Blowing out 2015

I was looking through my Facebook timeline yesterday – something I rarely do, because mostly, I hang out in closed groups and share news articles – and I was absolutely shocked at how many of my friends have had a really lousy 2015! There have been deaths of loved ones, divorces, money issues, bankruptcies, illnesses… I was amazed to see how many of my friends and loved ones have gone through horrible hardships this year, and while misery sometimes loves company, I’m certainly not even remotely happy at the stresses and tragedies people I love have faced!

A friend of mine mentioned yesterday that he has been seeing fewer homes decorated for the holidays this year. I’m noticing a similar trend. It’s just not as festive as it usually is. Even the malls aren’t as crowded and festive this year. Has it been a bad 2015 for many? It certainly seems to be the case.

The year – by any standard – has been a nightmare. Between the thieving, lying child molester Cooper first stealing my house, and then causing thousands of dollars in damages, several court dates to evict the bastard, unsuccessful efforts to sell the house, the job trials and tribulations, the stress of moving into a smaller place (thanks, Cooper, you miserable, thieving fuck!), and some personal issues still being worked through, this year has been a bitch.

But through all the awful stuff that happened, a few bright points broke through the darkness that brought light and joy to my life. Danny heading off to college and having a wonderful freshman experience. Sarah graduating from the Defense Language Institute. My friends pulling together and helping me pay the legal costs of evicting Cooper and his housewrecking wench from my house. Two incredible friends, who wouldn’t take no for an answer after offering me a loan, and told me to pay it back when I could. A wonderful reader who handed me a new laptop when mine shit the bed earlier this year. My wonderful parents helping me make mortgage and rent payments, so my credit rating wouldn’t be impacted.

And loofisher houseking back at this year, I realized something: Giving makes it better. Kindness makes it better. Acts of kindness blow out the negative and spread light. I had some points on one of my credit cards – quite a few of them, actually given the number of times I had to use it this year to help pay bills – so the other day, I donated those points as cash to a veterans’ association. I also made the first donation I promised to make after leaving some money for legal and collection bills, since I doubt the Coopers are honorable enough to pay for the damages the court has judged them to be responsible for. The Fisher House Foundation has received a $1500 today to help them build a new Fisher House.

Another donation will go to a local homeless charity that also helps homeless veterans – A-SPAN. That will happen probably tomorrow. I’m actually considering splitting this remaining gift between A-SPAN and a charity that helps victims of sexual abuse. Given Cooper’s sex offender status, I thought that was appropriate. I just need to find the charity. When my buddy Amanda started this drive to help us with legal bills, I promised that not a penny of it would go to my mortgage, because the last thing I wanted to do was use money honorable friends gave me to keep the child molesting squatters in my house. I swore I’d rather let it go to foreclosure, and promised to donate anything not used for legal bills (and, of course, fees from GoFundMe and PayPal) to charity. This is the first payment of that promise.

Last night, we were hanging out with some friends at Hard Times Cafe. As we were walking out, a woman came up to us. It was quite obvious she was homeless and had everything she owned, including a whole bunch of plastic bags, in a shopping cart. She came up to us, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Excuse me. Would any of you be able to buy me a sandwich?” Now, I’m not in the habit of throwing money at people who come up to me on the street, but food for someone who is hungry? That’s another story. Something in me pinged a little. I looked and her and said, “A sandwich? Come on.”

I took her inside, and she sat down at the table. We looked at a menu, and she asked for a barbecue chicken sandwich, some fries, and a root beer. She told me her name was Janice, and that she took a bus to Arlington from DC, because she was hungry and was hoping to find something to eat, as she’s diabetic, and not eating is a no-no. I introduced myself and shook her hand. She was wide-eyed and grateful. I don’t think she expected to get a full meal. Nor do I think she expected anyone to look her in the eyes and shake her hand like a human being. I paid the bill, gave the waitress some extra cash, and told her “Please take care of her. She’s homeless.” Then I walked out.

So why am I telling you this? Because given the number of my friends who have been dealing with an inordinate amount of crap this year, I think it’s time to blow out 2015. I realize we have a couple of weeks left in this horrid year, but you know what? I want to start stomping on it early. I want a head start of positives in 2016. I want to enter 2016 on a high note, not trying to scramble out of the darkness and misery that was this year.

So maybe we have experienced losses this year – both financial and personal – and maybe we aren’t exactly full of holiday cheer. Maybe all we want to do is hide in a corner and weep a bit. Do it. Get 2015 out of your systems, people! Blow it out early, and enter 2016 full of hope and joy! You don’t have to give money. Hell, most of us don’t have it to give. But you can help a clothing, food, or toy drive. You can spend some time to help grade-school kids read better. You can give some career counseling to a young person, help them with their resume, or help them network in their field.

