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

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.

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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

 

 

19 Years Of Marriage

Aruba.

I know that you all are waiting for photos from my trip to Aruba.

They are coming.

I promise.

Photography.

I’m clearing out computer space to import them. My laptop is already full and there’s the moving of things to an external hard drive.

I shot all my photos in RAW this time. I know all you photographers out there are gasping in horror that I didn’t shoot in RAW in the past, but I’ve only recently installed Lightroom (which I still haven’t used). And I’m sure to all the non-photographers, I sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher… wah…wah…wah.

Don’t worry, some of it still sounds like that to me too. I’ve got a long way to go before I find myself well versed in photography skills.

Anniversary.

However, I think there are moments in life that deserve acknowledgement. An anniversary is one of those moments. So I’m stopping my digital decluttering to acknowledge the 19th anniversary of my marriage.

I think it’s a disservice to future marriages to pretend like a marriage unfolds as a fairytale or that there aren’t hard times.

I shared a lot about my thoughts on marriage and those facts when I acknowledged our 18th wedding anniversary.

If you missed that post, you can find it here.

Eternal Optimist.

But there are fairytale moments!

That heading is tongue in cheek.

Being an optimist is not my normal bent.

Part of my journey has been learning to focus on the good.

To be mindful of the good that is happening now.

To have gratitude for all that is well.

Smile.

To smile more.

So today, I pause and share some silliness and smiles with the man who has walked beside me, loved me, believed in me, and raised children with me for 19 years of marriage.

Amsterdam.

This was on the boat ride in Amsterdam last April. We had a photo from a different time on the boat where the lady behind us photobombed our selfie with big eyes and her cookie held in her mouth. So Big Mr. photobombed us with big eyes as a play on that photo.

Carolina Beach.

This was silliness on full display during our family beach vacation last summer in Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Aruba.

Lastly, here we are, all smiles on the lunch break of our Safari through the desert in Aruba.

Natural Bridge collapsed in 2005. Unfortunately, we never saw that one. However, there is a Baby natural bridge. This photo is taken in front of that.

You can see that this coastline was much more rugged than other coast.

Stay tuned for more photos from Aruba.

In color.

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

wpc: smile

 

Friday Faves Edition 51

Friday Faves Edition 51

Friday.

I’m not sure how many different ways there are to say, “Hooray, it’s Friday!”. However, I keep trying.

This week, I used google translate to give me a little help. If google got it wrong, comment the correction.

  • Hurra, es Viernes (Spanish)
  • Hurra, es ist Freitag (German)
  • Hourra, c’est Vendredi (French)
  • Hoera, het is Vrijdag (Dutch)
  • Hooray, o le aso Laititi (Samoan)
  • Hooray, tá sé Dé hAoine (Irish)
  • Evviva, é Venerdì (Italian)
  • Hooray, is e Dihaoine a th ‘ann (Scottish Gaelic)

Friday Faves. Edition 51.

I can’t believe that this is edition 51 of Friday Faves. That’s so close to an entire year of coming here a recapping my faves of the week.

So let’s get to it!

Family Date.

Since my sons are 16 and almost 18, they are rarely home. Between work and friends, they like to be on the go. The hubby and I realized that we were seeing less and less of them and yet are moving closer and closer to the day that they fly the nest (one is a Junior and the other is a Senior in high school). We decided the best way to remedy the situation was to implement a family date.

A family date will now happen at least twice a month. We all like to go out to eat, so that became the best choice for us. I know that meals around the family dinner table are promoted for this quality time. It’s not like we don’t ever have those. We just find that when we eat out, the teens are less distracted by wanting to move on from the table. Also everybody becomes fully involved in the conversations. Plus, I don’t have to cook and the diversity of the palates of five people can be easily satisfied.

This past Saturday was our first “official” family date. While we left it open for the boys to bring along their girlfriends, it ended up with just the five of us. We decided on Mellow Mushroom. Mellow Mushroom is a pizza chain found mostly along the East Coast of the United States. We dined at one in Asheville, NC many years ago. It was big news when they opened here in Roanoke in October of 2016. I hadn’t been to this location before because Miss Sunshine is not a pizza fan. However, she did go here with a friend and said their pizza was good. The teens all got pizza. The hubby and I got veggie calzones. They were much larger that I anticipated, so I ended up eating the other half for dinner.

All in all it was “first date” success.

 

Fog.

Sunday, the fog rolled in. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture some photos. I’m still processing and editing them, but I did get one up on Instagram.

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Early Mornings.

Monday, I shared about my recycling journey so far. It was a major house cleaning day. One of my least favorite jobs to do. Weekdays are always filled with way too many early mornings.

