What Is Your Mantra?

What Is Your Mantra?



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.


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.


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.


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!





Moments of Gratitude


Reflect (verb) | think deeply or carefully about.

Gratitude (noun) | the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.


I am the reflecting type.

If you’ve been following my blog for some time then that statement will come as no surprise to you.

I recently came upon a segment from Thoreau’s Walden, which I finally read in its entirety at the beginning of last year.

The piece spoke deeply to me about existence in the present.

There were times I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands. I love of broad margin to my life. …I sat in my doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance.


One of the ways to remain in this present moment is to practice gratitude.

I am not always good at taking the moments to recognize all that I am grateful for.

On Tuesday morning as I was preparing to leave for yoga, there was a man exiting my driveway… carrying my push lawnmower to his truck. He managed to steal it and speed off before I could catch his tag number. I know enough about the truck and plates that I would recognize it, but I assume that he may be smart enough not to poop in the yard that feeds him (so I doubt he lives close by). While I did have a hard time being fully present during yoga, it really did help me calm down and come to a place of acceptance. My being upset about a situation that couldn’t be changed was only hurting me. So instead, I decided to focus on what three aspects surrounding it I was grateful about. I documented it on my Instagram story and listed them:

  • I was grateful that my son had just mowed the yard two days before so that I didn’t have to move mower buying to the top of my to-do list.
  • I was grateful that replacing the mower is not a financial burden for us.
  • I was grateful that he chose to steal something outside of my garage door rather than trying to enter the home and finding that somebody was indeed home (I park in my garage so I’m assuming he thought the house was empty).

Reframing it put me in a better place.

But I also wanted to share my gratitude for all of you.

There was an outpouring of love after I posted Monday about the loss of our dog. I have not even been able to respond to all of the heartfelt comments that you have left. I also shared the post to my private Facebook page, which I don’t always do since I have a dedicated blog Facebook page where I share my posts and occasionally other posts that I’ve enjoyed.

The response that I received from everyone was overwhelming.


But it isn’t just in those moments that I feel gratitude for each and every one of you. It’s in those moments like where I shared about my camera dilemmas photographing the Inside of Versailles and those who had advice to share, did so, even finding me on Twitter to share an article!

It’s in moments of every day interaction.

So many of you who take time out of your to day to share words with me. So many of you who take time out of your day to read my words.

It makes my soul so uplifted.


While I didn’t make it to Keukenhof when in Amsterdam (time was scarce and I didn’t think the teens would enjoy it quite as much as me.), I did take time to photograph the tulips displayed in the Museumplein.


I’ve read that tulips symbolize perfect love.

Some claim that different colors symbolize other things.

Whatever the case, they rank up there as some of my favorite flowers.


Flowers are often given as tokens of appreciation. So I hope you’ll accept these virtual flowers as a symbol of my gratitude for the time that you take out of your lives to pour blessings into mine.




Let your light shine!






Pulling Back the Veil

Pulling back the veil


Last week the hubby and I watched the movie, The Girl on the Train. I had not read the book prior to watching it. After watching it, I planned to discuss an aspect of it. I just didn’t know aptly it might apply on the day that I would sit down to write.

I have pretty good detective skills and was the winner when the hubby and I once went on a Murder Mystery Dinner Train ride. The movie did a good job at keeping me guessing. The thing that struck me, however, can even be seen on the trailer. So…no spoilers here.

The main character thought she was watching a person’s happiness. Her perception was limited by these fragments of what was presented to her. Much like the world of social media or the Jones’s that you see across the street.

I was struck by that parallel since I find myself struggling with not falling prey to the comparison game. Why don’t my photos garner more likes? Why aren’t my followers growing by leaps and bounds like so-and-so?

And then sometimes I have moments where I realize that I’d probably be overwhelmed if those things did have explosive growth.


Why might I be overwhelmed? Because everything I post doesn’t reflect every single thing going on in my life. It is just a snippet, a glimpse, into the mundane, into the exciting, into the every day.

I will share my children’s victories, but I will not be sharing my experiences when they make poor choices. Those moments are a sacred part of their story and while they intertwine with mine, it is my job to cover them in grace not hang them out to dry.

I will share with you that the oldest and I picked out the corsage for his date to Prom.

I will share with you that the hubby and I spent hours purging unnecessary clutter from our lives over the weekend. I was almost embarrassed at the amount we took to the local charity because we shouldn’t have purchased most of it to begin with. We are working toward a life more in line with simplicity and contentment. I felt a wave of relief as I saw spaces open.

