Carolina Beach Sunset Photos Relax

Relax

Relax.

Re•lax (verb). Make or become less tense or anxious.

Reminder.

Today I needed a reminder to relax. I thought that perhaps some of you might need the reminder as well. One of my favorite places to relax, to become less tense or anxious, is along the shoreline of the ocean.

Just Breathe.

According to stress.org, to effectively combat stress we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. When we activate this response our metabolism decreases, our heart beats slower and our muscles relax, our breathing becomes slower, our blood pressure decreases, and our levels of nitric oxide are increased.

Abdominal breathing for 20-30 minutes a day reduces anxiety and stress. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.

The website lists a variety of techniques. Personally, I typically practice deep breathing during my meditation time.

Blue Space.

While many of the studies are still relatively new, the results of the studies show that living close to blue spaces (lakes, rivers, and the sea) report higher levels of physical activity, and that interaction with blue spaces can have a positive effect on mental health-especially in the areas of stress reduction and perceived well being.

Ocean Views.

According to this article, staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us in a mild meditative state.

snapseed-486

 

Sound of Waves.

According to same article, the ebbing and flowing that you hear destimulates the brain. The noises along with the visual activate your parasympathetic nervous system.

Calm.

Remember that system from the deep breathing information?

Yeah, the one that is responsible for slowing us down and helping us to relax.

It’s also thought that the negative ions that are found in the air at the ocean and around waterfalls may also contribute to our sense of calm.

It does state that along with these scientific facts, there may be a level of placebo effect that takes place since we are conditioned to find the ocean calming.

snapseed-484

Tranquility.

I know that it isn’t as wonderful as actually walking along the shoreline, but are you feeling more relaxed?

I sure hope so!

Laura Ingalls Wilder Quote "It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." Background - boardwalk through a salt marsh in Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

March 30 Day Challenge

30 Day Challenge…March

30 Day Challenge.

Once again it’s time to announce my next thirty day challenge.

If you are new to my blog, every month, since I turned 40 back in September, I set a new thirty day challenge for myself. The goal is to have my year of being 40, a time to press outside of my comfort zones and to challenge myself in new ways.

I’ve noticed a tendency to switch one month with a challenge that is more mental in nature and the next month with a challenge that is more physical in nature. Obviously most challenges contain an element of both, but one does tend to be the stronger factor.

February’s challenge was to read 3 classic novels in 30 days.

So sticking with my tendencies, March will be a challenge that is more physical in nature.

March Challenge.

The 30 day challenge for March will be:

30 days of achieving 10,000 steps per day

&

30 day plank challenge

Calia by Carrie Underwood tank and Nike running shoes

10,000 steps per day.

There are a lot of popular indicators that we should try to walk 10,000 steps per day. There is some debate about that precise amount amount of steps. This PubMed abstract from 2004 said this appears to be a reasonable goal for most populations.

I’ve been noticing that I have a tendency to spend a lot of time sitting. Between writing posts, editing photos, and other computer related work, I often sit for many hours at a time.

Even though I do move to go to Pilates, run errands, and clean my house, I still felt like challenging myself to move more. 10,000 steps gives me a target to attain. I’ve dusted off my fitbit and will be tracking my steps throughout March. I plan to do more walking, running, and hiking since the weather is getting nicer.

I do have a secondary motive for having such an active challenge for the month of March. We head to Aruba at the end of this challenge and I would like to be more fit before we head to crystal clear beaches.

Side Plank

Plank Challenge.

Since I will be in a bathing suit for most of that week in Aruba, I wanted work on strengthening my core muscles. I decided to look at plank challenges. As soon as I mentioned it, both the hubby and Miss Sunshine said that they would join me on this part of the monthly challenge.

I dug around on Pinterest and opted for this Jillian Michaels 30 day 5 minute plank challenge.

Don’t worry, it’s not side planks like the photo of me from Christmastime. This time I’ll try to have someone snap some photos at the completion of the plank challenge because it’s hard to get in to form in time for the self-timer!

As always, you are welcome to join along on the challenge.

The hubby and Miss Sunshine are advocating we start the challenge at higher than a 10 second hold to start since they’ve held planks longer and I’ve been going to Pilates (mat Pilates) for a year and can hold a plank longer as well (although I don’t think any of us have tried to attain the finale of 5 minutes).

We may take that option, but don’t feel like you need to do that.

