Why I Celebrate International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day.

I often talk about my beliefs of the equal rights for women. I keep it no secret that while I have chosen what many consider a “traditional” role for a woman (stay-at-home mom, household manager, chauffeur…take your pick of the many of things I do), it is exactly that…A CHOICE.

A choice that I realize is a privilege.

And a choice, at varying moments over the years, with which I have struggled.

Why I Celebrate.

The question becomes… why do I celebrate?

I have spoken on reasons why this day is important to me. You can find my thoughts in 2017 hereand in 2016 here.

But perhaps to fully understand why I celebrate International Women’s Day, my own background may help, lest you think I only speak from a place of current privilege.

My background.

Many of you know that I just finished reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I found that I could relate in so many ways even though there were plenty of ways in which I couldn’t.

I recognized my dad in her father. Not in the erratic, alcoholic side of Rex Walls. My parents drink once a year, if that. It was the genius and nonconformist side of Rex. It was also his belief in his daughter.

My dad once told me that in the world there are leaders and that there are followers and that I was a leader

…and I believed him.

My parents never once told me that there was something that I couldn’t achieve.

I don’t know if I had lofty expectations.

Surely, I didn’t dream that someday I’d be sitting, in the middle of an optical illusion, on a bridge in Paris, with my own daughter.

I just did what I was good at…doing well in school.


I never assumed that I wouldn’t go to college. It felt like a given that I would. And so I did. I graduated high school in 1994, I was sixteen and the thought of heading away seemed overwhelming. I decided that I would attend community college and maybe by the time  I finished I’d know what I wanted to be when I grew up.



I was the first person in my immediate family to attend college. Actually, I was the first to graduate high school in a traditional manner. I graduated sixth in my class and since the local community college awarded a full tuition scholarship for 60 credit hours to the highest academics in the school…and everyone else ranking above me was heading off somewhere else…I received the award.

In the past, I mentioned that I also received a scholarship from a local Women’s Club, which I used to pay for my books. I was also awarded enough financial aid, that it took care of all my other costs.

Due to the fact that I am extremely uncomfortable with new situations, I never met with an academic advisor. I just moved through the list of requirements for an Associates of the Arts degree.



I remember wanting to quit college. I remember telling my dad that I wanted to quit. And he told me “just quit then”. Now I’m sure most of you are thinking this is bad advice. However, my dad knew me, and he knew that I didn’t give up once I set my mind to something. Through tears, I told him that I couldn’t quit. He told me that I could and that the reality was that I didn’t WANT to quit.

He was right.

I was on the Dean’s List and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa (not the first time I was asked because…again…uncomfortable).

After checking off boxes, I finished up in the fall of 1995, after a year and half, and put in for graduation for my A.A. I was barely 18.

Take Your Daughter To Work.

The spring before that graduation, my aunt had taken me with her for Take Your Daughter To Work Day. She worked for a Dermatologist. I spent the day there and I loved it. He had a transition happening, so he hired me part time on a temporary basis. I mostly worked the front desk, but I did get to be an assistant in a hair transplant surgery!


First Real Job.

I had always loved math and science, but then I knew that I loved the medical field. The temporary basis came to an end. I didn’t know what I wanted to study. Plus, I still wasn’t prepared to leave home so I got a job at the hospital, working in a Rehab unit. I was fascinated by the Physical Therapists and talked with them about the schooling. Dissecting cadavers and the burn unit made me nervous. I know now that I would have been able to handle things, but hindsight is 20/20.

Back to College.

I decided I would become a Pharmacist. So I got a part-time job (along with maintaining my full-time job) at a 24 hour pharmacy and worked two 10 hour shifts over the weekend as a pharmacy tech. Then, I put in my notice at the hospital and re-enrolled at the community college in 1997.

However, what I didn’t know and hadn’t been told, was that once you put in for graduation at the community college, you aren’t eligible for financial aid at the community college level any longer. A person in my life at the time helped me scrape together the money for that semester, but I had to withdraw from Biology because of the schedule and I needed to get another job to pay for life. I finished out my Chemistry and Trigonometry classes, but by the end had decided I was not going to become a Pharmacist.

I did not like the automation of the medicine.I would have loved it back in mortar and pestle days. As it was my favorite part was learning how to read the meniscus.


The second part-time job I got during that semester in college turned into a full-time job. It was at a MRI facility. I thought about going back to school to be a MRI tech, but then life happened along. I switched jobs. Met my husband. Came back to that job when the day shift opened. Then I had my first child in 2000.

You might think that I easily went into being a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t. I wanted to be one, but I’d also never had a point in life where I wasn’t earning my own money. I’d been working since I was 14. When my son was 6 or 7 months old, I took a job in the nursery at the local YMCA because I could bring him with me.

Stay At Home Mom.

And then I got pregnant with my second son. I had complications in the beginning of my first pregnancy. Pains that made them check to make sure it wasn’t ectopic. It obviously wasn’t, but I was told to take it easy to avoid a miscarriage. When the pains started with the second pregnancy, the doctor advocated that I even avoid carrying around the oldest too much. He was 9 months old, so complete avoidance wasn’t going to happen. Since I couldn’t pick up any kids in the nursery and the diaper changes of other people’s kids were doing a number on my morning sickness, I resigned.

We would add our youngest, Miss Sunshine, in 2003. I sometimes thought about going back to school, but I also loved being home with my children. In 2010, the nearby community college changed to a state college and added some Bachelor’s programs.

Back to School.

That was how we found ourselves moving over to Stuart, Florida. I had many reasons for wanting to go back to school. But if I’m honest, one of them was because I wanted my children to realize that I was intelligent. It may seem silly, but that means something to me. It was my one claim to success in my formative years. I also wanted them to know that different choices are always possible. I enrolled for the Bachelor of Biology with a concentration on Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (I don’t know if that’s still offered), but even with 68 credit hours, I still was missing some lower level classes. So after 13+ years of being out of college, I took Chemistry and Statistics. When I aced them, I felt a real sense of pride.

