My ramblings as a lover of adventure, all things crafty,art, life, and mostly bacon....

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Story of Buttons

I went to Brave Girls Symposium last week planning to do exactly what I do at every event, be Elena from Charity Wings and talk to people about my charity. As I was packing, I realized that I actually would really love to be there as just Elena. So for the first time in a very long time. I packed my suitcase without wings, without outfits that would make people "see me", without even business cards, and took off for Boise.
What I didn't realize I had packed was what I have not been able to unpack in years: Fear, Anxiety, Jealousy, Shame, and a host of other things that women carry around.
So off I went with my luggage and a smile, to what would be a life changing event. This post is just about the buttons but I am going to post about my journey and I am going to share, because that is who I am, and those that can must, but let me preface here that I have been at the edge of "I can't do this, this way anymore" for a few months now. And have done a ton of soul searching and self reflecting in the process. So being at Brave Girl Symposium was just literally exactly what I needed to push me off the edge and allow me to take a leap into the light that I absolutely needed to take
But this life changing experience will come out of me onto my computer in parts and this is just page one of the story....
Page 1: (the easiest to share) "Did I give you a button yet?"
I think I might have become known as the girl with the buttons at Brave Girl Symposium. I walked around handing these out to everyone I could, even guests and employees at the hotel. My friends (many of them new) would walk behind me and just laugh and smile as I did "my thing" and ask every person, " Did I give you a button yet?" By the end of the event, lots of them replied, "Yes and I love it." or "Yes, I am saving it for my daughter or friend." And I would offer them another button and say, "Then you get a bonus button!" It was so fun. I was just handing out buttons, being ME!!
These buttons were a gift in so many ways!! They were a gift from the amazing artists that donated their artwork and allowed me to make buttons out of it. They were a gift to the beautiful souls that I got to meet and give a little gift to. Some people asked me if it was my artwork, and I shared that they were original artwork donated to Charity Wings by amazing artists from all over the world. It was nice. I would say, "you can look me up if you like" if they asked more about them but basically, what these buttons and these amazing women who let me share their artwork did was allow me to be Elena and do the things I love, meet people, give gifts, and make people smile. It was a perfect fit as far as small steps go. I still got to be me.
I did talk about what I do to people that I got to know better. Like my new Council, The "Cookoo Clud."
-Reserve that for another post :) but mostly, I just gave away little gifts that make people smile and feel special.
I went to this event with a plan to open my heart to change. As I started to let down the #crazycharitygirl veil that I hide behind every day, I think I let people see part of the real me for the first time in a long time.
So I have a new hashtag for this part of my journey through this amazing charmed life.
Here we go!

Friday, June 05, 2015

I can't find the right group.

I'm trying to find peace. I've searched high and low for a local support group or network of people who have been unable to have children. I'm not talking about the people that are struggling with fertility. I've been one of those too and there are actually a lot of groups out there supporting people who are giving themselves shots every day, popping tons of pills, and forking out tens of thousands of dollars to try to have a baby. It's awful. I've done it. So I feel for those people, having been one. But now I'm on the other side of that. Not on the other side of the pain but on the other side of that journey because I can no longer try fertility treatments. I'm looking for people who have not been able Key word "able" not "didn't want" to have kids. Does anyone know of a group like that. Whatever the reason whether it be because, fertility treatments didn't work, or because they never found that special someone to have a baby with, or it just never happened, whatever the reason. I'm looking for people like me, that I can talk to who I can maybe even help through healing arts. But that definitely want and need to share.

Do you know anyone like me? Are you like me?

Please don't send me emails or messages about adoption. I am so grateful to those of you that have reached out to me in that way and shared your stories of adoption success. I think that is very special . Adoption is not something I'm considering right now.

Thanks for reading :)

Friday, May 08, 2015

When Mother's Day approaches .

It is the day to honor my mother who is the pillar of decency, hard work, goodness, support, and love, and I admire and honor her everyday.

But every year around this time I get completely schizophrenic because this is the day that I have spent years wishing could be my day too. I posted about it a few years ago. And this year with my body changing because time stands still for noone, and the hope of having my own child come out of my own body going away (please do not write me about adoption please) I see that this day will never be one where my own child writes how much they love and respect me and how much I guided and loved them into the person that they are.

It's the little things that make us the craziest isn't it. I guess for me this is just the biggest thing.
If you want to know something about what it's like to be childless on mothers day click this link.

