5 Pictures, 5 Stories

Immediately, I volunteered Kyle and I to help him out. We got to work, lighting 300 tea lights, balancing them on the railings, around the benches, and spelling out “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” on the dock.

Hello, friends! I know I’ve been missing a bit lately, and haven’t been able to post my daily prompts and whatnot, but I have a good excuse, I swear. Well, kind of. To be honest, the last few daily prompts have been hard for me. I honestly haven’t been able to write anything on them. I couldn’t even think up a silly haiku in place of a blog post. I did manage to write out a couple of dream journal posts, but not much else. My son has also been going through a very clingy phase as of late, and I’ve barely been able to sit at my computer. I even spend most of his naps napping, because I’ve been exhausted lately. Ugh.

Anyway, I wanted to do something fun, and share a few random pictures with you guys, as well as some stories associated with them. I dug through my Facebook albums, and found some good ones to share, so here we go! 5 Pictures, 5 Stories!

1. The Ring
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On February 28, 2014, after a delicious dinner, Kyle and I went for a late-night walk around our favorite lake. It had been snowing for the last week, and there was thick, frozen snow on the ground, making it impossible to really walk. Kyle kept leading me towards this tiny fishing dock, where he and I would sometimes sit when the weather was warm. In the distance, we could see a young man already on the dock, lighting what appeared to be candles. Kyle and I walked over, and asked him what he was doing out on the lake, in the dark, wearing a suit, and lighting candles. He informed us that it was his girlfriend’s birthday, and that her mother was out driving her around, because he was planning to propose to her… but he needed to light 300 tea lights, and was having a hard time with the wind.

Immediately, I¬†volunteered Kyle and I to help him out. We got to work, lighting 300 tea lights, balancing them on the railings, around the benches, and spelling out “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” on the dock. Kyle even had to make a run to the store to buy another lighter, once the one the guy had stopped working. The end result was beautiful (I took pictures), and we got to stick around to watch the proposal. After it was done, we talked a little bit, before parting ways. As soon as we got in the car, Kyle informed me that he had brought me there to propose to me, and that he was disappointed now, because it was ruined. I laughed, because I had already figured that out. Determined to still propose, we drove to another park in town, where he awkwardly dragged me to the gazebo, and attempted to propose. I couldn’t stop laughing. He gave up on the speech, and we kissed, and he put the ring on my finger. Sappy speeches are not his thing, and it was a perfect proposal anyway. That was two years ago today, and we are now friends with that other couple! Happy birthday, Kelsey! ūüėČ

2. Boys and Girls Club
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One of my favorite things about working at Target was how often we had the change to volunteer. Over the course of just one year, I volunteered at a homeless shelter making meals, at a daycare center reading books, and my favorite, volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Peoria. This was an amazing experience. The Boys and Girls Club that we went to was one of two in the area, as the cities are divided by east and west, and was located in a low income neighborhood, across from a school. We brought in new games for their game room, cleaned out the old games, painted walls, weeded and cleaned up their garden, and did crafts with the children once they got out of school.

I really wanted to do this because we did not have a Boys and Girls Club in my hometown, but we did have an after school program called Kids Out, which was for lower income kids, or kids who didn’t have anywhere to go after school. I went to this program for 3 years, and the counselors and volunteers were great. I was thankful to be able to volunteer with the Boys and Girls Club, and was so proud to be a part of something great, even if just for one day.

3. Hiking With Friends
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In June 2014, my good friend Corey came to visit Kyle and I. It was my first time meeting him in person, but we had been friends via World of Warcraft, my podcast, Twitter, and Facebook, for a long time, and he was one of my closest friends (still is, don’t worry!). We decided to all go to Starved Rock State Park and go hiking, despite the fact that NONE of us were dressed for hiking, or for the heat. I was wearing jeans and sandals for crying out loud! It was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to take my son there when it gets warmer. Corey took this amazing picture of me taking a picture of a mama deer. You can see one of her two babies off to the left. It was such a fun day! He also took a picture of Kyle and I by the waterfall, which is one of my favorite pictures of us. I was also pregnant with a tiny Liam during this time!

