What’s Up Lately Episode 003

What’s Up Lately.

Episode 003.

I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning waiting for the storms to roll in.

I hope that you’re having a lovely Sunday.

This past week has found me returning to some moments of self care.

Pilates.

If you’ll recall from my last update, I was on the final push for decluttering and some deep cleaning. Since it includes scrubbing baseboards and mopping wood floors amongst other things, I ended up not going to my Pilates classes.

This week, not only did I attend Pilates, but after each class, I spent some time in the steam room. Over the summer, on the days that I was able to make it to Pilates, I was always in such a rush that I needed to leave directly after class. Taking the time to go to the steam room made me feel like I was finally making some time for myself.

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Hair.

It was also time for my six week refresher on my cut and color.

I used to go sooo long between hair appointments because I felt guilty about taking time for myself and the cost involved in having my hair highlighted.

Around the first quarter of this year, I started booking my next appointment while I was there getting my hair done. This made all the difference. Now I show up every 6 weeks. I catch up with my hairdresser and leave there feeling beautiful.

Falafel.

We are still trying to eat closer to vegetarian. I was telling my husband about this wrap that I had in London where the main ingredient was falafel. Also, over the summer, I met a friend at a fast casual mediterranean restaurant in Naples and had falafel. Then Joey was talking about falafel, so we looked it up and found that the same mediterranean restaurant was in Roanoke.

It’s called Zoe’s Kitchen. We went to dinner there and had the Mediterranean Trio bowl with falafel. I knew that it would become my husband’s new favorite style of food to eat.

I was right.

I may try to recreate these “bowls” at home.

Have you tried falafel? Do you have any good Mediterranean recipes to share?

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Sunrise and Birthdays.

Wednesday was my birthday.

I wrote a post about turning 41. If you missed it, you can find it here.

It’s amazing how much different a year can be. Last year, my family had just ridden out Hurricane Irma. I detailed the experience from my end in this post. At the time, I wasn’t sure if my mother would have any cell service to be able to get through for her traditional singing of “happy birthday” to me. She did end up finding a sliver of a signal and was able to sing to me.

This year, no storm was looming across Florida and she called to sing to me. She followed up with a gorgeous shot of the sunrise that was seen on her way to work.

 

 

German and Birthdays.

Big Mr. has decided that he would eventually like to visit Germany. In preparation for that he has started study German every day. He is using the DuoLingo app that I used during my month of working on Spanish.

He did call me to wish me a happy birthday. Then he followed up with a text in German. While I suspected what it might say given that it was my birthday, I do not know German. I ran it through Google translate.

Isn’t Google translate amazing?!

Birthday Dinner.

Originally, I thought I’d be sitting near the fields and reading a book while Miss Sunshine had soccer practice. However, the rain had left the fields saturated and practice was cancelled. We decided to set reservations at this fancy Brazilian restaurant that overlooks part of town.

I’ve only had a martini once…a chocolate one at that…and I don’t think I liked it much. My husband had one (years ago…before I knew him) and didn’t think he liked it that much.

However, this restaurant felt like stepping back in time and we decided that it called for trying a martini. I opted for one that was called “sunburned” and he went for a classic. Mine was okay, but definitely strong. I tasted his…and omg…it tasted like straight gin. We decided it was a fun to drink out of the fancy glass, but we probably won’t be ordering another one anytime soon.

Ancestry DNA.

Recently Ancestry.com had a sale on their DNA kits. We asked our teens if they’d like to take the test just for curiosity’s sake. They all did. Miss Sunshine’s came back last weekend and the boys came back on Thursday. Ancestry has an update where they refined the ethnicity due to more reference samples. Miss Sunshine just got in under the update and so we are able to see both estimates. Even though they arrived the same day, the boys were processed after hers and I can’t see what the estimate would have been under the old testing.

The results were not that surprising, but I have a variety of thoughts regarding the outcomes. Be on the look out for a future post on that.

Photography.

I also found my way back to one of my loves this week.

Photography.

I began working on editing my photos once again. You may have seen some of them on Instagram.

This one is of Carolina Beach, North Carolina.

Hurricane Florence.

Our family normally vacations at Carolina Beach, which is just outside of Wilmington. North Carolina has obviously taken the brunt of the hurricane.

I spent part of this week gathering supplies for the arrival of Hurricane Florence. At one point, it was estimated that Roanoke could receive 10-20″ of rain. Our grounds are already completely saturated from prior rains.

