Local Colors Festival Roanoke, Virginia

Local Colors Festival

 

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Normally, most of my spring is filled with traveling to the girlie’s soccer games.  We found ourselves with an empty weekend and I wanted to head to downtown Roanoke. I love strolling around downtown, perusing the shops, often stopping in the Taubman Museum and heading to the rooftop of Center in the Square. And of course finding something yummy to eat.

I checked to see if there were any events happening over the weekend and found out that the Festival of Local Colors would be taking place.  I was excited to be in town for a festival. They add such vibrancy to a day downtown.

The Local Colors Festival is an annual event that celebrates Roanoke’s diversity and promotes multicultural understanding. This year was its 27th annual festival.

They also offer educational and services throughout the year. To learn more about them you can find their website here and their Facebook page here.

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We went out to lunch with one of our sons and his girlfriend and then took in all the sights and sounds and smells of the festival.

The booths listed on the map represented a wide range of heritages which included: American Indian, Belize, Bolivia, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Norway (Finland and Sweden were represented here as well), Philippines, Romania, Russ, Scotland, Sierra Leone, Somalia-Bantu, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

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Some booths offered information. Some booths sold foods associated with the respective culture. And others sold wares from their homeland.

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The information booth sold raffle tickets, t-shirts, tote bags, water bottles and more. They also had maps available with the times and locations of booths and performances.

There were performances held on the stage at Elmwood Park’s amphitheater and also educational programs at the library, which is adjacent to the amphitheater.

We wandered into the amphitheater to enjoy a few of the performances. The Capoeira performance was finishing up as we found a seat.

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We then watched the 15-50 dance group. They are a group of Blacksburg Chinese women ages 15-50. I believe all of the members are students, Virginia Tech employees, or spouses of employees. It was such graceful dance set to beautiful music.

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As we sat and watched the dance, a group slowly formed in front of us that I suspect was going to take the stage in the future or had possibly already been up there.

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The next performance was Tricolor y Siete Estrellas who were representing Venezuela. During the stage set up of the microphones, the sister in the front described her instrument. It is called a cuatro and has four strings.  While it looks similar to a ukulele, it is not the same and it is played differently as well. It is used in the traditional Venezuelan Joropo.

But while waiting for the other band members to finish setting up, what she said about diversity is what struck me the most. I don’t have a direct quote, but it was about how “we all complement each other.” All races, all people, all colors…we complement each other.

And I thought that was such a beautiful truth.

I marveled at all the different cultures just right here in Roanoke.

I marveled at how the United States is filled with many cultures. Many that I know so little about.

I contemplated the sights that I came upon during my recent overseas trip. All that I had seen during my first time leaving the U.S. soil. The serenity of the canals in Amsterdam. The awe of seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

I thought about my upcoming trip to Scotland. About how although I identify strongly with my Scottish heritage, that is because that was the piece I have always known. My maternal grandfather was born in Nova Scotia, Canada to a father from Plains, Scotland and a mother from Wigan, England. Both having emigrated to Canada as children. His mother died when he was young and his Scottish grandmother came to live with them so the Scottish side was talked of often.

My mother used to ask my grandmother (her mother) if she knew her ethnicity. She would always laugh and say she was a mutt. Despite the negative connotations associated with the term “mutt”, she didn’t feel it was a negative thing, just a humorous way of stating that she had no clue as her family had been in the foothills of Kentucky and Tennessee for many years.

Amy Lyon Smith with her grandma and mother

I think a lot of multi-generational Americans would find this to be the case with their history. When I took the DNA test with Ancestry.com, which I shared about here, I had no clue what might turn up. Turns out that I was more British than the British (my results were 79% Great Britain and the typical native is 60%). As I began to trace my maternal grandmother’s line, it would turn out to have a strong German lineage. While her maiden name of Van Hoose has been traced back to the man who brought it to America, Jan Frans Van Husum, it is not know if he was Dutch, Danish, Frisian, or German. Her mother was the union of a Yount (Jundt) and a Redwine (Reitweil). Quite a few names on my maternal great-grandmother’s side appear to be Palatinate German.

