Friday Faves Edition 63

Friday.

Here we are once again at Friday.

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

Have you ever had a week like that?

Friday Faves.

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

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

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

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

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

Travel Plans.

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

What I’ve Been Up To Lately.

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

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

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

With a few stressful moments thrown in…parenting.

May Challenge.

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

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

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

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

Mountain Pose.

Day 1 was Mountain Pose.

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

Child’s Pose.

Day 2 was Child’s Pose.

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

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

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

Instagram and Photo Challenge.

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

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

Food.

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

Soccer.

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

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

snapseed-601

Cow Pose.

And started on day 3 of the yoga challenge.

Cow to Cat Pose.

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

But…

snapseed-602

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

snapseed-598

Cat Pose.

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

Cat Pose.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 62

Friday.

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

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

Friday Faves.

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

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

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

Humor.

They say that laughter is the best medicine.

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

It has quite hilarious.

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

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

I didn’t.

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

Vegan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.

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

Yep. You read that right.

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

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

Packing.

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

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

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

Challenge.

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

Accident Prone.

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

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

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

You know where this is going don’t you?

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

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

Team Photos.

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

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

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

Lighting and angles of humans are not my strong points.

Individual Photos.

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

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

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

Here’s to hoping the parents like them.

8th Grade Recognition.

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

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

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

Summer Plans.

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

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

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

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 61

Friday.

Who’s happy that it’s Friday?!

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

img_7042

Friday Faves.

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

Vacation Clothes.

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

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

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

Hiking.

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

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

Outdoor Photography.

I didn’t come fully prepared for the photography.

It was intentional.

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

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

Peaks of Otter Lodge.

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

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

Vegan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peaks of Otter.

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

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

Alex and Ani.

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

Soccer.

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

In one of those, she scored a goal!

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

Books and TV and Movies.

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

Are you reading any good books?

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

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

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

Have you seen any good movies lately?

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

Lessons Learned During A Month Long Fitness Challenge

On Turning 40.

As I approached 40, I knew that I wanted to do something memorable for myself. Leading up to it, I thought I might make a 40 before 40 list. Then I thought I might make a 40 things I want to do while I’m 40.

As fate…destiny…timing…would have it, I stumbled upon a site saying that a 30 day detox from alcohol would be a great thing as I headed toward Virgo season (I am a Virgo). So I decided to do it.

I was successful!

After adding alcohol back into my life (which was never daily…but back to the occasionally), I can see how I might change some of the “lessons learned from 30 days of no alcohol”. However, out of that experience, an idea for my 40th year was birthed.

30 Day Challenge.

Each month, beginning with my birth month of September, I have set a 30 day challenge. A challenge that pushes me. Whether that is to push me out of my comfort zones, a push to expand my knowledge, a push to manage my time better, or to push myself physically, all of them are attempted in order to grow.

With each challenge I learn something about myself.

IMG_6884.PNG

March Challenge.

The March Challenge offered me lessons as well.

If you missed the March Challenge, it was to push myself further than I have from a physical standpoint. I did have an ulterior motive for a hard physical challenge. We were heading to Aruba at the end of the month and I planned to live in a bikini.

I decided on a double challenge of logging 10,000 steps per day and doing a plank challenge. The plank challenge started at 10 seconds, climbing 10 seconds per day, to a culmination of 5 minutes.

There were many, many days when I thought that I might not complete the plank part of the challenge.

However, ultimately, I was successful on the completion of both challenges!!

Caveats.

I have shared in past posts, that while I completed the majority of the plank in a forearm plank, there were also times when I would go to my hands (taking the pressure off of the core, but adding it to the shoulders). Also, I occasionally took my legs wider than my hips to form a different base. I focused on maintaining form during transitions because I have lower back and shoulder issues.

I share this information so that there is no misinterpretation of my approach to this challenge.

Lessons Learned.

This challenge offered many lessons.

Here are a few that I learned.

fullsizerender-1

Walk More.

  • Many average days don’t include 10,000 steps. While I don’t think steps are the full measure of physical health (for example, my Pilates classes don’t include many steps) you should still focus on moving more. I can get lost in writing or editing photos and spend hours without moving. Set a timer if you need a reminder…BUT GET UP AND MOVE.

FullSizeRender 2.jpg

Avoid Injuries.

  • When you read about someone else’s journey with the plank challenge and they mention the fact that they ended up with friction burns…take heed! By day 26, my elbows were raw. On day 27, they were painful. Days 28-30, I got smart enough to lay my yoga mat on top of the carpet. I don’t know if using it from the beginning would have eliminated the burns, but it helped me make it to the end. If you do end up with friction burns, use a healing lotion!
  • Although I’ve stated it before, I will reiterate..No challenge is worth damaging injuries. There were days when I thought I’d have to throw in the towel because I didn’t think my shoulder and/or lower back would handle the length of the plank. I monitored it closely because I wasn’t willing to put myself at a significant risk for an injury that would have made my time in Aruba miserable.

img_8867

Push Yourself.