Superlatives.

One of the things that I didn’t share last week was that Miss Sunshine had been nominated for an 8th grade yearbook superlative. If you aren’t familiar with superlatives, they are usually “best smile”, “most likely to succeed”, etc. and the nominees were high school Seniors. At some point, they found their way to middle school yearbooks, where 8th graders are nominated since they are the BMOC.

I don’t know all the superlatives chosen, but there were some I hadn’t heard of. Miss Sunshine was nominated for one of those. “Most likely to become a female activist.” She wasn’t sure what it meant since all of her friends were saying it meant she was most likely to become a feminist. I knew that wasn’t the case, but we looked up the definition of an activist, which is “a person who campaigns to bring about political of social change”. So, yes, a feminist is an activist, but not all activists are feminists (which should have been particularly obvious since superlatives have a male counterpart.

I have spoken in the past about conversations Miss Sunshine and I have had surrounding feminism. I believe that women are and should be treated as equal, but I don’t think that any agenda is furthered by the bashing of males. It doesn’t accomplish anything other than spewing hatred while claiming tolerance. I find this to be the case in many social conversations, which is why I mostly avoid them.

Trains.

Anyway! Miss Sunshine won the nomination. My heart is quite proud. I think it’s an excellent superlative. Hopefully she does change the world. She had to be taken in to school early on Tuesday for photos (which didn’t happen, but that’s a different story). On my way home, I got held up by the train crossing. I’m never first in line, so I took the opportunity to grab a picture.

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Riverdance.

Wednesday, the hubby and I had tickets to see Riverdance. I was so excited!! We saw it live when we were dating. I got all dressed up (a rarity), put on makeup (even rarer), and even put on fake eyelashes (for the first time). The lighting wasn’t good, but we still snapped a few selfies.

No photos were allowed during the performance. There were those who chose to ignore it. The lights from their phones was rude, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. There are those who will answer a phone in the library and carry on a full conversation. I’m talking about people of all ages…even some old enough to be my grandparents.  I’m still questioning when this became acceptable.

But I digress. If you can see the show, you definitely should. My hands hurt the next day from clapping so much. It was phenomenal!! I can’t rave about it enough!!

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Classic Novel.

Speaking of libraries…I have started on my February Challenge. I’m about 1/4 of the way through my first classic novel, Pride and Prejudice. I’m really enjoying it. It still seems strange to me the formal way that people spoke to each other. Even amongst girlfriends. I wonder if they really spoke that way or if that was only in writing. I suspect the former.

We went to the library last night and once again they are having “Blind Date with a Book”. I love surprises and couldn’t pass it up. I chose this one because it said “heartwarming classic”. That meant that it should qualify for my challenge. The book ended up being Random Harvest by James Hilton. I had not heard of it before and looked it up. Apparently, it was made into a film not too long after it was written. That film is considered a classic. I suppose that makes the book a classic as well. It will be my next read.

Microwave.

My microwave died. Appliances hate me. Don’t believe me? Read some of my older posts. They definitely hate me. End of Story.

Pilates.

I went to Pilates today. I don’t do Pilates on a Reformer. It is at my gym and is considered mat pilates. We sometimes use a small or large ball, light weights, therabands, and/or rings. Each instructor has a different style. What are the odds that after reading this article, questioning the benefit of burpees, that a day or two later I’d be doing them for the first time in a Pilates class? I will say that there was an option of stepping back with one leg a time to a plank and then walking it in and standing. The exercise wasn’t done nearly as fast as in some higher intensity classes. I appreciated the harder workout because “beach season” is coming. I just thought the coincidence was strange.

Music.

Also when I went to the gym, I heard a familiar song playing on the speakers. It was because I shared the song (by Tom Walker) in Edition 38 of Friday Faves. Today’s song is by Mondo Cozmo. The singer is from Philadelphia and is now based in L.A.

I hope you have an amazing week.

See the light in other and treat them as if that's all you see -Dr Wayne Dyer

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

The Thing About Silence - a view of freshly fallen snow

The Thing About Silence

Silence.

I wasn’t going to post today.

Silence.

I’m having a melancholy day. It happens to me sometimes. Usually when things are racing along at too frantic of a pace, or one of my teens is causing me internal angst, or it’s winter (sometimes all of the above). As is often the case with melancholy, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly the reasons…if any. I suspect SAD (seasonal affective disorder) may play a role, as well.

Silence and withdrawing are my tendencies on melancholy and high anxiety days.

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The Thing about Silence.

