Saturday, March 29, 2014

New Jobs

An update is definitely in order!

If you haven't heard, two weeks ago, I started a new job working in childcare at our church. I don't really have a lot to say about it, but I do really like it. I work with 2's and 3's. I actually got sick about a week ago and now have bronchitis, so I have actually only worked a handful of days so far.

After our announcement about a month ago that Nate was hired by AT&T, he went through orientation to learn more information about the job. We discovered more about what the position required than the job description actually explained, and apparently about 1/3 of new hires for premises technician do not make it past the first week of training. Nate was determined to give it his all, and he absolutely did, but by the second day, we knew it was not to be. Nate felt very discouraged because he really wanted to succeed, but after much prayer, we really felt an overwhelming peace that it was okay. We should have been very freaked out by the unknown future, but we really weren't. Only a few short days later, our church was having their annual men's conference, called Men's Summit. I strongly encouraged my introverted husband to attend knowing how much I enjoy the women's conference, and now that his schedule allowed, he did decide to go with my brother. It was so amazing for him to have the opportunity to take time away from our employment troubles to spend time with God and other godly men. If the job at AT&T had worked out, he would not have been able to go. God's timing is perfect.

Before the conference, Nate applied to a few new jobs and on the last day of the conference, he heard back about an available position in Flower Mound (a suburb north of us in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex). If you knew us before we moved to Texas, you'll know that Nate worked for a campground in southern Michigan for about 5 years. He worked outside in all seasons doing mostly groundskeeping and lawn maintenance type work. This new position is similar, in the city parks and athletic fields. Anyway, he was hired, and he just completed his first week. It offers really great benefits, and he is doing amazingly well considering it is only his first week. There is definitely room for growth for Nate to move up from this entry-level position. We are really excited that we are finally on a road to some semblance of normalcy, and we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for us now!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pinterest and The Amazingness of Tissue Paper Poms

So, I looooove Pinterest. A few years ago when "everyone" started joining Pinterest, I draaaaaged my feet about it. No way did I need another website addiction of the social media variety. But then I discovered what it's all about, and it has been one of my favorite things on the Internet since...well, ever. I love creativity and decorating and of course designing things, and Pinterest is the best place to put all of those wonderful things. And well, recipes. I am not a fan of cooking, so Pinterest helps make it more enjoyable for me.

I have also grown to looooove decorating the space where we live. That space is currently a two-bedroom apartment, and as such, I am limited on space and by the fact that the walls, ceilings, and floors are not actually mine. But I love home decor just the same.

That being said, our second bedroom has gone through some major transitions since we moved in almost exactly three years ago. It started out as strictly an office space with a GINORMOUS desk I bought from IKEA after we were first married. And then we wanted the room to function as a guestroom for family visiting from Michigan and for nieces to take naps in. But we also needed the room to house our printers, scanners, filing cabinet, etc. So in order to make this guestroom function in all of the above capacities, I turned to Pinterest to PIN some inspiration. Novel idea. ;) I found lots of ideas for putting a double bed and a crib and an office in the same space. But to make a long and boring story short, I got rid of the IKEA desk and was able to implement many of the ideas I had pinned. I wound up putting a wardrobe/armoire in one of the corners of the room. Doing so created a nasty dead space/hole, and the artist in me needed to hide and soften that corner to make it look more cozy, and intentional, and pleasing to the eye. I thought of hanging paper poms from the ceiling, searched for the best tutorial I could find, and pinned it to my office decor board for later.

My, oh, my, what a seemingly innocent thing to do. As with most people, I joined Pinterest just to keep personal pinboards and didn't necessarily care if anyone else ever saw what I pinned on this or any other boards. But then when people started liking the things that I found, I thought that was actually pretty cool.

I found this link about one year ago, and it is now my most repinned pin I've ever pinned. ;) I'm sure other people are used to this, but me, not so much. I get notified almost daily about someone else repinning or liking my pin, which is definitely kind of exciting even if it doesn't actually mean anything or say anything about my curating skills.