  • Your body is capable of so much more than you think! If you told me when I took this photo for my A work in progress post in February of 2017, that a year later I would be working on holding a 5 minute plank, I would have laughed…loudly. Although I had been practicing yoga for a few years, I had only been taking Pilates for about a month at that point. My journey with both of those has brought me so far, both physically and mentally. p.s.-I’m still a work in progress. Aren’t we all?

IMG_6587

Celebrate Your Victories.

  • It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments. You should celebrate your victories. I struggled with this on a physical challenge because I don’t want to seem narcissistic. Also, I have issues with body confidence and I struggled from the standpoint of sharing photos that showed off my accomplishment, but also put my “perceived” flaws on display. I say “perceived” because I realize I’m harder on my physical appearance than I should be. This is an area that I am working on.
  • Which is why I put out photos on Instagram (even ones in a bikini…granted on the story and highlights only)…not to show off, but to teach myself that it’s okay to be proud of how far I’ve come, even if I’m not where I want to be.

Although some of you have already seen it, working on appreciating all that my body can do, is why I’m sharing the time-lapse of the final day of the plank challenge.

If you’ve missed my announcement for April’s challenge, you can find that here. You can also find what I’ve learned from prior challenges by clicking on the monthly link.

September

October

November

December

January

February

Have you ever discovered a strength in you that you didn’t know that you had?

Look closely at present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming. -Alice Walker

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 57

Friday.

It’s Friday!!

Can I get a woohoo?!

Friday Faves.

I’m just going to jump right in with my Friday Faves.

My week has felt somewhat discombobulated because of the weather. Winter said “hey, did you forget about me?” and showed back up.

In last week’s Friday Faves, I mentioned that the snow was rolling our way. It did roll our way, just at a slower than expected pace.

Dress Shopping.

I have a work party to attend with the hubby this Saturday. I needed something to wear so last Saturday I brought him along to help me pick out a dress.

Clothing Peeves.

Dress shopping and I don’t get along real well. Even though my bust and waist measurements correspond in a ratio that is standard, dress makers don’t seem to think that is the case. Because of this, the hubby sat in the chair outside the dressing room, I came out to show him the dress and then sent him on an errand to grab the next size up because the chest compression created an unacceptable sight. He dutifully obliged and the next size up would look like a paper sack.

If Only.

In an ideal world, I would plan ahead and have a seamstress who could customize the dress to fit perfectly. However, we were a week out from the party. I thought I might find a green dress since the party is being held on St. Patrick’s Day. But, ultimately, I found 2 dresses (neither with green) that fit without tugging or sagging and opted for the periwinkle one that is pictured.

I’m only offering a sneak peek because I’m hoping to have somebody snap some pics before the party and share those next week.

 

Fitness.

On Sunday, it was still too cold for me to take my exercise outdoors. I popped over to the gym and did a 30 minute walk/run on the treadmill. I know for a fact that all my steps aren’t getting tracked because my Fitbit is a little too big, but I keep going until it hits that 10,000 mark. I like to use Snapchat filters for many of my Instagram stories.

Snow.

The snow finally rolled in during the wee hours of Monday morning. The school had already called off. It wasn’t near as much as they expected us to get and by the afternoon was starting a slow melt.

Birthdays.

Monday was also my brother’s birthday. He is my only sibling and is still down in Florida. I wrote about his birth a few years ago. You can find that post here

Delays.

That still meant there would be icy areas so Tuesday was a 2 hour delay for the teens. We had the boys park their cars in such a way that the hubby could get to work since he didn’t get to sleep in like the rest of us.

He left for work…and we slept.

Ice.

The photo was taken while it was still snowing on Monday, but there was still some snow on the cars on Tuesday. Big Mr. needed to go by the bank before school so he cleaned off the remaining snow and proceeded to attempt to leave. However, the snow that had melted the day before and then drained into the shadows under the car had turned to ice and his car slid partially across the driveway. It did not careen off the side which is a hill covered in trees, but it would be impossible to get my Jeep past if we couldn’t get it moved.

Problem Solver.

Luckily, the hubby had picked up some salt to be prepared for the snowmageddon we were supposedly getting. I was out frantically spreading salt to get his car moved and then spreading more salt around Mr. D’s car so that he’d be able to get to school. We got it all cleared out before it was time for me to drive Miss Sunshine to school. If Big Mr. hadn’t needed to leave an hour early, everyone would have been late!

University.

