Time Marches On

The Evolution of Me.

We are always changing.

Right?

Just by the sheer nature of life surrounding us, it is almost impossible to be stagnant.

I started this blog about 2 1/2 years ago.

As a journey of discovery.

A seeking of who I am outside of society’s definition of me (mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend).

I have been fully immersed in the role of mother for over 18 years. I lost myself in that role because that was role I was and am passionate about. But if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, then you know my nest will slowly be emptying. The oldest, Big Mr. heads off to his University in a month. Mr. D graduates from high school next spring. And my youngest, Miss Sunshine, starts high school this fall.

I look back over the journey that I have recorded on these pages and I see that I have indeed changed. I have evolved. And yet, in some ways I remain the same.

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Time Marches On.

Time always has a way of marching on.

It has no sympathy for the plights of man.

I last caught up with you all in my Seaside Chat IIIt’s hard to believe that a week ago I was heading out to begin my long drive home after a three week journey to see family and friends.

I left you with the fact that I’d be stopping in Gainesville, Florida for two days to visit family before returning to Virginia.

On the way down, I stayed with Jami (my dad’s sister- on the left). If you’ll recall, we are only 5 days apart in age.

On the return home I stayed with Jenni (my cousin- in the middle). I missed her on the way down because she and her fiancé were in Hawaii (lucky!).

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On Sunday, she hosted lunch and my grandparents came over.

When I was 12, my grandparents and Jami moved next door to us. They lived there until shortly before Miss Sunshine was born. Then they moved near Lake City and I saw them much less frequently. They were surprised to see how tall Miss Sunshine had gotten since they last saw her. It was wonderful to catch up and to laugh as we reminisced over my younger years.

Some of the laughing and joking was about how I was the “alpha” of a specific relative cluster that I grew up around. If you follow birth order traits, it would seem likely this was because I am the oldest of my sibling group and older than many of my cousins. However, Jami is technically older than me.

That never swayed my “take charge” personality as a child and teen.

Interestingly, I don’t see myself in that role in all social groups.

Part of that is because I am an introvert.

You wouldn’t think so when I am around my family.

I AM LOUD.

I use the “Scott” voice. That’s what it’s known as throughout both sides of my family. My mother is an extrovert and has extroverted siblings. They are exuberant when speaking…AND LOUD.

It’s a contagious thing.

Loud voices. Loud laughs. Happiness exuding.

My cousin and I have a running joke about being Grandma’s favorite.

I am the oldest of the females and she is the youngest.

She has “alpha” tendencies too, but we don’t have any frictions and I consider her one of my besties.

She and Jami and known me and loved me through all the ins and outs of my life. Each time we are together, we can easily pick up where we left off.

Emptying the Nest.

After I made it back to Virginia, the next day I went to visit my mother-in-law. She lives about 1 1/2 hours away. She had been keeping our dog for the week because the fence is being replaced at our home (courtesy of manual labor executed by Big Mr.)

On Wednesday and Thursday, we had Big Mr.’s freshmen orientation. If I’m being honest, it was overwhelming. The campus has over 30,000 students. That is more people than our current suburb. At the same time, it is quite exciting to be a part of this journey. I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

The Passage of Time.

Alas, that isn’t me in the lovely sunset shot. It is a young couple embarking on some level of the journey of their love. They just happened into my frame during my last night at the beach in Naples.

On Saturday, the hubby and I celebrated 20 years since the first lunch date that set into motion this journey together.

I don’t like that I’ve posted so infrequently. One of the lessons I’ve learned during this season of my journey is that my summertimes are filled with times that I need to set aside for motherhood. Things have come up that I have needed to deal with. When I set out on this path 18 years ago, I knew that the walk would sometimes be all-consuming. And sometimes it is.

As I continue to learn, I see that I need to have posts prepared in advance for those moments when I can’t possibly set aside any time during the day because I am consumed by my other responsibilities.

My teens return to school in a month and I will have time to sit down and process photos and gather my thoughts in a cohesive manner.

Until then, I hope you’ll bear with me and continue along with me on this ever-evolving journey.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Seaside Chat

Friday.

It’s technically Friday, although I struggle to keep track of the days.

I suppose this is sort of like a Friday Faves, but as I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, it’s more like a seaside chat.

