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

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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….

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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…

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

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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

 

 

 

 

Life Lesson From A Dream

 

 

Dreams.

How many of you think about your dreams?

I’m not talking about your hopes and wishes, goals and ambitions, types of dreams.

Although those are important too!

And though they be ever so delicately entangled upon the mist, I sense my dreams amongst the trees…waiting patiently for me to come and release them . . .Since I always quote the author, do I credit myself for my own writing? 😂. Obviously, #imkidding #myownwritingmakesmefeelvulnerable . . .#dreamchaser #moodygrams #exploretocreate #moodynature #sheisnotlost #seekthesimplicity #stayandwander #wearetravelgirls #wildernessculture #foggyday #naturehippys #fiftyshades_of_nature #tree_brilliance #optoutside #neverstopexploring #blueridgeday #visitvirginia #letsgosomewhere #traveldiaries #travelstoke #fingerprintofgod #nothingisordinary #natgeotravel #exploremore #natureaddict #treehugger #fromwhereistand #itsamazingoutthere

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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.

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My Dream.

I don’t remember the parts leading up to the moment where I was walking along the corridor of a hospital with another person. In the dream I knew this person, but outside of the dream I can’t say that I do. I am telling the person that I will show them my area of the hospital (we are both patients).

Even though I know that I am 40 year old me and the person I am with is of a similar age, the hospital has a futuristic feel. I know this because my “wing” is along the yellow corridor and the other person’s “wing” is along the orange corridor. I don’t know if they’ve actually become a patient in the orange corridor or not, but if they aren’t, they will be.

These colors are not the color of the walls. It is based on a threshold that we cross which looks similar to a parking block (or stop). I notice this because after I cross, I stop to make sure that an alarm doesn’t sound as the person I’m traveling with crosses into the “wing” that is not assigned to them. It does not go off and I notice workers passing us and not paying attention to the fact that this person from the orange wing is here.

I turn back to the person with me, but they have stopped a bit back. I call to them through the crowd to wave them toward me. They ask me “where are the toys?”. I look around at the other patients. I notice that they are in hospital gowns, have white hair, are very obviously of an advanced age, and are laughing and talking with one another. Then, I turn and tell my traveling partner that everyone here is close to death and they don’t care about toys.

Awake.

I awaken and it’s the middle of the night. I don’t know if my thought happened before or after I awoke, but there’s a realization that I am a 40 year old in a section of the hospital with people who appear to be in their 80’s and dying from a terminal illness (granted not in a painful way). My first anxiety-ridden thought is “do I have a terminal illness that I don’t know about and this is my subconscious letting me know?” I don’t feed that thought because it feels like my mind panicking, not my intuition creating a “knowing” knot in my stomach.

Still the dream eats at me because I feel like I’m meant to take something away.

Meditation.

The next day during my meditation time, I am still pondering this dream.

As I begin the meditation, I have the thought “if I had a terminal illness, is this the way I’d be living my life?”.

The immediate answer to that was “No. More often, I’d be choosing to spend time seeing the people that I love .”

Lesson.

That is the main lesson that I took away.

We are not promised a certain number of years, or weeks, or days, or even breaths.

And neither are the people that we care about.

As I pondered the rest of the dream, I came to think that the reference to “toys” was all the things we tend accumulate. The things that we’ve chased that we realize don’t matter when you can see your final days looming. I have been on a slow sail to my own personal definition of minimalism, but I think it’s time to find a little wind for those sails and continue with my decluttering process.

It isn’t always easy to work out seeing the people who mean a lot to you (family, friends, etc.). Especially if they don’t live down the street or inside your home.

I know that I often get tied up with my obligations around my home or think that my teenagers won’t survive without me accessible to them on a daily basis.

However, the reality is, I could just say “I really need to see you (loved person). Let’s figure out how to make that happen.”

In fact, I’ve already started making plans to see people this summer that I’ve missed for way too long.

Does this life lesson resonate with you?

Perhaps you should pick up the phone and call that person you love and let them know what they mean to you.

 

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved. -Kurt Vonnegut

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 60

Friday.

It’s Friday! Did ya’ll miss me last Friday? I missed all of you!

That Thursday was full day of travel for us.

We arrived at the airport in Aruba early since we knew that U.S citizens go through customs at the airport in Aruba instead of when they land in the U.S.

Based on our time waiting in customs at the D.C. airport after our return from Europe last spring, I’d have to say this process was much quicker.