At the time my dream was to go to work for some of the local biomedical facilities. They were touting the Treasure Coast as the Research Coast. If you don’t know…I love research. However, I came to realize that it’s mostly interns in many of those places. I thought I’d supplement the Biology degree with a way to actually earn income. Even though I wanted to work in a medical laboratory, the pay for that degree isn’t that well. I started considering a Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner, so I thought I’d get a nursing degree. After taking Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Nutrition, and some Psychology based classes, I changed my mind. I believe nursing is a calling…and I have not been called. About that time, life changed. We moved to Virginia. I wasn’t about to pay out of state tuition.

After a year, I sent for my transcript papers. Where they still sit in the filing cabinet. Unopened. I decided not to return to school because I found other passions and we also have three teenagers to put through college. Sometimes I worry that people think less of me because of my educational background.

I have learned to live with that.


I don’t know exactly how many credit hours I have. Probably over 90. I think less than 100.

I’m not sure because I haven’t broken the seal.

They sit there…waiting…in case I change my mind.

Being a Woman.

That is one of the reasons I celebrate International Women’s Day.

Because nowhere in that story was the decision not mine. Nothing about being a woman changed my options.

It is because of the way paved by other women that I had the freedom to make each of those choices. There wasn’t any choice which was prevented by the mere fact that I am a woman.

I’m sure there are many out there who would have made different choices. And that is okay.

Isn’t it wonderful to have that option?

Not everyone does.

Which is why women will keep fighting to be seen as equal.

Having a Daughter.

I also celebrate because I have a daughter. I often use her as a muse in my photography. Whether its captured unbeknownst to her as in the shots of her in Paris or when she willingly helps me create my vision like in the canal shot in Amsterdam, I am always in awe of her.

Miss Sunshine has dreams and visions and goals.

She heartily pursues them without any regard to her gender.

She is even stronger than I consider myself to be.

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Most of my regular readers know that Miss Sunshine plays soccer. She has played since the age of seven. We went through a hard transition when she was 13 and the U.S. Youth Soccer changed the age guidelines. She went from being the oldest on the team to being one of the youngest.

The transition also made her miss the first year that the field transitions from being 8v8 to 11v11. She found herself moved from a forward to a defender and she worked hard to learn the role. I live the behind the scenes. I know all the dynamics of the shift. But she did what she does, she persevered.

I love this shot of her during warm-ups. They were playing one of their league competitors and decided to put on war paint.

It reminds me of the quote:

Fate whispers to the warrior, “you cannot withstand the storm”

The warrior whispers back, “I am the storm”. -unknown

Self Assured.

I have taught my daughter that if she finds a glass ceiling, she should break it.

She should pursue her dreams with no regard to the naysayers.

I have spoken in the past about the fact that at this time she wants to be an Engineer. She’s 14 and that may change many times before she decides on a path. It may even change many times while on a path.

There is great freedom in that reality.

Locally we have some part-time specialty high schools. She has applied to two and while she is waiting to hear from one, she has been accepted into the Engineering Based one.

Part of application process was to come up with an invention that could be patented and describe the materials, cost, building process, and usage.

While I’m not sharing her invention…I have to say…I love how her mind works.

So today I celebrate all those women before me who fought and all those women who continue to fight to be acknowledged as equals.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Let your light shine!


wpc: story

American Made


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.


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.


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.


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!


Love and Death

Love And Death


Everybody loves a good love story.


Well, my parent’s love story got its official start (according to the court) on this day 41 years ago. I always had my mom tell me their love story when I was younger. I thought it so romantic. I was the type of girl who dreamed of lifelong love…of some deep soul connection. I did find a connection that spoke at my soul level and have been married to that man for almost 19 years. I’m so happy that my parents have loved each other for so long. They’ve taught me about the hard work that goes into a marriage. They’ve shown me about commitment through their own life together.


I wrote about my parent’s love story last year. You can find that post here.

What I didn’t share in that post is that it also the day that my Grandma Reva died in 2013.

That was because I have this mixed emotion on this day. There is this joy for love…love that created me. There is also sadness for loss…loss that shaped me.


Rock Castle Gorge Trail

If you’ve followed my blog for some time then you already know that she was a major source of love and wisdom for me. She was type of person that everyone was drawn to. Her enthusiasm for people and for life was contagious. She taught me life lessons in the way she interacted with what life threw her way. She forgave people freely. I still can recall a specific conversation where I would have harbored resentment and her response was “their choices are between them and God.” I was in my early teens and that conversation still replays in my mind when I want to stay angry when I feel slighted or wronged. She was also one of my biggest cheerleaders.

I’ve shared before that I struggled as she was dying. Death had not been a big part of my experience in life before 2013. My father-in-law had lost his battle with cancer that February. That day is also associated with another memory, which I shared in this post. That, along with some other things, became the catalyst for our move to Virginia. A move that, although I knew in my heart was right, I had a deep struggle with. I would FaceTime with my grandma and did a video tour of the house we were living in at the time. She was so happy for me. She was more concerned for my contentment than the fact that she was dying.

I dreamed of her last night. A strange dream. But most of my dreams are. In the dream, I was going through photos that I had not seen. I don’t know if I had been the photographer or if I was just organizing them. I was putting them in a series and editing words on them to create a story. The photos were a series of attempts in which she was trying to do a handstand. I remembered thinking it so strange because she was in a wheelchair for many years before her death. The hip replacements had long needed replaced again, but her heart was not strong enough for surgery. What I focused on in the dream was her outfit because it was dissimilar to those of her children, who were also in the photos. She had on white pants and a multi-colored shirt. I can remember it had blues in it.

As I tried to process the dream after I awoke, the thought struck me that the outfit was similar to what she wore to my wedding.

