Aruba Sunset

Aruba Sunset

Aruba Sunset.

The weekly photo challenge this week is to share a sunrise or sunset. I couldn’t let that pass by without popping in to share a photo of last night’s sunset in Aruba.

Look for more photos when I return home!

The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire. -Pamela Hansford Johnson

Let your light shine!

Amy

Wpc: rise/set

Carolina Beach Sunset Photos Relax

Relax

Relax.

Re•lax (verb). Make or become less tense or anxious.

Reminder.

Today I needed a reminder to relax. I thought that perhaps some of you might need the reminder as well. One of my favorite places to relax, to become less tense or anxious, is along the shoreline of the ocean.

Just Breathe.

According to stress.org, to effectively combat stress we need to activate the body’s natural relaxation response. When we activate this response our metabolism decreases, our heart beats slower and our muscles relax, our breathing becomes slower, our blood pressure decreases, and our levels of nitric oxide are increased.

Abdominal breathing for 20-30 minutes a day reduces anxiety and stress. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.

The website lists a variety of techniques. Personally, I typically practice deep breathing during my meditation time.

Blue Space.

While many of the studies are still relatively new, the results of the studies show that living close to blue spaces (lakes, rivers, and the sea) report higher levels of physical activity, and that interaction with blue spaces can have a positive effect on mental health-especially in the areas of stress reduction and perceived well being.

Ocean Views.

According to this article, staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us in a mild meditative state.

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Sound of Waves.

According to same article, the ebbing and flowing that you hear destimulates the brain. The noises along with the visual activate your parasympathetic nervous system.

Calm.

Remember that system from the deep breathing information?

Yeah, the one that is responsible for slowing us down and helping us to relax.

It’s also thought that the negative ions that are found in the air at the ocean and around waterfalls may also contribute to our sense of calm.

It does state that along with these scientific facts, there may be a level of placebo effect that takes place since we are conditioned to find the ocean calming.

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Tranquility.

I know that it isn’t as wonderful as actually walking along the shoreline, but are you feeling more relaxed?

I sure hope so!

Laura Ingalls Wilder Quote "It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." Background - boardwalk through a salt marsh in Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Friday Faves Edition 20

Friday Faves – Edition 20

Today is our last full day at the beach.

Friday, you’ve come too soon.

Some of my faves this week are things that I’ve brought from home to make my stay at the beach a little simpler and safer.

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SPF and I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to my face.

I have family members who have had skin cancers removed from their face and I grew up in Southern Florida, so I am especially conscience of the dangers of not protecting my skin.

As a fair-skinned girl, I need to wear it daily.

Really, we all need to wear it daily.

But then I end up rubbing it in my eye… and the burning and watering makes me curse its existence.

Until I stumbled upon this Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer with an SPF of 47 and Sunboost ATB. I have not experienced any burning near my eyes. I don’t think this is waterproof, but my face isn’t often underwater at the beach.

Another perk is that I love the smell of it! I’m very particular about how something on my face smells (for example: I can’t wear any product that smells like roses. I have a past life theory on that one…). The main ingredients are argan oil, jojoba oil, and green tea, which I find to smell amazing.

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I have a tendency to forget about my lips needing protection from the sun as well. Sometimes, I just rub the Josie Maran moisturizer across them as well. But with the need for reapplication due to eating and drinking, I try to carry a lip balm with SPF as well.

This time I’ve brought a few different flavors of Softlips, which has an SPF of 20.

Watermelon is a fun, summertime flavor.

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While at the beach, I like to keep my routines short and sweet.

Ok… who are we kidding?! I ALWAYS like to keep my routines short and sweet.

I like this Bliss triple oxygen instant energizing cleansing foam.  It cleans my face and removes my makeup and I get the added benefit of oxygen and Vitamin C. Of course, the fact that it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin gives it a thumbs up from me.

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As much as I enjoy watching the surfers in my family, I rarely surf. But I love to boogie board. Last year, two of our boogie boards finally finished their 8 or 9 year run and had to be retired. We knew that we would replace them on our next trip to the beach, so we bought a BZ and a Morey boogie board from a surf shop here in Carolina Beach.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, then you know that I had to have my ritual donut from Britt’s Donut Shop. Also, I’ve been trying to share regularly on my Instagram Stories.

