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

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

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

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

The Blessing and Curse of Being An Over Thinker

These days most of us know an over thinker. Or are one ourselves (raising my hand over here). By Merriam Webster’s definition to over think is to think too much about (something) or to put too much time into thinking about or analyzing (something) in a way that is more harmful than helpful. However, some very famous people were over thinkers – Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Orville Wright. To my way of thinking, and in my experience, it’s a blessing and a curse.

Starting with the positive – most over thinkers are great problem solvers. This comes from being able to look at most people, situations, and things from all angles (admittedly sometimes too much or too long) and find solutions that others can’t see. The 30,000 foot view if you will. They can rearrange the pieces in a problem like no one else. Some can think on their feet quickly and thrive on the challenge of being able to “fix it”.

The curse of this particular skill? The anxiety and stress when normal people need to do things their way even when the over thinker thinks they can see the disaster (ok maybe “disaster” is a strong word – how about less than ideal outcome) coming at them. When you have an empathic over thinker who wants to avoid anyone else feeling anything other than happy you have a mess. Their deep level of thinking gets them inappropriately called things like “control freak”, “nag”, or “bossy”. In reality – they aren’t any of these things. Their brain just never shuts down so they see all the worst case scenarios and try to prevent them to help the people they love.

Their thoughts are never quiet and they don’t understand the response “nothing” to the question “what are you thinking”. How can someone be thinking literally nothing?!?! What does all that quiet in your head feel like? To them things mean something, or happen for a reason, and everything is a “why”.

Don’t even think about lying to an over thinker. Due to being great critical thinkers, they have the uncanny ability to sniff out lies. Because when something doesn’t sound right to them their mind won’t let it go and they turn it over and over in their head until they pick apart the holes in the story. They are a narcissists worst nightmare because an over thinker can spot false, fake, or ill intention-ed people from one conversation with them. Over thinkers have a deep desire to figure people out and often can’t let go of that uneasy feeling someone gives them. They are great judges of character – their level of sniffing people out is on par with that of kids and dogs.

When an over thinker thinks they have hurt someone they will spend hours and hours going over every minute, every detail, of the situation trying to Monday morning quarterback what they could have done differently. Why they said what they said. One of the most positive traits of an over thinker though? When they apologize it comes from the bottom of their heart – they cannot fake apologies.

Over thinkers are perfectionists. They pride themselves on being great at what they do and strive to do their best. But when they don’t get everything right and come up short, they are their own harshest critic. They have to make lists of what needs done, so they can cross things off said list, and feel accomplished. Sound sleep is a rare thing for over thinkers. They cannot shut the machine that is their brain off – it is constantly swirling and contemplating. And there is always that list running through their heads. 😉

Why write about this now you ask? Over thinking lol. It’s busy time at work and it’s the time of year my brain works extra hard putting out fires and solving puzzles to get everything that needs done done. We’re also doing some deeper stuff in counseling that has me puzzling over why I do some of the things I do – good and bad. So yah – over thinking.

Hug an over thinker in your life and thank them for the amount of time they spend over thinking about you!

Blessings y’all – Amy

The Last Frontier

I have no idea why but as I’ve sailed the Caribbean this week my Alaska adventure has been heavy on my mind. Maybe because I’ve been hopelessly cold….the AC works well on this ship. Maybe because of the comparisons I’ve drawn in my mind between the Holland ship I was on then and the Carnival one I am on now. Such different environments and both pull at my heart.

The breathtaking view from our boat

Alaska was….magnificent. As someone who doesn’t like the cold I was absolutely sure I wouldn’t like Alaska. I hate….I mean HATE….being cold. Bundled up like a snowman is my least favorite thing to be. What I wasn’t prepared for was that Alaska would pull at the small town girl that lives in my heart.

Seals hanging out on the iceberg chunks

We ported in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and alongside an iceberg. All three of the little towns had that straight from a Lifetime movie quaintness that only a Texas girl can fully crave and appreciate. So much so I actually checked out real estate up there for a little while. But did I mention cold? We went whale watching in Juneau. To see bears and bald eagles in Sitka. Shopping and wandering in Ketchikan. The most majestic of those was the hour and a half we spent on a small boat a half mile from an iceberg watching it calve. Seeing the sea lions sprawled on the ice bergs. Listening to the sea lions tussle as they sunbathed. I wish I had the right words to describe that. Even as good as I am with words I just can’t describe it. You have to experience it.

One of my fav pictures of Tim that week

The quiet and calm that reigns in Alaska was perhaps the biggest surprise. Everywhere you go you can just breathe. It’s peaceful. It gives you a sense of just how small you are in a big big world. Floating in a bay with the engine cut on the boat listening to the whales breach the surface was the calmest I think I have ever been in my life.

I have told several people this….I had the absolute most picture perfect Alaska adventure. My first trip to the last frontier couldn’t have been any more perfect. But I literally cannot wait to go back. And take my Em.

Have you been?

Blessings y’all – Amy

But First, Seattle!

As I sit in the airport, headed home from our Alaskan adventure, Seattle seems so long ago!!! Seattle made a huge impression on me – hard to believe it’s only been a little over a week since we landed here. While we didn’t do some of the typical Seattle nods such as the Space Needle or Aquarium we did cover a lot of ground by the market. Like literally a lot of ground – we walked about 15 miles in two and a half days!

We were blessed with a gorgeous day on the first day we were in town. The locals all said it was usually overcast. Seattle being the city with the 7th highest rainfall totals I was expecting to be wet during our time there. But Friday was literally a perfect day. We got up early (read I couldn’t sleep) and headed into the market area. This was the first thing I saw when we came around the corner. Pretty sure I almost got hit by a car stopping in my tracks to dig for my phone. 🙂

Original Starbucks!

