What's Up Lately Episode 003

What’s Up Lately Episode 003

What’s Up Lately.

Episode 003.

I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning waiting for the storms to roll in.

I hope that you’re having a lovely Sunday.

This past week has found me returning to some moments of self-care.

Pilates.

If you’ll recall from my last update, I was on the final push for decluttering and some deep cleaning. Since it includes scrubbing baseboards and mopping wood floors amongst other things, I ended up not going to my Pilates classes.

This week, not only did I attend Pilates, but after each class, I spent some time in the steam room. Over the summer, on the days that I was able to make it to Pilates, I was always in such a rush that I needed to leave directly after class. Taking the time to go to the steam room made me feel like I was finally making some time for myself.

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Hair.

It was also time for my six-week refresher on my cut and color.

I used to go sooo long between hair appointments because I felt guilty about taking time for myself and the cost involved in having my hair highlighted.

Around the first quarter of this year, I started booking my next appointment while I was there getting my hair done. This made all the difference. Now I show up every 6 weeks. I catch up with my hairdresser and leave there feeling beautiful.

Falafel.

We are still trying to eat closer to vegetarian. I was telling my husband about this wrap that I had in London where the main ingredient was falafel. Also, over the summer, I met a friend at a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant in Naples and had falafel. Then Joey was talking about falafel, so we looked it up and found that the same Mediterranean restaurant was in Roanoke.

It’s called Zoe’s Kitchen. We went to dinner there and had the Mediterranean Trio bowl with falafel. I knew that it would become my husband’s new favorite style of food to eat.

I was right.

I may try to recreate these “bowls” at home.

Have you tried falafel? Do you have any good Mediterranean recipes to share?

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Sunrise and Birthdays.

Wednesday was my birthday.

I wrote a post about turning 41. If you missed it, you can find it here.

It’s amazing how much difference a year can make. Last year, my family had just ridden out Hurricane Irma. I detailed the experience from my end in this post. At the time, I wasn’t sure if my mother would have any cell service to be able to get through for her traditional singing of “happy birthday” to me. She did end up finding a sliver of a signal and was able to sing to me.

This year, no storm was looming across Florida and she called to sing to me. She followed up with a gorgeous shot of the sunrise that was seen on her way to work.

 

 

German and Birthdays.

Big Mr. has decided that he would eventually like to visit Germany. In preparation for that, he has started to study German every day. He is using the DuoLingo app that I used during my month of working on Spanish.

He did call me to wish me a happy birthday. Then he followed up with a text in German. While I suspected what it might say given that it was my birthday, I do not know German. I ran it through Google translate.

Isn’t Google translate amazing?!

Birthday Dinner.

Originally, I thought I’d be sitting near the fields and reading a book while Miss Sunshine had soccer practice. However, the rain had left the fields saturated and practice was canceled. We decided to set reservations at this fancy Brazilian restaurant that overlooks part of town.

I’ve only had a martini once…a chocolate one at that…and I don’t think I liked it much. My husband had one (years ago…before I knew him) and didn’t think he liked it that much.

However, this restaurant felt like stepping back in time and we decided that it called for trying a martini. I opted for one that was called “sunburned” and he went for a classic. Mine was okay but definitely strong. I tasted his…and omg…it tasted like straight gin. We decided it was a fun to drink out of the fancy glass, but we probably won’t be ordering another one anytime soon.

Ancestry DNA.

Recently Ancestry.com had a sale on their DNA kits. We asked our teens if they’d like to take the test just for curiosity’s sake. They all did. Miss Sunshine’s came back last weekend and the boys came back on Thursday. Ancestry has an update where they refined the ethnicity due to more reference samples. Miss Sunshine just got in under the update and so we are able to see both estimates. Even though they arrived the same day, the boys were processed after hers and I can’t see what the estimate would have been under the old testing.

The results were not that surprising, but I have a variety of thoughts regarding the outcomes. Be on the lookout for a future post on that.

Photography.

I also found my way back to one of my loves this week.

Photography.

I began working on editing my photos once again. You may have seen some of them on Instagram.

This one is of Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Hurricane Florence.

Our family normally vacations at Carolina Beach, which is just outside of Wilmington. North Carolina has obviously taken the brunt of the hurricane.

I spent part of this week gathering supplies for the arrival of Hurricane Florence. At one point, it was estimated that Roanoke could receive 10-20″ of rain. Our grounds are already completely saturated from prior rains.

The estimate has gone down as the storm has pushed westward. However, they are still expecting some flooding due to the rise of rivers and possible mudslides on the mountains.

I hope that you are not in the path of the storm and that the sun is shining brightly wherever you are.

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

Thoughts on turning the page...to 41.

Thoughts on turning the page…To 41

 

Birthday.

That’s right!

It’s my birthday!

I’m singin’ and dancin’ that out ya’ll!

Thoughts on being 40.

I had an amazing year of being 40.

I grew by leaps and bounds.

Pressing comfort zones both physically and mentally.

It really felt like a coming into my own.

Background.

If you are new to my journey. I’m the mother of an 18-year-old, a 17-year-old, and a soon to be 15-year-old. When I chose to become a stay-at-home mom at the birth of my oldest, I gave myself fully to that role. That is not to say I didn’t feel like a failure a million times along the way or that I didn’t make a million mistakes along the way.

Cause Lord knows that I sure did.

