Friday Faves Edition 61

Friday.

Who’s happy that it’s Friday?!

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

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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

Snorkeling in Aruba

Aruba.

Stunning turquoise waters!

That was reason #1 for our choice to head to Aruba.

Following closely behind were: we could get a good flight there, we had friends who had been and loved it, and another big factor is that Aruba is the most revisted Caribbean Island.

Family Travel.

This trip was taken over our teenagers’ Spring Break. If you are new to my blog or have stumbled across this post, the hubby and I have three teenagers. Currently, Big Mr. is 18, Mr. D is 16, and Miss Sunshine is 14.

Our teenagers like adventure and so we knew that we’d want to have some scheduled during our time in Aruba.

Snorkeling.

Of course we decided to begin our Caribbean Island vacation with snorkeling!

With my teens and I having been born and raised (ok…they’ve not been fully raised-we’re approaching year 5 of living in Virginia) in Florida, we aren’t strangers to snorkeling.

However, this would be our first time in waters this clear.

Jolly Pirates.

We decided to book our snorkeling trip with Jolly Pirates.

We wanted to maximize our time on the water and opted for their four hour sail, snorkel, swim, and swing.

This trip would take us over the WWII wreck of the SS Antilla, Boca Catalina, and Malmok Beach.

Location.

We booked our trip and also filled out the waivers online prior to heading to Aruba.

This made the check-in process very quick.

The building for check-in is located right behind MooMba Beach, which you can see in the background. While I didn’t get a chance to visit MooMba Beach (something I’ll need to remedy…we aren’t so good at making food reservations when traveling with five people who are hungry at different times), it comes highly recommended as a must visit beach bar and restaurant.

I snapped the photo for my Thursday Doors friends, but I also love that they list their crew.

The Crew.

The crew was amazing!

We sailed on Easter Sunday.

Julio was the captain of our ship.

Johan and Milton were also part of our sailing adventure.

I’m pretty sure Tony was our lifeguard, but since I don’t see his name on the board, I’m questioning whether I heard (and remembered) his name correctly.

The four hour sail included an open bar, plus lunch.

All four of the guys were kept busy and yet were still always full of smiles.

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Fins, Masks, and Snorkels.

Fins, masks, and snorkels are included in your trip.

We did contact them prior to booking our trip to be sure that they could accommodate Big Mr.’s size 16 shoe.

They could!

This was wonderful because we were traveling with carry-ons only and needing to carry a set of fins would have been a hassle.

Turquoise Waters.

Yes, the Caribbean waters are as stunning as you see in magazines!

My favorite part of snorkeling was seeing all the brightly colored fish.

There is something quite serene about gliding along under the clear waters with them.

Pirate Ship.

This was a view of another of their ships for snorkeling.

There is a palpable excitement about sailing on a pirate ship.

Or perhaps that’s just gypsy wanderer in me.

Toward the bow of the ship, you can see someone jumping from the platform. While the hubby and teens did use this approach into the water (Mr. D even did a flip from it), I preferred to climb down the ladder.

Rope Swing.

However, I did get brave enough to step from the platform and ride the rope swing into the water (albeit, not on Johan’s back. The really brave piggy-backed on Johan while he swung and then did a flip in the air.)

As I mentioned in this post, as I released from the swing, I pinched my nose to avoid the water shooting up into it. Apparently, too hard when you wear a nose ring, because I came out of the water with a nose bleed.

The crew was amazing, grabbed some toilet paper, and the bleeding stopped almost as soon as it had started. They checked on me again later in the trip. It was a minor thing, but I’ve made a note to myself to remove my nose ring before future snorkeling trips.

In that same post from last Friday, I shared more of my personal experience surrounding the snorkeling and the little clip Miss Sunshine took of me snorkeling.

She also made a compilation of some of her own snorkeling, which she has said that I can share with all of you.

Memories.

I’ve mentioned one of my favorite parts of traveling with my teens is the memories that we create.

We created many memories during our brief time in Aruba.

I’ve shared a few photos from Aruba in this post and in the future I will be sharing more about our time there.

Stay tuned.

Have you been snorkeling?

Where? And did you enjoy it?

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

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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 59

Friday.

It’s Friday!

I don’t know what that means for all of you, but for me it means we’ve officially entered into Spring Break vacation mode.

Which for Friday, means cleaning, squaring things away, and packing…and then driving up to D.C. so we can catch an early flight tomorrow morning to Aruba!!

Friday Faves.

But I didn’t want to head out on the road without sharing some of my Friday Faves.

The week has mostly been about taking care of things before we head out on vacation. I did make the announcement for my April Challenge and I edited some photos from our last snow to share for Wordless Wednesday. I also dug into the archives to share my photos of the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh for Thursday Doors.