Most of my father’s line originates from different parts of England, but I have some family lines on all except my maternal grandfather tracing back to the 1600’s in America. At that point, I am at 9th great-grandparents, which means there are over 4,000 direct ancestors and sifting through the ones that I’ve been able to trace to the point they left their homeland for America is a slow process.

I am just one person. One person filled with a history of differing backgrounds. My DNA may show that I am predominately a certain ethnicity, but my genealogical records will show pioneers coming from different areas of England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Denmark and all the little towns amongst them that I’ve yet to discover. It shows them coming into Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania to name a few. It shows them settling in the frontiers of Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Carolinas. And eventually, you make your way to me…born and raised in Collier County, Florida.

I am just one piece of the diversity of Roanoke, Virginia.

Roanoke, Virginia is a microcosm of the diversity of the United States.

The United States is a microcosm of the diversity of the World.

And we all complement each other.

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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

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves- Edition 13

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Friday seems to come around faster than I can blink my eyes!

Between editing some photos, running errands, spring purging of household stuff, and life in general… I somehow ended up at Friday (and with my house showing the chaos of my not tending to it!).

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One of my frantic errands this week was procuring ingredients for cinnamon golfeados. My middle son is in his third year of Spanish and chose this as the recipe he would bring in. You can find the recipe he chose here.

I do like making treats, but not ones that require letting dough rise and rolling it out. To say I was nervous about its chance of success was an understatement. But they turned out.

The main reason it’s one of my faves this week isn’t because they tasted wonderful. (we didn’t know star anise smelled like black licorice and would have reduced the amount called for if we knew that it, not the cinnamon, would be the main flavor).

No, it’s because my son carried out all of the steps to create this recipe. INCLUDING, rolling out dough. I was only there to oversee. We bonded as we laughed and wondered how a cinnamon roll with cheese in it might turn out. It was moments spent in the present, creating memories.

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And since we are on the topic of food….here’s another of my faves this week. Our gas grill finally died. And, of course I needed some things grilled. The hubby picked up this handy, dandy Weber charcoal grill.

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Prior to vacation I decided that on May 1st I would do what I am calling a 10-day detox (aka real food, minus cheese and alcohol). I’ve said before that I don’t like diets. I really worry about the message they send to my children and I want them to have a healthy relationship with food. However, I did think that in Europe I would likely eat more than normal because I wanted to try new things. I ate more than one of these croissants at our Paris hotel’s breakfast buffet each day, plus tons of other tasty treats that I don’t normally eat. And let me tell you, they were all worth it! I did not gain weight (probably due to tons of walking), but still decided to do a reset. Hence the need for a grill.

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We’ve had a ton of rain! Last night was a huge downpour. The creek by my house only has water for a couple days after a rainstorm. It rushes quickly enough in the beginning to pose a real danger if you step into it. You may recognize it as the location where I practiced my skills on long exposure photography. You can check out one of the photos that I shared in this post. I took this photo to share another fave.

My bracelet.

It’s a hammered metal bangle. It’s a piece of costume jewelry that I found at Anitya, located at 45 rue d’Hauteville in Paris. I wanted to take home a little piece of jewelry to remember this day. The boys wanted to pick out a piece of jewelry for their girlfriends. The middle son has had this girlfriend for some time. We went to a few store, but it was at Anitya where he chose a necklace and ring for her.

The part of this journey that makes my heart smile is that he was so thoughtful about his purchase. He also asked my opinion. Which if you are raising teens or have raised teens, then you know that doesn’t happen often. When I look at this bracelet, I remember that he truly is caring and sweet. Even if sometimes he makes me forget that. 😉

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If you’ve seen my Instagram, then you already know that this is a photo that I took of the girlie’s middle school soccer team. It was for the coach’s gift.

Last night they held their banquet. To say that these girls have had an amazing season would be an understatement. They completed the season undefeated. They are the district champions. Due to the rain, they were only able to have a 10 game season. Yet, in a 10 game season they scored 40 goals, 1 shy from setting the school record of 41. So had they played the other four games…

One of the forwards scored 28 goals, shattering the school record of 13 (which, if I heard correctly, was also her record tied with someone else.) And don’t quote me, but the center-back had 4 goals and 5 assists (this could be reversed), which if you know soccer (and I barely do) is not typical. We play our home games on a turf football field and watching her score a goal from the 55 yard line was impressive! But it took every single girl to make this season possible. A fact that did not go unnoticed.