The estimate has gone down as the storm has pushed westward. However, they are still expecting some flooding due to the rise of rivers and possible mudslides on the mountains.

I hope that you are not in the path of the storm and that the sun is shining brightly wherever you are.

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

30 day challenge august alcohol detox

30 Day Challenge – August

30 Day Challenge.

As promised in yesterday’s post, I’m back with the announcement of my final 30 day challenge in this year of 30 day challenges.

Each month since I turned 40 I have completed a 30 day challenge. Some have been physically challenging and some have been mentally challenging. Some months the challenge has been a breeze to complete and others have taken extra dedication.

Through it all, the main goal was growth.

That has been accomplished.

August Challenge.

I have come full circle for my final challenge.

The challenge for the month of August is:

30 Days of No Alcohol.

Beer at Paris Cafe

If you’re wondering what I mean by full circle….last August I also went 30 days with no alcohol.

I wrote about the beginning of that challenge in this post.

I shared a little more in detail of what prompted me to go 30 days without alcohol and what I learned during those 30 days in this post.

Flight of beers in Stirling, Virginia

Lessons.

One of the lessons that I took away from the challenge was that by challenging myself, I could grow.

And so began the year of 30 days challenges upon turning 40 years old.

At the time, I didn’t see any major changes by cutting out alcohol. However, when I added it back in, I realized that it did make me less productive. I have a hard and fast rule about not responding to comments after a glass of wine. My concentration levels also go down.

Given the fact that my stress levels are also leading to current bouts of insomnia, this couldn’t be a better time to incorporate this as my final challenge. While I don’t plan on abstaining permanently from alcohol, I do like having this “reset” of sorts as I head toward the celebration of the day of my birth.

I think that even after I turn 41, it is very likely that I will continue incorporating 30 day challenges into my life.

I’ve learned so much about myself on this journey and I’m looking forward to learning so much more in the years to come.

As always, if you feel compelled to join along in this challenge, please do!!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Seaside Chat II

The Journey.

My three week journey is coming close to an end.

It is a bittersweet moment as I prepare to leave my parents. I will miss them, but at the same time, I miss my hubby and my two sons.

I wanted to pop in for a quick chat. This post won’t do justice to all that I’ve done since my last seaside chat so I will likely revisit some of the topics in the future.

Seaside Chat. Round 2.

We did do all the things that I mentioned in my last seaside chat. The was an escape room, a celebration of the Fourth of July with food and family. Later in the day there were fireworks. The next day was a giant excursion to Tampa to Busch Gardens. That day was quite eventful!! I promise that I’ll be back to tell all about it. After catching up on some sleep, we had a lounging day on Friday.

I have missed my conversations will all of you. I did try to catch up on my emails and comments on Tuesday, but I still have quite a ways to go.

Mostly, I didn’t want you to think that I fell off of the face of the earth. I am here, but have been soaking up the last of my time with family.

I’ve just finished breakfast and most of my packing. After a quick shower, I will be jumping in the car to head to Gainesville to see family before the long drive back home on Monday.

If you’ve followed my Instagram stories, I shared a tour of the cottage on the day of our departure. I will be adding it to my Instagram highlights. There is also a small car tour of the streets where I grew up, which is much more inland than the beach.

Where the water pools along the ditches and in the low areas of the yard during rainy season.

Where the frogs sing their lullabies in the darkness.

Where the alligators roam the canals and the box turtles make their way into your yard.

Where the cypress trees indicate swampland that waist high in water during rainy season and completely dry ground in the dry months.Where the palmetto bushes, slash pines and oak trees are added by nature and the palm trees are added by man.

I leave you with last night’s sunset as seen from my childhood home.

Let your light shine!

Amy

30 Day Challenge…July

30 Day Challenge.

I can’t believe that I’ve made it to month 11 in my year of 30 day challenges.

If you are new to the blog, I have been doing a 30 day challenge each month since I turned 40 last September. They vary between physical and mental challenges, but are always meant to encourage personal growth.

July Challenge.

Normally, I announce my challenge prior to the beginning of the month.

However, I am on vacation and most of my days have looked like the photo above. That view makes it hard to think about little more than staying in the present, soaking up the beauty and tucking it away for me to draw upon on the days where I’m not so happy with what life is throwing at me.

A reminder of gratitude.

A reminder of my happy place.

The place where my soul feels at ease and the pace of my life slows.

