveness being spread.

But it begins to feel a little more real when it happens so close to home.

I have friends who have children attending UVA. Miss Sunshine plays soccer in the same league as teens who call Charlottesville home. We travel to their fields to play. We shop in the stores and walk their streets.

I wonder when it starts. This hatred. This division. And how do you find your soul so dark as to believe the lies of superiority?

And I am not just talking about a race issue. You can apply it to any number of divisive situations that you see every single time you turn on the TV.

Something I do infrequently, as I think it only perpetuates divisiveness.

Personally, I see a big difference between denouncing things that are wrong and fighting for justice versus spewing your own form of hatred from the other side.

Because the latter solves nothing.

To respond to hateful acts with hatred is to become the very thing which you despise. – John Mark Green



Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. -Mark Twain

I started this blog as a place to find myself.

That is still a journey I am on.

But it's also a place that I hope sheds a little light in the darkness.

Sunset has always been a place that I find peace.

When I moved to Roanoke, Virginia four years ago, it was the one thing that kept me grounded. This sun that I watched from my hometown in Florida. This same sun that I watched as I moved across the state of Florida. And finally, this same sun setting across the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

It offered me stability and hope that I would crawl of out the darkness that crept upon me during my move.

So when Nikki over at Flying with Water set her creative prompt as The Bright Side because she'd been blindsided by some negativity, I knew that I'd be sharing some of my sunset shots.


Let no man pull you low enough to hate him. – Martin Luther King, Jr.


No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. -Nelson Mandela


What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. – Jane Goodall


Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.


And while it should go without saying, and I have said it in the past, my space on the web is not for politics. I can and will remove hateful commentary. While politics influence too many people's opinions, I have yet to witness them be the cause of any aim for a unified collection of humanity. My personal experience is to see polarization caused by politics and have only seen unification happen outside of that bubble… when individuals decide that their voice makes a difference.

Keep writing the story of kindness.

Spread your light wherever you go.

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the the mirror reflecting it. -Edith Wharton

Let your light shine!



  • Photos 1 & 3 – Roanoke Mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Roanoke, Virginia {Nikon D3200}
  • Photo 2 – From my yard – Roanoke, Virginia {Nikon D3200}
  • Photos 4 & 5 – Carolina Beach, North Carolina {Sony Alpha 7II}
  • Photoquote – Naples, Florida {Nikon D3200}



WPC- Elemental


Friday Faves Edition 26

Friday Faves – Edition 26

We're rolling into another weekend… the second one of August already!

But before we get there, I'm sharing some of my faves this week.

Miss Sunshine and I did some school shopping. Back to school shopping for a female going into 8th grade is not for the faint of heart! It's not that she isn't fun to shop with..she is! It's that the current fashion trends do not conform to school dress codes.

Ripped jeans… yes you can wear them, but the rips must start below the acceptable shorts line


All the jeans had a rip at the thigh. Scratch that. We found a possible pair online, but they haven't made it here yet.

The other popular trend. The cold shoulder. But is the part above the shoulder wider than three fingers? Whose fingers? Some chubby fingers? Some petite fingers? And what the heck is wrong with shoulders?

At least we found a backpack!

In the past, Miss Sunshine has picked out her backpack from a surf shop we frequent on our beach vacations. Last year, it was a little too small to carry what she needed, so this year she wanted a bigger one. And all black. Since I don't replace backpacks every year, we opted for this North Face one. I expect it to last a good while.  Can it make it 5 more years of public school? I'm not setting my hopes that high, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Big Mr. had Senior photos this week. We won't receive them for 2-3 weeks and which point we will decide which to place in the yearbook. If you remember from this postthe Big Mr. had hair down to his shoulders. Curly and thick hair. He knew that he planned to cut his hair, but wanted his Senior photos with his long hair.  When I asked why, he told me so when he was 40 he could look back and see that time when he had long hair.

So after Senior photos, off he went and came home with so much gone.

Bold move!

I'm so happy that he loved the new cut because it took 1 1/2 years to get it to the point it had been at before.