We also only took carry-ons (raise your hand if you audibly gasped). I’ll be sharing some things I learned about that in a future post. We had a direct flight down to Aruba, but had a short layover in Boston on the return. After landing in D.C., we made our way to our vehicle for the 3 1/2 hour drive home. We collapsed into bed around 1 a.m. Friday.

Friday Faves.

Of course I have so many Friday Faves to share.

Aruba.

We spent spring break in Aruba.

I did share some of our travels on my Instagram stories.

I’ve saved some of them to the Aruba recap on my Instagram highlights if you’re interested in seeing those.

Easter.

We arrived in Aruba on the day before Easter.

That day we had a leisurely day.

Easter Sunday, we had a snorkeling excursion booked.

Just prior to our vacation, I read this post on Becoming Minimalist. It talks about jumping while you can. It resonated with me because this year for me is about pushing comfort zones even more. It is about learning to dare greatly.

And so I knew that I would attempt new things.

Snorkeling.

I have snorkeled before. I did not enjoy it. I always felt like I was struggling for air (which makes me feel claustrophobic). I swim, but would not consider myself a “strong” swimmer. However, when we went over the Antilla wreck, which is in 50-60 feet of water (well out of my comfort zone from a depth perspective) I decided to go in the water. I didn’t dive below the surface..and I didn’t stay in as long as everyone else

…but I jumped.

The second snorkeling spot was 10-12 feet deep and was my favorite of the three. The water was so clear and the fish were stunning. Miss Sunshine captured a video of me at this location.

Rope Swing.

At our third snorkel stop, which was about 14 ft deep, you had the option of swinging from the rope swing into the water.

I didn’t think that I was going to attempt it.

But then I remembered about wanting to push myself…I remembered how I was so fearless when I was younger

…and I jumped.

(yes there is a video of that. no I won’t be sharing it)

I plan to do a longer post about our snorkeling trip in the future, but we absolutely loved it (minus the fact that I was the one person on the ship who got a bloody nose when jumping from the rope swing. (note to self: if you plan on holding your nose, take the nose ring out)

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Safari Tour.

If you saw Wednesday’s post where I shared some photos from Aruba, the one above will look familiar. This was from our safari tour. I’ll be sharing more about that in the future, but it was an awesome day out as well.

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Tube Ride.

Miss Sunshine had already convinced her dad and Big Mr. to go on a tube ride earlier in the week. We had loved our snorkeling tour so much that we had booked another one for the day before our departure. Unfortunately, they had some technical difficulties and had to cancel our trip. Miss Sunshine really wanted me to tube with her. I really didn’t want to tube

…but I decided to jump.

Even though I was petrified most of the time, I can say that I’m glad that I did it. The ride itself wasn’t scary…it was tons of fun. I was worried about flipping into the water (which had happened on their last tube ride).

We used to have a boat and a tube. I have a distinct memory of flying out of the tube and having the wind knocked out of me as I landed into the water.

I was in my early 30’s then…how much worse would it be at 40!

My secondary…yes secondary…fear was that a shark might be lurking below the surface. The last time I had fallen out of a tube was in Lake Placid (Florida) and my fear of alligators is stronger than that of sharks.

I held on for dear life on this tube ride. So tightly, that my biceps hurt for the next two days and I’m still sporting a friction burn on one of my knuckles.

…but I jumped (metaphorically).

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Memories.

While I absolutely loved the sunshine and the salt air, one of my favorite parts of the trip is that we made so many memories.

I cherish these moments with my children. Big Mr. heads off to college after this summer. Mr. D is only a year behind. Miss Sunshine is around a little longer, but I know that it too will pass quickly.

These are fleeting moments with all my children still living at home and I am searing them into my brain.

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Sunshine and Salt Air.

But I’m not gonna lie, the sunshine and salt air did make the memories a little sweeter.

These photos of my teens were taken at Baby Beach. I wish we’d have spent more time there, but it wasn’t in the cards that day.

 

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Instagram.

While this week has mostly been playing catch up on emails, reflecting on last month’s challenge, going to soccer games, taking care of household stuff, and finishing up some loose ends for my trip to London and Scotland next month, I did give myself a gift.

If you saw Tuesday’s post, then you already know that day was my 19th wedding anniversary.

Your Instagram bio is supposed to be important for people deciding whether or not they are interested in following you. I’ve always struggled with exactly what I’d like it to say. You only have so much space.