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Thursday nights in Carolina Beach brings music and fireworks to the boardwalk. I shared some of those on my story last night. I even went Live to share some of the music (going live was really scary and out of my comfort zone!).

It is a lively and fun atmosphere down on the boardwalk. 

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To close out the night, my middle son and I went to Squigley’s for some ice cream. He opted for Fudge Tracks, while I went for Nutty Coconut.

If you have any idea about the ups and downs of raising teenagers, then you completely understand why this moment was so special to me.

And lastly my song choice..

Life should be about spreading love. 🙂

I hope that you have an amazing weekend filled with light and positivity!

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King Jr.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

Sunrise Quote

This week Nikki at Flying Through Water has asked us to consider the prompt of persevere.

This morning as I watched the sun rise above the Atlantic Ocean in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, I was reminded of this quote:

A little Wednesday Wisdom:

Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise. -Victor Hugo

Keep persevering…

There is light up ahead.

And if you’ve reached the light…

Turn back and shine it for somebody else.

 

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Quote by Maya Angelou

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Quiet Reflections from the Beach

Quiet Reflections from the Beach

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Today is Day 4 of our vacation at the beach.

We are in Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Sand dunes…sea oats…and salt marshes.

The beach is such a recharging place for my soul.

The ocean waves crashing.

The pelicans dipping low onto the horizon, skimming the surface, looking for their next meal.

The seagulls swooping down to search for a stray piece of food left along the shore.

The breeze gently blowing, lightly scented, carrying the salt that lands upon your lips.

 

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The world seems late in waking up when you are on beach time.

I think that’s because the revelrie lasts well into the evening.

Given the fact that I have three teenagers, our mornings start late as well.

So quite often, I sit on the balcony, sipping my coffee, basking in the silence, and watch the world come awake.

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I walk to the shore before the crowds of people begin to claim their spots.

An ocean in constant motion.

Ebbing and flowing.

Just like life.

Moments of frantic and moments of peace.

Sometimes the waves come in and gently kiss the shore.

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Other times, they demand that their presence be acknowledged.

I am reminded that we humans have a tendency to be like the waves.

Quiet and gentle.

Loud and attention seeking.

Ever changing.

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I watch my daughter as she surfs.

She feels a kinship with the ocean as well.

While I admire its gentle nature, she embraces its power.

I have watched her surf the ocean waves since she was in the single digits.

And now, at 13, I begin to see the disappearance of a child and the emergence of a woman.

And as the waves lap at the shore, I am reminded that although the ocean feels timeless, our time is marching on. My children are daily approaching adulthood. The oldest will be a high school Senior in the fall. Less than a year and he will likely pack his clothes and precious belongings and place his head under a new roof. My second son is only one year behind. The girlie following two years after that.

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And then what?

I watch the sun set on the beach.

The ending of the day.

And I ponder life.

Who will I become as the journey of all-consuming motherhood comes to an end?

I long to embrace the next chapter as fully as I have embraced this one.

To find that next soul pulling phase that tells me…

This is who I am now called to be.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Faves Edition 19

Friday Faves – Edition 19

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It’s Friday! Hallelujah, it’s Friday!

Yesterday I shared some of my favorite beaches.

And by tomorrow afternoon I’ll be putting my toes in the sand at one.

That’s right! Carolina Beach, here we come!

So as I wade through laundry, try to remember what size sheets need packed, and decide whether to bring any groceries or buy them all there… I wanted to pop in and share some of my favorites this week.

I can assure you that the irony is not lost on me that I’ve told you I am working toward more simplicity… more minimalism… and then I share new things that I’ve added to my life.

However, minimalism looks differently for everyone. 

And I think (or overthink) through most of my purchases.

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I am really enjoying photography. You may recall that I recently purchased the Sony Alpha 7 II. It is my first full-frame camera and is a mirrorless system. At the moment I only have the 28-70mm lens that I purchased with the camera.

Since most of my photography is outdoors in nature and landscapes, I wanted to get a polarizing filter. I will only be at the beach for a week and while I’m well aware that the golden hour and the blue hour are the best time to shoot, there is a real likelihood I will be taking some shots in the middle of the day. A polarizing filter darkens the sky and manages reflections and glare.