I will have a few posts scheduled for next week, but I will likely be slow in responding to comments. Thank you for bearing with my slow replies this week as I prepped for the trip.

Just know that I love hearing from you all!

I will not be back with Edition 60 of Friday Faves until April 13th. Which just means, more to share!

 

Instagram.

My most recent series on Instagram was a trio of some beach sunsets that I have loved. I thought it was appropriate since I am about to head out on a beach vacation.

I knew the type of quote that I was seeking to go with the photo and when I found the one above, I knew that it conveyed my feeling about the photo.

If you are on Instagram, I will be trying to share many of the sights in Aruba through my Instagram Stories.

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Sunglasses.

This was from one of my Instastories. Miss Sunshine needed some sunglasses to wear in Aruba, and since I’m obsessed with sunglasses, I got a new pair as well.

I think my old pair (my go to ones) got mad, because the next day, the frame cracked and the lens fell out.

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Mother-In-Law.

My mother-in-law is watching our puppy, Maverick, while we are away. I tease her that she loves dogs more than humans. I took him over to her house yesterday. Her birthday is April 1st, which falls on Easter Sunday this year. She was teasing me because we won’t be here for her birthday. I teased back, telling her that we’d be snorkeling that day and I’d think of her.

It was her idea to offer up some “duck lips”. Unlike me, she doesn’t share her age…but she looks amazing. I think she should shout it from the rooftops, but until she relents, I’ll maintain her wishes.

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Soccer.

After my trip to my mother-in-laws, I was off to Miss Sunshine’s soccer game. After all this time, I still struggle with “position names”. Her middle school coach has a formation in which she calls herself midfield, but in other formations I think it’d be called a left forward. I just know that she’s up top, left side (she’s left footed), but she does run more of the field than a forward might.

She’s had some assists and some shots on goal during this middle school season, but yesterday, she scored her first goal. It was beautiful! I’m biased, but it was still a beauty. Mostly because I love watching her turn on her speed. She was behind…then she was passing…and then she insanely in front of them…the goalie was coming forward thinking they might get it…I knew if she took the shot that it would go in…I stood up in the stands….she shot…she scored…I screamed.

I didn’t think to turn on the phone to record it. She did ask because she wanted to see how fast she was.

However, that, my friends, is being in the now.

I did record something to share with ya’ll though. It’s a time lapse from this morning’s plank challenge. Be kind. My talenti gelato YouTube has 2500 views (which in itself is just crazy to me) and 25 thumbs down. Really? Thumbs down. That just seems mean. This is one reason why I rarely add to YouTube.

Plank Challenge.

I made it!! 5 minutes!!

I really thought I’d be coming to you all this morning saying that I had to throw in the towel on the final day. That I couldn’t even attempt any of it. Sometime in the middle of the night, while have a strange post apocalyptic dream about checking floors of a hotel (I’m pretty sure the floor number scenes in the elevator were my clues), my right shoulder starting killing me. I woke up to the fact that it was indeed killing me. I adjusted its position. By this morning it hurt a little less, I took some Advil, and decided to attempt it.

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Victory.

And I was victorious.

Music.

I may have shared this song in the past, but this was the final song that I listened to for day 30 of the plank challenge. Most songs are not 5 minutes long. You can hear it in the actual video of the challenge, but it had to come out when I sped it up.

Mountains of Men is a band out of Stockholm, Sweden that describes themselves as Alternative folk rock and stuff.

 

For those of you who celebrate Easter, I hope that it is a glorious day. If you don’t, I hope that you have a glorious Sunday.

I hope that you have an amazing week ahead.

Remember that you are always stronger than you think.

In body.  In mind. In spirit.

Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you should have always been. - David Bowie

Let your light shine!

Amy

30 Day Challenge… April

#thisis40.

We are fast approaching the 8th month in my year of #thisis40 thirty day challenges.

Those of you who’ve been following along since the beginning know that I turned 40 in September of 2017. Eek! I can’t believe that we are well past the halfway mark of my 40th year!

Even though I had been pressing outside of my comfort zones since beginning this blog at the start of 2016, I felt like 40 was pinnacle for further pushing. Instead of dipping my toes in the water’s edge, I’d move out into the deep.

The only way for me to learn who I truly am is through trial.

My September Challenge taught me to be even more mindful about the environment. That one person’s changes CAN and DO make an impact.

My October Challenge taught me how to center myself. It taught me new ways to deal with my anxiety and how to change my focus.

My November Challenge taught me to try new things.

My December Challenge taught me that there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Some days take a little more looking, but something can always be found.

My January Challenge taught me to be mindful about what I put into my body.

