Tennessee 6 Months Later, Not Being Afraid to Say No More, and What’s in a Name?

Has it really been SIX MONTHS??? Wow oh wow…so what happened in the past 6 months can be properly summarized as: I came, I saw, my ass has been thoroughly kicked.
Education is THE toughest field I’ve ever worked in. So tough that I needed to end that last sentence with a preposition and to not give a shit.  At least I balanced the previous sentence.  And I’m not even teaching English, I’m teaching math.

So all of you who know me can stop laughing RIGHT NOW.  Yup, I’m teaching math, so what? It gets better.  I’m teaching 5th grade math.  And 6th grade math.  And I co-teach 7th grade math.  Now for those of you who are not dead on the floor of side-splitting laughter, I’ll continue my bitching.

Now most of you know I used to teach at a homeless shelter.  That was a CAKEWALK compared to what I’m dealing with.  My students come from very harsh realities that no one should ever have to face. It’s heart-wrenching to see how children at the age of 10 are already so disillusioned with the world that they have built up callousness and ambivalence I’ve never encountered before in many of the adults I’ve taught.

Now take the teaching factor into consideration and what have you got?  A whole lot of heartache, self-doubt, and an emotional roller coaster from hell.

Add in the masters degree I was pursuing, a family, a husband who is disabled, and what have you got NOW?  Way too much on your plate.

I’ve learned so much about myself in the past six months and I’ve grown.  I learned that I don’t have to be the hero all the time, that I do need to recognize my limitations, and that it’s OK to walk away from something that isn’t right for me.

The results?  I’ve decided to not pursue my masters degree, which means that at the end of my two year commitment with Teach for America I most likely won’t be able to teach anymore since the licensure rules are changing for special education.

I don’t feel guilty, which was unexpected.  I feel liberated.  I spent over 20 years in corporate America living with a heavy heart, feeling like I had no choice, no options.  I will not do that to myself again.

I don’t regret moving down to Tennessee, I’m extremely happy down here.  I don’t regret teaching either, I just wish it was something that I felt better about.  They say the first year is always the hardest and I sure as shit believe it.  But it’s more than first year jitters.  I know myself well enough to know when something isn’t sitting well with me.  I can’t live my life striving to please those that will never be pleased.  I have to do what’s best for me.

So what does that mean for me after Teach for America?  No idea.  But I’ve been branching out a bit more with my jewelry, including partnering up with my best friend, Shannon Price to introduce a brand new line of t-shirts that we’re extremely proud of.  Yup, ended that one with a preposition too. (How sad is it that my personal affront to education is only as severe as bad grammar?)

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Eldwenne?section_id=16377137&ref=shopsection_leftnav_2

Come check out our Supernatural Inspired t-shirts!  These babies can be purchased online now or I will be taking orders for them in person at SFCon in January!

Are you a Deanmon Girl??

Are you a Deanmon Girl??

I know I sure as shit would too!

I know I sure as shit would too!

Try not to cry while wearing this one

Try not to cry while wearing this one

I know it definitely had an impact on mine - tell us about how it saved yours!

I know it definitely had an impact on mine – tell us about how it saved yours!

This line is the epitome of the bond between the boys

This line is the epitome of the bond between the boys

Well, do you?

Well, do you?

How many times in our lives would it have been awesome to hear this? Well, the "for the right reasons" part.  Heard plenty of the "you were stupid"....

How many times in our lives would it have been awesome to hear this? Well, the “for the right reasons” part. Heard plenty of the “you were stupid”….

Now back to my crankiness – I’ve been getting some flack about the names I choose for my Supernatural inspired jewelry.

I get messages on etsy, even people approaching me at conventions, telling me my names are wrong, they don’t agree with them, I mustn’t watch the show, blah blah blah.

I thought maybe it’d be helpful to articulate exactly what I do when I work on a Supernatural Inspired piece of jewelry.

Please note that I call these pieces ‘Supernatural Inspired.’

Each of the characters on the show affect me in some way, as I assume they do most fans.  Each piece takes an extraordinary amount of time to develop, design, and fine tune before it’s something I considered to be finished.

So exactly what am I doing when I’m developing, designing and fine-tuning?  I’m taking a character that I’m connecting with and thinking about an aspect of that character that’s resonating with me.  For example, let’s talk about The Tenacity of Dean Winchester – the first Dean piece I ever created.

