What's Up Lately Episode 002

What’s Up Lately – Episode 002


What’s Up Lately?

Episode 002.

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

Today, however, it does.

And since I need different titles…

Episode 002.

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


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




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

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

That was 9 months ago.

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

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

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

I don’t like courthouses.

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

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


Labor Day Weekend and Soccer.

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

This past weekend was no different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flowers! For Me?

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

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

They definitely lifted my spirits.

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


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

Today is her birthday!!

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


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


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

New moons are a time for beginnings.

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

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

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


Silly Selfie.

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

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


Let your light shine!


Learning a life lesson through a dream

Life Lesson From A Dream


Learning a life lesson through a dream


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!

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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

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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.


The Quarrying on a foggy day on the Isle of Skye in Scotland


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.


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.


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 .”


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 to 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!




American Made


Most Thursdays I bring you photography of Doors from places I’ve visited. Today is no exception. However, in today’s series, the doors are more of a subject of viewing than the subject of my words.

Or put more simply, if you’re here for only the photographs, feel free to scroll through the photos. It won’t hurt my feelings. In fact, I won’t even know that you didn’t read my words unless you feel compelled to let me know that fact. Also be sure to pop over to Norm’s blog to see more amazing doors.

I have a lot of thoughts rolling around about topics that are practically unrelated and for some reason feel like sharing these discombobulated thoughts.

If you’re curious, the photos are from the ferry ride from Ft. Fisher, North Carolina to Southport, North Carolina. The first two photos are chosen because I’ll be talking about things that deal with “breaking the rules of conventional society” (to put it mildly). The third because I like its “uniformity”. The last is chosen because it has two of my loves…plus my jeep (which also has doors).

American Made.

In case you’re curious about my title, it’s because I watched the movie by the same name last night. One of my teens is sick. In fact, I will be taking them in to the doctor today. Likely that appointment will come prior to my finishing this post. The hubby offered to take me to dinner for Valentine’s, but I suggested we wait until the weekend. Instead we had some wine and watched American Made. I didn’t know what the movie was about, only that it starred Tom Cruise. The movie is supposed to based on the real-life story of Barry Seal, who was a drug smuggler with the Medellin Cartel.

South Florida.

While movies take many liberties with a film, it was rather strange to watch the timeline play out.  The early 80’s were a time of major drug running through Florida. If you’ve read my blog for a long time, then you know that I was born and raised in Naples, Florida. Which, in itself is a broad description. If you’ve read it for even LONGER, you know that I grew up inland. My dad converted a school bus into a home and drove it out to a piece of property in what is now considered Golden Gate Estates. There wasn’t electricity or hot water (I’ve written about how we lived in the highlighted post and others from my past).


Drug Runners.

However, the one thing that I haven’t talked about was the fact that it was well known that drugs were being run in this part of Florida. While I’m sure my parents have more stories since they were young adults and I was between 3 and 7, I do have vague memories. I suspect that these were large drug runs, maybe even cartels involved. It was said that if they saw you when they made their drop, then they would kill you.

Landing Strip.

One of the roads used to access other roads to our home was known as “the two mile landing strip”. I don’t know if planes landed on that road while we lived there. Perhaps my parents know. I do know that if we saw a small plane circling around at night, we shut off the lights to our home. I have a vivid memory of seeing one circling. This was probably sometime in the early 80’s.


Once when my mother was coming home, she saw cars parked alongside the road, so she shut off her headlights to creep past them and make it home. She was certain they were drug runners. Years later, my dad would be conversing with a law enforcement officer who had been around the area a while. That tale would come up and he said it was actually law enforcement and they looked around forever for the car that had driven by with its headlights off, certain it was a drug runner.

I’m sure that I thought it was scary, but I don’t remember being overly worried. That’s not to say I wasn’t, I just don’t remember it. Looking back, I wonder how worried my parents must have been. My mother got pregnant with my brother in the middle of 1981. We lived in the middle of nowhere with the closest phone being about 10 miles away and they had little kids. It’s an adventurous story to look back on in hindsight, but I’m sure it wasn’t so thrilling at the time.