It just means that I didn’t take the time to discover who I was outside of that role. I guess some people might say that I lost myself. I don’t really see it that way. I made choices. And my choices were of fully immersed service to others (I am heavily Virgo, so no real surprise there. If you are interested in astrology, I can tell you that I’m also strongly Leo and Libra…so again, no surprise to my personality traits).

However, I saw the horizon looming where my teenagers would spread their wings and journey away from that daily need of me being involved in their lives. It began to be time to think about the next phase of my journey. What would that look like? What were my interests?

…and so I started this blog.

As a way to discover my interests. As a way to journal the journey. All the while trying to remember to also enjoy the now. To find that beauty that resides amongst the chaos.

Discovery.

I found photography. I found travel. I found yoga…and pilates. I found concern for the environment.

I found beauty in my strength.

But I also found beauty in my weakness.

I am a human. Just one among multiple billions. I am the same. And yet I am unique.

On Turning 41.

I chose the photo of me taken during my yoga challenge on day 18.

It represents so much of who I became over the course of turning 40.

Travel.

I am on the rooftop of Princes Street Suites (remember the views that I shared from there in this post?) in Edinburgh Scotland. This was my second visit to Scotland and only 13 months after my very first overseas trip (to Amsterdam and Paris).

Yoga and Pilates.

Boat pose, or navasana, requires core strength. It is also executed in my Pilates class when coming out of the rollover. Finding a fitness regime that I enjoy has been amazing for my health. Now I feel stronger than I have ever felt in the past.

Self Confidence.

Originally, I didn’t want to take this photo. Usually, the rooftop is rather quiet. However, this night there was a large group. “Creating a scene” makes me feel uncomfortable. But, my mother, ever the extrovert that she is, convinced me to get up there and “strike my pose” anyways. There was a time in my life when no matter how much my soul cried to just go ahead and do it, I would have still declined. So while it did take a little prodding, I was also listening to my instincts which really wanted this sunset as the backdrop for one of my favorite poses.

Here’s to 41.

While some people will say that it’s all downhill after 40 (and yes, I have heard this), I say it’s only just begun.

So here’s to 41…

Let’s see what the future holds!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

What's Up Lately Episode 002

What’s Up Lately – Episode 002

 

What’s Up Lately?

Episode 002.

Since I’m mostly popping in with updates, it doesn’t feel right to call them “Friday Faves” and also they may not always fall on a Friday.

Today, however, it does.

And since I need different titles…

Episode 002.

Secretly I’m hoping that Episode 007 will have something really exciting to share. Because with a name like that, it has to be intriguing.

Right?!

Life has been a whirlwind and this will only be a quick update.

 

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Court.

On Friday, Mr. D and I had an appointment at the courthouse.

In Virginia, there is a licensing ceremony in order to receive your official driver’s license if you are under a certain age. I’m not really a fan of the process. He’s been able to “officially” drive since he was 16 and 3 months.

That was 9 months ago.

You get a postcard telling you when you have the ceremony.

That came 8 months after he started driving on his own.

I understand that the purpose is to tell you all about how it is a privilege to be able to drive. And I don’t really hate the process for that. I just don’t like the fact that in order to be to the courthouse on time for the ceremony, he had to leave school an hour early….during his AP Calculus class….to sit in a courtroom for an hour and hear about statistics and rules (such as curfews and passenger limits) that he already knows. Plus I had to sit there..my second time hearing the same thing…and I have one more to go.

I don’t like courthouses.

Like some people don’t like walking in hospitals (which, by the way, I love) I don’t like being in a courthouse.

Maybe I was tried unfairly in a past life. Who knows? But I had to rush home and get ready to head out for the weekend.

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Labor Day Weekend and Soccer.

As most of you know, Miss Sunshine plays travel soccer in the fall. This means that there is a tournament around most major U.S. holidays.

This past weekend was no different.

It was nice that we only had to drive to Greensboro, NC. That is only two hours away. A few of our tournaments are closer to a four-hour drive.

Miss Sunshine and I headed down on Friday night. She had an early (ish) game and we wanted to be able to come back to the hotel between games.

There ended up being a lightning storm so severe that the second game had to be canceled. Luckily, we hadn’t left the hotel yet. Some people we know were at the fields and it took them an hour to get out of the parking lot!

The photo is from our room on the 12th floor. There are mountains above even the ones that you can make out through the haze. That’s how dense the fog was during the storm!

They had to do a point system to keep the tournament on schedule. That meant her team was in first for their group going into the semi-finals. They won and advanced to the championship game.

That game ended in a tie and they moved to PK’s. Her team has an amazing goalie (and players who can make a shot) and they ended up winning the championship.

Flowers! For Me?

My girlfriend sent me a text on Wednesday asking if I was home because she wanted to drop something by.

It was flowers!! It really made my day. Little did she know that I had some things going on that day which felt quite stressful.

They definitely lifted my spirits.

How can you not smile when you have sunflowers smiling their cheerful faces at you?!

Birthdays.

I’ve talked about my dad’s youngest sister extensively on the blog. She’s only 5 days older than me, which means that we were practically like sisters growing up.

Today is her birthday!!

Which also means… it’s only 5…more…days…until mine!

Decluttering.

I’m doing what I always do as I head into my birthday season.

Decluttering.

That’s mostly why I’ve been MIA. I have set myself a deadline on the new moon on Sunday.

