I Wish I Was A Unicorn

Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn, then ALWAYS be a unicorn!

But I wasn’t hurt…

One year and one day ago was the last blog I wrote. It was a cathartic description, although very much censored, of my experience of witnessing the Glasgow Bin Lorry Crash.
When I wrote it I felt better for getting the story out. If you had asked me back then if i was okay, I would have truthfully told you, yes, I’m still feeling shocked, but I’m okay. I really had no idea of the psychological damage done by then and should probably have asked the police for counselling. The reason I didn’t ask is the same reason I haven’t spoken to anyone about it throughout the year, and that reason was that I was not hurt. How could I lift a phone and ask for advice when there were people killed, people bereaved and people physically injured.

I was unscathed.

I was a bystander.

I was one of the lucky ones.

I went home that night.

I sat at a table with my family three days later.

My gifts were not still sitting under the tree on boxing day.

I was spared by the simple decision of my husband to cross the road when we did.

I was not hurt.

Every time a news report came on TV about it I reminded myself how lucky I was. When the photographs of the six victims were published, I felt heartbroken for their families, but also a guilty relief that I wasn’t looking at my husbands photograph or that my family were not looking at mines.
As we sat at our Christmas dinner table 3 days after the accident I took some family photos. My dads bruised face from a separate accident showed his pain, our puffy tired faces from crying and lack of sleep showed on ours, and so did a determination that we would make sure we enjoyed Christmas. We reminded ourselves minute by minute that we were the fortunate ones with our family around us and forced any iota of self pity out of our minds. We created a little scene in that room of the happy family and didn’t acknowledge any negative feeling at all.
A few days later I was standing at a bus stop in a town about 20 miles from Glasgow when a bin lorry turned the corner and accelerated past me. Without thinking I leapt into a doorway and felt a surge of adrenaline. Only once the lorry passed out of my sight did I realise I was holding my breath. “Don’t be daft”, I told myself, ” Why are you getting upset? What are the chances of that happening again?”
“Well, what were the chances of it happening in the first place, but it still happened!” And so the loop of lopsided logic in my mind answered this question with doubt, fear, panic and anxiety from then on. I convinced myself that this was temporary, that as time went on I’d feel better.
I didn’t.
I went through the full year in complete denial.
It was only later in the year when I received private counselling through a charity for something completely unrelated that I became aware of the monster my own subconscious had evolved into.
Only to her, a neutral person, someone who wouldn’t judge, someone who had heard it all before and someone who could make any sense of my chaotic mind, did I tell about the narrative in my mind.
Only to her did I confess that I am living with the constant fear that everything can go wrong in a split second at any point in my life. Only she heard about the overwhelming panic I felt whilst driving on holiday in April which has appeared regularly since then with the feeling that no matter how careful a driver I am, other drivers are dangerous. Only she seemed to make sense of the moods and intense anger I felt in situations at work, with family etc which coincided with the Fatal Accident Inquiry exposing the driver of the lorry as a liar, very culpable in the accident, but protected by the law from prosecution. Only my counsellor heard that I had an anxiety attack when I got my winter coat out of the wardrobe in late Autumn as it meant Christmas was approaching. I told her about the intense guilt I felt at having counselling at all, how I felt like a phony because I only saw the accident, I was not hurt. I explained that the closer it was getting to Christmas, the more panic I was feeling. I shared with her the thoughts of disaster which attack my mind constantly, that I feared an accident or sudden illness would hit one of my loved ones over Christmas. I told her about the intense nightmares I’d had waking me in tears. I told her I never wanted to go to Queen Street again, that I cannot even look at photographs of the Duke’s statue and that footage of the big wheel and ice rink in the square make me feel physically sick. Just before Christmas she told me she had reviewed her notes on me with her manager and they had both agreed that I should consider a short course of CBT with them to treat PTSD. It felt absurd to hear that, it still does to think of it. That’s what soldiers in war zones get, that’s what victims of serious assaults feel. Not me, I wasn’t hurt. I felt embarrassed at the suggestion.
On the anniversary of the accident I travelled to Glasgow alone after work as my husband couldn’t get time off. I felt it would be a positive thing to do. To remember the victims and spend some spiritual time on it amongst others who were affected and understood. I didn’t want to ask anybody to accompany me as I didn’t think anyone else could understand. Whilst travelling in i received a message from my hubby to contact a mutual friend, Tom. He was attending with his friend Janey and they didn’t want me to go on my own. Just after the accident last year, Tom had felt so moved by the accident, he released a recording of “Mother Glasgow” to raise cash for a victims fund. I felt reassured knowing that he’d be with me. The ceremony was very formal, but also poignant. It focussed on the healing of “Body, mind and soul” and acknowledged the injuries physically, psychologically and emotionally. It recognised the meaningless of it all and the fact that it could have been prevented. Afterwards we were all invited to attend a buffet in a different building. I didn’t fancy that at all, but I also didn’t want to go home in the frame of mind I was in. I was relieved when Janey suggested we go for a cuppa nearby.
Janey is a gifted comedienne (amongst other things) and managed to lift our spirits for a wee while, but once we moved onto the subject of the accident I reached a moment of epiphany. She described how she had come across the immediate aftermath of the accident and had helped victims and police. She described to a tee the surreality of the day, the disbelief and feeling of powerlessness. How she helped police, paramedics and even helped direct traffic and put up police tape. When Janey described it she began stuttering and was clearly still in shock a whole year later. She spoke about how it had affected her head and I felt so much empathy and even relief that it wasn’t just me who felt that way. I felt so much compassion for her and wanted to tell her she was as much a victim as those physically hurt. Then it dawned on me that if I felt this compassion for her, why was I judging myself so harshly for feeling the trauma from it. My eyes filled with tears and Janey got me a clean tissue from her bag and I apologised. It was the biggest revelation is had about myself all year. I am grateful to Tom and Janey for that day as it let me look at myself with a new perspective – I had saw Janey’s hurt and saw my own in it too.