Thank you for reading and for your friendship and support. I know I am not alone.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Adoption and the truth

I realized after my last Facebook post about infertility a lot of people have a bit of a misconception about adoption. Adoption isn't always an option for people who have not been able to get pregnant. 

Here is a list that might help those of you that want to support your friends that are struggling:

1. Adoption is very very expensive.  Some of us have spent tens of thousands of dollars on fertility treatments. For some of us, we have gone in to serious debt or spent our life savings or a huge part of it already.  Now some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you have a kid, that will be very expensive too" YES.  I know this  but getting pregnant naturally is A LOT less expensive.  and natural.  You are not getting stabbed poked and prodded and forcing what is supposed to come natural.  (ok. save that for another post) In fact, other than the money you might have spent on that vacation or those drinks, it was probably free. :)  I know kids cost money but it is very different to pay for a child's living expenses and save for a future for them, then to have to fork out another $10 or $20K to adopt a child.  I personally have paid for very "pregnancy friendly" health insurance for many years in hopes of getting pregnant. I wish health insurance would cover adoption, God knows it is a mental health issue, but it doesn't.

2. Adoption may not replace the desire to be pregnant and give birth to a child. There is something very real about the innate animal instinct to bear children. Not everyone has it, but for those of us that do and can't it's excruciatingly painful.  Having gone through the amazing roller coaster of pain and emotional stress of infertility treatments, some people are not ready to go through the emotional roller-coaster of adoption as well. For some people knowing that adoption is an option does not alleviate or replace the desire to have your own child.

3. Adoption to single parents. As a single woman, I have the hurdle of trying to adopt alone.  
  • In a study undertaken by the Los Angeles Department of Adoptions, researchers found that single parents tended to have more difficulties in completing their adoptions. Thirty-nine percent had made three or more previous attempts to adopt, compared to only 18 percent among the couples.(Feigelman and Silverman, 1997) 
Now this statistic is a little old and progress has been made but I have done my research and it is still preferable for agencies to place young children with 2 parent families.  If you want to adopt a special needs child, or an older child, this option becomes more viable, but if you are looking to adopt a new born or infant, and have the experience of having a child from birth, the percentage drops significantly.  Also, adoption is another emotional roller-coaster. You have to be prepared to be picked over with a fine tooth comb. Important, YES! but still another thing that natural parents don't have to go through and may not understand.  I think some parents should have been scrutinized before allowing them to procreate but again, that is another blog post.

4. Life still goes on.  Adoption is a process and during the time that someone is trying to get pregnant and going through the hell of not being able to, life goes on. You try to build a life for yourself with the thought that you might never have a child.  I am going to speak for myself now and say that I built an organization in the time that I was trying to get pregnant. It grew just like a child would have grown and now if I was to become pregnant, I would have to change a lot of things that I am doing to grow Charity Wings. I am no longer married and would be raising a child on my own.  I WOULD ABSOLUTELY CHOOSE MOTHERHOOD OVER THIS LIFE.  But I also have committed myself to the people I serve through this organization and deciding to adopt is not a decision I would take lightly nor could I "just adopt" as many people tell me to do.

So why do I feel sad and why do I post about being infertile?

Because there are so many people out there suffering like I do.  Just because I am not ready to go the adoption route alone right now, does not mean I don't think about it every day.

And if I am being completely honest... 

Sometimes I feel like maybe,  just maybe,  I don't deserve to be a mother. And sometimes,  just sometimes,  I feel like people look at me and think that same thing. 

These thoughts are haunting and they come from a dark place inside me. I don't know them to be true but I have them all the same....

So if you hear of someone suffering from infertility.  Just hug them and say, "I'm sorry'. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Adjusted and not destroyed.

Here it goes.

I gave myself an attitude adjustment. I strongly believe that happiness is a choice. When I am wallowing in my own shit it's my own doing. My mind is so strong. It can bring me to the deepest despair or the highest highs. So I am choosing happiness. I am forgiving myself because I refuse to be destroyed.

