Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2012: My Year In Review.

Forgive my lack of blogging. I've been so busy working on my book series that I have neglected to post something substantial for my loyal readers. As an apology, I've decided to share my year in review! I was inspired by Kyla's post with her favorite pictures and anecdotes of 2012!

I must go ahead and warn everyone reading this that this particular post does contain trigger warnings. I've held nothing back. I probably should have, but I felt like it was time to be transparent for once. I just thought you should be aware before you continued reading.

January 2012

We got a phone call from a friend, who was trying to find someone trustworthy per her soon to be former landlady's request. It took us a while to get this person to meet us and show us the place. But when we finally did, the minute I saw it, I fell in love. It was a cottage, quaint, cozy, and it was perfect for an aspiring writer. Doug did everything in his power to make it happen. We had been through enough tough times, and he knew I was unhappy. We were on the brink of losing everything, so the cottage was an answer to a prayer I didn't even have the strength to pray. 

Moving was a struggle. We had to figure out how to fit a large, two bedroom apartment into a small, one bedroom cottage. The U-Haul kept breaking down. We had to call the company to come and jump it twice! Once we got everything moved out, Doug tried to start the U-Haul, and the battery was dead again! (This was AFTER we stopped using the light so we could see to get our things out!) We had to call the company once again and have them jump it. The good news was that they took one day's worth of rental fees off of our bill because we lost a day due to it breaking down repeatedly.

We spent the month getting settled in as much as possible. (We still don't have anywhere to put some of our things!)

I stayed at my friend, Jodi's, to look after her kitties while she went to Florida. That's when things blew up with a relative of mine, and my first night there was spent locked in a battle of text messages and voicemails. And the evening was already bad enough because our car had broken down on the way there. I responded to two out of her thirty text messages, asking her to stop. One of my other relatives flipped out because I threatened to call the police on the relative harassing me. (I wouldn't really call the police on her. I only said that to attempt to get her to leave me alone.) But I was the bad guy. (I'm always the bad guy.) And I was removed from their Facebook friends list, but I was eventually put back on later. Unfortunately, the relative who harassed me and I are not speaking. I love her and I miss her, (she's my favorite) but I can't continue the relationship due to the drama, the thirty phone calls per day, and the hateful messages if I don't answer every time she calls.

The day after Jodi returned, things blew up with another friend who took the relative's side. I won't go into that. It's over, things are better, and that's all that matters. 

Favorite pics from January:

Boy kitty on my lap!
The Moo Bear!

So not fair…
Exhaustion + a warm kitty on your lap = Zzz…
The Trinity Cat with her evil face!

Pictures of the cottage:

My new kitchen in the Cottage!
The kitchen!

Candle on the kitchen table that I have never lit and the whole cottage smells like blueberry cobbler!
Candle on the kitchen table.

Another view of the living room.
The living room, after our couch was moved in!

Living room at the cottage.
The living room: pics on the entertainment stand.

Preview of the loo.
The loo.

Another view of the loo, sand and shells.
Shells and sand in the loo!

The Writing on the walls in the cottage:

Another inspiring message just above our bed.
In the bedroom: Sing like no one's listening, Dance like nobody's watching, Love like you've never been hurt.

The bedroom wall.
In the bedroom.

On my front door of the cottage.
On the front door: WELCOME. May all who enter as guests leave as friends.

February 2012

February wasn't the month I had hoped for. Unfortunately, we both got sick. And my OCD and stubbornness got me into trouble. I wanted to start cleaning and putting things away, and we were both sick, but despite my illness, I took charge and started moving boxes down to the basement, much to Doug's chagrin. They weren't heavy boxes, just boxes of VHS tapes, and since we didn't have a VCR any longer, they were taking up space in the living room. I took three trips down there. The third trip down was REALLY a trip, and I fell down the three concrete steps into the basement door, which opened, helping me continue to fly about! Boxes flew out of my hands, the contents being slung everywhere by the force of my fall, and I finally skidded to a stop. I cried out when I fell, and I sat there on the concrete floor. I twisted my ankle quite badly. I crawled up the same concrete steps that I flew down face first, (from what I can tell, I actually flipped over during the fall and landed against the door on my back), and crawled through the grass onto the porch, and managed to get myself up the two steps into a standing position, and I slammed against the door, trying to open it while using it for balance. I opened the door and limped inside.

My husband looked at me and asked, "What happened?" I started crying when I told him, and instead of being sympathetic, which he usually is, Doug yelled at me! I mean he yelled! It was something along the lines of, "I TOLD YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T NEED TO BE MOVING STUFF DOWN INTO THE BASEMENT! IT'S TWENTY FIVE DEGREES OUT! AND YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN OUT BECAUSE YOU'RE SICK AND YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN WEARING A HEAVIER COAT, AND YOU COULD HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED AND I WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THERE TO HELP YOU..." And he just continued to yell, which made me cry harder. Then, I began peeling off layers of clothing, and he stopped yelling because he saw blood. I had apparently scraped up my back, and had paint chips from the basement door imbedded into my skin. They were in my hair, too. And not only did I scrape up my back, I ripped up my side, my elbows, my shoulders, and both of my knees. (Oddly enough, my jeans didn't rip.) My ankle and foot were bruised. My wrists and hands hurt, where I tried to stop my fall. I was covered in bruises, and more bruising showed up within the next three days. He felt bad for yelling at me when he saw all of my injuries. He spent the evening cleaning and bandaging my wounds, removing every paint chip from my hair and my back, and he put me on the prayer list. I felt like such an idiot, but to this day, he won't even let me carry a tissue box down to the basement in broad daylight!