Big Mr. has been accepted to both of the Universities to which he applied. We aren’t making the announcement yet because he hasn’t formally accepted, but he’s pretty confident about where he is heading!

Back on Track.

I even managed to put together the post about hiking the star trail. Even better, I made it to my hair appointment that afternoon. The roots are all gone!

Maid.

I was going to say that I wondered where Wednesday went…and then I remembered. The hubby was having a colleague come by our house on Thursday to ride to a meeting. There was a possibility they might come inside. I’m a Virgo…I’m a perfectionist… I cleaned all day…and in the end, they didn’t come inside.

But hey, at least all remnants of dog hair have been removed, the laundry is semi-caught up, and I’ve meticulously cleaned the half bath on the main floor!

No wonder for Wordless Wednesday I was dreaming of having my toes in the sand.

Pi Day.

And I did have some warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top in celebration of Pi Day.

Soccer.

Middle School soccer season has started. The first two games had been cancelled due to snow, so yesterday was Miss Sunshine’s first game.

Photography

I still haven’t bought a zoom lens for my Sony, so I took my old Nikon. I don’t know if I’ve just become spoiled, but I was unhappy with many of the pictures. Also, strangely, even though I shoot on the sports setting so that the shutter speed is quick enough, many photos were not in focus. I don’t remember this happening when I’ve used this camera in the past.

Talking.

It was nice to catch up with some of the ladies that I know from soccer. Many of my days involve little verbal interaction with anyone other than the hubby and teens.

Season Opener.

Their first game was an away game. It was cold and windy, but they won!

Miss Sunshine had a few shots on goal. Unfortunately, I didn’t love the photos. I think this second one is funny because they are closing ranks on her. Not too worry though, just outside of the shot is her teammate who she crosses to.

Blue Ridge Parkway.

To get to this specific away game, taking the Blue Ridge Parkway is more relaxing than driving through the city. However, the sign said it was closed. Once at the game, I learned that it was only if you were heading in the opposite direction. I opted to drive home down the Blue Ridge Parkway. I decided to record part of the drive to put on my Instagram story.

Deer.

Amazingly, I captured a deer running across the road in front of me. I came to a stop because there is almost never one deer. Sure enough, one turned around and ran back to where he came from. I felt bad…the two friends or family members getting separated. I hope the other one waited.

It’ll still be on my story until about 6:00 EST tonight. I may end up adding it to the highlights of my Instagram story though.

Challenge.

How’s that March Challenge coming along? I’m still hanging in there! I accomplished it last night, but I have some rotator cuff issues and can feel my right shoulder beginning to cry.

I am doing forearm planks, but I may end up shifting back and forth between hands and forearms over the course of some coming days. That doesn’t take any pressure off of my shoulder, but movement helps with perseverance.

I feel like there is a fine line that I will be walking. I leave for Aruba in two weeks and am not willing to tear up my shoulder before I go. Right now, I am still fine, but I will be monitoring it closely.

Thursday Doors.

After taking off last week to post about International Women’s Day, I was back with some more Thursday Door this week. These from Hôtel de Ville (the city hall) in Paris.

St. Patrick’s Day.

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? If so, what do you do to celebrate?

As mentioned, we have a party to attend. There is a festival and parade downtown, but I don’t know yet if we will head down there for it.

Sometimes I go back and tweak older posts since I understand a little more about SEO now (very little more). The most recent on that I tweaked was my Are You Irish? post where I talked about my DNA testing. I’ve also learned a little more about photography since then and changed the original photoquote that I had in the post to a background that I liked better. The words are the same and you’ll find that photoquote at the end of today’s post.

Music.

I wanted to pick a “new to me” song by an Irish singer. Rosie Carney is originally from Hampshire, UK, but moved to Ireland when she was 10. She shares her story on her website about her struggles with mental health in an attempt to help break the stigma associated with it. I applaud that and have chosen to share her music this week (plus…her voice is very lovely).

I hope that you all have beautiful weekend and awesome week ahead.

Smile and say hello to a stranger. It mind be the only kind word they’ve heard all day.

IMG_6194

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

March 30 Day Challenge

30 Day Challenge…March

30 Day Challenge.

Once again it’s time to announce my next thirty day challenge.

If you are new to my blog, every month, since I turned 40 back in September, I set a new thirty day challenge for myself. The goal is to have my year of being 40, a time to press outside of my comfort zones and to challenge myself in new ways.

I’ve noticed a tendency to switch one month with a challenge that is more mental in nature and the next month with a challenge that is more physical in nature. Obviously most challenges contain an element of both, but one does tend to be the stronger factor.

February’s challenge was to read 3 classic novels in 30 days.

So sticking with my tendencies, March will be a challenge that is more physical in nature.