Seaside Chat.

Miss Sunshine and I moved into our little cottage last Friday. We are some blocks from the beach, but I’ve timed it and it’s about a 7 minute walk.

Sunset.

I’ve been able to get down there most nights for sunset. The two that I’ve missed were due to rain, not laziness on my part.

The colors in the sky are always spectacular, even on the less than stellar sunset nights.

Dinner and Dancing.

My aunt that traveled to Scotland with us last year has joined some social groups and on Wednesday they go to a restaurant that has a live DJ/singer and dancing. She invited Miss Sunshine and I and my mother to join her. The singer was crazy good. I had to do a double take to make sure that he wasn’t just playing music.

Miss Sunshine declined to join us in dancing, but the three of us got out there and “shook our groove thang”.

You might be wondering about that spectacular bruise on my arm. If not, I’m gonna tell you about it anyway. While traveling down, Miss Sunshine and I stopped for gas and a bathroom break. The door to the stall was somewhat unwieldy and as I turned to close it, the purse hook scraped my arm.

It was enough that I thought I’d bruise since I bruise so easily. However, the scrape covered less than a dime sized spot. I did not expect a bruise so large. It’s so glaring that every single family member has asked what happened AND I’ve gotten to sport that monstrosity at the beach for a week. It’s fading, but it’ll still be a while.

Biking.

The cottage has two bikes so Miss Sunshine and I have done some exploring on them.

Paddleboard.

We brought our paddleboard down with us. The Gulf is pretty calm at this time of year so it’s been fun to take that out.

When we were down on Wednesday, a manatee came swimming along the coastline and later we could see a dolphin out frolicking and heading toward the pier to catch the fish that congregate there.

Shopping.

Yesterday, Miss Sunshine and I did a little shopping for her school clothes. Then we met my mom and sister-in-law for lunch. Later, we went to both of my aunt’s house to visit. Today, we will go visit my grandfather and tonight will be meeting one of my aunt’s at the beach to watch the sunset.

It sounds like go,go,go…and sort of is, but there are moments of relaxation as well. I’m still finishing up my month of writing and just realized July is almost upon me.

Time to figure out my challenge for that month. Any suggestions?

Upcoming.

Along with more family visiting, we have some upcoming fun times in the works. We are supposed to go to an Escape Room. We have a family dinner out planned with my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two nephews. We’ll be celebrating the 4th of July. How and where is still in determination mode. We are also taking a day trip to Busch Gardens to seek out some thrilling roller coasters. I’m sure I’m leaving things out, but we will also stop once again in Gainesville on the return home and I will see my grandparents and my cousin that I couldn’t catch on the way down.

I’ll also be making sure that I try to catch as many sunsets at the beach as I possibly can!

As I mentioned before I began this trip and as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I am slow on my replies and making it by to read what many of you have been up to. Most of my evening downtime is spent chatting or playing board games with Miss Sunshine. I will get through my emails and comments, just bear with me in the process.

I hope that you all are having a beautiful Friday!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Views Along the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow.

During my most recent trip to the U.K., my mother and I made a day trip over to Glasgow, Scotland.

There are trains from Edinburgh to Glasgow that take just around an hour and run regularly. If you are traveling during off-peak hours (which we did) the tickets price is nominal (We paid £13 each for a return ticket. It’s less if you are traveling with more because you can purchase a groupsaver ticket, which is what we were able to do last year when 3 of us traveled over).

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time then you are already familiar with the fact that many of my traced Scottish roots come from the Glasgow region.

Photography Series.

I’m squeezing this photography series in just under the deadline. The weekly photo challenge is twisted, which ask us to consider things that don’t maintain a straight line.

Obviously, this challenge could be taken many ways and I have many photos from my time in the U.K. that would qualify.

However, I am rapidly preparing to witness my oldest child graduate from high school. Big Mr. is done with tests and done with all the “officialness” of school. Today, he has graduation practice and varying fun things at school. And then, it’s just wait until graduation day on June 8th. It would have made more sense for them to graduate this Friday, but I don’t make the calendar.

This culminating time is a busy one, but it also makes me reflect on family.

River Clyde.

The River Clyde is the second longest river in Scotland.

Quite often you will hear it said that “Glasgow made the Clyde, and the Clyde made Glasgow”.