By the time our anniversary arrived on the fourteenth, we were still too sick to celebrate. We did manage to go out for lunch, then we went home and got back in bed (I was still sore from my injuries) until it was time for Doug to go to class. I'm sure neither of us thought it was the ideal way to celebrate, but it was what it was. We made it to the eleventh anniversary. (I think the eleventh anniversary is illness.)

Doug interviewed for a job later on in the month. The night before his interview, I spiked a fever of 102. I didn't dare wake him up because this interview was important. He was only getting fifteen hours per week with the company he was working for at the time. I managed to fend for myself until I went back to sleep. He made it to his interview and eventually got the job.

Doug's father had to undergo another bowel surgery this month. He was in recovery for four hours. Finally, my mother-in-law was taken to the ICU waiting area, where she finally got to see him during their odd hours. Some of our mornings and evenings were spent waiting in the ICU lobby for our turn to visit him. (Since the surgery, he hasn't improved. He's still on oxygen, he can't get up or even be pushed around in a wheelchair. He has remained in the same condition, which is sad.)

At the end of the month, I had what I thought was a routine appointment with the doctor. I won't go into details, but I ended up having an emergency procedure. Doug had to take the evening off from work (still at the company that only gave him fifteen hours per week) to look after me. He almost lost his job over it, but neither of us cared at that moment. The pay barely covered the gas for him to get back and forth, and the company treated him like dirt.

Favorite pics from February:

Trinity in the loo.
Trinity in the loo!

Trinity <3’s neck rubs! (And my hand looks really weird here.)
Trinity in the loo with me!

Unexpected purple flowers in the front yard of the cottage!
Flowers in the front yard at the end of February!

Doug surprised me with this tonight. Really cheered me up since I’ve been feeling so terrible all day.
Rose my husband got to cheer me up!

My favorite chocolates…much better than the gamble chocolate.
Chocolates my husband got me for Valentine's Day/11th Wedding Anniversary!

March 2012

March was a better month. Doug got the job with the other company. He was making more money. I was feeling better. The weather warmed up, and oddly enough, I was inexplicably happy! Doug's always thrilled when the weather warms up because that means he can char mammal flesh over an open flame outside in the yard. We sat around on the patio in the backyard on warm days, roasted marshmallows over a fire on the cool nights, and had a good time.

We lost our electric service for an unpaid bill that we were unaware of, even after calling and switching the electric over to the cottage. They were updating their system, but of course, it's never their fault. We're deadbeats who don't want to pay. Sad thing is that we had the money, but they still couldn't get it turned on in a timely manner. But we survived. That's all that matters.

The day after the electric was cut off, the gas got shut off. My husband was accused of being a woman who no longer lived there, and said he NEVER paid the gas bill since he lived there. We even showed the idiot our driver's licenses, but he still accused us of lying, then said we were taking food out of his family's mouths. Alrighty then. So he yelled at us then shut it off. It wasn't our gas service anyway! We tried to tell him that we called and had it switched over, but the gas company is updating their records, and of course, it's never their fault. Not only that, they are telling us we owe $1,000 in unpaid bills for a house that we did not live at during the time the bills were accrued. Again, this is our fault, not theirs. They even tried to tell us we never called and had it switched! I made the phone call, Doug was there when I did. But again, it's never their fault. We have to find the lease to try and prove that we were not living at that address, but that doesn't mean it won't go on our credit, or that the gas company will remove the fee from our bill. We are still currently locked in a battle with the gas company, but I am happy to report that we have gas service.

We also sold our broken down car that month.

Doug's father was in and out of the hospital still. The hospital was trying to find a place that would take him with all of the machines he was hooked up to. He was eventually moved to Heartland of Riverview, until he was hospitalized again and his bed was taken by another patient.

April 2012

I turned another year older. Doug took me to dinner and to two movies. We saw Wrath of the Titans in 3D. I'm a huge fan of Greek mythology, but I understand that mythology consists of just that, myths. We saw Titanic in 3D a few days later. It was awesome!!!

Some of my wonderful friends took me out for my birthday during the month as well!

My friend, Manuela, took me out to eat and to Starbucks. We ate too much and caught up on each other's lives.

My friend Allison took me to Chili's and to the mall. She bought me a few things from Old Navy. We had fun and got caught up on events and happenings in our lives as well.

At some point, my father-in-law got moved to another nursing home, H--------- Health and Rehab Center, just up the road from the local hospital, CHH. He remains there to this day.

Favorite pics from April:

Lunch at the hospital.
Lunch at the hospital with my mnl.


Have a dekko at what I found on my porch swing! It’s so cool! My husband said if I kissed the frog that it may turn into a prince, or one of my male characters from my book.
A frog came to visit our porch swing this month!

This is my nephew, who diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I never thought those three words would affect my life ever. His mother, my sister-in-law, is a carrier. She had a brother who had DMD. There are no survivors.
I’m having a hard time with this…
Favorite pic of my nephew this month!

I love how you can see their shadows on the water.

Me watching the ducks swim.
Me watching the ducks swim!

We got too close to the geese.
Geese and babies!!!

Geese! (See the babies laying down in the grass?)
Geese and babies!!