Point is, don’t let 2015 defeat you. Get up and start kicking it in the ass early, and start 2016 stronger and more positive.

15 responses

  1. My daughter is going through a very difficult time this Christmas. Several years ago, she married a punk from a very wealthy family. Four months later, he took her to his parent’s house in Dallas shortly after Christmas where she was treated as if she were a prostitute out to grab some of his money! On their way back to OKC, he told her he wanted a divorce! She gave him an video game console, the money borrowed from me, He’d bought her NOTHING for Christmas and his parents rented him a U-Haul so he could bring his possessions home to Dallas–and actually came up to help him move. Several months later, she was sent final divorce papers. She was devastated! She hasn’t had a “good” Christmas ever since. Now, she’s in a loving relationship with a very nice young man of whom I heartily approve–even though he’s a criminal defense attorney–and she’s got it into her head that she somehow doesn’t DESERVE to be happy and that he’s going to leave her, though he’s assured her that it won’t happen…ever. He’s talked with her about marriage and recently asked her if she preferred an engagement ring or a down-payment on a house! I spent the afternoon with her yesterday trying to convince her that her fears are unfounded. HIS parents, by the way, seem to like her very much and are encouraging the relationship.

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  2. Yeah I guess 2015 has been kind of a strange, stressful year for people with few bright spots. Evictions, moving, relationship issues, job transitions (for me). Maybe the hardship isn’t even over yet. We’re just worn out at the end of this year. Not making an effort to put up a Christmas tree, just sort of going with the flow and stacking the presents in the corner. But like you said there were some bright spots, and I guess there’s always hope (they say in God all things are possible). So onward, and we’ll see what 2016 brings.

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  3. Nikki, good for you, for the charity, and for saying goodbye to this year. Hopefully, next year will be a good one for not only you, but all of us.
    One of my favorite sayings is that I have never missed money that I have given away. I either have it returned in kind two-fold, or am blessed in a different way. No matter what, it always has been that the more I have given away, the more I have been blessed.
    In a past life, I was in Bible school, and was challenged to try to out give the Lord. I have found that it can’t be done. Whatever you give is always returned exponentially.
    If I were you I would expect good things next year.

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    1. Eh. I don’t expect much. Honestly. I just figured I’d put some positive vibes out there, because I was getting mired in the negativity.

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  4. I think a bunch of people have had a rough year. I know I’m coming to the end of a debt load, which I toughed my way thru. As I have two aging cats, I can now donate piggy bank cash to a pet shelter, which they are always grateful to have, but they also do use coupons from the weekend papers, which I give to them, especially the coupon for shipping discounts.
    I think 2016 may actually be a good year, even if things happen that make us wonder why people do strange things.
    For my part, Nicki, if your house is not already sold, I hope it finds a new owner ASAP.

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    1. Thanks, Sara. Still not sold. Not sure how much longer I can keep paying for it, but it is what it is. I hope 2016 is a solid positive for you!

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  5. We’re not decorating the outside of the house this year. Neither my wife nor I really feel all that festive this year.

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  6. I read a Kurt Shlichter (sp) column a while ago that seemed to be in the same vein. Take heart, keep fighting. Time is on our side. God Bless Nicki.

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  7. I was led here via Instapundit/Sarah Hoyt and have been most impressed. The above has been the most impressive yet! It’s good to be reminded of how many kind and decent people are out there, just keeping the wagon rolling. This year hasn’t been bad to me and mate, thank you G-d, but our children have had more than their share of difficulties – unfortunately, almost all self-inflicted and avoidable! (oh for the Love of Life Orchestra, no one ever listens to me) – and too many neighbors have been hit hard. I think I shall do what you say.

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    1. So glad you found your way here! I was amazed at how much my outlook improved when I stopped focusing on the darkness that’s been my life this year! I will say this has been the worst year of my life – and I’m not exaggerating. But if I allow myself to be mired in gloom, I’ll never climb out! So yes, please do. Go out there and do something, no matter how small. It really does help. Happy early New Year!

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  8. Sorry if I wax a little religious here. My Mormon ancestors’ DNA has a powerful influence on me sometimes. I just wanted to nod my head in somewhat-understanding approval to you, Nicki, for reminding me clearly two really important reasons for our life (as best as I’ve been able to make of life): first, to experience first hand many difficult and painful things to enable us to better and fully understand good and joyful things; Second, (derived from the first), to realize that each person around us is also experiencing the same learning process (learning, that is, if they’ll pay attention to their heart) – and while none of us can control or predict what will happen to us, we can all control and predict whether we’ll reach out to others and help carry their burdens.

