Posted by: Amanda Taylor | May 4, 2015

I’ve Been Glutened

Today I cried in the grocery store. It was right by the section of Honey. I felt it building up each time I read a label, each item I saw that I couldn’t take off the shelf. And then it hit me…I forgot to google honey when I made my grocery list and I had no cell phone service in the store.  I couldn’t believe I was standing there crying.

Last week I had an upper and lower scope to figure out some of my stomach issues. I had my gall bladder out at 18. I had my first scope at 19. I have suffered with gross stomach stuff for a long, long time. When I woke up from the procedure, the doctor told me he was 99% sure I had Celiac Disease and he was shocked it was not found back then.

He had suspected it before the procedure and I had thought on and off about it. However, the minute he told me that 99% number, I have been…to say the least….overwhelmed.

I find out the final results on the 18th. I keep thinking, there is that 1% change that I do not have it, right? Is that 1% big enough to give me some hope and maybe I can get lucky? But I want an answer, not just a “we aren’t sure what is wrong.”

It keeps sinking in more and more. I have been told, “Well, just still eat what you want.” To me, a gluten intolerance is like a big, gooey pimple right on your face. It’s uncomfortable and then it goes away. Celiacs is having that big, gooey pimple show up right before a first date with the man of your dreams and you get a deep, gut-wrenching (no pun intended) feeling that it’s the worst fate ever and that he will stare at it all night or probably just “take an emergency call” and leave in the middle of dinner.  Continuing to eat gluten would be like me smoking cigarettes when I have the worst imaginable lung cancer there is. I can’t just eat tiny bits of it. There are no cheat days.

It is not going to go away. It is a lifestyle change. It is an actual sickness. I have poured over the internet since last week. It’s probably not the best thing. Statistics run rampant; 10% have infertility, 70% that go untreated will get intestinal cancer, 1% of the population has CD, and if you have it there is a big chance that someone in your immediate family also has it. Side note, those aren’t the exact numbers I have seen, just close to them. As I mentioned, I have looked at 2.1 million websites in the last 5 days and everything runs together . To me it really looks like “You will never have kids and if you eat a taco again you will get cancer”. I know it is catastrophizing. I know there are a ton of gluten free food items now (I wont talk about how absurdly overpriced they are), that restaurants are more aware, that it isn’t a death sentence.

Bur right now, I feel overwhelmed. I want to go to Publix again and walk down the aisles and grab my normal stuff. I don’t want to have to read every label looking for one of the several ingredients that might be hidden in a seemingly safe box of comforting hot chocolate. I read somewhere that I have to revamp my kitchen, getting all new utensils and cookware incase little glutens are hidden in cracks and crevices. I have to check chewing gum even! Cross contamination is apparently a big deal. Who knew?

I am just tired of being sick. It always seems like if it isn’t one thing, it’s another with me.

I know this is a terribly pity party post. I never knew you could grieve food, but I am realizing it is more of the change and the frustration of always being sick.

I’m thankful for the supportive people that I have talked to so far and know that they are going to be the ones that help me get through this. This will not turn into a healthy eating, gluten free blog, ‘cause I ain’t got time for that. But tonight I needed to vent. And thank you for letting me.  To those of you that are honest with me about it being hard, thank you.  To those of you that have just messaged me to see how I’m feeling, thank you.

Of course, until the 18th, I will be holding onto that 1%. If I fall into that category, I’ll delete this post and go have fried fish tacos for dinner.

Posted by: Amanda Taylor | May 30, 2014

Aging Out

“Aging out” is a term that we do not like to use in the child welfare field.  The higher ups would prefer we use terms like “Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement” or that our 18 year old foster kids are “utilizing the benefits of the independent living program”.  We begin planning when they are 13.  We teach them how to balance a check book, how to apply for a job, how to make grilled cheese sandwiches, how to rent an apartment, how to apply to college….all great things that people should know.  All great things that usually our kids in foster care don’t realize that they should take seriously.

There have been so many times I have talked to “my” teens and stressed the importance of learning these life skills and truly understanding how tough it is once you are on your own.  They nod and then ask me to turn my radio up or ask if I can get them something to eat.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I know I was very lucky.  I was 18 when I “left” home.  I moved to Florida for college but I knew that I had somewhere to go home to, I had a place to be at Christmas, I had someone help me move into my dorm room, someone to call and talk to when I was overwhelmed.  This is something that our teenagers do not have.  When discussing adoption with my teenagers, one of the first questions I ask them is “Once you are 18, where will you go for Christmas?”  A majority of teenagers will shrug their shoulders or hope that they can still call their case manager.  In reality, our kids ARE aging out of foster care.  They are turning 18 with nothing.