New moons are a time for beginnings.

I am clearing away the old to make room for the new.

And right in line with my list-making Virgo ways, I have a schedule to keep with this timeline.

Today I mop the wood floors and declutter the paper mountain that’s been collecting.

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Silly Selfie.

I’m not going to show my piles of work to do or the mountains of things I’ve purged, so instead, I leave you with another silly selfie from the archives.

I hope you have a great weekend and start some beginnings of your own.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday!

We’ve once again arrived at Friday. This week has been much better than the last two. Not without its stressors, but substantially better!

I think it was because the sun came out. Is that springtime peeking its head into Virginia?

I think maybe yes.

 

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Friday Faves.

This week I’ll just dive into the Friday Faves.

Obviously, #1 is that the sun came out! Hallelujah, I was rejoicing. I once mentioned that I’m like the clingy friend when it come to Vitamin D. I need the sun WAY more than it needs me.

Mill Mountain Star Trail.

The hubby and I decided that we could not waste the sunshine. We went and hiked the Mill Mountain Star Trail. You can see a map of this an surrounding trails here. Since we were hiking round trip, you can begin at the Star (210 Reserve Ave, Roanoke) or from the car parking lot (1208 Riverland Road, Roanoke). We started from Riverland Road, so it is uphill to the Star, which sits atop the summit of Mill Mountain. The summit is Roanoke’s highest point at 1,703 feet.

I didn’t bring along my camera, just the phone. I wasn’t sure what the trail was like and didn’t want to lug it along. Next time I’ll bring it and maybe can make the hike a post of its own as I have done with some other areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I knew there were many components to better mental health when spending time in nature. I had recently read an article about how time in nature (green space) reduced teen depression rates. A few days after the hike, I would read this article,which also mentions that knowledge. It also goes into the scientific backing of forest bathing. It talks about how the forest air is like an old friend to our bodies. One of those reasons is because mixed into the air are terpenes released by plants. Some of these terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, and neuroprotective activities.

I’ve always known that I feel better when walking through a forest. It’s amazing to read about the scientific reasoning behind much of it. The article shares even more about how forest air affects us. If you’re interested in Science, I recommend checking it out. They always link to the articles in which they are deriving the information, which is always a good source for even more knowledge.

 

 

Editing.

I worked some on editing my photos. The photo above is from Amsterdam and was in my archives. I really loved the pop of colors on the boats and the reflection in the water and in the windows. It made me realize that I really want to focus on learning how to use Lightroom.

I am still editing through an app on my phone even though I did sign up for a Lightroom/Photoshop package. I’ve been intimidated by the program and so I haven’t set aside the time to learn how to use it. I noticed when I was editing this photo, that while I’m very happy with the result, it’s also likely that in a program like Lightroom I would have been able to focus on exactly the spots I wanted versus the broad stroke of the selective tool that I now use.

I realize it’s time to press outside of my comfort zone in order to continue to grow in executing my creative vision.

 

Instagram.

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Faves that I was working on changing my Instagram grid to sets of three. I also have been trying to post more on my Instagram stories just to give people a little realistic glimpse into my life.

On Tuesday, I posted the above photo of Miss Sunshine. That photo was from her travel soccer season, but she had tryouts this week for the school season. I also talked on the Instagram story about how lovely the day had been. So lovely that I was able to throw open the window and the back door. Which was wonderful because the warm up and had made the house smell musty. I also started up the diffuser with a blend of lemon, eucalyptus, and tea tree essential oils. This was to help air out that musty smell…or as I shared on the story “the smell of dog butt”.

Photography.

I also shared my promised post of Views From the Top of Princes Street Suites in Edinburgh Scotland filled with photographs of from the rooftop.

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Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. -Winston Churchill . .as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am doing my photos in a series of three. If you know me, you may know what this series is about. If you know me really well, then you may know why…if not, stay tuned . . .#seekthesimplicity #helookslikemyside #nothingisordinary #visualsoflife #fromwhereistand #darlingescapes #sheisnotlost #stayandwander #naturehippys #beachlover #pocket_beaches #visitnc #optoutside #modernoutdoors #exploretocreate #exploremore #tlpicks #saltlife #natureaddict #natgeotravel #travelstoke #traveldeeper #doyoutravel #letsgosomewhere #thediscoverer #roamtheplanet #lifeofadventure #staysalty #wanderfolk #fiftyshades_of_nature

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My Children.

The trio of Instagram posts for this segment were photos of my children.

Day #2 was Mr. D.

The sun was shining brightly enough that I did my reading out on the back porch that day. I’m on book #5 for month in case you are wondering.  On Wednesday, it was so warm that I wore flip flops to my Pilates class and we broke weather records that Roanoke hadn’t seen since the 1930’s.

I also participated in the weekly photo challenge and Wordless Wednesday by sharing some photos from my archives of my trip to Amsterdam.

