Amy check-in with Yoga Crescent Pose for Yoga Challenge on the beach at sunset in Naples, Florida

Returning Home

Checking In.

Hey All!

I’m sitting at the Miami International Airport and will be boarding my plane shortly.

London here we come!

I wanted to get in my interpretation of the weekly photo challenge before I head overseas

Where I Belong.

The theme was “where I belong”.

I belong many places, but the first place was the town of my birth…

Naples, Florida.

I returned there to meet my mom for our trip.

Crescent Pose.

We caught a gorgeous sunset on the beach and my mom convinced me to complete my yoga challenge there even though I don’t like to create a scene.

I hope that you are having an amazing week and I’ll be checking in from time to time during my travels.

You can also follow along on my Instagram stories.

Every Adventure Requires A First Step - Cheshire Cat photo quote

Let your light shine!

Amy

wpc: Where I Belong

Friday Faves Edition 63

Friday.

Here we are once again at Friday.

This week has both been longer than I could ever imagine and yet shorter than I thought.

Have you ever had a week like that?

Friday Faves.

You may have noticed that I’ve been around the blogosphere a little less this week. That trend is likely to continue. I have prepping to do before I leave for my UK travels. I have almost 2 weeks of travel. Then, I have end of the school year stuff for three teenagers, one of which is graduating from high school.

However, I wanted to pop in to catch up and share my Friday Faves.

I won’t be posting Friday Faves for the next two weeks since I fly down to Florida next Wednesday.

I hope to give you an update through the blog during my time away, but honestly, the best way to follow what is going on will be through my Instagram stories.

The reason for that is because they are much quicker to produce and I want to savor my time away with my mother.

Travel Plans.

As a recap if you are new to my blog: I head to Naples, FL next Wednesday. My mother and I will be flying to London from Miami. After 2 days in London, we head to Inverness where we will take a day trip over to Isle of Lewis, a day tour that includes seeing the Isle of Skye, and a cruise along Loch Ness (Nessie…I’m really hoping you make it to our appointment). We then head down to Edinburgh for a few days before traveling back to London for our flight back to the U.S. I have planned in an extra day to lounge on the beach and visit more family.

What I’ve Been Up To Lately.

Over the weekend, the hubby and I did some shopping to pick up a few pieces that I need for my travels. I’ve had some jeans for more years than I can count and they had finally “worn” out their welcome. I did find some replacements. This weekend I will fully assess what I need to pack (procrastination at its finest).

We also traveled over to visit my mother-in-law. Since the hubby and I are doing predominately a vegan diet, I needed to pick up something from the grocery store for lunch. I chose to make a sandwich consisting of avocado and tomato on toasted sourdough bread. I’ve recreated it at home and added alfalfa sprouts as well, and it is my new favorite sandwich!!

Most of the week has been checking off boxes…teen to orthodontist, hair appointment, a/c service, attending soccer games, editing soccer photos, rounding up graduation announcements, tweaking itineraries, cleaning house, parenting.

With a few stressful moments thrown in…parenting.

May Challenge.

This week signaled the end of the April Challenge, which I did complete and will likely reflect on in the future.

It also began my May Challenge, 30 days of 30 yoga poses.

I’ve share my first three days on the Instagram stories. It’s likely that I’ll continue to do so over the course of the challenge.

I know many of you said you’d be cheering for me from the sidelines. A huge “thank you” to all of you. Dee Dee from Invisible-No-More is joining along with me and posting her poses to her Instagram feed. She’s found some awesome places to capture her poses!

Mountain Pose.

Day 1 was Mountain Pose.

Maverick decided that he wanted to join along with me. Which was a nice added perk. It also made Miss Sunshine less reluctant to take photos of me after her long day of school and soccer practice.

Child’s Pose.

Day 2 was Child’s Pose.

I love this shot because Maverick looks like he is bowing down, and child’s pose can have a similar look.