The first teenager that I had as a case manager was assigned to me when I started working for my current agency. I will refer to him as “D”. I had not dealt with a teenager before.  He was a great kid and I saw so much potential.  Because of some of the issues he was facing, I spent a whole lot of time with them.  We had lots of trips to Jacksonville, lots of trips to new foster homes, lots of long hour talks about him being responsible and taking responsibility for his actions, and being the one that told him his father passed away from a drug overdose.  D just held a very special place in my heart from day 1.  I would advocate for him to go to a family foster home rather than a group home, I would take him to all of his appointments, and drove to Tampa to watch him get baptised.  I cried with him and laughed with him.  He loved singing LMFAO in my car.  D turned 18 on September 23, 2011.  He “aged out” of foster care.  I tried.  I tried everything I could…and I know I wasn’t the only one.

Yesterday I had a wonderful “social worker” day.  I had a beautiful adoption and I was elated.  I had waited a long time for that adoption.  A. Very. Long. Time.  I then had to drop off some paperwork for a child being placed tomorrow.  It was just a good day. Cases moving in a forward direction.  Then as I was driving home, I passed D. I haven’t seen him since he turned 18.  I noticed him walking down the side of Ridgewood Ave (for those of you not familiar with Daytona, it is not a great road to be walking down in the day or at night).  I noticed D immediately because of his crooked arm that we never were able to get fixed.  He also had his little walk that I could always recognize.  I slammed on my brakes and yelled out my passenger window.  At first I think he was terrified but then quickly yelled out, “Miss!!”  He always did call me that.  I pulled into an adjacent parking lot and hoped he would come over and talk.  I jumped out of my jeep and hugged him.  Immediately, I realized I was hugging an extremely thin, hungry, homeless, little child.  I stepped back and looked at him.  He was trying so hard to smile.  His face completely bruised and bloody – a black eye, busted lip, cut up face, gashed arms…I held back the urge to absolutely break down right there.  We talked for a bit.  I asked about his mom, his sister, why I had seen his mug shot on our daily arrest records, what he’s been up to. I turned into “mom mode” and asked him where he was staying and what he was eating and what drugs he was using and if he was safe.  I guess I knew all the answers.

D is homeless.  He was excited because he talked to someone who said he was getting a bus ticket up North to do a travel agent job. He has a son now that he can’t see.  He has a backpack with all of his belongings.  He got jumped a couple days ago for “something he didn’t do”.  He lost all his money.  He was hungry.  He was heading down to the coalition to get dinner.  He had to be there by 4:30 to get served.  With every word, he winced.  With every movement, I stared at his cheek bones that jutted out way too far.  I can’t seem to forget that image….his cheek bones. He looked so hungry. I was scared to drive him but I could tell he wanted a ride.  I told him he could always call my work phone if he needed someone to talk to.  He had it memorized and immediately said it.   He apologized for never listening.  He told me that he knows I did everything I could and still would do that for him.  He told me to tell Ms. Michelle that he was sorry for not listening to her and to tell her hi.  He commented that I got a new car.  In a way, I almost felt guilty. D deserved so much more.  It wasn’t fair.  How could I expect him to have a job, stay in school, make car payments, and make responsible decisions when his parent was the Department of Children and Families.  He said that he saw me on the news and it would make him smile.  He said that he sleeps on the street a lot and he wished he had a jacket because he was scared it was going to be cold in North Dakota.  He looked lost, defeated, and broken.  Completely broken.

As he walked away, I snapped a picture and then broke down.  I cried for probably half an hour before I could finally drive home.  I know I can’t “save them all”.  But I want to reach out.  I want people to know to adopt our teenagers. Do not give up on teenagers.  Become  a mentor, look out in your community to see what you can do for our teens in foster care, be the place where they can come home for Christmas.  We can’t keep letting kids like D slip through the cracks and walk up and down the streets. Deep down I know he isn’t a bad person.  Most people would probably not give him a second glance.  Yet, they have no idea.  And all I can go back to is how hungry he looked, how empty and hollow.  Just one more kid aging out of foster care.