I also have a love for long exposure photography and the ocean is a beautiful place to work on this. Quite often a ND (neutral density) filter is needed to be able to create this effect. I only picked up a .6 filter, so I may be bringing along my Nikon D3200 as well since I have a stackable set of 3 ND filters for it.

The quality of filters that you put over your lenses does make a difference. Tiffen had good reviews.  There are other filters that I am looking at and learning about that I may add. Specifically, I will probably move to a drop-in filter system that covers a broad array of lens sizes.  As you can see my Sony has a 55mm lens, while my Nikon has a 52mm. As with anything, the higher the quality, the more the $$$ and since I don’t have the knowledge and experience under me, I couldn’t justify spending any more than I did.

Most of my photography is hand held, but long exposure requires a tripod. So I will be bringing my tripod along, even though I’m not a fan of this one and have been researching others. I would like one that gets closer to the ground amongst other things. I looked one up that was mentioned and when I told my hubby the price, he asked if it was made of carbon fiber and gold.  Carbon fiber: yes. Gold: No. 🙂 I’m also in the market for a 50mm (aka nifty fifty) lens probably with f/1.8, since f/1.4 costs substantially more. My camera can have adapters bought which will mount other brands of lenses.

So I’m calling on y’all. If you have any recommendations for either of these or even your favorite filter system – holler at me in the comments!

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I’m super excited that we finally bought a hydrangea.

Classic southern charm.

I do not have a green thumb. I killed a succulent last year. Yes. A succulent.

But…

I have wanted a hydrangea since we moved to Virginia. We have very shaded property so I’ve decided this first go round to plant it in a pot that we had. That way if it needs moved around due to sunshine, we’ll be able to figure out where it thrives.

Do you have a green thumb? What is your favorite plant/flower?

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I needed to add some beach towels to our collection. Inevitably towels from the past get left at someone’s house or stay in a bag so long that no matter how hard I try, the sour smell lingers.

There is almost nothing that I hate worse than the smell of a sour towel. That smell lingers in my hair ALL DAY LONG. So new beach towels it is.

Do you have any must-haves for beach going?

Mine are sunscreen, water, beach towels, blanket, hat, umbrella, and sunglasses to name a few. I’m a little high maintenance with my fair skin.

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While I was checking out with my beach towels, I saw this adorable set of frogs.

No, I didn’t get them. But I just had to share how adorably cute they were.

Huge jump at the quarry today 🎥: @taylorlovingg

A post shared by Hunter Smith (@hunter02222) on

Another fave of the week was this video from the oldest’s Instagram.

I’m not gonna lie, I had mixed emotions when he told me that he was gonna do this jump. He had been going to this spot with a group of friends and had already jumped from the spot that was 25 ft high. Some of his friends had already jumped from this next higher one, which is 80-85 ft high. My son is close to 6’5″ and built like an NFL player. I was a little stressed about the impact from jumping so high.

While I have no interest in jumping from those kind of heights, I can admire him overcoming the natural fear that rears its head when you are standing on the edge of a precipice.

And we all have our different limits of where we find joy in adrenaline. My husband was a regular skydiver when we met, and yet hates the drop tower that sends a gleeful adrenaline rush through me (Dr. Doom’s Fearfall at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando anyone?).

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The fave of the week shown above doesn’t include anything that is newly purchased. Just something I plan to wear on vacation.

I bought the Billabong dress at the end of last summer from a surf shop in Jensen Beach, Florida. I didn’t get a chance to wear it because it was at the end of warm weather season.

You’ve seen the sunglasses in a different Friday Faves.

I purchased the canvas Gap wristlet many years ago and love its size for strolling around town.

The Puka Shell necklace belongs to my husband. I think it once belonged to one of his brothers, bought during the years they lived in Hawaii as Navy brats.

Every beach gal has to have a Lokai bracelet. Right? And the bangle goes along with my other bangles. This one having been bought at a surf shop in Carolina Beach and filled with local sand inside of the wave.

The other is just some stone and technically an anklet.

The seashells and sea glass are just a small bit of my collection gathered from years of beach visits.

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I can’t leave without a song. Chosen because… it’s Summertime. And I remember Will Smith from before he played all these amazing acting roles.  I was in high school when this song came out. I owned his CD. I regularly watched Fresh Prince of Bel Air (and yes.. I can recite/sing the entire intro song).

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the faves this week!

