Remembering our Veterans

Korean War Memorial, Washington, DC

Life as a child was fairly simple for me even with the challenges that came from having three siblings, a mother attending nursing school during the day and then working the graveyard shift, and a father who’s job at times took him out of the country. Our days were in constant motion, all chipping in to do our part and the conversations around the dinner table were mainly those of the day’s activities.

I can’t remember exactly my age when I came to realize my father was an American soldier, a man who fought for his country, a man who mourned for his friends who didn’t return from Korea, and a man that was grateful to God for sparing his life.

Having been born in the mid 1960’s overseas and not moving to the US until the 1970’s, war, soldiers, terror, and world conflict wasn’t in the forefront of our daily living and conversation as it is now. My father, being the modest and private man he is, never spoke of his service or the dark days of the Korean War. Even present day, at the age of 86, my father safe guards the days of war closely, never offering or mentioning the service he gave. The lack of sharing his experiences during those years spent, is evidence enough of the horrific days he must have endured.

It wasn’t but a few years ago during a visit with my parents at my home in Arlington, VA, that we all decided to visit the Korean War  Memorial in Washington, DC. As you can imagine, living in the Metro DC area and having many family members and friends often staying with us, the trips to the memorials are more numerous than I can count. To say the truth, none of the visits to the museums or memorials particularly stand out in my mind except for the one with my father. That evening couldn’t have been more emotionally stirring and poignant.

The day we visited, the mood was partially set by the evening sky, cool air, and earlier rain.
The aged man, the Army war solider that I have the privilege of calling dad, was standing at the feet of replica soldiers lined up in rows of Juniper shrubs as though they were walking through the rice paddies of Korea. The 38 soldiers were made wearing rain ponchos that appear to be blowing in the wind, some covering their equipment. The soldiers guns are either hanging off their shoulders or held firmly by their side. The expressions on their faces saying a thousand words.

We had the memorial on this particular evening almost to ourselves. Tourist season had since passed and the cool and rainy weather wouldn’t be very welcoming to most. It was a perfect evening for us, quiet, mood provoking, and the memorials were dimly lit because of nightfall. I find the war memorials in the evenings to be especially beautiful, they are perfectly lit with night lighting that casts the perfect amount of light on the images and stone walls.

My father, strolled through the Korean Memorial at a snail’s pace, taking it all in row by row and ending up at the Pool of Remembrance where the words are displayed “Freedom is not Free.” As I glanced over at my father, I could see the tears flooding his eyes and eventually spilling over and running down his face. He takes his cotton handkerchief from his pocket, wipes his tears and continues to walk over to the Wall of Remembrance. Here, over 2,400 photographs from the National Archives of the Korean War have been etched into the black granite wall.

I don’t know that I have ever felt more pride for my father than at that moment. My father is a quietly strong and modest man, a man who loves his country, God and family. A man I’m so proud to call dad .

As we all remember Veteran’s Day, please pray for all those that have served our country and those who continue to fight for our freedom.

Mary-Anne

 

 

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Somerset, here I come!

The Barronville Bridge, Circa 1880 was the first on our stop.

A  friend of mine emailed a group text to several photographer enthusiasts, including me, suggesting a trip to Somerset, PA to photograph the covered bridges at the peak of Autumn color. Some of my best days over the past couple of years have been spent with these fun and energetic friends. We have explored the world around us, ventured into waters unknown to us, laughing until we almost pee, and have spent late nights attempting to solve the world’s problems since our teenage and young adult kids will no longer let us help solve theirs. No way was I  going to miss out on a weekend of fun with these ladies.

The beauty of the bridge could be seen both inside and out.

The most organized of the group, emailed each of us a map with directions to each old covered bridge weeks before we ventured out. A couple of us offered to drive including me since admittedly it seemed to be one of the easiest chores. Hotel reservations were secured from another in the group,  LA (nickname) who always seems to enjoy the finer things in life, leading us to believe lodging would be nothing short of acceptable. A week or so prior to this outing, she stated that one small motel chain appeared to be the only one area since it was the one that popped up in her Google search. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most pleasant of stays, to the point I won’t comment anymore about this except to say, this Somerset highway exit seemed to be a hub for truckers, hookers and several hotel chains. If you ever decide to visit this particular highway exit,spend a few minutes exploring all lodging options first. As I’m still burying thoughts about the one-night stay, LA has since spent time at the luxury resort, Fogo Island Inn, leaving any thoughts of the questionable motel far in her distance.

Dairy Farm in Somerset County, PA.

The beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside and the undeniable charm of the historic covered bridges soon proved to be worth the weekend trip. Unexpected adventures came with the day, as would be expected from these fearless and adventurous women. I don’t think any of us have met a stranger. We are all too quick to pull into picturesque working farms to take images or accompany fisherman, crabbers or clammers photographing their hard day’s work.

Photography is something I picked up just a few years ago and now with my nest empty, I have the time to go explore with my camera. What hobbies are you interested in? Don’t hold back, pick one and try it out. Now’s the time for you to live your best life now!

 

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Embracing the Fall

Celebrating the Seasons of Life.