In the photo from my wedding, she is pictured with my grandfather (whose ancestry led to our trip to Scotland) and their four children. From left to right: my uncle, my aunt, my grandparents, my mother, and my aunt, the one who traveled to Scotland with my mom and me (she was also my matron of honor).

It felt like an acknowledgement to love.

Remembering my special day, my parent’s special day, and a special person who was present at both.

The Gulf of Mexico in Naples, Florida from the pier

Grief is a strange thing. Sometimes it comes upon you, unexpected. Other times, like today, you know it’s going to be there. There are still moments when I want to call her up and tell her what’s going on or get her advice on a struggle that I’m having. Moments where I want to show her the photographs I’ve taken or the words that I’ve written. Moments where I just want to hear her voice or kiss her cheek.

Even though the sadness creeps into the edges of my day, I feel infinitely blessed to have had her for as long as I did.

Amy Lyon Smith with her grandma and mother

36 years of her pouring out her grace, her strength, and her peace over my life.

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



Let your light shine!


Going Back to My Roots.... Airdrie Scotland

Going Back to My Roots…Airdrie Scotland

Today is my mama’s birthday!!

The one who nurtured me in her womb. The one who labored to bring me into this world. The one who cradled me in her arms. The one who whispered words of strength into my ears at every moment that I doubted myself.

Last year, I wrote more of a poetic style post in honor of her special day. You can read that hereThis year, I’ve decided to honor her by writing a little about our Scottish roots. As you know, in May, my mother and I (along with my aunt) traveled to Scotland. This was my mother’s first time stepping onto foreign soil.

There are studies out there that say certain memories are written on our DNA. My gut instinct (though I’m no scientist) is that a pull to your ancestral homeland is one of these memories.  You may recall that my ethnicity according to Ancestry.com is 79% British and 10% Irish. My mother is 85% British and 9% Irish. While your parents do each contribute 50% of their DNA, the makeup of that contribution varies. Which is why siblings can have differing percentages of a certain ethnicity. If my dad were to take the test, I suspect he’d have more Irish than my mother since I have a wee bit more than her.

Scotland has always been intricately linked to our knowledge of our heritage. However, that Scottish heritage was through my maternal grandfather, Andrew McLachlan Scott (1922-2011) and he was somewhat of an enigma. He stood over 6 foot tall, had piercing blue eyes, and a tattoo of a cross and flowers that said “mother” along with the initial R.S. (for my grandmother) on his arm. He raced motorcycles in “Hound and Hare” races across the California desert. My mother would interview him before he passed away and we have a great collection of tales,but he only knew little bits and pieces of his family history.

We knew that he had been born in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, Canada and that he had arrived in Los Angeles (his family sponsored by an uncle already living there) when he was about 18 months old.  His mother had been born in Wigan, England and emigrated to Nova Scotia as child. She died at the age of 37. One month after my grandfather turned 10. His memory of her was little fragments here and there. His father was born in Holytown, Scotland and emigrated to Nova Scotia with his family as a teen.  His paternal grandmother, Agnes McLachlan Scott, would come to live with them at some point along the way. Her heavy Scottish accent would have the neighborhood children asking my Grandfather if she was speaking English.

She would be the one that would help lead us down the course of discovering some of our history. This was because, even though she died in 1944, she left records that we were able to use. I always felt a kinship to her because in her “Declaration of Intention” for U.S. Citizenship, which was signed in 1925 (affirming amongst other things that she was not an anarchist nor a polygamist), she was 64 years old and stood at 5’6″.  I read this as a teen, during a time when I struggled over the fact that I towered over most of my peers. (While 5’8″ is not that tall in today’s world, I attended a high school where I could literally see over most people’s heads as I walked the halls). I always wanted to be shorter. Until I read that declaration. I always liked to imagine that was a pretty regal height for that time. That perhaps my height came from those enigmatic Scottish roots.

The document that we possessed that many years later would send us to a little town in Scotland was this one:


The Certificate of Proclamation.

In Scotland, banns were proclaimed in church for three successive Sundays prior to a marriage in case there was any impediment to the marriage.

My mother also has the Certificate of Proclamation that was proclaimed in Airdrie, but this certificate gave a physical address for where my great-great grandmother was living.

We knew that the landscape of Airdrie had changed since the days of coal mining, but we still wanted to walk the streets and perhaps see the church in which they’d been married (if we could discover which that was).

If you’ll recall from this post, our initial plan to travel there while in Glasgow was not possible due to a train disruption.

Instead, we traveled from Edinburgh on the day prior to flying home. The trains run from Glasgow to Edinburgh every 7 minutes. However, Airdrie is not a stop along each line. We also thought we’d be visiting Caldercruix due to it being listed on the certificate. This meant a very specific train. The staff at the train ticket offices were amazing during our entire usage of the rail system while in Scotland. They knew how to get you to all the stops that you wanted to make and the cheapest way to accomplish that. Since there were three of us, quite often it was cheaper to buy a roundtrip Groupsaver ticket.


I did love how all of the stops also had the Gaelic name.

Since Gaelic was originally spoken, not written, there are varying interpretations of what Airdrie originally meant. Most interpretations involve it being a high area. In fact, Airdrie is built across seven hills : Airdriehill, Cairnhill, Gartleahill, Flowerhill, Holehill, Golfhill, and Scarhill.

After alighting from the train (my mother loved that at each stop the train would announce “mind the gap when alighting from the train”), our first stop would be the Discovery Room at the Airdrie Library. The first thing we discovered was that we needed to have a very specific search. You pay for the help of the librarian in that room.

So we headed back down to the main part of the library to narrow down our notes to specifics. The day happened to be June 6th. The time just before 11 am. We were able to join in with all those around us, as well as all of Britain, in the minute of silence held for the victims of the London Bridge attack. It was very emotional to be this foreigner participating in this moment… on their lands. Almost like a sacred space to which, as an outsider, I’d been invited into to come alongside and share in their grief and horror.