4. The Ginger Kittens
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In 2009, a little while after my ex and I started dating, I decided that I wanted to adopt a cat. I had had always had cats throughout my entire life, and it felt odd not having one now that I was an adult, living on my own. We went to an adoption event at a PetSmart, and fell in love with two, ginger kittens. I decided immediately that I wanted them both, if possible. We had enough to cover the fees for both kittens, and sat down with one of the employees, and began the paperwork process. We finished all of the paperwork, handed it over for them to look at, and went over to play with the little babies. A few minutes later, the woman came back, and informed us that we needed to be 21 or older to adopt. I was crushed. I had the female kitten in my arms, and had already fallen in love with her. As we put them back into the cage, and walked away, they climbed up their cage door and meowed loudly. I cried in the car on the way home.

A few months later, I bought my tuxedo baby girl, Jade, from a pet store (yes, this was before I knew better than to buy from a pet store). I had Jade until November 2014, when I was forced to re-home her with a friend, after struggling to find an apartment where we could all live. I cried for weeks, but I had no other choice. We have no animals now, as they are not allowed in our building, but I hope that we can bring another furbaby into our home in the future.

5. Out of the Darkness1383626_10200935288763954_1702612861_n

In October 2013, Kyle and I walked in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Walk for Suicide Prevention. The previous year, a classmate of his had committed suicide, and we made Team Dallas t-shirts, and walked in his memory, as well as the memories of others in our lives who had been touched by the tragedies of suicide. Myself included. I’ve written a bit about it in the past here, but I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts, as well as self-harm, since middle school. I tried to take my own life twice, and was, thankfully, unsuccessful both times. At the time this picture was taken, it had been 6 months and 2 days since the last time that I self-harmed, and I am proud to say that I never self-harmed again after that. It was an amazing experience, and I met so many wonderful people, who were all there to celebrate the lives of the loved ones that they had lost. I was unable to participate in 2014 or 2015, but I hope to participate again this year, with the people that I love, who have kept me grounded, and saved my life.

Thank you for reading, friends. I’ll post another one of these in the future if people enjoyed reading it.

Jan

Daily Prompt 2/17/2016 | Secrets

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt 2/17/2016 | Evasive Action

What‚Äôs the most significant secret you‚Äôve ever kept? Did the truth ever come out?”

If I told you that, I’d probably have to kill you. That’s the point of a secret, right?

Okay, in all seriousness, I am basically the Keeper of Secrets to everyone.¬†Though¬†most of the secrets that I have been keeping are no longer secrets, and the owners of said secrets have brought them to light, I still choose not to tell them. Personally, I don’t have secrets. I have one secret, that is mine, that I have not told anyone. I want to, but I honestly don’t know how, and if it would even make a difference in the effect that this secret has had on me.

But, I will tell you all a secret now that I am finally comfortable telling. Some of you may not understand, or even care, but it is important to me.

I have a friend, who is very near and dear to me. I won’t say his name, because I’m simply not sure if he would want me to. We met online, through Twitter, as well as the World of Warcraft community, and have been friends for years.¬†My friend was married to a wonderful man for 4¬†years, and they played WoW together. On January 1st,¬†2013, my friend’s husband passed away suddenly, and unexpectedly, and he was absolutely devastated. There was nothing that I could do to comfort him in his time of need, as I was so far away, and being a friendly ear can only help so much.

During this time, I was also the host of a World of Warcraft podcast called Something Suggestive. While my show wasn’t big, I had made a bit of a name for myself in the community, and decided to go out on a limb, and talked to one of my favorite community managers about possibly having an NPC (non-playable character) added to the game in his husband’s memory. Blizzard is amazing when it comes to in-game memorials. After a little bit of back and forth between this community manager, as well as a game developer, we decided on a model, name, and location for his character.

In patch 5.2.0,¬†the model, who was named and modeled after my friend’s late husband’s own character, was placed in the Seat of Knowledge, in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.

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Very few people know that I did this, and I kept it quiet for years, even after the YouTube videos, WowHead article, and blog posts came out, talking about the tribute. I asked my friend not to name me. I didn’t want credit, or attention. I wanted to help. I wanted to do whatever I could to do fix some part of this horrible tragedy.

In the following weeks, there were beautiful in-game tributes and meet-ups on several severs, and you can still find the videos on YouTube, years later. I went to a handful of these as well.

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The way that the community rallied around our friend was incredible. Strangers, too, came from all corners of the world to pay their respects to our fellow community member.

It was beautiful. And I was so proud to be a part of the large group of people who reached out to show him that he was loved, and not alone.

And to my friend, if you are reading this right now, know that you are still so, so loved. ‚̧

And now you know my secret. Thanks for reading, friends.

Jan