Not only did the entire team come together on the field, but off the field they rallied around some personal situations.

The coach called each girl forward and offered such kind words about who they were as a player. I admit that I was misty-eyed as he spoke words of encouragement to my daughter.

This year my girlie played a left back. She also played defense for travel this year. But it was an adjustment for her. She had played left forward the years, leading up to this. She was hoping for mid-field, but you play what the team needs and so she did. She worked through the learning curve of moving from an 8 v 8 game to 11 v 11, and from moving to a defensive position.

He spoke about how she played the position that the team needed. As a left foot in soccer, she’s kinda rare. The team was lucky enough to have two left foot players and she was strong enough to play a defender. But where he really made me teary was when he went on to say that she is unselfish on the field. It made my heart well because that is just who she is. I was so happy for her that in her final game, she came in as a center-mid and kicked a beautiful cross to the other player, which resulted in a goal.

The 8th grade parents also came up and said kind words about the team and spoke with love about their children.  I’m not sure there was a dry eye by the end.

It’s again in moments like these that I am at peace with this season of living so far from my family.

Because in moments like these, community IS family.

And since I’m tearing up still thinking about it, I’ll share my next fave.

Plane tickets and hotel rooms have been booked! My mom, my aunt, and I will be heading to Scotland this month!

In the end, the Highlands just weren’t an option because I’m not ready to leave my kids for that long. It was hard to give up as we wanted to see the Isle of Skye and I would love to see Highland Coos and sweeping vistas. My mother and I both had a strong pull to visit the Standing Stones of Callanish, but the Outer Hebrides are much too far. She doesn’t know if she will ever have a chance to return. I am convinced we will return for the Highlands.

We are splitting our time between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Our traced ancestral history is mostly in the areas surrounding Glasgow. Along with sights there and in Edinburgh, we also plan to see Stirling and Doune castle. I am studying public transportation as I will NOT be driving on the opposite side of the road. 🙂

So lastly, I close with a song I love although I don’t have a real reason. I’ve mentioned in the past that I love the sound of Gaelic and envisioned that I would have Percy Jackson-like abilities and miraculously be able to understand it.  Alas, I cannot. This version, however, shows the translated lyrics as well:

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend filled with blue skies and joy in your heart.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Palace of Versailles – Part I

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Versailles.

I still have a lot to share about the Amsterdam portion of our trip to Europe, but for today I’m jumping over to Paris. My daughter has been learning about World War I and was asked to bring in photos from her visit to Versailles, which means that I am editing those photos first. 🙂

While we were in Paris, we did opt to take a day trip out to the Palace of Versailles. I have so many photos from this part of the trip that I will be presenting them in a multi-part story. We decided the night before that the next day would work best for our schedule.  It’s best to order tickets online.  If you are good at planning ahead, you would probably do this prior to heading to Paris.  We wanted to watch the weather before making our decision.  The concierge of our hotel was very helpful in ordering up our tickets and giving us the printout of the ticket. The cost to visit the Palace and the Estate of Trianon is 20€. The gardens are free unless there is a musical fountain or garden show. If you are under 18 (or under 26 if you reside in the EU), then there is free admission. When traveling with 3 teens this is a welcome surprise (just be sure to have i.d. for any child that might look questionable as to whether they are under 18. Such as my 6’6″ teenager. Only the Louvre questioned him in two entry points, one of which asked for i.d.).

I mentioned in my last Friday Faves that we stayed at the Hotel Opera Richepanse, located at 14 rue du Chevalier de St. Georges.  This is located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The metro line 8 was easily walkable from the hotel. Both to the Madeline and the Concorde stop.

Based on Google maps, it is perhaps slightly closer to the Madeline stop, but the Concorde stop is beside Place de la Concorde and Jardins de Tuileries and I enjoyed seeing those spots every day. Speaking of Google maps… the app was VERY helpful in navigating the city.

