Rooted in Blessings

Most of my world right now revolves around “green stuff” as Tim calls it. (For those of you who follow me on Insta or FB sorry about the garden overload!) But when I was watching a show I follow on Discovery + called ‘Growing Floret’ the other night it finally clicked as to why, after 23 years in the landscape business, this is the year I’m so passionate about it.

After Fred passed the flight reflex I’ve always had got worse. Way worse. I wanted to be anywhere but home. My mind was filled of thoughts of getting out of Texas, anywhere but here, I didn’t care. Never really realizing that I was running from what was inside. And that no matter how many miles I put between home and those that loved me I wouldn’t be able to ever escape until I stopped and healed.

Birds Eye View of my Haven

Cue up today. I’ve always had a green thumb. I will proudly say I got that from my grandfather. But in years past my gardening was to pay homage to him. To be close to Fred. It wasn’t about me. It was about pleasing them, honoring them, missing them. What I have finally realized is different about this year is that the fear is gone. Fear of “doing it wrong”. Fear of disappointing them. Fear of anyone’s judgement if it doesn’t yield, look right, blah blah blah. Something about the changes in me in the last two years have allowed me to do this for ME this year. And to be ok with it being for me. I still look at all my magazines. Watch the green shows until Tim, I’m sure, wants to throw the remote and I soak up TikToks and YouTubes like a sponge. But if it dies? Doesn’t yield like I want? Pull it up and start again. (There is a life metaphor in there somewhere I’m sure.)

This spring in my business hasn’t been any different. In fact it’s been 100x worse. My anxiety, when I focus on it, is off the charts. Panic attacks are a new thing I’m not really fond of. I’m going through huge changes at work. The pressure is intense. But a not so little difference this year? I pull up to the stop sign at the corner each day and my body lets out a breath. I sit at that stop sign for a fraction longer than I have to and I take in my yard. It’s not pride I feel. It’s peace. I’m home. More importantly? I WANT to be home.

As I walk towards my “shades of Caribbean” painted gate along the brick path that I saw in my magazines and Tim made a reality the fear, stress, and worry of the day seeps out of me. The gladiolus are starting to reward me with gorgeous blooms that make me smile. Once I get inside the gate I have to force myself to go inside and say hello to Tim and the dogs before I race back outside to see what changed in the last 24 hours in the garden. (And yah somedays I forget to say hello to them!).

I grab my “f*&% it bucket” as I call it – which houses a skirt with all my tools on it and a wide open space for all the weeds I’ll pull and cuttings I’ll take off if need be – and I head outside. I usually have about 45 minutes after I get home while Tim is still working that I get to be outside in the garden and unwind. Tim worries constantly that I’ve bitten off too much, that it’s too much work, and what I can’t quite make him understand is that it’s a form of medicine that if they ever figured out how to bottle would put the pharmaceutical companies out of business.

Despite having harvested about 10 lbs of squash at this point I squeal like a teenager at each new little “baby” that emerges. I check the cukes and wait impatiently for enough to be ready to start canning. I hover over my tomatoes like a mother bird – so afraid the squirrel is gonna take them again this year. I pore over seed catalogs and sites looking for something new and different I can try my hand at growing.

And I now I realize. Despite my teasing Tim about his travels this summer – I am content to know I’m gonna be home in my garden. I’ve waited a long time to feel some sense of home and hearth again. To be able to open my heart to love and to be loved again. All of those things are the reasons my home and my heart are thriving. Like my beautiful plants God nurtured me through the tough times, watered and fertilized me when I was withering, and now my roots are strong again. I trusted him when I was broken and dying and unable to see the sun and he nurtured me the same way I do any of my plants.

Colossians 2:7 – Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

I’m thankful. So very thankful. Blessings y’all – Amy

Where’s The Instruction Manual?

When our kids were babies probably more than one of you thought more than once “I have no idea what I am doing – why don’t they come with instructions”? Maybe not. Some people are born with inherent parenting skills or are blessed with a strong familial support system so that they never felt overwhelmed or out of their league. I fell somewhere in the middle of all three (and I really want to meet the person who felt like they had it all together all the time with a new baby)!

I grew up taking care of my siblings so I had some parental instinct. Even still I remember many a time calling my grandma in tears when Em was an infant saying “I need a break please come get this child.” By the time Fred came along Em and I were working our way through the toddler years – and more of those phone calls to my support system. But with the arrival of Fred in my life I suddenly had a teenager and a pre-teen too. Guess what? Their instruction manual was missing too!