March Challenge.

The 30 day challenge for March will be:

30 days of achieving 10,000 steps per day

&

30 day plank challenge

Calia by Carrie Underwood tank and Nike running shoes

10,000 steps per day.

There are a lot of popular indicators that we should try to walk 10,000 steps per day. There is some debate about that precise amount amount of steps. This PubMed abstract from 2004 said this appears to be a reasonable goal for most populations.

I’ve been noticing that I have a tendency to spend a lot of time sitting. Between writing posts, editing photos, and other computer related work, I often sit for many hours at a time.

Even though I do move to go to Pilates, run errands, and clean my house, I still felt like challenging myself to move more. 10,000 steps gives me a target to attain. I’ve dusted off my fitbit and will be tracking my steps throughout March. I plan to do more walking, running, and hiking since the weather is getting nicer.

I do have a secondary motive for having such an active challenge for the month of March. We head to Aruba at the end of this challenge and I would like to be more fit before we head to crystal clear beaches.

Side Plank

Plank Challenge.

Since I will be in a bathing suit for most of that week in Aruba, I wanted work on strengthening my core muscles. I decided to look at plank challenges. As soon as I mentioned it, both the hubby and Miss Sunshine said that they would join me on this part of the monthly challenge.

I dug around on Pinterest and opted for this Jillian Michaels 30 day 5 minute plank challenge.

Don’t worry, it’s not side planks like the photo of me from Christmastime. This time I’ll try to have someone snap some photos at the completion of the plank challenge because it’s hard to get in to form in time for the self-timer!

As always, you are welcome to join along on the challenge.

The hubby and Miss Sunshine are advocating we start the challenge at higher than a 10 second hold to start since they’ve held planks longer and I’ve been going to Pilates (mat Pilates) for a year and can hold a plank longer as well (although I don’t think any of us have tried to attain the finale of 5 minutes).

We may take that option, but don’t feel like you need to do that.

Even if you only choose to do one of the two challenges, I hope that you’ll join in this month!

If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. - Martin Luther King Jr. quote quotes photoquote

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 53

Friday.

How many of you are happy that it’s Friday?!

I debated not posting today because I’ve had a rough week and I feel like I just said that last week.

However, truth is truth.

And here I am.

Friday Faves.

With all my ups and downs for the week, there are still things to share as Friday Faves.

Pilates.

I managed to make it to Pilates each day that it is offered at my gym (MWF). My body feels stronger every day and I feel like Pilates is really making a difference. I don’t have any photos to share, but I’m considering having someone in the family snap some over the weekend so I can share how far I’ve come in my strength journey. I feel like it’s quite far considering most of the Pilates I do is body weight only and on occasion with a 3 pound weight maximum.

Aruba is in six weeks and I plan to feel confident in my swimsuit!

Appliances.

Remember how I told you two weeks ago that my microwave died and how appliances hate me? Well my stove has decided that it’s not sure it wants to do its job either. Sometimes when you push the bake button, the timer comes on instead. Both appliances are exactly 10 years old. Coincidence? I think not. Older appliances ran and ran and ran. Today…not so much.

Since I want them to match and am not a fan of feeling pressured into buying a big ticket item that isn’t exactly what I want, I went to a big box store and picked up a cheap countertop microwave. I know what you’re thinking. Well that seems wasteful. Ahhh….but I thought this through. Big Mr. heads off to college in the fall and Mr. D is a year behind. The little microwave will still have usage in our family.

Natural Wellness.

I mentioned that one of the teens has been sick. It wasn’t the flu. Yay. But it still means that I’m trying to keep anyone else in the house from catching it. I went to the health store because my friends rave about Sambucas, which is an elderberry syrup. Do you know that most of the shelf was empty?! I actually made an elderberry “syrup” a while back. However, I’ve never made something that needs reduced. I estimated the reduction improperly so it’s more liquid than syrup.

I think I’m going to start adding it to my smoothies (if I can remember).

Protein Powder.

Another thing I needed to pick up was some protein powder. I am still doing the mostly vegetarian thing. I find that a protein smoothie satisfies me more than eggs. I’m deliberately not sharing the protein powder I’m using because I’m still trying to decide if I like it. My old protein powder was Organic Rice Protein Powder. I’ve mentioned before how I cannot have canned whipped cream. It causes a tickle in my throat and a cough. Some restaurant/fast food milkshakes cause that as well. I noticed that the rice protein powder was possibly doing that as well. I say “possibly” because I can’t rule out that is it isn’t a random ingredient in the Almond Milk. However, Miss Sunshine has the same issue and says it’s the protein powder (she uses almond milk in her cereal with no issue…I only use it in smoothies). I wanted to try Pea Protein, but what they had is a blend.