The thing about silence is that sometimes it’s best to speak.

This space with my blog is to spread love and kindness, to share the beauty of the world through my words or my photos, but it’s also a place for me to process. A place to pour out the reality of me. I am often able to look through a lens of gratitude, to focus on the beauty, to remind myself that this too shall pass.

Then there are days when this process of growth on the journey is a little harder.

So today, I write.

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Memories.

After running some necessary (and semi-unneccesary…I discovered bathing suits are in stores …and I have an upcoming trip to Aruba) errands, I decided to pop on Facebook. My nephew’s birthday was yesterday and I had left a message over there. One of the things (and there are really only a few) I do like about that social media space is when it brings up past memories.

One of the memories that Facebook shared for today was actually an Instagram post from two years ago.

This one in fact:

Blog.

I wondered which blog post this was referencing. It was interesting that the post that I wrote on this day two years ago should be about silence. Not only, silence, but the silence brought about by a freshly fallen snow. If you saw my Silent Sunday post, then you know that my take on the weekly photo challenge theme of “silence“, was our most recent snow.

Sometimes I cringe when I read my older posts, but this one was a perfect read for my melancholy spirit. I thought I’d reblog it, but that button seems to have disappeared for the moment. If you’d like to read my post, Silence is Golden, just click on those words.

The post was a reminder to me to search for the beauty in the midst of chaos, to stay in awe and wonder at the gloriousness of it all, to smile along the journey…because this is life.

I hope it offers the same reminder for you.

So, if you are too tired to speak, sit next to me, because, I, too, am fluent in silence. -R. Arnold

Let your light shine!

Amy

Forging through life's curveballs

Forging Through Life’s Curveballs

 

Forging Ahead Through Life’s Curveballs.

Sometimes life is messy. Sometimes you’re cruising along and think that life is wonderful and you are following the path that you were called to follow…then life throws you a curveball. What can you do when this happens? There is only one thing to do. Keep forging ahead through life’s curveballs.

I have dealt with many of life’s curveballs during my 40 years on this planet. But this story is not about me. I don’t often share other people’s stories, but am making an exception because the woman behind the story is my niece. And also because she has publicly spoken about parts of her story.

My niece, Azalea, amongst the many hats that she wears, is a vlogger on YouTube at Way Crunchy. Like me, her online journey has shifted over time. She originally wrote on a blog.

She is the person who helped encourage me to move past my fears of rejection and start this blog. Also, like me, she considers her role as a mother to be one of her most precious jobs.

Divorce.

About 5 months ago, life threw her a curveball. Divorce. It was not how she saw her life going, but it was the new reality. She did share on her Instastories that she was going through some heavy stuff, but it wasn’t until her YouTube video last month that she was prepared to share that she had spent the past 5 months as a single mom. I had been aware of this before she was ready to share it publicly and my heart hurt for her. Watching the YouTube of her announcing it made me ache with sadness for her again.

I have no experience in single motherhood. I do know that the two times that my husband traveled ahead of us to begin new jobs, the time on my own was hard.  Raising children is hard. I have had plenty of hard moments in raising teenagers. She does have a support system, but that doesn’t make the journey easy. She was a stay-at-home mom for the most part and suddenly found her life being upheaved.

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Another Curveball.

Even though life kept throwing her curveballs, she kept up her spirits and kept forging ahead. I’m sure she had her moments… who wouldn’t? Then life decided to throw her another curveball. Her vehicle died…needed the engine replaced and wasn’t worth the repair. She felt like that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That no matter what she did, things kept going wrong. A friend of hers set up a go fund me to help with the car situation. This is her most recent YouTube video.

I’m sure that her stress is exacerbated by the fact that her daughter will soon be going through some major medical things. As a mother, I know that alone is enough to make the waters rise and threaten to engulf you. When you add all the other things that she is going through, I can’t begin to fathom the overwhelm.

Learned lessons.

However, I did recently speak with her and while I’m sure she would never have wanted to walk this journey, she has been able to reflect and find learned lessons. One of the lessons that she mentions in the video is learning to accept help. This resonated deeply with me because I am so reluctant to accept help. In this realization, she became open to possibilities she wouldn’t have considered. Being open to accepting help is why she asked that her YouTube video be shared. If you have a media channel that you’d like to share it on, please do.

It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story. -Iyanla Vanzant

I admire the strength that she continues to show as she walks along this new journey of single parenting.

I have do doubt that all of the lessons learned will be very helpful as she continues her journey as a phoenix rising from the ashes.

Have you ever been thrown one of life’s curveballs? Did you find strength that you didn’t know you had as you forged through the curveball? Do you had advice for navigating life’s curveballs?