The lady who wrote the tutorial is to be commended. It really is a good one. I mean, tissue paper poms are NOT rocket science, but if you're like me or the over 400 other people who liked or repinned my pin, you love the visuals and the step-by-step instructions, even if you don't actually NEED to be told how to make something you likely made in grade school. She has tips for the best ways to hang them and a great link for getting nice tissue paper in a wide variety of colors, which I used and was very impressed with as I just did not have any success finding shades of brown tissue paper at my local Party City or Target. As you can imagine, not many people use BROWN tissue paper for gift-wrapping. ;) You can see her tutorial here.

And just for fun, here's how my project turned out.

Four of the poms are four different shades of brown tissue paper and the fifth one is made out of pages from an old book. The last was by far the hardest pom to make as the paper was small and brittle, but I love the effect it created. I actually have a different lamp there now, but the space is filled in exactly the way I wanted it to be. I personally think it is a GREAT look for a room that functions as a pseudo-nursery and as a guestroom with an office in the large closet.

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Own Personal Employment Journey 2009-present

If you've read most of my blog posts over the last few years, you'll know that I used to be the senior graphic designer at a small print shop in Jonesville, Michigan. I loved my job, but in an effort to keep this concise and not run off-topic, I'll just say that I was forced to leave that position for reasons both financial and of conscience. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made, and just like with this recent job loss experience, I grieved it a bit, felt hurt by the experience and also somewhat burnt out from doing design work. I was unemployed for a few months until being asked to move to Texas to nanny my brand-new-at-the-time niece, Ellie.

I was Ellie's full time nanny for about two years. The above pictures were taken on my first day: Valentine's Day 2011 and on the anniversary the years after. It wasn't graphic design, but I loved the diversion and all of that quality time with my little buddy. In the spring of 2013, shortly after our two-year anniversary, a new niece was born, Emily Anne, named after yours truly (it's no secret that my middle name is Emily) and their maternal grandma whose middle name is Ann. :) I was so thrilled and so honored, and it was love at first sight. <3 br="">

Anyway, the mama, Valerie, decided to become a mostly stay-at-home mama after Emily was born, so my hours with the girls became much more part-time. This worked out quite well because another family member was in need of some extra care: my grandma.

 Isn't she such a pretty lady? :)

As the result of breaking a vertebrae in her back and not able to ever fully regain all of her previous strength and vitality, in December 2012, we moved my grandma from Florida to her own apartment a few doors down from me in Texas so that I could begin assisting her and helping her stay as independent as possible. Caring for this widow, my own grandma, is easily one of the best and hardest jobs I have ever had. Easier than being a nanny in some ways and much harder in others. I never in a million years expected to be care-giving for an elderly person at the age of 30. It's not an experience I've actually ever put into words until now, so I'll be a bit more descriptive here if you don't mind. ;)

It's a humbling act of service...of love. I don't say that to boast. It's just that the kinds of things one must do to care for an elderly person is by nature a humbling experience. They aren't that different than things you do for kids, but when you do it for a child, you take it for granted. As an example, I gave my grandma a pedicure (everything but nail polish...her feet are always covered) a few weeks ago because I felt she needed one. It was a decision I made without question or even giving it a second thought really, but in the moment while I was washing her feet, it really struck me about when Jesus talks about washing one another's feet in John 13:14, that act of humbling oneself and serving someone else. I was doing it and not even realizing it. It almost brought me to tears honestly. But it is also an honor to serve someone who has loved and cared for me as a baby, a child, and well actually my whole life, and here I am now, able to serve her. I think of times she pushed me in a stroller around the mall, and now I push her in a wheelchair. So we have made a complete 180ยบ. A role reversal. It's difficult but also very beautiful.

