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

 

June 30 day challenge

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 with 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

Friday Faves Edition 63

Friday Faves Edition 63

Friday.

Here we are once again at Friday.

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

Have you ever had a week like that?

Friday Faves.

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

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

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

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

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

Travel Plans.

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

What I’ve Been Up To Lately.

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

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

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

With a few stressful moments thrown in…parenting.

May Challenge.

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

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

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

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

Mountain Pose.

Day 1 was Mountain Pose.

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

Child’s Pose.

Day 2 was Child’s Pose.

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

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

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Instagram and Photo Challenge.

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

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

Food.

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

Soccer.

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

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

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Cow Pose.

And started on day 3 of the yoga challenge.

Cow to Cat Pose.

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

But…

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

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Cat Pose.

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

Cat Pose.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

30 Day Challenge May

30 Day Challenge…May

30 Day Challenge.

Most of you who’ve been on the journey with me, know that I’ve been doing 30-day challenges since turning 40 in September of 2017.

The challenges are meant to push me in ways that I wouldn’t typically push myself.

We are fast approaching May, so it’s time to make the announcement for what my 30 challenge will be for the month of May.

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May Challenge.

I will be traveling for two weeks during the month of May, therefore, I knew that it would need to be a portable challenge.

I also wanted the challenge to be physical in nature.

With all that in mind, here is the May 30 day Challenge:

30 Day Yoga Pose Challenge

Yoga Crow pose Bakasana

Yoga.

I have only been practicing yoga for a few years. I wrote about how yoga was good for my soul in this post.

When I decided that I wanted to train for a 5k (which I have not participated in as of yet), I needed to open up some time in my schedule for running. I achieved this by cutting out the yoga classes (similar to power yoga) that I had been attending.

Yes, I could have created or found a flow to do at home. Or even completed some rounds of sun salutations. But the fact of the matter is that I didn’t.

Reverse Warrior Yoga Pose

Yoga Poses.

I’ve missed my yoga time.

Granted I have stayed physically active with my Pilates classes and have stayed mentally centered with my meditation practice.

However, I’ve been wanting to incorporate more yoga back into my life.

I’ve opted for the yoga pose challenge because I am realistic about the time I have to afford to place anything extra into my life when I am traveling.

If you are interested, I am using this infographic for my challenge. I am not doing the challenge referenced in the article. I will only be completing the daily poses. This is technically a 31-day challenge. May does have 31 days or you could easily squeeze two poses into one day.

Yoga Namaste

Follow Along.

As many of you know, I leave Virginia on May 9th and will return on May 22nd.

It’s very likely that I will try to include a photo of me attempting some of the poses on my Instagram stories.

I pack lightly so we’ll have to see if there’s room for workout clothes that I’d be willing to share publicly.

As much as it may appear that I like the limelight because I have a blog and share things on Instagram, you will not find my poses being performed in front of some beautiful tourist attraction.

Sorry to disappoint you.

Once we make it to the UK, the only way you’ll see the pose outside of the hotel room is if we’ve found a semi-remote place to achieve a photo…even then, some may not be shared.

…and try not to laugh too hard if, instead of a graceful swan, my poses look like an injured chicken.

I’d love for you to join along on this 30 days yoga pose challenge. Or any other yoga pose challenge that you find that you might enjoy.

Are you in?

Let me know!

When life seems overwhelming...pure bedlam...find a quiet place, close your eyes...and just breathe. -Amy Lyon Smith

Let your light shine!

Amy

Lessons Learned During a Fitness Challenge

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 in 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 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!

 

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Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard. -Haruki Murakami . . .#seekthesimplicity #beautyinthechaos #dreamchaser #beyondthehorizon #nothingisordinary #sunsetchaser #fiftyshades_of_nature #sheisnotlost #stayandwander #roamtheplanet #saltlife #VisitNC #darlingescapes #beautifuldestinations #optoutside #wearetravelgirls #womenwhoexplore #exploremore #exploretocreate #fromwhereistand #doyoutravel #letsgosomewhere #letsgoeverywhere #natgeotravel #travelstoke #traveldiaries #femmetravel #naturehippys

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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-law’s, 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 so 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 having 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 a 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 sometime 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 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!

 

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Apparently all I can manage at the moment are mirror selfies (and the same red jumper 🤤)– but this is a good thing! The wheels of change are turning! 🎡 In the morning I’ll be on the @thismorning sofa talking to @schofe and @hollywilloughby about my campaign to make upskirt photos a sexual offence in England & Wales. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ❌🤳👗🚫Tune in and lend your voice to the campaign with the hashtag #StopSkirtingTheIssue. 📱💻Whether it’s insta-stories, Twitter or a good old email to your MP this campaign needs you! DM if you would like a MP email/letter template! ✉️✔️ Then all you have to do is pop your name in and send! 📮♥️

A post shared by G I N A M A R T I N (@beaniegigi) on

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 moved 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 does 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

Lessons Learned During A Reading Challenge

Reading.

I have always loved reading. I can’t remember a time when my nose wasn’t buried in a book.

Just as in life, my reading seasons ebb and flow. Sometimes I am voraciously reading book after book and other times I watch the ones that I thought I’d read, sit and gather dust upon the shelf.

I realized that there were quite a few classics that I had not read. I wondered if I would think that they had earned their place in the “classics” category.

Opinions amongst people are always plentiful and don’t always align.

How would mine stack up?

Reading Challenge.