Let your light shine!

Amy

Visiting a Christmas Tree Farm

Visiting A Christmas Tree Farm

Visiting A Christmas Tree Farm.

(Or how to choose the perfect Christmas tree).

Ok, that second part might be a little far-fetched. Is there such a thing as a “perfect” tree? And isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?

I was born, raised, married, entered motherhood, and lived for 36 years in Florida. Christmas trees are trucked in from parts north and set up in tents amongst the parking lots and fields around the towns in which I’ve lived. Picking out our Christmas tree as a family is something that we have always done.

When we moved to Roanoke, I really wanted to visit a tree farm and choose my Christmas tree from its habitat. We moved to Virginia in 2013 and closed on our current home around 10 days before Christmas. A jaunt out to a tree farm was not in the cards. The following three years, I advocated going to a tree farm, but was outvoted by those wanting to hop down to the local tent stands (we did purchase from a tree farm that also trucks trees in to a lot closer to our home).

This year, I adamantly insisted planned our trip to a Christmas tree farm.

Next year, Big Mr. will be away at college and I don’t know if we will choose our tree as the entire family.

…and that is how we came to travel to Slaughter’s Tree Farms this past weekend.

Lest you be mistaken into thinking everyone was joyous about my plans, I am raising teenagers. Two of them drive and like to make plans with friends. All three of them like to sleep when they’ve stayed up too late the night before.

But after grabbing some breakfast, conversations lightened (as in grumpiness fell away) and amongst the conversations were talks of concerns behind AI…which somehow brings up Elon Musk’s warnings against it…to which I always chime in that I swear Elon Musk has figured out time travel and is from the future (perhaps he’s already seen the “rise of the machines”).

The tree farm that we visited is located at 4864-4906 Floyd Highway N in Floyd County, Virginia. The drive across Bent Mountain and a few other locations is extremely winding. I wish I had photos, but I was in the back seat, bracing myself around the curves.

I had a general idea of where it was located as I’d seen signs for it before on the few times I’d driven to Floyd from Roanoke. I knew that it was after Check and before Floyd proper. I needn’t have been concerned about finding it. As we got closer, we passed car after car with a Christmas tree strapped to its roof. The location itself was very obvious.

After finding out how it all worked (find a tree and then flag down a four-wheeler hauling a trailer)…we were off.

We were looking for a rather tall tree. Miss Sunshine had proposed a new location in the living room that could hold a taller tree than we’ve had in the past.

A tree in its own setting creates an optical illusion of being much smaller than reality. Miss Sunshine and I repeatedly pointed out trees whose circumference probably would have encompassed a large portion of our living room.

There are poles to carry that will help you estimate the height of the tree. As you can see, Miss Sunshine had lofty goals in relation to the height of the Christmas tree that she was searching for.

The walk to the top of the hill, seemingly went on forever. There was even another hill covered with tree after tree. I loved watching the memories being formed. Mr. D often prefers his solitude when he is home, but when he settles in to conversations, he has a lot to say. The hubby and he chatted for much of the search.

We did not travel to the second hill. Big Mr. was coming down with a cold and even though he was a trooper, soldiering on for all the hunting that we did, I felt bad knowing he should rest.

I think Miss Sunshine would have looked at every tree (if I’m honest, that’s my tendency too), but we decided on this tree. You can see that Big Mr. is slightly uphill compared to the tree and he’s 6’6″, so Miss Sunshine got her wish for a tall tree.

The view from this part of the hill was beautiful. That tiny red and white spot in the photo is the monstrous inflatable snowman in the parking lot. And this was only a fraction of the amount of acreage covered in Christmas trees.

We waved the pole a little to gain the attention of the workers and they came with a chainsaw, ferried the tree down to be baled, and then tied upon our roof.

We meandered back down the hill to complete our purchase.

They also had a trailer covered with lovely wreaths. I had meandered down more slowly than the others, stopping to take photographs along the way. I probably would have purchased a wreath as well, but the hubby had already paid.

The Slaughter’s Tree Farms location we were at prefers cash or check, but will take a credit card. We are notoriously cashless and so we used a card. Floyd proper isn’t that much farther, and we would have ran to an ATM there had that been necessary.

We weren’t quite the Griswold’s on our drive home, but it still always feels like there’s an element of that with a tree strapped to your roof.

We moved all the furniture around to make a place for the tree.

After the hubby strung the lights, he placed our first ornament, the Christmas Nail. Last year, I wrote about its placement on our tree in this post.