I was hurt.

Not physically, nothing you can see, but like a faulty hard drive or a dodgy processor, my head hasn’t handled what I saw and its affecting everything else I’ve tried to do since then.
Accepting that has helped a lot. It hasn’t stopped the anxiety or anything else (so far) – it didn’t stop me taking down every card and decoration in our house on Christmas Eve and cry into my husbands shoulder because I was so worried something bad was going to happen at Christmas.
It didn’t stop me worrying intensely until Boxing day that something horrible might happen at any moment, but it did help me understand why I felt that way. It has also helped me to decide to try the CBT.
I have had this blog sitting in my ‘drafts’ folder since Sunday as I’ve been worrying about the stigma attached to the anxiety and psychological issues I’ve admitted in it. There must be another 30-40 people out there that witnessed what we did at such close range. There must be others out there who feel the same and wonder if they are going mad? There are people out their who believe they weren’t hurt and think they should feel fortunate for that. It’s for those people I’ve decided to publish this. Maybe they will see themselves in a different light too. I welcome them to contact me if they feel it would help.
I’m still here, I was fortunate, but I WAS hurt.

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When the Christmas Lights Were Switched Off

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On Monday at 10:30am I finished up work for Christmas and headed home to meet my husband so we could then travel into Glasgow City Centre to do a large part of our Christmas shopping. I had worked four days in a row rising at 3am to start work at 4am,  so I was pretty tired, but excited to get into the Christmas spirit.
We got into town and after a quick bite to eat we headed to the first shop on our list in Buchanan Street. We phoned my husband’s  sister for advice on what to buy our niece  and nephew and she suggested we try a shop nearby in Queen Street. We headed there straight away and when we reached Queen Street my hubby said “let’s cross over to the other side, I think the shop is one the other side.” I had no idea that one small decision was potentially the difference between life and death for us both that day.
As we walked down that pavement we passed the Christmas fairground on George Square. A few different festive songs were competing from a few different rides, the beautiful lights shone above us and as we walked arm in arm we looked upwards and watched the big wheel slowly turn. He jokingly suggested we go on the big wheel, knowing I’d say “Absolutely not!” due to my fear of heights and we carried on walking down the street. We had to walk under scaffolding and I remember thinking to myself that the pathway was empty compared to the path across the road which was heaving with last minute Christmas shoppers just like us. As I looked over at the crowds just a few feet from us I saw the Duke of Wellington statue with his ultimate accessory,  a traffic cone, balanced upon his head.

