Friday Faves Edition 30

Friday Faves – Edition 30

It’s Friday!

This is where I round up my faves for the week.

I’ve been having a hard time finding the upbeat self that I like to bring to Friday.

Because:

 

Not just today… but for days.

Quite a few of you know that I am from Naples, Florida.

A rare native. Born there. Lived there until I was 30.

Directly in the path of Hurricane Irma… Naples, Florida.

And while I left Naples in 2008 and Florida in 2013, my family remains. Immediate…extended. Friends. I have friends in Okeechobee. The city to the north of the Lake Okeechobee that they are rapidly lowering so that it doesn’t overflow. I have friends from our last home on the East Coast. The Jensen Beach/Stuart area. Friends that live on the barrier island. Friends that live in low lying areas. Numerous other family and friends spread throughout the state.

And I am worried. Physical manifestations on my face…worried. Nauseous…worried.

My immediate family is staying. They live inland, which is currently on target for impact. They are in wood frame homes.

I wish they’d have fled.

It’s easy to say shoulda, coulda, woulda… but the reality is that people are running out of gas on the highway and many gas stations have no gas. Gas stations that do have gas are lined 50-75+ cars deep. It is taking about 4-6 hours to drive 80 miles.

I am deeply concerned.

And yet, I still have soccer games to attend this weekend, deadlines on Senior things, people to feed and keep in clean clothes.

So for this moment…right now in this moment… I will focus on the things this week that I have been grateful for.

 

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This Girl.

Yesterday the girlie in white turned 40. If you’ve followed along for some time, then you will know that this is my dad’s half-sister. But in reality, she is almost more like my sister. Jami and I were born 5 days apart and when we were 12, they moved next door. I’ve shared some funny tales from our youth in this post and this post. At the age of 19, she was diagnosed with Lupus. There would be lots of health scares over the years, some nearly ending in death. A little over two years ago, I would dance with her at her wedding to “our” song. And now she has crossed that milestone that we thought was so ancient when we were young, cruising around in my red hot rod, waving at random people. Each year, I get to tease her for those 5 days that she is “so much older” than me.

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This Face.

As much as Maverick drives me crazy by eating every random sock he can find, he also makes me smile many times a day.

He has a random peculiarity that makes me laugh. He loves ice cubes! One fell onto the floor early into our ownership of him and he loved it. Each morning, when the ice maker starts to rumble to fill Miss Sunshine’s water bottle, he races to the fridge to await “his” ice cube.

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This Camera.

(and my other cameras). They help me notice the details in the world around me.

This week, a friend asked me take some photos of her staff. I was really stressed about it because I don’t usually take photos of people and I have perfectionist tendencies, which means that often I am not happy with my photography skills (an exception to both of those was this Wednesday’s post of Miss Sunshine waiting between games at her soccer tournament). My friend was happy with the photos and my moment of gratefulness comes from the fact that she believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. From that moment of pressing outside of my comfort zone, I have grown.

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This mat.

Today I went to Pilates.

A text exchange with my mother right before I walked in the doors left me blinking back my tears. Tears of worry for my mother, my father, my brother, my sister-in-law, my two nephews.

And then I began to breathe.

Inhale.

Expand your ribs sideways.

Exhale.

Knit your ribs toward each  other like you are tightening a corset.

Maintain that connection.

And again.

And again.

Space for a sip of air into the expansion.

Exhaling even further into the space.

I listened to her voice focusing my mind into this present space…of breath…of alignment…of finding my core….figuratively and literally.

And in this moment…I am grateful that today all of those whom I love…are safe.

Mural on the University of Strathclyde Grahams Hill Building in Glasgow, Scotland

This song.