On my blog, I usually participate in Wordless Wednesday. A photo posted that speaks for itself. This is the photo I chose for today and it does speak for itself, but I also chose it because the weekly prompt that I was interpreting was “unlikely.” 💦 I chose this photo because if you had asked me when I was 16 to peer into my future 🔮 it is “unlikely” I would have seen myself standing at Natural Bridge in Aruba, watching as my own 16 year old son made his way across the rocks to witness the waves crash against the limestone. This side of Aruba makes you feel like you are at the edge of the world. Nothing but an expanse of blue as you look away from the island. Pounding surf, relentlessly crashing against the cliffs. It truly is a breathtaking place 💦 #seekthesimplicity #beautyinthechaos #dreamchaser #roamtheplanet #aruba #onehappyisland #jetsetfamily #lifeofadventure #doyoutravel #travelbug #travelstoke #traveldiaries #traveldeeper #natgeotravel #tlpicks #stayandwander #fromwhereistand #thehappynow #exploretocreate #artofvisuals #optoutside #exploremore #darlingescapes #oceandweller #familytravel #naturehippys

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

Instagram and Photo Challenge.

If you saw my Wordless Wednesday, then this photo is familiar. I almost opted not to make it wordless and to share why I was using it since I was also interpreting the prompt from the weekly photo challenge.

In the end, I decided to keep it wordless and share its backstory today.

Food.

Since I know that I will most definitely be trying new foods in the UK, I wanted to be sure that my stomach will not rebel. While the week has been mostly vegan, I did eat eggs last weekend. The hubby and I also went out to dinner on Wednesday night. I had steak and shrimp, along with mashed potatoes. I do think it affected my digestive system somewhat, but I don’t think I’ll be curled up in a hotel room in London or Scotland. I really think dairy is not my friend…but I still may eat some cheese while I’m over there!

Soccer.

Miss Sunshine finished up her middle school soccer season last night. We will be having their team banquet tonight. The game location was a good drive away and by the time we made it home, it was 7:30 ish at night.

I popped off my sandals…threw on some workout attire…rounded up the hubby….

snapseed-601

Cow Pose.

And started on day 3 of the yoga challenge.

Cow to Cat Pose.

As soon as I pulled out the mat, Maverick thought it was play time. He did not join in on Cow Pose.

But…

snapseed-602

He crawled into my face and started trying to give me kisses.

snapseed-598

Cat Pose.

He ended up moving for the second part of day three.

Cat Pose.

If only he were actually trained to do the poses because he is amazing at this one. I’ve never seen a dog stretch like a cat before, but he does! He can articulate each vertebrae as he rolls through stretching his back.

That’s really been most of my week. I have to get bills lined up to be paid, make sure the calendar of where the teens need to be is up-to-date, round up any necessary items to travel with, decided whether I’m packing a tripod….and the list goes on.

If you’re over on Instagram, I hope that you’ll follow along with my journey. And if you aren’t…well…I’ll have lots of tales to share with you when I return.

I hope you have days filled with excitement ahead. And smile, it always brightens the day.

In closing…because I must…. “May the Fourth be with you.”

 

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 62

Friday.

I can’t believe that it’s already Friday!

Not only that, it’s the last Friday in April!

Friday Faves.

Most of my week has been checking off boxes…but they have made me feel productive so they also qualify for my Friday Faves.

Over the weekend, I became more deliberate in my efforts to get my photos backed up to an external hard drive. I need the space on my laptop and I needed to feel comfortable about deleting the photos stored on my camera.

I still quite a way to go, but I made substantial headway.

Humor.

They say that laughter is the best medicine.

I was trying to film a story for Instagram and Miss Sunshine kept waiting until I’d start recording and then ask me random questions.

It has quite hilarious.

Finally, I told her that I was going to post the one where she’d deepened her voice and said something random. She quickly deleted that one from my phone.

Then, I thought perhaps she’d head to the kitchen to eat her food, but she still photobombed me. I could see her from the corner of my eye, but thought I’d be able to maintain my composure.

I didn’t.

This one did get posted to my Instagram story. Followed by my original intent of asking people what they found the hardest to give up on a vegan diet.

Vegan.

I have been following a mostly vegan diet for almost 3 weeks. We did make a conscious decision to eat vegetarian on Sunday because we needed to have a family meeting about summer plans.

Finding a restaurant that everyone likes is hard enough. We opted for Mellow Mushroom, which is a pizza place. The hubby and I got their Veg Out pizza and it was sooo good.

I am aware that Mellow Mushroom offers vegan cheese. However, I haven’t tried vegan cheese before and I notoriously choose items when dining out that turn out to be repulsive. Just ask my family about that time in Paris when the pasta dish I ordered came with a raw egg cracked on top. I ate around it and then waited to finish what was left on the other 4 plates!