Dean Winchester radiates with courage, perseverance, and true grit.  The one word that pulls these words together for me is tenacity.

I chose the color green for Dean not because of his eyes, like so many people assume, it’s much deeper than that.  For me, the color green represents bravery, steadfastness, and truth.  Qualities that I associate with the character.

Dean’s weapon of choice is his gun, thus to pay homage to the character I chose to include a pistol. Dean would never go anywhere without it and neither would this piece.

The one common thread that most of my pieces have is the wrapped strands that appear to be chaotic but are actually controlled.

The reason for that?  While each of the characters have their set ways and personalities, as we’ve all learned over the years about these characters is that nothing is ever static, everything can change.  The variety in the lines; their appearance of being random, is actually quite deliberate on my part.

Back to my point – for someone to come up to me and say that I shouldn’t name a piece what I’ve named it – well, that’s the same as walking up to someone and telling them you don’t agree with what they’ve named their kid.  They have their reasons, personal or not so personal as to why they chose the name they did.  As do I.

Each piece is made with my heart and so much intention to represent MY interpretation of the characters.  Hey, don’t get me wrong – I’m always up for healthy debates.  There have been fans who approach me at cons and ASK me why I named a piece what I did and we talk about it.  But then there are people who just outright TELL me I’m “wrong”, “don’t you watch the show” or have a snarky “if you watched episode 6.2 and freeze framed it at precisely 32.5 minutes in, you’ll clearly see that you’re wrong.”  The shoot first and maybe if I feel like it I’ll ask questions later attitude.  It’s hurtful, uncalled for, and definitely not what the SPN Family is all about.

Everyone is entitled to their own interpretation, so let’s please show each other respect.  I’m not saying don’t ever ask me about my work – I am HONORED to be asked about it – nothing warms me more than having people care enough to ask me about my process, why did I make the piece, etc.  What I am saying is that if you don’t like strangers approaching you and telling you something that’s dear to you is wrong, please don’t do it to someone else.

I’m happy to say that 99% of my encounters with fans are wonderful, amazing, and I’ve made lifelong friends of many of them.  The 1% that were hurtful were pretty damn hurtful, and one was as recent as yesterday, hence my post.

Lastly, my best friend, Shannon, (designer of the amazing t-shirts!) said this to me, “bc you are an artist, the negativity is a catalyst to create more beautiful work.  Name your next piece ‘go fuck yourself’” – ok, I MIGHT not use that title, but she’s absolutely right and I’ve been taking this to heart and have been creating MANY new pieces!

Come say hi to the newest in my Supernatural Inspired series:

The Initiation of Sheriff Donna

The Initiation of Sheriff Donna

The Guile of Rowena

The Guile of Rowena

The Fortitude of Jo Harvelle

The Fortitude of Jo Harvelle

The Devotion of Ellen Harvelle

The Devotion of Ellen Harvelle

The Propriety of Death

The Propriety of Death

The Soul of Sam Winchester Earrings!

The Soul of Sam Winchester Earrings!

The Soul of Sam Winchester Ring

The Soul of Sam Winchester Ring

Sam and Dean Winchester Brotherly Bond

Sam and Dean Winchester Brotherly Bond

I’ll be in San Francisco next month and I hope to see you! Sigh…so good to be back!

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Interview with Brittany of Legacy X!

Many of you may be wondering what I am doing with my posts recently.  Most of them have absolutely nothing to do with my jewelry. 

But in a way they do.  Because of my career traveling the Supernatural convention circuit selling my handmade jewelry, I’ve had the honor of meeting so many incredibly fascinating people whom I otherwise would have never known.

I feel compelled to share these people’s messages, to promote their businesses, to celebrate their amazing accomplishments.  I feel better as a person when I write about them.

I originally started doing customer features once a month to acknowledge my amazing customers and friends, however, I seem to be collecting many more customers and friends in my journeys.  Writing about them once a month doesn’t cut it and I wanted to create a connection between my work and providing a platform for these individuals to be heard. Which brings me to Brittany.

 

Brittany and me doing a selfie in VegasCon

Brittany and me doing a selfie in VegasCon

 

When I did VegasCon last month, I had a table next to me called Legacy X.  I met a group of amazing, determined, passionate women whose mission was to collect anti-bullying messages from the crowd. These messages were to be written on red paper and then used to recreate Legacy X’s logo in the desert.