Not long ago, I took out the section that stated where I had lived to add the lines with #travel and #nature and the wannabe photographer and wordsmith. The hubby thought I should take out the word “wannabe”. While I did agree to some level, I also left it there to keep my fear of failure satisfied. If I said “wannabe”, I was acknowledging that I have a long way to go.

…but I also wasn’t giving myself credit for how far I’ve come.

Or giving my dreams the fair shot that they deserved.

So on my anniversary, I gifted myself with the removal of that word. In doing so, I felt that I gave myself permission to keep growing and granted my soul a belief in myself.

Do you have dreams that you want to pursue, but you let fear hold you back?

Music.

This week I’ve chose a song by Sleeping at Last. I love his music and had a hard time choosing which song. I chose this song because it reminds me of the commitment that I made when I chose to have children. Those commitments have been at the forefront of my thoughts this week.

I hope that you have a soul filling weekend and smooth sailing throughout next week.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

19 Years Of Marriage

Aruba.

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

They are coming.

I promise.

Photography.

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

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

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

Anniversary.

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

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

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

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

Eternal Optimist.

But there are fairytale moments!

That heading is tongue in cheek.

Being an optimist is not my normal bent.

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

To be mindful of the good that is happening now.

To have gratitude for all that is well.

Smile.

To smile more.

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

Amsterdam.

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

Carolina Beach.

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

Aruba.

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

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

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

Stay tuned for more photos from Aruba.

In color.

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

wpc: smile

 

Friday Faves Edition 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.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 56

Friday.

Who’s excited that it’s Friday?! I think that I am, but the snowstorm heading our way is threatening to make for a cabin fever weekend…and dare I say…create issues next week.

Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn’t dump as much as the possible forecast! This girl has a hair appointment and her roots are looking CRA-ZY! I pushed out my appointment longer than normal because I have a work party to attend with the hubby on St. Patrick’s Day. Which reminds me…I haven’t found an outfit for that.

BUT…I’m getting ahead of myself.

Friday Faves.

I’m rounding up the Friday Faves for the week. I had a jam packed week with appointments for teens and dogs, but I still found some downtime and some lighthearted moments.

Star Trail.

In Edition 54 of Friday Faves, I shared that the hubby  and I hiked the Star Trail here in Roanoke. We had another sunny day over the weekend and decided to hike it again.

This time I brought along my camera. I’m still sifting through the photos to decide if I will make a separate post about it. While I find the trail to still be nice in the winter, I’m not sure that translates in my photographs. However, some of the smaller bushes were sprouting green that had not been there in the two weeks prior! I’m hoping this snowstorm doesn’t crush their spirits.

Protein Powder.

I mentioned before that I was looking for a new protein powder. I didn’t want rice protein because I felt like I was having a slight allergy to something in it. The blend that I picked up had stevia. I don’t like the taste of stevia.

The hubby and I went to Target for the exciting task of finding replacement shoelaces for his work shoes. Now. Now. Don’t be jealous of my glamorous life. I decided to pop over to the protein powder section to see if they had anything different. I perused the shelves and saw ones that I had seen elsewhere.

Then I looked to the top shelf and what should catch my… NO STEVIA… right on the front. It appears that they are using monk fruit extract in that “sweetener” place. I’ve only made two smoothies so far, but have had no reactions and no strange taste, so I may have found a keeper.

Fashion Magazine.

I told you that I found many moments of lightheartedness and humor, so that was what I chose to focus on over the ups and downs of the week. A bunch of people were posting these on Facebook, so I thought I’d play with it. I sat there and put about 10 photos through, mostly because I wanted to see if it ever change the makeup color. The lipstick…yes, the eyeshadow… no.

Now if only a makeup artist would come do my makeup every day.

I should add…for free…because that service isn’t in my budget.

Aruba.

I am still counting down the days to Aruba.

Three weeks!

When Miss Sunshine and I went shopping, she found a bathing suit at Hollister. She also found one she liked at Target, but they were out of her size. We decided to order it. Of course, I added some pieces for me! I had already rounded up the bottoms and so I ordered two tops. I mentioned that this line at Target, Sun & Shore, sells tops according to bra size. As is the case in almost all clothing, one of the tops didn’t run true to size so sadly it had to be returned.

But the one in the photo fits. I also have a standard J. Crew triangle top that I shared in this post last summer. I was hoping that I would have one top that used hooks instead of ties, but it is what it is.

I don’t always link things, but you can find the above top here. The bottoms can be found here.

If you were curious about the bathing suit in last week’s post, you can find that here. The bottoms are the same as above, just a different print.