View this post on Instagram

This past year has been a year of growth for me. If you've read my blog or followed me on Instagram for a while then you know that in April I went overseas for the first time. It pushed me outside my comfort zones to travel to a new country, but I also had my husband (who had done some world traveling) as my security blanket. When my mom suggested taking her first overseas trip, to Scotland, at the end of May… I jumped at the chance. I wanted her to find a love for travel just as I had 6 weeks before. I handled transportation & city navigation (with the help of some map apps) as we moved throughout some areas of Scotland. I came back from that trip even stronger and more confident in myself. As I think about future travels and the fact that I'll be turning 40 in a little over a month…I see a year of pushing my comfort zones even farther. How have you pressed outside of your box this year? 💙🌎☀️ . . . . .#sheisnotlost #femmetravel #dametraveler #travelstoke #traveldiaries #travelblogger #lifeofadventure #ladiesgoneglobal #theoutdoorfolk #keepitwild #liveauthentic #livefolk #darlingescapes #fromwhereistand #thehappynow #thisisscotland #visitscotland #visualsoflife #stayandwander #wearetravelgirls #lifestyleblogger #passportready #momboss #bossbabe #passionpassport #natureaddict #naturehippys #thediscoverer #roamtheplanet #seekthesimplicity

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

I found high amusement in the Big Mr.'s commentary about "when I'm 40" because I'm sure that to him it seems so far away. I know that when I was 17, I probably thought that seemed so old.

And yet, here I am, at around a month away from being 40.

And it was so far away.

I've lived  so much life thus far. Done so many things. Met so many people. Traveled to faraway places Grew life inside of me. Celebrated life's highs and mourned life's lows.

Still I feel as if I'm just on the edge of having experienced all that I want to in this wide world.

I feel as though I'm just beginning to embrace who I really am. Learning that the world doesn't get to dictate my choices.

I ask you the same question that I asked on Instagram…

How have you pressed outside of your box this year?


I mentioned in last week's faves that I was making some dietary changes. I am on my third week of a four week no alcohol detox. I read somewhere about it being a good thing to try before heading into Virgo season. I don't know if there's anything to that, but I figured letting my liver not have to process out toxins for a bit was probably a win-win for it. I layered in no gluten the second week and this week no dairy.

Dairy has been much harder for me. I had no problem giving up my splash of heavy cream in my coffee. I just switched it to almond milk, something I use in my smoothies already. However, I do love cheese. No cheese has been hard. When I decided on "no dairy" along with "no gluten", my husband asked what I was going to eat. I admit that I wasn't on top of things with pre-planning so I wasn't always happy with my choices. Oh… that meatloaf recipe takes milk… here everybody…eat up…I'll just be over here with my salad. Maybe I can eat a baked potato… oh wait…no butter…no sour cream either. I'll just be over here eating the leftover taco meat…with no cheese.

I did make guacamole. That was a tasty point in the week. And I love my breakfast smoothies. It was the other two meals where I should have planned better.

The goal wasn't really an elimination diet. Although I wish I'd have done that.

The hubby and I went to dinner last night. My favorite Chinese restaurant. I ordered my regular choice. Hot and Sour Soup and Kung Pao Chicken. It was the first time I noticed the area on the menu that says these items can be made gluten free. For some reason, I just assumed they were already gluten free because of the stamp beside them. I'm not a stickler in restaurants for how things are cooked because I don't have Celiac Disease. I just have various digestive issues and have for years, but don't know my triggers.

The meal was awesome and tasty. The conversation with hubby full of laughter. I felt a little pain in my stomach as we went to leave, but really it wasn't a big deal. At home, about an hour later, the pain returned, but centered on the left scapula and toward the chest and I felt a headache type pressure in my head and down my sinus cavity.

Since I wasn't on an elimination diet, I still have no idea what the trigger was. It could have been the gluten in the soy sauce, but it could have easily have been the peppers or any other number of things that make up those two recipes.

I'm not sure if I'll move to an elimination diet. The alcohol detox has become more about finishing out the goal that I had set. I would have to go even longer in the entire process cut out other foods and I just keep seeing my birthday on the horizon with a slice of cheesecake and a cocktail calling my name. Would I have time to add things in and discover my triggers before that day? I don't know, so I'll have to ponder it.



This week I took back up spending some time in my journal. The black journal started the year out as a place to write a little snippet of fiction. A page to a page and a half. 20 minutes. I really wanted to work on being more descriptive. To see if I could tell a fictional tale that would draw somebody in enough to want to know more.

And then I got sidetracked.

It was something I enjoyed, but I didn't make it a priority. My goal is to move it back to a priority.

I picked up the mint journal because I've wanted to start a gratitude journal. I've been working more on staying in the present moment and gratitude seems a great place to start. I just picked it up Wednesday…made a list of 5 things I was grateful for and promptly forgot to do it yesterday. I've obviously got a ways to go to make it a habit.

I think I'll set a reminder on my phone so that I stop and actually do it.

Do you have ways that help you focus on the present?

The song I chose this week came up on my recommended list. The band found the inspiration for the song when they moved to London and left their loved ones behind. If you're a Game of Thrones fan then you'll love that the video features Maisie William (aka Arya Stark).