So, that's what I've been doing for work the past year or so. In the early fall of 2013, I resumed occasionally babysitting my nieces. I cleaned an office space for awhile, but when my brother's business closed and Nate lost his job, the cleaning job went with it. I also do a little graphic design on the side, but to be honest, I have put it on the back-burner because these special people in my life have needed me more. I know that my grandma's quality of life is so drastically improved now that she is nearer to those she loves. Her care continues to be of great importance to me, but we are now transitioning to a different arrangement, one that will be better for her in the long run as she is gradually needing more and more help. More details on that will follow after they are set in stone.

Even though I didn't have a regular full-time job, the three jobs I did have pretty much filled up my time. I didn't anticipate rejoining the marketplace at this juncture in my life, but now given our current circumstances, I am actually ready to resume working at a "normal" job, whether or not Nate finds one first. I have no idea how long of a journey it will be or which direction it will take me, but I'm looking forward to finding a new adventure! I'll keep you posted. :)

Happy New Year 2014 and the Latest on the Job Front

Hmmm. New Year. 2014. I posted this snarky little message on Facebook for New Year's Day:
"Happy holidays! (I don't want to offend anyone who doesn't celebrate the new year.) And with that snarky remark, I will make my new year's resolution to be less sarcastic and more kind. Ah, who am I kidding? I don't make new year's resolutions. Happy New Year!!"
And by that, you can read between the lines and understand that though we are still in a difficult place, we are in much better spirits emotionally than we were those few weeks before Christmas. After my last update, we took a road trip to Michigan to spend some much needed downtime with Nate's family for Christmas. His mom and aunts are excellent hostesses. We ate so much amazing yumminess, watched so many Christmas movies, enjoyed curling up by the fireplace each night, and overall got a week's worth of R&R. Upon our return, we spent the new year with most of my family in Texas.

Here are a couple of my favorite images from Christmas 2013:


That certainly doesn't include all our loved ones, but I wanted to protect the privacy of those who might not appreciate their image posted on a public blog. ;)

On the job front, we were able to do some more searching while we were relaxing, and thankfully we are mostly passed the grieving and on to the taking action part of the post-job-loss recovery. Nate and I have learned some important things, not the least of which is patience.

Nate has applied to and has all but been hired for a position that, for now, is probably his second-choice on the job front. His first choice doesn't have any local availabilities currently with this employer, but there is a chance that once hired within the company, he could eventually move to the position he thinks he would prefer. He has been approved for this second-choice position (a premises technician with a major cable/internet provider) in every way save one...and that one should be a given. It's a standard requirement of almost any job. Aaaaaaand they lost the results. Gah. The HR person Nate has been in contact with assured him that this was an unusual situation and told him on Friday that she had forwarded the problem to her supervisor, which did encourage us some. After three weeks of the company attempting to track down the results, we felt the likelihood of that job being what the futures holds for us waning with every passing day. It was hard to not feel discouraged. I admit, on several days, we felt helpless and hopeless, wondering whether the job search should continue with fervor or whether we should just wait patiently for this one to be finalized. As anyone who has ever breathed air can tell you...waiting is haaaaaaaaard.

Yesterday at church, Nate prayed specifically to receive an answer tomorrow from this employer, and today, he got a phone call. !!!! To those who do not believe that God answers prayer, this might sound like a coincidence, but to us, it was exactly the encouragement we needed to continue to persevere in patience and waiting on the Lord. [As a sidenote: we have learned that "waiting around" and "waiting on the Lord" are two entirely different things.] The answer was not that they found the results but rather offered an expedited retake of the test, which he will happily do ASAP in hopes of bringing further closure to this situation.

Maybe this still isn't the path God has for us and we just don't know it yet, but I feel sure that there are reasons it is taking so long, not the least of which is this: Nate picked up part time temporary work after Christmas, and his employer still needs him. Maybe for another week. Maybe less. Maybe more. He makes more per hour at this temp job than he is likely to make at the full time position in question. Thus, it would be very much in the nature of the God I know to have our best interests at heart throughout this delay, as He always does, in asking us to wait on beginning a new position just yet.