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Happy 18th Birthday to my oldest, @hunter02222 ! Rounding out the trio of photos of my children, if you hadn’t already guessed my theme. I am the mother of an official adult. I’m not sure how that happened! I remember the days when he was so little and I had to carry him around on my hip. And then, the day his shoe size surpassed his age. I don’t recall the day when he grew taller than me, but now standing at 6’6”, he towers over me by 10”! It’s been a fun journey watching him grow into a man…I can’t wait to see where he goes from here . .if you’ve made it this far and are looking for my daily quote: “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18” – Mark Twain . . .#happybirthday #18thbirthday #seekthesimplicity #fromwhereistand #visualsoflife #optoutside #wildernessculture #theoutdoorfolk #folkscenery #rsa_folknature #lifeofadventure #travelstoke #traveldeeper #blueridgeday #stayandwander #exploretocreate #exploremore #letsgosomewhere #nothingisordinary #liveoutdoors #theglobewanderer #neverstopexploring #sonyalpha #loveva #roamtheplanet

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Mother of an Adult.

Yesterday was Big Mr.’s birthday. He turned eighteen. I wrote a post about how strange it feels to be the mother of an adult.

I talked like crazy on my Instagram story. Much more than I usually do.

I did what every good mother does when it’s her child’s birthday….I went shopping for myself.

Actually, I had already planned that errand for the day. I am slowly looking for clothes to take to Aruba and an outfit for an upcoming party that I’ll be attending. As my final stop before returning home, I planned to pick up a cake for Big Mr. I saw that I had missed a text saying the check the website for an important message from the middle school.

Guns at School.

My stomach dropped. My immediate thought was is the school on lockdown. There wasn’t a message on the website. I went in to buy a cake. The hubby texts me and asks if I got the phone call that a student had brought a gun to school. I had missed a call from the school, but the voicemail hadn’t come through yet.

I was stunned.

So I checked the school website again. And there it was. The important message that a student had brought a loaded handgun to the middle school. It was in the student’s locker and had been brought in on a dare with no intent to harm. This was the message.

When Miss Sunshine came home we discussed the situation. She wasn’t visibly shaken, but some of my children tend to repeat elements of a story when they are bothered by something…whether that’s real life, a news story, a scene in a movie, etc. It is their way of working through and processing something.

I will state right here that my website is not a place for a debate on gun control. Most people involved in that conversation get ugly pretty quickly…on both sides. I don’t promote hostility and won’t be starting today. Any commentary to that effect will be removed.

I do believe that we need to keep our school children safe.

I read a commentary by the Sheriff in Lee County (a county in Florida beside the one in which I grew up). He talked about how we feel safe when we enter a courthouse or when we fly and it due to increased security procedures. You’re welcome to read it here.

I thought about sharing what I wrote on my private Facebook page, but I’m still leery about even telling you guys about the fact that we had this scare. There are some people out there who seem to have nothing better to do than attack and my mental health does not do well with that. I will share that a snippet referred to the fact that we need not reminisce on the good ol’ days when this didn’t happen and instead focus on how we are going to address the current reality.

Our kids deserve to not live in fear.

Birthday Dinner.

Even though it was a mentally distressing and highly disturbing event, we weren’t going to let it stop life. It was Big Mr.’s 18th birthday, after all. The five of us along with three of his friends all went out to dinner. He chose a restaurant called Texas Roadhouse. Even though he didn’t want them to, his friends shared that it was his birthday. They have you climb on to a horse saddle and have everyone yell “YeeHaw” for you. It was quite hilarious. I was only able to share a little segment of the entire thing on my Instagram Story, but it was quite funny.

If you hurry, it’ll still be on my story until around 8 p.m. EST.

Motorcycles.

Big Mr. had a motorcycle permit and he took a class which means that once he’s turned eighteen…aka yesterday…he can legally drive a motorcycle without being followed by an adult.

Lord help my soul!

Honestly, I do love that my teenagers are daredevils. They live life to the fullest. I could learn a thing or two from them.

Music.

Since I talked about what life was like for me when I turned 18, I also got sucked in to what songs were popular when I was that age. This week I’ve chosen a song that came out near the end of 1995, shortly after I turned 18. I owned the CD and played it repetitively. It’s probably pretty apparent that I’ve always hated being told I couldn’t do something just because I’m a girl.

 

I hope that you all have a light-filled weekend and week up ahead. Hand out hugs freely to those that you love, smile at the shy person in corner, spread your light as far as you can.

 

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Friday Faves – Edition 31

Friday.

This week has been a blur. If you read my post on Monday then you know that my family in Naples was affected by Hurricane Irma, but that they are all safe.

I don’t spend much time on my personal Facebook page. When I do visit it, I usually catch up on people’s lives in a stalker-ish type of way.  I don’t always have anything to add, so my comments are infrequent and I rarely fill in the “what’s on your mind?” box to add to my page. That has been completely different this week. I have been the relayer of updates on my family to the rest of the extended family. I have shared information about local resources so that those who do have internet are able to know where to find them. I have checked updates of others to be sure they made it through the storm safely.

I have heard from friends who had to take turns holding the door so that the wind did not blow it in. I have cousins and friends who have waited 3-4 hours in line for gas. I have seen photos of the devastation. Photos from Naples…streets I have walked on. Photos from Immokalee … the town I graduated high school from. Photos of lives ripped apart.

Yet, I have also been privy to hear of the kindnesses and compassions that have taken place in the wake of devastation.


 

I mentioned that I did not attend Miss Sunshine’s game last Sunday. However, I did attend her game in Lynchburg that Saturday.

Normally, this is not a photo that I would share because the ball and hands aren’t in focus. I know that some people like that movement in their shots, but that would not have been my preference for this photo.  Even if I had frozen the shot in focus, I would have known that this is right at the throw by the fact that her foot is being dragged. [Handy hint if you don’t know soccer…futbol…both feet must stay on the ground during a thrown-in. This action gives you more oomph.]