The part of the movie that made us look at each other was when they decided that he should fly the drugs into Okeechobee. After moving from Naples at the age of 30, we landed in Okeechobee. You can’t live in Okeechobee and have not heard of Frank Brady. Well, perhaps, you can…but I doubt it.

Frank Brady.

Frank Brady was a rancher who, according to this article, made the country’s most-wanted fugitive list by fleeing the United States around the time of his 1983 drug smuggling indictment. According to this article, the 13,000 acres of ranch land that the government confiscated was the biggest seizure in U.S. history at the time. Investigators linked him to the Medellin Cartel. I met a lot of wonderful people during my two years in Okeechobee. In fact, I’m still acquainted with some of them. Interestingly, I actually met Frank Brady. I had to verify that fact with the hubby.

The fact that it left no lasting impression tells me that in all likelihood, he’s just a regular person, and if you didn’t know about his past, you’d have no reason to suspect it.

Our Past.

I guess that’s a semi-segway into my next set of thoughts. Unless we share with someone about our past, they really have no way of knowing what it held.

I have been having a rough time this winter. I often do. Winter makes me miss Florida. It makes me miss all my family. It makes me miss my friendships.


I believe in being honest and real, which I am. However, there are also pieces reserved for those who have earned my trust.

And so lately, I have been missing a variety of friends who have traveled with me through important times in my life. Two nights ago I received a text from one of those friends. Its timing and message couldn’t have been more appropriate for what I was dealing with. Something she couldn’t have known.

Naples Tribe.

It made me also think about another set of friends who were my “tribe” when I was raising babies. Two girlfriends who were my neighbors and had littles of their own. We’d wander into each others yards while the kids played on the swings and maybe order up a pizza or have a glass of wine.

They kept me sane when I rarely had adult contact.

And then I moved away.

And then another moved away.

We met for a girl’s weekend once and then as happens drifted somewhat farther apart. I still meet the one for coffee when I return home. I love to catch up with her and we text sometimes. The other I see through Facebook, but I no longer have her phone number. I realize this is entirely my fault because friendships take effort.

Yesterday, the one still in my hometown sent me a text. She was asking if the other friend still lived in the town to which she had moved. I was sitting on the couch talking with my oldest about his school day, future plans, life in general…as we often do when he comes home. I had not seen the news that she mentioned.

A school shooting.

I said “Yes, that she lived in Parkland and that “Child” went to “X” school.” Meanwhile, I was trying to check the news to see about the school shooting. I saw that it happened in Parkland about the same time that my friend sent me that text saying that it happened in Parkland, but at a different school. The town is small. Often you know people who go to different schools. I checked her Facebook, but she hasn’t posted anything. I’m sure that she is processing the horror that happened in her town.

My heart breaks for all those affected.

This morning there was an increased police presence at Miss Sunshine’s school.

After tragedies, I wish that I could wrap my children in a cocoon and keep them there forever.

To protect them from the ills of the world.

But just as I cannot control their choices, I cannot control the choices made by others.

Where do we go from here?

I have no perfect answers.


Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. -Kahlil Gibran photoquote

Let your light shine!


Friday Faves Edition 22

Friday Faves – Edition 22


Do you ever have a week that seems like a blur?

My week was chaotic. There are still so many moving parts with decisions to make, things to complete, and places to be.

However, I did find beauty in those moments. Here are some of my faves for the week.


On Sunday, I met a girlfriend for coffee.

I’m not a person who needs lots of friends, but I do need some that I consider my safe zone. These are the friends with whom I can speak freely. I can tell them about my trials in parenting, talk about the personal stuff of marriages and relationships, and the details I tend to keep private about what’s going on in my life.

Without fear of judgement.

She is one of those friends.

We decided to go to Sweet Donkey Coffee which is in South Roanoke. It’s a cute little coffee shop that always has something going on. I’ve been wanting to go since it opened (some years back), but hadn’t been yet.

Why hadn’t I been yet, you ask?