The color vibrance all around us screams change is coming or change is here. Most of us, if not all of us, embrace the new season with anticipation and all that comes with it. I think it is high time we have the same attitude about the seasons of life! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel excited about our next stage in life as we age? How can we do this? One way I’m trying to embrace my age and feel good about it, is to embrace my days and fill them with actually living them, sometimes that means even in small ways. Creating a bucket list for the seasons is a great way to embrace and ensure you experience the changing seasons and all they offer. I’m working on an “age/stages of life bucket list” that I will share with you in the near future. For now, embrace your season of life and nature’s as well.

Fall foliage on the Eastern Shore of Maryland

Take a hike and enjoy all the vibrance of nature. State parks are all around us, find one close to you. I like to take a flask or thermos of something seasonally yummy… an apple cider, hot chocolate, or mulled wine. Nature only happens like this once a year so go and enjoy!

I love visiting Lowery’s Farm each Fall on the Eastern Shore. Their pumpkin patch is always a treat.

 

 

Visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard. This can be a fun day for all ages. Plan on going with your family, girlfriends, or grandchildren. Then treat yourself, family and friends with baking some delicious pumpkin bread!

My dad’s Texas Chili recipe is a family favorite. He often adds a hefty dose of venison.

Make Chili or try new fall recipe- My family knows with the first crisp fall air comes chili.

Time to pull out my J. Crew sweater! Temperatures are starting to drop.

Add something of fall color to your wardrobe. I love to throw on a blanket scarf in fall plaids with a chunky sweater and a pair of boots.

Lowery’s Farm is a favorite of mine with their selection of Indian Corn and Gourds.

Decorate your home with Indian corn and gourds or hang an Autumn wreath on your front door.

It’s hard to beat the wonderful Apple Cider Donuts at Red Truck Bakery in Marshall, VA.

Savor the flavors of Autumn. My favorite is apple cider donuts this time of year. You can also bake seasonal inspired goodies such as apple toffee muffins or sip on Autumn inspired tea, coffee, or a latte.

Write Thanksgiving notes and let those you love and appreciate know you are thankful for them.

 

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Embracing Self-Care

Making Time for Self-Care

Having spent the past couple of decades raising my family and all that came with it, in addition to working and everything else I could fit in between, I’m now at a place where I can do more to care for myself. Self-care still feels like wearing new shoes, not quite broken in yet but it feels better everyday. I’ve lost count of the times that I actually had to motivate myself to do what’s best for me. It’s crazy but doing what’s best for others seems easier and less selfish than doing it for ourselves. But, our time is now and in order to continue to support family and friends, you have to be healthy and happy yourself. When spending a bit of time digesting on this, you will also see, that taking care of yourself in these middle of life years, has a direct impact on your later years in life.

Do you take the time for self-care? How do you motivate yourself to stay physically, mentally, and spiritually fit? Collectively, we all could do better to maintain healthy behaviors, promote wellness and help ensure we are happy and healthy.  We know this is essential. If you are like me, you have been preaching this to your family and friends for years. Now it’s your time to listen to your own advice. Now is the time, embrace it, don’t let these days, months or years escape not making sure you are living your best life now. The Huffington Post had a great piece on self care– enjoy the read and see what you can do now to care for your most important asset- you!

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Yes, it’s me!

Everything about Autumn is in the air this morning. Upon rising, I was eager to tie up my running shoes and deeply inhale the cool crispy air of the Chesapeake Bay. What a blessing to be here on this fall morning in the beauty of nature. I’ve decided that today in addition to soaking in all that nature gives me, I will also spend time deliberately listening to God speak. Instead of allowing my mind to race and be full of insecurities and anxieties about creating this blog, I will breathe slowly, be mindful of my goals and intentions, and just quietly listen to the voice I hear and where my heart leads me.

So why would I endeavor into such an adventure to write, and share my thoughts, my inspiration and life with others? And why now? You would have to fully understand my path, my story up to these years I’m living in now. I find myself at times reflecting on the past decade of my life which has shaped me to be incredibly grateful for the now, the health of my family and the blessings and gifts of everyday.

There’s a strong desire inside me to make every day count, to be more, to give more, and to live more. So here I am blogging about living in the middle of my story and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next. I’m determined to live abundantly with intent, purpose, and a dash of adventure!

I hope you will join me and share your thoughts and story during these incredible years and the way you are making them some of the best days of your life.

Live your best life now.
Mary-Anne

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About me

 

I’m Mary-Anne, and this is my blog, sharing how I am seriously attempting to live my life with intention. I’m a wife and mother of two young adult boys, living in the Metro Washington, DC area. Professionally, I’m a nurse and passionate about making sure all children in school with disabilities or chronic illnesses have the accommodations they need to thrive, despite their challenges.  When I’m not at work,  I love exploring the world both near and far, photographing and writing about life and things that inspire me. My best days are those spent with family, friends, and creating moments in the day that make both myself and others smile. Living in these middle years known as midlife, fuels my desire to live life to the fullest, making sure each day is with purpose, intent and a dash of adventure!

 

 

 

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