May 2012

It got incredibly warm in May. May is usually a lousy month for me. I hate, abhor, and detest Spring and Summer! I am a Fall and Winter type of person. I'm fairly sure I have Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. But May of 2012 was different. I was happy to see warm weather. I didn't even care about the allergies that Spring brought with it. May is also usually my record breaking month for migraines. May of 2011, I had 25 migraines! May of 2012, I may have had five. 

May also brought another pleasant surprise. My friend called me after reading a blog post. When I wrote the particular post, I was thinking of many things, her included. I was thinking of how there are moments that none of us will ever get back. I was sitting there holding my kitty and petting her, and I knew even though she would come back to my lap again later that the next moment wouldn't be the same. I talked about holding on to what you have and thanking God for it. It was a very intense post, and I sobbed my way through it. Little did I know what would result from my transparent moment.

My friend called and left a message on my voicemail. She was crying. We had an argument in November, right before her bridal shower. I won't go into details because it doesn't matter now. Some things were said, I took them seriously, and instead of listening to my friend and realizing that she was nervous about the changes going on in her life, I became the lion that I am. I was ready to defend her to the death, but that wasn't the right approach. You see, my problem is loyalty. I am fiercely loyal. (And I wear my heart on my sleeve. I can be seriously emotionally hurt, but I can look you in the face and tell you I'm okay and make you believe it by hiding behind my fierceness.) I will fight to the death for my friends and my family, even if its against another friend or family member that wronged them. That's just how I am. And I am a redhead, which doesn't help matters where the temper is concerned. So I went all, "off with their heads" and lost a friend in the process.

Anyway, I saw I had a voicemail, and I listened to it. Needless to say, I had to stop sobbing so I could pick up the phone and ring her back. We talked. We cried. We apologized to each other. And she gave me the worst news possible. She was sick, status epilepticus, which became refractory status epilepticus (refractory status epilepticus is when three anti-eleptic medications have been given and the seizure activity continues; some definitions say it's after three different types of treatment are administered). They were sending her to Cleveland Clinic. She wanted things to be right between us because she didn't know what was going to happen to her. I was scared. I was glad we worked things out. I thought I had just lost her friendship. I didn't know there was a risk I could lose her in the sense of death, and I wasn't prepared for that, not in the least. 

May was also the month I stopped drinking soda. One day, my size fives were too tight, and I spent the day crying. I had heard that if I would stop drinking soda, I would have a flat stomach. I decided to try it. I got through day one just fine, but day two, I was all, "SHELLYE SMASH!" I stayed away from people that day for fear I would flip out and go on a crime spree. I STILL don't have a flat stomach, and I won't until I have a tummy tuck!

Crystal came in around Memorial Day. We had a cook out and she spent the night. She was preggers with a baby boy!!! She still wasn't showing so much, but if you felt her abdomen, you could tell there was a baby in there!!!

June 2012

June was June, summer, and I hate it. We did have cook outs and The Doug turned another year older on June 27th. He doesn't mind. He's three months younger than me, and he teases me about it at every opportunity. One minute, he says, "Why do make it sound like I'm years younger than you when I'm just almost three months younger?" The next minute, he's calling me old, which results in lots of shouting...lots of lots of shouting.

My friend Allison also turned another year older on the 24th. I met up with her at a later time to give her birthday gifts!

Doug also got his dream job, what he thought was his dream job, this month. And we were back on our feet by the end of the month.

The end of June was spent dealing with severe storms that kept cutting power out all over the city in which we live. The nursing home where my father-in-law lives even lost power, and they had to hook him and all of his machinery up to generators for several days. My mother-in-law still visited, leaving her air conditioned home to sit inside a 100 degree building. We were spared during the first round of power outages. 

July 2012

July was July, Summer, the season I loathe to hate. *lol* Things were going well for us for the most part. We were getting things back in order financially. Storms were hitting left and right, knocking power out for residents all over the city. The first week of July was apparently our turn. And with temperatures at 100 degrees and rising, the cottage became a sweat lodge, even with both doors open. Thankfully, Manuela let me stay with her, while Doug braved the heat. And 4th of July was spent with a severe migraine. I couldn't even go out and enjoy the fireworks. But the good news was that the outage was fixed just before the weekend.

August 2012

August is always my favorite month of the horrible season everyone calls Summer, because the Perry Stone Conference takes place at our church. Then school starts, and that means Fall is right around the corner!

Perry Stone Conference was awesome as always, and Perry is so beyond the valley of the intelligent! I can hardly keep up with him! I hung in there, took notes, and learned so much! At the end of the conference, my brain is always like this: CEREBELLUM'D! OW MY ENTIRE LIFE! *lol*

Manuela attended the conference with me except for the last two days, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday, she had training for a job she had been looking forward to obtaining. Saturday, I was so sick. I have no idea what happened. I just couldn't hold my head up. I didn't make it to pick Manuela up from training, and Doug had to do the media for the service that evening, so he couldn't do it, and he wasn't about to let me drive anywhere. Then Sunday, during the morning services, I had a migraine, so I hardly got any notes.