Even if you only choose to do one of the two challenges, I hope that you’ll join in this month!

If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. - Martin Luther King Jr. quote quotes photoquote

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday!

We’ve once again arrived at Friday. This week has been much better than the last two. Not without its stressors, but substantially better!

I think it was because the sun came out. Is that springtime peeking its head into Virginia?

I think maybe yes.

 

img_5994

Friday Faves.

This week I’ll just dive into the Friday Faves.

Obviously, #1 is that the sun came out! Hallelujah, I was rejoicing. I once mentioned that I’m like the clingy friend when it come to Vitamin D. I need the sun WAY more than it needs me.

Mill Mountain Star Trail.

The hubby and I decided that we could not waste the sunshine. We went and hiked the Mill Mountain Star Trail. You can see a map of this an surrounding trails here. Since we were hiking round trip, you can begin at the Star (210 Reserve Ave, Roanoke) or from the car parking lot (1208 Riverland Road, Roanoke). We started from Riverland Road, so it is uphill to the Star, which sits atop the summit of Mill Mountain. The summit is Roanoke’s highest point at 1,703 feet.

I didn’t bring along my camera, just the phone. I wasn’t sure what the trail was like and didn’t want to lug it along. Next time I’ll bring it and maybe can make the hike a post of its own as I have done with some other areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I knew there were many components to better mental health when spending time in nature. I had recently read an article about how time in nature (green space) reduced teen depression rates. A few days after the hike, I would read this article,which also mentions that knowledge. It also goes into the scientific backing of forest bathing. It talks about how the forest air is like an old friend to our bodies. One of those reasons is because mixed into the air are terpenes released by plants. Some of these terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective activities.

I’ve always known that I feel better when walking through a forest. It’s amazing to read about the scientific reasoning behind much of it. The article shares even more about how forest air affects us. If you’re interested in Science, I recommend checking it out. They always link to the articles in which they are deriving the information, which is always a good source for even more knowledge.

 

 

Editing.

I worked some on editing my photos. The photo above is from Amsterdam and was in my archives. I really loved the pop of colors on the boats and the reflection in the water and in the windows. It made me realize that I really want to focus on learning how to use Lightroom.

I am still editing through an app on my phone even though I did sign up for a Lightroom/Photoshop package. I’ve been intimidated by the program and so I haven’t set aside the time to learn how to use it. I noticed when I was editing this photo, that while I’m very happy with the result, it’s also likely that in a program like Lightroom I would have been able to focus on exactly the spots I wanted versus the broad stroke of the selective tool that I now use.

I realize it’s time to press outside of my comfort zone in order to continue to grow in executing my creative vision.

 

Instagram.

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Faves that I was working on changing my Instagram grid to sets of three. I also have been trying to post more on my Instagram stories just to give people a little realistic glimpse into my life.

On Tuesday, I posted the above photo of Miss Sunshine. That photo was from her travel soccer season, but she had tryouts this week for the school season. I also talked on the Instagram story about how lovely the day had been. So lovely that I was able to throw open the window and the back door. Which was wonderful because the warm up and had made the house smell musty. I also started up the diffuser with a blend of lemon, eucalyptus, and tea tree essential oils. This was to help air out that musty smell…or as I shared on the story “the smell of dog butt”.

Photography.

I also shared my promised post of Views From the Top of Princes Street Suites in Edinburgh Scotland filled with photographs of from the rooftop.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. -Winston Churchill . .as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am doing my photos in a series of three. If you know me, you may know what this series is about. If you know me really well, then you may know why…if not, stay tuned . . .#seekthesimplicity #helookslikemyside #nothingisordinary #visualsoflife #fromwhereistand #darlingescapes #sheisnotlost #stayandwander #naturehippys #beachlover #pocket_beaches #visitnc #optoutside #modernoutdoors #exploretocreate #exploremore #tlpicks #saltlife #natureaddict #natgeotravel #travelstoke #traveldeeper #doyoutravel #letsgosomewhere #thediscoverer #roamtheplanet #lifeofadventure #staysalty #wanderfolk #fiftyshades_of_nature

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

My Children.

The trio of Instagram posts for this segment were photos of my children.

Day #2 was Mr. D.