Versailles is considered Zone 4, so it is not the standard Paris metro ticket for riding around the city. I’m sure it was better to purchase a round trip ticket, but we purchased them one way on either end. The cost was 3,55€ per person (at the time of our trip, April 2017). The metro was a little overwhelming with this day trip being our first use of it. Since then I have found this information sheet  which I think is very helpful to familiarize yourself with prior to traveling on the Paris subway.

We took the 8 line to Invalides, where we caught the RER C to the Gare de Versailles Chateau/ Rive Gauche stop.  It was about a 30 minute train ride from where we got on at the Invalides stop. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the train station.  There are signs everywhere, but there are also crowds all heading that way as well.

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Versailles is definitely a sight to behold.

Originally the site of a hunting lodge for the future Louis XIII, rebuilding of the residence from 1631-1634 laid the basis for the palace as it is today. Louis XIV was the one who would love the place and build it into the masterpiece that it would become. More work was done under the reign of Louis XV.

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Louis XVI would spend a lot of his time in Versailles until the court would leave for Paris in 1789, where Louis XVI and Marie-Antionette would be executed along with over 1200 others at Place de la Concorde during the Reign of Terror.

It was hard to imagine that such horrific events took place at this spot while standing with my girlie and  watching the sun set.

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Back to Versailles.

Here is where I tell you to learn from my mistake.  

I had read if you don’t get there early (i.e. -you are traveling with teens), visit the gardens first and then come back to tour the palace. If you look at the first photo of the palace, you will see a white tent. This is where they do a cursory look into your bag. Then you get in line to see the palace. All of those people in the photo above are in line. There are four or five rows, stretching from near the white tent to near the palace gate. We are in the final row before you are in line along the gate and walking through the entrance. Once inside, they will scan your ticket and then you put your bags through a scanner and walking through the metal detector.  You are then free to explore the palace.

That line to get inside was 1 1/2 hours! I thought it was a requirement to get through security. THIS IS ONLY FOR THE PALACE. There is an entrance with signage to the left of the pillared part of the building for the gardens. We arrived to this crowd around 10:45 a.m., when we left the estate at 4:30, there was not a line! The palace did not close until 6:30. Had I understood that the line was palace security only, we would have done the gardens and Trianons. The Queen’s hamlet was ultimately the destination that I most wanted to see.

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Don’t get me wrong.  The palace was definitely stunning.

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Its architecture was magnificent.

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The history palpable.

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We stood inside the Royal Gate, which was originally torn down in the French Revolution and was re-created with gold leaf and unveiled in 2008.

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Standing inside those gates, it was hard to believe that during a moment in history, this was where the Royal Court stood.

It would be inside these walls that the Treaty of Versailles would be signed on June 28, 1919, officially ending World War I.

My words and photos can’t do justice to the amount of history held between these walls. In a tying together of visits to two wonderful cities, Versailles felt like a good conclusion from a history component to the fact that we visited the Anne Frank museum while in Amsterdam.

I hope that you’ll check back for more from my trip to Versailles… the interior, the gardens, the hamlet and more.

Plus I have plenty more to share from the wanderlust created by Paris and Amsterdam.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam Bike Town

Amsterdam – Bike Town

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Amsterdam.

I’ve returned from my first journey overseas. While technically my first stop was Frankfurt, Germany for my layover and also my first passport stamp, Amsterdam was the first city in which I got a view of more than than just a runway.

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The weather in the spring can be fickle, and it proved so on our journey. Amsterdam was a little more wet and cold than we had originally thought that it might be. It worked out well for my photo of the I amsterdam sign. I don’t know anyone in this photo, but it was the only occasion on my 2 1/2 days there that the sign wasn’t swarmed with tons of people. That is the Rijksmuseum in the background.

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In case you missed it, we did not take only carry-ons. However, that decision was made 45 minutes before we got in the car to drive to D.C. and included dashing to the store to buy two medium suitcases and rapidly moving our clothing from two of the carry-ons…which meant I did not actually get to take more clothes, only that my camera traveled in its padded case. Priorities… 😉

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The view of the Earth from the sky was beautiful. We watched the sun set and rise again, over the ocean. After we landed at the airport and collected our luggage, we decided to take the train and then tram toward our hotel. Amsterdam has a good public transport system. We purchased a 3 day travel ticket.  This was good for trains, trams, ferries, metros, and buses operated by GVB. I will note that this is 3 physical days, not 72 hours. We were there for 2 1/2 days and did try to see if it was valid to take the tram to the train station our final day, at less than 72 hours. It was not.