The song that I’ve chosen this week was an artist that I stumbled upon quite by accident. Those of you in the U.K. may be familiar with him. I’ve been paying attention to synchronicity. A book I was reading mentioned the name Paolo and I thought that was the same name of an essential oil I’d just read about the day before (it was actually Palo  – Palo Santo). So I googled the name and this artist came up…Paolo Nutini… AND… he was from Paisley, Scotland. And ya’ll know how much I loved Scotland. Plus, I’m pretty sure I have ancestral relatives from Paisley. I definitely have some from Renfrewshire, as recently as my 4th great-grandparents, Cecelia Findley and James Scott. So this artist it was…I hope you enjoy:

May you find moments to breathe…to focus….to be…

The Real Gift of Gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become. - Robert Holden

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Around Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh Scotland

Walking Around Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland

When I traveled to Scotland, one of the things that I was hoping to see was the ruins of an Abbey.

I was a little disappointed that our timeline was not going to leave room to head south of Edinburgh to see the “Four Border Abbeys” [Kelso Abbey, Melrose Abbey, Dryburgh Abbey, and Jedburgh Abbey].

After our experience of touring the city of Glasgow using the hop-on hop-off bus tour, we decided that when we returned to the second stay in Edinburgh we would also purchase a hop-on hop-off bus tour there.

We ended up opting for the 48-hour Royal Edinburgh ticket because it gives you fast track admission to Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Yacht Britannia, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse along with the hop-on hop-off bus tours.

I had not done much research on the Palace of Holyroodhouse prior to our trip,so it was a delightful surprise to learn that there was an Abbey and that we would be able to tour it with our admission to the Palace.

The Holyrood Abbey was founded by King David I in 1128.

The Legend is that King David was hunting nearby during Feast of the Cross. He was thrown from his horse after it was startled by a stag. The King was saved from being gored by a miraculous appearance of a cross that caused the stag to back down.

Rood means cross, hence the name being “Holy Cross”.

The original Abbey church was constructed for the Augustinian Canons.

Holyrood Abbey was the site for the coronations of James II in 1437, Margaret Tudor in 1504, Mary of Guise in 1540, Anne of Denmark in 1590, and Charles I in 1633.

There are also royals and non-royals interred at the abbey.

The photo above is of a vault.

The sign reads:

“This simple vault was built after the eastern part of the Abbey Church, enclosing the Royal tombs was destroyed by the English army in 1544. Here were placed the coffins of James V. Magdalen his first Queen and his infant sons by his second marriage to Mary of Guise. In 1688 the tomb was violated during the riots at the end of James VII’s reign and its contents were left in disorder. In 1898 Queen Victoria ordained a repair of the vault and the remains of those previously interred her were re-buried in one coffin. The Vault also contains the coffin of Mary of Guilders, Queen of James II, which was moved in 1848 from Trinity Church in Edinburgh.”

Some Royal weddings also took place here.

Of course, one of the most famous marriages to take place happened in 1565, when Mary, Queen of Scots wed Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley.

Although the Abbey is in ruins, it still showcases some impressive architecture in the structure that remains.

If you are interested in some of my other wanderings around Scotland, be sure to check out the other posts under the travel category of the blog!

I was very happy that we opted to tour the Palace rather than just admire the exterior.

Have you toured the Palace of Holyroodhouse? If so, what was your favorite part?

If you’ve ever visited the ruins of an Abbey, which one is your favorite?

I hope to get back to Scotland again someday and am curious what you would consider “can’t miss” sites.

Let me know!

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

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Friday Faves Edition 29

Friday Faves -Edition 29

Here we are at Friday!

Before I get into my faves this week, I just wanted to take a moment to let those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey know that you are in my thoughts and prayers

Having spent the first 36 years of my life in Florida, I am well aware of the devastation that a hurricane can cause.