Confession time: some of you may already have guessed, but… I don’t parallel park. It wasn’t required for a driver’s license in Florida and I find it very intimidating. I did discover that that is plenty of  places that I could pull along the street and just walk back a few blocks, but for that day, my friend picked me up and we rode together.

When I visit a place, I like to try something that I can’t get anywhere else. Sometimes it works out, others times not so much (like the Carbonara that I had in Paris, which I didn’t realize came with a raw egg on top).  I decided to try the lavender latte. It could have gone either way. I’ve had a lavender kombucha that was tasty, but I hated the floral macarons that I tried from Ladureé in Paris (I felt like I was eating perfume).

The latte turned out to be amazingly tasty. And we had a great time catching up on everything happening in our summer so far…so much so that it was a 3 1/2 hour visit.


My next fave doesn’t look so faveish (I don’t think that’s a real word) yet. Our home is wood frame. Wood rots over time. The wall and steps had finally gotten to the point where they need replaced.

Especially given that Feng Shui principles are that the entry to your home should be inviting. Rotted decking is not inviting.

The original entry was sheathed the same way as the house. The layout of the interior of the house is very contemporary and we have decided that we want light allowed through the railings. We haven’t completely formulated what that will look like.  I have been scouring through Pinterest and pinning things to my Pinterest page. I’m very excited about the prospect of a nice entry to the front door.


Some of the books that I had on hold at the library came in…actually a bunch came in at the same time. I haven’t started this one yet, but I love the title because that is what I have chosen to do. I kept wanting to find a different house (and we will still probably downsize once we have less kids at home) and I have decided that in this moment I need to embrace this one.

I am still working on my goals of simplicity / minimalism by decluttering. I’ve found that one of the things that works best for me is to set a 20 minute timer and work diligently in that location. Then I set the timer again in a different location. I work in as many of these 20 minute bursts as I can fit in around the other plans for my day. Sometimes I work on my bedroom closet, sometimes my office, sometimes the filing cabinet, and sometimes the garage or other specific area that is cluttered. The 20 minute bursts keep me from getting overwhelmed (and thereby paralyzed and unable to move forward) with the projects in front of me.

Of course, Maverick has kept me super busy. He had his first check with our veterinarian last Friday. Getting him at 14 weeks meant that he was behind on socialization so she told us to get him out as often and to as many locations as we can. We visited my mother-in-law and took him for a swim in the pool. He wasn’t in love with the pool, but he did love my mother-in-law (dogs know that she’d choose them over a human 😉 ).

While I was at coffee with my friend, Miss Sunshine and the hubby took Maverick to the dog park and then over to splash around in the Roanoke River.  He did love the river! 🙂

Getting him socialized, teaching him “sit”, and potty training have consumed quite a bit of the week. Yesterday, he went in for his final distemper shot. We also opted to get him the leptospiroris shot since he will be hiking and playing in the river. It ended up making him sore and I spent the day wondering if it was the shot or if he had fallen on the stairs when I wasn’t looking. By the end of the day, he was back to his normal, crazy self.


I don’t know if it was the fried foods, the alcohol, or just too much overindulgence, but I didn’t feel great after I got home from the beach. I decided to go back to having a glass of lemon water every morning to start the day.

Yes. Even before coffee.

yoga mat and bag

My shoulder was bothering me over the weekend, but I still decided to go to the gym.

On Monday, I went to Pilates. I take these as a group exercise class at my gym, not at a studio.

And I got called up in front of the class!

I was nervous because I wasn’t sure whether it was to correct my form or show that my form was correct. It ended up that I was doing it properly, keeping my shoulders in place and not using my trapezius which wants to take over on the specific exercise.

On Tuesday, I went to the new Bodyflow release (the yoga class that I take). It was release number 77, which I thought would bode well since that was the year that I was born. It was a great release, but there was a lot of shoulder work and I opted to do the “flip your dog” into a “wild thing” and finish out in the backbend. The back track also included scorpion push-ups and fireflies. I think on a good day I would have been sore because the other shoulder felt tired. But it was a little too much for the shoulder that was bothering me.