The place where procrastination is almost a given.

The Challenge for July is…

A 30 Day Fitness Challenge.

 

Since I’ve been lounging for a large part of June, I thought that I’d take on another fitness challenge.  Last night I dug around on Pinterest to find a challenge that would work with the fact this I am still traveling and that when I return, I have two full days of college orientation with Big Mr.

I’m a little nervous about the amount of push-ups because I have shoulder issues, but I did make it through the plank challenge. 

If you are interested in joining in the challenge, you can find the infographic here on Pinterest. Or on this Fitbit page, which also shows you how to do each move.

I’ll still be lounging at the beach for the next week, but I’ll be fitting in the pieces of the challenge as well.

I hope that your July is off to an amazing start!!

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

Let your light shine!

Amy

Seaside Chat

Friday.

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

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

Seaside Chat.

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

Sunset.

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

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

Dinner and Dancing.

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

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

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

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

Biking.

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

Paddleboard.

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

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

Shopping.

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

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

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

Upcoming.

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

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

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

I hope that you all are having a beautiful Friday!

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Let your light shine!

Amy

Still Here

Still Here.

Just in case you thought I’ve disappeared from the blogosphere, I wanted to pop in and tell you that I’m still here.

I think that this may the longest that I’ve ever gone without writing a post.

11 days…in fact.

I’ve missed you all, but have also found little time to sit down and write. I have fully been embracing living in the moment.

This morning Miss Sunshine is sleeping in so I thought I’d pop in to catch up with you all.

After my last Friday Faves, I started preparing for my 3 weeks journey down to Florida.

Our upstairs bathroom needs a complete remodel and the hubby and Big Mr. will be working on that while I’m gone. I picked out tiles and a few other things that I didn’t want to do via text.

Big Mr. returned from his week down in Myrtle Beach. A high school graduate. It still seems surreal.

Gainesville.

We packed the Jeep on Monday night and then Miss Sunshine and I set out early Tuesday morning. We knew that it would be a long day. The GPS said about 9 1/2 hours of drive time. Once you included stops, we were on the road for 11 hours. Luckily, it was an uneventful 11 hours.

Our destination that day was to stop at my Dad’s sister’s house.  If you’ve been following my blog for some time, then you are already aware of the fact that she is only 5 days older than me. The relationship was more like cousins and sometimes like sisters {probably the fighting part. ;)} . I’ve spoken about her Lupus and of my travels to her wedding. She is one of those few in my life who have known me since the beginning and no matter our length of time apart we can always pick up where we left off.

…and that we did. We stayed up until 2 in the morning, catching up, and reminiscing. I stayed until about 1 p.m. the next day, but then we needed to get on the road to Naples.

Naples.

It’s about a 4 1/2 hour drive to Naples from Gainesville.

In Ocala, we stopped at Chick-fil-a to grab a bite to eat. Imagine my surprise when I came out of the bathroom stall and ran into one of my girlfriends from when I lived in Okeechobee. It was one of those “it’s a small world” moments. Miss Sunshine and I continued south, but did get stuck for 45 minutes in a wreck around Englewood. It was a great relief to finally get to my parent’s house.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. catching up with my dad and brother (see a pattern here)

The next day I met a girlfriend for lunch. We were neighbors when I lived in Naples and our children are similar in ages. It was great to catch up in person.

I met my mom and Miss Sunshine over at my aunt’s house. Then my uncle stopped by. Then my other aunt showed up. And then my cousin. It was all impromptu. They didn’t even know I’d be there.

…these are some of the things I miss about home.

That night I only stayed up until midnight!

We moved into the cottage on Friday. It’s within walking distance of the beach. And so I made sure that I was there for sunset.

On Saturday, Miss Sunshine and I went for a morning run. The first photo is the view that morning. Later in the morning, Miss Sunshine and I took the paddleboard down to the beach and spent some time on it. Then my mom, sister-in-law and my two nephews met us there for some more fun in the sun.

Miss Sunshine and I had planned to go with my mom and aunt to SummerJazz on the Gulf at the Naples Beach Hotel, but the weather was rainy so we opted for dinner instead.