The sun was shining brightly enough that I did my reading out on the back porch that day. I’m on book #5 for month in case you are wondering.  On Wednesday, it was so warm that I wore flip flops to my Pilates class and we broke weather records that Roanoke hadn’t seen since the 1930’s.

I also participated in the weekly photo challenge and Wordless Wednesday by sharing some photos from my archives of my trip to Amsterdam.

Happy 18th Birthday to my oldest, @hunter02222 ! Rounding out the trio of photos of my children, if you hadn’t already guessed my theme. I am the mother of an official adult. I’m not sure how that happened! I remember the days when he was so little and I had to carry him around on my hip. And then, the day his shoe size surpassed his age. I don’t recall the day when he grew taller than me, but now standing at 6’6”, he towers over me by 10”! It’s been a fun journey watching him grow into a man…I can’t wait to see where he goes from here . .if you’ve made it this far and are looking for my daily quote: “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18” – Mark Twain . . .#happybirthday #18thbirthday #seekthesimplicity #fromwhereistand #visualsoflife #optoutside #wildernessculture #theoutdoorfolk #folkscenery #rsa_folknature #lifeofadventure #travelstoke #traveldeeper #blueridgeday #stayandwander #exploretocreate #exploremore #letsgosomewhere #nothingisordinary #liveoutdoors #theglobewanderer #neverstopexploring #sonyalpha #loveva #roamtheplanet

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

Mother of an Adult.

Yesterday was Big Mr.’s birthday. He turned eighteen. I wrote a post about how strange it feels to be the mother of an adult.

I talked like crazy on my Instagram story. Much more than I usually do.

I did what every good mother does when it’s her child’s birthday….I went shopping for myself.

Actually, I had already planned that errand for the day. I am slowly looking for clothes to take to Aruba and an outfit for an upcoming party that I’ll be attending. As my final stop before returning home, I planned to pick up a cake for Big Mr. I saw that I had missed a text saying the check the website for an important message from the middle school.

Guns at School.

My stomach dropped. My immediate thought was is the school on lockdown. There wasn’t a message on the website. I went in to buy a cake. The hubby texts me and asks if I got the phone call that a student had brought a gun to school. I had missed a call from the school, but the voicemail hadn’t come through yet.

I was stunned.

So I checked the school website again. And there it was. The important message that a student had brought a loaded handgun to the middle school. It was in the student’s locker and had been brought in on a dare with no intent to harm. This was the message.

When Miss Sunshine came home we discussed the situation. She wasn’t visibly shaken, but some of my children tend to repeat elements of a story when they are bothered by something…whether that’s real life, a news story, a scene in a movie, etc. It is their way of working through and processing something.

I will state right here that my website is not a place for a debate on gun control. Most people involved in that conversation get ugly pretty quickly…on both sides. I don’t promote hostility and won’t be starting today. Any commentary to that effect will be removed.

I do believe that we need to keep our school children safe.

I read a commentary by the Sheriff in Lee County (a county in Florida beside the one in which I grew up). He talked about how we feel safe when we enter a courthouse or when we fly and it due to increased security procedures. You’re welcome to read it here.

I thought about sharing what I wrote on my private Facebook page, but I’m still leery about even telling you guys about the fact that we had this scare. There are some people out there who seem to have nothing better to do than attack and my mental health does not do well with that. I will share that a snippet referred to the fact that we need not reminisce on the good ol’ days when this didn’t happen and instead focus on how we are going to address the current reality.

Our kids deserve to not live in fear.

Birthday Dinner.

Even though it was a mentally distressing and highly disturbing event, we weren’t going to let it stop life. It was Big Mr.’s 18th birthday, after all. The five of us along with three of his friends all went out to dinner. He chose a restaurant called Texas Roadhouse. Even though he didn’t want them to, his friends shared that it was his birthday. They have you climb on to a horse saddle and have everyone yell “YeeHaw” for you. It was quite hilarious. I was only able to share a little segment of the entire thing on my Instagram Story, but it was quite funny.

If you hurry, it’ll still be on my story until around 8 p.m. EST.

Motorcycles.

Big Mr. had a motorcycle permit and he took a class which means that once he’s turned eighteen…aka yesterday…he can legally drive a motorcycle without being followed by an adult.

Lord help my soul!

Honestly, I do love that my teenagers are daredevils. They live life to the fullest. I could learn a thing or two from them.

Music.