Manuela and I went to lunch one of the days during the conference, after the first service. We were sitting there eating, and all of the sudden, a older guy walks over, sits down at the empty table across from us, and starts talking to us. Most people say I am not an approachable person unless they know me, so for him to walk over was kind of startling. We found out he recognized us from the conference. That was fine, at least I knew why he was there. That made me feel better, but I was hungry. I wanted to eat, not talk. Manuela was kind enough to talk to him while I ate and listened. Thankfully, she's a social person. Me, not so much unless I know the people I am interacting with. So an hour later, after his wife came over and chatted with us, they left. Manuela's like, "I didn't want to be rude, but I wanted to eat!" *lol* So I said, and it was just jokingly because he was a nice guy, I said, "When Christians attack." And Manuela put her hand up on top of her head like a shark fin and said, "It's Christian Week." THAT WAS AWESOME! We kept laughing about that the rest of the week! She would look at me during the conference and put her hand up on top of her head and sing the Jaws theme to make me laugh! I got her back by drawing pictures and actually writing out the lyrics to the Jaws theme song! Du du, du du... *LOL* We're stupid like that.

Favorite picture from August: The Trinity Cat's hiding place in the closet shelf!

August was also the month that everything went back to square one in our lives. Manuela and I went out for lunch the day it happened. It was a particularly bad day. I was all, "SHELLYE SMASH," that day for some reason. Manuela couldn't go with me to pick Doug up from work, although I wish she had. Maybe that would have softened the blow. I don't know. When my husband came out, he looked upset. He had been sick off and on all summer with different things, stomach issues that he kept catching from his previous employees, so I just assumed he was sick again. When he got into the car, and we drove away, he told me what happened. He worked the last part of the day with his boss, who drove him back to the office, and his boss complained about people who are poor and/or on unemployment as he drove them back to the office, which Doug didn't think much about his chosen topic. He just listened. After all, it was his boss. The minute they get back to the building, his boss had the audacity to retreat to his office and had someone else sack my husband. He was with him for several hours, and did not say a word, just complained about the unemployed, like that was supposed to be some sort of hint. I won't go into it. I just thought it was a lousy thing to do. 

The news was such a shocking blow to both of us. It came out of nowhere. Here we were, getting back on our feet, having more money than we could even spend, living the good life, and it was all gone in a flash. There were other repercussions from him taking this job he loved so much, then it being taken away, but I won't go into those either. The first thing I did was blame myself. It was obvious I had done something wrong. The second thing I did was send a text to one of my pastors, and then sent an email to the prayer chain. Little did I know, my account was being worked by hackers, and the email never got to them. The third thing I did...***before I go into that, I should post a trigger warning disclaimer here***...was formulate a plan for my own demise. We got home, I went into the bedroom and had a little lie down in bed. Doug went to the living room, where he posted about the situation on Facebook. My friend sent me a text message. The last thing I felt like doing was talking to someone. I just acted like everything was fine, then I went into my goodbye speech, in a roundabout way. I told her I would always love her no matter what, and I was glad things were fine between us. I'm not sure if she knew something was up or not. I wanted her to know. I wanted someone to know what I was about to do, but I didn't want to tell them. The only thing I wanted to do was end my life. (I'm sorry if it's getting too real in here, but there's no reason to hide it now.) Here we were, once again faced with losing everything. And I couldn't go through it again, not again. I wasn't strong enough to handle it. I had the plan ready, and I got up the courage to go get the keys from Doug. He flipped out on me for wanting to leave, but handed me the keys and said goodbye. I started to walk out the door, but stopped. He said goodbye. He had no idea that it would be for the last time. And I suddenly couldn't go through with it. He couldn't lose his job and his wife, not in the same day. I thought of a police officer delivering the news to him. I thought of him having to call my mother, my family, my friends, the church, our landlady. It was so clear in my mind how this would devastate everyone. I thought of how suicide leaves unanswered questions and broken lives. My family and friends lives would remain in pieces because of me. And I stopped and shut the door and turned to my husband. I said, "Please, Doug, go with me, You have no idea what's about to happen. Please go with me." And he asked, "Where are we going?" I couldn't answer him. I just said we needed to go somewhere, anywhere, and I couldn't be alone, not for a minute. We decided to go out to dinner. Even though we had all of this money, because of his work schedule and his school schedule, we rarely went out for a nice dinner. We were both too busy.

On the way to the restaurant, my friend continued texting me. I don't know if she realized I was in trouble, but she just kept sending me messages while I sat in the passenger seat, tears sliding down from behind my sunglasses. And suddenly, I get this message. "I SEE YOU!" I replied with, "What? Where?" She said, "Burgundy car, just drove passed you!" So Doug flew to catch up with them. And I saw her in the back seat of the car. She smiled and waved. And I smiled genuinely for the first time since I heard the news, and waved back. A message came through a few minutes later. "HI." And I replied with, "Hi." It was like God was watching out for me, even though I wondered where He was. I knew I couldn't go through with my plan, not that day, not the next day, not the day after. We got to the restaurant, and I confessed the entire thing to my husband, who was not happy. He did spare me the lecture though. I think he was concerned about sending me over the edge because it was obvious that I was already standing there, looking over.

When I got home that night, Manuela called me. Now mind you, I had said NOTHING on Facebook. I think my status that day was something to the effect of wishing I was a fictional character in my book series. Doug had put it out there, not me. But when I answered the phone, the first thing she said was, "Shellye don't you dare do what I know you're thinking of doing. Don't harm yourself. If you die, your characters die right along with you, and I know Peter would be angry if you put him in a casket!" (I laughed so hard at that last remark that I cried. My character, Peter, would be very angry.)

The next day, Saturday, I ended up in the hospital emergency department with a serious infection that required antibiotics. Thankfully, they were inexpensive and I got my first dose at the emergency room. Doug picked them up on Sunday morning. I was on them for twelve days. 