New attitude
New reality
New day

Saturday, July 19, 2014

pretty on the outside, empty shell

I hate this part of the journey.
but I have lost something and I can never get it back.
I can't stop thinking of the child that I will never meet. That I have waited for and tried so hard to bring into this world.
I hate knowing that my body is at a stalemate with nature and that in the end I will rot in the ground and no part of me will remain on this earth.
I hate that the pain and anxiety rip through me and paralyze me to the point that I find myself standing with my arms wrapped around me.  I think holding "me" together?
I hate feeling like a judgmental bitch when I think I would be a better mother than....
I hate feeling like I deserve a child.
I hate that I want to alienate myself from people who have what I don't have.
That I have no patience for complaints because I am so sure that nothing could feel worse than being betrayed by your own body and not being able to ever escape from the thing causing you pain.

There is no remedy. There is no fix. The weakness of my heart disgusts me.

But most of all, I hate knowing that I can't stay in this place.  That I am not alone. That there are so many amazing people that care about me and want to hold me and let me cry for as long as it takes. because all of these things make me feel like a weak asshole.

All of these people pull me up and keep me from drowning when all I want is to drown.

I cringe as I click publish knowing that pity is not what I want at all. but it's fair to put it out in the universe for that one person that needs to read this.

Art is my therapy.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

I will fight you!

Yes, I only post when I am having profound moments in my life.

I have been fighting off depression lately and debating whether or not to post on my blog.  For some reason, putting it out there for the universe to see, judge, and analyze helps me.

So it's here.

If you know anyone who has fought the stressful/frustrating/devastating/hopeless/painful/gut wrenching battle of infertility or if you have fought this battle then you know that the depression comes and goes.  There are times in my life when I feel like I will be ok without ever having the experience of being a mother. Then there are times when I think I might die from the emptiness that I feel in my heart.  I struggle with the reason I exist if not to do what I am naturally supposed to do.

My body has betrayed me and I have no way to separate myself from the painful stab to my heart that it gives me every month when it reminds me that I am not a whole person.

Every month when I get my period I want to scream at the injustice and ridiculousness of it.  I hate myself for having a pity party ever when I know that I am truly so blessed and I have an amazing life that is so full of love and happiness that it is disgusting to every feel sorry for myself.

I am not looking for sympathy or for people to tell me how lucky I am and that I am a mother to many and that it might still happen and all those other things that are truly sweet and with good intentions but that honestly just don't change my feelings.

I am just putting this out in the universe so that people may understand me a little better, may be able to relate and know they are not alone if they are going through this too, and remind people that sometimes that twinkle in my eye is actually a tear burning to escape.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Remember I am just a girl Whatever you think I am. Whatever you think you know about my life. I'm this girl A LOT

Because life is not kind. its hard and awesome and Life is to experience

and even when I feel like this. I will be a happy people in the end.


Friday, February 07, 2014

The truth about how much I make.

When I tell someone about Charity Wings, I see their minds working through 2 questions:

1) What charities do they support.
2) How much is she getting paid.

It's true! At the end of most conversations, people who don't do non profit work for a living either ask or are left wondering how much I am making.  So here it is folks.  I have been working non stop for about 8 years (April will be 8).  When I was married, our household covered most the expenses for the organization for the first 3 years.  (Storage, phone, internet, travel, taxes, website etc.)  Then when I became single, I was able to restructure so that the organization could pay its own bills. because I NEVER PAID MYSELF A SALARY. 

So see how this works? I start a company that is structured to be 100% volunteer run.  
Then when I am on my own and need to take care of myself.... Oops!  
My mother always told me not to becoming dependent on someone else and did I listen?  NO!
I really do have a college degree and so much potential 
which she reminds me about weekly at family night. :)

So, for the last almost 5 years I have been trying to build a non profit business model that would allow us to continue our work and pay administrative costs.  At this point, I am not successful.

And, I am not independently wealthy so.  Therein lies the dilemma.

Luckily for me, I have an amazing family. When I moved out on my own, I lived with my brother for the first 6 months and then my amazing mother bought a condo for me to live in.  My car is paid for and I don't have kids so my expenses are pretty manageable.

So, back to the question on everyone's mind.

1) We support EVERY non profit.  Any 501(c)(3) can come to us and we will offer them free classes and or help with fundraising through Art and Creativity.
2) I only started paying myself about 2 years ago.  Depending on the state of our finances, just like with any business owner, my salary goes up and down.  between $500 and $1500 a month. So at best I make $18,000 a year. I don't ever make that but you get the picture.

So there you have it.  I struggle and I love what I do. 

If you have read this far, then you are truly my friend :) or just super nosy which works for me too!