Hurricane Wilma 2005 in Naples, FloridaI grew up in rural Collier County and remember the trees swaying deeply as Hurricane Andrew came in and devastated Homestead. I remember watching the news for the track on Hurricane Charley in 2004 and the moment when Jim Reif announced the not yet predicted slight movement to the East that would bring Charley barreling toward Punta Gorda. I would visit Punta Gorda some later and the remnants of destruction would still be visible. In 2012, I would be living a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, in Sewall’s Point, as Sandy made her way past us as a tropical storm. I would see the churning of an angry sea. I would watch as the river flowed beyond its bounds and up into our streets. I would nod my head in agreement that it was wise that school should be cancelled due to the danger of the school buses crossing the causeways in the high winds.

Damage from Hurricane Wilma in Naples, Florida

I would experience the slight effects of other storms, but I would live through Hurricane Wilma in 2005. In fact, it was just 11 months ago that I wrote this post about it, during which time I was concerned about my friends and family who were in the path of Hurricane Matthew.

But I have never experienced such personal devastation. And my heart aches for those that have. I shared in that prior post about this tree above and my opinion as to why it broke during the storm. If you look at the first photo, you will see that pine trees grow densely. They bend together in a storm. Their unity gives them strength. This pine tree stood alone. He took all of the brunt of the Hurricane force winds…alone. And he did not survive.

I hope that all of those affected by Hurricane Harvey continue to see growing bonds of unity.

Sorry, I have no good segway into my faves after that display of emotion…

So how about with some beer?

You all know from this post that I finished my 30 days of no alcohol. We decided to rent Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and I thought this would be a fun craft beer of choice to go along with the show. The movie was hilarious and the beer was tasty!

Another exciting part of my week was that the hubby finished painting my room! Yay! Peaceful serenity! My room color is the color of choice throughout my house…Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams. It’s a great neutral, but also makes me feel like I’m at a spa or by the ocean (which is where my heart resides). I’m so glad my friend introduced me to this color! Thanks friend!

Also, I finally found a duvet cover (yes, my bed could be made to look more like a magazine ad, but you know…real life and all). I’m not big on buying something just to take something that bit the dust’s place. My duvet cover finally had to meet its maker about 4-6 months ago. It’s taken me that long to find one that I like and that didn’t cost an exorbitant amount. This one is linen and I found it at Macy’s. It was either on clearance or a really big sale. Nevertheless, I’m super happy with it. As you can tell, I’m a fan of neutrals. We don’t do throw pillows because they just get “thrown” into the chair that’s in the corner on the right. Things hanging out in that chair (like some people’s clothes. ahem) is a massive pet peeve of mine.

I did see where there are some nice covers you can get for body pillows and that can be the decoration in the middle.

Have you seen this done? What do you think?

Soccer life has been crazy this week. Miss Sunshine needs some physical therapy for her knee so on the nights that she didn’t have practice, she had therapy. To keep myself occupied I played with Snapchat filters. I don’t actually snapchat, but I do love the filters. We head to Charlottesville tomorrow for a weekend in the rain at a tournament.

I know that I’m going to need to plan ahead to be mindful of my September Challenge.

If you follow my Instagram stories, then you know that one of my 2017 goals is to participate in a 5k. Originally, I didn’t care if I walked the entire thing, I just wanted to participate in one. Well I’ve decided that I might be a little more competitive than that.

I had some cash to spend at the sporting goods store from earlier backpack purchases.I went there looking for sports bras…but no luck. So far, I only like the Knockout Bra by Victoria’s Secret. In yoga and pilates, I spend time on my back for core work and there’s nothing I hate worse that hooks digging into my back. Plus, anything that says S, M, L… instead of a bra size, never actually works for me. Fun fact: I worked at Victoria’s Secret as a second job when I was 18, so I actually do know how things are supposed to fit.

I ended up finding this really cute Calia tank. Honestly, I’ll probably wear it all the time, not really for working out.

Yesterday, I went to see how long it would take for me to run/walk/power walk 3.2 miles. I’ve never been a runner because I get anxiety if I feel like I can’t get enough oxygen in my lungs. This is why I don’t particularly enjoy snorkeling and haven’t (and may never) been scuba diving.  I could tell the difference made by learning how to breathe in yoga and pilates. I finished it in 44.5 minutes. While I didn’t crush it, it was my first time, and I was pleased.