Once we had our questions together, we returned upstairs. 1881 census records told us that Agnes McLachlan Scott lived on Flowerhill Street, along with her mother Agnes Baird McLachlan and some siblings. Through the microfilm records in the Discovery Room of the library, we were able to get an actual address.

We were interested in walking up Flowerhill street, because we knew from the 1841 census records that Agnes Baird McLachlan also lived on this street when she was a five year-old, and that her father, James Baird was a Hand Loom Weaver, which we would see as the same occupation for Agnes Baird McLachlan at the age of 15 on the 1851 census.

Airdrie was known for its weaving community during that time. Nearly every weaver had his own home and garden. My mother purchased a copy of a photo of what the homes would have looked at that time. Those homes mostly having been replaced by apartment buildings.

The librarian helped us learn how to maneuver the Scotland’s People website and even found the marriage certificate for Agnes McLachlan and James Scott. We learned that they were Baptist and that they had been married at 38 Shanks Street, her home, not at a church as we’d previously thought. We think this was due to the fact that the Baptist Church located in Airdrie hadn’t been completed at the time of their marriage. However, the name of the pastor doesn’t align with that Church and we haven’t been able to discover where he may have ministered.

We looked at some old maps of Airdrie to see what it may have looked like at the time.

I’ve highlighted the areas that we planned to walk around.  Our starting location was in the lower left of this map, out of view.


Given that we had not eaten lunch, we popped into Chunky Monkeys Coffee on Anderson Street.

I kept seeing advertisements for Appletiser, so I decided that I must try one before leaving the U.K. It was tasty. It was a very cold and rainy day, so my aunt opted for hot chocolate covered in marshmallows and a warm soup. My mom and I split a sandwich because we may or may not (definitely may) have been saving room for one of the decadent treats in the display case. After fueling up, we went to brave the rain. This was the rainiest day of our entire time in Scotland.


So rainy that this is the only photo that I pulled out my camera to take. And you know how I love some good architecture! This is a Category B building dated 1920 and erected from Red Ashlar Sandstone. We passed this building located at 56 Stirling Street more than once and this was taken at the end of our time there, after I crossed the street to return to the train station.

The walk to Flowerhill is uphill… like are we going to get to the top uphill. I had already visited Stirling Castle with my aunt and mother so I had no doubt that their legs would accomplish this feat….but that rain! Our raincoats kept us dry, but our legs and feet were at the mercy of the sideways rains. My iPhone was loaded with Google or Apple maps directing our footsteps. Once I attempted to switch to the camera, but realized that some water had found an entrance into the case and that the touchscreen had been rendered useless. I was horrified that I may have ruined my phone, and even more concerned that we might indeed get lost if the phone quit working. My mother had a mini umbrella that was supposed to withstand wind. It almost lost the battle, but it did hold up while I removed my case, dried my phone and put it back together.

We admired the land surrounding Flowerhill Street and then continued on, a school crossing guard helping us make it across the busy roundabout at the top. We passed Central Park and then discovered there would be some more uphill climbing before reaching our final destination.

Shanks Street.

Though the homes are not the same, it was an amazing feeling that after having traveled so far and having spent the afternoon slogging through the rain, we had arrived.

Arrived at this little intersection of the world that had called our name for so many years.

Walked across land that had once held vows spoken upon its air.

Vows of a life together…vows that would begin a family. Vows that would take that family across the ocean to a place where a son would meet the woman that he loved. In that love, they would have a family. A family that they would take across the border into a new land to the place where a son would meet a Los Angeles beauty who used to kiss the sailors coming into port. Their love would ultimately give birth to four children. Number three would would fall in love with a long-haired Floridian boy in 1976. This love would produce two children. Of which, I am the first.

And it all began on Shanks Street.

Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell. -Louisa May Alcott

Let your light shine!



Street Corners of Amsterdam

Street Corners of Amsterdam


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

Street Corners of Amsterdam.

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

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

Strolling Along.

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

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

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


I love to see the architecture.

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

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

History and Ancestry.

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

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

Van Husum.

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

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

United States of America.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Street corners hold thousands of daily tales.

Do yours have any to tell?

Let your light shine!



wpc: corner

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Glasgow, Scotland

Oh how I love thee.

When I traveled to Scotland with my mother and aunt at the end of May, we broke up the trip into 3 stays… 2 nights in Edinburgh (since that’s where the plane was landing), 2 nights in Glasgow, and then 3 nights in Edinburgh (since we were flying out from here). While we were trying to plan the trip, we had no idea what we would truly accomplish given that we were relying on public transportation. Since Edinburgh had easy access for our day up to Stirling Castle and a lot of well known spots to visit, we made that our longer home base.

Our trip to Glasgow was mainly genealogy based. We knew that we’d take the train to Airdrie to visit the library there and walk the streets that my great-great grandparents (Agnes McLachlan & James Scott) had walked. We knew that Agnes’s father, Hugh McLachlan, was born in Glasgow, but most of the ancestry information we had at the time was from small towns surrounding Glasgow.

We arrived in Glasgow on a Friday morning and took our bags to the hotel. We had purchased our train tickets to Airdrie along with our train to Glasgow that morning prior  to leaving Edinburgh. There are two train stations in Glasgow, Central Station and Queen Street Station. We had arrived at Queen Street so that is where we returned to head to Airdrie. We didn’t see it listed so asked an attendant who told us that we needed to leave from Central Station.  They aren’t too far apart so we walked there and again no train to Airdrie. It did indeed run from Queen Street, but there was a service disruption. I went through the process of getting our tickets refunded, all the while conscious that my mother was on the verge of tears. This was our only day to get to Airdrie from Glasgow since the research library is only open Tuesday through Friday. Over lunch, we decided to make the trip from Edinburgh to Airdrie on Tuesday and to make the most of the time that we had in Glasgow.

