What does your chill time look like?

What does your chill time look like?

Chill. Relax.

Chillax.

Where, or when, or how, or with whom, do you find this place?

That’s what Nikki over at Flying Through Water has asked us to ponder this week.

Originally, I thought I’d say yoga.

Yoga Namaste

I shared a little about how yoga has been transformative in my life in this post. My practice mainly consists of Bodyflow classes at my gym, which is similar to some power yoga that I have taken.

I’ve been considering doing more with my practice after finding that I really enjoyed my Pilates class that focused on breath work. I don’t often practice at home because I like the verbal cues that keep me focused on the present moment. I’ve even thought I would enjoy teacher training, not because I have any desire to teach, but because then I would learn more of the depth of yoga from somebody with knowledge.

Yes. I do find my chill in yoga. My moments in savasana center me.

But I also have other places that I find my chill. And recently, I spent some time pondering them. I know some people going through some heavy stuff and sometimes after turning their heavy stuff around in my mind (because turning and turning is what I do), I find myself needing moments to analyze the meaning of life.

To examine my life.

To just be.

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And so yesterday… I just was.

I came home from Pilates and made Miss Sunshine breakfast. As I popped open the can of biscuits, I thought about how I should learn to make biscuits so there wouldn’t be all these strange ingredients. I watched as the bacon sizzled in my cast iron pan, waiting for it to get to the crispy, almost burnt way Miss Sunshine likes it. I cracked open the egg, popped its yolk, waiting until I knew the moment to flip it over. I put it all on the biscuit for Miss Sunshine.

I helped Miss Sunshine gather her things to meet some friends. I dropped her off.

I came home and made my late riser, Mr. D, some breakfast. I watched the bacon sizzle, remembering to take it off well before my crispy preference. As I placed it on the plate, I watched as it still sizzled. I cracked two eggs into the skillet, careful not to bust the yolk, watching for that moment to flip and finish out the over-medium eggs.

I did not go on Instagram (which for me is rare) and spent little time in the blog world. I needed a break from the pressure of trying to achieve. I was very open in this post about how part of my blogging journey was about discovering a passion that would eventually yield some form of income. And sometimes, I need to step back and reassess if I’m still walking and spending time on the path that feels like a soul call.

I did not do any of my 20 minute bursts of decluttering.

I read and read and read.

I studied some subjects of interest online and climbed deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of my insatiable thirst for knowledge.

I stood on my back porch while the puppy played with sticks and blew bubbles. I watched as the wind carried them and the sun made the magentas, and blues, and greens swirl round and round.

I was reminded of two photos taken while in Scotland.

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An evening stroll took us onto the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. In the pedestrian area there were people everywhere. And amongst them, a man creating giant bubbles that the children loved to chase.

Bubble blowing of this magnitude is unusual to me. I do not live somewhere this is commonplace, and yet I also saw a man creating the same gigantic bubbles in Vondelpark while I was in Amsterdam.

For me, these moments create a connection in humanity.

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That wherever we are, we find beauty and joy in something as simple as a bubble floating on the air.

As I thought about where I find my chill, I realized I find it in the little moments.

The moments where I am fully present.

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The little moments that take my breath away.

The little moments that make me grateful to be alive.

Yesterday somebody looked through quite a few of my old posts. I don’t know if they actually read them, but I went back and read quite a few of the ones they clicked on.

I can see how I’ve grown.

I can also see how I’m the same.

Ever deep in thought…always seeking the simplicity…learning to find the beauty in the chaos.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

What's in a {nick}name?

What’s in a {nick}name?

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I’ve been thinking about nicknames lately. Anybody else do that? Just ponder nicknames? What they are? How they’ve come about?

Anybody?

Anybody?

My husband gives out lots of nicknames. To people, to animals, sometimes to objects (this is where I practice the art of mind reading when he asks where said object is located).

Over the years I have been given many nicknames… Sweet Pea, June Bug, and most recently Sweet Love.

Other times, the nicknames are less cute: take “Wookiee” for instance. I suspect this one came from the fact that my mother has always called me “Amy Woo Woo”. However, I was not enamored by being called Wookiee by my husband. It did not evoke feelings of love from me. It took pointing out that this was a giant, hairy creature (even if they are cute) to curb that nickname.

And also, not responding when called it.

But his nicknames always come from a place of love and add to the charm that is him.

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When I chose the names of my children, I wanted to be sure that people couldn’t change up their given names. One of their names can technically be shortened, but I didn’t realize it at the time. That name belongs to the child that I claim named himself.

I’ve been pondering nicknames for some time because I leave my children anonymous in this space. The oldest has not chosen to remain completely anonymous, but when I started this blog, he was pursuing YouTube edits and Instagram growth, and now that he isn’t pursuing those things I find myself less active in putting his name out there.

While I don’t really have an issue with “the girlie”, calling my boys “the oldest” and “the middle son” leaves me with a distaste in my mouth.

Mostly it bothers me for my middle child. The second son. Only 17 1/2 months younger than his brother and 26 months older than his sister. This sometimes no-man’s land of discovering your role. I doubt he’ll ever read my words, but just in case he should ever look back at this blog and read his mother’s words, I want him to have an identify. Not just the nebulous “middle son” as his title.

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Our teenagers have nicknames given over the years.

Most of them are used here and there and are plays on their name, which really wouldn’t work in this space.

My middle son has nicknames based on his first name and also ones based on his middle name, a name that his father loved so much that it had to be included in the Smith line.

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At 6’5″, and with a size 15/16 shoe, the oldest is often called Bigfoot by his friends.

But I have a different name in mind. A name his father has called him consistently over his 17 years:

Big Mr.