The following Saturday, I was at the hospital again. This time, it was because I had two back to back migraines within a twelve hour period. The doctor was less than nice. She acted like I was faking when she tested my arm strength. She asked me if I was for sure having migraines. Doug was unhappy because he felt like it was a waste of our time to even go to the hospital. The doctor reluctantly did some imaging and tested me to make sure I hadn't experienced a stroke, and sent me on my way. That was fine. I was glad to go rather than have to stay and listen to the woman lecture me about coming into her ER faking  migraine. I got a referral to a neurologist. That alone was worth the trip. But those two migraines were the precursor to September being my record breaking month.

August, all in all, was filled with some intense changes in our lives. This month, and the following two months, I found out who my friends were when I had nothing to offer them, not even myself. I thought my church had abandoned me. That's a long story. I heard rumors from church members and former church members alike. The former boss and his family attend the church, so some of the rumors consisted of that the boss had told people that my husband was a lousy employee and sacking him was the best decision he had made. and that Doug was fired over attendance (which Doug NEVER missed one day of work during his two months there) and that he was sacked because a family member needed a job. and all of these rumors. Some were obviously not true. And while I considered the source and knew that 99% of the rumors were just that, rumors, they didn't help me feel any less abandoned and upset.

September 2012

September, the rumors continued to reach my ears, and I continued to be silent. I didn't go to church for several reasons. I did not know if I could control myself upon seeing Doug's former boss, and the last thing I needed was to embrace my anger. I didn't want to go and start verbally assaulting everyone for abandoning me when I was on the edge because they didn't know I was on the edge, and I didn't know their side of the story at the time. I didn't want to burn bridges I so desperately needed. Doug still attended, still did the screens, although I have no idea how he did it. I worried he may run into his former boss, but I also knew he was in control of his anger. I tend to shoot first and ask questions later. I'm a lion, my first response is to roar and put fear into the hearts of those who hurt me, or those who hurt my loved ones. I will fight to the death, no matter the consequences. But at this point, I had no fight left in me. I was done. It was over. And I couldn't fight for myself. I had no idea if anyone was kind enough to fight for me.

September was the "Month of the Migraine". I had a record breaking month with eleven migraines eleven days in a row. We missed out on events, including a $60 dollar per ticket musical at a local theater. 

The view of my bedside table, which I saw more in the month of September than I ever did before.

We ran into some people from our church at a local pizza place, and they reminded us of Judgement House. I later called my room director from last year and asked what I needed to do because I hadn't been to church. But I got no response for the rest of the month. I was devastated. No matter what problems I was having, Judgement House is very important to me. I was committed to doing it, and I wasn't going to back out because of the rumors. You don't break a commitment because of drama, especially if you don't know both sides of the story.

Fall Decorations!

From left to right: My mother in high school, my brother obscured by decorations, my great grandmother, Anna Browning, and me

From left to right: Jodi and I, top middle: me and my brother. right: me, Moo Bear, and Doug.

Picture of me and my father that my brother had made for me!

The living room, part of the couch and the entry way to the kitchen, decorated for Fall.

Looking into the living room from the kitchen.

Union Jack nail polish design!

Union Jack nail polish design!

September was also the marriage retreat, which we had planned to go on, but being broke kind of cancelled that trip. I wasn't ready to face anybody at that point as it was.

I was sick on the first day of Fall, so we didn't go out for our traditional first day of Fall drive.

I made this picture on the Keep Calm O'Matic!

My friend did come over to hang out with me, which made my September great! It was like old times. It was the highlight of my month!

October 2012

October, my life was what it was, hopeless. I felt abandoned. I decided that's just how my life was supposed to be. And I stopped lamenting about it. (I didn't really complain about it publicly, but I threw my pity party daily, and nobody was invited.) I decided that I had my book and I had my husband, my family, some good friends, and I had my life, and that was enough for me. But that first week of October, things changed dramatically.

I made this picture on the Keep Calm O'Matic!

I made this one too!

Beautiful Fall tree in our neighborhood, just outside of the cottage.

Beautiful, but blurry, Fall trees!

Beautiful Fall sunset with clouds that look like hands.

Shelly#2 called and asked me to go with her to the Pumpkin Festival on Thursday, which was the first day. I was elated! She wanted a girls day out, so we did it! I pushed her around the festival in her wheelchair, we talked. I kept having to stop to sit down. *lol* But we had a great day! I was staring to enjoy Fall again. Afterwards, she came over to the house and we watched two movies and acted as ridiculous as Turk and JD from Scrubs. It was awesome!

On Saturday, a day after I went to the festival with Shelly#2, Doug and I went to the festival with our friend of thirteen years, and my editor, Carrie, her fiance, Jason, who we've known for a bit over a year, and their son, Avery!

Doug and I at the festival. (I look kind of huge here.)

It started out as a cold day, the first real cold day of the Fall. Then, it became an extremely warm day. I brought a jacket and heels, expecting to need them, but by the time we got there, it was 80 degrees. I was so glad I brought my floppies. Carrie was nice enough to store my coat and heels in Avery's stroller.

We walked around the festival, catching up. I was fussing over Avery. (He's so beyond the valley of the gorgeous!) And we had an awesome time!

It was growing cold, and we were getting tired. So we had a little sit down. I put on my jacket, as did the others, and we covered Avery up in his stroller.

I was holding a rose that Doug got me. Avery was giggling, so I started gently holding it over the stroller, then pulling it back, and HE GIGGLED!!! Carrie and Jason got it on video! IT WAS ADORABLE! (I was making faces at him, too, hence the weird look on my face.) Jason was sitting at the table behind us, talking with Doug.