As for me, well, my employment situation has fluctuated so much in the last 5 years that I'm not really sure where to begin, but I do know I'd like to share more than will fit here. I'll just have to do another blog post about that. ;)

Thank you all again for reading my blog, caring about us, and especially for praying for us as we are continuing on this rocky road.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Beyond "Fine"

I try not to get too personal on a public blog, but I'm going to risk being a little transparent today. As I mentioned on my last blog post, my husband lost his full time job, and I lost 1.5 of my 3 very part time jobs. People continue to show concern for us and keep asking us how we are doing, and my answer is usually "fine" because I don't feel like rehashing and bursting into tears every time someone asks. So, this blog is an attempt to answer that question more fully.

First of all, I feel that we were incredibly blessed to be a part of Inflammable. Nate was given an opportunity early on in the company to learn as he worked, which is not something he would likely have been able to do working for any other company in the IT field. We are so thankful to God and to my brother, especially, for giving this opportunity to us. I know Nate worked very hard to earn the trust they placed in him, and knowing him, I have to believe he earned it. People who know Nate and have worked with him know that he is a very hard worker. I'm beyond proud of him.

The unfortunate flip-side of the blessing of Nate learning as he worked is this: the knowledge Nate has is so very specialized, he is not as hire-able or employable as we would like. If you are not familiar with the field of IT, this means that he is extremely well-versed in one small area of the field and his knowledge of the rest is rather limited. It's like a high school physics teacher being asked to teach fourth grade. He just isn't qualified to do that. He can freaking "teach physics" but if there is nobody looking to hire a "physics teacher" and everyone wants a "fourth grade teacher", he just isn't super employable right now. So, in a way, we are back at square one when it comes to applying for new jobs. All is not hopeless, though, and I fully believe good will come of this. The last two years have not been in vain, and God will use this situation to his glory. Who knows? Maybe he will be rehired again in a few weeks and all of this will have been a giant uncertain vacation from work. Or maybe this is the beginning of a long arduous period of patience and trust. We shall see.

Secondly, to continue answering the "how are you doing" question, we are learning a lot about trust. This element is seemingly more complex than we initially expected. Like I mentioned in my previous post, the reasons for the closing of the company are a combination of things we know and can't talk about as well as a great many things we don't know about. That being said, it's understandable that there is an element of trusting in the unknown decisions of others, which we are learning is an incredibly difficult position to be put in. That's where we are right now. It's complex because we do trust the leadership of Inflammable, very much. If we didn't fully trust them and God, we would be much more angry and would definitely be feeling bitterness in the wake of this tragedy. We do not blame them at all nor do we feel bitterness, but we still are feeling grief and hurt. The hurt was inadvertent, of course, but it was still hurt.

I imagine it's like being a passenger on a car (well, more likely a bus with 30 other passengers) that is involved in a collision with another vehicle. You aren't driving the bus or making the decisions. You probably are minding your own business and not paying attention to the bad decisions of the cars around you. When the bus you are in gets hit and totaled and you wind up injured and in the hospital, you are still hurt, even though you knew the bus driver personally and trusted him to give you safe passage. In this instance, the driver came out of the crash with minor personal injuries, but had to deal with the loss of their property, the insurance claims, the emotional trauma of being responsible for a great many other lives, and the heartache of the injury to the passengers in the bus accident that he didn't cause but still feels responsible for. But we, as the injured passengers, have a road of recovery ahead of us. We placed our trust in an employer, just like anyone does at any job, and when it closed, that trust was broken and that left us feeling hurt. So these past few days, that injury hurts. It just does. We know that wound will heal, but right now, it just hurts. And that's okay.