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For those who don’t know, this cone has been removed by the police and the local council many times, but somehow always finds it’s way back onto the Duke. It’s come to represent Glasgow’s  dry sense of humour. We take our history and we put our own spin on it. As we walked past I was about to ask my husband if he had seen the news story a few days before where a slightly inebriated Santa had climbed up and joined the Duke upon his horse and was eventually escorted off by the police. There were couples, families, pensioners, just every sort of person you could think of all walking past and probably remembering the same thing and smiling to themselves just like me.
We reached the junction at Ingram street and I turned my head to press the stop traffic button, subconsciously taking in the traffic around us… Lots of buses, lots of taxis, some families in cars, a garbage lorry… And we stood for a few seconds waiting for the traffic to stop. As we waited I heard a load smack and turned my head in the direction of it thinking it was a sandwich board had fallen. The sound was immediately followed by screams all around me. It took a second for my brain to comprehend what my eyes were seeing…was the rubbish truck ACTUALLY on the pavement? 

Everything suddenly went into slow motion, every sight and sound acute. The high pitched engine noise from the truck in a low gear,  but accelerating, the shouts, screams, the other sounds… I can’t describe the fine details, I’ll have to leave it to your imagination.

In that split second the cognitive part of my brain asked a dozen questions.. Is it going to stop, is this a dream, is it a terrorist attack, is there any way to stop it.  is there any way to warn people. Meanwhile my feet were stuck to the spot,  my eyes fixed on the scene unfolding, my arms stretching out in front of me and my mouth screaming with absolute horror and helplessness! It seemed to go on for minutes, but in reality only seconds. I wished I could move, I wished I could run faster than the truck and push the people out of the way. I wished I could do SOMETHING to stop it, but it kept going on and on. People scattered, the engine noise receded as the truck continued further up the pavement, veering back onto the road and eventually crashing to a halt a few hundred feet away at the only thing which could have stopped it, a building.
Amazingly, as a credit to the character of glaswegians, people had already began running from nearby streets, towards the injured, alerted by the cacophony of noise. I have always considered myself calm in a crisis and believed that I would run to help, administer first aid, be useful in some way, but I now know in this level of crisis I would stand rooted to the spot in utter shock, urging my brain to get it together, screaming in shock.. What will I do? What can I do? Will the amount of first aid knowledge I know be of any use? The answer in my mind said said no, the injuries would be beyond my knowledge. I looked at my husband and felt my breath catch in my throat and began to sob. He looked terrified, he began to sob too. I tried to find my phone and couldn’t remember the pass code to unlock it. Focus, for goodness sake, focus, unlocked, 999, what service do you require “A bin lorry has gone into…” “WHAT SERVICE DO YOU REQUIRE ”
“OH, AMBULANCE! POLICE! EVERYTHING!”
“putting you through to ambulance now”
As it rang and rang I looked around me and kept crying out “That man’s doing cpr himself, there’s a buggy! Oh my God! Please hurry! There’s over 15 people been hit, please do something!”
“stay on the line, I’m trying a different line for you”
“Just send somebody, hurry!”
When I got off the phone my hubby and I stood and hugged and cried. Both our minds thinking the same thing, and hugging even tighter. The shock of seeing the whole accident unfold was bad enough, to all of us who witnessed it, it seemed like a scene from a movie. (Ironically, the crash scenes for World War Z were filmed right here). But the aftermath was just as awful. At the time I felt so helpless and useless,  since then I’ve read in awe the accounts of people giving first aid,  comfort and practical help. There’s seems to be a theme where those of us who witnessed it were so shocked at what we witnessed, whilst those who were nearby and heard the accident were more able to run into the middle of it all and help. This feels like an insensitive thing to say,  but true,  that those of us who saw exactly what happened would know the chances of survivng a man vs garbage truck were slim to zero, and if there were survivors,  it would be difficult to know how to help.
Despite this I looked around us to see if there was anyone needing help that we could help with. Across from us was a mother lying next to a baby buggy, we both wept when we saw this, but could see that many people were tending to both the mother and the child in the buggy. We saw a gentleman administering Cpr to someone a little bit further away, further up was someone in the road who was being tended to buy others,  and further up we could see more victims, shopping bags strewn, people crying, and still the Christmas music was playing, still the beautiful lights lit up the street…