As a parent our beacon is to want for our kids either better than we had if we had a traumatic/terrible/less than ideal childhood or to recreate the storybook childhood we had in our minds. Even with those as our very loose guidelines parenting is like feeling your way in the dark blindfolded with your hands tied behind your back. You navigate through the toddler years hoping you don’t lose your mind from saying “no” a thousand times a day, you enjoy the age five to twelve phases when they are curious about everything and you are too cool for words, and you are dumbfounded when thirteen hits and you know nothing and can say nothing right until about twenty-five. A manual would have been helpful especially in that tough last phase…

With God’s grace, a strong support system, and a little bit of luck you get them all to adulthood. You turn out amazing human beings into the world that you are proud to call your own. But get ready. This phase is the most crucial of all. This phase is the one that if you screw it up it is worse than all the other phases combined. And you still don’t know the rules.  You are baffled when they don’t call – you once were the most important thing in their lives. When they do call you don’t know how to turn off parenting and not give advice and have no understanding as to why they didn’t heed it. And the quiet in the house will make you miss the days of bickering, blaring TV’s, and overwhelming noise lemme tell ya.

Why didn’t anyone tell you about this phase? How to let go? (Here to tell ya I bombed the test on letting go.) Probably because that damn instruction manual is still missing. You don’t know when to call and when not to. You didn’t know that when your phone lights up and it’s one of them that your heart is gonna do the simultaneous leap for joy and stick in your heart thinking something must be wrong. If they are adults, you are old enough you don’t remember the freedom you craved at their age and how your parents were the last thing you thought about as you made your own decisions and choices.  A cruel twist of getting old is you really do forget what it is like to be young. And what it was like to have that confidence that the people who love you most will always be there.

Sitting where I’m sitting now, missing my stand in parents (my grandparents), I think of all the times I wish I’d called more or gone by more. Heeded their advice when it was offered. But also with the wisdom to understand that this circle of life IS the instruction manual. We all do it to the best of our abilities and hope when we’re gone that we are remembered as strongly and as fondly as I miss them. If we are? We didn’t need the manual. We did just fine on our own.

Blessings y’all – Amy

Lent Fasting Illuminated a Demon…

For most of Lent (I did not make it all the way through) I gave up sugar…and by extension alcohol. I had a planned trip in there that I knew I wouldn’t make it all the way but I did make it 37 days without either. It was far more difficult than I ever thought it would be. I think of myself as eating, for the most part, fairly healthy. After all I have extensive stomach issues that cause problems with gluten, beef, and some dairy. Stress issues that can also cause challenges with salad greens if the stars aren’t aligned just right. OK, let’s be real – all around eating is a challenge for me.

In those 37 days I had intense cravings for things I quickly recognized were more ingrained habits than anything. I chew gum when I work at the office – over and over starting a new piece all day long. I always have to have something in my water – never plain water. I have an intense sweet craving at night. But I knuckled in and pushed through them.

Also in those 37 days I began to sleep like I haven’t since my last Whole30. Uninterrupted 6+ hour nights (that’s a lot for me). My brain got sharper, my productivity shot up at work, and overall I just felt better. I guess you don’t realize you feel bad until you feel better?

Sugar Demon

Cue up the re-entry weekend. Alcohol was reintroduced first. Wine specifically. I didn’t immediately connect the lingering daily headache with the alcohol. Nor the restless nights that returned. Until they were there for a week straight. Once I brought back in sugar and those things ramped up the light dawned…

I am apparently very sensitive to sugar. Alcohol breaks down as sugar. Duh. The sugar demon in general is apparently the responsible party for years and years of 2-4 hours of sleep being my norm not the exception. I had a piece of GF banana bread last night before bed and slept all of 3 hours and am blessed today with a hangover type headache.

I feel dumb for not realizing it sooner and frustrated at the changes I know I’ll have to make (and probably struggle with) in order to balance having a normal type life with what my body needs.

Who said getting old was fun? They LIED.

Blessing y’all – Amy

A Year of Gluten Free

I have been tested for Celiac twice – tested negative both times. I have done three, maybe four, Whole30s and each time feel like I won the lottery in terms of energy, clarity of mind, and sleep improvements. For those that don’t know a Whole30 is 30 days without wheat, dairy, processed food (anything you can’t pronounce), beans, or alcohol. Each time I found my way back to bread, pasta, and flour. When my stomach issues spiraled out of control late 2020, and didn’t get better after removing my gallbladder end of the same year and all through 2021, I knew I had to get radical.