My primary mission? To get my first Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) of the 2022 fall season at the Original Starbucks in Pike’s Market. Tim had braced himself for the line but we only waited about 15 minutes. The barista working the door said that line can be upwards of an hour and a half and when we saw it again on Saturday I believe him! The door barista also gave me a tip to get my PSL with their “reserve” blend coffee that is only available at the original SB. It was a solid tip – it took away the bitter bite that SB coffee usually has on the occasion I go for coffee. It was well worth the four days wait for that first PSL…and I had no idea that ALL merch from that first stop was brown instead of the traditional SB green. Poor Tim got to carry a bag with him the rest of the day with my goodies.

A tiny sampling of the gorgeous flowers…

We spent all day at the market just wandering. The flowers were incredible and the smell can be a little overwhelming in some sections of the market because there are so many. If I lived anywhere close to the market I would have fresh flowers in my home all the time… They were way prettier than anything I’ve seen at the store and way less expensive! Lots of vendors selling everything under the sun – but to be a market vendor you have to be selling something original – so Tim got worried about suitcase space very very quickly. I think I have more Seattle treasures/souvies coming home than I do from Alaska.

Our second main objective was to find a little hidden speakeasy called Bathtub Gin & Co. I mean, y’all know me right? Bathtub themed? Gin? This little hidden gem was practically calling my name! Tim got a little uneasy when we wound up in a back alley on a sketch side of town but once I saw the bouncer I told him to shush – we were fine. They lead you into this dark tiny place and our seats were a cut in half bathtub! Some locals spotted “tourist” on our forehead pretty quickly and started giving out places to eat and see while we were in town almost faster than I could put them in my phone. The only thing I wish I had done different was connect the mental dots of switching out their well gin for one of the special ones they had on the menu that I like. But the atmosphere was incredible.

Bathtub Gin & Co.

Saturday was pretty much a repeat of Friday. We could have gone and done other things but the market just spoke to both of us. We had a chef guided food tour of the market scheduled and for the most part they had a gluten free option for me at every stop. The ones they didn’t Tim just got to have his portion and mine! He had a lot of local perspective and stories about the market that was mingled in with our 2 1/2 hour walking tour. The market atmosphere on Saturday was markedly different than Friday – it was wall to wall people with so many sounds and smells I was quickly in sensory overload.

About 4 pm on Saturday evening we both ran out of steam. The miles of walking, most of which was on hills/stairs, plus short nights and my uncooperative stomach took its toll. We got really lucky though. The restaurant located in our hotel had an amazing menu and a very friendly bartender. We managed to kill our Saturday night there without having to leave the hotel again. It was also one of the few meals of the week that my stomach actually decided to keep. (Traveling sets off my anxiety which triggers my stomach…usually it lets up after a few days but I have been sick the entire ten days this time. It’s one of the few sour notes on the week.)

Sunday we had scheduled a Lyft to the port and other than having a few more hours to kill (I got to do one more walk through the market and Tim finally hit the line short enough to try the donuts) it was time to say goodbye to Seattle. I cannot wait to come back and spend more time in this city!

Blessings, y’all! – Amy

Not Their Choice Always…

Fair warning – soap box post!

It’s no secret I love to travel. My most preferred method is cruising. I’ve been on five since the restart post COVID and twenty two since I fell in love with it. I have crew that I consider family that I honestly love as much as my own. What I have noticed, more since the restart then ever before, is the lack of respect and warmth to the crew that should be there as human beings. Don’t get me wrong. There are fellow passengers who love on, take care of, and respect the crew the way they should. Then there are those that yell at, demand, and in general treat them like servants. Having gotten close to many of them let me offer you a perspective that you may not have…

For many it’s not completely their choice to be there. They live in countries where jobs are scarce and the jobs that are available don’t pay enough to feed a family let alone keep a roof over their head. For months and months at a time they leave behind their loved ones – many of which include their growing children. As a mom that’s not a choice I could have ever made when my kids were growing up…but I was blessed to not have to. For these moms and dads – it’s the only way they can give them a good life. They treasure their time at home and cry for days when it’s time to go back. They are keenly aware of what they are missing.

These sweet human beings send money home to take care of their moms and dads. Their children. Their aunts and uncles if need be. They deal with internet challenges that keep them from always being able to connect with home when they need to see their family. They work 12-18 hour days to give us unbelievably memorable vacations. They see the absolute worst examples of humanity and they greet everyone with a smile. It always astounds me that they manage to make my week with them feel like it’s the most important time to them…then they have to reset and do it all again in a matter of hours. They learn names at an amazing rate. The best of the best remember that you prefer vodka over gin or that you hate croutons on your salad night after night. On my last cruise I had a sweet lady make sure I got my most favorite Italian dish – with gluten free pasta. Some of the most amazing human beings I have ever met work in the service industry – whether on a ship, behind the bar at my local hang out, or at my favorite Mexican food restaurant(s).

I get it – we live in a time these days where compassion is losing its value. Where impatience is high and tolerance is low. Maybe I have more sympathy for it because I work in an industry where my work force has to do the same thing to take care of their families. But maybe the next time you have to wait a few extra minutes for your meal, or a drink, or a towel….remember there is a very tired human that is getting it for you. One who in all likelihood hasn’t seen their family in months and probably doesn’t know when they are going to get to with the current labor shortage. Give them a smile and say “thank you”. Because I promise you…they notice those that are kind to them. And it means the world to them.

Blessings y’all – Amy