 

Humor.

On Monday, I shared the lessons that I learned from the Reading Challenge.

Everyone had a lot of great comments.

This is the text exchange with the hubby on Tuesday. It’s hilarious to read in whole, but it was even funnier as it was happening. He had an early meeting that day, so he leaves as I’m stumbling for my first cup of coffee and the teens aren’t out of bed yet. This is the first I’ve heard from him other than a short phone exchange right before he gets to the office.

I’ve just sat down to check my emails when this text comes in. I know he’s just come out of his meeting, so I’m literally trying to wrap my mind around what he’s talking about. Notice the word “read” isn’t in there, so there’s not even that context clue. I’m wondering if this text is really for me. I’m sure the phone has changed the word, but I thought maybe he meant something else to a coworker or is having a text exchange with our sons.

Nope.

It’s for me.

And then it makes sense. So thank you Jonathan for that comment.

What ensued next was hilarity. Because then Julie over at Empty Nest Adventures comments on Jonathan’s comment that she had actually written about her recent adventure with Moby Dick. I pop over to check it out, and I’m dying in another round of laughter. If your curious, you can find her post here.

Filters.

If all of that was a little too juvenile of humor for you, I offer the space I go to when I’m in the mood for silliness. I don’t use Snapchat, but I do enjoy their filters. Sometimes, I save them and share them on my Instagram Stories.

Instagram.

Speaking of Instagram Stories, I’ve recently tried to become more active on them. Yesterday, I was in a chatty mood and was in front of the camera for a change. I think it was about releasing the inner tension that being vulnerable in yesterday’s post caused.

While I am very honest, I am also reserved about parts of my story. I know it was a longer than normal read (and I cut out parts because I knew it was so long), so thank you for taking the time to read it.

Photography.

On a lighter note, if you missed my Wordless Wednesday post, it’s sure to bring a smile…or a “wolf-ish” grin.

Challenge.

If you’re wondering how March’s 30 day challenge is going, I’ve managed to accomplish my goals each day so far. Today’s  plank will be 90 seconds! I’m still doing some pacing to get 10,000 steps on standard days. However, on the day of our hike, my fitbit called me an overachiever because I was well over. I’ll take the compliment because it’s an effort on the other days!

If you’ve been joining in on either part of the challenge, let me know how it’s going for you.

Music.

This week I tried to make a concentrated effort to find a “”new to me” song to share. The one recommended on YouTube struck my eye because it was from a soundtrack to a movie called 2:22. I hadn’t heard of the movie. Have you seen it?

Why it struck me was because 222 is meaningful to me. I know some people aren’t into numerology, or synchronicity, or whatever, but that number (as well as others) shows up quite a bit throughout my days.

It is also Big Mr.’s birthday. I was 22 when he was born on 2 – 22 – 2000, which was also a “Tue”sday. And on 2-22, in the year 2022, he will turn 22.

So, all that to say, the name struck my eye.

The song is by Vancouver Sleep Clinic who originates out of Brisbane, Australia.

 

I hope that you all have a beautiful weekend! Spread your bright-shining smile. It’s one of the most contagious things out there.

ee Cummings quote To be nobody but yourself in a world that's doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle which any human can fight; and never stop fighting.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Why I Celebrate International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day.

I often talk about my beliefs of the equal rights for women. I keep it no secret that while I have chosen what many consider a “traditional” role for a woman (stay-at-home mom, household manager, chauffeur…take your pick of the many of things I do), it is exactly that…A CHOICE.

A choice that I realize is a privilege.

And a choice, at varying moments over the years, with which I have struggled.

Why I Celebrate.

The question becomes… why do I celebrate?

I have spoken on reasons why this day is important to me. You can find my thoughts in 2017 hereand in 2016 here.

But perhaps to fully understand why I celebrate International Women’s Day, my own background may help, lest you think I only speak from a place of current privilege.

My background.

Many of you know that I just finished reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I found that I could relate in so many ways even though there were plenty of ways in which I couldn’t.

I recognized my dad in her father. Not in the erratic, alcoholic side of Rex Walls. My parents drink once a year, if that. It was the genius and nonconformist side of Rex. It was also his belief in his daughter.

My dad once told me that in the world there are leaders and that there are followers and that I was a leader

…and I believed him.

My parents never once told me that there was something that I couldn’t achieve.

I don’t know if I had lofty expectations.