Stevia.

Not only is it a blend of many proteins, but it has stevia. Almost every powder I looked at has stevia (my old powder didn’t). I know people in the wellness world seem to love stevia. I do not. It overpowers every single drink in which it’s found. Occasionally, I want something other than water or unsweet iced tea and I’ll try a flavored drink. I don’t know why I do it, because any time stevia is on the label it makes my tastebuds and stomach cringe as I drink it.

The positive side to the powder is that I think I’m not having a reaction to it, but I’m not fully sure. I’ve started incorporating spinach into the smoothie for health reasons, but also to try to cut through the taste of stevia. If you know of any protein powder that doesn’t use stevia, let me know! FYI: I use vanilla. I might be willing to go plain, but while I like chocolate, I dislike it as a drink.

Valentine’s Day.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize that this week was Valentine’s Day. This is one holiday where I refuse to buy in to the heavy commercialization of it. Maybe I’m jaded. I did update my cover photo on Facebook to the photo above that I took one summer in Carolina Beach and changed my profile picture to the hubby and me. That was about it. We watched a movie at home. I talked about it in yesterday’s post.

Olympics.

We’ve also been watching some of the Olympics. We watched Shaun White win the Gold. I also like watching figure skating. I don’t understand curling and don’t know if I want to understand it. The skiing is usually quite amazing too, although I haven’t seen as much of that.

What is your favorite sport to watch in the Winter Olympics?

Photography.

Besides my normal daily stuff and some not so normal daily stuff, I worked on editing some of my photography. One of my favorite recent photography outings was capturing the fog. I shared a fog series in my Wordless Wednesday post.

I loved the way the colors looked in those photos. The juxtaposition of the grass and the fog. The elements (trees and fences) that I chose as the subject. I just felt like it worked together. Something I don’t always feel in a photo session.

These two photos are some more from that session. They are ones that I was still debating whether or not I captured them exactly as I had envisioned.

The tree trunk in the first photo has these white lines into the bark. These are massive trees so the differentiation was striking. In the second photo, I really wanted to capture looking through the fencepost without losing the fact that it was a fencepost you were looking along. I had some trouble getting the depth of field and focus area exactly how I wanted, but there is still something I find intriguing about the photo.

What is you opinion? Do you prefer one over the other?

Instagram.

As you know, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I struggle with separating the fact that my self worth or creative skills are not directly tied to how many people “like” a photo. I am rarely on Facebook or Twitter, even if I have things that automatically post there (Blog and Instagram posts).

Instagram was my first love because I love photography. The people were (and are) welcoming. Then with the algorithm change, my numbers dropped substantially and I began to question whether I wanted to spend time there. However, I do love the people that I’ve built relationships with on that platform.

And so I stay.

My Instagram feed will never feel fully curated no matter how hard I try. But recently I’ve decided to try to make it feel somewhat more cohesive by posting 3 photos (to keep with the grid) from the same area and those three photos will probably be edited in a similar way. I started with a set of fog shots and today will be day #3 of Amsterdam shots. The love locks photo above I decided on as my tribute to Valentine’s Day.

Do you like the Instagram platform? Any other social media platforms?

Reading.

My blind date with a book turned out to be great. If you missed that in Edition 51 of Friday Faves, the book was Random Harvest. I couldn’t put it down and have already finished it. Now I am halfway through The Great Gatsby, which puts me at a distinct advantage for my February Challenge. I’ve checked out The Color Purple and The Picture of Dorian Gray. We’ll see how far I make it!

Are you reading anything good right now?

Music.

I didn’t have as much time this week to look for “new to me” music to share, but this song came up on my recommended through YouTube and I really liked it. The band is named Banners and the singer is Michael Joseph Nelson, who is a musician out of Liverpool.

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend and beautiful week.

Offer up a smile to a stranger. You never know who might need it.

Be the type of person who leaves a mark, not a scar. -Unknown

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Lessons learned during my month of being a vegetarian 30 day challenge

Lessons Learned During My Month of Being a Vegetarian

Vegetarian.

I hadn’t heard the phrase Veganuary, until well into the month of January. Otherwise, I might have gone Vegan for the month. As it was, my January Challenge was to become a Vegetarian for 30 days.

Along the way, I learned a few lessons.

Lessons learned.

Likely, the biggest lesson that I learned was :

  • Be Prepared.

Originally, I had anticipated going vegetarian for the month of February. When my husband asked me to move it up to January because he wanted to participate, I did. However, I had not mentally (knowledge-wise) prepared.

Which brings me to the next lesson learned:

  • Know your daily nutrient needs.

