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Our First Crash & Burn


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. 

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visit shotatlife.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.”

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?

Some of the 100+ items we made and sold for retailers.

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!

Screen shot 2014-08-02 at 7.31.02 PM.jpg
Here is our family today, we are a very tight unit! 🙂

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?

Please SHARE and/or COMMENT so a child from around the world can get a vaccine! I would be so grateful!

Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers and leave a comment on their posts too!
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120 thoughts on “Our First Crash & Burn”

  1. Kathy, your post made me cry this morning, it’s so beautiful! Reading your story and all that you and Patrick went through to get where you are now gives me so much appreciation for you both and your commitment to each other, your family and all that you are creating in the world. Happy #Blogust!!

  2. I love that part of you wedding vows included, “to live a life of art, music and writing.” This was truly inspiring to read as my family is still pushing to come through our fire.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story, in a different light … I am starting over with two children, an absent dad and after twenty years with someone I thought would be with us for the long haul – there are a lot of firsts in our lives right now. Love to you and your family … and lovely to meet you thro Blogust!

  4. Learning from hard situations in human social life ,could make better understanding &planning for future family ,parenting,social life possibilities,& healthy biological life.Good parenting is an essential human aspect for human society & better society development.Good parenting as love, respect,health consciousness,education,healthy change behaviour to child & kids could be good human representation & social relationship with society & community.
    REF-” Healthy&Happy first”story

  5. Great post and good of you to share it. I’m sure there are so many going through something similar. Happy #Blogust

  6. This made me cry. I loved it!!! Thank you for sharing your first that has led to so many other firsts and blessings! Yay! Happy Blogust!

    Class of ’13

  7. You never cease to inspire me and your post wasn’t the exception. It’s true that some lessons require us to crash and burn. So happy you’re helping Blogust!

  8. What a sweet mother in law to come to the rescue! My parents ran a calligraphy business from when I was about 3-4 till I was 20 something. My dad worked at the local newspaper, so there was a steady income from him. I’ve worked more craft shows than I remember, but it was all fun and I learned a lot. There were times when they fretted about the bills, and I didn’t realize how bad things were until I was 18 and about to head to fashion college. They filed bankruptcy and my grandmother helped me pay for college. I had to take out loans too. My parents eventually paid my grandmother back. I learned a lot from that experience and am fortunate to have a husband who is good with money. With a long history of seamstresses, quilt makers, artists, and crafters, in our family, I’m working on taking our creative history to a whole other level. It’s not easy, but I’m determined to make it work. If my ancestors could see what I’m doing, I’m sure they would be proud.

  9. Love your story, so inspiring!
    The last crash and burn was when my husband lost his job last year. I took us by surprise, and we weren’t prepared. It was hard, but he finally got a job 3 months later, but we had to move to another city. We’ve been struggling all this year, but it seems that the light at the end of the tunnel is coming closer.
    Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  10. Oh, Kathy, Kathy, Kathy! You are SO right. The “crash and burns” truly can be the beginning of something amazing. It may sound trite to folks who are currently on a downward spiral. But when you get so low that you are forced to get over yourself, that’s when the necessary actions take place. Thanks for sharing your story and your work!

  11. Dear girl! I don’t think I knew this back story of why you applied at the Arizona Republic. I am so glad you did, and am blown away by how successful you and Patrick are (and in my mind, have always been, including the crash and burn.) Thanks for sharing your story. Love you.

  12. Thank you Crafty Chica, some of us are in the middle of crash and burn, for instance artists and creative people coping with the greed crisis situation in San Francisco.. I am commenting to support vaccinations for children. I am old enough to have friends who endured polio, and for some who survived, with polio in remission, evidently old age is causing the polio to return ..re: Joni MItchell, now burdened with the return of her polio illness

  13. I love when you said “Sometimes you have to go through the fire to come out purified”! This is so true. Thanking you for sharing!

  14. Thanks for sharing your great story. A lot of people don’t like to admit they “crashed and burned” but it is all a part of life. You reminded me of the importance of how sometimes you gotta fall — and fall far — in order to appreciate the hard work and dedication to get back up and move on to bigger and better opportunities. P.S. Your family rocks!!!

  15. Thanks for your story. It’s great to let others who are having a hard time know what the other side of the troubles can look like!

  16. Thank you for sharing. There are to many words for me to express my appreciation of what you shared. I will simply say thank you!

  17. Kathy, what can I say? I just turned on my old laptop and thought I would check my email. And this story was here. I have had a horrible time since my fall on July 19th 2014. I have rib contusions which is like a broken rib but not. Then I got horribly sick with Vertigo. And now my glasses are no good anymore.

    I came home wondering how am I going to pay the almost maxed out credit card now? When is this Vertigo going to go away. Do I see okay with these new glasses? I don’t know is the answer to all the above.