I decided to honor my body and take Wednesday off, even though I really wanted to be there.

Thursday, I felt better and went back to Bodyflow. I did not “flip my dog” and took the back track from my knees and skipped reps when I needed to skip them.

Today was Pilates. This instructor does not teach this class often at my gym. All the instructors have their own style. I knew this one focuses a lot on breath work. This is an area that I don’t work on often, but I know that it is so beneficial, so I knew that I wanted to go. It turned out to be the entire class focused on getting our breath into those spaces that we don’t often take it… into the back of our ribs, into the thoracic spine… it required such concentration that I was totally in that present moment for the entire class.

Just what I needed to realign my focus and head into the crazy life that I call mine.

Every day is a blessing. Embrace it fully.

I know I’m always hoping that your weekend is filled with sunshine, but if your days have been as hot as ours, I’m hoping for a little cloud cover 😉 But still wishing you lots of smiles and days filled with kindness.

Mountain sunset with ee cumming quote

Let your light shine!




Alan Watts Quote - The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. Roanoke River in the background

Friday Faves – “Local” Edition


Honestly I think this is true most days.

Minus the hot part!

But today is Friday!!

So I’m letting the other side of my new coffee mug represent today.



Fabulous, darling, Fab-u-lous.

The crazy weather pattern in Virginia continues.

We’ve had numerous days of close to and even hitting 70 degrees (F).  And now we have snow coming in a few days.

Guess that means more time to read.


I picked up this book at the library- This Is Where You Belong, The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick. It was at the front on the new release shelves and caught my eye.  I don’t think it’s a shocker that I’ve had a hard time adjusting to living in Virginia (yes, even 3+ years later).

Imagine how surprised I was that the author, Melody Warnick lives in Blacksburg, a town not to far from Roanoke.  She wrote this book after move #6 and was determined to figure out how to fall in the love with the town she had moved to.  I’m only 1/4 of the way through it, but am thoroughly enjoying it.  She was already said so many of the things that I have thought.

I live in the suburbs, with no sidewalks, so there isn’t really walking the town for me. But she does offer some other tactics that I’m planning to employ.

One of which relates to shopping local.

She refers to The 3/50 Project which is about saving the independent brick and mortar stores in the U.S. (I think this concept is applicable anywhere-the numbers are just based on the U.S.). It states that if half of the employed population would commit to spending $50 each month in locally owned businesses, it would generate more that 42.6 billion in revenue.

Those locally owned shops are what give a town its character, but I often find myself in the same situation she found, which was looking for the cheaper option.  Those businesses can’t thrive without locals purchasing their goods.  It’s also been reported that more of the money gets filtered back into the community when you buy local.  Win-Win.

The 3/50 project is about picking three independently owned businesses and spending a total (or more) of $50 between the three places during a month.

If you checked out my Friday Faves last week, then you can see I already had a head start on March since I visited a local, independent shop and found lots of goodies to bring home with me.

The hubby and I are major foodies!  And the preference is for non-chain food.  We decided that we would eat over in this great little urban section of town, Grandin Village.  You might remember I mentioned Grandin Village in this post, highlighting the architecture of a church over there.

Now Grandin is a walkable section of town.  And there are always people out walking the sidewalks from their homes to the little shops along it.  We ate lunch at Local Roots.  It’s a Farm to Table Restaurant.  The menu changes according to what is in season.  I decided on the soup of the day and lunch salad.  I can’t tell you what all the soup had in it, the waitress had me at “vegetables” and “it’s delicious”.  I did ask if they could add the pickled onions to my salad because they are delish.  My hubby ate their ham sandwich because it had him at horseradish. I stole a few bites of it…and it was so much yum.


I also ordered the artisan bread because I was starving and was worried about having enough food.  If you’ve ever read any of my very early foodposts which can be found here, here, here, and here , then you know that I am mostly gluten free.  I used to be fully gluten free (no, I don’t have celiac disease… I have stomach problems that feel better when I don’t eat wheat…and yes…I discuss my eating habits with my doctor), but occasionally I opt for some bread.  This was the perfect, light addition to add to my lunch.  I didn’t even need dessert.  Oh, and they had an amazing unsweetened blueberry iced tea that I wish I was sipping on right now!