And sometimes, I will pull back the veil and allow you to see a little deeper.


You may recall from this post that I spoke about how our Yorkie-Poo, Kiwi, had Lyme disease.

Or may have seen this video on my Instagram story about three months ago. At the time, the doctor was really surprised that the kidneys had held up as long as they had.

This past Friday, she seemed to be a little off. Over the course of the weekend, she seemed to become less interested in eating and then less interested in drinking. By this morning, her breathing had become much more labored. I took her to the vet first thing this morning. They ran her bloodwork and it was as I expected. All of her kidney and liver values were highly elevated. Any choice that was even a remote possibility would not have changed anything. So I stood there and had to make another hard decision about a dog. We had to make the same hard decisions with our Golden Retriever, who died of cancer, two years ago.

DSC_0523 - Copy (3)

This time there would be no coming home and telling everyone goodbye. This situation was much more critical. God in his infinite wisdom had brought some words to me before I stood alone in this sterile room, deciding fate.

You see, this is my daughter’s dog. She begged for a little dog for years until the pull at her daddy’s heartstrings made him concede and get this dog when the girlie was 6. She carried this dog around over the weekend, tried everything to cajole her into eating, bathed her, swaddled her, and poured copious amounts of love onto her. She knew what was happening. What the future may hold. She asked me if I would need to make that hard decision. I said that it was a strong possibility given her health problems. She told me that she would rather that than her slowly starve since she wouldn’t eat. And then this morning, on the drive to school, she told me that she had said goodbye.


It was because of those words that I chose not to extend her suffering. Had I not known if she had been able to say goodbye, I would not have known what to do in that moment. So with tears, I signed the consent and stayed with her, comforting her, until the end.

I returned home to an empty house, lay down on my bed, and let the tears just fall.

I grieved this little dog that drove me crazy with her passive aggressive antics.

I grieved this little dog that lay her head under my chin when I said “who’s mama’s baby”.

I grieved that I will not hear her pattering footsteps or the clanging of her dog tags. I grieved the emptiness when I return home and start toward the back door to let her in and realize she is not there.

I grieved this little dog who brought sunshine into my daughter’s soul.

Soon, the girlie will walk through the doors and I will have to tell her. The boys will be sad as well, but she was the girlie’s friend. Tail-wagging at the door when the girlie arrived home friend. Lay with you in the bed while you read a book friend. Share your goldfish crackers friend.


And my heart begins to break again.

She had dreamed of taking her little furry friend off to college. She thought they would be pals for many years to come. She did not know that disease would come and take those dreams away.

Some days I will pull back the veil. Some days I will allow you to see deeper into my pains and my joys.

I am reminded that just as a dog’s lifespan isn’t promised in terms of years, neither are ours.

Don’t think that what you want to do “some day” is promised.

Truly live in the moments. Embrace today. Chase your dreams.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Quote by Maya Angelou

Let your light shine!


18 Years Later... And Still Doing Life Together

18 Years Later…And Still Doing Life Together

I’m still running around like crazy trying to plan for our first overseas trip.


I wanted to pause for a moment.

To pause and acknowledge the man who has stood faithfully by my side for the past 18 years of marriage. To be thankful that he is with me on the journey of raising teenagers.

To stop and smile because he still has my heart.


Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. -Ruth 1:16

When we stood before our pastor, our friends, our family, and our God and declared our vows 18 years ago, we had no idea what was in store for our future.

We didn’t know that we would have three children. Or that there would be two boys and one girl.

We didn’t know that we would move from our first home in Naples,Florida. First to a new city in the center of the state, and then to another city on the opposite coast. Or that we would then cross many state lines and settle down for this season of life in Roanoke, Virginia.

We didn’t know that we would experience heartaches, sicknesses, and deaths.

We didn’t know there would be moments that would test our commitment to each other when life became hard. Those moments when it would be easier to walk away. Those moments when you don’t agree on how life should be done.

But it’s there in those vows.

…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.

Wedding Rings

Marriage is a commitment.

Each person growing and changing.

It takes a choice. Both people have to make that same choice. The choice to stand firm in the words that you spoke.

To find harmony in the ebbs and flows of life.

To love greatly and deeply.

My husband has stood faithfully by my side through my edges of depression, through my moments of anxiety.

He has been my encourager when self-doubt begins to creep in and I begin to tell myself that I am not enough.