Thirdly and lastly (for now), we are learning about thankfulness. Every year for the past several years, I participated in the 30 Days of Thankfulness posts on Facebook. I will likely sound like a hipster when I say I was doing it before it was cool, but since my college friends and I really did have Facebook accounts before it was cool, I guess it's okay. :) Anyway, I once heard the quote that there is always something to be thankful for, and we are learning one day at a time, what that means for us right now.

We have said over and over that we are thankful for God bringing Dave Ramsey and FPU into our lives at a time when we had hit a financial rock bottom and were receptive to it. But I am also thankful for a spouse (eww, I hate that rhymes with blouse, and those words just sound gross) er, husband who was as open to it as I am and who I can fully trust to communicate with me on financial matters. We have been a fairly open book about our finances because we hope God can (bahaha, can? Of course He can.) will use our experience to help others as well as to serve as accountability for us. Now that we have this other gaping emotional wound, it would be easy for us to give up on our budgeting and say it was all for nothing, but that would be a lie. It has been a huge blessing. We would have almost $500 in extra bills per month that we would be wondering how we were going to be able to pay. Instead, we have rent, cost of living expenses (food, gas, phones, etc.), utilities, and one single debt left to pay. All of our other expenses that we regularly budget for can be cut right out until we have jobs. Even though our rent is a doozy and it would be wonderful to live in a paid for house, the rest of it is a huge relief. We do still have that one last debt, so we aren't yet on Baby Step 3. Baby Step 3 exists for such a time as this, and the peace we would have with that fully funded emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses, if we were on that step, would be incredible. That's why Baby Step 3 is part of the plan...because job lay offs happen. We keep trying to remind ourselves that this too shall pass and that one day, we will be there. And we will.

We are also thankful for this time we have been given to be together. With all of my whining and complaining over the past few years about being apart while Nate traveled and then again while he worked nights, I never would have wished for a job lay off just so that we could have more time together. But sometimes, you've got to roll with the punches. And we're trying to do just that by enjoying the quality time. My top love language is quality time (my second, if you are curious, is words of affirmation). So I'm getting a rather heavy dose of quality time all at once. We had some Groupon credit at a local movie theater, so today we took advantage of that and went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I'm soooo glad we saved that credit because there is no way we would spend any of our precious money to go see a movie right now, and it was just what the doctor ordered. I know it hasn't received the best reviews, but I loved it. Legolas is my favorite Lord of the Rings character, though I do really like all of the characters, and he had a larger part in this movie than he did in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I would totally recommend it so long as you know they added filler because they had too much content for two movies but not enough for three. Also, the end is kind of a cliffhanger, and we have to wait a whole year to see the resolution. So you need to keep that in mind. Anyway, it was a welcome distraction from this past week of stress.

Another thing for which we are thankful actually hits on the aforementioned integrity of the leadership of Inflammable, and that is that when Nate received his final paycheck, they paid him for the rest of his paid vacation days that he was going to be taking next week. We never in a million years expected them to do that, even though to some that might have been a given, and we are overwhelmed beyond measure and filled with gratitude for that extra almost two weeks worth of hours we never would have expected them to pay him for.

In closing, this last week has been filled with waves of stress and calm, but I have to be honest and say the last two days have been the hardest. Just like with any situation that requires grief and healing, we have gone through periods of frustration, stress, anger, peace, sadness, feeling sick, etc. Nate and I aren't alone in this, yet we are in a unique situation. We would love for you to continue to keep us in your prayers.

Friday, December 13, 2013

El Fin: An Abrupt End to 2013 and To This Chapter of Our Lives

Well, I've been meaning to start blogging again, but I never intended it to resume like this. It is with a very heavy heart that I share that as of yesterday, Nate, my brother, sister-in-law, several friends, and dozens of other employees I don't actually know, lost their jobs when Inflammable, my brother's company, was forced to close its doors. There are many reasons for the closing, some of which I don't even know and none of which I can elaborate about on this public blog, but I will say that my brother and the board of directors of the company are not at fault and did everything in their power to avoid this. There was just no other choice. Rather than ask all the "why" questions that everyone naturally wants to ask but which aren't ever really helpful or very comforting anyway, I would prefer to dwell on the memories, both good and bad, to process and grieve the loss of something we all held so dear, and to focus on our next steps.