According to various studies across the country of young people who have aged out of foster care without a permanent family:

  • 12-30 percent struggled with homelessness
  • 40-63 percent did not complete high school
  • 25-55 percent were unemployed; those employed had average earnings below the poverty level, and only 38 percent of those employed were still working after one year
  • 30-62 percent had trouble accessing health care due to inadequate finances or lack of insurance
  • 32-40 percent were forced to rely on some form of public assistance and 50 percent experienced extreme financial hardship
  • 31-42 percent had been arrested
  • 18-26 percent were incarcerated
  • 40-60 percent of the young women were pregnant within 12-18 months of leaving foster care.


A great agency that recruits for teenagers in foster care.

Posted by: Amanda Taylor | May 23, 2013

Load Up

When I was younger, I got used to hearing those two words. I would be in my room playing with my baby dolls, talking on the phone, or snuggling with my cat and dad would find me and say, “Load Up”.  He would find Jennifer and say the same thing.  Most of the time I would ask where we were going and he would just say, “It doesn’t matter, load up”.  Thinking back, I am not sure if he had a map planned out.  He just wanted us to load up and then he’d figure it out.


So, we would pile in his truck; Jen, Momma, Daddy and me and we would go.  We would drive.  For those of you that know my family, you know that daddy wasn’t home very much.  These drives would happen when we were lucky enough to have dad home for a couple of weeks.  They would usually happen on a Sunday morning/afternoon.  I think that is what made them that much more special.

I never really understood what these drives were for.  I’d be in the backseat staring out the window, trying not to drift off to sleep.  Jen and I would usually start a competitive game of “Who Is Smarter?”  Jen would get car sick, I would fall asleep, mom would be singing to every song on the radio.  Dad, well, dad would just drive.   He was usually pretty quiet on these rides.  Momma used to hang on tight and tell dad to slow down as he was going around the curves. I can hear her now… I think he would get a kick out of it.  Not that he would fly around them, it’s a thrill when you just aren’t sure what is around the corner up ahead.    Momma would be a nervous  wreck, but Jennifer and I would be having a blast (okay, usually arguing, “Who Is Smarter?” was a very competitive game!)  Sometimes, we would look out the window and be staring straight down the side of a mountain.  We didn’t feel scared,  we knew we were safe.  We always knew we were taken care of and safe, no matter what.


We usually ended up in the mountains somewhere, most of the time near water.  We would look at fish, rocks, trees, and point out animals.  It was always an adventure.  Now, I wonder what he was thinking during those drives.  I wonder if he was thinking what I am thinking now, driving these same mountain roads.  Was he trying to figure out life or maybe he was just thinking about how blessed he was to be with his family, to be able to spend time with them, to know he was teaching his girls some good life lessons.  I often wonder what made him want to go, what made him want to drive.  Now, I think I know.

I came back to Tennessee this weekend to get away, to rediscover myself, to try to realize what I needed in my life to find some peace and clarity.  While I was sitting at home, there was the desire, this thought in my mind, I just needed to load up.  I just needed to go.   So this morning (Sunday), I woke up and loaded up in the Jeep.  The weather isn’t particularly nice.  It’s storming – 63 degrees, lightening all around, and the rain is pouring down.  It’s so beautiful to me.  I am trying to soak up as much as I can.  In Florida, I would stay inside during weather like this, but not here. I  can’t seem to put in to words how refreshing it is to feel the snap of cold on my cheeks, the smell that the mountains get when a storm is brewin’ on the other side, or how delicate the rain drops look as they hit the leaves of trees on the way down.  Peaceful, delicate.


I have never gone here alone before.  It’s funny how I just knew where to go, though.  It’s not too hard to find.  Just drive for the mountains and keep on going.    I passed some things that reminded me of dad, that reminded me of our times growing up – Indian Boundary, big Dodge trucks parked on the side of the road, and Bald River Falls.


I stopped at the falls and hiked down toward the bottom.  I watched some kayakers go down the falls.  I sat there for a while and looked up and the rain was pouring down.   I just felt peace.  I felt happy and I basked in the solitude of just being alone.  I realized that life is so beautiful, no matter where you go.  Life is beautiful and if you can take the beauty with you, you are going to be okay.   I am so thankful that my dad showed me this beauty when I was a young girl. I am so grateful that he taught me this love for the outdoors, that he brought something so special into my life.


And today, as I drove those twisty-turny roads, I can see a metaphor to my life.  There are lots of curves and I try to drive way too fast when I get in a good spot.  Sometimes, you have to slam on the brakes when you aren’t sure what’s coming next, what’s around that curve.  You learn to love the ride.  And Lord did I love those rides.  I miss them.