I did not look in to my daily nutrient needs prior to beginning the month of vegetarianism. It was a busy time for me so I didn’t do the running and/or yoga that I do on the days other than my M-W-F Pilates class. But it wasn’t just because I was busy, it was also because my muscles were sore for longer after my Pilates classes. This may have been due to them being a harder workout for me, or possibly I wasn’t getting enough protein (which is my husband’s educated guess). Our bodies also need specific vitamins and minerals and I wasn’t monitoring any of those.

Pineapple Avocado Smoothie

  • Keep your house stocked with choices.

If you failed to heed lesson #1, you may find yourself craving different types of food. While I am no expert, my opinion on this is that your body is asking for a certain nutrient. You should keep your house stocked with choices to satisfy your hunger in the moments.

  • Adjustment.

You should also be aware that it’s likely your body will need an adjustment period to any big changes in diet. I’ve shared in my varying purposes for taking on this challenge. In case you missed them, I’m sharing them again. Heart disease runs in my family and I am endeavoring to lower my risks. While I haven’t tested positive for a specific autoimmune disease (of the ones tested), I did test positive for autoimmune antibodies. The main reason, however, was that I have had digestive health issues for the majority of my life.

I was hoping that going vegetarian would miraculously cure them. Instead, the first five days, my stomach was in more pain than in the past. Some people will say that this is a detox period. I don’t know if that is the case. There was a shift on day 5 in which my body decided that it would cooperate with this diet. I should also mention that I was eating vegan the first 5 days. My goal was to cut out dairy and so I just included the other components of eating vegan.

  • Food Choices.

After that first week I found myself relying too much on bread and cheese. I could have made much better food choices. I did spend the entire month being a vegetarian and learned that meat was not that important to me. Sure, there were a few moments when I stood before the refrigerator or pantry and thought, “Oh, that sounds good for lunch. Oh wait, that’s meat!”. This mostly goes back to being caused by failing to heed Lesson #3 and partially Lesson #2. Otherwise, I was very happy with the food choices available to me.

 

Cream Cheese Stuffed Date

  • Take-Aways.

After a month spent as a vegetarian, I had a few take-aways other than just the lessons I’ve shared. One such take-away came in the form of an article that my husband sent me about NFL players going vegan. I was already familiar with the fact that Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen were 80/20 vegetarians. However, I was surprised by the number of athletes who are vegan.

I was quite fascinated by the 300 pound Vegan, David Carter who is a former NFL player. It made me feel confident that I can work harder at vegetarianism and possibly veganism if I focus on my nutrients.

I’m still not sure if I’ll move toward 100% vegetarian or if 80/20 is a better goal for me. I think with proper nutrients I could be 100% vegetarian locally. Where the 20% comes in for me is that I love to try new foods when I travel and some local delicacies include meat.

Who knows?! Perhaps if I fully shift to 80/20, I will begin to view it all through new eyes.

If you’re wondering if I’ve eaten meat since the end of the challenge…I have. Mostly due to the fact that there are leftovers from making meals for the teenagers and I still struggle with food waste.

I’m still working on the balance.

We are all works in progress.

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 49

Friday Faves Edition 49

Friday.

I hope that you all have had a beautiful week. I also hope that you have had more sunshine than me (unless, of course, you don’t love sunshine…and then I hope you’ve had whatever weather lifts your spirits). This was a long week to Friday. The teens haven’t been to school for the ENTIRE week. As I mentioned in Monday’s post, and you probably already know, it was a holiday in the United States. Tuesday had already been scheduled as a day off for students and a day of work for teachers to finish up end of the quarter grades.

The little snow symbol kept coming and disappearing on my weather app. Would it come? Would it pass?

The snow came….

Its last minute decision to actually show up meant that the phone call to close school came in the early morning. 5:21 a.m. on my phone, to be exact. Since it wasn’t planning to melt and the roads would be icy…no school on Thursday. I was hoping for a 2 hr delay for today. But nope! Cancelled again!

The teens being home means that most things take me longer because things are more chaotic in general. Music playing, people talking, food to be made, wet clothes to dry, snow and salt and mud to clean (from boots and dogs, mostly).

Friday Faves

 

 

Friday Faves.

But I definitely found time to embrace some things to share for my Friday Faves.

On Monday, the hubby and I went out to lunch at the Green Goat Restaurant, here in Roanoke. I checked out their menu ahead of time since this is my month of going vegetarian. I remembered having had (and liking) the eggplant fries and a Crankpin wrap (lightly breaded portabella mushrooms constitute the “meaty” portion of the wrap), so I knew I would choose that again.

The restaurant is located beside the Greenway, which lends itself to eating outdoors when the weather is warmer. The hubby has actually joined in this challenge so he got their 3 cheese veggie sandwich and we split our dishes. With no room for dessert, we called it a success, left to brave the frigid cold…all the way to the Jeep….and then to settle into the warmth of the house.