And along with that, the nickname that has been consistently used for our next child:

Mr. D.

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The girlie is often called “squirrel” by her dad.

I have no idea why.

But in fairness to the fact that she isn’t a hairy creature (even if they are cute), I will continue along with my previous theme and she will be:

Miss Sunshine.

Identity is an important facet of human beings. It helps us mark our place in this giant world. While plenty of people are happy living their lives behind the scenes, quietly going about their business, they still have a name.

A name mostly likely chosen by someone who knew them. Someone who looked down upon their face and said:

“Your name is….”

Big Mr… Mr. D… Miss Sunshine…

Even a {nick}name offers a glimpse into identity.

Do you have a nickname? A preferred name? Did you keep your chosen name or trade it for another?

What does a name mean to you?


Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh my! We've Grown...

Oh My! We’ve Grown…

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No.

I don’t mean that I’ve grown from all the sweets and cocktails that I had while at the beach.

Actually… paired with all the lounging that I did, I might have.

I’m still playing catch up on emails…so thanks for bearing with my slow responses!

But the truth is…

I’ve been keeping a little secret.

Mostly because I’m a “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” kinda gal.

But our family has grown.

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Meet Maverick.

The goldendoodle who moved into his new home with us on July 1st.

The girlie chose his name, and named him after the Maverick’s surf break in California.

She is a big lover of surfing.

 

And a lover of dogs.

She had already been asking to add to our family prior to loss of our yorkiepoo, Kiwi. And she had it in mind that we should add a larger dog. We had lost our Golden Retriever, Nikki, to cancer in 2015. So she did lots of homework on dog breeds and had her heart set on a Goldendoodle. While they aren’t technically hypoallergenic, they do have a tendency to shed a little less than a Golden Retriever. All that fur shedding was a nemesis of mine that I didn’t want to reintroduce into my home. Plus, one of my children does have allergies that flare when visiting the homes of friends who have cats and/or dogs.

I was not on the addition of a dog bandwagon. They require me planning trips, outings, etc.. around them even more so than my teenagers require. But I knew when we suddenly lost Kiwi that the girlie would not want to be dogless all the way until college (she’s heading into 8th grade in the fall).

So I conceded to the fact that we would be adding to our family. I received pictures of every one she found while I was in Scotland.

But the original plan was to add to the family in August. That way I would commit to being home and she would still be out of school and able to deal with middle of the night awakenings and bathroom needs.

You know what they say about the best laid plans…

Here was the dog we’d been looking for and we didn’t have to drive six hours to bring him home.

And yes, he does have his own Instagram, maintained by the girlie.

During quite a bit of my lounging on the beach, I practiced mindfulness.

I focused on my breathing while the waves crashed and the sea breeze fluttered across my face.

I breathed deeply and slowly.

I practiced staying in that moment.

I practiced calming myself. Reducing my tendencies toward stress and anxiety.

I prepared for the moment that we would bring another living creature into our home.

And now I put that mindfulness into practice.

When he tries to get into things he shouldn’t

Or chew on something not allowed.

Or during those moments when I find myself back to the sleepless nights of early motherhood.

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But he’s worth it!

Life is a journey to be experience, not a problem to be solved. -Winnie the Pooh

Let your light shine!

Amy

Quiet Reflections from the Beach

Quiet Reflections from the Beach

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Today is Day 4 of our vacation at the beach.

We are in Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Sand dunes…sea oats…and salt marshes.

The beach is such a recharging place for my soul.

The ocean waves crashing.

The pelicans dipping low onto the horizon, skimming the surface, looking for their next meal.

The seagulls swooping down to search for a stray piece of food left along the shore.

The breeze gently blowing, lightly scented, carrying the salt that lands upon your lips.

 

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The world seems late in waking up when you are on beach time.

I think that’s because the revelrie lasts well into the evening.

Given the fact that I have three teenagers, our mornings start late as well.

So quite often, I sit on the balcony, sipping my coffee, basking in the silence, and watch the world come awake.

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I walk to the shore before the crowds of people begin to claim their spots.

An ocean in constant motion.

Ebbing and flowing.

Just like life.

Moments of frantic and moments of peace.

Sometimes the waves come in and gently kiss the shore.

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Other times, they demand that their presence be acknowledged.

I am reminded that we humans have a tendency to be like the waves.

Quiet and gentle.

Loud and attention seeking.

Ever changing.

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I watch my daughter as she surfs.

She feels a kinship with the ocean as well.

While I admire its gentle nature, she embraces its power.

I have watched her surf the ocean waves since she was in the single digits.

And now, at 13, I begin to see the disappearance of a child and the emergence of a woman.

And as the waves lap at the shore, I am reminded that although the ocean feels timeless, our time is marching on. My children are daily approaching adulthood. The oldest will be a high school Senior in the fall. Less than a year and he will likely pack his clothes and precious belongings and place his head under a new roof. My second son is only one year behind. The girlie following two years after that.

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And then what?

I watch the sun set on the beach.

The ending of the day.

And I ponder life.

Who will I become as the journey of all-consuming motherhood comes to an end?

I long to embrace the next chapter as fully as I have embraced this one.

To find that next soul pulling phase that tells me…

This is who I am now called to be.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evanescent 


ev·a·nes·cent [evəˈnes(ə)nt]- adj.

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

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

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

Evanaescent is the choice for this week. 


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

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

An integral part of her life. 

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

An integral part of her life.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Let your light shine!

Amy

What Is Your Mantra?

What Is Your Mantra?

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

I am changing.

I am learning to live out my mantra.

I am learning how to let my light shine.

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

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

Moments of Gratitude

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Reflect (verb) | think deeply or carefully about.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Let your light shine!

Amy