I’m sharing the photo because I finally took the time to learn something new about my camera because I was frustrated by this shot. I am still working on learning how things work on manual and aperture priority modes, so when I can’t practice (such as for a game) I’ve been relying on Auto mode.

My Nikon had a handy-dandy action setting right on the top knob. On that setting, the shutter speed was always quick enough to freeze movement. On Auto mode, my Sony Alpha 7II, captured this photo at: ISO 100, f/11, 1/250… too slow of a shutter speed. I did know the Sony had a scene selection (the SCN setting on the top control knob), I just didn’t know how to change it.  Once on it, you press the menu button and under the camera tab you can find scene selection (mine was on page 7). Ta-da! Now I need some more action shots…good thing Miss Sunshine has a soccer game tomorrow.

 

I mentioned earlier in the week that I often pick up movies at the library. These were a couple that we recently watched.

Have you seen either of them? What did you think?

Wales is a place that my heart has always been drawn to and that I hope to get to visit, so I found the landscape scenes in King Arthur to be entrancing. As far as The Zookeeper’s Wife, I love movies based on true stories about people who did brave things.

Yay…me! In case you missed Tuesday’s postI turned the Big 4-0 on the 12th. We decided to have a family dinner at Outback and then came back home for cake.

I was sooooo stuffed, but it was all sooooo good.

My parents had already sent me presents in the mail which I saved to open on my actual birthday. I love this bracelet and they also sent a wine glass that says the same thing.

I like that…aged to perfection.

 

 

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The last time I went home was Memorial Day. I flew in to meet my mom and aunt before we drove to Miami the next day to fly to Scotland. I spent most of my brief time in Naples visiting all my family, but I wanted to see the beach. All the beaches were packed, not a parking spot in sight, so my mom dropped me off at my favorite beach, Lowdermilk Park, and drove around while I breathed in the heavy scent of salt upon the air and snapped a couple of photos. Today, my hometown still weighs heavy on my heart. My parents are clearing debris and traveling into the city to assess damage to my Papa's home while he remains in a rehab facility…my brother will need to replace his roof…aunts and uncles have sustained some minor damage. But they are all safe and that is what matters. My heart goes out to those who no longer have a place to lay their head. I know the community is and will continue to come together…because that's what they do…that's who they are… #CollierStrong . . . .#visitflorida #roamtheplanet #roamflorida #pocket_beaches #ihavethisthingwithcolor #sheisnotlost #stayandwander #optoutside #theoutdoorfolk #theglobewanderer #fromwhereistand #wearetravelgirls #dametraveler #darlingescapes #passportready #letsgosomewhere #traveldiaries #travelstoke #liveauthentic #lifeofadventure #modernoutdoors #ladiesgoneglobal #natureaddict #naturehippys #visualsoflife #exploretocreate #sonyalpha #seekthesimplicity #floridastrong

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Stress has consumed much of my week. Sometimes I let it paralyze me, but I finally got back into the gym on Wednesday and once again started tackling my mile long to-do list.

I was in Florida for Hurricane Wilma. It feels strange to be away from my family as they move through this cleanup process after Hurricane Irma.

The song I chose this week is by the band Broods. They are out of New Zealand and I like their music. I chose this specific song because…my parents were the beginnings of the formation of this woman who is still discovering…still growing…still evolving.

I hope that you all have an amazing weekend.

Fall is on the march here in Southwest Virginia. Leaves are beginning to change. The sun’s not sure he wants to cooperate with cooler weather, but I still plan to get out and walk amongst the trees.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Hurricane Irma Upate

Hurricane Irma Update

Hurricane Irma is still on the march.

But she has passed by Naples.

And she has left her ugly mark.

I know that some of you may stop by my blog today to see how my family fared. My heart has been moved by the words of concern I have received… here, on Facebook, on Instagram… so before I go any further along… I will share… they are safe.

Writing is one of the ways that I process my feelings. It’s the reason I started this blog. And so process, I will. If you’d like to come along with me as I record my thoughts from my side of the storm…keep reading.

 

Hurricane Irma.

From the beginning, I’ve been worried. This storm was big and angry. But I have a tendency to worry, so I tried to keep it at bay. That’s not to say I didn’t let my opinions be known. I just knew when to push and went to stop. It’s a delicate dance. I knew who to plead with and how hard to plead. I knew the reasons that went into the hard decisions. Reasons that, unless someone has made you privy to theirs, you have no right as an outsider to question and spew hatred about. Something I see done over and over and in such a disgusting manner and in such a public space.

On Sunday, I opted not to go to Miss Sunshine’s soccer game in Blacksburg. The continued westward shift made it appear that after it crossed the Keys, it would head right towards Naples. I couldn’t take a chance on missing a call. My mother and I exchanged calls off and on throughout the day. The winds were picking up, but it still wasn’t too bad. In a later call, the winds were stronger. The palm trees were shaking. The ground too saturated. Dad had parked his truck near the house. He might need to move it. The tree wasn’t going to stay upright. I felt helpless. I was going crazy in my skin. I am a stress eater. I am prone to anxiety. I imagine worst-case scenarios. I needed to find something else to do. I decided to run to the library and pick up some movies. Anything to feel like I was doing something.

