**Disclaimer** this post ended up taking me several days to complete, as it was a bit emotionally draining (in my search for photos, I kept ending up in these looooong trips down memory lane). I’ve re-read it with fresh eyes, and I’ve been hesitant to hit ‘publish’ because it probably sounds a little melodramatic, but here goes…..¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I’m doing things sort of bass-ackwards here (what else is new?) by posting my 2018 year in review after 2018 has already come and gone, and after I’ve already posted about my 2019 resolutions (if you missed that post, you can catch up here).
I was initially going to do a monthly recap, but seeing as most of us spent December doing roughly the same things (actually I’m willing to bet my holiday season was far less eventful than most of yalls;)), I figured I’d skip the monotony and instead reflect on my highs and lows of 2018.
Overall, 2018 was a year that I’m more than okay with being over and done with. We definitely had some highlights, but I also experienced some really tough times. Some of which I can’t get into too many details about, but those are the ones that have really impacted me the most. I would love nothing more than to rant about it and bounce my feelings off all of you for advice and support, but the situation involves others and it’s not my business to put it all out there. Without saying too much more, I’ll just say that the overall situation involved my family. We were once a very drama-free crew, but that streak ended in late 2017 and what ensued was a year of eye-opening unpleasantness, strained relationships to the point of ceasing communication, and lots of hurt feelings. Thankfully at the close of 2018, after over a year of turmoil, things finally seem to be turning around, and I can only hope they’ll continue on that trajectory. Life is too short, and it’s absolutely devastated me over the past year that my family was missing out on quality time together over a situation that should have had absolutely no bearing on the dynamics of our relationships.
Moving on now….we did have some incredible times in the mix, but honestly 2018 was somewhat uneventful compared to previous years. I can’t figure out if this is due to our age? Limited funds since quitting my career? Or a combination of the two? I’m starting to lean towards the latter. It was way easier to invite friends over for a simple cookout, casual day-drinking, and/or a couple rounds of Cards Against Humanity and endless belly laughs five or so years ago. You know….the kind of fun that doesn’t require a lot of money or planning.
These days, however, that sort of thing just ain’t happening around here since most of our friends are now spending their weekends making the rounds at the kids’ birthday party circuit. And I’m sure they’re loving every moment of it (that wasn’t sarcasm by the way…they’re all getting to spend precious time with their children, which is a gift;)). We do, thankfully, have a small handful of friends who are still childless and always down to slum it with a couple of relative old farts like us, and I have endless gratitude for these gems for always getting Michael and I out of the house and helping to keep us feeling young(ish).;)
So back to my theory about our uneventful 2018.
I’ve addressed this in previous posts about our friends sort of outgrowing us now that they’ve started families. So without our regular casual social hangouts, Michael and I spend a lot of our free time just hanging at home with the doggies (and inevitably working more). I don’t mind it really, but it definitely doesn’t make for interesting blog posts (thank goodness for fashion, travel and DIY projects!). With this as our new normal, the major highs we have are generally related to our travels, and with our joint income taking a deep dive after leaving my career, we don’t travel as often as we used to. Hence the slightly uneventful year.
With all this in mind, it’s apparent that I need to find new ways to bring joy into our slightly mundane daily lives in the coming years. We have something really major in mind, but it’s sort of a pie in the sky idea, and there are about a thousand variables at play that can either make or break our master plan. Hopefully one day I will be posting about this as it’s coming to fruition….fingers crossed!