From Left to Right: Jason, Avery, and Carrie! (I think Carrie is beautiful! And she has the best smile!!! For Christmas of 1999, one of the gifts I got her was a Pokemon Jiggly Puff night light, and I have a picture of her holding it. She looked so adorable! To this day, it is my favorite picture of her! I think that's why her sons are beautiful because she is, she really is!)

We finally got too cold and tired to continue, so we went to our respective cars, and headed to a restaurant to eat, where we did not get very good service, so we had to ask for a manager, who wasn't very kind either. We have no idea what the deal was. (Maybe two redheads sitting at a table together intimidated her? I don't know.) But despite the lousy service and the rude staff, we had a good time chatting.

After we ate, Carrie and Jason had to get back home. They had a two hour drive from the restaurant. Thankfully, we only had a twenty minute drive. I was beat. I barely made it into the cottage before I ended up crashing.

Here are a couple of pics I took of Fall treats!

Fall treats consisting of a Pumpkin Chai cupcake and a Chai Latte from Paula Vega! (I can never finish an entire cupcake!) I had finally taken the husband out for cupcakes as promised. (My next goal is to take him out for Tamago.)

Fall treats from Tropical Moon. It was my first time there with Christi! This is pumpkin frozen yogurt with candy corn and a cherry.

On Wednesday morning, the tenth, I had my first neurology appointment. It went well, other than when I had to see the lab vampires. The doctor was the same one who diagnosed my father-in-law with Lewy Body Dementia. This is an except of what I wrote about the appointment:
The neurology appointment went better than I even expected. I’ve been brushed off by other neurologists that I have been referred to in the past. So it was nice that this doctor has taken an interest in my case. 
The appointment was at nine a.m., but I was instructed to be there at 8:40. I did not want to be there at nine, much less earlier! But I had my coffee and made it there in time.
 First, there was the mountain of paperwork. I didn’t even get it completed in time before I was called back.
 A nurse practitioner came out and escorted me and my husband back to the room. She was a fellow redhead! The visit was already shaping up nicely! She was really pretty. The first thing she did was introduce us to the neurologist.(This is the first time that’s ever happened! Maybe this is the custom for new patients. *shrugs*) When we shook hands, my husband and I realized we had met this doctor before. (I’ll get to that later.) Next, we went to the exam room. It was huge compared to the ones at my doctor’s office. The usual  tests were run.
  • Temp: 98.1
  • Heart Rate: 123 (White Coat Syndrome, anyone?)
  • Blood Pressure: 166/88 (I think it was 166/88. I was freaking out.)
  • Respiration: 16
  • Height: 5’5
  • Weight: 129 lbs (My least favorite part!)
 Then, we went over the list of endless questions. When was your first migraine? Did an accident or injury trigger it? How long have you been having them? How much pain do you have with them? And so on and so forth. This took an hour and a half. Most of the questions were the same ones on the booklet I filled out. (I felt right at home as a writer filling out that booklet! *lol*) I shared my migraine diary with her, and we went over that. She had me do some odd tests. They were to test my arm and leg strength. This is where the worst news of the visit occurred. My right arm is significantly weaker than my left. She repeated the test, but it was just as bad as before. My leg strength was equal. (I’ve always had some awesome leg strength! I can put the pin at the bottom of the leg press and do reps with EVERY single weight attached. I have no idea why! My legs don’t look that impressive. *shrugs*) Then, she checked my reflexes, which were good, except in my right arm. After more questions and odd tests, the doctor came in. I knew for sure who he was.
We went through some of the more basic, standard questions. Then, he repeated the tests, and he said there was definitely some significant damage in my right arm. I wanted to cry. This can affect my ability to write, my ability to type, my ability to do every day tidying on my cottage. But there it was, right there. He didn’t have an answer about what caused the damage.
The doctor was satisfied with my left arm strength and leg strength. Then, he checked my reflexes. Same results as last time. He prescribed me a beta blocker (because my heart rate and B/P were up.) so those things are being looked into. Then, he sent me down for lab work. He wants to look at some levels in my blood before putting me through more imaging, although he plans on doing imaging in the near future.

I made this picture!

I have another appointment on the 28th of February.

Candles Doug got me to cheer me up after my neurology appointment. (They were on sale.)

Thursday, the eleventh, my husband got a text from someone at church, concerning my fnl and my appointment, to see how those things went. I was kind of shocked that we heard from anyone, considering that I hadn't heard from anyone for over a month.

The following Tuesday, my mnl got a call from the nursing home about my fnl. They essentially said he was dying. Doug left to take her to the nursing home. I stayed home. I was tired. I didn't feel like I could do anything for him if I went. I put in a prayer request and it was published immediately, which shocked me. To make a long story short, my fnl was only dehydrated, so they called and scared my mnl and my husband nearly to death over dehydration? Seriously?

Late Tuesday evening, I got a call from my Judgement House, room director, saying I was indeed needed and to come to the first practice tomorrow. I said I would, but I was nervous. I didn't know what to expect the moment I walked through the church doors. The rumors came back to my mind, trying to convince me that they were all true. I kept shoving them out of my head. 