It cost nothing to write, but each message’s value was priceless.

 Being the mother of an eleven year old boy who was traumatically bullied to the point where we had to press criminal charges, Legacy X’s message really hit home and I was drawn to its members to learn more about their organization and how we can each make a difference.

I met this absolutely beautiful young woman, Brittany, who has generously allowed me to interview her about her bullying experiences and how Legacy X has transformed her.

 

The beautiful Brittany Ritz!

The beautiful Brittany Ritz!

I’m Brittany Ritz. I am 17 years old and from Las Vegas, Nevada. My favorite colors are blue and red :).  I am part of an anti-Bullying group called Legacy X.

Why Brittany likes Blue

Why Brittany likes Blue

 

Why Brittany likes red!

Why Brittany likes red!

I am attending a private school because I was bullied a lot from 6th grade to 10th grade.  I went through so much; I’ve been spit on by girls and boys, they’d put gum in my hair, and boys would write ‘go kill yourself’ or ‘make a video of you hanging yourself!’

The bullying didn’t stop there. One time a couple of girls had jumped me and hurt me badly.

 

Brittany after the attack

Brittany after the attack – she used her images to help others.  One of a million reasons why I admire this woman.

They broke my teeth.  They cut my hair.  It affected me in many ways. I was feeling suicidal and depressed. I lost weight and then gained it back 2x more. It got to the point where if I died I didn’t care! But now I care about my life. I love my life so much and am grateful for my whole family and friends ❤

Because of all of this, I am now part of an organization called Legacy X. It’s a rebuild yourself program that was founded by Justin Spencer.  You may know Justin as the founder of Recycled Percussion from America’s Got Talent 🙂 Everyone is like family to me ❤

Brittany on the Teen X Team! She's up front and center with the organization's founder, Justin Spencer!

Brittany on the Teen X Team! She’s up front and center with the organization’s founder, Justin Spencer!

Brittany got the Vegas-based vocal group Mo5aic to create anti-bullying messages!

Brittany got the Vegas-based vocal group Mo5aic to create anti-bullying messages!

While I was with you in VegasCon, it really astounded me how many people actually said, “NO” when asked to write an anti-bullying message.  One person actually got extremely confrontational about it and the mother bear in me had to grab one of the Creation staff over the incident.

In this day and age where bullying is so much more in the public eye thanks to social media and the internet in general, one would think that most of us would have empathy.

But for every person that refused to leave a message, there were many others that did, including some familiar faces.

Kim Rhodes' message says it all: "Don't let

Kim Rhodes’ message says it all: “Your worth is infinite.  Let your heart define you.”

Kim Rhodes, actress and activist, left a very poignant message which reads, “Your worth is infinite. Let your heart define you.”

I shared this message with my son and as a result, he started to crack that hardened shell he built around himself.

Brittany refuses to let her bullies define who she is.  She has many facets to her sweet personality, including being an aspiring designer!

Jodi: Do you have creative outlets? Tell us about them and if you have photos of your work, please feel free to share!

I make lots of things from dresses and hair bows I do not have any photos but will soon 🙂

I’m making Brittany promise that to us so we can see her amazing work.  She described a lot of her designs to me while we were in Vegas and I have to say we are going to be in for quite a treat when she sends me those pics!!

 

Brittany, what kind of advice would you like to share with us?

If you see something, say something. Don’t allow your fellow peers to hurt someone! How would you like if it was your sister or brother? If you don’t like being picked on why pick on someone else ?! Because you never know what they are going through.  They might be suicidal.  So please if anyone is ever feeling down or upset you can email me or message me on Facebook  Brittanyritz@gmail.com

Brittany, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to allow me to interview you.  Your message is a powerful one that resonates loud and clear with us all. Be good to yourself.  Help others to be good to themselves.  Help others to be good to others.  

And because of your hard work, Legacy X was able to fulfill its goal to create their logo in the desert!

They did it!

They did it!


You are a beautiful young woman and I look forward to seeing you again!

Please follow Legacy X on twitter @LegacyXonline and on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/legacyx

And to everyone out there I hope to see you in DCCon next month! I’m working away on tons of new designs and you’ll have first pick of ’em there!  Until then, just keep checking my shop http://www.eldwenne.etsy.com for daily updates!