I got the hubby to watch the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things with me, and while he's always been an advocate of us reducing our clutter, now he's finally ready to actually help me with the process. This weekend is supposed to be a huge purge weekend for us!

I hope that as you go into your weekend, you find yourself a little freer from the daily stressors of life.

Take a moment to look around a see what a magnificent world in which we live.

The sun rises and sets.

The flowers bloom.

The breeze blows.

Take it all in.

This gift that nature offers.

And all for free.


The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. - Henry David Thoreau


Let your light shine!


The Necropolis in Glasgow

The Necropolis in Glasgow

The Necropolis.

Sandwiched between my exterior tour of Glasgow Cathedral and walking along viewing the Murals of Glasgow,  I took a brief walk through the Necropolis of Glasgow.

I don't typically visit cemeteries. My mother always used to say she wasn't sure if a ghost might follow us home.  She was only half kidding. She grew up in a haunted house in Indiana.

I get that some of you might not believe such things. And that's OK. My personal life experience is such that I have some trepidations about the possibility of inviting a spirit home with me.

From the Glasgow Cathedral, you could see the Necropolis rising up on the hill.

The hill on which the Necropolis stands was purchased by the Glasgow Merchant's House in 1651. After being planted with Fir trees, it was known as Fir Park.

In 1831, the Merchant's' House decided that that its's use would be best as Glasgow's version of the Pére Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, and so the Victorian Cemetery began.

It would become known as Glasgow's Necropolis.

The entrance to the Necropolis is reached by crossing the "Bridge of Sighs", likely named this due to the fact that funeral processions crossed it to reach the burial grounds.

The Necropolis covers 37 acres. In 1966, the Merchants' House gave the Necropolis to the Glasgow City Council.

Since the Necropolis is located East of the Glasgow (or St. Mungo) Cathedral, as you climb the hill you can look back for magnificent views of the Cathedral.

By 1831, Glasgow's population had grown from 70,000 to 200,00.

There are many impressive monuments due to the wealth of some of the city's merchants.

One of which is the mausoleum built for Major Archibald Douglas Monteath. He served in the East India Company before returning to Glasgow. His body was interred in 1842.

The mausoleum was modeled on the Church of St. Sepulchre in Cambridge.

As you climb up the Necropolis, the sweeping views of the city of Glasgow become more and more impressive.

Mostly we were quickly walking through, looking for any surnames affiliated with our genealogy.

But we still took moments to stop and admire the detailed architecture of the monuments located inside of the Necropolis.

Many of them were designed by renowned architects of the time.

Climbing higher still, the top of the hill is the location of the John Knox Monument. Interestingly, he is not buried below the monument, but under a car park in Edinburgh.

This was the first statue of John Knox to be erected in Scotland and sits on the second highest hill in Scotland.

I would have loved to have stayed with those who had gathered for what was sure to be an epic sunset of the city, but our time here was short as we needed to meet up with my aunt for dinner.

Plus, I would have missed all the murals.

There's always next time!

Have you visited any cemeteries? Which is your favorite?

Let your light shine!


Friday Faves – Edition 25


Sometimes I have to ask myself what happened to the week.

Well this one was filled with dental cleanings for me and the teens. I was at the dentist office 3 days in a row! Yesterday Miss Sunshine had her final orthodontic evaluation. Baby teeth gone and molds taken. Braces go on in two weeks! It made me feel like my baby is growing up. My last one in braces…and only months away from being 14.

I also rode with Mr. D on the Interstate. He’s in the learner’s permit phase and less than two weeks from being 16! It was a mild interstate in the scheme of interstates. It starts at one end of Roanoke so it didn’t require him merging onto the interstate. The speed limit is also only 55 mph, much less intense than those 65 or 70 mph roads. He opted for the slow lane instead of the middle so we were able to work on deciding whether you need to speed up or slow down as people merge into your lane.

Next week is Big Mr’s appointment for Senior photos and all my teens gets their class schedules.

But on to some more of my faves for the week.


Did you know that August 3rd was National Watermelon Day?

Usually I’m behind in knowing these things, but I was on top of my game this week! I even though about writing a post, but I had promised the photo tour of The Cloisters at University of Glasgow. And then I remember I shared about how to pick the perfect watermelon in this post.

Did you celebrate National Watermelon Day by eating any of the sweet treat?


Our puppy, Maverick, keeps us busy as usual.

Since Miss Sunshine maintains his Instagram, sometimes I’m just as surprised as everyone else by his antics.

This was one that made me laugh out loud when I discovered it on his page.


This was my recent read.

It caught my eye on the front racks of the library. I didn’t have it for a whole 30 days so I perused and took what value I found to apply.