The next evening, Wednesday evening, I stepped inside the main entrance an hour early for practice. My suspicions of the rumors being just rumors were confirmed almost immediately, and I began to relax. I did relax a little too much, because I did come face to face with Doug's former boss, who glared at us! We didn't even speak to him, he was just sitting right there, and he glared at us like we had no right to be there! Really? How immature is that, glaring at us like a bloody child! Even though I wanted to say something, I did the right thing. I walked away without saying a word, but I did tell Doug I needed to leave. I felt that was the wise thing to do. But people kept stopping and talking to us, asking me where I had been. That calmed my nerves some, but as soon as we were finished talking to everyone, we headed straight for the car.

Gorgeous Fall Sunset!

But on to the good things...

We went to Circleville for the Pumpkin Show! Shelly#2 went with us!!! Doug pushed her around in her wheelchair this time, and we perused the huge festival for hours! Despite the lousy weather and how exhausted we were after walking around, we had a great day!

Me and Shelly#2! I sat in her lap and pretended to be bad!

Me and Shelly#2 in front of a random house in Circleville, OH!

Then, Judgement House happened the following week, as did Hurricane Sandy.

As most people know, during Judgement House week, I am unavailable. I don't get on Facebook, I don't get on Twitter, I don't have a chance to return phone calls, and I don't make phone calls because I don't have time. I might get a paragraph or two of work done on my book series, but as a general rule, I don't work on it during Judgement House week. This year was different. Not only were we dealing with Judgement House issues that crop up every year, Hurricane Sandy was headed straight toward the majority of the Judgement House participants loved ones. My mother and Arlene were right in its path. Each night, we prayed for the safety of our loved ones as well as for lives to be changed during Judgement House that night. Doug had bronchitis before the start of Judgement House, and I ended up with it during the week. I was not a happy camper. So the week was stressful enough. Then, I got a call I never expected to receive. My friend, Crystal, and her baby were in a bad place. She wasn't due for another four weeks, and her friend, Leslie, called me five minutes before I stepped out and did my first scene of the evening, and told me there was a chance Crystal and the baby wouldn't make it. She was so frantic, I could barely understand her. So I posted a status on my Facebook page to pray for Crystal and the baby. I didn't have time to send individual text messages to everyone about the situation, I just knew my friends and family would see it and pray for her. I was in the middle of Judgement House. There wasn't a thing I could do but do my scene and try to keep calm about everything, the hurricane, my family, and now Crystal and the baby. But what's Judgement House week without a family drama to add to the mix?

Crystal's baby, Denzel, who ended up being a healthy, happy baby boy thanks to the doctors, nurses, and prayers!

I got a notification on my phone about comments on my status message. One of them was the same relative who flipped out about me threatening to call the police on the relative who was harassing me. The person basically accused me of not caring and not being concerned about my mother and Arlene. That wasn't true. We prayed for everyone's loved ones in the path of the storm each night. That's all we could do. The person acted like I was living it up at Judgement House, calling everyone but my mother! I didn't call Crystal, her friend called me. But it didn't matter because again, I'm always the bad guy. It's okay. I don't mind. I could have lost my friend and her baby, but I was supposed to be on Facebook, asking for prayer for my mother and Arlene, when they were already being prayed for? When I knew Atlantic City, NJ and Wilmington DE was getting the worst of it, but Newark DE, where my mother and Arlene are located, two people I love dearly, was essentially missed by the biggest hurricane in history? And do you want to know why I think Newark was spared and my family remained safe? Because we prayed! The power of prayer is part of the reason why Crystal and Denzel are still alive! The power of prayer is what's going to help my nephew! And I don't care about my family? Really? I obviously care enough to go to the one person that can move mountains when I can't do a blooming thing in my own power. When I can't be there to help board up windows at my mother's house, or when I can't be at the hospital to hold my friend's hand and tell her that her baby is going to live, and when I am unable to be there at my nephew's doctor's appointments to get first hand information and ask questions because I live too far away, there's nobody else I can go to but God. And from what I've been taught, He can help better than I can.

To this day, I rarely get on Facebook. It's just not worth it. Sure, I'll post the link to this blog there, but I don't get on Facebook and post messages or status updates. I look through it, I go to the pages I want to see updates from, I look at pictures at my nephew, and I respond to things on an as needed basis. I'm to the point where I may get on there once a month, and today is the day for January, I suppose.

A bit of a blurry pic of me in my pajamas after a long night of Judgement House. You could tell I was exhausted and ill, but my hair looked awesome! *lol*

I met up with my friend, Christi. I hadn't seen her in a while, and she had life changes going on as well. So we met at Starbucks and had coffee. It was good to see her again, and get back in touch with her after so long. We've been hanging out ever since.

The rainbow Doug saw on the day Christi and I hung out for the first time in forever!

Here are a few more pics from October!

Doug and the Trinity cat, sleeping.

My nephew, Pauly! Isn't he adorable? I know, I'm biased.

My beautiful sister-in-law, Stacey, making a muscle for Muscular Dystrophy.

And toward the end of the month, I received some unfortunate news. Shelly#2's beloved cat, Biz, passed away.

Biz was one of my favorites, too. She will be missed.

November 2012

Some favorite pics from November:

Our kitties being kitties. Moo Bear wouldn't turn around for the camera, but Trinity posed like a model as I snapped the picture.

Moo Bear in his natural habitat, Doug's lap.