On Sunday, we met my mom and aunt for a kayak trip. We left out of Isle of Capri from the Fish House Restaurant. We skirted along the mangroves of Johnson Island and decided to beach ahead. I don’t think that beach has an actual name because I’m pretty sure we didn’t go as far as Sea Oat Island. We hadn’t seen any dolphins so we thought we’d travel a little farther up the coast of the beach and suddenly we saw a set. I was last in line because my mom hadn’t ever kayaked and I wanted to keep pace behind her. Miss Sunshine took off and they even swam under her boat. She was close enough to constantly see their shadows. It was very exciting for her! I love dolphins and was happy that we were able to see a set.

After that, we kayaked back and had lunch.

Monday was another morning run and then some beach time.

No rain that night meant I went back to bask in another sunset.

I am a lover of shells so I am constantly scouring the piles.

The floor of the Gulf right now is filled with thousands of sand dollars. They even turn our toes yellow because they are constantly below our feet.

They are sea urchins that are brownish with many hairlike spines that help them move along the ocean floor. But they are alive, so we pick them up to stare and then return them quickly to their home. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to take a live one. Often you will find broken pieces of them amongst the shells.

However, last night I found a complete skeleton.

And then I watched a glorious sunset.

I hear Miss Sunshine beginning to stir and I am planning to cook her some bacon, eggs, and toast. Add a cup of OJ and a little sea breeze and I think it’ll be a lovely morning indeed.

I’ll be back to check in during my time here, but my posts will be more like seaside chats.

I hope that you all have been living in the moment as well.

I’d love to hear about what has been going on in your days.

She loved the sea. She liked the sharp salty smell of the air, and the vastness of the horizons bounded only by a vault of azure sky above. It made her feel small, but free as well. - George R.R. Martin

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

30 Day Challenge…June

End of May.

This month has flown by for me.

It will continue to be busy for the next few weeks.

I apologize ahead of time that it’s taking me a little longer than normal to respond to comments and catch up on reading.

30 Day Challenge.

I looked at the calendar and realized June was sneaking up on me and I hadn’t announced my June Challenge.

…and I had no clue what I was going to do.

For those that are new to my blog, I’ve done a 30 day challenge each month since I turned 40 back in September.

A challenge to press outside of comfort zones.

To grow in some way.

June Challenge.

After pondering a bit, I’ve come up with my June challenge.

So without further ado,

30 Days of writing (either a short story or part of a longer story)

for 20 minutes each day.

Europe to do list

Writing.

I knew that this challenge would need to be portable since I will be spending part of June in Florida. Also, May’s yoga challenge was physical in nature. Therefore, I wanted June’s challenge to be more mental in nature.

I’ve started and stopped writing pieces of fiction many times. I thought that this year I would find space to make my writing a more important component of my daily life. I am not very good at putting my needs before others so I only carve out small snippets eat day for my own pursuits. Since I decided those pursuits would include 30 day challenges, they took the place that I might have reserved for my writing.

I had dreams of writing during my time in the U.K. I thought the words would spill into the leather-bound journal that I brought along. Instead I rushed along to see the wondrous sights and collapsed into bed at night.

And so for the month of June, writing will “be” the priority.

For the last portion of the month, Miss Sunshine and I will be staying at a little cottage near the beach. I’m already dreaming words flowing from my fingertips as I sit upon the little cozy back porch.

I suppose if I sit down and write a reflective blog post (which has an element of storytelling and takes me well over 20 minutes) then on those days, that will qualify as my writing time.

However, I am hoping most days will be filled pouring out ideas of storylines and seeing if they coalesce in a satisfying way.

I see this as a slowing down time after the rush of end of the school year preparations.

I hope that you find some areas in your life where you are able to slow down as well.

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. - Henry David Thoreau

Let your light shine!

Amy

Amy check-in with Yoga Crescent Pose for Yoga Challenge on the beach at sunset in Naples, Florida

Returning Home

Checking In.

Hey All!

I’m sitting at the Miami International Airport and will be boarding my plane shortly.

London here we come!

I wanted to get in my interpretation of the weekly photo challenge before I head overseas

Where I Belong.

The theme was “where I belong”.

I belong many places, but the first place was the town of my birth…

Naples, Florida.

I returned there to meet my mom for our trip.

Crescent Pose.

We caught a gorgeous sunset on the beach and my mom convinced me to complete my yoga challenge there even though I don’t like to create a scene.

I hope that you are having an amazing week and I’ll be checking in from time to time during my travels.

You can also follow along on my Instagram stories.

Every Adventure Requires A First Step - Cheshire Cat photo quote

Let your light shine!

Amy

wpc: Where I Belong