On the way home from those drives, if we had been really good, actually he would usually just do it anyways,  we would stop and get milkshakes.  This place makes the best milkshakes ever!  Maybe that’s why I like milkshakes so much! Keeping with tradition, I stopped and got one today.


This one’s for you dad.  Thank you for the rides.  I love you.


Posted by: Amanda Taylor | February 5, 2013

My Heart Thanks You

Last year, my heart hurt so bad.  I am so anxious to go to camp this weekend.

Side note: Heart kids rock!

This weekend, last year, I walked into camp needing the peace that it brings me. Little did I know, what it would do.


Side note: Heart kids are really, really awesome.

I was matched with the most amazing, super amazing, lovely, happy, fun, and sweet family.  I felt like I had known the mom for years. I couldn’t get enough of those two sweet girls, but their brother wasn’t too crazy about girl time.  I didn’t want to leave.  I wanted to soak up every single minute of happiness that I found there.

I left camp that weekend with a heart pillow that said “thank you”.  I cherished that pillow more than they could know.  That family came into my life, just when I needed them.


Sometimes, magic happens at camp.  That weekend, it did.  I wonder, how things would have been if I didn’t have camp that weekend.  If I didn’t have them that weekend.  Talk about seeing the face of courage, and gettin’ a dose yourself.

ImageThis weekend, I am heading back.  I’m in a better state of mind this year, but I get teary eyed thinking of how much the Conners’ changed my life last year.  It’s funny how some people are placed in your life, right at the exact moment that you need them the most.

ImageMy purpose there is not to work miracles, but help a child feel safe and happy.  Let them feel hope and joy.  Let them have fun and not be scared to show their badges of courage.  I want them to leave and want to come back to camp.  I want them to leave and have experienced the magic that can happen there.  That weekend, I felt all of those things.  That brave little girl, and her amazing family, did for me what I was to do for them.

I can’t wait to see them.

Image“This joy that I have, the world didn’t give to me.  The world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away.”

Posted by: Amanda Taylor | December 17, 2012


I’m going to have to get through this post fast.

Before the tears.

Before I close my computer again and say, “I can’t”.

This post is going to be all over the place but tying a couple of things together.

Stay with me, okay?

I was sitting at the zoo with six children that are living in foster homes when I got the news about the horrible school shooting on Friday.  I was sitting with six children that do not have families.  That’s crap.  They have no one.  I started thinking, and looking at each of them individually…all of their perfections, imperfections, behaviors, and especially innocence.  If it had been them…no family would have been identifying their body.  A social worker would have.  No family would have been speaking at a church about their child being killed.  The world would have “hurt”, their faces would be put on social networking sites, but at Christmas day…there would not be a family that was without their child.  It would have just been another face.  And you know what, that sucks.

I was asked the question that day, “Why adopt?”  I gave some answer about how much love and joy it can bring.  I talked about teenagers needing a home to return to.  The more I thought about it though the more I want to answer with one word.  Family. They need a mom and a dad. They need someone to love them. To care for them.  To hug them tight at night when they are scared.  My kids need families.  Why adopt?

Why not?


I tried to stay away from the news on Friday and was pretty successful.  On Saturday I broke down and read some stories. It broke my heart.  It broke me.  I don’t want to call the man a monster but would rather just say that he is broken.  It hurts my heart to know (or believe) that he had some untreated mental health disorders.  It hurts my heart even more knowing of all those sweet kiddos that are now going to have a myriad of mental health diagnoses now that they experienced that tragedy.  It makes me know that I am in the right field and it also makes me realize just how much I need and want to go back to school.  To work with those kiddos.  To deal with trauma.  Before it is too late.

Before one of them turns into someone just like him.

It’s terrifying.  It’s sad.

I have not cared too much about the arguing of gun control in the country.  I have tried to stay out of it.  I don’t know what is best anymore.  I can say that I have been aggravated with the posts about “If God was in schools still….”  It makes it sound like he is Santa Claus sitting in a corner somewhere and if schools let him chill out at one of the desks, then broken guy wouldn’t have shot and killed those kids.  Guess what?  That school could have prayed that morning.  Guess what?  Broken man would have still walked in a shot the school up.  Isn’t God everywhere?  How exactly are you “keeping him out”.  He is not tangible and if a kid doesn’t want to believe, they shouldn’t be forced too.  If a kid believes and they said their prayers that morning and the night before, do you think the broken guy would have known and said, “Oh can’t hurt that kid…he prays?” Having God in schools, whatever the heck that means, wouldn’t have saved anyone.  No excuses.