End of 2021 I was down 90 lbs and getting 2-3 meals a week to stick with me was a win. Tim came into my life and he’s a big fan of eating! LOL. Forcing more food into me was just making it worse. Fast forward to spring of 2022. We came back from a cruise and I felt horrible. Docs had run tests, nothing showed up as far as a medical cause, stress seemed to be the only consistent trigger we could really pinpoint. I knew from my Whole30 history that bread and dairy were triggers for me. Giving up cheese meant giving up Mexican food (and that wasn’t happening!) so gluten drew the short straw.

I would say it was late spring/early summer before we really started to notice any change in how my body was handling food. But slowly I started to both stop losing weight and started putting some back on. Everyone around me was thrilled at the putting back on part, me not as much, but I also knew I needed a little. Late May, early June, I was in Lubbock and did a wine tasting with my niece. They put out those little oyster crackers at our last tasting and I ate them without even thinking about it. Yes, I may have had a few too many tastings that day! I can’t begin to describe to you the stomachache I had that night. I’m not sure I’ve ever had one that bad. I knew in that moment that I was definitely on the right path.

Staying gluten free, once you get used to it, hasn’t been as hard as it is in the initial 30-90 days. I try to always use the phrase “gluten sensitive” at restaurants as opposed to allergic since the allergy word sends people into meltdown mode. I have been on three cruises in the last year. Two of them they were awesome at accommodating – one was a new ship and they were struggling. On my last cruise we have some question that everything I got was in fact gluten free because I was sick as a dog by the time I got off. We’ve been able to tell pretty quickly these days when I’ve gotten a hold of something I can’t eat vs when I’m having a stress flare up. Exposure takes days for my stomach to settle down and stress is usually quick as long as I’m not under prolonged stress.

Don’t get me wrong. I miss real pasta. There are some really good substitutes but you can still tell the difference. I miss flour tortillas. I miss cookies fresh out of the oven. But the longer I am gluten free the better my stomach is getting, and the longer periods between angry outbursts from my body, the more I know I need to stick with this. Plus most Mexican food is gluten free. 😉

There are a ton of articles about how our bodies just aren’t made to process the food we are being given these days in our mass produced food world. Some of us are just blessed with the sensitive stomachs to support those theories I guess.

If you had to give up one food group what would be the easiest? The hardest?

Blessings y’all! – Amy

Calendar of Tears

For Christmas I gave Tim a calendar that contained all of the special people in our lives birthdays, anniversaries, important events. I also noted a small heart on days that are anniversaries/days that can be trigger days for me or have special significance.

Talking to Em last week after Mom’s birthday about us being able to take a breath after February I sort of put together in my head why those small hearts on Tim’s calendar mattered. The calendar of my life is marked with days to look out for, anticipate, pray over, and sometimes shed tears. A calendar littered with tears…I’ll explain.

In the aftermath of early grief those days – anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, special memories – they are like a tidal wave slamming into you and taking the breath out of you. What I have found is that as time moves on you don’t quite know on those days if you are going to get a tidal wave or just a lapping at your ankles. Call me crazy but the uncertainty is almost worse.

As I have grown older the calendar has become littered with “seasons” that have nothing to do with the weather. Periods of weeks or months where the bracing for the wave or the splash is just endless. December is a bad one. February is another. And by some odd quirk of dates there is a six week period from April 24th to June 5th that marks off when Mom died (4/24), PawPaw (5/14), and Fred (6/5). The three most important people in Em and I’s lives died within three weeks of each other on the calendar – just different years.

Some would say “why not just ignore those dates if they hurt” (yes I’ve had that said to me). For me that is also the same as saying to me “why don’t you just forget them?” Sounds pretty dumb huh? But it doesn’t work like that. Ignoring pain doesn’t make it go away. It gives it power and strength. Acknowledging them, celebrating them, speaking of them – that’s where the healing begins. It’s allowing yourself to remember they loved you and you loved them.

This last anniversary of Fred and I’s wasn’t special in terms of a big number or any particular significance . He’s been gone almost six years and we would have been married for sixteen. But this year was the tidal wave. Not a bad one mind you – God brought some pretty awesome memories to the day – but a tidal wave nonetheless. It’s hard to miss someone. It’s harder still when life is moving on and you are really happy.