It looked like everyone unjured was being tended to by passers by, a few of us had alerted emergency services so we turned to the street corner we had been waiting at and began redirecting shoppers back into Ingram street. Many had children with them,  so we had to whisper what happened so they knew not to take their children round. We watched their faces drop with shock and how they turned to usher their children back the way they came. My hubby had to onto the road to explain what had happened to taxi drivers and other drivers trying to manoeuvre around the street.
We kept stopping and hugging, sobbing and shaking our heads. What was this all about, how could this happen in one of the busiest streets on one of the busiest days of the year. I bent over the railings next to us, my stomach was threatening to bring up the lunch we had grabbed earlier. The nausea stayed with me untillater  that night. We looked up the street and saw clothing and sheets being laid over the faces of those who didn’t make it. I started a silent prayer in my head and ended up just saying “God help them, God help them!”
After what seemed like an eternity, we began to hear sirens  approaching. Community patrol people began stopping the traffic to let them through. The queue of buses emptied, the buses were locked and abandoned where they were. The street filed with paramedic cars,  ambulances and police. A policeman began to take control and started ushering people away. “We are closing this area, move along!”. So we walked a short distance down the street and sat on a step and cried again. We phoned our daughter and told her we are okay, just in case you see news reports about an accident in Glasgow. I phoned my mum and said the same thing through sobs, my mum stayed crying too and said “just come home.” My husband phoned his sister and she told us to find somewhere warm and drink something hot and sweet. She felt awful that she had directed us to that very street a few minutes before.
We really didn’t know what to do. We had just witnessed people being killed. Our hearts were breaking for them.
We went to a shopping centre and my hubby got a coffee,  I got water. When I went to pay for our stuff a woman became irate with me for not moving out of her way quickly enough. The woman who served me was annoyed that I wanted to pay by debit card and told me to buy crisps to make it up to £4, I put my debit card in the wrong way,  I couldn’t remember the pin number, I forgot to take it back out. I sat at our table and stared into space. The centre was full of shoppers, blissfully unaware. I envied them, but felt reassured  being somewhere where nobody was crying,  screaming,  running…
My daughter phoned to say she was on her way into town. I think she felt like she needed to be near to us. We visited a few shops, for some reason I felt I needed to do something normal. Something to convince us that Glasgow was safe, normal and happy. Somewhere that people didn’t have a traumatic look in their  eyes.
We eventually went home and tried to forget, we watched meaningless TV programmes,  but neither of us could tell you what happened in the programmes as we both just stated in the direction of the TV whilst our minds were replaying the scene we watched earlier. We both randomly cried, hugging each other tightly, saying we loved the other over and over.
The next morning I read a report about it and one small sentence made me cry again. It said the woman had fainted, the mother beside the buggy had fainted. She was okay, her baby was okay and the relief was the first tears of happiness I’d cried since the accident. The few days following it were very emotional. Just reading a poem about it, or a list of the names, or photographs would set us off. Today I read that the gentleman giving CPR was actually a surgeon who had passed nearby when it happened. It’s like pieces of a jigsaw fitting together making up the bigger picture of what happened. I’m sure there are a hundred other experiences just like ours and our trauma is very insignificant compared to that of those injured or bereaved. I can’t imagine their pain, I’ve prayed for them, what a horrible thing to happen ANY time, never mind 3 days before Christmas. 
Christmas day was different this year. People on social networking sites urged others to switch off their tree lights on Christmas eve, but ironically our tree lights fused all by themselves,  so we have had them off all Christmas anyway.
We spent a modest day at my parents house. We had a beautiful dinner, we joked, sang and chatted, all the whole being thankful we were there to celebrate it and recognising that there were spaces at other family’s tables.
Our own day was all the more poignant because my dad had been admitted to hospital on the same day of the accident after a fall and had gotten home on Christmas eve, albeit a bit bruised and sore.