We live in a broken and hurt society.  Not because of any one factor.  Not because of no prayer in school.  Not because of allowing guns or not allowing guns.  We, as a society, have failed those who need attention.  We are turning our backs on those people that need love, need kindness, need to fill some hope, and need guidance.  I don’t understand it and honestly, none of us ever will.  We will never get just why he did what he did.

My heart breaks when I see their tiny little faces.  I can’t imagine, I can’t understand.  How?

How could he?

I guess the only thing that I really figured out from all of this is a better answer to “Why adopt?”

Posted by: Amanda Taylor | December 13, 2012

5 year review

It’s funny how a year changes things….

I saw an icon on facebook today that said, “See your year in review”.  Not to be too much of a Debbie Downer, but I didn’t click it.  I haven’t really liked this year all that much.   I don’t think it would be much of a surprise to anyone if I listed out all of the reasons.  I started looking back…just to remember.  Just because I knew…

today could be worse.

5 years ago today – I was selling a Wii after camping out all night at Best Buy.  I did make money off that thing, even if I did have to camp out in my car and stand in line for hours.

I don’t wanna grow up.

4 years ago – I was being a tourist in Orlando.  Friends and Fun.

I am comfortable.

3 years ago  – I was still settling into being at the condo alone.  I was heading to Clearwater to testify in a trial.  I got strep throat and a double ear infection.  I won the trial but that was not a good trip.  That was the last time I was in Clearwater…

I’m sick.  This condo is quiet.  What am I gonna do?

2 years ago – I was posting about being stuck on a boat the night before.  Company holiday party fun.  I remember the next day, not being great.  I was pretty stinkin’ miserable.

I know next year will be better. Time.  Next year.

1 year ago today I posted, “1/2 step forward and 3 million back…”  I know exactly what I was talking about.  I knew exactly how I felt.  I was immersed in Elf on the Shelf, letters to Santa, wrapping presents, oh…and being taken advantage of.

On one side of me, I have joy and I’m hangin’ on tight.  On the other side of me, I just wanna let go.

So 5 years of today in review.

And today?

I’m happy. I’m believin’ that everything happens for a reason.

I can’t make it seem that this whole year has been bad.  Yeah, I’ve been kicked down ’bout a million times, but this year has brought some pretty amazing people in my life.  I spent a week at camp for the first time (because of a camper and her family that came into my life at the most needed time), I’ve met some amazing (and eccentric) friends, I got my sweet Atticus, and I started cycling (on my pretty new bike).

I’ve seen that with endings come beginnings. And sometimes stopping and figuring things out will open up all kinds of doors you didn’t expect.

I am pretty excited about some beginnings that are happening in my life, no matter how late into 2012 it is.

It might have taken me awhile to feel like I’m just where I need to be again…but I’m here.

And I am happy.

Posted by: Amanda Taylor | November 24, 2012

It’s days like today that make you thankful…

for days like today.

Okay, well not exactly today but I’m talking about Thanksgiving.  I will admit, I went to bed not looking forward to the day as I had in the past.  I have been sick lately and a lot of those questions are weighing on my mind (and on my heart….)  Purple fingers, hurting heart, dizziness…I just am kinda tired of it. This would also be the first Thanksgiving I would be spending without a significant other since 2005.  Wow.  I wasn’t exactly “sad” about that, it was just different.  Thanksgiving also marks the nearing end of November and my to-do list is still the same.  I also had no idea what to bring to the two dinners I was attending.  My mom told me it was okay but I stressed about it all night.  I went to bed thinking, “Dear Thanksgiving, can you come in like another couple of months so I can get my stuff together because I’m not feelin’ the whole ‘Thankfulness’ thing this year.  Love, Amanda.”

I woke up at 6 on Thursday morning.  I sat in bed for a while with Atticus giving me all of his love and attention.  I kinda decided at that moment that I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving; the time with my family, the food, the feeling of being blessed, and the laughter.  I vowed to look at even little things to be thankful for.

It started off, with the cat. He gave me a wink and I knew that I would start my day off with a smile.  

I then decided that I would bring food. There was a small problem…I had nothing in my fridge or cabinet to whip together.  So the second thing I became very thankful for….