I heard a sermon today that the message was “I’m not done with you yet, there is more to the story”. Move forward, you aren’t finished yet. Those words lifted my heart in ways I can’t yet explain to you. But what an awesome message.

I couldn’t have said this a few years ago but what if all those tears on the calendar are just part of God’s story for me? For my kids? I’ve seen those tears shape all of us in ways I know we wouldn’t have changed on our own. If we think about our pain having a purpose does it make it easier to bear?

I’ll never stop acknowledging those special days. I know there will be additions to the calendar as I age and those that are older still leave me too. But maybe I’ve reached a point I can understand that sometimes we need the tears each year to continue to wash what hurts and clear the path of where we’re meant to go.

Blessings y’all – Amy

A New Squishy

Tim has called Lilah my “squishy” for a while now. Mainly because I adore the way her jowls squish together when she is cuddling or concentrating. I probably have more pictures of her squish face than I do of her period. I can’t explain it….it’s just a happy spot.

Last week I met some amazing creatures. Romulo, Remo, and Fred the sea lions. What started as a fearful day turned into one of the probably best excursions I have ever done.

Remo Coming to Play

While I am obsessed with the ocean when you get the chance to get up close to these sea creatures and you realize just how large they are and how very small you are…it’s daunting. To be in a pool with them when you are pretty much a non-swimmer? Uh huh…that’s the stuff bad movies are made of. I’ve been pulled out of the ocean twice for having panic attacks when attempting to snorkel. My passions and my fears very definitely collide when it comes to the ocean and her inhabitants.

Fred the Sea Lion

There are times I can talk myself through the fears. There are times I need my tribe, my counselor, my breathing tricks, all the things. Then there are those other times. The ones where God says “hey remember me? Might want to talk to me about it.” Last week was one of those times. But what I refuse to do after two and a half years of slinging through pain and trauma is let the fear win. God showed up in a big way for me last week and reminded me that all I needed to do was pray.

Incredible Acrobats

Anyway, back to my new squishy. I am flat in love with these sea lions. Looking for all the sea lion things….charms for a bracelet, conservation groups like I follow for my turtle obsession…it just amazed me that such a large animal can be so smart and maneuver around awkward humans so well. It is a hard call between Fred the 800 lb sea lion with a special name and Remo the one I got to swim and dance with as to which is my favorite.

I’ve been talking about them so much and changing background pictures on my devices Tim says Lilah is going to get jealous of my new squishy. The sea lions definitely aren’t quite as cuddly and portable as Lilah but they hold a very special place in my heart for how they helped me face a fear and turn it into such an amazing day.

Sometimes we just have to remember that there are angels around us. In every form and fashion guiding us through things we tell ourselves we can’t do. And that when we trust God the most amazing things can happen.

Blessings y’all – Amy

Celebrating Love & Friendship

Someone said once that time heals all wounds. I’d be willing to bet that person hadn’t REALLY had loss in their life. Don’t get me wrong. Life is moving on. In so many fabulous ways. But as I stare down the barrel of several memory anniversaries this week I’m a little melancholy.

Turns out…time never heals grief. It eases the sharpness as you struggle to breathe. It dulls the edges in a way that makes living come back in ways you can’t imagine possible in the immediate aftermath. But time does not ever heal grief. Because grief can’t be healed. Each year the calendar rolls dates around that tug the fine hairs under the band-aid you’ve put on the pain. You find ways to brace for it. To get through it. To ask for help. But on those days the pain is very much there.

TimeHop has begun reminding me of the season of life that the kids and I were in this time six years ago. This week on Friday would have been my sixteenth wedding anniversary. As I mull that over…how many years Fred has been gone versus here a knot forms in my stomach. February 4th would have been my grandpa’s birthday.

I can honestly look back and know that these impending dates don’t send me spiraling into the hole they once did. I can proudly say that is because I’ve done the work. I’ve invested the energy in myself to know that I am a survivor. But that doesn’t mean I’m not tremendously glad that when the idea came up to run away this week that I wasn’t completely and totally on board. Spend a week away with a man who loves me and makes room for the days that I’m not quite ok? Yep. Spend a week doing one of the things I love most with friends who are like family to me? Yep. Sign me up.

Add surprising all those friends to the list (my favorite thing to do to people I love) and I’m all in.