We could already tell that the architecture was stunning. There is a palpable difference between Glasgow and Edinburgh, even in the architecture. I can’t put my finger on it because I am not a historical or architectural expert. The only way I can describe the difference with the architecture would be that Glasgow’s is “more imposing” or “masculine” and even that would not properly explain it.

My mother and I decided to visit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. After the exhausting morning, we planned to take a taxi. However, we walked a block too far past the taxi stand. So a mile and a half walk it was! As we got close, our approach brought us through Kelvingrove Park, which was originally created as the West End Park in 1852.


The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is located on the west end of the city.

We entered from the Park side. There are also elevators located here.

Kelvingrove Art Galley and Museum first opened in 1901. In 2003, it underwent a refurbishment and reopened in 2006.


The first piece that we came upon was Floating Heads by Sophie Cave.

I had previously seen that this sculpture was located at the Kelvingrove.

Over 50 heads with different facial expressions suspended from the ceiling of the foyer.


And while the masks are white, the lighting accenting them changes colors and makes you notice something different about them each time.


Also, once you start climbing the the grand staircase to the second floor, you begin to notice the different expressions of those faces at the higher levels.

Kelvingrove contains 22 galleries and displays 8,000 objects.

We did not even begin to have time to take in all of the astonishing collections.

There were works by the Scottish artists, collectively known as the Glasgow Boys. There was beautiful sculpture by George Lawson. I spied a Rembrandt as well as one  of their most well-known pieces… Christ of St. John of the Cross by Salvador Dali. I have not typically been a fan of Dali because Surrealism is just not my preference, but I did love this piece.


That’s one of the things that I love about art. There are endless ways to create. We will be drawn to some and not to others. We may stand in the same room as another human who loves what we perceive as unattractive.

I’m not a fan of pretending to know what the artist or writer intended from their work unless they have specifically shared their intent. At that point, your opinion is subjective and no more correct than anyone else’s. I am, however, a fan of finding art that I find to be beautiful… whether that be in words, on a canvas, in a photo, in music, in architecture, or in the way that nature creates a scene so spectacular that we could only begin to fathom creating something as divine.


The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is amongst the top three free-to-enter visitor attractions in Scotland, and one of the most visited museums in the United Kingdom outside of London.

We left the Museum because it was closing. Otherwise, we would have spent many more hours strolling around. We exited on the Argyll Street side.

The building is stunning in its coloring and architectural details.

The beautiful red sandstone came from the Locharbriggs Quarry in Dumfries, Scotland. The architecture combines a variety of styles, but is most commonly referred to as Spanish Baroque. It is a category ‘A’ listed building.



Besides a slight crop, neither of these two exterior shots from Argyll Street have had any post-processing. I attribute this both to the amazing light and to my Sony Alpha 7II, which produces crisp shots even when shooting hand-held.

Sometimes we would imagine our family walking these streets of Glasgow. We thought perhaps that sometimes there would be a reason to come to the big city. Since then we’ve found that my 3rd great-grandfather, Hugh McLachlan’s parents (Hugh McLachlan and Mary McLachlan) were married in Glasgow on October 7, 1827. At the time, Hugh is listed as a Seaman. Given that the Hugh that is my 3rd great-grandfather was born in Glasgow in 1835, it would appear that my 4th great-grandparents did indeed walk the streets of Glasgow for some time. I’ve not found the death records for Hugh or Mary, but at the time of Hugh’s (3gg) death in Airdrie in 1881, his deceased father’s occupation was listed as a Private Coachman.

Perhaps he never left Glasgow?

No wonder Glasgow felt so much like home.

Next time I return, I will definitely spend more than two days in Glasgow.

From the Kelvingrove, we would walk to the grounds of the University of Glasgow… but that’s for another day.

Let your light shine!


Are you Irish? DNA testing

Are you Irish? 


Kiss me, I’m Irish.

Just kidding about the kiss me part.  Not about the Irish part. (I love snapchat filters!)



St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner.

A celebration of the patron saint of Ireland.


DNA Testing.

Today, I’m going to share a little about my DNA, history, and ancestry. And some news I’ve been dying to share!

If you’ve been following me for a while then you know that I had my DNA tested last year. I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I expected to be more Scandinavian.  I also expected to be more Irish.


Prior to my testing, I had stumbled across some Irish mythology on the Tuatha de Danann while initially researching some Welsh mythology.  Some of the stories have overlapping similarities.

There are some claims that based on descriptions of the Tuatha de Danann [tall, red or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, pale skin, came from the sky on ships] that these were really Nordic Vikings on ships, the likes of which had never been seen, emerging from the mist.

When I read about that, I thought… AHA!  When I take my test it will show Irish, but it will be ancestral Scandinavian and will answer why I am not petite and am pale.


I mean look at my dad…red hair, freckles, pale (Florida sun hides this reality).


One of my children was born with red hair (he’s also my muse for the title photo).

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 9.54.01 AM

Ethnicity Estimates.

Alas!  I am 10% Irish.  

Less than my husband’s 20%.


I have also run my DNA results through GEDmatch.com (you can upload your raw DNA here and find matches who may have used other testing companies).

There are admixture with oracle-4 tests [I am still learning which to choose- I chose the MDLP K23b. If you are knowledgeable in this area, feel free to jump into the comment section as I am claiming no knowledge, only sharing my results].

These tests can also show a breakdown of your ethnicity. I have read that if your ethnicity is as homogenous as mine, these programs have a hard time really pinpointing the region that your DNA comes from.  I don’t know if this is true or not.

The 1 population approximation lists me as (top 3 and the @ is the distance from similar ethnicity.):

  • English @ 3.29 (I’ve rounded these numbers)
  • Irish @ 3.34
  • English_Cornwall_GBR @ 4.16

The 2 population approximation is 50% German-Volga + 50% Orcadian @ 2.62.