Oh yes, an exes sweat pants.  Left behind by him, great for me.  They were the perfect grocery shopping attire for 7 AM.  Comfy and Cozy. (See, I told you…it was gonna be the little things!)

Off to the store I went.  I didn’t get a picture of this but thank goodness for Winn Dixie. They were open for the silly girl like me that decided to shop at 7 AM.  I ended up picking up collard greens and ham hocks.  I was gonna bring a specialty and my family would love it!

An added plus to this southern comfort goodness?  Driving with them for an hour in my car made my car smell like deliciousness!

On the drive to my Papaw Richard’s house, I allowed myself to listen to sad songs, happy songs, crazy songs, and maybe a few (a lot) Christmas songs.
I pulled in and immediately felt the excitement that I get every year. I quickly made my rounds getting awesome family hugs and was shuttled off in a golf cart to an unidentified location (AKA – maybe 1/4th of a mile from my Papaws house).

This my friends is a house.  Yeah, a real house.  It’s not just any house.  It’s a house that my momma and daddy signed paperwork on the day before.  They have decided our home in Tennessee is to far away from their favorite daughter Amanda family and that living in Florida would just make more sense.  It’s a beautiful piece of property.  Has a little pond, lots of little relaxation areas, a pool, and lots of woods (add in a fresh set of bear prints in the driveway, too!)

I am thankful that my momma and daddy will be a hop, jump, and a skip away now.  It’ll take an hour of hoppin’ and skippin’ but a lot better than a couple of states away.  They may even let me rent out a bedroom there. I will admit, I’m not too thrilled about one day not having a home in Sweetwater – a home where I grew up, wrote my boyfriends names on the walls, told secrets, raised 203 baby dolls, looked out of my window at a huge oak tree for hours.  My home.

Throughout rest of the afternoon, I had lots of things to be thankful for….

Me and my daddy.  I love this pictures more than any words could ever describe.

And some special time with this handsome 10 year old.  This is my precious cousin, Dillon. Thankful they were able to make it to Florida to be with family!

Thankful for my dad.  Thankful for my mom. Thankful for my awesome Thanksgiving turkey shirt!

The family ate and talked and ate a bit more and then we started our trek over to Thanksgiving 2.  This would be at my mamaw and papaws house.  I was thankful for a fire and warmth.  I was thankful for shrimp cocktail.  I was thankful for seeing family from Canada and Seattle that I do not get to see very often.  I was thankful to have a talk with this kid….

My cousin, Richard, eating his first raw oyster.  Lots of laughs at the dinner table with this guy around.

After a second dinner, I sat by the fire and enjoyed the company of being around my family.  I had a full tummy, very sleepy eyes, and a thankful heart. I drove home that night realizing that all those “big things” I worried about the night before weren’t so big after all.  I have a great support system.  I have a great family.  I am very lucky to have big things and lots of little things to be thankful for – and even knowing that…makes me thankful!

Posted by: Amanda Taylor | November 7, 2012

Blocks of Words

I’ve wanted to update this thing for the last few days.  You know what has stopped me?  Pictures.  Yeah, that’s right.  Pictures.  I feel that a blog is boring unless I can give you, my two readers, pictures to look at to make it through.

Blocks of words = boring.  Pictures = Oooh, fun!

I hate to disappoint.

Truth is, I need to get this out there.  I need to know that maybe, just maybe, these words (without pictures…) will touch someone.  Will bring joy or peace to someone, if even for a second.

When I started volunteering at Camp, I got it.  I got the love.  I got the joy.  I got the great feeling.  I kept my name tag hanging in my car.  I took time off when I moved away. It has been within the last 2 years or so, that I have really started to “get” camp.  One of the things that gets me the most is spreading love to others.  Giving a sense of HOPE to those around me, that may never drive down Brantley Branch Road.  Since then, I strive to do that. It makes me happy.  The simple words, “You are Loved” gives me great pleasure to share.  Sharing “HOPE” with others, brings happiness to my life.  Not, I’m happy because I had yummy food for lunch and my favorite show is on TV tonight…but pure and simple, yet fulfilling, happiness.

Make my world like CBC.