I’m hoping for lots of sunshine and wishing the same for all of you.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Quote "It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." Background - boardwalk through a salt marsh in Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

Beautiful Beaches

Beautiful Beaches

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This should come as no surprise, but…

I am a lover of the beach.

The smell of the salt air.

The sound of the waves crashing on the beach.

It is here that my soul finds peace.

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All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.

– John F. Kennedy

So I found it fitting that as I prep our gear for a family vacation to the beach, this photo would show up on my timeline of memories.

The three loves that I gave birth to standing at the ocean’s edge.

And then it’ s as though the water gods came together for a perfect combination with some challenges that I participate in… Nikki at Flying Through Water has a creative prompt this week of Love and the new photo challenge for the week is Transient.

Most coastal towns have a tendency to be transient in nature. People coming and going.

But also the beaches themselves are transient when you consider it from the definition of  always changing or moving around.  Whether it’s a change in the sand at the shoreline, the seashells left upon the shore, the view at low tide or high…

Always changing.

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Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air… -Ralph Waldo Emerson

A quick background on me, in case you are new to my blog. I spent the first 30 years of my life in Naples, Florida.  Naples is located on the Gulf of Mexico and famed for its powder white sand and millionaires. My family has lived there since the 40’s, back when it was still a sleepy little fishing town. Before 5th Avenue and 3rd Street became worldwide shopping destinations and before Port Royal and Aqualane Shores were synonymous with the rich and famous.

However, if you think Naples is filled with only the rich and famous, you would be mistaken.  There are plenty of people who are working hard to make ends meet and getting to relax at one of the beautiful beaches is a lucky perk of living in its proximity.

Of course, another of Naples’ claims to fame is the fact that since it is located on the West Coast of Florida, there are gorgeous sunsets at the beach.

The water tends to be warmer than the East Coast and I swear there is more salt because I float so much better in the Gulf.

 

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The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. -Jaques Cousteau

In 2008, we moved to Okeechobee, Florida for 2 years (where I met some great people, but sorely missed the smell of saltwater) and then we moved over to Sewall’s Point, Florida (with local beaches including the photo above) and lived there for the next 2 1/2 years.

One of the thrilling things about moving to the east coast of Florida was that this was the Atlantic Ocean… meaning there were waves. What the East Coast lacked in soft, powdery sand, it made up for in power. We frequented the beaches of Jensen Beach and Stuart and learned how to surf. These were pivotal ages for my children and there is still a piece of them that considers this home.

The town has a very laid-back vibe and is filled with friendly people. Perhaps that is why  in 2016, Stuart was named America’s Happiest Seaside Town by Coastal Living.

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Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think. – Robert Henri

When we moved to Roanoke, Virginia four years ago (in case you are doing the math… I’m turning 40 in September), I knew that trips to the beach would be necessary for my soul. This would be the farthest I had ever lived from salt water. We visited Virginia Beach and perhaps it just so happened to be the weekend we traveled there, but it was too crowded for my taste.

So we began looking at the Carolinas.

And we stumbled upon Carolina Beach, North Carolina (pictured above).

One trip there and we were in love.

It has been the destination for our family beach trips for the past three years.

Last year we almost bought a beach house there, but then the thoughts of the rapidly approaching college expenses for three teenagers made us reconsider.

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I need the sea because it teaches me. -Pablo Neruda

Being from South Florida, I had never experienced the sight of tidal salt marshes or sand dunes.

When I cross those dunes and feel the ocean breeze upon my face, I feel a slowing of the frantic pace of life.

That is not to say that it is a quiet town. We originally chose it out of those along the Carolina Coast because it has a boardwalk and we thought that lively spirit might hold the interest of our teenagers.

And it did.

During the summer, the town has music, carnival rides, fireworks, movies at the lake… there is constantly something happening.

As with many coastal towns, there are shops along the boardwalk and in the town that close their doors when the hustle and bustle of summertime comes to an end.

Even then, that doesn’t stop the breeze from carrying the scent of saltwater.

It doesn’t stop the ocean from kissing the shoreline.

And it doesn’t stop my soul from finding peace in its presence.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the views from some of my favorite beaches.

I have many more to explore, but these three will always hold a special place in my heart.

Do you have a favorite beach?  What makes you love that beach?

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Let your light shine!

Amy