I do plan to eat all types of food when I travel to the UK in two weeks. Given the fact that it may indeed bother my stomach, there will be days here and there leading up to it where I will add in things I’ve cut out to see if they bother my digestive system.

If you’re curious about the picture of the vegan lunch I made one day, it’s: Toasted Flax Ezekiel Bread, Roasted Garlic Hummus, Cucumber, Tomato, Shredded Carrots, Alfalfa Sprouts, and a bit of Red Onion.

The hubby finds that eating vegan agrees very well with him. I still haven’t found the proper ratios (or maybe vitamins and minerals) for my body. I think it shifted my hormones and I had a few days recently where I wanted to take a nap (but didn’t) in the afternoon. Occasionally, I also feel what I call a hollowness (for lack of a better explanation). Not necessarily hungry, but sort of.

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.

We’ll be using all of those when my mom and I travel to the UK.

Yep. You read that right.

My mom and I decided to rent a car for our day on the Isle of Lewis. There is public transportation, but with only having a day, the timetable left us fairly restricted. My mom is going to be the driver while I navigate. Eek!

I also booked the remainder of our trains, so there is only some to and from the airport in Inverness stuff left to deal with, but buses and taxis are both available.

Packing.

I think that I’m going to bring my tripod with me on this trip, which is another reason why my suitcase needs to be packed lightly. The tripod only weighs a little over five pounds, so it should be fine.

One of my thoughts behind packing leggings….which I haven’t shopped for yet…was minimizing space.

I learn a little more about packing each time I travel though and while I love to look cute in a city, I much more prefer staying dry…warm…packing lightly… than I care about making a fashion statement.

Challenge.

I made the announcement for my May Challenge. The fact that I will be traveling for a portion of it helped with the direction that it’ll take.

Accident Prone.

The response to my poll on my Instagram story was 100% Yes.

Not only did I drop something heavy on my big toe over the weekend, but I had a major mishap on Wednesday.

While talking on the phone with my about what sightseeing we should do in London, I proceeded to walk down the stairs from my office (need a visual of the stairs, they are in my Photowall review post).

You know where this is going don’t you?

I proceeded to slide down about three or four stairs. In trying to catch myself with my left hand, I wrenched my back and jammed my shoulder. I still landed on the tailbone and right sits bone. I’m sure I scared my mother as I yelled (maybe cursed a little) and then took deep breaths to pretend like I could breath out the hurt.

Most of the back and shoulder pain left the next day. However, there is monstrous purple bruise on my bottom that is still sore enough that I bypassed Pilates today because I can’t imagine doing  roll-ups and some other moves up on to it.

Team Photos.

Last year I was asked to take a photo of Miss Sunshine’s middle school soccer team. They have professional photos taken, but it’s usually still wintery and they wanted a warmer weather photo of the team to give as part of the coach’s gifts. I also took a photo of the girls’ cleats which I shared in this post.

This year, I was asked again to take a team photo and agreed.

I will tell you that these types of shoots make my anxiety climb…and climb. Yes, I am doing it as a favor, but I am still hoping to meet somebody’s expectations. I am a people pleaser by nature. I don’t like people to be disappointed in me. So the team shoot already makes me nervous. I photograph landscapes (some of which I shared on Tuesday and Thursday . Their eyes don’t blink. They rarely move unless the wind blows.

Lighting and angles of humans are not my strong points.

Individual Photos.

I had heard rumor that I was going to be asked to take individual photos. This made me feel even more pressured. I will reiterate that this is pressure I put on myself. The people I interact with I’ve known for years and are great.

I had around a 20 minute timeline to shoot a team photo and then take individuals of 24 girls. This meant there wasn’t time to check my work and see if the photos came out as I went along. I imported them this morning. It does appear that I have a group shot were all 24 girls and the coaches have their eyes open (the first thing I look for), but I’ll need to look at them more closely. Same with the individuals. In review I noticed two of the girls weren’t in line for individuals, but I know them and can take them later if they want them. Still I know the photos aren’t professional grade and looking back I wish I’d changed the f/stop, but time was short, I needed to get through them all, and I didn’t think about it.

The one of Miss Sunshine is just a quick edit that I did for this post. I don’t know if it’s the final product.