I have been feeling horrible lately.  (Insert list of complaints, I am so sorry.) I took my GRE for graduate school.  The stress of it all has put me in a stand still.  Applications are due in January.  I haven’t done anything further.  Disappointed in myself to say the least.  What is holding me back? Why am I scared?  What am I waiting for? This is what I have always wanted, right? I have been sick.  Started off with a cold/flu.  I let it ride out because I just couldn’t afford or stand to see another doctor bill on my kitchen table.  I got better and then BAM sick again within 2 weeks.  This time, the stuff that didn’t hurt before hurts now.  I am struggling to breathe.  I am burning up and freezing cold. I am trying to eat soup. I spent all day yesterday with doctors. I am discouraged.  I don’t have any adoptions for National Adoption Day coming up next week.  Am I letting my kids down?  Am I am terrible adoption worker and all of my kids are going to just “age out”.  I have not been exercising like I should (could be the fact that I don’t enjoy turning blue or the inability to breathe) but I need fresh air. I need to get out.  My Christmas box (or boxes) are ready to come out of the closet but I dread one stocking, no elf, this Christmas.  Oh the tears.
Was that enough? Are you wishing for a picture yet?  Truth is, I just feel “down”.  I feel like I have a lot going for me but I am being held back.  Not by any one person.  Not by any person, except myself.  You know those big ugly tears?

The ones that come with the snot?

The choking and coughing?

The ones where your cats (or kids, if that’s how you roll) look at you like you are off your rocker?

Yeah, that’s been me in the last two days.  Little things.

Oh a picture of a Winnie the Pooh quote.

Ugly cry.

Oh, this antibiotic tastes horrible and I don’t want lung x-rays.

Ugly cry.

I was going to start organizing grad school stuff by 5 PM yesterday.  I haven’t.

Ugly cry.

A post of a beautiful youtube video today.

(Hey, it isn’t a picture.  but watch it!)

Cry.  But it wasn’t ugly. I thanked the beautiful woman that posted it and promptly grabbed a blanket and went outside.

I needed to see beauty.  I needed something positive in my life. At that moment, I realized, maybe I feel so “yuck” because I haven’t been looking for beauty.  I haven’t been filling other people with that love and happiness that I love giving.  I have been focused on negative around me and in me.  With the bickering on facebook due to the elections, the stress at work, the sickness – I have filled my heart with gross stuff.  I haven’t been me and I’ve somehow lost myself on a long, narrow road (hoping I don’t see armadillos).

Then, THEN!  I got a message on facebook.


Praying that tomorrow will be better for you. You deserve the BEST
CRY!  But not ugly cry.  A cry that says, Amanda – you know who you are.  You know where you want to go and where you need to be.  This sickness can’t beat you.

It may make you hurt.

It may make you feel disgusting.

It wont beat you.

Don’t worry about pictures.  Get on your blog and type.

Tell the special people in your life that you love them.  Tell someone something today that will make them smile.  Take a deep breath, look at the sunrise and that crazy person (must be from Canada) walking in a bathing suit on the beach.

So, my friends, if you have read this far.  Thank you.  You are very loved.  I care about you a lot.  I hope that, if not today, at sometime recently, I have brought you some type of happiness to your life.

Do me a favor tomorrow, k?

At some time tomorrow, just stop.

It could be on your morning commute.

During your lunch break.

While the kids are screaming for dinner.

For one minute, just stop, and look.  Look at the beauty that is around your life.  Think of how lucky you are to be alive.  To be healthy.  To have someone in your life that cares about you and that loves you.  To look at this beautiful and crazy life.  And smile (then return to pulling your hair out, shouting at drivers, eating lunch way too fast – just kidding, I hope the peace can last for more than a minute).  You deserve it and it does wonders for the soul.

Posted by: Amanda Taylor | July 30, 2012

My Dash

Today I went to a celebration of life for Jason’s uncle. I did not know the man personally, but there were several things that were said hat resonated through my heart and left me hoping that one day, I’ll have some of the same things said about me.  I thought I would write a full post about this, however, the more I start thinking of what I want to type the more I think this should probably go in my super secret, no one should see journal.

His family talked about how he was religious, but did not go to church.  His son stated that his father did not need to go to church because of the good he did in life , because it was not about the building or the listening, but how his father lived his life day to day.  They talked about his love, compassion, and caring for others.  They talked about how business was done with a handshake and a good word and not through legal documents.  They talked about how he accepted bread from a baker as payment for the orthodontic work he performed on the man because the man could not afford his bill.  They talked about his love for life and his child like wonder.

No, I don’t go to church.  I do hope that the way I live shows in my spirit and how much love I have to offer others.  I try to bring sunshine to anyone I meet.  I don’t mean that I am overly peppy, but I try to live my life so people do not question my morals, religion, or what type of person I am.  I hope that I leave people with some type of positive, a reason to smile.

