2013 in Review Or 2013 You Sucked!

Normally I’m a pretty nostalgic person. I get a little sad at the end of the year over all the good times that had passed, the loved ones we may have lost, and the blessings we were granted. Not this year. Nope. I will be grateful when the clock strikes midnight and 2014 has finally arrived and the Year from Hell as breathed its last.

2013 graphic

Don’t let the door hit ‘ya 2013!
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Last year as 2013 started my hubby and I toasted to the new year with our girls over sparkling cider with the hope that our family would be back home in Pennsylvania. Well we are, but it didn’t go down the way we hoped…

Who would have guessed just over two months later I would lose my job, and with it the sole source of income for the family. Unemployment in the state we were living in topped out at less than $400 a week, and I had been making more than that…much much more. Needless to say things went from bad to worse pretty fast. We moved to our home state to be closer to family and where there is a lower cost of living. A good idea but it took my kids away from the schools and friends they knew and forced them to start over in a location we weren’t (and still aren’t 100%) comfortable with.

Fortunately my husband found a job in the industry he worked in before we moved away. Unfortunately he makes about a fifth of what I had been making. I applied for jobs every week and went on interviews, but got nowhere.

Mean while my health, which had everything to do with me losing my job, just got worse and worse. It wasn’t long before the brain fog I was feeling everyday was seeping into the interviews and I couldn’t really hide it any more. I get up and get the kids to school and have every intention of getting lots of things done, but most of the time I end up laying down and going back to sleep. I had my first appointment with one of the best rheumatologists in the city, who happens to be highly respected for her work across the country, and it was awful – I’m not looking forward to a second appointment in a few weeks (that’s another post for another time),

Then there was the violent meeting between my husband and a large deer while he was on the way home from work one night that totaled our car. We couldn’t get a loan to get a decent car and bought a car older and worth less than the one that was totaled. My husband seems fairly confident in this decision. I wish I was. In the less than two months we’ve had it, it spent almost two weeks back at the place we bought trying to figure out what was wrong with it and we owe them another $200. My in-laws felt bad because they found and convinced us to buy it so they paid to have some of the other stuff wrong with it fixed. (Yes, we bought a car we knew had problems because that’s all we could afford.)

I know it sounds like it, but it wasn’t all bad. I’ve been spending more time with my daughters. I’ve been cooking more, which means more things “from scratch” and less from a box like my husband does. My girls seem to like and it. I’m getting to cook with the girls and teach them a few things, which they seem to enjoy – but it can be hard to tell sometimes with a 15 year old.

Let’s not forget I wrote my first novel. It still seems strange to type. I’ll be working on editing that and writing the next one in January. I don’t know where it’ll take me. Hopefully someone will read what I write, and I’ve got some ideas on how to get it out there, but at the moment telling some stories and getting them out of my head and on the page is the important part. I mean it doesn’t make much sense to plan on publishing and marketing when you don’t have a finished story yet. So I’m focusing on one step at a time.

It’s so hard to look back and realize that in less than a year we went from giving to Toys for Tots and food pantries to receiving from them. I know it’s just a bump in the road. I know we’ll get through this. We’re together and that’s the most important part. Our family and friends are being really supportive and that’s huge.

Despite everything that happened in this year we’re still hopeful. Things will get better. It doesn’t change the fact that 2013 sucked.

Here’s hoping 2014 is better. Happy New Year All!

Lighted Christmas Angel on top of a Christmas tree

Sometimes faith is the most important thing to have when it’s the hardest thing to hold on to.

Friday’s Guilty Pleasure for 12/20/2013

Tis the season for more Holiday Guilty Pleasures! I’m going back in time for this week’s guilty pleasure to something I’m pretty sure most of you have never seen…three black-and-white stop motion videos from the 1950’s that are a tradition on my hometown TV station. People love them so much that they’ve posted them on-line so that the folks who moved away and can’t make it home over the holidays can still see the videos and share them with their families.