Before I bore you all to death with more of my usual ramblings, let me get to my list of obvious highlights and the rest of my lows of 2018:
(pardon some of the low quality images, which were taken before having cell phones and digital cameras was the standard)
2018 Low Points
- On March 4th I lost my bff Gidgie, aka the original G-Unit member, aka my first dog ever, aka my ride or die for 15 years….wayyyyy back from the time I adopted her through a PetSmart adoption event when I was in college in Orlando. I started to write a post dedicated to her after her passing, but it turned into a novel, and I decided to keep it private bc I wasn’t sure how others would relate to my immense grief. Gidgie was there for me during every pivotal moment in my adult life. Graduating college, painful break-ups, hunkering down in a walk-in closet with my parents and 6 cats as the eye of hurricane Charley beat down on us, graduating college, moving to Charleston, many road trips, meeting Michael, marrying Michael, moving to Colorado, moving back to Charleston, and she was there at the real estate attorney’s office with us when we closed on our first home (which is the home we still live in). The list goes on. She was on viagra for pulmonary hypertension and was doing well on it, but what ended up killing her was a ruptured Chordae Tendineae, so her lungs rapidly filled with fluid as we slept and she woke me up in the middle of the night hacking like she needed to clear her throat. I had no idea what was happening and I was half asleep and not firing on all cylinders, so I didn’t understand the emergent nature of what was going on. I took her to the emergency vet within the hour, but I still feel like I failed her by not immediately recognizing her struggles and rushing out the door in my pajamas. Once getting to the vet, they rushed her to the back and put her in an oxygen chamber, and once again it wasn’t clear to me that I really just needed to end her suffering, as the likelihood of her recovering at the incredible age of 18 was essentially impossible. So unbeknownst to me, she sat terrified in the oxygen chamber clawing at the plexiglass not knowing where she was, or what all the strange noises were (she was basically blind at this point in her life due to corneal ulcers, despite eye surgeries to try to preserve as much of her vision as possible). So it wasn’t until a couple hours later that it was made clear to me that this was the end of the road for Gidgie. Once I saw her clawing at the side of the oxygen chamber, I was horrified, hysterical, and desperate to get her out of there so we could put an end to her suffering. I will forever be haunted by all of this. Once I was able to hold her, she actually calmed down and got a handle on her breathing. I wish that she never had to be put in that O2 chamber and I could have held her in my arms the whole time instead, but the veterinary team was following protocol. She was so frightened in the oxygen chamber, that it did nothing to help her breathing. I so regret that I didn’t ask to see her sooner so I could have made the decision to end her suffering earlier, or at least comforted her sooner, but I had no idea she was struggling so badly back there. At least she was calm when I held her as she slipped away over the rainbow bridge. I loved this little ewok so freaking much, it hurt.
- Then a month later on April 11th I had to help my first cat that I got as an adult, Porky, cross the rainbow bridge. I rescued Porky when he was a baby kitten while I was living in Hawaii back in 2001. My boyfriend at the time was dropping his car off at the port to be shipped back to the mainland, and of course I parked next to a car that had a sick little kitten under it. I say “of course” because I was already equipped with no less than three humane cat traps in the back of my little chevy cavalier, as I was a 21 year old who was actively involved in the island’s Trap, Neuter, and Return program. Cats in need seemed to find me no matter where I was, and I was always prepared;) . Little Porky was absolutely pathetic looking when I first laid eyes on him under that car. I couldn’t have pets, so after luring him out with a piece of a slim jim I had my boyfriend buy from a nearby vending machine, I took Porky to the humane society hoping they would be willing to treat him. Instead they advised that they would likely euthanize him since he was sick. I certainly couldn’t let that happen, so I proceeded to take him home with me and hid him my room for the next three months while I nursed him back to health. The poor thing was filled with worms, had mange, and an upper respiratory infection. Then Porky and I made the long journey to Florida together in February 2002, which would be our home for the next few years while I finished school. He was the sweetest, most cuddly little guy. If he was laying near you, he would often look right in your eyes, and then reach out with one of his paws and gently place it on the side of your face, just as a human would show affection. It was like he was literally in awe of you, and expressing his love for you. He was always great with the dogs that visited our home and helped keep our fosters feeling comfortable and welcomed. As he got older he developed terrible arthritis (he was an incredible little jumper in his glory days….I’d find him in the craziest places in my apartment, so I think this contributed), and unfortunately he didn’t respond well to pain meds. The supplements I’d been giving him for years were also becoming ineffective. Michael had a business trip to Scotland that month (April 2018), and we had planned to piggy back a vacation afterward. I was all set to fly out to meet up with him in Glasgow, but two days before I left a little growth that Porky had on his chin for years, that his doctors were never concerned about, had suddenly ruptured. I made a quick appointment at our vet to have it checked out, and I was already growing concerned about leaving him behind with a sitter if he had a medical issue. After examining the cells under a microscope, our vet was highly suspicious that it was a type of cancer, but in addition to that, she was most concerned about his quality of life due to his arthritis and limited mobility. I was there for what felt like several hours while we weighed different options, and none of them were very promising. I was afraid something would happen to him while we were gone, and after what I went through with Gidgie, I definitely did not want to fail another one of our babies in their time of need. But I also felt awful about the fact that my leaving town was factoring into my decision at all. I finally asked our vet what she would do if she were in my situation, and she said she felt like maybe it was time to let Porky go, mostly due to his painful