Since I want to make sure I don’t injure myself by trying too much too soon, I’ve downloaded a Couch to 5k app that I plan on implementing for training starting next week.

Are you a runner? Have you ever run a 5k? Or more? Let me know!

My song choice this week is because I find it uplifting and fun. I’m working really hard on me. On being me. On being happy with me. Feeling confident and strong. Making choices that move me in that direction.

Also, I had a recent conversation with Miss Sunshine about feminism. That I do consider myself a feminist because I think women should be paid the same for doing the same job. I don’t think they are lesser in any way. But I also don’t agree with the contingent (which is hopefully a small contingent) who believe that you must also bash men in the process. Those two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Because as with many divisive things… it moves us no closer to a solution.

I hope that your weekend is filled with more sunshine than mine appears to be.

Remember how far you've come, not just how you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be. -Rick Warren

Let your light shine!

Amy

30 Days Of…September Challenge

Yesterday I shared what I learned during my 30 days of no alcohol.

As promised, today I’m announcing what my September “30 Days Of…” Challenge will be.

30 Days of no single-use plastic shopping bags.

Now before you roll your eyes, I did promise that this one would be somewhat easy.

I realize that quite a few of you live in cities, states, or even countries where these are banned or have a surcharge that makes them very unappealing.

That’s awesome! That means that you will be able to crush this challenge!

I have never lived in such a city.

I have been using reusable bags for probably 10+ years. I’m really good at remembering to take them to the grocery store.

However, sometimes I don’t bring enough for my purchases at big box stores. I don’t know why because I own enough. One big box store will put 1-3 items per plastic bag. This is a massive pet peeve of mine. So after many times bitching  informing my husband of my irritation, I began using the self-checkout lane. I know how best to pack my reusable bags and if, on occasion, I don’t have enough then I will cram that plastic bag full. I don’t care if its seams are about to split. I know that I can cradle it like a little baby for the few steps from my car to my house.

But where I notice my big failing is when I head to department stores. It doesn’t always occur to me to carry a bag inside.

I am getting a better about  it, which is why I chose this as my first challenge.

By making it a challenge, I will be more mindful about always having a reusable bag available.

Recently I read an article about how Americans use 500 million straws per day

Yes, you read that right.

500… MILLION…PER…DAY.

I can’t find the exact article, but you can read about the problem and the initiative to eliminate the massive amount of straw consumption at The Last Plastic Straw.

I was in shock. Straws were not something that I ever even thought about. I don’t keep them in our home, but if I eat fast food or at a restaurant, I’ve always used a straw.

A one-time use item that then ends up in landfills and our oceans.

They say that knowledge is power.

So the question became… now that I had the knowledge, what would I do?

I haven’t had much of a chance to put it into play, but I have forgone the straw when possible (I didn’t on Mr. D’s birthday dinner because that was shortly after I read the article and it didn’t occur to me that they would bring the drinks with the straw already inserted. Lesson learned: inform the waitress upon ordering that I don’t need a straw).

So if I’m talking about plastic straws why is my challenge about plastic bags?

Honestly… because I need a win.

It’s my birthday month and the beginning of my official “30 days of” personal growth challenges.

In a recent conversation with my daughter about that wastefulness of the plastic shopping bags and plastic straws, she pointed out that sandwich bags are one time use as well. I have some reusable items, but not enough to cover each component of three lunches that I pack each day. Then there are the prepackaged items like single servings of yogurt.

When it comes to the environment, it’s easy to think “I’m just one person, what I do doesn’t make a difference.”

But it does.

And if you’re vocal about what you’re doing, you just might see a trickle effect. When I told the hubby about the straw article, he was in shock too. And then he began forgoing the straw. I have always been better at “no plastic bags” than him, but new knowledge about the sheer amount of plastic waste and the insane amount of time it takes to decompose (I found an infographic here) has prompted him to be more conscientious about his role in bettering the environment as well.