Since I talked about what life was like for me when I turned 18, I also got sucked in to what songs were popular when I was that age. This week I’ve chosen a song that came out near the end of 1995, shortly after I turned 18. I owned the CD and played it repetitively. It’s probably pretty apparent that I’ve always hated being told I couldn’t do something just because I’m a girl.

 

I hope that you all have a light-filled weekend and week up ahead. Hand out hugs freely to those that you love, smile at the shy person in corner, spread your light as far as you can.

 

IMG_5913

I'm the Mother...of an adult!

I’m the Mother of an Adult

Eighteen Years Old.

Does anyone else remember what it was like to turn eighteen years old?

I do.

There are some days when it feels like yesterday.

And days like today, where it feels as though it must have been an eternity ago.

Today, my oldest child turned eighteen.

How in the world did that happen?

Im the Mother....png

I’ve already written about the day that my eyes first gazed into the eyes of my firstborn child. I wrote that post when he turned sixteen.

About him, I’ve shared my observations on having a tall child. (he’s 6’6″)

I’ve recognized the slow release of motherhood.

I’ve marveled at that space between child and man.

There are days when I thought this moment might never arrive and others when I wanted to push away the hands of time…to hold them in their place…to fight the passage of these fleeting moments.

Yet, time still kept moving forward. We have arrived at that moment when in the eyes of the law, my son is a grown man. This moment when he owns every future decision that he makes.

And I am taken back to my own year of being eighteen.

For me, eighteen was a year of so many choices.

It was a year of love…and a year of heartbreak.

A year of finding a piece of me…and a year of losing a piece of me.

It was full of adventure and exploration.

A time of meeting new people. A time of feeling like I knew the world.

It was also the year that I would have my first experience with an anxiety attack. I finished up my degree at the community college a few months after I turned eighteen, and not knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up, I took a break and got a full-time job. Even though I had been working since the age of fourteen, this was my first grown-up job.

I was hired while my future boss was on medical leave. It’s possible that she resented this fact. I don’t really know, but it was apparent she didn’t care for me. I remember being written up for a job I didn’t complete. A small job that she had apparently forgotten that she had switched to somebody else’s responsibility because I was still doing all other parts of my job, cross-training in another of her departments, fixing six months of errors caused by someone else, and training a new person for the old person’s job.

There were other moments…but you get the idea.

After some time at the job, I also got a part-time job in the evenings. One day, I was having tingling in my lips and down my arm and into my fingertips. I called my doctor, thinking perhaps it was a reaction to a medicine. He told me to come over and after checking me out, he had me breathe into a paper bag. That was when he told me that I was in a constant state of low-level hyperventilation.

I moved beyond that phase.

I still deal with anxiety, but I’ve learned coping mechanisms over the years.

Slowing down my breathing is usually the first one I employ.

I don’t know what the future holds for my eighteen year old.

He still has a lot to learn about himself.

But he seems to know himself better than I did at eighteen.

…and that makes my heart so happy.

 

IMG_5973.PNG

Let your light shine!

Amy

Views From The Top Of Princes Street Suites

Edinburgh, Scotland.

Old Calton Burial Ground Cemetery in Edinburgh Scotland

Do you remember last month when I shared the photo above?

If not, it was when I shared about our stay at Princes Street Suites in Edinburgh. This was one of the views from the rooftop terrace.

At the time, I promised a future post with more views from the rooftop terrace of Princes Street Suites.

Photography Series.

Today’s photography series does just that. The following photos were taken from the rooftop of the hotel over the course of our two stays there.

I would have loved to have captured even more photos, but between rain and spending time actually walking around the city, I only got up there a few times.

Old Calton Cemetery.

The hotel is located beside the Old Calton Cemetery. You can see the obelisk and the Governor’s House, which I shared about in my post about the hotel.

Arthur’s Seat.

Arthur’s Seat is the peak rising up in the background. It’s an ancient volcano whose highest point reaches 823 feet (251 meters). Many people hike to the top for beautiful views of the city.

An interesting fact that I learned while on a bus tour was  that traditionally on May Day, young women would climb the hillside to wash their face in the dew. Legend was that this would keep them looking youthful and beautiful.

One of the ways to hike to begin the hike to Arthur’s Seat is along the Radical Road . The Radical Road was built by unemployed weavers, following their failed efforts during the Radical War of 1820.