I’ve read that it takes 21 days for a new habit to become like second nature so I figured I’d just implement whatever habits I found intriguing.

I read 3 pieces of advice that were my favorites.

  • FIFO | The pg version of this is “figure it the frick out”. But the gist is about self-motivation for knowledge in situations that need a solution. I have some areas in my blogging where I’m trying to learn the things that are my weaknesses…such as getting my words in front of more people.
  • Layering in habits.  | I’ve decided to work on some detoxing of my body as I move toward the season of my birth. I think it goes well with my decluttering / minimalism process, which is also a detox of sorts. I mentioned in last week’s faves that I’ve started going to the steam room to attempt to sweat out toxins. I also decided to go 4 weeks without alcohol. I’ve almost finished week 2. Where layering came into play was that in week 2, I added cutting out gluten. I haven’t fully decided if I will maintain that long term, if I will add no dairy, or if I’ll just move to no processed food. I liked that layering cuts down on being overwhelmed and quitting because you’ve started too many habit changes at once.
  • Rock your victories. | Celebrate along the way about staying on track with the habit that you are changing. I’m not very good about pampering myself with any self-care so those will be the rewards that I am putting into place during my formation of new habits.


Miss Sunshine is finishing up her summer reading. She decided that it would be nice to put up a hammock in the back yard as a place to read.  Big Mr’s hammock needed some repairs so she ordered her own.

I took full advantage of lounging in it when she was off doing other things!



My self-care pampering this week (technically I’m almost due for a 2nd self-care moment, but as I mentioned it’s not something I’m good at prioritizing) is to take a long soak in my tub. I have a jetted tub that I have used about 3 or 4 times over the past 3 1/2 years. It’s not that I don’t love a good soak, it’s just there is always something else taking precedence.

I saw an article about a salt bath with essential oils that sounded nice. When I tried to find the article again, I ended up finding an aura cleansing one. It was very similar to the original one that I read with a little more ritual involved. Either way, for me the goal is to find some moments of mindfulness and relaxation. I was looking at Lavender essential oil, but opted for this Peace & Harmony calming blend because it smelled so nice. It’s ingredients are Peppermint Oil, Patchouli Oil, Orange Oil, Lavender Oil, and Basil Oil.

If you are interested in the process, it’s to clean the tub and take a head-to-toes cleansing shower completely prior to the bath. To the tub water, you add 2-3 handfuls of unrefined sea salt or himalayan salt (I think mine is unrefined, but I’m not going to stress over that) and the the 2-3 drops of essential oil are optional. You can pray or set intentions releasing negativity while you relax. The recommendation is to not towel dry afterward, but to just put on a robe or whatever. I’ve picked up some candles and am debating some classical music reminiscent of my bath soaking pregnancy days.

I’ve already put the word out that I’m not to be interrupted. Keep your fingers crossed for me that they can handle my hour of alone time.

I’m thinking pedicure and massage may be some of my future weekly self-care rewards.

What kinds of things do you do regularly for self-care?

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer. -William S. Burroughs

Last week, I had a song pop into my mind. It took me a while to remember the name, but once I did, it took me on a happy trip down memory lane.

When we first moved to Stuart, Florida in 2010, we rented a home. Even though they called it a 3 bedroom, it was technically two and a den (in Florida, the law is it can be called a bedroom if it has a closet). Big Mr. and Mr. D. shared a bedroom and Miss Sunshine had the room off the living room with pocket door that never closed properly. But we were living near the beach and the rental came with a boat dock at the end of our road.

Since we didn’t know how long we’d be there, we opted to forgo cable.  Our TV was on a lot less during those days. We opted to go for evening boat rides or walks around the neighborhood. It was here that Mr. D would show us his feat of learning how to do a kip up and a planche. That didn’t mean life wasn’t chaotic. I was raising a 7, 9, and 10 year old. Our nephew came to live with us (3 boys in one room) so that I could tutor him, mostly in math, before he took the ASVAB. There would be quite a passage of time before he would eventually ship out for the Marines.

At some point we added Netflix. Some evenings we would find family movies to watch. One happened to be the movie Bandslam. This song is played in the movie. After we watched it, we hunted it down and all practiced the whistling part of the tune.

I had almost forgotten that I found it last week, when last night the hubby was watching Limitless and I heard the song playing from the other room.


It takes me back to a simpler (not less chaotic, just simpler) time in my life. It reminds me of what I’m hoping to achieve by seeking a minimalistic approach to materialism.

I hope that you all have an amazing weekend and a wonderful week ahead of you.

Inhale the future. Exhale the past.

And be fully present in the pause in between.


Let your light shine!