I get there and find some movies. I am perusing through a few more. I come across a movie called Rules Don’t Apply. I am wondering if this is synchronicity.

The night before I had just finished reading the memoir the rules don’t apply by Ariel Levy. A book that I chanced upon in the new book section. Its inside cover had sounded intriguing. I finished the memoir in two days. I do not review books. I cannot tell you if this would be your cup of tea. I can only tell you that she takes you right along the journey with her. I feel like I am standing there seeing what she sees, feeling what she feels.  Perhaps this is my INFP personality… this ability to become immersed into a storyline.  Nothing like anything I have lived. But hers is a real storyline. A tragic one.

So I turn the movie case over to read the description. To see if perhaps there is this glimmer of reason that I have stumbled across this particular movie…and my phone rings. I know some people talk on the phone in the library.  The rules seemed to have changed within my lifetime, but I do not take calls in the library (in fact, my phone is typically on vibrate) or in lines to pay a cashier. I cannot miss this call. I race towards the coffee shop area of the library where talking is acceptable. I don’t know if I can take unchecked items through, so I dip down by the doorway separating the two and answer in a hushed voice. My mother asks if I am okay. I see the irony. My mom…asking if I’m okay…as she’s going through the outer bands of a hurricane. I tell her that I am and she asks if I’ve seen the text she just sent. I haven’t. She says to look at it and call her back. I go to the checkout desk and while the librarian is retrieving the movies, I look at the text.

My dad was able to secure the palm so that as it uprooted, it wouldn’t take out the power line. I am hopeful that this is as bad as it will become.

I call her on my way back to the house. I am worried about the roof. It is gabled. She says that the gables are boarded. This eases my panic… some.

She sends me a text that says the news says they are going to get the worst of the storm. PRAY. Seeing that word in caps makes the tears that I have been holding back spill over. I am frightened. I know that my mom is afraid. I cannot crawl into that space into my mind. That space of raw fear. I know raw fear. I know driving across the State of Florida late at night after your firstborn child has been medflighted to a trauma hospital fear.

But that turned out okay. This has to turn out okay. The part of the memoir that most resonated with me was her thought that nothing bad could ever actually happen to her in “her movie” because she was the protagonist. I am wondering if I will reach the moment in “my movie” where my role as protagonist no longer means that everything turns out okay. I cannot dwell in that space. I am sending out updates to friends and family. I am calling my mom to tell her what is being said on The Weather Channel. I am wishing they’d talk about Naples instead of Miami. Marco Island…Naples..that’s getting this current impact.

They are in Naples. I am watching the weatherman brace against the storm. 95 mph sustained winds. 142 mph recorded gust. I know the plaza he is standing in. I know those tree lined medians. They are saying it’s much worse to the East of him. My family is to the East of him.

The calm comes in.

I call my mom again.

She says that it is getting bad. That the house is beginning to buck. She means that the bands are strong. The house is heaving and groaning as wind comes whipping around it.

Compress…compress…

I am thinking they must be close to through it. My dad is trying to tell me the bearings of the radar map.

I am willing the TV channel to zoom in so I can see more roads.

And then The Weather Channel zooms in on the radar and I see it…

They are not almost through it. They are East of Orangtree. Orangetree, the subdivision that was nothing more than a pasture filled with cows when I was young. They are in the red. I tell my dad that the Northeast band of the eye wall is over them right now. He is not surprised. The wind is howling. The house is crying. I am panicked. How long? How long will it last? They want to know. I have no answers. The TV isn’t saying anything. They’ve mentally moved on to Jim Cantore in Estero. I tell my parents that it lasted about 45 minutes in the city, but that the eye is eroding. I tell them that there will likely be no calm, only a slightly lessening wind. They need to relay the information to my brother. We hang up.

Over and over in my mind, the scenes from Twister are racing through my mind. This isn’t a tornado, but it is fierce circular wind. I know hurricanes. I know how they sound howling through the trees. I am praying fiercely that the old wooden house doesn’t decide that it is tired and has given all it can. Protect my family. I know that they will ride  out this eye wall in the hallway. I know that hallway. That hallway that my feet have walked along since I was seven. A long, narrow corridor, just wide enough for a child to reach out and run a hand alongside each wall. Something my brother and I were taught not to do. I know which doorway leads to which room…what photos hang along the way. I imagine them there…safe. Protect my family.

I think the eye has surely reached them. But I cannot get through. A cell tower is down.

I feel in the pit of my being that they are safe. There may be damage, but I know they are alive. Surely I would know if they were not. The fact that life doesn’t always have a happy ending threatens to undo me, but I suppress it.

I worry about whether or not I said all I wanted to say. I think about my Grandma. About how she was dying when I moved to Virginia. About how I thought about going back one last time to visit. But I knew she’d want me to settle my family. Yet, sometimes I wish I’d just gotten on the damn plane and returned home once more. I don’t want this to be like that. I don’t want to think about the what-if’s. But they creep in.

I ask my husband what will I do if I haven’t heard from them by my birthday (I turn 40 tomorrow…the 12th). Every year, my mother calls me first thing in the morning and sings me “Happy Birthday”. It doesn’t seem right that on this milestone it won’t happen. He has no answer for me. I like answers. I am a person who is always seeking answers.  As a child, during movies, I would ask my mother over and over…. “that didn’t really happen, right?” “that’s just pretend”. I still find myself biting my tongue (and sometimes failing) wanting to know the answer to a question in a movie. Usually when I fail, I’m met with “you know as much as me, Amy.” But do I? Maybe you caught something I missed. Some integral piece that gives me the answer that I want to know. I don’t like this waiting. This helplessness. I need to know they have survived.