We boarded the Carnival Celebration today. To celebrate being loved. Not once not twice but by three amazing men. My PawPaw who contradicted all the crappy awful abusive men my mother chose. Fred who took a broken girl, gave her an instant family, and was patient while she loved too hard and held on a little too tight. And this wonderful man who walks beside me now. Who quietly and patiently lets me know every day that I am worth being loved. That bruised and slightly damaged as I may be I deserve to be loved as hard as I love.

We are celebrating friendship. These that I have made in all the years I’ve traveled. The special relationships I have that I constantly confuse the mess out of Tim because he can’t remember all the names but he loves them all because they make me happy.

Love hard friends. Life is short and precious and can change on a dime.

Blessings – Amy

What Are We Doing to Our Oceans?

Have you ever seen an 8’ tall octopus made out of the trash we are putting into our oceans? What about an eagle with a 17’ wingspan? I have. And while my artist heart sings at the beauty of these sculptures my environmental heart is breaking at the eye opening amount of trash that is making it into our oceans. Truthfully there are things making it to our oceans that I couldn’t have even fathomed winding up there. Everything from toothbrushes to motorcycle helmets to pregnancy tests. Not to mention the absurd amount of flip flops, discarded coolers, and water bottles.

An organization called Washed Ashore is raising awareness through art. To date they have processed 60,000 lbs of plastic and have created some magnificent sculptures to entertain the eye while educating us on what is going into the sea. The exhibit is currently on display in Galveston (through March 5th) and the city turned it into something fun. You can “check in” at each sculpture and when you have seen 9 of the 20 you can submit it to the visitors center for some Galveston swag. We didn’t really care about the swag but searching out the sculptures took us to parts of the island even my 30 year island loving heart hadn’t been. We had tons of fun doing this but it set my brain whirring.

Octavia the Octopus

Irving has reduced it’s trash pick up day to once a week and really doesn’t promote doing recycling. I live in a neighborhood that I have several neighbors who still loyally put out their blue bags (yeah!) but since I wasn’t sure if they were actually making it to a recycling center I was hesitant. Let’s face it – it DOES take work to reduce your footprint on the environment. Much like eating organic or cutting down on driving to help pollution – it takes concentrated effort to recycle. You have to rinse food items off plastic or metal you are recycling, break down boxes, and know what can and can’t be recycled.

Edward the Turtle

But something about these sculptures this weekend reminded me how very important that effort is. As a marine life lover we’re feeding our animals trash! Why do the marine animals that are part of the circle of life that feed us and sustain us deserve that? Being frank – if it’s going in their bodies it’s going into ours in some form or fashion.

Back to what can I do different? While Tim and I were talking we sat and we ordered a dual trash can that will allow us to easily get trash where it goes and recyclable materials in those precious blue bags. Doing some research I realized that the food we throw away in the trash winds up in landfills creating gas that is getting into the air. So we also are going to begin composting again. I did this years ago and enjoyed it – just gotta get set back up again.

Full disclosure: I was already on the beginnings of a composting kick.

Rosa the Eagle

I fully admit I contribute to the water bottle problem. With the things I put in my water grabbing one and going is easiest. I am the chief supplier of water to the office – also in the form of plastic water bottles. We’ve resolved to get a Brita filter for the fridge and switch over to a reusable water bottle when at home or at the office. If we have to use plastic on the go we’ll be able to recycle it when we get home.

None of these feel like big enough changes to help with the size of the problem I saw on display this weekend but I know that if I make a small change and every other person who saw what I saw makes a change it WILL bring change. I could write a book on all the ways our oceans and marine life are in trouble but I’ll instead just ask that you check out the site and make any small changes you can to protect the world we live in.

Washed Ashore – Art to Save the Sea

Blessings y’all – Amy

Did You More Than Survive?

For those of you that dread the holidays – I’m talking to you! How are you feeling today? Did you thrive yesterday or just survive? Or did you, like me, perhaps find a new version of Christmas?

I woke up today reflective. Appreciative of getting through yesterday without tears and without pain that takes my breath away. Those were new. I went to bed last night without an aching back or aching feet from having cooked all day – we ordered in breakfast to chill-ax with presents longer. I didn’t stress out over “did I remember to text everyone” or “did she or didn’t she REALLY like my gift”? I think some of the easier is coming with age and some of it was from being surrounded with two people who love me beyond all things – it was about the time together. This was Tim’s first we-aren’t-leaving-our-PJ’s-today Christmas and he was all about it. With the kids grown and all doing their own thing it does lend a simplicity to the holidays that think I could get used to.

Smiling Girl Kind!

