One of the things I love most of all about my #SPNFamily is how giving and compassionate y’all are. I am very honored to be able to contribute my part and have been approved to do work for several organizations … Continue reading
One Year Later
Where am I?
Here I am, in the quaint town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I flew down here 1 year ago this week, ready to take on the world by teaching math to children with learning disabilities in an economically disadvantaged middle school, by continuing to build my jewelry business, and by helping my family adapt to southern living.
Just a few little things.
Most of us know how the teaching gig went, right? I always had the utmost respect for my children’s teachers – but now?? HOLY FUCKSHIT THEY NEED TO BE CANNONIZED.
I enjoyed teaching very much. I LOVE the kids, even the ones that I’m sure were trying to kill me slowly, But my biggest challenge was dealing with an administration that did not have a strong special education background (not that I did either), and was fighting me to the hilt on everything.
Most of my time was spent speaking to other special education teachers to get their opinions, ideas, suggestions, and borrowing materials in order to be successful. Methods I garnered from special education veterans were disparaged by administration.
Simple example – kids with learning disabilities benefit from repetition. One of my methods of implementing that was something akin to a game of telephone.
I asked, “What is the formula for perimeter, Jose?”
“Add all sides!” he proudly replied.
“Great! Now tell your neighbor, Jonathan.”
“Jonathan, the formula for perimeter is add all sides.”
I then said, “Jonathan, please tell your neighbor, Daniel, the formula for perimeter.”
This would go around the class and the last student would then repeat the formula to me.
The principal stated that instead of doing that I should’ve had them repeat it in unison. And she deducted points off my rating for that.
Really? Having the class repeat in unison where maybe three kids actually say it, two kids lip sync it and the rest of the class just sit there is more effective than having each student accountable for repeating it and being actively engaged in an activity??
This is just one of many examples of how the administration made it impossible for me to do my job.
I was teaching a Life Skills class, switched out of said Life Skills class into resource classes, then criticized 5 days later for not making significant impacts in the resource classes. After teaching these children less than 1 week.
I began to dread coming in to school. I was leaving my home at 5:45 every morning, getting to school at 7am, working nonstop until 4:30, then driving home for an hour and then continuing to work from home on lesson plans and activities, trying to run my business which was floundering, and deal with the fact that my husband, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was not adjusting well at all to our new life, AND let’s not forget I’m a mother with 3 young kids at home (and an adult kid that I miss terribly) really hit me hard.
I began to have panic attacks several times a day every day. I was having nightmares every night.
My anxiety and depression was triggered anew. I had to leave the job.
Most of you who know me know that my childhood was shit. I lost my mother under dubious circumstances when I was very young and then dealt with an unstable and very physically and emotionally abusive environment at home from the time I was 9 until I was an adult.
I will never blame my circumstances on the past. But I will say the past helped mold me and played part in decisions I’ve made, both good and bad.
The past destroyed my self-esteem and here I am at age 44 still trying to build it up. I was on an upward swing because here I was, accepted into a prestigious program that tens of thousands of people were vying to get into, hired by a school I thought was going to work well for me, and giving my husband and kids the better quality of life they deserve.
And then school happened and I felt myself slip backwards into a quagmire of self-loathing, anxiety, depression, and a constant fear that something bad was going to happen. It was debilitating.
Always Keep Fighting and I am Stigma Free
At VegasCon I had the privilege of speaking to Jared Padalecki about the Always Keep Fighting campaign. Jared had just launched the campaign and was selling shirts to raise funds for the cause.
I had designed a bracelet that I felt best represented the message: an aluminum cuff stamped simply with the words “always keep fighting”. I had chosen aluminum because it’s lightweight and meant to make us feel as if burdens are being lifted away by the message; it wasn’t weighing us down.
I explained to Jared that I wanted to sell these bracelets and donate a portion of the proceeds to the cause and his words were, “This is awesome! I say go for it!”
With his blessing I began to make the bracelets.
The response from all of you has been so overwhelming. I am beyond grateful for your support!
In speaking with Mitch Kosterman, I realized that not only do we need a message to remind us to always keep fighting, but we need to address the judgment that is passed by those who don’t understand mental illness. The assumptions that are made.