That Scottish Insurrection came as a result of social unrest from workers fed up with what they perceived as unjust working and living condition from the government. April 3, 1820 gave rise to a national strike that began in Glasgow. After King George IV visited the city in 1822, Sir Walter Scott suggested that the unemployed weavers could build a footpath. (The Scotsman).

On my visit, we were hoping to walk a least part of the Radical Road.

If you’ve followed our ancestral journey, then you are familiar with the fact that many of my ancestors are from the region around Glasgow and that at minimum my Baird line held weavers, hence our trip to Airdrie where we had an 1841 census stating that James Baird was a Hand Loom Weaver, living on Flowerhill Street.

We did not have a chance to make it to the Radical Road on that journey, but we will be back in Edinburgh in May and are planning to at least set foot on the road.

The City of Edinburgh Council.

The building in the the foreground is Edinburgh’s  city council building.

The Arches.

In the foreground is The Arches. The Arches at New Waverly is a shopping and eating destination. They are located on East Market Street, near the Royal Mile and Waverly Station.

Jury’s Inn.

The road above The Arches and on which you can see the Jury’s Inn is Jeffrey Street.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Rooftop Terrace.

Oh! Hey there! Don’t mind me.

Following along with the view behind me…

North Bridge.

The North Bridge is a road bridge that connects Princes Street with the High Street. It is the connector between New Town and Old Town. The first bridge was built between 1763 and 1772 and stood until 1896, when it was demolished to make way for the current bridge.

The Scotsman Hotel.

Given that this shot was captured around sunset (which is quite late at the beginning of June), the signs are slightly harder to read. However, the building to the right of the bridge is The Scotsman Hotel. The 1905 Baroque building once held The Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper. The hotel took its name from that fact.

City Art Centre.

You can also see the City Art Centre building located beside the giant crane. The aim of this museum is to champion historic and contemporary Scottish visual and applied arts. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday and admission is usually free.

The Hub.

The spire rising up in the background is The Hub. You might recognize it from my Doors of Edinburgh series.

The Mound

The green dome is Lloyds Banking Group Scottish Headquarters located on The Mound. The building was built in 1806 as the Head Office of the Bank of Scotland. You can read more about the fascinating history of the building here.

Edinburgh Castle.

Continuing on, you can Edinburgh Castle rising up in the distance. Archaeologists have established human occupation of Castle Rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd Century AD)!

Waverley Station.

In the foreground, you can see triangular patterns of the Waverley Station roof.

City view of Edinburgh Scotland

Edinburgh Waverley.

For perspective on the roof, this photo is taken from Waterloo Place looking down Calton Road. Princes Street Suites is to your right and The Arches are in the background.

The Balmoral Hotel.

The Balmoral Hotel was originally named the North British Station Hotel. It was built in 1902.

You can learn quite a few amazing facts while taking a bus tour of the city. One of those facts that I learned is that the clock in the clock tower is set three minutes fast. Located beside Waverly Station, this setting is started so that travelers wouldn’t miss their trains. To this day, it still runs three minutes fast, except on Hogmanay (December 31st).

The Balmoral Hotel is one of the most photographed sights, second only to Edinburgh Castle.

As we passed by the entrance, there were always kilted doorman waiting for guests. The hotel has hosted many famous people. One of which is J.K. Rowling, who finished the Harry Potter series in a hotel suite here. This is where she famously (or infamously) graffitied a bust in the room stating that fact.

You can see between the first photo and the second that the flags had been lowered to half staff. The terror attack on London Bridge took place while we were in Glasgow.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this little tour of Edinburgh from the rooftop.

IMG_5733 2.PNGLet your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 53

Friday.

How many of you are happy that it’s Friday?!

I debated not posting today because I’ve had a rough week and I feel like I just said that last week.

However, truth is truth.

And here I am.

Friday Faves.

With all my ups and downs for the week, there are still things to share as Friday Faves.

Pilates.

I managed to make it to Pilates each day that it is offered at my gym (MWF). My body feels stronger every day and I feel like Pilates is really making a difference. I don’t have any photos to share, but I’m considering having someone in the family snap some over the weekend so I can share how far I’ve come in my strength journey. I feel like it’s quite far considering most of the Pilates I do is body weight only and on occasion with a 3 pound weight maximum.

Aruba is in six weeks and I plan to feel confident in my swimsuit!

Appliances.