I watched as the teens placed the ornaments. I watched the thoughtful way they found a home for each and every one. I listened to conversations of the meanings or the age behind almost every ornament.

Miss Sunshine started with the Grinch. He requires a place that forms a seat. He holds a special place in my heart. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is my favorite show. Not the movie…the cartoon. And only the original…voiced by Boris Karloff. That stuffed Grinch was the Christmas tree topper for the hubby and my first Christmas together…and it has held a place on the tree ever since.

We played Christmas music loudly. We laughed. We reminisced. We talked about the year the tree fell over…twice! We lost many bulbs and once it landed on our poor aging Golden Retriever (she never lay in its shadow again).

Each piece a different memory.

Perhaps I should give you a tour of my tree…but that is for a different day.

The entire process of choosing our tree from a Christmas tree farm has created new memories.

Memories that will enter into our holiday remembrances.

Do you have any special holiday traditions?

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

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Love and Death

Love And Death

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Everybody loves a good love story.

Right?!

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

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

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

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

 

Rock Castle Gorge Trail

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

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

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

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

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

It felt like an acknowledgement to love.

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

The Gulf of Mexico in Naples, Florida from the pier

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

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

Amy Lyon Smith with her grandma and mother

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

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

 

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves – Edition 34

Who else is excited that it’s Friday?!

I should be packing because Miss Sunshine and I are heading to Richmond for a soccer tournament….but I have a tendency to wait until the last minute when it comes to packing.

Remember how in last Friday’s post, I mentioned that I had a day of exploration ahead?

Well if you saw Tuesday’s post, then you know that we explored the Blue Ridge Parkway. Next week I’ll be sharing more photos and tales from our outing.

But I thought you might enjoy this photo of the countryside. There was a segment of the Blue Ridge Parkway that was being paved. This meant that we traveled very slowly through that area and I was able to snap a photo of this farm from the Jeep.

On Saturday, Miss Sunshine and I had to travel to Mount Crawford for her soccer match.

Sunday was a gathering with the hubby’s family. His oldest brother recently got married and they traveled up to see the family. The three brothers had not all been together since my father -in-law passed away at the beginning of 2013.

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I was able to get some photos of the brothers along with their mom.

After eating, we embarked on the family tradition of setting up the projector and watching some slides. We stumbled upon some slides that most of us hadn’t seen. I was in awe of the photos that my father-in-law had taken of during the time they lived in Morocco. The lighting was magnificent. Lighting is one of my biggest struggles in photography and those slides reinforced my wanting to learn it because it can add so much dimension to a photo.

Wednesday would have been my Grandmother’s 88th birthday.  Those of you who’ve been following me for some time know that she was an amazing voice of wisdom in my life. My mother interviewed her back around 2009. I have copies of those DVD’s and usually watch them a few times a year. I decided to video a couple of her memories for those of you who like to put a voice with a face.

 

These are just two snippets from her memories of being a teenager in Los Angeles.

 

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The entry deck is complete! My photo does it no justice, but you can see that we left the railing open in order to let in light. I wanted a white-washed feel to the decking. The house is gray so I wanted gray tones to the white wash. After looking at numerous choices, I opted for Behr semi-transparent in Cape Cod Gray.  The photo makes it look like there is much differentiation in colors than in actuality. I’ll probably try to take more photos of it in the future, but I’m just so happy that it’s complete!

In yesterday’s post, I shared how I fared in the September Challenge. I’ve finished six days of the October Challenge and am really enjoying it. In my need to get on the road last Friday, I neglected to mention an interesting event. After I posted about my October Challenge, I left to run some errands.  I checked my email when I returned and had an email about a meditation challenge! Synchronicity?! Quite possibly.  The challenge actually doesn’t start until October 9th. It runs for three weeks. 15 minute sessions. It’s free. It happens to be lead by Light Watkins, who I had noticed leading a meditation challenge at the MindBodyGreen website. I didn’t join in that time. I haven’t signed up yet for this one, which is being offered by Wanderlust TV. I will be perusing the information on this one once I make it to our hotel in Richmond, but I just wanted to let you all know about it, in case you have any interest.  You can read more about it here.

I am enjoying the meditation process so far. Learning how to quiet my mind just a little more each day. Which is such a peaceful feeling in this chaotic world.

A friend of mine introduced me to the song that I am sharing this week.  There is so much hatred in the world, but there is also much love.  Sometimes we just have to look a little harder through the chaos to find it.

I hope that you all have a beautiful weekend.  I’m sending smiles and beams of light across the miles to each of you. I hope that you’ll take a moment to send the same to others over the coming week!

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

Let your light shine!

Amy