“Oh, man up and get over it already.”
“He’s just being lazy.”
“Throwing a pity party.”
“Looking for attention.”
“Trying to get out of working. I saw him laughing earlier, there’s nothing wrong.”
These are all things I’ve heard either about myself or a loved one that is suffering from a mental illness.
Mitch really helped me understand that it’s a widespread issue and not just my own isolated experiences.
So I introduced another piece, I am Stigma Free. I believe that both messages support each other and that we cannot be successful in fighting if we don’t shed the stigma that comes along with our illness.
I am donating 50% of the proceeds from each and every Always Keep Fighting and I Am Stigma Free bracelet.
To date, we have raised $1,208 for Always Keep Fighting. I am so proud of us.
Paying it Forward with Rock the Monkey, Homeboy Industries, & SupportSPN
Rock the Monkey:
Part of what helps me heal is doing things for others. I have a Random Acts approved fundraiser called Rock the Monkey where I am donating 100% of the proceeds to the cause. Here’s Osric modeling one of the barrettes (coming soon!).
Available right now are earrings and necklaces!
The lovely Lauren Tom introduced me to Homeboy Industries at SeaCon several months ago – the good that this organization does defies description. They provide so many free services to former gang members in the LA area. You can help by donating to my Homeboy Industries page where I am raising funds to benefit this awesome organization! View my page here: https://support.homeboyindustries.org/fundraise?fcid=449205
This site is a plethora of support for Supernatural fans and their friends and families. I designed a bracelet where a portion of the proceeds is donated to this wonderful group: http://t.co/LkMVAaCBUv
I finally got it through my head that the only time I work well is when I work for myself, so I’ve thrown myself full time into my jewelry. I’m determined (desperate??) to make this work.
If you want to know how you can be a part of making this happen and also to earn gift certificates towards my jewelry, you can do so via my GoFundMe page:
My Go Fund Me campaign allows me to buy supplies, cover travel expenses so I can vend at conventions, and keep my business afloat until it’s strong enough to sustain itself.
I also have a livestream show, So Get This on my YouTube channel where I chat with you about Supernatural, being a Supernatural fan, and sometimes have kick ass guests such as previous guests Briana Buckmaster, Nicki Aycox, Ruth Connell, Lauren Tom, Katherine Ramdeen, and YOU! Shannon Price of Chickie and Bean, Carrie Anderson, and Debbi Bachman have all graced me with their presence and you can catch their episodes here on my YouTube channel:
I’m still struggling with anxiety and depression. I always will, it’s engrained in who I am. I’m not apologetic for it – I refuse to be. Are people apologizing because they have heart disease or diabetes? Of course not.
I am not apologizing for being sick. I am stigma free. I will always keep fighting, thanks to you, my #SPNFamily.
Wow. Just, well, WOW!
TorCon came and went in a blast of craziness.
I arrived in Toronto on Thursday to set up for those who were pre-registering for the weekend. I’m not too sure if I’m going to continue to do that in locations where I’m staying in a hotel in the future.
If you are going to be a part of the pre-registering Thursday crowd and would like first crack at my wares, please let me know. If the response is large enough, I just may continue to do it.
I’ll definitely be setting up on Thursday evening for BurCon, but not sure about future events. Please let me know.
I digress (as per bloody usual)…I arrived early enough to enjoy a couple of hours of downtime before getting ready for the pre-registration crowd, so I took a stroll around Toronto.
Lots of things to see, I just wish I had more time to do what I really wanted to do – go see that Bowie retrospective!
It was a relatively quiet evening, however, you could most certainly feel the buzz grow. Everyone’s excitement was palpable.
My table was set up. My lovely friend Ruthee sent me the most beautiful goddess candle that I proudly displayed on my table. She is so incredibly talented. Please let me know if you’re interested in having her make one for you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll arrange for her to make one for you for $15 each plus shipping.
She also made these lovely gift packaging boxes and envelopes. Many people were buying my items as gifts, so they were grateful to have gift packaging! Again, if you are interested, please let me know and I will arrange the order for you.