Most of you already know that for each month since I turned 40 (back in September), I have done a 30 day challenge to push my personal growth and comfort zones. After finally finishing Middlemarch, by George Eliot, I decided that for the month of February, I would do a reading challenge.

The challenge was to read three classic novels. I shared some possibilities of what I thought I might read, but much of it depended on what I could find at the library.

What I Read.

I actually ended up reading 5 classics novels!

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Random Harvest by James Hilton
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

About My Choices.

Book 1.

Pride and Prejudice was high on my list and wasn’t too long as to take up the entire month of reading. Part of my selection had to be based on length so that I could achieve my goal.

Book 2.

Random Harvest was the only novel that I hadn’t originally considered. If you followed the blog of the month of February, then you already know that our library has a “Blind Date with a Book”. You are given a few clues as to the premise of the book, but it is wrapped in brown paper. I love surprises, but was already committed to my reading challenge. However, one said “timeless classic” and ended up being Random Harvest. Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes for it, but it turned out that I couldn’t put it down.

Book 3.

The Great Gatsby is a super quick read. Mr. D had read it for English class and said it was good. I couldn’t remember the movie very well, which was good.

Book 4.

The Color Purple had been highly recommended. It’s on the list of choices for current year’s high school reading list. I had a vague notion about what the book was about. Nowhere near what its harsh reality is. I thought I’d have to put the book down after page one. This was because I felt absolutely horrified for the character and didn’t know if I’d be able to bear reading more. I continued…and finished it in two days.

Book 5.

The Picture of Dorian Gray may have been my least favorite of the bunch, but it was still interesting.

Conclusion.

There is a reason that a classic is considered a classic and it’s because they’ve earned their place.

Lessons Learned.

As mentioned by the title, I did learn a few lessons over the course of the month.

Lesson one:

If it’s important to you, then you’ll make time for it.

To be able to complete the challenge,  I had to be deliberate and set aside time for reading. Often I feel like reading is a luxury and I put it aside to deal with matters like cleaning the house (I’m pretty sure this is the Virgo in me). Since household chores are never actually complete, it’s important to take the time to do things that you hold as important for yourself or that make you happy. For me, a few of these are Pilates, meditation, and reading.

Lesson two:

Don’t judge a book by its cover…or its first page.

If I hadn’t kept reading A Color Purple past its first page, I would never have witnessed the main character grow into her strength. I will tell you that this book has been challenged and banned in places and you may be a person who needs to know what the book is about prior to reading as its subjects could be triggering for some people.

Lesson three.

Celebrate at how far we’ve come as a society.

I know that we have a LONG way to go, but… OH MY GOODNESS… the way that the men speak about women in some of these books makes me so thankful that I don’t live in that era!

I can appreciate the fact that the main character in Pride and Prejudice is a strong-willed woman. In fact, I find that many of the classics that I tend to enjoy are where the woman doesn’t feel like she has to conform to society’s standards of her being a person with no mind of her own. However, there is a tendency in many of the classics for the males to think lesser of females. The Picture of Dorian Gray’s Henry has an atrocious outlook on females. Even in Middlemarch, the uncle thought women shouldn’t be learned and that it was too much for their brains.

I’m not even going into the treatment of women in A Color Purple!

My Story.

I guess that I am a contradiction of sorts. I have spent my entire life of motherhood not earning a physical income. However, I am far from intellectually inept. My husband and I often have conversations on a great many topics. He does not assume that he is superior to me. We are equal. We just choose to have different responsibilities in relation to our household. I predominately manage our household. He goes off to a job. Everyone knows that housework is never done, so there are plenty of times when he is helping with portions of that as well.

I knew that I would address this topic of equality because I found it so annoying. I asked the hubby what he thought it would be like living back when woman were just viewed as property and with no intelligence.

One of his responses was that he thought it would be boring.

I was secretly delighted in his answer because I am FAR from a meek woman.

So yes! I celebrate how far we’ve come, even if there is still so much farther to go.

Future Challenge.

I enjoyed challenging myself to read so much that I decided to continue with another reading challenge. So I will jump into Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge. I was going to do the challenge a few years ago, but fell off of the commitment wagon pretty early on. It wasn’t that I didn’t continue to read, I just didn’t pick from the topics on that challenge.

I will be filling in some of the spaces with books I read in February and then will continue to fill in the blanks as I find a book in that niche.

The Details.

  • A classic you’ve been meaning to read Pride and Prejudice
  • A book recommended by someone with great taste (I know you all have great taste. Leave me some recommendations).
  • A book in translation –The Little Prince (I’m starting this as soon as I finish my current read)
  • A book nominated for an award in 2018
  • A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection
  • A book you can read in a dayThe Great Gatsby
  • A book that’s more than 500 pages (too bad I started Middlemarch last year!)
  • A book by a favorite author
  • A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller
  • A banned book – The Color Purple
  • A memoir, biography, or work of creative nonfiction The Glass Castle (my current read)
  • A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion other than your own. (some I’ve read technically qualify, but I’m choosing an author with a broader difference).

I’ll continue to share my reading choices throughout the year.

Let your light shine!

Amy

March 30 Day Challenge

30 Day Challenge…March

30 Day Challenge.

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

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

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

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

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

March Challenge.

The 30 day challenge for March will be:

30 days of achieving 10,000 steps per day

&

30 day plank challenge

Calia by Carrie Underwood tank and Nike running shoes

10,000 steps per day.

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

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

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

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

Side Plank

Plank Challenge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let your light shine!

Amy