arthritis. They don’t normally do house calls, but I did not want Porky’s last moments to be at the clinic if at all possible, so she agreed to come out to our house the following evening. I cannot tell you the mix of emotions I had over the next 24 hours. I had a list of things to do that was a mile long since I was leaving the country, including three dogs that I needed to get packed up and dropped off to two different sitters, give my neighbor/house-sitter instructions for caring for our other cat Odie as well as all the ins and outs of our house, clean our house, and finish doing laundry and packing. But all I wanted to do was sit and cry and hold Porky. I second guessed my decision about 185,630 times during that 24 hours, and even consulted with my friend who’s a veterinary oncologist about the situation to see if I was making a huge mistake. I sent her a video of Porky walking, which after seeing she immediately let me know that I was making the right decision due to his limited mobility and poor quality of life, as difficult as the decision was. The next day, after cuddling with Porky during the few hours of sleep I got that night, I placed Porky in his favorite bed in front of the fireplace. And even though it wasn’t cold outside that day, I kept the fire going because he loved to be warm. I brought him water and food all day so he wouldn’t have to walk anywhere, and carried him to the litter box when I thought he might need to use it. His cat brother, Odie, seemed to sense Porky’s struggles, as he laid with him almost the entire day. I hated that I had to spend the day cleaning and packing and couldn’t just lay with him and snuggle. I had actually set an alarm to stop cleaning at 4pm so that I could spend Porky’s last hour holding him, as the vet was supposed to arrive at 5pm. Unfortunately, after my alarm went off, I tried to quickly wrap up whatever I was doing, and then the vet arrived 30 minutes early, so I never got that chance to just sit and quietly hold him, other than for about 20 minutes while talking with our vet as I told her Porky’s story and attempted to hold back tears. In total contrast to Gidgie, Porky’s passing was incredibly peaceful and I truly wish every pet were lucky enough to just fall asleep in the arms of their person, while snuggling on their sofa in the comfort of their own home. After they took Porky away so he could be cremated at our local funeral home, I then had to pull my shit together, run Gatsby to his sitter and hour away, and rush home to finish my pre-travel to do list, as I was hopping on a flight early the next morning. Thankfully, my amazing friend who watched Gracie and Gertie had offered to come pick them up earlier that day so they would be out of my hair while Porky was crossing the bridge, which saved me a ton of time and stress. I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night (as in I did not even have time to lay down), and I remember slamming a red bull on my way to the airport. I wept on and off during my travels for the next several hours….including with some very nice Irish women who struck up a conversation with me in the ticket line at JFK. They also happened to be cat lovers, so when I told them that I had just said goodbye one of my own the previous evening, and how I felt like I hadn’t had a moment to really sit down and grieve yet, they both gave me a giant warm hug. I love seeing this side of humanity. When I finally met up with Michael in Glasgow, the flood gates completely opened and it all finally sank in. Little Pork-Porks was gone.
- In December 2017 I began fostering for a Bulldog rescue. I had originally filled out an adoption application after seeing a pic on Facebook of this frightened little frenchie named “Bear” that had just been rescued, but after I completed screening process and home visit, it didn’t seem that cute little frenchie was going to need a home because his foster was likely going to adopt him. I then decided that it was probably a sign we weren’t emotionally ready to adopt so soon after losing our two year old frenchie mill rescue, Gilbert, earlier that year in June 2017 (Gilbert died due to a congenital heart defect). So that’s when I decided to help foster instead. My first foster, Monte, found a fabulous home in January after I had him for about a month. Shortly after he found a home, I was contacted by some other volunteers about potentially fostering that adorable, frightened little frenchie named Bear, as the foster no longer wanted him due to some behavior quirks. “Heck yes!” I thought. “Sign me up!” Bear had been rescued from a crappy back yard breeder. The family who purchased him as a puppy returned him to the breeder after he was thrown from a balcony and his leg was severely broken. The family did thankfully take him to be treated, but he was terrified of the kids after that and would supposedly bite them, which is why they returned him to the breeder. Thankfully the breeder had no use for him since he was already neutered, and agreed to surrender him to the rescue. After spending a few days with Bear, I was certain that these behavioral issues I was hearing about surely must have been in reference to a different dog. Bear was perfect. He wasn’t food aggressive, he didn’t guard toys, and he was submissive to our girls after a slow introduction. He was like a dream dog, and so many quirks about him reminded us of Gilbert (like his obsession with socks), that the similarities actually brought us to tears several times, and we’d accidentally call him “Gilbert”. After a few weeks it was time to take Bear to an adoption event, but instead we decided Bear was already home. He then became an official member of the “G-unit” when we gave him his new name “Gatsby” for his new life with us. Of course, after we signed on the dotted line and had our first guests over to meet our new addition, we discovered that there was some accuracy to the reports about nippy behavior. As it turns out Gatsby is very very protective of his inner circle, but we love him just the same and he just has to hang in the bedroom whenever we have guests, which he’s totally cool with because he gets to watch his favorite TV shows and chew on lots of bones:)
- In June 2018 I celebrated a year of living a pork-free diet. I thought it would be extremely difficult because I love alllll the food, but I quit eating it after seeing far too many horrifying undercover video footage at pig farms, and the cruel transport process. I just couldn’t enjoy eating it anymore. Especially after I began following Esther the Wonder Pig on facebook (she’s the cutest and I love her dads and the rest of the sanctuary gang). My husband still eats pork, and I don’t judge, but he certainly eats less of it. I would love to become a vegetarian, but I’m taking it one step at a time.
