First I’ll say I’m very honored to have been chosen for the Blogust Shot@Life campaign and as a Social Good Fellow by the United Nations Foundation! Secondly, this is going to be an emotional post, but it has a happy ending!
Before I go into my story, I want to explain about Blogust and Shot@Life. 25 passionate voices were chosen to share a story about a “healthy and happy first” – we each have a day to post (mine is today) and for every SHARE and COMMENT left on my post and the other bloggers’ posts, one child from around the world will receive a vaccine.
Here is the formal explanation from Blogust:
“During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website,Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000). Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world.
My “Healthy and Happy First”story:
Being a parent of two (my kids are now 21- and 24), the ‘healthy and happy first’ that popped into my mind ranged from my kids learning to walk, say “Mom”, first day of school, etc. But you know what? I want to dig deeper. So I’m going to share a story about our family’s first crash and burn. We all have them, you know!
When Patrick and I got married almost 25 years ago, we vowed on our wedding night to live a life of art, music and writing. To this day, I often share how we actually pulled it off, that’s how we make our living…now.
Back in the day, the story was a little different.
A few years into our marriage, we were self-employed, hand painting hundreds of pieces for more than 300 stores across the country. On the outside it looked cool, like we were very successful full-time artists. We even received national magazine write-ups for putting our contemporary spin on traditional Mexican-themed crafts. Inside the walls of our little 800 square foot home, stress and self-doubt ruled. The trouble was… our work sold so well we couldn’t keep up with the demand.
And by “selling” I mean “writing orders.” When it came to collect the funds, more often than not, store owners bounced checks, didn’t pay, prolonged paying, etc. This was the mid-90s – no Internet, no PayPal. Just expensive long distance phone calls and snail mail. When money came in we used it to buy more supplies and for shipping, in the meantime, the bills were adding up. We were young, stupid and wayyy too idealistic.
You see where this is going, right?
We had too much pride to let our families know what was going on. We knew they doubted our lifestyle and we wanted with every fiber of our being to prove them wrong, to show we could be successful in our own way and raise our little family with love, arts and culture.
Some days I was so exhausted from working long hours that I had to double check to make sure it was spices I was pouring in the dinner skillet and not glitter! Patrick and I both became extremely bummed, it wasn’t healthy at all. I cried every day for a miracle. We prayed if we could get just one big order, everything would be ok. But that order never came, it was more of the same. We took one bill at a time and used every resource possible to make an art sale. We painted empty bottles, old tiles, unwanted cabinet doors, even cans! Actually in Mexico, these are all very popular substrates for the very reason we used them – free, with a flat surface to hold paint!
We were getting by so-so until the summer hit. The electric bill became past due. And the water. And the rent. Patrick quickly found some day work and I took up babysitting. Too late. The day finally arrived when the electric company shut off the electricity. I could not believe the caca really did hit the fan. Now what? How could we live in a house with two little kids in 115 degree weather? As far as turning the refrigeration back on – we had the total amount due, plus a reconnect fee. It added up to almost a thousand dollars, which may as well have been a million.
We felt like complete failures. We never let on to the kids what was going on, neither says they remember that time. We called Patrick’s mom and reluctantly told her what happened. I felt so humiliated until she replied,
“It’ll all be ok. Pack up your clothes, the kids, and move in with me,” she said. “We’ll find a way to you guys through this and back on your feet.”
It makes me cry just thinking about that day. I felt like it was the first step towards a brighter day, a release of pressure. We moved in with my mom-in-law. Both Patrick and I took on regular jobs to pay off those bills and save. His was at a coffeehouse, and mine? I figured if I had to work, it may as well be at someplace I would like. Ever since I was in grade school I wanted to work at the Arizona Republic. My dream was to be a features reporter. I looked in the classifieds and saw they were hiring for a clerk. I applied, interviewed and well, that’s how my newspaper career began (which ultimately led to CraftyChica.com)!
We lived at my mom-in-law’s until we saved enough to rent a new house and eventually buy our own home. We’ve lived here for 15 years now!
How is this story a “Healthy and Happy First?”: Because if we hadn’t gone through that initial crash and burn early in the game, we wouldn’t be where we are now! And we are in a very good place! Sometimes you have to go through the fire to come out purified. We learned so much about ourselves as individuals, as a couple, a family and as a business. What got us through was love and respect for each other, family, strong wills, and lots of planning.
If you ever find yourself and your family in a tough spot big or small, no matter how hard the situation seems, there is always a way out. Make a game plan and follow through. It may take sacrifice and time, but it’s worth it to get back on track. You CAN do it! Stay focused. Know that you are not the only one having issues. Families every day from all income levels and backgrounds have challenges.
Put love, respect and brainpower first and you’ll find a way to work together to succeed to raise healthy and happy kids!
Thank you so much for reading my story! Do you have a story of a “crash and burn” with your family? How did you overcome it?