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So I’m planning to meet my husband in Glasgow tonight (boxing day) after his work so we can lay some flowers where it all happened and try to process it all and hope that something good somewhere will come from all the pain. 6 people died, 10 were injured. I feels like such a meaningless accident which has taken six very meaningful lives.
Meanwhile, I’m holding my loved  ones extra close now.
If my husband hadn’t made us cross the road when he did…

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Protected: Not so happily ever after?

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Current Wonderfuls

Second time typing this. First time was on my phone, took 2 hours and was lost when the app crashed and needed manually removing. A-ha, said I, pre-empted that problem by copying all the text to the clipboard before attempting to upload. Unfortunately, my phone had other ideas and I was faced with an empty clipboard. Pants!

Anyway, I had challenged myself to find at least one wonderful in each day this week and try to share them with you. Don’t worry, I’m not a raving looney now, I know things aren’t all wonderful. In fact, some days were downright STINKIN! Like the day I tripped outside my parents’ flat and skint my knee and both hands, tearing a hole in the knee of my jeans… and like the day when I started round 7 of the fertility drug as the previous one failed again. Anyway, here’s my attempt!

Saturday: Today’s wonderful was a moment in my youngest nephew’s 4th birthday. He was having a great wee afternoon and at one point I asked if he’d like me to count his age. (It’s something we used to do in the nursery classes, they loved it!). So I tapped his knees and counted “One!”, tapped his tummy and counted “Two!”, his shoulders “Three!”, and his head “Four!” He looked amazed, and still wanting reassurance asked his Gran “What age am I today, right now?”. “Four!” she replied and his face lit up as if the penny had finally dropped. It was as if he had been waiting to turn 4 for so long that he felt like it would never actually happen! He ran through to his older brother in the next room and shouted “Guess what? I’m four right now!”. He was so happy and it brings a smile to my face every time I remember it

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Sunday: My hubby phoned me from his work at lunch time on Sunday to relay some feedback he had received after posting the recording we did together 2 years onto his Facebook page. I don’t plan to continue singing, but it was a big boost to my confidence that I had tried something a bit different and receive compliments for it.

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Sunday was also a day my friend texted me with her weight loss update. She has done SO well and it really made me happy to hear she was succeeding because I remember how it felt almost a year ago changing my lifestyle and I know the determination it takes. Well done!

Monday: Monday was a bummer, I ended up close to tears towards the end of it, but the wonderful in Monday came in the form of a healing hug. We all know someone who gives proper, close, warm, healing hugs. My hubby gives the best healing hugs in the world. I knew this about him a long time before we became a couple. The good thing is he is a very huggly person, so if you ever need one, just ask!. Thank God for those hugs.

Tuesday: My wonderful today was my mum, she’s actually a wonderful most days. Great listener, funny, enthusiastic with almost every idea I come up with and makes so many sacrifices for those she loves. If I’m even 5% as good a mother as she is, then I’m doing well.

Wednesday: Today my adult daughter had to have 2 tooth extractions in preparation for the braces she is getting next week. Instead of shuffling home and looking for the pity vote as most of us would likely do, she got on a bus and went to her college class 10 miles away. She is strong, brave, determined and independent. She is fluent in sarcasm, but full of kindness to those she loves. I’m proud to say she’s my daughter, and I felt that pride today, and it was wonderful.

Also on Wednesday was my niece’s 8th birthday. She is extremely cute and comes out with THE funniest one-liners you’ve ever heard. She is quoted often in our home, always accompanied by a smile. Although we live too far away to see her on her birthday, we were able to follow her day via social networking and texts from her mum. It was great to see her having such a good day. I always tell her I’m going to steal her one day, and every time I say it she shouts “Yes! Steal me now!” ❤

Thursday: Well, I struggled with my wonderful today, so let me introduce you to my wellies

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Aren’t they just gorgeous. I love them because 1. My mum bought me them. 2. because they are Zebra print, and I am slightly in love with anything zebra print….and I take random photographs of them…

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and 3. I love them because when I got them my legs were too…er…. round to fit them, but after losing 2.5 stone last year they fit me perfect now. Every time I put them on (and it has been often this past week, CRAZY weather everywhere!) I remember the success I had last year.