IMG_0743.jpgWe stayed at the Hotel City Garden, which is located on P.C. Hoofstraat. Finding accommodations for a family of five is never easy. Add to that fact that we were traveling during prime tulip and spring bloom season, wanted a hotel that made the city walkable, and did not want to stumble into the red light district (which we did anyway…but that is a future post) and this hotel worked well for us.

We had the room listed as Souterrain family 5 person.  It has 5 single beds, although 2 are pushed together, so if it’s a friend group going, you should make sure you don’t mind feeling like you’re in a king bed together. Our room was located in the basement, with a window opening into an enclosed garden. Since it didn’t appear that there was air conditioning, the window came in handy.

Right at the end of these buildings is an entrance to Vondelpark, which is a beautiful 120 acre park that we spent a lot of time strolling through.

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I will tell you that this was the location where we most encountered the scent of marijuana, so if you are hoping to avoid that smell, this probably wouldn’t be a lovely stroll for you.

But then again, Amsterdam may not be for you if you think you will avoid the smell. We smelled it here… we smelled it near the I amsterdam sign…. we smelled it down at the fun fair in Dam Square… and probably tons of other places.

Personally, I think it smells better than cigarette smoke, the scent of which seems to be more prevalent in Europe than it does in the parts of the U.S. that I frequent.

And yes, Amsterdam is known for it’s legality of pot and prostitution. But I went there for its tulips, its architecture, its canals, and its friendly reputation.

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On the train from Schipol Airport to Zuid station, we were trying to make sure that we were going to get off at the right stop and this lovely girl informed us that this was the correct stop.  When we got off the train, we were looking at the map that came with our ticket. The girl had walked toward her destination, and she turned around and came back to us and told us how to get to the tram station. It was a welcome experience upon my first interaction with a foreign country. We made it to the tram and were trying to figure out how far until the stop listed on the directions to our hotel. A gentleman offered to look it up on his google maps (and yes, I had this app downloaded, but was so overwhelmed that I hadn’t thought to use it yet. It would prove to be a lifesaver throughout Paris and extremely helpful in Amsterdam).

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Another thing that Amsterdam is well known for is…

Its bikes.

And there were bikes everywhere.  They have their own lane and lights.

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I took the photo above while on the canal cruise.  It had just stopped raining so there were still raindrops on the windows.  That’s an entire parking garage of bikes!

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The kids really wanted to rent bikes and go for a ride, but the weather was mostly drizzly and our time there brief.

What I found most surprising was how many children just rode behind a parent on the little metal piece over the back fender. I don’t tend to take pictures of strangers unless they happen to be in my shot so I don’t have any examples of how it appeared. One child was toddler age and the mother rode along with her arm behind as a back rest holding the child in place.

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Quite often there are baskets attached so they can carry the groceries or other purchases.

I have read that bikers get irritated if you are in their way. I don’t know if this is sometimes true, but there were accidental moments of stepping onto the bike path because it seems like a sidewalk. They would ring their bell as they approached and you would realize your mistake and move. Never once did I see anyone angry about anything.

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While most bikes are purely functional, there were quite a few that put time into making their mode of transportation unique.

I did not even capture a fraction of the amazing bikes or multitude of bikes around the city.

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Another sight that seemed so romantic were the girls who were probably in their early 20’s riding sidesaddle behind what I assume was their significant other.  They were just sitting on the metal plates over the back fender. I wondered how in the world they could stay up there, but given the fact that they had probably been on a bike since infancy, it was probably deeply ingrained into their being.

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Amsterdam definitely stole a piece of my heart.

I’m only just beginning to process through my pictures and have so many more to share.

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I hope that you’ll check back as I share more about my excursions in Amsterdam and then over to Paris!

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr "A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions"

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on a Door

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I love old buildings.

Some buildings, I’m sure, were admired from the moment they were built.  Others, perhaps not until well after their builders and original occupants had long since moved on.