So how can I live on that? Well, I can't. I left my marriage with some hefty debt and have been paying it off for 5 years!  Yay!! next month is my last payment.  But since then have racked up another little pile of debt trying to keep the Art Center open.  :( So I will start working on this mountain next month :(

I can't actually continue to live off such a small salary 
and I can't grow the organization without being able to pay an administrative staff. 

I LOVE MY VOLUNTEERS WITH MY WHOLE HEART.(imagine this is blinking and neon)

There are so many amazing volunteers. They make this organization so awesome and what it is today. But there are not enough hours in the day to recruit volunteers, manage them, deal with turnover and  deal with the ones that decide they can't finish a task or whose dog ate their homework :)  Just kidding but seriously, for some volunteers, they don't quite understand that this is a business and being a volunteer is a commitment and requires dedication just like a job.  And I can't yell at them cause they are volunteers!  get it?  Ok, off my soap box.

So, volunteers are great. but I need to fill several key positions if I want to be able to keep going.  I need a Volunteer Coordinator.  I need an Accountant. I need a Grant Writer.  I need to build an active Board of Directors. I need a Community Liaison.  I need a Marketing Manager.

So you can see. I need I want I need I want. But most of all I just want to be able to build a  non profit business model that allows me to replicate the Art Center. Every city needs one of these!  If I can get this to the point that it has a solid business model to follow I could open them and EASILY FILL THEM WITH PRODUCT. All over the country.  You know I can! 

But its the money. I hate it, its always the money.

So, now if you have read this far, you are really really my friend.  I hope you were enlightened or at least a little entertained by my story.

If you feel compelled to support my mission which is:

The mission of the Charity Wings Art & Craft Center is to be an inspiring place for people of all ages to Gather, Give Back and Create; as well as to partner with other charities to give free classes to those who can benefit from the Hope, Happiness, and Healing that art can provide!

Would you please consider becoming a member?  It's more like KPBS than 24 Hour Fitness.  Your membership is not to use the Art Center. ANYONE CAN COME AND USE THE ART CENTER!  Your membership supports our programs and allows us to continue the great work that we do.

We are providing a service to the community at large that can come and be introduced to Art and how Therapeutic it is to the mind, body, and soul.

We are also providing a service to our community of Art Lovers, Art Makers, and Art Supporters by giving them a way to give back through something they are passionate about.

If you are not a member, please join and help us build a Fleet of Art Centers and an Army of Volunteers that heal a World of People through ART!

If you are already a member, please spread the word and ask a friend (or two) to join.  Or consider raising your monthly donation.  Its less than 4 special coffee drinks a month to be at the $20 level :) And makes all the difference in the world to what we are doing.


Thank you for helping me fly!

Monday, December 30, 2013

No Excuses! I need you.

Hi Friends! It's me the Traveling Princess #crazycharitygirl 
ready to ring in 2014!

Maybe you know me really really well,
maybe you are a facebook friend,
maybe you are someone that likes what I do.
and maybe, just maybe you are a member of the Charity Wings Art Center.

I am asking a favor from all of you that see how hard I work every day to create opportunities for people.

I work hard for events! tiara and all

Sometimes it is for the people who need it, 
Some of the sweetest people I have had the pleasure of knowing from Teri Inc.

and other times, it is for the people who need an opportunity to give.

150 people, 2 days, 5 classes and a whole lot of fun for the Boys & Girls Club
Making card with Scripps Hospital visitors on National Card Making Day.

Making Seaside Soiree beautiful and welcoming for our guests!

Making Styrofoam stars to decorate the goody bags for the Friends of Scott Prom for Kids with Cancer.
making awesome art at the Save the TaTas event

Dressed up and still hauling stuff. We do it all!
 These are just a few of the hundreds of events we have hosted in the past 7 years. 
over $400,000 raised
87 charities served
Thousands of people reached.


If you see value in what I do, please support
         It takes 2 minutes and cost .33 cents a day.
                 It comes with perks and happy feelings and 
                        makes all the difference in the world to me.

It's the holiday season and almost a New Year so I'm asking.

Please become a member of the Charity Wings Art Center.  It is not about using the Art Center. It is not about coming to the Art Center. It is about giving the gift of ART to people all over the world that can benefit from the Hope, Happiness and Healing that Art can provide.

Take a moment.  Click here now.  Join me in a very simple do-able way and together we can make this world a brighter more colorful happy place!