It's still surreal. I remember when Inflammable was a brand new idea. Back in 2008, my brother and his best friend, Joshua, hired me to design a logo for "Inflammable." (In fact, I still have my idea sketches, all the early rough drafts, and all of the various versions saved on my computer.) To my knowledge, Andrew was the only employee for a long time. Then fast forward about 5 years, when Nate and I went on a road trip to help Andrew land a client, and then, just like that, Nate was hired full time by Inflammable. Andrew was also now at Inflammable full time, and he couldn't hire employees fast enough. Joshua and his family moved down here a few months later when he was hired on full time. The company grew like crazy, and it was exciting. Some people worried it would grow faster than it should and that would be its downfall, but it wasn't. We knew God was blessing Inflammable for whatever reason, and it was amazing to watch.

Nate traveled a lot for about a year, and we were apart SO MUCH. It was difficult, but we knew he was gaining some amazing job experience. It helped to know that it was helping us pay off our debt as fast as possible (we became big Dave Ramsey fans in case you missed that memo). We knew the separation wouldn't last forever. Then he transitioned to a local position at the company but had to work nights. I HATED that. He actually rather enjoyed the work, but I thought it was almost worse than when he traveled because even when he was off, he was sleeping when I was awake and vice versa. We hardly saw each other. But, it was more job experience that we knew would make Nate more valuable to the company and to future employers, so we hung in there. I would have expected Nate to work there another 10 years at least, but that was not to be so.

Soon Inflammable had the biggest suite in the office building. I never could get used to seeing that logo I designed so many years prior on the giant sign out in front of this super tall office building. They asked me to clean some of the offices for them, which I definitely had the experience to do after having cleaned at Somerset Beach Campground several years ago. :) If you would have told me that the last time I was there to clean would, in fact, be the last time I would ever clean for Inflammable, I wouldn't have believed you.

The staff Christmas party was scheduled to be less than a week from today, and we were so excited that there were going to be so many employees and their FAMILIES there. Last year, there were probably about 20 in attendance which included employees and their spouses, but the Christmas party the year before that was attended by just Andrew, Valerie, Ellie, Nate, me, and one other employee. That's it - six, including the baby! No one else worked there yet. So this year was going to be the biggest yet with probably 30 families attending, if I had to guess, and Valerie worked so hard to plan it for us. I suppose some of us could go out for dinner anyway, but none of us feels much like celebrating now.

It's hard to remember all of these little things that are now gone, but it's also important to note that when I say "the company closed", it's not as black and white as it sounds. It's not so easy to dismiss as tossing away a bit of junk mail. There were real people and real life was happening under the name Inflammable. There were so many hard days of work and so many wonderful ones that I don't even know about since I wasn't even technically an employee, but these are just the instances I witnessed and remember - both the good and the difficult ones. Inflammable wasn't our company, I mean Nate and I weren't the owners, but we felt so proud of this company since both of us were involved to some degree even from early on. I was, and still am, so proud of what my brother, sister-in-law, and Joshua did with that company. Excuse the cliche, but they poured their heart and soul into growing this company, and they did a dang fine job of it, too.

It's just so hard to say goodbye.
I can't believe that all of that is gone and this phase is over. 