Remember how I told you two weeks ago that my microwave died and how appliances hate me? Well my stove has decided that it’s not sure it wants to do its job either. Sometimes when you push the bake button, the timer comes on instead. Both appliances are exactly 10 years old. Coincidence? I think not. Older appliances ran and ran and ran. Today…not so much.

Since I want them to match and am not a fan of feeling pressured into buying a big ticket item that isn’t exactly what I want, I went to a big box store and picked up a cheap countertop microwave. I know what you’re thinking. Well that seems wasteful. Ahhh….but I thought this through. Big Mr. heads off to college in the fall and Mr. D is a year behind. The little microwave will still have usage in our family.

Natural Wellness.

I mentioned that one of the teens has been sick. It wasn’t the flu. Yay. But it still means that I’m trying to keep anyone else in the house from catching it. I went to the health store because my friends rave about Sambucas, which is an elderberry syrup. Do you know that most of the shelf was empty?! I actually made an elderberry “syrup” a while back. However, I’ve never made something that needs reduced. I estimated the reduction improperly so it’s more liquid than syrup.

I think I’m going to start adding it to my smoothies (if I can remember).

Protein Powder.

Another thing I needed to pick up was some protein powder. I am still doing the mostly vegetarian thing. I find that a protein smoothie satisfies me more than eggs. I’m deliberately not sharing the protein powder I’m using because I’m still trying to decide if I like it. My old protein powder was Organic Rice Protein Powder. I’ve mentioned before how I cannot have canned whipped cream. It causes a tickle in my throat and a cough. Some restaurant/fast food milkshakes cause that as well. I noticed that the rice protein powder was possibly doing that as well. I say “possibly” because I can’t rule out that is it isn’t a random ingredient in the Almond Milk. However, Miss Sunshine has the same issue and says it’s the protein powder (she uses almond milk in her cereal with no issue…I only use it in smoothies). I wanted to try Pea Protein, but what they had is a blend.

Stevia.

Not only is it a blend of many proteins, but it has stevia. Almost every powder I looked at has stevia (my old powder didn’t). I know people in the wellness world seem to love stevia. I do not. It overpowers every single drink in which it’s found. Occasionally, I want something other than water or unsweet iced tea and I’ll try a flavored drink. I don’t know why I do it, because any time stevia is on the label it makes my tastebuds and stomach cringe as I drink it.

The positive side to the powder is that I think I’m not having a reaction to it, but I’m not fully sure. I’ve started incorporating spinach into the smoothie for health reasons, but also to try to cut through the taste of stevia. If you know of any protein powder that doesn’t use stevia, let me know! FYI: I use vanilla. I might be willing to go plain, but while I like chocolate, I dislike it as a drink.

Valentine’s Day.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize that this week was Valentine’s Day. This is one holiday where I refuse to buy in to the heavy commercialization of it. Maybe I’m jaded. I did update my cover photo on Facebook to the photo above that I took one summer in Carolina Beach and changed my profile picture to the hubby and me. That was about it. We watched a movie at home. I talked about it in yesterday’s post.

Olympics.

We’ve also been watching some of the Olympics. We watched Shaun White win the Gold. I also like watching figure skating. I don’t understand curling and don’t know if I want to understand it. The skiing is usually quite amazing too, although I haven’t seen as much of that.

What is your favorite sport to watch in the Winter Olympics?

Photography.

Besides my normal daily stuff and some not so normal daily stuff, I worked on editing some of my photography. One of my favorite recent photography outings was capturing the fog. I shared a fog series in my Wordless Wednesday post.

I loved the way the colors looked in those photos. The juxtaposition of the grass and the fog. The elements (trees and fences) that I chose as the subject. I just felt like it worked together. Something I don’t always feel in a photo session.

These two photos are some more from that session. They are ones that I was still debating whether or not I captured them exactly as I had envisioned.

The tree trunk in the first photo has these white lines into the bark. These are massive trees so the differentiation was striking. In the second photo, I really wanted to capture looking through the fencepost without losing the fact that it was a fencepost you were looking along. I had some trouble getting the depth of field and focus area exactly how I wanted, but there is still something I find intriguing about the photo.

What is you opinion? Do you prefer one over the other?

Instagram.

As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I struggle with separating the fact that my self worth or creative skills are not directly tied to how many people “like” a photo. I am rarely on Facebook or Twitter, even if I have things that automatically post there (Blog and Instagram posts).