Do not get me wrong. I am very glad to put another holiday season behind me. I read one of my TimeHop posts from 8 years ago today, the first Christmas without my grandpa, and it brought a lump to my throat. If I had to pinpoint an exact moment when the holidays became a struggle that year would be it. I expected this year to be more challenging since we said goodbye to Mom in 2022. There was a moment when we dug out one of her dishes for the cranberry sauce where I know my angels were watching because Em and I both could have lost it and instead we were able to mention Mom and smile.

For those that don’t know me – surprises are my thing. Giving and receiving. This year’s gift exchange held surprises both physical and emotional. Listening to Em and Tim work together on Christmas Eve on my stocking was priceless. Opening gifts that a) I had no idea what they were and b) couldn’t have guessed if I tried was amazing. (You mom’s know what I’m talking about – we do the giving not the receiving at the holidays!)

My OCD brain gets me even when I’m not trying…didn’t mean to match his wrapping paper and PJ’s!

Tim reminded me again how very much he pays attention when I talk. Renovating the greenhouse so I can grow all the green things is on our January to do list but he got me an AeroGarden. “Something I knew you wanted but wouldn’t buy yourself.” Not gonna lie – it was set up before the cooking got started. Those moments of realizing God has brought someone into my life who loves me when I’m having a really bad day or listens when I talk are humbling.

I was asked a couple of times yesterday if I was glad I was home for Christmas. My initial gut response was still “no”. But having slept on it (or attempted to sleep on it since I’ve now been up since 3 am) I think the answer is yes. Yesterday was peaceful. And that, more than anything, was all I wanted for Christmas. To not be so lost in grief I felt incapable of breathing is perhaps the greatest gift of all.

Blessings y’all – A

And the last one is 21…

She might be the youngest of my three but she was the first to make me a mama. She is the one that I see the most of me reflected back at me….the stubborn strength, the fierce protective heart of those she loves most in the world, and the rage at the injustices of the world. And Lord help me my mouth!

My baby girl turns 21 today. At 8:05 pm tonight to be exact but only a mama remembers those things. Right about now (way before dawn) I was walking into the hospital to be induced and due to a full moon and a whole lot of women who wanted babies to come before Christmas it was a long day for both me and the other doctors and mamas to be. I remember the impatience to meet her. The anxiety over the actual getting her into the world process. The enormous responsibility I knew I was undertaking. And the purest love I have ever known when I held my baby girl in my arms for the first time.

Easily one of my favorite pictures of my baby girl…

It was just Em and I for the first four years of her life before Fred and the other two babies came along. We had a hell of a support tribe in Mom, PawPaw, and Nana. We’d have been ok just us but Em and I are pretty damn glad the rest of our family came along. Especially since Em is a daddy’s girl through and through. She loves her mama, don’t get me wrong, but she’d leave me on the side of the road for another day on this earth with Fred. The only cloud on today is that he’s watching it from up above instead of celebrating it here with us today.

It took us a long time to find our way with each other after he passed – somewhere around the time the boy kind moved in he got tucked up under my wing and she under Fred’s – but she is the kiddo who protected me against the world in the darkest days I’ve had in the years since Fred died. The kiddo I still have to remind sometimes that I’m the mama and she is the baby. The kiddo who didn’t turn her back on me when I gave up on myself. The kiddo who didn’t know how many days her existence gave me a reason to not give up.

The thing about Em that I have always admired is her independence. She doesn’t need ANYONE to define who she is. She has those she lets close that she’ll go to the ends of the earth for but she doesn’t need them as a definition of herself. She’s always been able to think for herself – and tell you what she thinks – and fight for what she wants. She’ll look a grown man in the eye and tell him he’s dead wrong and not back down. She’s got a strength that comes from knowing pain and loss in her formative years. She knows the true meaning of “life is short” and doesn’t waste time on bullshit. She’s still figuring out her future but she is doing it on her terms.

As her mama I couldn’t be more proud of her. As an observer, I wish I had more of her gumption. I know she has some angels on her shoulders that will always watch over her. I can’t believe it’s been 21 years since they put her in my arms. There are days I missed too much because of work and life and illness but that’s the beauty of the second season….you reflect, you see things, and you make it better moving forward.

Tonight we’re celebrating a beautiful, smart, talented young woman turning 21!. I’m gonna drag my butt into work tomorrow and have no regrets because the smile on my baby’s face tonight is gonna be amazing! Y’all take time today to wish her a Happy Birthday!

Blessings y’all – Amy