Here’s to hoping the parents like them.

8th Grade Recognition.

At the final home game, the 8th grade girls are recognized before the game. Along the fence surrounding the fields, they attach a giant cardboard soccer ball that has the name and jersey number of each girl. During the ceremony, the eighth grade girls step forward from team and then each one is named and presented with a rose from their coaches.

This isn’t the final product of this photo either. I just don’t share too many faces of teens that aren’t mine.

Both of her brothers had the day off from work so they were able to come to her game. I think she’d have like to have scored a goal, but she had a clean assist and some nice shots on goal.

Summer Plans.

I mentioned in my post on Wednesday that I need to see some of my people. Miss Sunshine are in the early stages of planning an extended trip to Florida (mainly Naples) over the summer. I’ll let you know more about that as I begin to have more concrete plans.

I hope that you have a beautiful weekend and fabulous week ahead.

We have warm days ahead and I couldn’t be happier.

Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light - Theodore Roethke

Let your light shine!

Amy

Follow The Lines - Photography Tips

Follow the Lines

Photography.

Photography gives you a chance to share the world through your view.

To perhaps share a new angle.

A new way of thinking…

Of seeing.

Follow The Lines - Photography Tips

Lines.

The photography challenge up for interpretation this week is lines.

While I am far from an expert when it comes to photography, lines are actually one of the things that I consider when I’m composing my shot.

Quite often, lines can add an element of interest to your photo.

Today, I thought I’d share some photography tips (examples) on how I use lines in my photos.

Photography Tip #1.

Shadows.

Not only were there lines in the porch railing, I also liked the shadows cast by the sun streaming through the metal railings onto the snow-covered porch.

Photography Tip #2.

Fences.

If you’ve followed my photography for some time, then you are already aware that when I’m shooting nearby scenes in Virginia, I love to use fences and fenceposts as a focal point to draw the eye along the scene.

img_7099

Photography Tip #3.

Roads.

Roads have great lines. There can be a focus on the center line or just the shape of the road itself.

 

snapseed-593

Both straight roads and curvy roads each have their own fascinating features.

You should always use extreme caution when shooting a roadway. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to shoot on abandoned roads. Nor have I typically been on a road that is less traveled, so rarely shoot from the center of the road.

My photo quote was in a neighborhood right after a snow so we were able to stop the Jeep and I could lean out the window.

The photo above is from an overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

If I were going to take center of the street shots, I would definitely have someone with me to be my traffic eyes.

snapseed-590

Photography Tip #4.

Lattice or Chain Link.

You can find interesting compositions almost anywhere.

Don’t be afraid to capture something that catches your eye.

Remember, everyone has different taste and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The photo above is of a sweet pea vine growing in the wild. It’s growing along a chain link fence that provides a barrier from a parking area in downtown Roanoke and the interstate rushing along beside.

I love how lattice and chain link both create a diamond pattern.

Photography Tip #5.

Trees.

I photograph trees.

A lot.

I am not a fan of Virginia winters, but I do love to see the shapes of the trees after they’ve  shed their seasonal coats of leaves.

I was on Roanoke Mountain to watch the sunset, when these trees turned vibrant as the sun they were facing began to set. The moon had already made its appearance, being framed by these ancient beings rising up from the earth.

Photography Tip #6.

Landscapes and Sidewalks.

You can find lines most anywhere you look.

Many places will line sidewalks with trees or bushes. While the sidewalk itself creates lines, I love when the landscaping enhances them.

This sidewalk is in the Museumplein in Amsterdam.

These are just a few examples about how to incorporate lines into your photos.

What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate them?

img_9553

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

Life Lesson From A Dream

 

 

Dreams.

How many of you think about your dreams?

I’m not talking about your hopes and wishes, goals and ambitions, types of dreams.

Although those are important too!

And though they be ever so delicately entangled upon the mist, I sense my dreams amongst the trees…waiting patiently for me to come and release them . . .Since I always quote the author, do I credit myself for my own writing? 😂. Obviously, #imkidding #myownwritingmakesmefeelvulnerable . . .#dreamchaser #moodygrams #exploretocreate #moodynature #sheisnotlost #seekthesimplicity #stayandwander #wearetravelgirls #wildernessculture #foggyday #naturehippys #fiftyshades_of_nature #tree_brilliance #optoutside #neverstopexploring #blueridgeday #visitvirginia #letsgosomewhere #traveldiaries #travelstoke #fingerprintofgod #nothingisordinary #natgeotravel #exploremore #natureaddict #treehugger #fromwhereistand #itsamazingoutthere

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

I’m talking about the ones that happen while you’re sleeping.