    And speaking of burdens, at Christmas I struggle to, but try to to, remember that as I go day by day, I generate a burden to my heart and soul whenever I have acted selfishly or in ways that directly or indirectly hurt others. When I’m on my game, I can see and feel that the little child came for no other reason than to enable you and I to lay our burdens on his shoulders so that we all can blow out 2015 and look to a 2016 that is free from pain and sorry of our own and others’ guilt, and be free to move forward with a new lightness in step and in joy, lessons of the past fully in hand, but without the surrounding muck and slag.

    I have concluded that a lot of people sort of fear or resent or don’t want to relate to the adult Christ, perhaps because they fear or resent the demands that he makes on them, or maybe they fear and resent what they believe will be his judgment of them of when they choose to not meet demands.

    However, at Christmas we see the baby-Christ who clearly doesn’t make demands or judge (we imagine) which, I guess to some, makes him more approachable at this time of the year.

    As well it should. I have learned in my life – through the struggles that God has called upon me to endure – that the adult-Christ is no more capable of harming me or judging me than was the Christ child laying in the manger. It isn’t in his character to harm us. We react in pain when he points to or touches our wounds, but if we’ll let him, he’ll dress our wounds – he’ll pull out the thorns and shards and shrapnel – and pick us up of the road to Jericho, and pour wine and oil in our wounds, and carry us to others that know to help, and pay them for caring for us.

    Such a person – such a character – is a great gift to us all. So are such friends to take us and continue to care for us.

    Merry Christmas to you Nicki, and to all. May the goodhearted people of the world (not the perfect people, but the people desirous of good) – may we band together and overcome this momentary era of darkness.

    As we will. As I know we will.

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    1. Welcome, and please don’t feel like you need to apologize for your faith. I may be an atheist, but I know what it’s like to feel something deeply, as many religious people do.

      I have concluded that a lot of people sort of fear or resent or don’t want to relate to the adult Christ, perhaps because they fear or resent the demands that he makes on them, or maybe they fear and resent what they believe will be his judgment of them of when they choose to not meet demands.

      I found this to be interesting, because running around in the circles I do, I know a lot of atheists – not the crazy kind, mind you, but the type who just don’t see/feel the deities others do. Speaking for myself, I don’t fear or resent Christ – and certainly not because I think the demands are too hard. I simply try to do the right thing whenever I can – not because Christ or any other deity tells me to, but because it’s the right thing. I’m not worried about the afterlife, because I’m too busy trying to make this life the best I can.

      I do think there are militant weirdo atheists out there who want to erase any semblance of religion from their sight, but I think they’re few and far between. They just screech louder than anyone else, so they tend to get the attention.

      Anyway… thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a joyous 2016.

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  9. I love the idea of the year going out with a bang – in a positive way. This year has been difficult for so many. I just received an email from a friend whose marriage is in the process of being dissolved and she is now on the other side of the world dealing with the death of a parent. In my own life things were great till I went away on the “trip of a lifetime” with newly retired hubby only to become suicidal on my return home. Depression which had accompanied me for 50+ years of my life but absent for 3 years came back with a vengeance. Lifting now but still a day by day work.

    I would caution about too much giving though in order to make oneself feel better. We used to give 10% of everything that came in to church and charity. When things got really tough several decades ago and noone could/would help I realised that if we had saved that money we would have never sunk so low for so long. We had been paying for people to live a life of luxury that we could never aspire to. The best thing I can do for the really poor is not to be one of them and use up the scarce resources for them. Hence we went on a frugality binge saving every cent and putting it into a place of our own – a very modest house in one of the most modest suburbs of our city. But it is ours and almost paid off.

    By caring for ourselves first we have not had to ask others for assistance since that bad time. By putting in place various preparations in case things become difficult again we have been prepared for the bad times. When someone wrote off our modest car we had the resources to get another one while the insurance company sorted things out. When our daughter was t-boned by someone running a red light we could be there for her and deal with the consequences emotional as well as financial.

    I am much more careful about who we give to. Most of the major charities are now multinational organisations whose workers receive salary packages I am not prepared to pay for. I prefer my giving to be more personal – like the gift you gave to the homeless woman, or the massage I gave to the elderly woman to ease her back pain (it did and she was delighted).

    This Christmas is going to be simple. No presents for the adults, money for the grandchildren who are here. A simple home prepared Christmas dinner and some nice wine for all the adults. Total cost $100 for the grandchildren, $50 for our contribution to wine and the meal. Time with family. And making time to spend a few extra minutes here and there with the many elderly we come across in our volunteer work.

    Go well everyone and take time to enjoy the little things – the dawning of a new day, a new life, the flickering colours on the wing of a passing bird, the appreciation of a warm room on a cold day, and peace when you have it.

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  10. I’m glad you are looking forward positively; that can only be good, rather than dwelling on the shit that happened, and things you dealt successfully with (to the utmost degree you could).
    Happy Holidays, ,and Merry-by God- CHRISTMAS.
    Have a great New Year, Nikki

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