- Of course our trip to Scotland and Ireland was a major high for 2018. It was an incredibly sad time for us after suffering the sudden losses of Gidgie, and Porky, and I was also dealing with my family issues, so it was nice to really vacate our reality back at home, and a road trip through Scotland, and some pub hopping in Dublin was an incredible way to do just that. I still need to do travel diaries for that trip (it’s on my loooong to-do list for travel posts:))
- After returning from Scotland, I took our precious rescue kitty, Odie, for his routine wellness exam, and his bloodwork indicated he had elevated calcium levels, which I’ve since learned in dogs it’s almost always an indicator of some type of malignancy, but in cats that’s not always the case. Anyhow, we had a big scare (seriously….just could not seem to catch a break with our fur-babes!), but I took Odie to my veterinary oncologist friend, and after about a thousand dollars in testing between the labs done by our primary vet and his oncologist, we determined that his high calcium must be idiopathic (a fancy word for “they don’t know the cause.”;)). So what was shaping up to be another low for 2018, ended up being a high once we (sort of) figured out his issue and he was determined to be cancer-free.:) He does have kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and irritable bowel disease, but he does not appear to have the scary C-word….silver linings, people….silver linings;)
- Another major high was our giant group trip to The Excellence Resort at Playa Mujeres Mexico. We had started talking about going back to this resort in 2017, so in early 2018 (like January 1st;)), a few of us set that plan into motion. Amazingly, we were able to pull it off and get a crew of 14 together to head south of the border, and it was an absolute blast:) . I won’t usually recommend an all-inclusive resort, but I highly, highly recommend this one! *(note: our beautiful room is the standard accommodation at the Excellence. We paid an arm and a leg for a room not nearly as nice during our first (and last) experience at a Sandals resort. The basic room at the excellence is usually less costly than the basic room at a Sandals resort, and the basic rooms at Sandals are like staying at a Motel 6).
- I wrote about how our Thanksgiving unfolded in 2018 here if you want to catch up.:) I was only planning on my parents coming into town and I hadn’t seen them in over a year, so I was super excited about their visit. Then by some miracle, my entire family ended up coming at the last minute. It was the first time we had all been together since Christmas 2016, and it had been far too long. Thanksgiving was definitely a highlight for me (never mind the part where I had to rush Gertie to the emergency vet at like 4am Thanksgiving morning for a mysterious episode she was having, which we have yet to figure out the cause).
- I’ve done a couple posts on this already, but I certainly couldn’t leave out my new eyebrows complements of Terra, the owner of Ultra Brows in Summerville, SC. Having visible brows 24/7 may seem trivial to some, but it has seriously been life-changing for me. If you want to read more about my experience check out my post about the process here, and my two month post procedure update here.
- And last, but most certainly not least, a major highlight of 2018 was breaking out of my comfort zone a bit by getting out and meeting some local bloggers. I honestly think I would have a completely different outlook on ‘blogger events’ if I hadn’t had such an amazing first experience with some incredible women who were so warm and welcoming to me. I’ve heard too many stories about ladies having the complete opposite experience and getting snubbed by bloggers who otherwise appear super friendly on social media, but aren’t interested in meeting other local bloggers. These stories have kept from diving into the blogger scene completely, as I don’t want to end up jaded by a negative experience, but hopefully my encounters will continue to be positive:)
So while I had some major low points in 2018 (some of which I haven’t shared), as you can see some important highlights were sprinkled in too. Here’s to hoping for even more adventures, better health, and notable high points for all of us in 2019:)