Do you ever stop to think about what they might be saying?

Well, I do.

Last week I had a dream.

A dream that woke me up.

And then it nagged at my soul.

It was a dream that has still stuck with me even after I worked out its meaning.

So today I’ve decided to share the dream with you.

Some parts may not make sense because dreams can be that way, but in the end I walked away with a lesson.

snapseed-588

My Dream.

I don’t remember the parts leading up to the moment where I was walking along the corridor of a hospital with another person. In the dream I knew this person, but outside of the dream I can’t say that I do. I am telling the person that I will show them my area of the hospital (we are both patients).

Even though I know that I am 40 year old me and the person I am with is of a similar age, the hospital has a futuristic feel. I know this because my “wing” is along the yellow corridor and the other person’s “wing” is along the orange corridor. I don’t know if they’ve actually become a patient in the orange corridor or not, but if they aren’t, they will be.

These colors are not the color of the walls. It is based on a threshold that we cross which looks similar to a parking block (or stop). I notice this because after I cross, I stop to make sure that an alarm doesn’t sound as the person I’m traveling with crosses into the “wing” that is not assigned to them. It does not go off and I notice workers passing us and not paying attention to the fact that this person from the orange wing is here.

I turn back to the person with me, but they have stopped a bit back. I call to them through the crowd to wave them toward me. They ask me “where are the toys?”. I look around at the other patients. I notice that they are in hospital gowns, have white hair, are very obviously of an advanced age, and are laughing and talking with one another. Then, I turn and tell my traveling partner that everyone here is close to death and they don’t care about toys.

Awake.

I awaken and it’s the middle of the night. I don’t know if my thought happened before or after I awoke, but there’s a realization that I am a 40 year old in a section of the hospital with people who appear to be in their 80’s and dying from a terminal illness (granted not in a painful way). My first anxiety-ridden thought is “do I have a terminal illness that I don’t know about and this is my subconscious letting me know?” I don’t feed that thought because it feels like my mind panicking, not my intuition creating a “knowing” knot in my stomach.

Still the dream eats at me because I feel like I’m meant to take something away.

Meditation.

The next day during my meditation time, I am still pondering this dream.

As I begin the meditation, I have the thought “if I had a terminal illness, is this the way I’d be living my life?”.

The immediate answer to that was “No. More often, I’d be choosing to spend time seeing the people that I love .”

Lesson.

That is the main lesson that I took away.

We are not promised a certain number of years, or weeks, or days, or even breaths.

And neither are the people that we care about.

As I pondered the rest of the dream, I came to think that the reference to “toys” was all the things we tend accumulate. The things that we’ve chased that we realize don’t matter when you can see your final days looming. I have been on a slow sail to my own personal definition of minimalism, but I think it’s time to find a little wind for those sails and continue with my decluttering process.

It isn’t always easy to work out seeing the people who mean a lot to you (family, friends, etc.). Especially if they don’t live down the street or inside your home.

I know that I often get tied up with my obligations around my home or think that my teenagers won’t survive without me accessible to them on a daily basis.

However, the reality is, I could just say “I really need to see you (loved person). Let’s figure out how to make that happen.”

In fact, I’ve already started making plans to see people this summer that I’ve missed for way too long.

Does this life lesson resonate with you?

Perhaps you should pick up the phone and call that person you love and let them know what they mean to you.

 

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved. -Kurt Vonnegut

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Photo Interpretation of Prolific photo challenge

Photo Interpretation of Prolific

Photography Series.

I never do two post in one day.

BUT….

I haven’t missed a weekly photo challenge yet this year

…and I don’t intend to start today.

 

Photo Challenge.

The word we were asked to interpret was prolific.

Prolific is defined as: Present in large number or quantities; plentiful. Producing in large quantities or with great frequency; highly productive.

I’ll spare you my normal plethora of words and let the photos mostly speak for themselves.