3 population approximation is the same, they just change it to 25% Orcadian + 25% Orcadian

The 4 population approximation is:  German-Volga + Irish + Orcadian + Scottish-Argyll-Bute-GBR @ 2.57.


I do have an ancestral history of Germans who emigrated to the United States from the Palatinate region.  Palatinate Germans were some of those who emigrated to Russia upon invitation by Catherine the Great.  Perhaps that is why I show German-Volga. In case you are wondering, Orcadian is the native population of the Orkney Islands of Scotland who are historically descended from the Picts, Norse, and Scots.

While I think an ethnicity estimate is an amazing tool, most things will remind you that your genealogical research is always key.  I am by no means an expert when it comes to genealogy.  I am barely a beginner.

I’ve shared before that I was not interested in history until I took this DNA test.  This history became tangible when I applied it to people that I descend from.


Descendant of William Durkee.

One of my distant relatives, my paternal 8th great- grandfather, was William Durkee. He was born about 1632 in Ireland (I’ve seen it listed at Meath, Ireland).  William is thought to be one of the first Irishmen to settle in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He arrived in Massachusetts on November 9, 1663, as an indentured servant to Thomas Bishop.  He came from Barbados and is thought to have been sent there during Cromwell’s military invasion of Ireland (There is a lot of controversy surrounding myths and facts about that situation.  I am not a history major…not even close.  I will not be addressing that.)  The reason so much is known about his indentured servitude is because there are court records.

Most of the court records that I have seen discuss the fact that he impregnated Martha Cross, who is believed to have worked in the house of Thomas Bishop.  There are records of them coming before the court, charged with fornication, and the option of being whipped or paying fees.  There are records of a suit by her father for abuse of his daughter (the impregnation) and a counter-suit by William for her father withdrawing consent to marriage.  They would marry December 20, 1664, and two weeks later my 7th great-grandfather, John Durkee, would be born. For some time, William Durkee was not able to purchase land because he would not renounce his Catholic faith.  I have seen that he eventually did purchase land, but am not sure what led to that possibility.

Almost all of the Durkees in the United States and Canada descend from his 3 sons. If you’re curious about my line it’s: William Durkee>John Durkee>Stephen Durkee>Phineas Durkee> Experience Durkee>David Woodbury>John Milton Woodbury>Laura Louise Woodbury (my great-grandmother).


Descendent of the line McLachlan.

The only other family line that I’m pretty confident originates in Ireland is my maternal great-great-grandmother, Agnes McLachlan Scott (in the picture above). I’ve shared a little about my Scottish history in this post.

A synopsis is that Agnes McLachlan was born in 1865 in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, Scotland. She was the daughter of Hugh McLauchlan (the census spells the name differently repetitively) and Agnes Baird.  On December 20, 1889, she married my great-great-grandfather, James Scott (son of James Scott and Mary Munn).

James Scott was a miner and this would lead them to immigrate with their four sons to Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1911.  Based on the typical naming pattern used in Scotland, I was able to discover that my great-grandfather, George Brown Scott, was actually named after a stepfather.  Mary Munn married George Brown in Barony, Lanarkshire, Scotland on December 30, 1872 (I do not know what happened to James Scott) and appears to have had 4 more children bearing the last name of Brown.


Tracing my roots.

My McLachlan trail is hard to follow as there are many Hugh McLachlan’s in the area. My reasoning for believing that at some point it becomes Irish history is because of the McLachlan name itself.

The Clan MacLachlan is a Highland Scottish clan that claims descent from Lachlan Mor, who lived on Loch Fyne in the 13th century. Tradition is that he was a descendant of Anrothan, an Irish prince of the O’Neill dynasty who moved to Scotland and married the daughter of the King of Argyll.  Further back, the lineage claims descent from Niall Noigiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages), High King of Ireland in the 4th-5th century.


Heading Overseas.

Remember some weeks ago when I shared that I was planning a trip with my mom and aunt?

Well, we haven’t actually booked the tickets yet, but I can’t stand it any longer!!

My mom’s passport came in…

and at the end of the summer…

we are planning to take a trip…


Not only do we plan to see the sights, but we are also hoping to find some of the places listed on the census records and stand on the streets where our ancestors’ feet have stood.

Any tips or words of wisdom are greatly appreciated!


Ancestry.com has a referral program that saves you 10% on the kit and rewards me $10 if you purchase through them.  I would be happy to send you a link if you are interested. This post has not been sponsored by them.  The referral program is offered to any person who purchases a kit through them. And even if you don’t use my link, they run specials all the time with a percentage off of the full price (usually around holidays when you might like to know your lineage).


Let your light shine!









Don’t wait until it’s too late


The trouble is, you think you have time. -Jack Kornfield

I have never professed to be a good housekeeper.  Indeed I am far from it. But I am trying. Part of that is working on the process of decluttering.  I could talk all day about that process. And I may… but on a different day.

A few weeks ago, while going through a box of “where in the world does this stuff belong”, I came upon a letter written by me in 2013.  A letter written to my father-in-law.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you may remember that his passing away on February 9, 2013 was the major catalyst for us seeking a move to Virginia.  I touched on this somewhat last year in this post.

My father-in-law joined the Navy as a fresh out of high school, 18 year old. He and my mother-in-law were high school sweethearts and would marry in 1952 when he came home on leave. He would spend 20 years in the Navy, starting as an enlisted man, and working his way to Warrant Officer and then as a Lieutenant, serving as a Nuclear Weapons Officer on the USS Saratoga. He would then go on to become a teacher of elementary and middle schoolers, eventually getting his Master’s and becoming a school counselor.  He would work with children for 20 years before retiring.

When I met my future father-in-law, I was 20 years old and he was already retired from two careers.  I would celebrate my 21st birthday during that first trip to Virginia.  We would sit on the back porch every morning drinking coffee.