    I only know that your story touched a part of me and I am crying as I type this. I marvel at how even this small story had me on the edge of my seat. You can make anything interesting and I wish I had your talent,

    I am so glad to say that you have always been a wonderful thoughtful person and you have not let any success go to your head. I love that about you.

    See ya in the next email!

  18. Oh, this is beautiful! Believing in these words is what gives me peace because fear dissolves:Sometimes you have to go through the fire to come out purified.
    Thanks for sharing this. My family’s crash and burn is the reason I am where I amnow and I love it.

  19. Kathy, you’re such an inspiration! Reading your story and how you’ve overcome it brought tears to my eyes. Keep on sharing your energy, love and glitter, chica!

  20. Thank you so much for this amazing post. This really hit home for me because I’ve been wondering how my husband and I are going to make it through the next couple years. I know it’s going to be rough and you’ve helped me to realize that it’s okay to crash and burn…as long as you stand back up and start over together. Your story is so inspirational and just what I needed to read today! Thank you!!!

  21. Great lesson, Kathy! Your story is the third one I’ve read this week that talks about how the hard times are just as important as the good times for growth and success in business and in life. Happy to have you as my friend!

  22. Kathy….you always have such an honest credible way of making your points and making me think beyond myself. Thanks and keep up the awesome work!

  23. Awesome story! It goes to show that successful entrepreneurs often need to have at least one good failure before they find a way to succeed! Very inspirational.

  24. Kathy….you are so inspiring and your message(s) always makes me reflect on important things I don’t consider nearly enough. Thanks so much for being a bright shining light.

  25. Awesome story of overcoming such adversity that we can all relate too! What a wonderful learning experience that has lasted you so many years. Thanks for sharing openly.

  26. Thank you so much for sharing.
    My dream is to work for myself full time
    and support my family. I left my comfortable
    Job of ten years to pursue my dream! After
    6 months of being an entrepreneur I quickly
    learned that things aren’t as easy as applying
    Glitter. So, I made a new game plan, went back
    To work to pay off more bills and will continue to work on my business in my down time. Your story gives me hope that I might one day be able to live my dream.

  27. Kathy, This story made me love, respect and admire you even more than I already did. You and your family are wonderful role models of how to live a happy, healthy, and creative life. Keep on creating, and I will keep on admiring and being inspired by you. xox

  28. I did not mention in my comment yesterday, that two years ago, we had a crash and burn that had some similarities to yours. We learned and grew so much in that time. And in some ways, I would not trade our experience, for all that we have gained as a result of it. It’s nice to hear others’ stories, and be reminded that anyone can get through anything, as long as they believe they can and persevere. Thanks again for posting, and thanks for all you do to promote goodness in the world. xox

  29. That’s great. We lived with my Mom and Dad for a year when times were tough and it was such a blessing. Those crash and burn moments can be tough, so it’s awesome when we have people who love us to help pick up the pieces.

  30. Thank you for sharing your story with us,Your post was very inspiring. You continue to spread glittery hope and love throughout the world.I love your story and how biologist is helping save children’s lives.

  31. I love that you are participating in this great cause. The world is a better place because you and your husband are able to make art. Thank you for all you do!

  32. Kathy, this is especially comforting since my son and my (potential?) daughter-in-law are both idealistic musicians. As a mother, and as a creative myself, I worry for them. I see their love and their idealism and I fear what the world will do with that. But I know in my heart that love does conquer all. Eventually. But first their is a lot of work. My husband and I have been through the fire as well. And it is necessary and hard. And somehow now it is even harder when it is your children you watch have to endure the flames. Bless you for participating in this amazing and important campaign.

  33. “Sometimes you have to go through the fire to come out purified.” Beautifully said. What lessons you’ve taught your children about survival. Thank you for caring so deeply, loving so deeply, living so deeply and sharing all of this through #Blogust…

  34. What a great message. You guys stuck together and worked it out, with a little help from your M-in-L. Congratulations on a beautiful family.

  35. Through your fear and experience, you truly found a silver lining that shaped who you are today. Thank you for lending your voice to Blogust this year! Your post is so powerful and a great reminder to take risks and the importance of a support system.

  36. Thanks for sharing your story. The road to success is not always linear. I think it helps people to realize others have gone through the same thing.

  37. Hi Kathy, it seems every time I see you (on Scrapbook Soup) or on your blog, I have so much to learn. When I first saw you was when you did Scull Crafts on Scrapbook Soup, I have to admit that I am ignorant to Mexican culture because all I saw was scary sculls ! You would think that by living in So. Cal. all my life, I would have been exposed to more ! Julie Fei-Fan Balzer mentioned that they meant ‘Day of the Dead’ or something like that,I was still thinking ‘creepy’ but it gave me the learning opertunity to be a liitle less ignorant, thank you for this Kathy and also that you are such a beautiful girl with the most beautiful smile, I’m so happy when you are a guest on some program or looking on your blog ! I also can’t believe that you are a mommy to two twenty something year olds, you look like you are 25 yourself, must be the Latina in you, thanks again, Tami


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