Surely, I didn’t dream that someday I’d be sitting, in the middle of an optical illusion, on a bridge in Paris, with my own daughter.

I just did what I was good at…doing well in school.

Education.

I never assumed that I wouldn’t go to college. It felt like a given that I would. And so I did. I graduated high school in 1994, I was sixteen and the thought of heading away seemed overwhelming. I decided that I would attend community college and maybe by the time  I finished I’d know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

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College.

I was the first person in my immediate family to attend college. Actually, I was the first to graduate high school in a traditional manner. I graduated sixth in my class and since the local community college awarded a full tuition scholarship for 60 credit hours to the highest academics in the school…and everyone else ranking above me was heading off somewhere else…I received the award.

In the past, I mentioned that I also received a scholarship from a local Women’s Club, which I used to pay for my books. I was also awarded enough financial aid, that it took care of all my other costs.

Due to the fact that I am extremely uncomfortable with new situations, I never met with an academic advisor. I just moved through the list of requirements for an Associates of the Arts degree.

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Graduation.

I remember wanting to quit college. I remember telling my dad that I wanted to quit. And he told me “just quit then”. Now I’m sure most of you are thinking this is bad advice. However, my dad knew me, and he knew that I didn’t give up once I set my mind to something. Through tears, I told him that I couldn’t quit. He told me that I could and that the reality was that I didn’t WANT to quit.

He was right.

I was on the Dean’s List and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa (not the first time I was asked because…again…uncomfortable).

After checking off boxes, I finished up in the fall of 1995, after a year and half, and put in for graduation for my A.A. I was barely 18.

Take Your Daughter To Work.

The spring before that graduation, my aunt had taken me with her for Take Your Daughter To Work Day. She worked for a Dermatologist. I spent the day there and I loved it. He had a transition happening, so he hired me part time on a temporary basis. I mostly worked the front desk, but I did get to be an assistant in a hair transplant surgery!

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First Real Job.

I had always loved math and science, but then I knew that I loved the medical field. The temporary basis came to an end. I didn’t know what I wanted to study. Plus, I still wasn’t prepared to leave home so I got a job at the hospital, working in a Rehab unit. I was fascinated by the Physical Therapists and talked with them about the schooling. Dissecting cadavers and the burn unit made me nervous. I know now that I would have been able to handle things, but hindsight is 20/20.

Back to College.

I decided I would become a Pharmacist. So I got a part-time job (along with maintaining my full-time job) at a 24 hour pharmacy and worked two 10 hour shifts over the weekend as a pharmacy tech. Then, I put in my notice at the hospital and re-enrolled at the community college in 1997.

However, what I didn’t know and hadn’t been told, was that once you put in for graduation at the community college, you aren’t eligible for financial aid at the community college level any longer. A person in my life at the time helped me scrape together the money for that semester, but I had to withdraw from Biology because of the schedule and I needed to get another job to pay for life. I finished out my Chemistry and Trigonometry classes, but by the end had decided I was not going to become a Pharmacist.

I did not like the automation of the medicine.I would have loved it back in mortar and pestle days. As it was my favorite part was learning how to read the meniscus.

Work.

The second part-time job I got during that semester in college turned into a full-time job. It was at a MRI facility. I thought about going back to school to be a MRI tech, but then life happened along. I switched jobs. Met my husband. Came back to that job when the day shift opened. Then I had my first child in 2000.

You might think that I easily went into being a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t. I wanted to be one, but I’d also never had a point in life where I wasn’t earning my own money. I’d been working since I was 14. When my son was 6 or 7 months old, I took a job in the nursery at the local YMCA because I could bring him with me.

Stay At Home Mom.

And then I got pregnant with my second son. I had complications in the beginning of my first pregnancy. Pains that made them check to make sure it wasn’t ectopic. It obviously wasn’t, but I was told to take it easy to avoid a miscarriage. When the pains started with the second pregnancy, the doctor advocated that I even avoid carrying around the oldest too much. He was 9 months old, so complete avoidance wasn’t going to happen. Since I couldn’t pick up any kids in the nursery and the diaper changes of other people’s kids were doing a number on my morning sickness, I resigned.

We would add our youngest, Miss Sunshine, in 2003. I sometimes thought about going back to school, but I also loved being home with my children. In 2010, the nearby community college changed to a state college and added some Bachelor’s programs.

Back to School.