Clyde Arc.

The Clyde Arc (also known as Squinty Bridge) stands out amongst the landscape. It connects Finnieston Street on the north bank of the river to Govan Road on the south bank.

These first two photos were taken during our trip to Glasgow in 2017.

Genealogy.

We still have quite a ways to go in researching our roots, but we do know a few ancestors for whom the River Clyde must have played a part in their life.

McLachlan.

My 4th great-grandfather, Hugh McLachlan, married Mary McLachlan on December 7, 1827. The old parish registers of Glasgow state that he was a seaman and that they were residing in Glasgow. I have not been able to trace either of these grandparents back any farther at this time. Their son, my 3rd great-grandfather, Hugh McLachlan, was born in in 1835 in Glasgow. That was according to his death certificate. By the time of his death in 1881, he was living in Airdrie and was a former miner (I visited there last year).

His daughter Agnes was my 2nd great-grandmother and she would emigrate to Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband and sons in 1911.

Munn.

Her husband was James Scott and his family lineage would have also been affected by the River Clyde. His mother, my 3rd great-grandmother, was Mary Munn. She was born in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland around 1842.

Her father was Thomas Munn. His death certificate lists him as a ship carpenter, journeyman and living at 67 High Street in Dumbarton, Dunbartonshire, Scotland in 1874. He was born in 1815 in Irvine to David Munn (also a ship carpenter, journeyman) and Janet Orr. On the 1861 census, he was listed as a ship carpenter living on Keppoch Row Possil Road in Maryhill (once a burgh, now part of Glasgow).

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Mary Munn gave birth to my 2nd great-grandfather, James, in Holytown, but by the birth of her son Thomas (two years later) and daughter Jeanie (two years after that) they are living in New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire. My 3rd great-grandfather, James would die in October of 1871 from Caries of the Spine (which appears to be caused from TB and would explain why the baby was living with her aunt and uncle, John and Margaret Hay, on Pollacks Hill in Holytown on the 1871 census).

Mary Munn would marry George Brown at the end of 1872 and some of the Brown children would be born in the Lambhill and Maryhill areas

Bell’s Bridge.

It was with this family history in mind that my mother and I chose to make a stop along the River Clyde.

On our first trip, we only passed by on the tour bus. This time we wanted to walk across the River Clyde.

We chose to do that on Bell’s Bridge.

Bell’s Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that spans the River Clyde.

The bridge can rotate open to allow ships to pass.

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BBC Scotland.

From the bridge you can see the BBC Scotland building along with the Glasgow Science Center, which also includes the Glasgow Tower (which, according to the website is the only structure on earth capable of rotating 360 ° into the prevailing wind).

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SSE Hydro.

Of course, no tour of this area of the Clyde waterfront is complete without sharing photos of two architectural marvels.

One of those is the SSE Hydro. Located on the opposite bank as the Science Center, the SSE Hydro is the largest entertainment venue in Scotland. It can hold 12,000 people (all seated) or up to 13,000 (seated and standing in performance bowl.)

The shape was inspired by ancient Greek and Roman amphitheaters.

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SEC Armadillo.

Located just beside the SSE Hydro is the SEC Armadillo. It was originally called the Clyde Auditorium. The inspiration for the 3,000 seat venue was a series of interlocking ship’s hulls. However, the nickname “armadillo” obviously stuck.

Have you ever visited the Clyde waterfront?

I’ll have plenty more to share from Glasgow in future posts, but if  you’re interested in my time there last year, you can find my posts here:

The Necropolis

George Square

University of Glasgow

The Cloisters

Murals of Glasgow

The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace. -Mahatma Gandhi

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 62

Friday.

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

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

Friday Faves.

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

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

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

Humor.

They say that laughter is the best medicine.

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

It has quite hilarious.

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

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

I didn’t.

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

Vegan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.

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

Yep. You read that right.

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

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

Packing.

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

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

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

Challenge.

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

Accident Prone.

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

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

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

You know where this is going don’t you?

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

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

Team Photos.

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

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

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

Lighting and angles of humans are not my strong points.

Individual Photos.

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

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

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

Here’s to hoping the parents like them.

8th Grade Recognition.

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

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

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

Summer Plans.

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

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

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

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

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

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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