Tuesday, I put together the post about the Paul Villinski exhibition at the Taubman Museum of Art. As mentioned above, everything took twice as long due to teens being home. I also started editing my photos for Wednesday’s Photowall post, since I had put my canvas print together over the weekend.

I’m so glad that I put that “ahead of time” work into Wednesday’s post because a good snow requires some time out playing in it.

Snow.

The snow wasn’t that deep, but it was enough for Miss Sunshine and I to go to a nearby hill and take down the snow tube. I shared a video of me flying down the hill on my Instagram story. It’s still in the highlights if you are interested in watching.

Well… then she took me over to the next hill. She tells me that you have to slow yourself down a little toward the end to keep from flying into the ditch. It isn’t a deep ditch…maybe a couple feet. I didn’t record this ride because my phone got covered in snow on the last one and I didn’t want to damage it.

I start down…about halfway down I start trying to dig in my feet. The thing about tubes is they spin. I see Miss Sunshine at the top of the hill…. I’m not stopping…. I yell… “Mis-s S-u-n-s-h-iiii-N-E” (only I use her real name, which slightly shorter, but you get the gist). Oh no, I feel myself flying up over the rise…I know what’s coming… My life is flashing before my eyes (a bit melodramatic?! Yeah, my husband accuses me of that too). I land on my back. The wind should be knocked out of me. I lay there assessing. My wrists hurt. I must have caught myself with them. My left shoulder hurts. I turn my head to the left and see grass poking out of the snow. Ahh… a mound that was higher is what my shoulder landed on. The base of my skull hurts…the last to land.

Miss Sunshine yells down “Are you OK?” She isn’t 100% sure I’m conscious (it really wasn’t that bad of a landing, I just didn’t get up immediately because I’m 40 and things hurt a little more when they are crashed upon….plus… I may have being a little melodramatic because she had sent me spiraling toward my death). She asks me to head to the next hill. I decline, but say that I will go get my camera to take some photos and watch her do the final hills.

Photos.

I’m still sifting through my handful of snow photos, but I thought I’d share a few of them. On our walk back home, I was fiddling with something and dropped my glove. I liked how it landed to appear as if there was someone clawing their way out from beneath the snow.

Filter.

The next two photos are to share how much a filter can change a photo. The photo above I took to capture the fact that the sun just could not break through the clouds. Miss Sunshine was wearing ski goggles and commented on how amazing the sun looked trying to peek through the haze. Then she took her goggles off and realized it did not look exactly the same. She handed me her goggles to check out what she saw.

Through the Ski Goggles.

Looking through the ski goggles definitely created a different image. Her goggles are small so the distortions at the edges were the only way to actually capture the scene and see the difference a filter makes.

I know that I’m always most amazed by the sky when my sunglasses have amber tinted lenses.

Have you ever noticed the color difference in the sky between sunglasses or not? Or the different colored lenses of sunglasses?

Exercise.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention anything about the gym. I’ve been trapped! Cabin fever! I shoveled the snow from our entire driveway. I have three teens who could have done it. Two of which are strapping young men, who stand over 6′. I needed to do it. I could feel my anxiety rising and it helped burn through some of it. Then today, I got to go to Pilates! My first time in the gym all week. I will probably hurt tomorrow.

Travel.

In yesterday’s post on our hotel stay in Edinburgh, I mentioned that one of the major things I’d been working on was travel plans. While my mother and I are still working out the plans for a trip together, it is looking like it’s firming up to be a return trip to Scotland.

However, we did firm up spring break! Just like that gloved hand saying “get me outta here”…. we decided we wanted a warm weather vacation.

So we’re going to Aruba!!!

Even though I was born and raised in Florida, I have no recollection of crystal clear water. I grew up on the Gulf Coast, where the water appears. blue-gray. Once, I traveled to Key Largo and snorkeled in the canal behind the house, but don’t remember much about the water beyond that. Finally, I lived on the East Coast of Florida and only recall one day out on the boat where you could see down into the depths, but never at the shoreline. To say that I am excited is an understatement.

I will be bringing lots of sunscreen because not only did I come out of the womb pale, my legs have been hidden from sunlight since there was even a glimpse of winter on the horizon.

Any tips for a Caribbean vacation?

Music.

Of course, you have to already know what song I have picked. As soon as we decided on our travel plans, it popped into my head and the singing has been going on ever since.

Aruba, Jamaica… Ooh, I wanna take ya…

Bermuda, Bahama, c’mon pretty mama…

I actually saw the Beach Boys in concert when we lived in Florida and had annual passes to the theme parks.

We are continuing to thaw out and should see warm weather this weekend! I hope that you find a moment that warms your heart in the coming week.