And not every building is admired by every person.

The same thing could be said about humans.

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He has made everything beautiful in its time. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

This building is in downtown Roanoke, Virginia.

I have admired this building since first moving here in 2013. Perhaps it is because of the symmetry… the double arches over the windows, the black rectangular word boxes drawing the eyes upward, the green window frames along the alley side popping off of the brickwork.

It wouldn’t be until later that I would realize this building now houses Walkabout Outfitter, a store that I mentioned in this Friday Faves post.

But another reason that I came to love this building is because of a surprise door in the alleyway.

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Every exit is an entrance to somewhere else. -Rebecca Puig

This door.

This door would open up a whole new world for me.

Why?

Because about three months into my blogging journey I would stumble upon Thursday Doors. Hosted by Norm 2.0, it’s a place where door lovers come together to share wonderful doors from around the world. Now I wouldn’t have considered myself a door lover. I was working on my photography skills and had found various photo challenges hosted by other bloggers and also one hosted by WordPress.  I found Thursday Doors intriguing because it forced me to look at details that I usually miss in the rush of everyday life. I was practicing living in the present and what better way than taking the time to notice one of the most important features of a building: the way inside. The welcoming point (or perhaps, as can be the case of an alley entry, a place only known to the inhabitants).

This door would become my first post published and shared on Thursday Doors. A chance encounter.  We had spent the day downtown.  I was looking for the door that I might want to showcase, but none had caught my eye.  We were heading back to the parking garage when this door caught my eye.  I snapped a few shots, did what little editing I knew how to do (if I weren’t leaving town so soon, I might have tried my hand at finding the original and re-editing), and shared the post here.

This week I was thinking about Thursday Doors because I will soon be heading off to Europe (Amsterdam and Paris) for the first time ever and I am sure to encounter amazing architecture and beautiful doors. So I looked at my first door post.  Imagine my surprise to see that it was published one year ago, tomorrow. So much of the blogging community that I interact with has been met through Thursday Doors. I am not as active there this year because I had no archives and my recent journeys have not afforded me time to stop at many doors. Even still, when I do not have a post to offer, I stop by and visit many people’s door posts each Thursday.

That journey that began with that first door has changed the way that I view my every day world. I still notice doors as I pass. I wonder about the occupants. I marvel at the intricacies. I am present. I am living in that moment breath by breath.

I hope that you have the time to read the original post (it’s a very short read), but I will offer the part that left me in awe as I re-read the words that a penned one year ago.

I have not yet left this country so I have not been able to gaze upon some of the stunning overseas architecture that I have seen in pictures. I hope to someday walk among some of those streets, standing in awe, and creating my own moment in history. -Amy Lyon Smith

Tomorrow, exactly one year after I published those words, I will board a plane and leave United States soil for the first time.  I will walk the canal-filled streets of Amsterdam. I will admire the tulips and walk among history. I will travel to Paris and walk along the Seine. I will see sites that I have only witnessed on TV or in the pages of a magazine.

I will marvel at the works done at the hands of people who are long gone and in some cases long forgotten.

But that brick that they lay or that cobblestone that they placed is there… a reminder that they existed.

A small change they made in the world by showing up and doing what they were meant to do.

How will you show up today? What difference will you make in the world? Every choice has a ripple effect. Even if you don’t think that you are making a difference… You Are.

I hope that you have a lovely day. I will be pretty scarce on the blogosphere over my vacation. I’m hoping to schedule some posts, which I have never done (that’s right, you usually get it fresh from the presses), so we’ll see if that works. I do plan to update Instagram and hopefully post some things to my story (if you haven’t used these, just click on my IG profile pic if there’s a colored circle around it… that means that I have a story to be seen).

I hope that you have an amazing day filled with sunshine and smiles!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

18 Years Later... And Still Doing Life Together

18 Years Later…And Still Doing Life Together

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

BUT…

I wanted to pause for a moment.

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

To stop and smile because he still has my heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it’s there in those vows.

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

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Marriage is a commitment.

Each person growing and changing.

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

To find harmony in the ebbs and flows of life.

To love greatly and deeply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t imagine doing life with anyone else.

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

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

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

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

Let your light shine!

Amy