I had quite a few new additions that have never seen the light before. Lots of fun SPN-themed stampings, such as my “I found a liquor store” “And I drank it” pair of earrings.
Also new were my experiments with leather cuffs. I took leather cuffs and added stampings to both the leather itself as well as including stamped silver plates with sayings such as, “Hello Boys”, “Balls”, “Bitch”, “Jerk”, “Moose”, etc.
I never used leather before so this was a huge leap of faith for me. And it seemed to work out better than I expected!
I wish I had pictures to share of what I came up with but these literally flew off my table quicker than I could make them!
After spending close to three hours setting up my table, the doors were opened and the rush of people came in.
A lot of people were doing window shopping; budgeting for the weekend.
What caught a lot of attention were the cuffs, the stamps, and of course, anything with a pentagram on it.
Friday morning came and I was raring to go.
More people filed in and circled round my table here and there. The custom requests started to come in – custom stampings, on both leather cuffs as well as metal stampings.
A lot of time was spent on my feet, hammering away, but I was in the zone!
I was really looking forward to later on in the evening when my friend Shannon would be coming in.
Shannon was rooming with me at the hotel as well as vending next to me in the vendor’s room.
For those who don’t know, Shannon is the brains, brawn, and beauty behind Clifhangers.
Clifhangers are fans of Clif Kosterman, the bodyguard for Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, also known as J and J.
Shannon designs and sells t-shirts for both men and women, as well as beanies.
My Clifhanger shirt is sooooo well-loved. I’ve worn/washed/lived in it so much and it looks exactly the way it did when I first got it.
And what I love most about my Clifhanger shirt is that Shannon knows EXACTLY what kind of cut flatters a woman.
The neckline is a modest v-neck, the length is just right – it disguises a lot of things I like to keep under wraps, lol!
Please go say hi to Shannon and Clif at the Clifhangers FB page: www.facebook.com/clifhangers
Friday night wrapped up in the vendor’s room, Shannon arrived, and we grabbed a bite at Miller’s Tavern. One of the best burgers I’ve had in a looooong time!
No Salute to Supernatural convention is complete without seeing at least a tiny bit of the infamous karaoke party.
Richard Speight Jr. (Trckster/Gabriel) and Rob Benedict (Chuck/Edlund Carver) were amazing hosts.
Matt Cohen (young John Winchester) was delayed at the airport, so Rob stepped in and rocked the house.
Did you know that Rob has a band called Louden Swain? Did you know that their music is fricking AMAZING? I downloaded their latest, Eskimo, and I’ve been listening to it non-stop.
You really need to check them out as well as follow them on Twitter @LoudenSwain1
It was great to see so many cast members get up on that stage and have a good time such as Samantha Smith (Mary Winchester), Jim Beaver (Bobby Singer), Ty Olsson (Benny/Eli), but what had the crowd in a frenzy was when James Patrick Stuart (Dick Roman) stepped up to the mic.
James did an incredibly soulful rendition of ‘Tempted’ by Squeeze. Who knew Dick Roman could belt out a tune?
We stepped out of the party well before was a respectable time to do so, but we had a big day ahead of us, as the vendor’s room was to open at 9am and stay open until 7pm. Needed to get some rest and eat our Wheaties.
Saturday morning came and we made our way to the vendor’s room. I met soooo many fantastic people!
The costumes were incredible, like this leviathan. I can’t even tell you how many times I had to keep looking up to make sure I was really seeing this!
The afternoon became a bit interesting as Misha Collins set up to sign autographs. Twenty feet away from me.
I had a necklace that I made for him to give to whomever, lol, so after everyone received their autographs, I strolled up to him and gave it to him.
“Wow! What the hell is it?” Um, not the reaction I was hoping for.
“It’s a necklace, Misha.”
“I know! But what the hell is it?” It was then that it dawned on me that he was asking me what it was made of.
So I explained the materials to him and he seemed to genuinely appreciate it (although he IS an actor, lol!). He then complimented me on my dress. That I bought at the salvation army for $2. I shared that with him and he gave me a thumbs up and some comment about $2 being an excellent ‘price point’ in my wardrobe selections.