There’s just something special about these little songs. They’re so simple. So quant. A reminder of a simpler time when Christmas wasn’t about the latest electronic device and a lot more about your family and friends. They’re part of the Christmas Magic I’ve been look for. I don’t know that watching them helps me find it, but it brings back all kinds of memories and today I’ll take it.

Without any further adieu, here are the three videos that I can’t help but watch each Christmas.

Here are three friends of the Big Man in the Red Suit that you probably don’t know. This is probably my favorite video. It also spawned outbursts of, “And Joooooeee,” whenever someone listed names, and what’s not to love about that.

Frosty is the MAN! Well, the snowman. He looks a little different here than what a lot of us are use to, but he’s still his thumpity-thump-thump self.

Don’t forget Suzy Snowflake who is dressed in a snow-white gown and tapping on the window panes of North Main Street! Born from the classic 1951 song written by Sid Tepper and Roy Brodsky, and most notably performed by Rosemary Clooney, Suzy characterizes everything that is fun about the first snowfall of the year!

I find Hardrock, Coco, and yes, Joe, absolutely adorable. And if you are anything like the me, you’ll catch yourself humming Suzy Snowflake’s little theme song for days! Enjoy!

Merry Christmas One and All!

If you have an idea for next week’s Guilty Pleasure – or if you would like to be the special Guest Blogger and write next week’s Guilty Pleasure post, drop me a line here! I would LOVE to hear your ideas. Especially all you Spoonies and Chronic Babes – what are the those little guilty pleasures that make the bad days a little better? Let’s share and help each other!

Looking for Christmas Magic

This has been a really rough year for us. Between loosing my job, and my health getting worse, and the car getting totaled, and now loosing my unemployment benefits and my freelance work suddenly getting put on hold, it feels like we’ve been kicked while we’re down over and over and over. It’s hard to find things to get excited about when all you can really think about is trying to find enough money for food and rent. I know things could be worse. I’m grateful we have a roof over heads (for now at least) and we are still managing to keep the kids fed, but it’s a constant struggle and hanging over our heads.

Christmas tree lit with white lights

Looking for Christmas Magic

We have our tree up and a few decorations. We’ve done our little bit of meager Christmas shopping. But with all of the stress and the worry and drama and the trauma of the last 10 months, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me.

My favorite part of the holidays is the magic. The feeling that anything is possible. The ideas of rebirth, renewal and goodwill. The belief that miracles really can and do happen. And maybe, just maybe, if we wish hard enough, a little of the magic in the twinkling lights and Santa’s sleigh and the stillness of Christmas Eve will rub off on us and at least for a few moments the world will be a better place.

I’m just not seeing it this year. The lights are just lights. The bells are making my tinnitus go overtime. The preparation is making me even more exhausted. And my daughters’ excitement for the big day is making me anxious. There’s no big hope for a better tomorrow, I’m just hoping to make it through today.

I want the magic. I want to feel like there’s something special in the air. I want to believe that miracles can happen, but after everything I’ve seen and been through over the years and looking at the choices I’m facing, I’m sorry to say I have my doubts right now. I guess I still believe miracles happen, I just don’t believe they’re meant for me. I really want to believe they could, I just don’t know how any more.

But Christmas is the time for miracles and rebirth. Maybe I can find the magic I’m looking for. Maybe we’ll get the miracle we need and things will start to turn around (I’m not expecting to hit the lottery – that ship already sailed, but maybe a job or better pay for my husband or a bonus that will actually cover our bills would be nice).

Heaven knows I’m trying to believe. I really need to believe because if I can’t find a way to believe in the magic of Christmas, I’m not sure what I’m going to find to believe in the rest of the year.

Friday’s Guilty Pleasure for 12/13/2013

Tis the season for Holiday Guilty Pleasures! This week’s Guilty Pleasure is more of a genre – it’s the cheesy Christmas movie.