So, now we are left to pick up the pieces. Nate and I have been through unemployment before, but never both of us at the same time. As I mentioned, I used to clean for Inflammable as well as babysit a few days a week so that Valerie could do HR, so this means that we no longer have that income either. I do not know what we would do if we hadn't started budgeting like Dave Ramsey suggests and if we hadn't taken FPU and started the debt snowball. I'm not going to get on my soapbox about it right now, but we only have one additional debt payment next to our Four Walls: rent, utilities, transportation, and food. I wish we had our fully funded emergency fund in place of 3-6 months expenses so that we didn't have to cancel our Netflix, cable, and all of those extra unnecessary things, but I am so thankful that we are where we are financially. It's going to be a stressful time regardless, but we are able to keep our wits about us and construct a plan while we navigate these waves of grief and various other emotions. I'm thankful that I have a whole month or so of safety (because of our baby emergency fund and our budgeting) before I really start to freak out. :D And an extra month is plenty of time to find at least a basic job, or so we hope. *fingers crossed*

So, if you would, please be in prayer for my brother and his family, Joshua and his family, my family, as well as all of the other employees. None of us ever expected to go into Christmas unemployed. Please pray that everyone is able to make a smooth and swift transition to wherever they are to be employed next and that all of us would have peace that God knows the future and that there is always hope.

Also, thanks for all of you who venture over to my rarely updated blog. I will try to make sure the next time I post, it won't be quite so catastrophic or newsy. ;)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Death at Downton

*Warning: This post talks vaguely about the concept of characters dying on the TV show Downton Abbey from Seasons 1-3. There are no spoilers, I promise.*

Downton Abbey. I started watching this TV show about a year ago at the recommendation of a friend. Season 1 was on Netflix, and right away, I fell in love with the quality and the detail and the costumes and the stories. I didn't love the characters, not at first, but I learned to love all of their little quirks, well, except for the characters I loved to hate. I also wasn't particularly drawn to the time period, but I so love historical fiction that I found it fascinating anyway. To me, the show was about the house and the people that happened to live in it. People would come and go, the house would be altered, but in the end, if the walls could talk, Downton Abbey would tell these stories.

It didn't take long for me to notice that time skipped ahead very quickly as the show went along, and each season of 7-8 episodes covered about 3 years. The family and staff dealt with major issues of the time period and national and world events, and it was written and filmed in such a way that it wasn't hard to follow or stay interested because you noticed the costumes, hairstyles, and other things changing from one episode to the next. As I watched Season 2 and later, Season 3, I had already decided that if I wasn't emotionally detached from the characters, I would later be devastated. I knew they would have to start "killing off" the current generation of characters soon, simply because time had progressed, characters had aged, and potentially actors would want to move on from the show. In addition, death is a natural part of life, and people in history seemed to have to deal with the loss of loved ones a lot more often than we do now. I knew that to be true, and if Downton is to portray an accurate representation of history, I figured the characters would eventually experience it. And they do. I quickly learned to love the show without minding what happened to anyone in it...that is, except my personal favorite character, well, characters . . . John Bates and Anna . . . and of course the Dowager Countess.

I suppose the show hasn't struck others in the same way. I've been told that Downton is a soap opera. Well, soap opera or not, life happens. People die and some move in and out of our lives. It doesn't feel like a stretch to me when and if it happens on a TV show. Just this month, I had two people I know pass away. One died quite suddenly at a young age and the other died suddenly as well, but of old age as she was 96. To have people die on a fictional show is sad too, albeit in a superficial way seeing as the characters aren't real. But because it happens more often on a show than we would like it too doesn't make it terrible writing, especially considering the time period. I know dozens of stories in my family history when someone died suddenly or unexpectedly. To me, it's life.

That being said, the only character on Downton that I actually expect to die soon is the one I can't imagine the show without: the Dowager Countess. The show is great on its own merit, but her personality and wit take it to a new level of excellence. I am afraid the fact that her character was quite old already (when the show began), it would be a stretch for her to live much longer. This makes me sad. I fear the show will lose ratings and popularity when they lose her unless they are able to replace her with someone of equal caliber. I hope they can as I should love to see what happens to Downton in many more seasons and in later decades.