I understand that environmentalism and sustainability and green living are things that millennials and post-millennials have been exposed to their entire lives. I have not. The internet has made the spread of knowledge about the harm that we are doing much more readily available, but you still have to be searching for the knowledge.

My 30 days will be based on plastic shopping bag usage, but I will also be monitoring my consumption of one-time use plastic.

While I may share what I discover across my household…

The only person that I can change is myself.

I hope that you’ll join in the challenge. I’ll be sharing how it goes after the 30 days.

Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. -Desmond Tutu

Let your light shine!

Amy

What I learned from 30 days of no alcohol

What I Learned From 30 Days Of No Alcohol

30 days of no alcohol.

[blankly stares off into space. nope. not me.]

That’s what I thought when I first read something about it being the perfect time to try a month of no alcohol as we were heading into Virgo season.

Obviously, it was on some astrology site. I can’t even remember which one now.

I know there are a lot of people who don’t believe in astrology. I’ll be honest. I’m not even sure what I believe when it comes to it. If my faith were to be placed into the box that it’s supposed to neatly fit into, then it would say I’m not allowed to believe it. However, I don’t believe in legalism when it comes to religion…and that’s about as far as I’ll delve into religious beliefs.

I have always believed that I am characteristically a Virgo. Plus, I am an extremely curious person who wants to know everything about every thing. So in that curious process I looked at my natal chart and discovered that the Virgo personality does claim to be strong. My Sun, Moon, and Mercury are all in Virgo, which is my 9th house. I don’t really know what that means…but if that’s you’re thing and you wanna share some insight, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Anyways…

That was how I stumbled upon the idea of no alcohol.

I really wasn’t sure if I would succeed.

Irony Wine Cork macro photo

Which is why I didn’t bring it up in Friday Faves until later.

I don’t drink heavily or even drink every day, but there’s enough times that I knew that 30 days would take effort on my part.

Especially because the hubby was not joining me on this particular experiment of mine. And yes, I call it an experiment. That’s because I often do these mental or physical experiments or research projects in which I am the subject.

That's what I do. I drink and I know things coffee mug

I’m not gonna lie, the hardest day of each week was Sunday night when the hubby and I would sit down to watch Game of Thrones. It is the only show that I stop what I’m doing to sit down and watch with him. We usually have our wine or our beer and decompress while watching this epic storyline before heading into the work/school week.

My detox did end prior to that season finale though!

Since I know some of ya’ll are still catching up..no spoilers from me.

But…oh…my…goodness!

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So what did I learn?

I thought that I would have some epiphany or mental clarity once the supposed brain fog lifted.

Nope.

But what I learned is that I have the mental fortitude to push through to the end of a goal that I set for myself…. even when no one is watching.

It would have been easy to say “I don’t feel any different”, “my skin isn’t clearer”, “I haven’t lost any weight”…”why am I doing this again.”

And there were moments when I wanted to do just that.

But I didn’t.

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I do want to keep pushing my comfort zones. In recent conversations, I’ve discovered that I have a strong fear of failure and so quite often I just don’t try.

In keeping with the “30 days” concept, I’ve decided that each month of my 40th year I will do a “30 days of…” challenge. I haven’t figured out what each challenge will be, but they will likely focus on mental health, fitness, nutrition, hobbies, or the environment.

To keep things more streamlined, I will start them at the beginning of the month. I plan to let you all know what each challenge is a few days prior to the new month, just in case you are interested in joining me. It’s very likely that I will have failures during some of the challenges and this will be hard for me, but I feel like it’s the next step in my growth.

Check back tomorrow where I’ll announce my September challenge!

p.s.- The first one shouldn’t be too hard. My 40th birthday isn’t until the 12th, so technically, I’m starting 2 weeks before my 40th year. Plus, you gotta succeed for your birthday month. Right?!

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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!

Amy

 

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