November, I was depressed again. It was the after Fall Festival/Judgement House slump. The holidays were coming, and if they were anything like they were in 2011, I wasn't looking forward to them. The thought of sending out Christmas cards and those letters about the year made me sick. My letter would have gone something like this:

December 2012

Dear Whoever,

Our lives suck. January sucked, February sucked, we celebrated another year of marriage, but we were sick so that sucked. And my father-in-law had to have another surgery, and he's not getting better, and everything basically sucked until my husband got his dream job, then lost it! And now we're broke and we may lose our home and our sanity, but we hope your holiday season is bright! (I'm sure we helped make it brighter!)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 


The Townsend Family,

-Doug and Shellye

I'm sorry, but nobody I know wants to receive a letter like that in their Christmas card! That is the opposite of spreading Christmas cheer! And no, I'm not writing this for anyone to feel sorry for me, or throw me a pity party, I'm just telling the truth! That's why I write Christmas Letters from my characters on this blog instead.

Christmas 2011 sucked. We had nothing to give to each other, no Christmas dinner, no gifts, nothing. So, I could have cared less if the holidays came and went. But again, something happened that changed everything.

One of my friends from another social networking site I belong to wrote me and said they felt like I needed some Christmas spirit, so they were going to send me a gift. I was shocked and excited! I can't say who she is, but she's a nurse, she's a beautiful person inside and out, and she's been such a good friend to me! I hope I can meet her in person one day!

We had a warm November.

So warm, I could wear my floppies! See my polar bears?

Here's my favorite picture of my husband that I snapped this month! He's going to kill me when he sees that I've put it on this post!

Doug and the Moo Kitty.

Then, Christi invited us to her house on Thanksgiving Day! So I had a stress free, worry free, Thanksgiving without the mess to clean up! It was the first one I had in years!!! It was amazing! I just can't believe it actually happened!!! Dinner was wonderful, conversation was wonderful...for the most part, when my mother-in-law didn't talk about some of the aspects of my father-in-law's care. *lol* Christi didn't mind because she had dealt with some of the things with her family members that my mother-in-law talked about.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Christi's!

Doug and I went to see Red Dawn after dinner. It was a rather sad movie, and probably wasn't a good idea.

Of course, Black Friday, that's another thing I refuse to participate in, arrived, and going to the store from that moment on for something as simple as milk became a stress filled nightmare. 

December 2012

December came, and weeks flew by before we decided whether or not even decorate. Doug had put up lights outside of the cottage the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. (It was sixty that day.) But there are many reasons we were thinking about not decorating for Christmas.

  1. The cottage is smaller, so we had no idea where to put the tree. We would have to move furniture out to get a tree in.
  2. Our tree is twelve years old, and falling apart.
  3. We didn't know if we had all of the decorations or not.
  4. We were not really looking forward to the holidays.
  5. The shootings in Connecticut put everything into perspective. The thought of those families having to face the holidays made putting up a Christmas tree seem like a trivial thing to worry about.

We finally decided to put the tree up and make the best of it.

The tree with just the lights on it.

Our tree. (We had to move the table and all of the things on it to put the tree there!)

Closer view of the tree.

We did get some snow this year.

I didn't get a picture of this year's snow, but here's a picture from our last real snow of me. That snow also lasted for a day, if that.

Christmas Eve was rough. I was fine until we went out to do some last minute shopping, then I spent the day feeling like I was going to black out. We made it to the Christmas Eve service, where I ended up with a migraine.

Christmas Day started out okay, but one friend couldn't make it due to illness, then dinner had to be cancelled at Christi's house due to illness, and I ended up having two migraines on Christmas Day. Despite all of that, we had a good dinner, and a better Christmas than 2011.

New Year's Eve was probably one of the best days of 2012, which is surprising. I NEVER look forward to another year. Each year, it's the same thing. I have high hopes for a new year. Then, nothing I hope for happens. Then, I'm disappointed. There's always loss each year. I spend the year waiting for Fall. And it's all downhill from there. This year was different.

The night before, we attended church with our friends, Ed and Jamilaih. We've been going to their church for different things, like their Fall Fest, the Live Nativity, and to hear Ed speak, and it's a great place to go. They had a candlelight NYE service. It was awesome. And they made plans to attend our NYE service.

NYE arrived, and I was tired and felt like blacking out toward the middle of the day, but I made it through. We met Ed and Jamilaih for dinner at Max and Erma's. Jamilaih was ill, but she took some meds and came to ring in the New Year with us! (She is such a sweetheart, and beautiful too!) Then, we went back to the cottage and played The Big Bang Theory board game they received for Christmas. Then, we went to service together.

I felt differently during the beginning of the service than normal. Usually, I dread NYE and I want to get it over with, and go home. That night, I felt differently about it. I was, dare I say, excited. When we filled out our prayer cards for the year, (mine was two, almost three pages long so I always grab two or three cards when they hand them out) Doug looked at me and reminded me that thirteen was our lucky number. He was right, thirteen is our lucky number. And I looked at him, shocked that he pointed it out to me and not me to him. Maybe 2013 is going to be our year after all. 

We filled out our prayer cards, we took communion, and the ball dropped. This time, I wasn't crying when it did. I just stood there, and I looked my friends and the people around me. Everything felt different. And I smiled.

The church served breakfast afterwards. We sat with Ed, Jamilaih, and Christi, and ate and talked and had a good time.

Ed and Jamilaih loved the service. They saw a few people they knew, and even got connected with someone else who is doing missions for Belize!

We all went our separate ways around 1:30 that morning. I had a wonderful evening. Maybe things will be different this year.

Anything's possible...right?

*Since composing this post, many wonderful things have happened, and I will post separate blogs about them, so stay tuned!