On that trip, we took in a football game at my husband’s alma mater and where the first born grandbaby (my niece) was cheering.


He would be my husband’s best man at our wedding.  Making everyone laugh during his speech with his request that we give him some more grandbaby’s (to add to the four he already had).


And we fulfilled that request.


Later, he would end up having leukemia. He had it for years. I usually spent two weeks every summer at their home, driving up with the kids and then my husband flying up for the second week. We often visited over Christmas Break as well. The Christmas of 2012, he was not feeling well. We opted not to go up because he was sick enough that all the germs we would bring would not be good.  They said it was now lymphoma. He was not getting better. A few weeks later my husband would be traveling up to help his brothers and mother set up hospice. At that point, I knew that I would never see him again.  And so I wrote him a letter.  I had hoped he’d be able to have it read to him.

That did not end up being possible.

In my college English class, I read the poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.  I can’t even begin to explain why that poem struck me so deeply.  I was a 17 year old girl who had not even begun to taste the sting of death.  And yet, that poem became my favorite poem.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


My father-in-law did not go gentle into that good night.  The end was not easy.  He asked to speak to me once on the phone.  There was closure for me in that he remembered me in those moments.

So today I share the words that he was never able to hear (abbreviations have been used in place of some names).

In Case I Never Told You

In case I never told you I wanted you to know:

That I noticed when you made sure to spend time with each of the kids separately- whether it was teaching H to drive, teaching D about the mighty power or taking S to feed the neighbor’s pets, amongst all the other things.  I appreciated the fact that you took the time to make them feel special and create memories.

That I admire the fact that you taught for 20 years.  My patience level is low and you have always been so calm with my kids.  I imagine all those students felt special.

That I think it’s great that you love science so much because I find science fascinating.  Your innate curiosity about all the wonders of the world is inspiring because I feel like I can never get all the information I want to gain.

That I love your library.  In it, I discovered Ludlum, that there is more than one Oz book, and a plethora of other great books.  Because of our mutual love, one of my kids’ favorite place is a bookstore and they love the smell of a library.

That I’m glad that you passed on to M what he calls the “Smith family curse”.  The one that makes you repair everything yourself.  I can’t imagine being married to a man who couldn’t fix things.

That I’ve loved our talks by the pool- watching the kids swim.  You always added a fresh perspective on my struggles in raising children.

That I thank you for serving our country.  I don’t come from a military family so that was all foreign to me, but how amazing to share such tradition.

That even though some of the jokes you tell make us groan, they are you.  And when M tells one that makes us groan, we say that sounds like a joke your dad would tell.  And when our kids tell one, they are like M and so on and on it goes.  What a privilege to witness not just a physical passing down, but also personality.

That I love you for accepting me wholeheartedly into your family. You have given me such a blessing just by knowing you, but also in raising a man that is a man who takes his vows seriously because that was modeled by you.

I have done my part in evolution.

I have evolved from the 21 year old that you first met, but a lot has stayed the same and one of those things is that I have a tremendous amount of respect for you even when our views differ.

I will help out with the survival of the fittest though because I think M and I have produced some pretty amazing kids.

Keep Strong and I love you.

There isn’t anything earth-shattering in those words.  We did communicate regularly over the years and he knew that I loved and respected him.   I share them because they are still things that I wish I had said.

Don’t wait until it is too late to say those things you want to say to people you care about.  Don’t hold on to grudges that you might later regret.  Tomorrow is never promised.  I leave you with my father-in-law’s words, written 18 years before he would leave this earth.


Let your light shine!


Time Travel Tuesday – Over the Rainbow



Last week we had a spectacular double rainbow.  It was so spectacular that my husband called me from his commute to tell me to grab my camera and shortly after that a friend texted me to grab my camera because the rainbow was just that awesome!

Unfortunately, my first sighting of it came before these calls and texts and it was as I was walking to the jeep to take my daughter to school. Because that’s how mornings roll, it was already the last possible moment to leave. Normally she takes the bus, but her bus pulls into her school 3 minutes before the bell. With soccer training she has extra bags and those bags must find a home before the bell…and that’s where I enter. Usually looking unkempt, but not in my pajamas in case the need ever arises for me to have to exit my car, I drive her to school earlier. I took two quick snapshots with my phone from the driveway and the rest of the views I just admired on the drive. Before we even finished the 10 minute drive to school, it was gone.

A fleeting memory.

And I am taken back to some childhood memories involving rainbows. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know that I did not have the conventional “child of the 80’s” childhood. For a while we lived in a converted school bus (yes, a tiny house) on our property in rural South Florida. Our power source was a battery and later a generator.  In fact, we would live on that land for 5 or 6 years without traditional power. This meant that things like the TV needed to run on 12 volt.

We had a 12″ black and white TV. I can remember there was a knob on the bottom that you turned to turn it on and control the volume. There was an upper and lower knob that  would click as you turned through the stations. We had four channels. ABC & NBC (channels 20 & 26 on the upper knob) PBS (channel 30 on the upper knob) and CBS (channel 11 on the lower knob). Sometimes the stations required a very precise lining up of the rabbit ears to get the station to stay tuned.

Every year, one of the stations played The Wizard of Oz.  I loved that movie! When traditional power came along in the mid-to-late 80’s, my uncle bought my parents a color TV for Christmas.  I had only watched The Wizard of Oz at home. That year, as we sat and watched it, my eyes were just as enraptured as Dorothy’s as she walked out of her home into Oz. I had no idea all those years that when Dorothy crossed over the rainbow, her world became a technicolor dream.



Going “over the rainbow” was also one of my favorite childhood imaginary feats. Our driveway had a dip where it crossed a ditch.  If I closed my eyes while I walked down the driveway, it felt as though I were going uphill and then back down. In my mind’s eye this became a rainbow.  My heart would beat a little faster as I climbed that rainbow, towering above the clouds, and then I would slowly come down the other side. Sometimes my brother, or my dad’s sister would join me. When my cousins came to visit they would travel over the rainbow as well.