Friday: Well, today was valentines day, but we opted not to buy cards and gifts so we could spend the money instead on gig tickets. Unfortunately they sold out within minutes, so there we were on valentines day with not much to show for it…or so it seems. Ye see, I always tell my hubby romance is in the small things we do every day, like paying compliments, sending good texts and even in the lovely cuppas we make each other. How would a card be able to show that kind of love? Heck, I have a husband who writes songs about me and for me, then plays some of them with his brilliant band in packed pubs and clubs. How insignificant and cheap does a card sound next to that? I am blessed with a romantic man, and no card or gift on one day of the year can come close to how that feels. Heaven knows I waited long enough for it!

So there you go, my wee exercise in counting my blessings. I’ll continue it personally and wont bore you with my ramblings every week!

I hope every single one of you has a week full of WONDERFULS too. love and HUGS xxx

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Happy Today!

I have been reflecting a lot recently about blogs as I noticed 2 similar posts from 2 wildly different blogs and it made me realise that the subject matter may vary, but the spirit in which your blog is written can make a difference to how it’s received,

The two posts I’m referring to are here and here. The first opens with “I find myself often missing my current wonderfuls simply by waiting for my future wonderfuls to happen”. The second states “Don’t put off living”. What do they have in common? Both are saying “Be happy NOW!”

Too often our desires or dreams can take over and the balance between focussing on past, present and future becomes lop sided. We become so focussed on what we don’t yet have, and miss the here and now that is ours for the taking.

In addition to this “never being happy”, our blog audience will become as fed up with never achieving the dream as we are…and who wants to read the same old thing every time. Personally…I’d be hitting the ‘unfollow’ button quickish! Unless you’re going for the pity vote. If you know me at all you’ll know i HATE pity.

So, in this vein, I would like to show you some “happy already” events which have been part of our lives in the past few years (whilst still hoping to have that baby)… and some that are still to come. We are more than just a couple hoping to have our own children, we are much more interesting than that…honest!

Ladies first, in the past I have managed to graduate from university

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Ive had paintings in a couple of different exhibitions

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My husband was a solo acoustic artist for a few years and I was his manager, graphic artist, website designer, promoter, photographer…etc

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I even helped him write some songs and recorded some backing vocals for him (not my forte!, but I gave it a go!)

This song was recorded and produced by our friend Kev Gresham and written by myself and Steven, copyrighted to SG Leonard.

As for the future, well I’m looking forward to rearing some butterflies soon, and I’ve recently took delivery of everything I need to develop my artistic skills, but in a different medium this time. All will be revealed.

Meanwhile, Steven works hard through the day as a Comfort Specialist(!) and by night and weekend he lives and breathes his beloved band, The Face on the Moon, who are steadily becoming more and more successful. He writes new songs every month and his band bring them to life! They are a lovely bunch of guys and destined for success. I couldn’t be more proud of them every time they play.

So that’s how we’ve been enjoying the here and now moments, we don’t sit around lamenting the fact that we haven’t had any children together yet, we seize every opportunity to do exciting, new things and LIVE whilst we wait.

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Finding Kindness This Holiday Season

Had to share this as it inspired me this dark, cold morning, and that’s an achievement!

If You Don't Stand For Something

Something happened in the past couple of days. I’m not really sure what happened, or what caused it for that matter, but I changed. The stress of the holidays left me and I found myself embracing the good and the purpose of the holiday. I let go of the materialistic side of it all and embraced the spirit of the season.

Tonight, while taking a break from my crafting, I was browsing through Facebook when I saw post after post of people complaining. I know, Facebook is the complaining Capitol of the internet, but something caught my attention. A “well meaning” person complained about the fact that people need to stop complaining about the petty things and just be happy to have your family and health. While she meant well and wanted people to remember the holidays and enjoy them, she fell short on the delivery. I commented to remind…

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Protected: I Told You I Was Right!!

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