One Year Later

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.

Always Keep Fighting - Jared Approved, SPNFamily Supported

Always Keep Fighting – Jared Approved, SPNFamily Supported

AKF Leather

I created a leather version as well for those who have metal allergies or just prefer the look.

The response from all of you has been so overwhelming.  I am beyond grateful for your support!

Mitch Kosterman has his Always Keep Fighting cuff - and he also helped me understand I am Stigma Free

Mitch Kosterman has his Always Keep Fighting cuff – and he also helped me understand I am Stigma Free

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 stigma free - never apologize for who you are

I am stigma free – never apologize for who you are

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!).

Osric is the perfect model for the upcoming Rock the Monkey barrettes!

Osric is the perfect model for the upcoming Rock the Monkey barrettes!

Available right now are earrings and necklaces!

Rock the Monkey Necklace Round Style!

Rock the Monkey Necklace Round Style!

Rock the Monkey Teardrop

Rock the Monkey Necklace Teardrop Style!

Rock the Monkey Earrings

Rock the Monkey Earrings!

Homeboy Industries:

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

The beautiful Lauren Tom wearing the Love of Mrs. Tran, which she Lauren auctioned off in Europe to raise funds for Homeboy Industries!

The beautiful Lauren Tom wearing the Love of Mrs. Tran, which she Lauren auctioned off in Europe to raise funds for Homeboy Industries!

Carry On

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

Now What?

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:

http://www.gofundme.com/EldwennesFantasySPN
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:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOf8tnzLHRP8fN0j0n_0BoA

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.

Two Days to Goal, The Walking Dead is Ruining My Life, and to All Those Who Have Screwed Me Over in 2013- I THANK YOU!

Today marks two days left before my Click Start Me campaign comes to an end.  I’ve made $200 of my $5,000 goal…I want to thank all of you who have donated and supported my campaign.

The campaign is needed in order to grow my handmade jewelry business, Eldwenne’s Fantasy. Eldwenne’s Fantasy has two specific components; an online presence via my etsy shop: http://www.eldwenne.etsy.com and I travel all over the country (and to Canada) selling my jewelry at Salute to Supernatural conventions, where I specialize in making custom Supernatural-themed pieces for you.

Misha Collins shopping around at my table at a Salute to Supernatural convention

Misha Collins shopping around at my table at a Salute to Supernatural convention – if it’s good enough for Misha…

I'm in good company here...

I’m in good company here…

With just two days to go, I’m trying to rally the troops – if you could please share my link for my campaign – http://funding.clickstartme.com/project/help-fund-my-handmade-jewelry-traveling-business/

You’ll be helping me jumpstart my dream by providing the resources to grow Eldwenne’s Fantasy into a healthy, flourishing business where I can provide you with quality, handmade jewelry.  My jewelry is original, one of a kind, and also inspired by the hit show Supernatural.

Let's pay some respect to Kevin Tran - aka Kevin Fricking Solo!

 

Inspired by the episode of the same name - Cas' first episode as a human

Inspired by the episode of the same name – Cas’ first episode as a human

Family Don't End with Blood - Bobby Singer, you've never been more right.

Family Don’t End with Blood – Bobby Singer, you’ve never been more right.

 

I love working with wire and glass to create ethereal, one of a kind pieces

I love working with wire and glass to create ethereal, one of a kind pieces

Making ordinary materials extraordinary

Making ordinary materials extraordinary

And now a new fandom has wormed its way into my life – The Walking Dead.  SERIOUSLY??  Screw you Netflix, The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus, crossbows, the whole shebang! My husband and I have made it our mission to catch up on the entire series.  We’re 4 episodes shy as of this writing.  We only started watching it about a week and a half ago.  Yup.  This is serious, personal, and now the jewelry ideas are brimming.  Watch this space for my The Walking Dead inspired pieces!! AMC – bunch of jerks.  THANK YOU AMC AND FRANK DARABONT – WE LOVE YOU!

The Walking Dead - aka my new life-ruiner.

The Walking Dead – aka my new life-ruiner.

And now, as we all prepare to kiss (or kick) 2013 goodbye, I took some time to reflect on the year in general.  As most of you know, my husband got sick in September 2012 (and still is.)   I lost my job on January 23, 2013.  I’ll never forget that day for as long as I live.   It was quite literally the end of an era.

I spent the past 20+ years of my life on the corporate treadmill, terrified of jumping off.  We couldn’t afford for me to not continue to work in the financial industry.  But my former job took that choice away from me.  As I left the human resources office, I called my husband, got into my car, and by the time I met up with him 20 minutes later, already had my plan formulated to start a new life for all of us.

So while losing my job was definitely not something I planned on, not something I was happy about, it was definitely something that needed to happen in order for me to take my life by the reins and move forward.

Within a short period of time I was able to start doing flea markets and eventually my first Salute to Supernatural convention.  That was a life-changing event for me if there ever was one.  The convention showed me that my jewelry is desired, wanted, even demanded! The wonderful people I met encouraged me to plow ahead and make a name for myself in the convention circuit.

This year I was able to sell my handmade jewelry at NJCon, VanCon, TorCon, and most recently, BurCon.  Each of these events were a success for me and allowed me to learn how to do things better. If I can continue to do this, it would mean the world to me.  Thank you all for being so incredibly supportive!

We had setbacks.  My husband got sicker.  Our 11 year old was so severely bullied we had to take it to court.  Things spiraled out of control.  The saying is to “roll with the punches.”  Nope.  I’m putting my arms up and swinging back. Rolling with the punches got me 20+ years of my life being thrown down a corporate toilet.

The universe has thrown some balance into my life and allowed me to pursue my other dream – to become a teacher.  Through an extremely arduous application and interviewing process, I was proudly accepted into the Teach for America program!

Providing education equality and my passion for teaching!

Providing education equality and my passion for teaching!

The organization has made it possible for my family and me to have a brand new life.  We will all be moving to Nashville, Tennessee by the end of July 2014! A brand new environment will help us all thrive.

Another eye-opener this year has been that I definitely needed to pare down the baggage in my life.  You’ve heard the rant before – when things are going well, cheerleaders are in your face.  When things start to fall apart, ‘friends’ and ‘family’ kind of take several (many?) steps back in the opposite direction.  Run to the hills. Start judging and blaming.  The few times you do wind up hearing from them is for them to have the balls to actually try to one up me on the crap things that happen scale.

Seriously, there are so many people, just in my life alone, that thrive on “wow, your husband’s sick? I had a nightmare and think I may have the same problem your husband does.” “You lost your job? Wow. Sucks. Sorry it took me so long to write, but I was busy working a full time job.”  Yes, I’ve gotten emails like that.  That last gem was written about a month after I lost my job.

As a result of these things (and many others that I really don’t think I’ll post here – yet!), I’ve decided to remove those people from my life equation.  Wow, that felt GOOD!

This pretty much describes exactly how I feel!

This pretty much describes exactly how I feel!

2014 is a clean slate, a fresh start and any other cliche you can think of. It’s been liberating, honestly.

So to those of you who have screwed me over, went out of your way to kick me when I was down, to judge me, my family, I want to thank you.  Without you all showing your true colors, I’d be jumping right back onto that corporate treadmill going nowhere exceptionally fast and setting myself up for continued failures. Thank you for revealing who you really are and I thank the universe my eyes were open enough to finally see things for what they really were.

In 2014, I will be doing the things that make me happy for the first time ever.  I think I’ve earned that.

Goodbye 2013 and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

Goodbye 2013 - Hello NEW LIFE!

Goodbye 2013 – Hello NEW LIFE!