Part of the reason for our excursion to Grandin was because that is where the Co-Op is located.  I am a member of the Co-Op, but don’t get there as often as I would like.  We picked up the lotion that my hubby likes and a few other things.  I was very tempted by this mug, but it was a little smaller than I like (I drink huge cups of coffee!) and plus, I’d already picked up the new mug at the top of this post.

The girlie had her first middle school match last night.

I got to see a friend who is the epitome of southern sweetness, who is going through some heavy stuff, and yet she is there with a smile on her face and offering me a hug of hello.

I sat with women (and men) whose daughters have been playing soccer with mine for some time.  I met some new mother’s who had girls on the field. All of us laughing and cheering for those girls. A little whoop, whoop when one scored a goal.

They won 5-0!

Later that night, I heard from another girlfriend asking me if I wanted to check out an expo this weekend.

And I reflected on the fact that even though I miss Florida and the friends and family there, I have met some pretty amazing people here.

And it’s relationships that make me begin to love this place a little more.

So with that in mind, a song I’m loving this week:


Let your light shine!



Thursday Doors- Hurricanes


Today my thoughts are with all of my family and friends in Florida. Hurricane Matthew is barreling their way.  As of right now it is a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds.  It is expected to strengthen some before it reaches Florida.  When I look at forecasted lines I see potentials for landfall from Palm Beach up through Vero Beach.  We moved to Virginia from a town right in between, Seawalls Point.  We have friends all along there, Stuart, and Jensen Beach.  We also lived in Okeechobee for 2 years before that.  We have friends there under warnings.  I am also concerned for those devastated by the storm in Haiti and those dealing with it in the Bahamas.

My Thursday door today (check out Norm 2.0 for other amazing doors) is from our home when we lived in Naples, Florida.  We had that home built in 1999 and moved in when I was 5 months pregnant with our first child.  We grew our family in that home until we left Naples in 2008.

The photo of the door was taken after Hurricane Wilma in 2005.  Wilma came ashore just south of Naples in Cape Romano with 120 mph winds.  Prior to that it had reached a Category 5. Wilma was the twenty-second storm, thirteenth hurricane, sixth major hurricane, fourth Category 5 hurricane, and second-most destructive hurricane of the 2005 season.

You can see all the dirt and debris that had blown against the home.  The hurricane codes had been increased after Andrew (which I lived in Naples for as well) so our house held up well.



I don’t have any magnificent photos that capture what it’s like when a band comes through.  These pine trees are native.  They are made to withstand the winds.  The air changes and becomes eerie and clear.  There is a palpable shift in the pressure and then the wind whooshes through the trees on one side of you and then continues outward and around until it is on the other side and then behind you.

I love this feeling.  It lifts my soul and makes me feel alive.  I don’t know if it is the Florida in my veins or some deeper ancestral feeling.  We have had one such storm with the palpable change and circular wind while I’ve lived in Virginia.  It was on a small scale so I just stood outside and breathed in home.  But hurricanes can also be devastating and scary.


While native plants can withstand most hurricanes, the pine tree in this photo did not.  That is because it stood alone.  In my desire to take out the least amount of trees necessary to build our home, I left this beautiful, tall specimen.  I also left the cypress tree that you can almost make out to the right.  The problem for this pine was that he took the entire brunt of the storm


I think we could all learn some lessons about the need for community and friendship right there.




For us the tree was the part we never imagined when riding out the storm.  I have been through plenty of tropical storms and hurricanes that have passed nearby (Charlie, Sandy…probably some others).  The realization that had the tree broke the other way and landed on the roof was a little overwhelming. This front window was my daughter’s room and the back corner was the boy’s room.  We decided in that moment that we wouldn’t ride out a strong hurricane again.