 

snapseed-585

Tulips in Bloom at Vondelpark in Amsterdam. (see more of Amsterdam here)

 

Love locks along the Seine in Paris. (see more here)

 

Gravestones at Old Town Cemetery located at Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling, Scotland. (see Stirling Castle here)

 

snapseed-587

Rocks, seagulls en masse on the rocks in the background, stunning turquoise beauty…take your pick. Baby Beach in Aruba. (see others here)

 

img_0110

Pink Dogwood in bloom. Roanoke, Virginia (see others here)

 

So much of who we are is where we have been. -William Langewiesche

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

wpc: prolific

 

30 Day Challenge…May

30 Day Challenge.

Most of you who’ve been on the journey with me, know that I’ve been doing 30 day challenges since turning 40 in September of 2017.

The challenges are meant to push me in ways that I wouldn’t typically push myself.

We are fast approaching May, so it’s time to make the announcement for what my 30 challenge will be for the month of May.

30 Day Challenge.png

May Challenge.

I will be traveling for two weeks during the month of May, therefore, I knew that it would need to be a portable challenge.

I also wanted the challenge to be physical in nature.

With all that in mind, here is the May 30 day Challenge:

30 Day Yoga Pose Challenge

Yoga Crow pose Bakasana

Yoga.

I have only been practicing yoga for a few years. I wrote about how yoga was good for my soul in this post.

When I decided that I wanted to train for a 5k (which I have not participated in as of yet), I needed to open up some time in my schedule for running. I achieved this by cutting out the yoga classes (similar to power yoga) that I had been attending.

Yes, I could have created or found a flow to do at home. Or even completed some rounds of sun salutations. But the fact of the matter is that I didn’t.

Reverse Warrior Yoga Pose

Yoga Poses.

I’ve missed my yoga time.

Granted I have stayed physically active with my Pilates classes and have stayed mentally centered with my meditation practice.

However, I’ve been wanting to incorporate more yoga back into my life.

I’ve opted for the yoga pose challenge because I am realistic about the time I have to afford placing anything extra into my life when I am traveling.

If you are interested, I am using this infographic for my challenge. I am not doing the challenge referenced in the article. I will only be completing the daily poses. This is technically a 31 day challenge. May does have 31 days or you could easily squeeze two poses into one day.

Yoga Namaste

Follow Along.

As many of you know, I leave Virginia on May 9th and will return on May 22nd.

It’s very likely that I will try to include a photo of me attempting some of the poses on my Instagram stories.

I pack lightly so we’ll have to see if there’s room for workout clothes that I’d be willing to share publicly.

As much as it may appear that I like the limelight because I have a blog and share things on Instagram, you will not find my poses being performed in front of some beautiful tourist attraction.

Sorry to disappoint you.

Once we make it to the UK, the only way you’ll see the pose outside of the hotel room is if we’ve found a semi-remote place to achieve a photo…even then, some may not be shared.

…and try not to laugh too hard if, instead of a graceful swan, my poses look like an injured chicken.

I’d love for you to join along on this 30 days yoga pose challenge. Or any other yoga pose challenge that you find that you might enjoy.

Are you in?

Let me know!

When life seems overwhelming...pure bedlam...find a quiet place, close your eyes...and just breathe. -Amy Lyon Smith

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 61

Friday.

Who’s happy that it’s Friday?!

Since there’s no rain in the weekend forecast, I sure am!

img_7042

Friday Faves.

I’m going to delve right in to my Friday Faves.

Vacation Clothes.

I have slightly less than three weeks before I head to the U.K. and am still missing a few clothing items I’d like…namely, black leggings.

Any suggestions on brands that don’t… bunch up around the knees…look like I’m wearing opaque stockings…aren’t made for the under 5’5″ crowd…and recognize that some women have leg muscles (this is why I love shorts so much..but, alas..I need to keep warm!)?

So I’ll be heading off to peruse some shops when I finish chatting with ya’ll.

Hiking.

Last Saturday the hubby and I took advantage of the one sunny, warm day (I was wearing a tank top and shorts! 2 days later I was back in a thigh-length down coat!)

I’ve been wanting to head over to the Peaks of Otter in Bedford and hike the Fallingwater Cascades trail. It has been one of my go-to hikes since hiking it for my 21st birthday (1998 if you don’t want to do the math). I’ll be doing a post on it once I finish post-processing my photos, but you can catch another glimpse of one of the shots here.