My February Challenge  opened my mind to worlds unknown.

While I’m still in the process of my March Challenge, I have learned that my body is capable of so much more than I have given it credit for.

30 Day Challenge…April.

So what challenge do I have in store for April?

30 days of practicing a foreign language

for 15 minutes per day.

Foreign Language.

Given that I hope to have a lot more travel in my future, I would like to become more fluent in some foreign languages.

Over time, I would like to learn multiple languages other than my native English.

Spanish.

For the month of April, I will be spending my 15 minutes a day learning Spanish.

I have specific reasons for starting with learning Spanish.

First and foremost, is that I took two years of it in high school.

Not that I’ve retained much of it.

However, if you’ve read about my past then you know that I graduated from Immokalee High School in Immokalee, Florida. I don’t know what the demographics were when I was in high school in the 90’s, but the main percentages from the 2014-2015 data that I found at U.S. News don’t sound far off: Hispanic 73%, Black 22%, White 3%.

Along with my classes, I picked up some other words here and there.

Mostly ones that I can’t repeat here.

One of my besties in my early teens was named Carlos. He was Cuban and lived nearby.  He taught me many inappropriate phrases. I can still remember some of them and some of our jokes. Sadly, he died in our early 20’s.

Study.

I’ve also chosen Spanish because Miss Sunshine is in her first year of study. Mr. D is in his 4th year of study and plans to continue with a 5th year during his last year of high school. At that point, his high school diploma will have a bilingual seal.

I figure that I will be able to bounce words and phrases off of them as I study.

My teens have recommended the DuoLingo app because that is what most of their teachers recommend. I will probably incorporate the usage of this and other study methods for a total of 15 minutes each day.

I’ve made the challenge 15 minutes of “foreign language” study in case you decide to join along and want to choose a different language.

Travel.

Before Mr. D heads off to college, I would like to travel to a Spanish speaking country so that he can have real life practice in using the language that he will have worked so hard to learn. Right now, I am thinking we will travel to Spain some time next year. But we will see what the future holds.

Until then, I will be working on re-learning the Spanish that’s hidden in the recesses of my brain and forging ahead on learning all that I do not know.

Bilingual.

Do you speak more than one language? What languages do you speak?

In any given moment we have two option: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. - Abraham Maslow

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves Edition 58

Friday.

It’s Friday! I hope you all have had an amazing week so far!!

The weather threw off my routines, but that’s okay.

Sometimes our lives need a little shake up so we don’t get stuck in our comfort zones.

Friday Faves.

I’m doing my weekly round up of Friday Faves.

My agenda looks like a tornado struck it with things crossed out that didn’t get accomplished. However, I did manage to make notes about the things I did want to share!

Party.

First off, remember in last week’s faves when I gave you a sneak peek of the dress I planned to wear to the party on St. Patrick’s Day?

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The Dress.

If you follow my Instagram stories, then you’ve already gotten a glimpse of it. I put my favorite filter (Rio De Janeiro) because the sun was at its harshest when we left. The actual photo looks like I ran it through one of those pixellating filters because the glare off of my arm and leg is so intense.

Imagine my delight the next morning when I discovered that my mom had taken the original that I texted her and posted it on her Facebook (love you mom!).

It probably wasn’t that bad, but I am notoriously particular and usually unhappy with how I look in photos. Good thing I’m usually behind the camera.

However, since I love ya’ll so much… I am sharing two photos, that while I don’t love them, I find them acceptable for public viewing.

Close Up.

I thought the dress had a very retro classic vibe, so I tried to channel Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy Onassis with my pearl necklace and earrings.

Full Length.

The dress is a Ralph Lauren and I found it at Macy’s.

Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, and my dress was not green, I wore a jade ring. Originally, my “something borrowed” at my wedding, my mother-in-law gifted the ring to me a few years ago.

It was much chillier than I originally thought it would be so I brought along a white 3/4 sleeve Lily Pulitzer cardigan that I’ve owned forever. I draped it over my arm as we entered the party since I really expected to need it later in the evening.

We stopped at the bar to pick up a cocktail. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but the bartender was asking, so I went with a vodka cranberry. Can you guess where I’m going with this?

I told the hubby I’d like to put the cardigan down at the table before we mingled. Of course, we are passing people that I need to meet along the way to the table. Sure enough, the drink spilled on my cardigan. Not an EGADS! she spilled her drink. The cup just slightly shifted, dribbled over my hand, and onto my sweater.

I switched to vodka and pineapple juice after that.

We had a great evening. Lots of good conversations and food.

And the juice stain came out!

Soccer.

Miss Sunshine had a soccer game on Monday afternoon. They won the game and Miss Sunshine had an assist for their goal.