Instagram was my first love because I love photography. The people were (and are) welcoming. Then with the algorithm change, my numbers dropped substantially and I began to question whether I wanted to spend time there. However, I do love the people that I’ve built relationships with on that platform.

And so I stay.

My Instagram feed will never feel fully curated no matter how hard I try. But recently I’ve decided to try to make it feel somewhat more cohesive by posting 3 photos (to keep with the grid) from the same area and those three photos will probably be edited in a similar way. I started with a set of fog shots and today will be day #3 of Amsterdam shots. The love locks photo above I decided on as my tribute to Valentine’s Day.

Do you like the Instagram platform? Any other social media platforms?

Reading.

My blind date with a book turned out to be great. If you missed that in Edition 51 of Friday Faves, the book was Random Harvest. I couldn’t put it down and have already finished it. Now I am halfway through The Great Gatsby, which puts me at a distinct advantage for my February Challenge. I’ve checked out The Color Purple and The Picture of Dorian Gray. We’ll see how far I make it!

Are you reading anything good right now?

Music.

I didn’t have as much time this week to look for “new to me” music to share, but this song came up on my recommended through YouTube and I really liked it. The band is named Banners and the singer is Michael Joseph Nelson, who is a musician out of Liverpool.

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend and beautiful week.

Offer up a smile to a stranger. You never know who might need it.

Be the type of person who leaves a mark, not a scar. -Unknown

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

American Made

Photography.

Most Thursdays I bring you photography of Doors from places I’ve visited. Today is no exception. However, in today’s series, the doors are more of a subject of viewing than the subject of my words.

Or put more simply, if you’re here for only the photographs, feel free to scroll through the photos. It won’t hurt my feelings. In fact, I won’t even know that you didn’t read my words unless you feel compelled to let me know that fact. Also be sure to pop over to Norm’s blog to see more amazing doors.

I have a lot of thoughts rolling around about topics that are practically unrelated and for some reason feel like sharing these discombobulated thoughts.

If you’re curious, the photos are from the ferry ride from Ft. Fisher, North Carolina to Southport, North Carolina. The first two photos are chosen because I’ll be talking about things that deal with “breaking the rules of conventional society” (to put it mildly). The third because I like its “uniformity”. The last is chosen because it has two of my loves…plus my jeep (which also has doors).

American Made.

In case you’re curious about my title, it’s because I watched the movie by the same name last night. One of my teens is sick. In fact, I will be taking them in to the doctor today. Likely that appointment will come prior to my finishing this post. The hubby offered to take me to dinner for Valentine’s, but I suggested we wait until the weekend. Instead we had some wine and watched American Made. I didn’t know what the movie was about, only that it starred Tom Cruise. The movie is supposed to based on the real-life story of Barry Seal, who was a drug smuggler with the Medellin Cartel.

South Florida.

While movies take many liberties with a film, it was rather strange to watch the timeline play out.  The early 80’s were a time of major drug running through Florida. If you’ve read my blog for a long time, then you know that I was born and raised in Naples, Florida. Which, in itself is a broad description. If you’ve read it for even LONGER, you know that I grew up inland. My dad converted a school bus into a home and drove it out to a piece of property in what is now considered Golden Gate Estates. There wasn’t electricity or hot water (I’ve written about how we lived in the highlighted post and others from my past).

 

Drug Runners.

However, the one thing that I haven’t talked about was the fact that it was well known that drugs were being run in this part of Florida. While I’m sure my parents have more stories since they were young adults and I was between 3 and 7, I do have vague memories. I suspect that these were large drug runs, maybe even cartels involved. It was said that if they saw you when they made their drop, then they would kill you.

Landing Strip.

One of the roads used to access other roads to our home was known as “the two mile landing strip”. I don’t know if planes landed on that road while we lived there. Perhaps my parents know. I do know that if we saw a small plane circling around at night, we shut off the lights to our home. I have a vivid memory of seeing one circling. This was probably sometime in the early 80’s.

Tales.

Once when my mother was coming home, she saw cars parked alongside the road, so she shut off her headlights to creep past them and make it home. She was certain they were drug runners. Years later, my dad would be conversing with a law enforcement officer who had been around the area a while. That tale would come up and he said it was actually law enforcement and they looked around forever for the car that had driven by with its headlights off, certain it was a drug runner.