He reads my words. He looks at my photos. He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself.

He helps me feel a sense of security when he wraps his arms around me or when he calls me “sweet love”.

He knows me. He sees me. And he chooses to love me.

This is not to say that he is perfect, but this is the place where I share who I am, not everything about those who choose to be a part of my life.


He puts his family at the head of the line.  I don’t know if our children see that now.  Teenagers are fickle beasts. But someday they will know how deeply he loved them and how he has made sacrifices to give them all of the opportunities within his ability to offer.


He has been my partner, my helpmate, my lover, and my friend.

I can’t imagine doing life with anyone else.

So I close this moment of pausing in gratitude for the man who brings spontaneity, laughter, and joy into my life, by sharing this song:

Happy 18th Anniversary to the man who makes me smile at least once a day.

I hope that you all find some smiles in your day!  Offer some of your smiles to those you pass.  You never know what kind of difference you may make.

We all are a little weird. And life is weird. And when we find someone with weirdness whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutual satisfying weirdness - and call it love - true love. Robert Fulghum quote

Let your light shine!





Spring is here: Virginia

Spring is Here : Virginia


No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow – Proverb

Thank goodness!

I’ve been waiting patiently for some green to begin sprouting.

And finally… Southwest Virginia has obliged.



Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat. – Laura Ingalls Wilder

There are vibrant greens reminding me that spring is a time of new growth.

This spring I am growing…. branching out in new ways…starting with my first overseas trip in a week and a half. Amsterdam and Paris are that much closer to having my all of my senses take in their beauty.




In winter, I plot and plan.  In spring, I move. -Henry Rollins

Like the brand new shoots on a tree, I am determined to press through into new growth and emerge as an evolved creation.

One who doesn’t let fear create stagnation.

Who are you and what do you know of the world if you stay in your little box?

I understand that this is fine for some.  In fact, this is joy for some.

For me, I want to experience the world. To see things that I have only imagined. And this requires pressing outside of my comfort zone.


To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just as my yard retains the remnants of fall and winter, I too retain what those seasons have taught me.

Fall has taught me the wonder of letting old things go.  It taught me that change can bring about the most beauty.

Winter has taught me to be grateful.  Grateful for the warmth of a fireplace and cozy blankets. Grateful for the blanket of snow that covers all the ugly and makes it beautiful.


No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. -Hal Borland

And now Spring.

With its tiny buds shooting forth here and there.  The vibrant pink that will give way to the green leaves that will emerge on this tree.

I will continue to grow.


Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own. – Charles Dickens

The blossoms on the crabapple tree in my front yard.  It’s weeping willow style branches  reminding me of an aging grandmother .  Standing there despite its decay, producing beautiful blossoms.  Soon little apples will follow and the deer will come to feed.  A circle produced before my time in this home.  This tree who keeps offering what it can.

I want to be like this tree.  Changing the world in the most imperceptible ways just because I have done what I can to make a difference.


The beautiful spring came; And when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also. -Harriet Ann Jacobs

I stood below this dense canopy of blooms, reminded that we are all a part of the whole.

Our choices have a ripple effect.

What do you choose?

Do you choose kindness? Generosity? Compassion?


Where flowers bloom, so does hope. – Lady Bird Johnson

Each individual CAN make a difference.

Even if it is a smile you offer. Even if it is a helping hand. Even if it is a kind word.

You can make a difference.

You can make the world a little better.

What are you going to do to change the world?


Let your light shine!




I am afraid to show you who I really am, because if I show you who I really am, you might not like it...and that's all I got. Sabrina Ward Harrison quote

Nobody Said Parenting Teenagers Would Be Easy



I’ve never heard it said.

I had thoughts for this post that began to take shape during my shower.

Anyone else have this stream of thoughts when they’re in the shower? Or when you are awakened at 2 in the morning by thoughts?

Or is this just me?

The first two lines of my poem on Tuesday were 2 A.M. thoughts. There was probably more, but I cannot ever pull myself awake enough to grab a pen and paper.

I wasn’t going to write this post because I keep trying to put my blog into a box. And every time I try, my thoughts try to claw their way out of that box. And still, I wasn’t going to write. Until I read this post. I stumbled upon Dee’s blog early in my blogging journey. God has a way of using her posts to get right at my soul. And today’s was no different.

Any other day, I would have just nodded my head in agreement as I read along.

But today… it is to write… to be vulnerable.

Nobody says that parenting teens is easy.  Or even that parenting, in general, is easy.