The question became “What was on the other side of the rainbow?”  The answer: different lands.  Whatever you could think of, we could visit there. Time has faded most of the memories of where we traveled, but sometimes a pegasus would save our weary bones from traveling down the rainbow.  He would meet us at the top and carry us off to the land that we had requested. The wind blowing in our faces as his wings flapped up and down and propelled us forward. When we traveled across the rainbow, it was imperative that we all hold hands, that way we could make sure that everyone made it back safely.  Eyes had to remain closed on this journey or the vision might be lost and there was the possibility you would be trapped.

I knew this land we ran across.  My feet had covered most of its surface for almost a decade. I have distinct memories of two lands we visited. Dinosaur land and Candy land. We wandered around the front fields of calf-high, dry summer grass, walking amongst the legs of giant dinosaurs. We dashed and darted behind bushes planted in a row along my uncle’s property, hiding from the guards in Candy land, who most definitely did not like humans and did not want us there. Our feet would always find their way back to the gravel on the driveway to begin the journey back to the rainbow. Sometimes we would saunter back to the rainbow. Other times we were on a mad dash for escape.

The air would change at that rainbow. It was lighter and full of magic. I remember the day when it became harder to see the rainbow. How I was disappointed that my mind couldn’t see beyond the dip in the driveway. And one day the rainbow was gone.

A fleeting memory.


Let your light shine!


Time Travel Tuesday – Is that snow?



If you read yesterday’s Blogiversary post, then you know that we got our first snow here in Southwest Virginia!

It was beautiful.

Now I’m ready for it to leave.

When you are born and raised in South Florida, where 70 degrees constitutes wearing a hoodie, it takes a while to get accustomed to the kind of cold that makes your face and fingers numb.

Last year I was smart enough to get a longer down coat.  One that reaches mid-thigh.  After traipsing through snow last year in wool socks and rain boots, this year the hubby insisted I get proper snow boots.  Hooray!

Sometimes an ad on Facebook or Instagram just so happens to be perfectly timed.  Such was the case with my newest beanie.  New accessories for the winter are always fun.  What struck me about this ad was that Love Your Melon gives 50% of their profit to their non-profit partners who are involved in the battle against pediatric cancer.  The original goal was to put a hat on every child battling cancer in America.  To date, they’ve donated over $2.5 million dollars and donated over 90,000 beanies.  That second number is just staggering to me.  That cancer could be such the rampant beast that it seems to be.

Reading their mission and story, I decided that was a company whose accessories I would be willing to purchase.  Another plus for me was that it is made in the U.S.A.  And while I don’t pretend that the majority of my purchases are, it is something that I can appreciate. The beanie was much thicker than any I’ve owned, perfect for negative digit windchill.

I know a lot of people want to know if you are compensated in some way when you mention a product in a blog.  As mentioned, it was a well timed advertisement.  I spent my money, placed it on my head, and am giving my personal opinion with no acknowledgement or compensation from the company.

Since this is a Time Travel Tuesday post…. we should do some time traveling.

This time back to February of 1999.  That would be 21 year old me vacationing in the Blue Ridge area of Georgia.  We took a long weekend near Valentine’s and stayed in a beautiful log cabin (aptly named ShangriLog) situated right along the rushing Toccoa River.

At this point in life, I still had rarely left Florida.  Most out of state trips that I had ever taken were during the summer.Georgia mountains in February were much colder!  The cabin had a giant wood burning fireplace which we kept going during our time there.  The bed had flannel sheets and a thick down comforter.  I thought these were to lend to the ambiance of a classic Dovetail log cabin home, whose walls had no sheetrock. I have since learned that such things are actually for warmth on frigid nights to avoid placing the heat at “parch your skin” temperatures.

If you’ve read the post about how I lived in a school bus until my brother was born, then you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I did briefly live outside of Florida as a child. My parents were young adventurers with a baby in tow.  When I was an infant we lived in Alabama for about 3 months, and then again for almost 6 months when I was 2.  It was during that second time that it snowed.  My mom said that I hated it.  I would slide and fall because I wasn’t heavy enough to compact the snow.

That was the last time I saw snow.  And I couldn’t even remember it!  So here I am in Georgia, 18-19 years later, and in my mind I’ve never seen snow!  I was sitting in the window seat of the bedroom, staring out the window, waiting to head into town.  The sky was gray and blustery.  And then there were these little things falling from the sky.  It looked like ice when it would land on the roof and melt.  I thought it might be snow, but I didn’t want to be disappointed if it were some other form of precipitation.

“Look, it’s raining ice”, I said.  My love looked out the window and told me that it was snow.  I was like a giddy child.  He was amused by my naiveté.  Better to seem foolish than to be disappointed was my opinion.

We ended up having a wonderful winter wonderland excursion.  My Valentine’s gift was located at the end of a series of clues on a scavenger hunt.  Most were rhymes that really made you think, but this handwritten clue is one of my favorites.

The next clue was located on a mirror in that room.

Aww… it still makes my heart melt.


I can’t even remember what the gift was at the end the series of clues.  I’m pretty good at remembering why gifts were given : the anklet for my 21st birthday, the birthstone earrings for our 1 year wedding anniversary, the mother’s pendant with mine and my children’s birthstones for the mother’s day after we finished having children, and pearls for our anniversary the year that I decided I wanted to channel Audrey Hepburn.

But even though I can’t remember the gift, I have vivid memories of that trip etched into my mind.  Walking through the streets of downtown, the snow swirling around us.  Standing by the rushing river posing for pictures while the wind whipped at my face.  Creating poetry out of the word magnets on the fridge.  Solving the clues written on yellow paper. Smiles and laughter.

Eighteen years later, when the snow falls, we’ll still call out to each other “Hey, look, it’s raining ice”.


Let your light shine!