I’m sure that I thought it was scary, but I don’t remember being overly worried. That’s not to say I wasn’t, I just don’t remember it. Looking back, I wonder how worried my parents must have been. My mother got pregnant with my brother in the middle of 1981. We lived in the middle of nowhere with the closest phone being about 10 miles away and they had little kids. It’s an adventurous story to look back on in hindsight, but I’m sure it wasn’t so thrilling at the time.

Okeechobee.

The part of the movie that made us look at each other was when they decided that he should fly the drugs into Okeechobee. After moving from Naples at the age of 30, we landed in Okeechobee. You can’t live in Okeechobee and have not heard of Frank Brady. Well, perhaps, you can…but I doubt it.

Frank Brady.

Frank Brady was a rancher who, according to this article, made the country’s most-wanted fugitive list by fleeing the United States around the time of his 1983 drug smuggling indictment. According to this article, the 13,000 acres of ranch land that the government confiscated was the biggest seizure in U.S. history at the time. Investigators linked him to the Medellin Cartel. I met a lot of wonderful people during my two years in Okeechobee. In fact, I’m still acquainted with some of them. Interestingly, I actually met Frank Brady. I had to verify that fact with the hubby.

The fact that it left no lasting impression tells me that in all likelihood, he’s just a regular person, and if you didn’t know about his past, you’d have no reason to suspect it.

Our Past.

I guess that’s a semi-segway into my next set of thoughts. Unless we share with someone about our past, they really have no way of knowing what it held.

I have been having a rough time this winter. I often do. Winter makes me miss Florida. It makes me miss all my family. It makes me miss my friendships.

Friendships.

I believe in being honest and real, which I am. However, there are also pieces reserved for those who have earned my trust.

And so lately, I have been missing a variety of friends who have traveled with me through important times in my life. Two nights ago I received a text from one of those friends. Its timing and message couldn’t have been more appropriate for what I was dealing with. Something she couldn’t have known.

Naples Tribe.

It made me also think about another set of friends who were my “tribe” when I was raising babies. Two girlfriends who were my neighbors and had littles of their own. We’d wander into each others yards while the kids played on the swings and maybe order up a pizza or have a glass of wine.

They kept me sane when I rarely had adult contact.

And then I moved away.

And then another moved away.

We met for a girl’s weekend once and then as happens drifted somewhat farther apart. I still meet the one for coffee when I return home. I love to catch up with her and we text sometimes. The other I see through Facebook, but I no longer have her phone number. I realize this is entirely my fault because friendships take effort.

Yesterday, the one still in my hometown sent me a text. She was asking if the other friend still lived in the town to which she had moved. I was sitting on the couch talking with my oldest about his school day, future plans, life in general…as we often do when he comes home. I had not seen the news that she mentioned.

A school shooting.

I said “Yes, that she lived in Parkland and that “Child” went to “X” school.” Meanwhile, I was trying to check the news to see about the school shooting. I saw that it happened in Parkland about the same time that my friend sent me that text saying that it happened in Parkland, but at a different school. The town is small. Often you know people who go to different schools. I checked her Facebook, but she hasn’t posted anything. I’m sure that she is processing the horror that happened in her town.

My heart breaks for all those affected.

This morning there was an increased police presence at Miss Sunshine’s school.

After tragedies, I wish that I could wrap my children in a cocoon and keep them there forever.

To protect them from the ills of the world.

But just as I cannot control their choices, I cannot control the choices made by others.

Where do we go from here?

I have no perfect answers.

 

Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. -Kahlil Gibran photoquote

Let your light shine!

Amy

Into the Mist to Find My Soul

Sony Alpha 7 II |Sony FE 50 mm | ISO 250 | f/1.8

Sony Alpha 7 II | Sony FE 50 mm | ISO 250 | f/1.8

Sony Alpha 7 II | Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 mm OSS | ISO 250 | 28 mm | f/11

Sony Alpha 7 II | Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 mm OSS | ISO 400 | 53 mm | f/5

Sony Alpha 7 II | Sony FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 mm OSS | ISO 250 | 31 mm | f/11

Sony Alpha 7 II |Sony FE 50 mm| ISO 250 | f/1.8

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

cee’s fun foto challenge: Zen

cee’s which way challenge: photo #2 & #3

WPC: mystical place = my sweet spot