Eventually we go to bed. Monday is another day in this world I now live in. This world away from destruction. After an entire lifetime in Florida, being gone for four years has lessened the surreal feelings I have when my home, my Florida, is under threat.. but it hasn’t completely removed them.

My phone rings. I am startled awake. My adrenaline starts racing. My phone would only ring if somebody has checked on my family. I lift my phone. It reads 12:12 a.m. The number is my dad.  In the middle of the night, the air out there picks up signals from much farther away. When I was a child, on a clear night, we could listen to radio stations many cities away. I am certain that if he has managed to get through despite the downed cell tower, that the moments will be precious. He is surprised that the call has made it.  They have been trying for about three hours. My mother has stood on chairs trying to hold her phone to places where she might receive a glimmer of a signal.

He says they are all safe. He tells me that it was bad. In that moment, thoughts are racing through my head. I am hanging on this thread between reality and dream-state, having just been awakened. I am thinking that maybe the house did fall down around them. He says that the houses are fine. He tells me that it was like nothing he’s ever been through in his life. That it was way worse than Wilma.  They are telling me about the floorboards rumbling. Somebody, I think it was my brother, said it felt like the plucking of guitar strings below his feet as the bands of wind went by. That it never let up. 45 minutes…an hour…unrelenting.

I think about how it must feel to be in a petrified state of fear for an hour straight. Counting down the time. Praying for the wind to cease. Willing your house to stay together. To protect you. It makes my stomach hurt.

He tells me part of one shop is gone. It’s hard to hear. Is it just the wall? The roof? I know this shop. I ran a 4-wheeler into the side of it when I was 15. I came up the driveway with the throttle wide open, my favorite way to ride. But then it wasn’t stopping. The shop approaching way too fast. I claimed the brakes didn’t work. I still maintain that.

He says a truss from the other shop has been ripped away and thrown some ways into the yard. I’m pretty sure that he says that attached to the truss is a car frame that had been placed in the rafters of the shop. Miss Sunshine and I just watched Sweet Home Alabama the night before and I am envisioning the grandfather shooting anvils from a cannon. I am wondering if this is what their yard looks like. This yard that I trod upon as a barefoot child and teen. This yard that I laid upon as I watched the clouds race by. The one in which I counted stars and imagined faces in the Harvest moon. They are telling me about uprooted trees. I think my mom is telling me about losing one that she likes so much. The call is breaking up. She repeats it. I still cannot tell what she is saying because it is breaking up. They tell me that they can hear me fine, so I tell them about the hotspots that they should be able to get to the next day.

We hang up. I am relieved that all are safe.

After telling everyone through Facebook that they are all okay, I collapse into bed and have a fitful night of strange dreams and long periods of being awake.

My mom gets a short call through to me today. The hotspots don’t work. Orangetree had 130-135 mph sustained winds. There were 142 mph gusts. The area is a mess. The call fails before I can hear more.

Now begins the process of cleaning up.  My family is resilient. Florida is resilient.

They will emerge even stronger.

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 27

Friday Faves – Edition 27

Happy Friday Everybody!

I hope that you’ve had an amazing week so far.

Mine has been pretty packed.  We are on the countdown until school begins. Next Wednesday is the day.

We did our big purge over the weekend. And while we definitely made massive headway (think… I can see the floor of the garage and the storage room), I’m still hoping to make another push.

On Monday, I decided to Google myself because every now and then I like to be sure that everything out there associated with my name is legitimate.

I discovered that one of my Instagram pics was on one of the University of Glasgow’s pages. It rotates through various Instagram pics so it took a bit for me to discover which one. It was definitely an uplifting moment as I’ve been feeling ambivalent about that social media platform. The algorithms are not in my favor and I have no interest in paying a company to get me noticed.

In fact, I’ve spent more time away from social media in the past few weeks because I was devoting a lot of time there and not seeing any growth. That is time away from focusing on my family…and if they are my main priority, then I am not honoring my priorities.

Everyone had their annual checkups this week.

The fun part for me is getting an official measure on my teens, not just my marks on the wall (I do use a level though!).

Big Mr. is 6’5 1/2″.

Mr. D is 6′.

Miss Sunshine is 5’4 1/2″.

They don’t see how tall I am, so I’m just gonna keeping on claiming my 5’8″ [I may have shrunk a little from giant babies compressing my spine, but I’m saying I’ve lengthened it back out with yoga and pilates ;)].

Maverick started puppy training classes this week. He’s a little afraid of other dogs, so I was prepared for it to be overwhelming. However, he just sprawled out and almost took a nap while the instructor talked.

The first class is pretty easy. We worked on sit. He already had this down so he happily received treats from Miss Sunshine for demonstrating what he knows!

He’s pretty well potty trained. Or he has us trained. We take him out often, but I don’t feel like he really lets us know when he wants out, which has led to some accidents. Numerous people have told me about getting potty bells, so this week I did that.

You hang them from the door and each time you take the dog out, you ring them. I put his paw on it to ring them. The idea is that he will learn that the door opens when he rings the bell. I have heard that some dogs will do this just to go outside, even if they don’t need to use the bathroom. We have a fenced yard, so as long as he gets the idea of ringing the bells, I don’t care if it’s just to go out and play.