I got to meet a bunch of lovely ladies affiliated with Random Acts. From their front page at http://www.therandomact.org: “Random Acts is a non-profit organization that’s aiming to conquer the world, one random act of kindness at a time.”
I met a woman who was literally moved to tears because she had gone to Haiti and worked on a project with the Random Acts Team. They had each signed a banner after their project was completed. She really wasn’t expecting that banner to be hanging on the Random Acts table here at TorCon:
I made a modest donation to Random Acts and received adorable Misha Collins drawings to color in and a cute little froggy sticker! Here’s what my two youngest. Phoenix and Raven did with the drawings:
Richard Speight Jr. was in and out of the vendor’s room plenty of times and I finally had a chance to give him the necklace I made for him. It was very graciously accepted – super nice guy!
Sunday was a complete and total whirlwind. Vendor’s room opened at 9 or so and was open until 6.
Basically we were expecting to hear crickets in the vendor’s room since the Js were in the building. Between photo ops and autograph sessions, were people really going to be coming in to see us?
Well, they did!!
I took a quick break to grab some lunch for Shannon and me (to eat while we sat in on a bit of the Js panel!) and who do I run into? Jim Beaver.
He was such a NICE guy! Very sweet as I shook his hand and introduced myself.
I also ran into Rob Benedict and Richard Speight Jr (who remembered my name, astonishingly enough!).
He thanked me again for the necklace and Rob turned to me and said, “Wait – you gave me one at VanCon!” I said that was right and thanks for remembering.
I have never met such nice actors before in my life. The SPN crew is a bunch of genuinely nice people who seem to really appreciate their fans.
I’ve been asked why I give pieces of jewelry to the actors. I do that because they give me and my family a lot of enjoyment on SPN. And because of SPN, I have a career doing something that I love doing. How can I not give back? I’ve made jewelry for a very long time. But SPN has given me the inspiration and opportunity to make this a CAREER. It’s a thank you to the SPN world.
I was sad when it ended, but thinking about everything keeps a smile on my face.
Like how TorCon was full of surprises. For example, does everyone remember my lovely guest blogger, Kyra who had written about her GISHWHES exploits? Well I had the pleasure of meeting her mom!
Her mom was super sweet and I loved spending time getting to know her better.
And my friend Rachel Cree-Lowe sent an ambassador, lol! Bonnie came over and said, “Our friend Rachel wanted me to tell you she said hi” – I nearly fell out of my seat! Rachel – that was AWESOME!
Those that couldn’t make it but were there with me in spirit like Ruthee (the goddess extraordinaire), Kendra, Doree, my husband, Merrill, our four kids David, Jaden, Phoenix, and Raven, David’s beautiful girlfriend, Vi, all made the weekend so special and I really felt like you were all there with me.
Getting to meet and to talk with so many of you is what I love doing most at these conventions.
My inspiration to keep going comes directly from YOU. When you come to my table and ask me about my work, it really makes me feel great about what I do. It’s not about who buys from me; it’s about the appreciation and the time you take to look at my work. It’s seeing the admiration in your eyes when you hold up one of my pieces.
I wish I had the opportunity to take pics of all of you – I know I missed many of you. If you bought a piece from me, PLEASE send me a photo of yourself wearing it so that I can properly feature you!
I know there were MANY many more of you, so sorry that I missed including your photos. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE contact me at email@example.com with your pics – I’d love to show you off!
My ClickStartMe campaign is running out of time…I’m going to be trying to get to many of the future events such as Las Vegas, Washington DC, and of course VanCon and TorCon for next year.
I’m still offering an amazing set of incentives! For those who donate, you will receive a never-expiring (good until ya spend it!) gift certificate good towards any merchandise in my shop www.eldwenne.etsy.com that will be equal to your donation amount.
Are you donating $25 or more? Well then you’re going to have an ADDITIONAL $25 added to your gift certificate value!
Are you sharing my ClickStartMe link and someone you shared my link with donated to me? Well then they get a gift certificate in the appropriate amount and YOU also get a gift certificate worth $25!!
You can’t lose! If you can please share my link: http://tinycs.me/9T I’d greatly appreciate it!