That was how we found ourselves moving over to Stuart, Florida. I had many reasons for wanting to go back to school. But if I’m honest, one of them was because I wanted my children to realize that I was intelligent. It may seem silly, but that means something to me. It was my one claim to success in my formative years. I also wanted them to know that different choices are always possible. I enrolled for the Bachelor of Biology with a concentration on Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (I don’t know if that’s still offered), but even with 68 credit hours, I still was missing some lower level classes. So after 13+ years of being out of college, I took Chemistry and Statistics. When I aced them, I felt a real sense of pride.

At the time my dream was to go to work for some of the local biomedical facilities. They were touting the Treasure Coast as the Research Coast. If you don’t know…I love research. However, I came to realize that it’s mostly interns in many of those places. I thought I’d supplement the Biology degree with a way to actually earn income. Even though I wanted to work in a medical laboratory, the pay for that degree isn’t that well. I started considering a Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner, so I thought I’d get a nursing degree. After taking Anatomy and Physiology I & II, Nutrition, and some Psychology based classes, I changed my mind. I believe nursing is a calling…and I have not been called. About that time, life changed. We moved to Virginia. I wasn’t about to pay out of state tuition.

After a year, I sent for my transcript papers. Where they still sit in the filing cabinet. Unopened. I decided not to return to school because I found other passions and we also have three teenagers to put through college. Sometimes I worry that people think less of me because of my educational background.

I have learned to live with that.

Mostly.

I don’t know exactly how many credit hours I have. Probably over 90. I think less than 100.

I’m not sure because I haven’t broken the seal.

They sit there…waiting…in case I change my mind.

Being a Woman.

That is one of the reasons I celebrate International Women’s Day.

Because nowhere in that story was the decision not mine. Nothing about being a woman changed my options.

It is because of the way paved by other women that I had the freedom to make each of those choices. There wasn’t any choice which was prevented by the mere fact that I am a woman.

I’m sure there are many out there who would have made different choices. And that is okay.

Isn’t it wonderful to have that option?

Not everyone does.

Which is why women will keep fighting to be seen as equal.

Having a Daughter.

I also celebrate because I have a daughter. I often use her as a muse in my photography. Whether its captured unbeknownst to her as in the shots of her in Paris or when she willingly helps me create my vision like in the canal shot in Amsterdam, I am always in awe of her.

Miss Sunshine has dreams and visions and goals.

She heartily pursues them without any regard to her gender.

She is even stronger than I consider myself to be.

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Soccer.

Most of my regular readers know that Miss Sunshine plays soccer. She has played since the age of seven. We went through a hard transition when she was 13 and the U.S. Youth Soccer changed the age guidelines. She went from being the oldest on the team to being one of the youngest.

The transition also made her miss the first year that the field transitions from being 8v8 to 11v11. She found herself moved from a forward to a defender and she worked hard to learn the role. I live the behind the scenes. I know all the dynamics of the shift. But she did what she does, she persevered.

I love this shot of her during warm-ups. They were playing one of their league competitors and decided to put on war paint.

It reminds me of the quote:

Fate whispers to the warrior, “you cannot withstand the storm”

The warrior whispers back, “I am the storm”. -unknown

Self Assured.

I have taught my daughter that if she finds a glass ceiling, she should break it.

She should pursue her dreams with no regard to the naysayers.

I have spoken in the past about the fact that at this time she wants to be an Engineer. She’s 14 and that may change many times before she decides on a path. It may even change many times while on a path.

There is great freedom in that reality.

Locally we have some part-time specialty high schools. She has applied to two and while she is waiting to hear from one, she has been accepted into the Engineering Based one.

Part of application process was to come up with an invention that could be patented and describe the materials, cost, building process, and usage.

While I’m not sharing her invention…I have to say…I love how her mind works.

So today I celebrate all those women before me who fought and all those women who continue to fight to be acknowledged as equals.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Let your light shine!

Amy

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Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday Faves Edition 54

Friday!

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

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

I think maybe yes.

 

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Friday Faves.

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

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

Mill Mountain Star Trail.

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

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

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

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

 

 

Editing.

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

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

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

 

Instagram.

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

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

Photography.

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

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

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My Children.

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

Day #2 was Mr. D.

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

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

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

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Mother of an Adult.

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

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

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

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

Guns at School.

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

I was stunned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our kids deserve to not live in fear.

Birthday Dinner.

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

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

Motorcycles.

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

Lord help my soul!

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

Music.

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

 

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

 

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Friday Faves Edition 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

 

American Made

Photography.

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.

Tales.

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.

Okeechobee.

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.

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!

Amy