Outdoor Photography.

I didn’t come fully prepared for the photography.

It was intentional.

I hadn’t been to the falls in a while and knew that we’d return as we delve into spring. This was mostly about enjoying the sunshine and spending time with my husband. As such, I did not carry a tripod and (though not fully intentionally) didn’t bring along my ND filter.

I still wanted to see if I could capture the movement of the water. I used shutter priority for the setting and then adjusted to capture the least overexposed shot I could manage. I was able to edit it in a way that I was pleased with, but I will be returning with the tripod and filters once it warms up!!

Peaks of Otter Lodge.

When I hike out at the Peaks of Otter, I must dine at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.

We ate there for my 21st birthday. We always returned there when we’d come to Virginia for a visit. Its interior just has something like a classic nostalgia. It feels somewhat reminiscent of Dirty Dancing (which, FYI, the filming location of that movie is within driving distance and I’ve already requested it to the hubby as a spring expedition).

Vegan.

The hubby and I watched the documentary What the Health and he decided that he wanted to give vegan eating a try. We’d already been hearing quite a bit of its health benefits prior to watching the documentary.

As I mentioned when we did the vegetarian challenge, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and thyroid problems (which may be autoimmune as well) run in my family. I have already tested positive for autoimmune antibodies, but was negative to the specific autoimmune diseases they were testing for.

The hubby had his own reasons for wanting to attempt it. We are now finishing up week two. That’s not to say we’ve been perfect. On day one, we ate a croissant and then later realized…”oh wait, there’s butter in that”. We also ordered this vegetarian meal at the Lodge. We don’t know if it included butter because we didn’t ask.

However, we took the concept and for many of our dinners, we have been cooking up pans of veggies cooked in olive oil and garlic and serving it over pasta.

I don’t know if I’ll remain fully vegan. We are doing it for health, not necessarily ethical reasons. I am not sold on the idea of there being a problem with eating eggs, although the ones I feed my teens are free-range, pasture raised…whatever I can find that’s the closest to a chicken roaming in its natural habitat.

I also won’t be putting constraints on my eating habits when I travel to the U.K. One of the experiences I love about travel is trying new foods.

Peaks of Otter.

After our lunch, we strolled around Abbot Lake. Then we sat for a bit and admired the view. The Peaks of Otter are three mountain peaks overlooking the town of Bedford (you learn something new everyday…because I only have heard of two). I’ve always known about Sharp Top and Flat Top. The third is Harkening Hill.

The view here from Abbot Lake is of Sharp Top, whose highest point is 3,875 feet. Flat Top is actually the tallest of the three, rising to an elevation of 4,001 feet.

Alex and Ani.

I shared about snorkeling trip in yesterday’s post, but I didn’t get a chance to share my “souvenir” from Aruba. I love Alex and Ani bracelets. One of my friends has one from St. Maarten so when I saw the store in Aruba, I knew it was likely they would have some bracelets exclusive to the Island. There were a couple different options, but I prefer the rafellian finish to the shiny finish.

Soccer.

Due to some snow earlier in the season, Miss Sunshine had three soccer games in a row this week.

In one of those, she scored a goal!

Miss Sunshine and I spend a lot of car time together due to soccer and there are moments when I pause and realize how precious that time really is.

Books and TV and Movies.

I got sucked into some non-fiction books. I’m still perusing them to see if I want to invest fully into them, but I’m not abandoning the reading challenge that I’ve decided to do this year.

Are you reading any good books?

Although I don’t watch a lot of TV, I decided to join in on watching American Idol. While we were in Aruba, a series called The Crossing started after Idol. I admit…I’m hooked. Last night, the hubby and I watched the movie The Mountain Between Us. Have you seen it? I knew as soon as she asked him what type of doctor he was that he was going to say “neurosurgeon”. I even said it out loud before he did.

If you know my older backstories, then you know that we’ve had an incident dealing with neurosurgeons. While it can still be found in the search box, I don’t link to the post any longer because the story is only partially mine and has now become one of those moments that you can pinpoint as defining, but that you don’t often go back and rehash.

However, after having conversations with three different neurosurgeons and then later reading (because I love knowledge and was trying to learn everything about the brain) Another Day in the Frontal Lobe by Katrina Firlik (who, at the time, was one of only 200 or so female neurosurgeons), I knew that was the personality that they were attempting to portray.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

I hope you have a sunny weekend and many reasons to smile throughout the week.