Today, I heard a love story.  I have always loved my Mamaw and Papaw’s love story.  My heart started to break thinking about “the end” and how it could be near for them, but I would quickly clear my mind.  Truth is, I can’t imagine them not together.  I can’t imagine one without the other.  At the celebration of life, an email was read that his wife sent out a couple days after her husband passed away.  She talked about holding him and touching his face as she told him goodbye and he took his last breath.  I want that love one day.  I guess everyone dreams of that type of companionship.  I hope that I can find and hold on to that type of love in my life.

I hope I continue to live my life and give all I can to those that need something I have to offer.  I hope that my love inspires someone, just anyone, to be a better person or to know that they are loved.

I thought a lot today about a forwarded email I received years ago.  It’s typed in the front of the journals I have typed for my Papaw.  I guess it is fitting to paste here.

Subject: How Do You Live Your Dash?
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning….. to the end
He noted he first came to her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1900 – 1970)

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on this earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own:
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard….
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider whats true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile….
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Author Linda Ellis

Posted by: Amanda Taylor | July 22, 2012

Current Events : Colorado Shooting

Straying from my usual blog of my personal life and all of the interesting news I post that people anxiously await, I want to talk about the shooting in Colorado. I tend to stay away from discussing current events, usually because by the time I have time to blog, the current event is well, no long current.  I know most of us don’t want to hear about it anymore, or think about the tragic event that took place, but it’s everywhere.  As I have scrolled through face book the last couple of days, I have noticed several comments that have made me think about “what this world is coming to” as well as what I would do in the first situation.

I saw someone post that they wished the media would not show the picture of James Holmes (the shooter) looking “normal” but instead “show the picture of him with orange hair looking like the total lunatic that he is”.  I actually think it is “okay” that his college photograph is shown.  Think about it…what do you envision when you think of mass murderer or  deranged shooter?

Photo Credit

Photo Credit –

Most of us think “gothic” “trench coats” “troubled teen” “black clothes”.  As a society, we have created an image of the bad guys being “gothic”. Is it us being naive?  Have we over generalized and become so closed off to thinking that anyone has the capability of harming others or creating such a chaotic and terrible situation?  We warn children of “creepy men in junky vans” and to steer clear of those people with black trench coats and multiple face piercings.  Someone replied to her post that ever normal people can be monsters.  I think we have forgotten that, it was a slap in the face when Ted Bundy was arrested; how a handsome man could do such horrific things.  Maybe it is because of my job and my overly paranoid personality, but I think we need to be cautious in thinking that any situation could potentially be dangerous.  The woman walking behind us in a grocery store could be a “deranged serial killer”, our friendly neighbor could be planning on blowing up the neighborhood.  When we generalize the type of person that is capable of creating such a national tragedy, we ignore the signs from those that may be crying out for help or attention…and then it’s too late.  Even normal people can be monsters.  That is so true.

The second issue that has come up has been “if more people would carry guns…”.  Have you seen this picture?

I am not afraid to state that I don’t like guns.  I don’t want them in my house or in my car while I am driving.  I don’t want to be around them, hold them, or look at them.  They creep me out.  My dad owned guns while I was growing up.  I knew where they were in the house, I knew that I was not to play with them, and I knew about basic gun safety.  Very basic. Really, I just stayed away from them.  I always said that if someone broke into my home and they were going to kill me, I’d just have them shoot me.  I am not going to kill someone.  I don’t think I have the heart or conscience to do that.  I have seen death, it’s not something I want to EVER create.

However, I have thought about this situation.  If I was with a gun totin’ friend, would I have minded he shot the bad guy in the face and hopefully save several people?  I don’t think so.  Would I have shot him to save lots of people?  Maybe… I don’t really know.  I don’t think it is something that we need to be angry about when seeing people post, “That’s why we should carry guns”, however, I think that we need to, yet again, be responsible.  I think too many people carry guns that SHOULD NOT be carrying guns.  I think there is a need for safer gun laws, but then again, why shouldn’t a “normal” doctoral student be able to own a gun?  I really don’t know how I feel about it.  I don’t think there is a right answer.  I am not okay with owning guns.  That shooting was going to happen no matter what.  Unfortunately, there was nothing any of us could do.

I would like to know your thoughts on the subject, however, all I see on facebook are arguments back and forth.  Maybe it’s too soon?  I don’t think we will ever, ever understand.

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