As a side note, I’m still very disappointed in how the Nikon is performing. When I return from Aruba, I will be getting a longer zoom lens for the Sony.

Aruba.

Speaking of Aruba…only one week! There wasn’t school on Wednesday due to snow. There was a 2 hour delay on Thursday due to snow.

It threw off my quiet time for posts, but I did manage to share some things I loved at the National Museum of Scotland, a Tree Series for Wordless Wednesday, and a Thursday Door post of St. Giles Cathedral.

Snow is forecast for Saturday.

I can’t wait to have my toes in the sand and not snow!

 

Instagram.

I’ve shared before that I have a love/hate with Instagram. I love most of the people. Not so much a fan of the follow/unfollow crowd, but I guess that’s their way of marketing. The algorithm changes really bothered me.

Interaction.

However, recently I’ve tried to separate myself from caring about my number of likes and growth and to just focus on interacting with those that Instagram decides that I want to see. That means I try to add more IG stories and also watch more of them.

Upskirting.

All that to say, I found myself watching @beaniegigi’s story.

Here’s a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know, but once you do know, you must speak”.

How many of you have heard of “upskirting”?

Probably a lot of you.

Defined.

If you haven’t, it’s the case of somebody taking a photo up a woman’s skirt (or dress) without her permission.

I admit that I live in a bubble and I don’t find myself in many places where this might happen (public transport, concerts…etc).

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the paparazzi shots of celebrities taken from this angle. I was always mortified that anyone thought it was acceptable, but it never occurred to me that it was a “thing” happening to every day women (and girls).

It happened to Gina Martin at a concert. You can read her story in this Unilad article.

Legality.

Did you know that there are places where upskirting is not illegal? It isn’t considered illegal because voyeurism apparently only applies to private places and since there’s underwear it’s not considered lewd.

Making Change.

Gina is working to have the law changed in England and Wales to make upskirting illegal. A cursory look to see if it was illegal in the United States brought me to this Time magazine article where I discovered that it is illegal in Virginia. However, at the time of the article in 2016, it was not illegal everywhere.

I applaud Gina for taking a stand against harassment.

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Challenge.

I am still steadily progressing on the March Challenge, which is part of my #thisis40 year of monthly challenges. I do know what I’ll be doing for my April Challenge. Look for the announcement on Monday.

Walking.

It never ceases to amaze me how little I truly must walk in a day. Getting in 10,000 steps requires an effort on my part. However, basing fitness on steps doesn’t take into consideration that I take Pilates 3x a week and that doesn’t require much walking, but it’s hard!

Planks.

I have officially made it 23 days on the plank challenge segment of the monthly challenge. That is a 3 minute 50 second plank.

Modifications.

On day 20, I did need to switch it up to make it through. Instead of keeping my legs at hip width, I widened them to distribute the weight differently. I did that for about 10 seconds a couple of times over the course of the plank. On the following days, I also have move from forearms to hands and back (though mostly on the forearm).

Opinion.

I am still forging ahead and hoping to nail the goal to completion. However, if I had it to do over again I would not have chosen this specific plank goal. I took on this goal because I will be wearing a bikini in Aruba. That’s the plain and simple fact. Judge if you will.

However, I feel like my abs get a much better workout from a Pilates routine. I can’t see my form during the course of the plank, but I don’t think I’m losing form. However, it’s my mid-back where I can feel the most change. Perhaps I’m losing the focus on maintaining those lower ab muscles while I’m just trying to push through to the end. I know Pilates breath work and incorporate that to get into those tiny muscles, but I feel the plank in my shoulders, back, and quads more than in the abs.

Puppy.

Yesterday was Maverick’s 1st birthday. He got a haircut last weekend and toys yesterday.

Ohhh…my baby is growing up!

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Long Exposure.

If you watched my IG stories on Wednesday, then you know that I had a crazy outing trying to capture some snow scenes. I’ve shared a few photos on Instagram and the one above will eventually be shared. I hadn’t worked with long exposure on the Sony yet. I only have one ND filter and it wasn’t really strong enough. However, I did manage to get a few shots that I was happy with (after sliding down the embankment of snow and dropping the tripod in the stream).

Music.

I heard this song on the way home from Pilates today and liked it. Nadia Ali is a Pakistani-American singer-songwriter. IRO is a Brooklyn based singer-songwriter. Sultan + Shepard is a Canadian electronic music duo that often do collaborations.

I hope you enjoy!

I’m off to finish prepping for Aruba. Oh…and for that snowstorm heading our way. I suspect my teens might want to eat and food flies off the shelves before a storm like an apocalyptic invasion is on its way.

Keep that smile shining.

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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.

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Let your light shine!

Amy