Yesterday was Mr. D.’s birthday.

16!

We always let the birthday child pick dinner. I used to make their request. Now we go out. He decided on Kabuki. It’s a Japanese Steak House. The kind where they cook the food in front of you and toss shrimp in the air for you to catch in your mouth. They also make a volcano out of onions and light it on fire. I shared a little of our experience on my Instagram story.

It made for a very fun evening!

Stepping up my photo game has been on my to-do list for some time.

Honestly, I’ve been super frustrated because I could not figure out how in the world to change the aperture on my Sony Alpha 7II.

I got the camera so close to heading to Scotland that I knew I would shoot auto while there. I’m sure this caused limitations, but the quality was superior to my beginner Nikon, so I took the Sony.

I’ve watched some YouTube tutorials, but never found one that addressed changing the aperture. Depth of field is one of the things that I like to play with the most, so it was crucial for me to figure out. Otherwise, I just wasn’t going to enjoy the camera.

Since I didn’t make it a priority, it took some time to finally find a website that explained how you change the aperture on the Sony Alpha 7II. With the switch on AEL, you depress the AEL button and then rotate the knob above and to the right of the C3 button. There may be another way to change it, but I’m over the moon ecstatic about discovering how to change the aperture.

Speaking of the moon….

How many of you found glasses to watch the Solar Eclipse on Monday?

Unfortunately, not me.

I decided on a parody song this week. Somebody shared it on Facebook and I found it really funny. I figure after a week like this, we could all use a moment of lightheartedness.

Growth is a part of life.

I hope to never stop having an insatiable curiosity and desire to grow. And I hope you don’t either.

Have a peaceful and relaxing weekend!

Miss Sunshine has her opening soccer tournament this weekend, so I will be cheering her on from the sidelines!

Let your light shine!

Amy

The Love of a Father

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My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me. -Jim Valvano

Time seems to pass so quickly.

Only moments ago, I was little girl on your lap.

Your strong arms lifting me high into the air.

I stood atop your toes.

I hung like a monkey from your bicep.

Scrambled up your back.

Rode like a warrior princess, seated on your shoulders.

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Your callused hand holding mine.

Teaching me the pride to be found in hard work.

Cultivating a “never give up” attitude in me.

Navigating your newfound role as father.

Steering, guiding, offering wisdom.

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Even in those moments when teenhood came.

I was listening.

Learning.

Becoming.

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You picked me up through sadness.

You always helped me find what was truly in my heart.

You let me make my own decisions.

And own the consequences.

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You brought laughter.

You poured out love.

Raised two children.

Papa to five.

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I can never convey all that you are.

All that you taught me to be.

I offer these simple words of love and thanks on your special day.

Happy 60th Birthday Dad!

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I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by the little scraps of wisdom. -Umberto Eco

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

Love Letter to my Daughter

Love letter to my daughter

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1,000 wishes I’ve wished for you.

1,000 more will I wish.

In my youth, I dreamed of someday having a daughter.

As your dad and I fell in love, I sat on his back porch telling him of my dreams.

He told me that he hoped that my daughter was his daughter too.

A story you’ve heard a million times, and a million more you’ll be told.

On October 21, 2003, we said hello.

Face to face for the first time.

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Your precious hand around my finger.

Your head upon my chest.

The last baby that I would have.

I wanted to breathe in each moment and slow down time.

But time continues on, as it always does.

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Each year the pages seeming to turn faster.

Moments savored.

But gone too quick.

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Each setting sun marking time.

And now you are 13.

A teenager.

Charting your course in history.

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Choosing who you want to become.

Marching forward toward womanhood.

Beautiful inside and out.

I wish that heartache, death, or disappointment would never touch upon your life.

But, I know that it will.

And I pray that you become a stronger, more compassionate woman each time you taste the sting of sadness.

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I pray that the world never makes you choose to sway from who you are.

That it will never dim your light.

That you will remember that God has a purpose for you.

One that only you can set in motion and fulfill.

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Strength, courage, compassion, kindness…

I hope that these traits continue to grow with each passing day.

I hope you are always surrounded by people who lift you up.

I hope you never lose your smile or the laughter that spills from your lips.

I hope your heart overflows with joy.

I hope you always remember that you are completely loved.

And as you make your way into the world

I hope your light shines brightly!

 

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For My Mom

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She smiled the day we met.

Little hand placed in hers.

Passing of time marked in years.

She has laughed with me at the silliest things.

She has wiped away my tears of heartache.

She has shared in my times of joy and in my times of grief.

She has stood beside me as I gazed upon each of my children for the first time, knowing that I had begun to understand her love in those moments.

She gave sacrificially to her children, not because she had to, but because she wanted to.

She loved us deeply, not because she had to, but because she wanted to.

So today, on her birthday, I’m taking a moment to say “Thank You” and “Happy Birthday, Mom!”.  I am very blessed to be able to talk to my mother almost daily.  She is my sounding board, my voice of wisdom and reason, and one of my best friends. She shines her light wherever she goes.  Perhaps that’s why she’s so aptly named Dawn. 🙂

Use today as a chance to let somebody know that you love them and/or that you are thankful to have them as a part of your life!

Let your light shine!

Amy

Her children arise and call her blessed.  Proverbs 31:28a