But with teenagers the message is cryptic.  What do you mean, not easy?

Well I’ll tell you why it’s cryptic.

Because when you are parenting teenagers, there is this fine line between your life and their’s.  And their life has an right to some level of privacy no matter what you’ve chosen for your own.

But I will tell that it is one of the most exhausting seasons of my life thus far.

Moments of being thrust back into the insecurities of my teenage years. Moments of “oh no, they are too much like me” and others of “oh no, they aren’t like me at all”.

When they aren’t actually deeming the need for you to be worried about them, you are worrying about when the next time will come that will deem your worry.

And I’m not talking about major life-altering situations.  Just daily life.

The choices they make each and every day.

I’m not saying that this is everybody’s experience.

This is mine.

I work in a very internalizing way.  I overanalyze. I have a need for control. I don’t like chaos.

None of these are wonderful elements to my personality when dealing with teens.

Teens with minds of their own. Teens who are trying to find their independence. Teens who are figuring out their place in the world.

Raising teens has also made me, at moments, feel like I am at sea…alone.

I feel this need to portray that everything in life is smooth sailing.

To brush off the moments when life feels overwhelming.

To hide the moments when I wonder if I will make it through this season.

I realize it doesn’t have to be that way.

Pelicans in flight… Pt 2 . .Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too a high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. -Ralph Waldo Emerson . . . . . #fiftyshades_of_nature #sheisnotlost #wearetravelgirls #travelgram #travelblogger #travelawesome #instatravel #destinationearth #roamtheplanet #optoutside #birdsofinstagram #pocket_beaches #pocket_allnature #rsa_outdoors #ipulledoverforthis #naturehippys #naturelovers #livefolk #lifeofadventure #liveauthentic #stayandwander #visitnc #exploretocreate #beachvibes #staysalty #modernoutdoors #forgeyourownpath #thehappynow

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I truly believe it takes a village to raise children.  In a lot of cases, that is your surrounding family.  But when you don’t live near them, like in my case, you have to build a village.

Finding that village requires vulnerability.  For a person who rehashes everything they’ve said and wonders if it “came across the way it was meant” or if they were “too open” or “not open enough” this can be very hard.


And it takes time to build a village.

Because you need to feel like you trust the people in your village.

Trust them to care for you.  Trust them not to judge your parenting skills. Trust them not to judge you if your child makes a poor decision.  Trust them to share in your journey.

There are no perfect children.

There are no perfect parents.

Just imperfect people trying to figure out the world as they move along in it.

I love my children fiercely.

I am their biggest cheerleader.

I have no doubt that we will look back at this season and share many laughs.

Because even in the midst of the daily challenges, there is laughter and there is love.


Your story is important.

There is a village willing to listen.

It may require you stepping outside of your comfort zone to find them.

But they are there.

Waiting to embrace you.

Waiting to walk alongside you.

If you haven’t found them yet, I wish you great speed in the journey.


Let your light shine!







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

Atop the World

How’s the view from atop the world?

How’s the view when everything is going your way?

A smile on your face?

A kind word on your lips?

A light shining for all to see?

How’s the view when you’re all alone?

How’s the view when life is caving in?

Do you still radiate the light of a thousand suns?

-Amy Lyon Smith


It’s springtime!

A time for new beginnings.  A time for new growth.

A time for being finished with being sick (I’m crossing my fingers for that one.  I’m finally on the mend.)


The loop road on the Blue Ridge Parkway that leads to Roanoke Mountain has finally opened again and daylight savings means later sunsets.  I haven’t been up there yet, but I’m hoping to get back up there sometime in the next week so I can capture some more sunsets like the two above.

The first photo is from my hike to Dragon’s Tooth . If you missed that post, you can check it out here.

I’ve realized that springtime will be extremely busy for me. Soccer…Vacations…Prom… Parenting teenagers in general.  More than anything I need to be fully present during this time in their lives. My first and foremost job is mothering my children through this rocky, crazy, all-consuming phase of teenage years.

As such, I will probably be scaling back from posting  3-4 days per week to 2 days a week, over the course of the spring.  I want to leave enough space to still have time to communicate with all the wonderful people I’ve met through Blogging, Instagramming and other social media outlets.

If you aren’t already following me on Instagram, you can find me here.  I usually post a photo a day over there. 🙂

Looking forward to sharing my crazy, jam-packed spring with all of you.

And catching and spreading a little sunshine along the way.


Let your light shine!