There are loads of them playing pretty much 24/7 between Lifetime Movie Network and ABC Family and UP and a few other cable channels there are at least three or four new movies every weekend. And these movies play all weekend.

They are the guiltiest of pleasures. The girl always gets the boy. The day is always saved by a Christmas Miracle. There is always hope and always a happy ending. Big bonus – they are family friendly! That’s right Ladies and Gents, you can watch them with the kids, not that kids would want to watch a  lot of them, but there are a few that they would enjoy.

The plots are predictable. The acting by the supporting cast (and occasionally the stars) is not going to be winning any awards. And sometimes the writing is awful. But occasionally there is a real gem.

Love at The Christmas Table starring Danica McKellar is one of my favorites because it goes a little against the grain from most of the movies. Tom Cavanagh made a great almost Santa Clause in Snow along side Ashley Williams and they were a great pair again in Snow 2: Brain Freeze (these are two great ones for watching with the kids). One of the best I’ve seen come out so far this year has been Let It Snow with Candance Cameron Bure, Jesse Hutch and Alan Thicke on the Hallmark Channel. But there are a ton…There was another where Ashley Williams played a librarian at a library was being closed by a handsome young Scrooge type that was cute…There was one with Drew Lachey last weekend on the new Up Network called Guess Who’s Coming to Christmas that wasn’t too bad. But there are a lot out there, so see what you like. (Side Note: Dean Cain is a king of Christmas movies – I believe he’s been in over 20! You don’t have to watch long to find one he’s in.)

So go on, pull up a couch, pour yourself some hot chocolate or a cup of tea and watch. As long as you have cable you can catch these movies. Sure, you’ll know how they’ll all end about 10 minutes in, but you’ll enjoy the trip all the same.

If you have an idea for next week’s Guilty Pleasure – or if you would like to be the special Guest Blogger and write next week’s Guilty Pleasure post, drop me a line here! I would LOVE to hear your ideas. Especially all you Spoonies and Chronic Babes – what are the those little guilty pleasures that make the bad days a little better? Let’s share and help each other!

Tough Decisions

I’ve been doing some thinking, I’ve actually been thinking about it for a long time, and I think it’s time to try to go on disability. I’ve thought about it on and off for a few years and every time I put it off thinking I’m not really that bad, and then I get worse. Part of the reason I lost my job earlier this year was because I sick (long story and I signed paperwork saying I wouldn’t talk about it). I’m pretty sure the reason I’m having trouble finding a new job is because I go into interviews and by the time I’m in there for a few minutes I start forgetting things, lose my train of thought, and generally start blabbering like an idiot.

But it’s not just about work. Most days it’s all I can do to wash a few dishes, make dinner for the kids, read a few emails and get up and down the stairs once a day –  forget about showers, laundry, cleaning, exercise or the other 101 things I should do. The things a “normal” person does in a day. Some days I don’t even get to the dishes, dinner and emails.

Here I am fighting to find a full-time job and I can’t even handle being up and about for a full day. The only thing I’m sure I can do full-time right now is feel like hell, so maybe it is time to look at all options. Part of me knows it’s a logical, practical and totally reasonable decision. Then why do I feel so bad about it?

I know that there are people on disability (both through employers and through the government) who…embellish the truth, shall we say. People who are perhaps a little more abled than claim. I just don’t understand. I guess I can understand the allure of having no work responsibilities on a daily basis, but I don’t understand how you do it without feeling awful about it. I have put off even pulling up the webpage for months because I felt guilty even thinking about it. I’ve pretty much been working at least part-time since I was 19 – not just because I needed to, but because I wanted to.

I spent the better part of the last 10 years being the either the main or sole source of income for my family. I’ve worked really hard. It got to a point where all I could do was work, I didn’t have the strength or energy for anything else. It’s been ingrained in me from childhood that you work as hard as you can until your last breath. I can’t help but wonder if I’m giving up.

Am I the only one who feels like this? Has anyone else gone through this kind of thing? Am I just loosing my mind?