Even if your body wants to rebel, I hope you get out there and find the freedom of adventure that you had as a child. You might find yourself landing in a ditch, but it’ll be exhilarating until then. 😉

Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young. - J.K. Rowling | Albus Dumbledore

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

30 Days of...

30 Days Of… January Challenge

30 Days Of… January Challenge.

I hope that all of you are having a lovely holiday season. I didn’t think I’d be back with a post until Friday. Then I realized, not only are we rapidly approaching the end of the year…we are rapidly approaching the end of December and I haven’t announced the 30 day challenge that I will be undertaking for the month of January.

Many of you are familiar with the fact that I started doing a 30 day challenge each month that started this past September in honor of the milestone of turning 40. They say that it takes 21 days to create a habit. I figured by 30 days it should be pretty well solidified if it’s going to take.

Plastic Reduction.

Even though my September Challenge focused on plastic bag usage, I also made a conscientious effort to reduce plastic straw usage. I am still maintaining that effort and will be implementing more plastic waste reduction efforts as I move into the new year.

Meditation.

I have loved discovering meditation throughout my October Challenge. I have had days in December where I’ve missed meditation. The first time I missed my day of meditation, I woke up in the middle of the night, realized I had missed it, and was disappointed. At first I was hard on myself for missing, but then I realized that it isn’t a competition, it’s a growth process. I also learned that on the days when my family is home, it’s better for me to set aside some time in the morning.

New Recipes.

The November Challenge was the most challenging physically with trying to prepare a “new to me” recipe each day. It is not a “habit” that I continued, but it wasn’t really meant to be. I still hunt for new recipes, just not daily.

Gratitude.

While I will address the December Challenge once I have completed it, I will tell you that I have acknowledged the daily prompt in a concrete form each day so far.

Well, what about January?!

My 30 day challenge for January will be:

30 Days of being a vegetarian.

Radishes

Vegetarian Challenge.

When I started the 30 day challenges, I knew that this would be one of my challenges. I just didn’t know what month I would choose. Originally, I thought we’d be traveling over the new year and had planned it for February. My husband asked me to move the challenge to January because he is interested in participating in this challenge with me. As far as how this challenge will look for me… while I won’t be choosing meat, I also won’t be asking at restaurants if my food is cooked in an animal product. However, if I make my teens bacon and eggs, I won’t be cooking my eggs in the same pan as the bacon.

I don’t anticipate becoming a full-time vegetarian after the challenge. If the challenge agrees with my body, I could see it becoming an 80/20 lifestyle. Part of the journey of the November Challenge was to seek a new way of eating. I could be very happy living on bread and cheese (the staples of my husband’s vegetarian stint in college), but I’m not convinced that my body is a fan of those things either.

Bowl of Lemons

The background for this challenge choice.

Everybody has a different reason for some journeys that they begin. Mine is a journey of gut health. There are all types of articles out that state the importance of the gut microbiome.  While my body has served me well for 40 years, I want to be sure that I am serving it well. I have had problems with foods for years. I still have never learned all my triggers. I don’t do well with milk, but can tolerate many milk-based products. I can tell the difference between the stabbing pains caused by milk and the pains from other trigger foods. I can tell you that the pains under my ribs or radiating across my back after eating certain meals have lessened over the years. I will also share that I had some testing done for other reasons in my early 30’s which showed no damage to my intestines. I don’t think I’ve had specific testing for celiac disease, but there’s no indication that I have it. When I moved to Virginia, I had some bloodwork done due to some symptoms I was having. I did test positive for autoimmune antibodies, but negative to the specific autoimmune diseases that they then tested for.

My doctor thinks I probably have some level of IBS (which in my understanding basically means…we know you have issues, we just don’t know what causes them) and has recommended a low FODMAP diet. I haven’t committed to ruling those foods out yet, but I may as I work through this process of discovering what my body requires for its optimum health.

Heart disease also runs in my family and at a younger age than you’d expect.

It is important to me that I do whatever I can to take care of my health.

I am not a doctor and nothing I share should be interpreted as that. My personal belief is that your body may not require the exact nutrient intake that mine requires (and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that means for my body) and diet is a highly personalized situation.

Pineapple Avocado Smoothie

I’m a little nervous about that many meals without meat. I’m also nervous about feeling awful in the beginning of the transition. My blogger friend, Dee, over at Life Honey recently went predominately vegan (I’m not prepared to give up eggs and cheese) and said she felt lousy for about 5 days.

If you have any tips on being a vegetarian, please, please, please, share them.

If you’ve decided to join in with me for the January Challenge, be sure to let me know.

I hope you all are having a beautiful day!

Look closely at present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming. -Alice Walker

Let your light shine!

Amy