This is what my children remember about the storm.  That and that their dad made them some floating thing out of wood (I can’t remember this and am guessing it was just a piece of plywood).  They don’t remember any moment of being frightened (I don’t think they ever were).  They don’t remember the weeks of cleaning up the yard or replacing torn soffits and fascia.  They don’t remember the fence panel surrounding the water system that blew across the yard.  They don’t even remember that after three days of no electricity and water (we were on a well system, which requires electricity), I packed up the kids, my mom, and sister-in-law and went to our cabin in Georgia until the power came back (poor hubby had to go back to work, taking showers in our RV since it had a tank of water).

Floridians have been weathering storms for generations.  They are a resilient bunch, but they are deeply in my prayers today as I watch the news.  They are in my thoughts as I feel strangely surreal in a store that is not packed with people clamoring for bread and water.  Oddly out of place that the lines at the gas station haven’t increased.  I miss my home today and I hope it weathers well.

Boarded doors and window at Pelican Larry’s sports bar – October 2005

Let your light shine!






*all photos on this page are copyright of Amy Lyon Smith

Irish Blessing


In light of today being St Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite Irish blessing. I first heard this blessing nearly 18 years ago.

This is the church where we were married.  I loved that it had a tall, white steeple


My husband and I were dating, but had entered into “considering marriage” territory. We had a whirlwind romance so that consideration came pretty early. My husband had bought a piece of property in one of my favorite sections of town. You still lived on acreage (after growing up with land to roam, this was important to me), but you were close in and could pop over to Starbucks, Publix, and Target-three of my favorite places! The beach was 6 miles away, but I was still in the land of pine and palmetto.


The dirt driveway to our future home.  It would be gravel,  eventually have a circular area by the house, and much later be asphalted.

We had discussed having children and it was important to me that they be raised in the church.  Even though at this point in my life I wasn’t attending a church, I felt very strongly about being married in one and then bringing my children up there.  I found a church of a particular denomination nearby.  Since both my husband and I had been brought up in this denomination we found comfort in attending here.


The house pad for our future home.  We cleared only the minimal amount of trees necessary.  We wanted it to feel like we lived in a forest.  Plus, they were there first.

There were things that were new to me about the service.  The fact that that they all stood and sang :

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

after the offering (tithes) had been collected was new to me.  I didn’t know the words, but by the second visit I had it down.   The other thing I had not been exposed to was that at the end of the service, after the altar call and prayer, the congregation would all hold hands and sing this Irish Blessing.
   Not one person was left out, so if you thought that being on the end of a pew would get you out of it, you would be wrong.  I am a pretty introverted person until I get to know you so this one caused me a little panic the first time.  But I grew to love this ending.  The words were so beautiful.  At the end the person holding your hand usually gave it a gentle squeeze, as if to say “I see you.  We are one in God’s family, and I hope you have a wonderful day.”


Our wedding day.  Most of the photos were staged afterwards because flash wasn’t used during the ceremony.  I love this picture because it is a prayer said during the actual ceremony.

I wouId be baptized in that church.  We would end up being married in that church.  I would give birth to our first two children while still in that church.  And at the end of the service I would mean those words as I sang them.


My boys

When my middle child was about 8 months old, I started attending MOPS at another local church.  MOPS would be a life altering experience for me.  I would learn to push outside of my comfort zones for the first time in my motherhood.  The growth that God had in store for me during that time was tremendous.  I participated in group discussions with strangers, some of whom became my closest friends.  I would press out farther after my daughter was born and stand before the 50 or so women, giving my testimony of what MOPS had meant to me, shaking at the thought of speaking publicly and sharing things about myself that I usually kept inside.  I did these things at the insistence in my soul that God had called me to do them. During the time that I was pregnant with my daughter, I would feel led to leave my old church and began attending this church until we moved away in 2008.


Fully pregnant with the youngest

I would spend two years on the MOPS steering committee.  One of the women that I shared a role with would turn out to be my neighbor.  We lived on the same street and had never met (this was not uncommon since we all lived on 2 1/2 acres).  My daughter is 2 months older than her middle daughter.  Her oldest daughter and my middle son are days apart in age.  She would become my best friend.  We would take family vacations together and is still the friend I seek out when I return home. I wanted to be sure that all the newly visiting moms felt welcome at MOPS.  The steering committee was also mentored by amazingly wise women who would help me continue to grow.