Let your light shine!

Amy

Snorkeling in Aruba

Aruba.

Stunning turquoise waters!

That was reason #1 for our choice to head to Aruba.

Following closely behind were: we could get a good flight there, we had friends who had been and loved it, and another big factor is that Aruba is the most revisted Caribbean Island.

Family Travel.

This trip was taken over our teenagers’ Spring Break. If you are new to my blog or have stumbled across this post, the hubby and I have three teenagers. Currently, Big Mr. is 18, Mr. D is 16, and Miss Sunshine is 14.

Our teenagers like adventure and so we knew that we’d want to have some scheduled during our time in Aruba.

Snorkeling.

Of course we decided to begin our Caribbean Island vacation with snorkeling!

With my teens and I having been born and raised (ok…they’ve not been fully raised-we’re approaching year 5 of living in Virginia) in Florida, we aren’t strangers to snorkeling.

However, this would be our first time in waters this clear.

Jolly Pirates.

We decided to book our snorkeling trip with Jolly Pirates.

We wanted to maximize our time on the water and opted for their four hour sail, snorkel, swim, and swing.

This trip would take us over the WWII wreck of the SS Antilla, Boca Catalina, and Malmok Beach.

Location.

We booked our trip and also filled out the waivers online prior to heading to Aruba.

This made the check-in process very quick.

The building for check-in is located right behind MooMba Beach, which you can see in the background. While I didn’t get a chance to visit MooMba Beach (something I’ll need to remedy…we aren’t so good at making food reservations when traveling with five people who are hungry at different times), it comes highly recommended as a must visit beach bar and restaurant.

I snapped the photo for my Thursday Doors friends, but I also love that they list their crew.

The Crew.

The crew was amazing!

We sailed on Easter Sunday.

Julio was the captain of our ship.

Johan and Milton were also part of our sailing adventure.

I’m pretty sure Tony was our lifeguard, but since I don’t see his name on the board, I’m questioning whether I heard (and remembered) his name correctly.

The four hour sail included an open bar, plus lunch.

All four of the guys were kept busy and yet were still always full of smiles.

snapseed-574

Fins, Masks, and Snorkels.

Fins, masks, and snorkels are included in your trip.

We did contact them prior to booking our trip to be sure that they could accommodate Big Mr.’s size 16 shoe.

They could!

This was wonderful because we were traveling with carry-ons only and needing to carry a set of fins would have been a hassle.

Turquoise Waters.

Yes, the Caribbean waters are as stunning as you see in magazines!

My favorite part of snorkeling was seeing all the brightly colored fish.

There is something quite serene about gliding along under the clear waters with them.

Pirate Ship.

This was a view of another of their ships for snorkeling.

There is a palpable excitement about sailing on a pirate ship.

Or perhaps that’s just gypsy wanderer in me.

Toward the bow of the ship, you can see someone jumping from the platform. While the hubby and teens did use this approach into the water (Mr. D even did a flip from it), I preferred to climb down the ladder.

Rope Swing.

However, I did get brave enough to step from the platform and ride the rope swing into the water (albeit, not on Johan’s back. The really brave piggy-backed on Johan while he swung and then did a flip in the air.)

As I mentioned in this post, as I released from the swing, I pinched my nose to avoid the water shooting up into it. Apparently, too hard when you wear a nose ring, because I came out of the water with a nose bleed.

The crew was amazing, grabbed some toilet paper, and the bleeding stopped almost as soon as it had started. They checked on me again later in the trip. It was a minor thing, but I’ve made a note to myself to remove my nose ring before future snorkeling trips.

In that same post from last Friday, I shared more of my personal experience surrounding the snorkeling and the little clip Miss Sunshine took of me snorkeling.

She also made a compilation of some of her own snorkeling, which she has said that I can share with all of you.

Memories.

I’ve mentioned one of my favorite parts of traveling with my teens is the memories that we create.

We created many memories during our brief time in Aruba.

I’ve shared a few photos from Aruba in this post and in the future I will be sharing more about our time there.

Stay tuned.

Have you been snorkeling?

Where? And did you enjoy it?

Let your light shine!

Amy