The middle and the baby

When my youngest started preschool, I stepped out of the MOPS roles and began to attend the women’s bible study.  My small group leader loved on us tremendously and for that I will forever be grateful.  At the beginning of 2008 a job change for my husband was looming.  My husband and I each spent time in prayer over the change.  It was during a Beth Moore study that I read “it is better to go with God to places unknown, than to stay like dry bones in places we’ve always been” and I knew we would be moving from my hometown.  Away from my family, the home that my husband and I had built, and the one where all our children had been born. Because of those words, I was at peace with the decision.


My creative geniuses figuring out how they could all travel ’round the driveway

After the move, this friend that I had met in MOPS would bring me a housewarming gift.  A piece of wall art that would have the Irish Blessing printed on it.  She did not know that I loved this blessing or what it meant to me.  She just saw the piece and thought it fitting.  Since that day, in every home in which I’ve lived (and there’s been 5 since I received the gift) that art has hung as closely to the front door as I can place it.  It is a remembrance for me and a blessing that I offer to all who enter my home.


Always hung in my home

Let your light shine!


Have cows…will travel

dad and cow.jpg

Yes… you see correctly.  No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you.  There is indeed a cow in the backseat of the car.

When I was around 5 1/2 or 6, my dad decided that since we lived in the country, we should try having some cows.  This “experiment” lasted around a year.  We had 7 cows.  At some point during this time, one of the cows got out of the fencing.  My dad went out to search for the cow.  He found it quite a distance from the house.  Since he didn’t want to lose it again by going home, he just took the back seat out of the car.  In older cars, you could just push down on the seat and pull them out.  He left the seat by the roadside (remember from this post and this one that we lived in uncharted territory of rural Florida) so it would still be there when he returned.  He put the cow in the backseat of the car and the hilarious picture above is the end result.


We fed them the big bales of hay and I remember a raised trough with a saltlick inside.  I was told not to taste it, but at some point I did.  Yep, it tasted like a massive mouthful of salt.  Gross!!  Otherwise, the cows just wandered around the fenced section eating grass.


 One of the 7 cows was a baby and/or a runt.  I decided that she was mine because she small, like me.  The problem was that she didn’t like to walk around as much as the other cows.  She just stood there munching grass in one spot.  So I would help her along.  I would stand beside her and push slightly on her rump to get her to walk forward.  I didn’t know it at the time, but she already had pneumonia when we got her.

I can still vividly remember the day that she died.  My mom, my brother, and I were in the smaller front bedroom of the trailer.  There was a bed beside the window.  The small window started even higher than my head while standing on the bed.  My mom told me not to look outside because the cow had died and my dad was burying her.

I didn’t believe her.  Surely my cow had not died.  I had recently seen her standing in the yard.  I wanted to see if my mom was telling the truth, but I didn’t want her know I was checking.  I started jumping on the bed.  When I would spring up, I was tall enough to see out the window.  I could just turn my head slightly and my mom wouldn’t suspect that I was trying to catch her in a lie.

Jump- and up I went, and I saw my dad dragging my cow out farther back onto the property to bury her. My stomach dropped. I was shocked.  My mom was telling the truth.

Down I went. When I landed, I sat down with a numb heaviness on the bed.  My cow was dead.  Was it because I had pushed her to walk forward?  Was it my fault that she was dead?  I remember having these thoughts as I sat there experiencing the first death of my life.


Death is a natural part of the process of our existence.  It is still a painful experience when it comes to your doorstep.  I choose to focus on the fact that I loved that cow dearly.  She was my friend when I had no nearby playmates. I  walked and talked with her daily, in our short time together, as we strolled along in the wilds of Florida.  She taught me the importance of letting people (or animals) know that I loved them because the length of our time together is never promised.


Let your light shine!


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