Although I haven't blogged about it here until now, many of you know through other forms of social networking, that times have recently been very tough for my family and I. In November of 2013, we unexpectedly lost our sole income, sending us into a tailspin once we had depleted our savings. Soon after, I experienced a severe autoimmune flare that turned into pneumonia and put me in the hospital three times in the course of a month. With bills piling up, my continued medical issues, and no relief in site, in March of 2014, my family wound up losing our home and having to relocate 1800 miles to stay with a friend, and in May, relocating once again, 1600 miles to a new place, hoping for a fresh start.
At the beginning of this year, my wonderful friends put together a fundraiser for us that raised a few thousand dollars, and it was a huge help in getting us through my illness, our transitory time, and ultimately relocating us to our new home.
I am grateful; we are clothed, sheltered, fed, and loved; however, as much as we have worked to stretch what we have had, we are still barely making it, and as we seek to permanently replace the income we lost, and put more of our plan for a better life in action, bills are still past due and we are unable to obtain many important essentials. On top of that, because of our perpetual transitioning over the past few months, my medical care has been sparse. I am still having severe flares and am unable to see a doctor until we have insurance again. Unfortunately, this leaves me in a precarious position health wise.
In the midst of all this, though, something happened. Earlier this month, I was invited to a women's writing retreat in upstate New York, that I have wanted to attend for the past three years. Initially, I assumed this would be the third year in a row I would have to decline the invitation, but on a whim, I sent in a scholarship application with a sample of my work, and waited. One week later, to my surprise, I was awarded a partial scholarship. At first, my excitement was in-containable, but that quickly changed to panic and grief. How could I possibly afford to go to a writing retreat with my family still barely making ends meet and my health so delicate? I was poised to send a letter with my regrets to the woman who curates the retreat every year. But then something really magical happened, I allowed myself hope for just a moment, allowed myself the belief that maybe, just maybe, the universe was offering me something good, that maybe this was part of the better that is coming mine and my family's way. Well, within twenty four hours of allowing myself that hope, I was gifted a plane ticket. And after some initial hesitation, poking and prodding from those closest to me, I accepted.
That's where you come in, friends. Our current income is completely based on a couple of small unemployment disbursements every month. To make matters even more nerve wracking, we just found out those disbursements will stop within a few weeks. This money is a fixed amount and has not always covered all of our essentials to begin with, so this means we have had to choose what gets paid and what doesn't. This also means there is no additional money in our current budget for my trip. Now, I still need to pay the fee remainder from what my scholarship doesn't cover, I need certain items during my trip to ensure I can take care of my body to the best of my ability, and I really need for my family to be okay while I am gone - like just basic essentials such as making sure lights stay on, food is in the fridge for the kids, and gas is in the car for my husband's job searching and when he starts school at the end of July.
Going on this trip is something I only ever imagined could happen, even just a few short days ago, but now it's a part of my reality. I will get to go and be among fifty of some of the most brilliant, talented, empowering women identified writers in my community, to grow and learn with and from them. And, on top of it all, this trip also affords me the ability to see what little family I have left, that I haven't seen in a decade, since before my father died. And while I am there, I will get to finally fulfill a longtime wish, to take some of his and my mother's ashes, and scatter them across my grandparent's grave.
This weekend, I am releasing several new projects that I've put a lot of blood, sweat, tears, love, and time into - I cannot tell you how difficult it was to get all of this completed, fatigue is real, and I am feeling pretty grateful that I have been able to hang through. All my merchandise will be on a sliding scale. There will also be a donation option for those of you who would like to contribute more than the allotted amounts OR those who maybe cannot afford the merchandise but would like to donate anyway (if this is you, please let me know, I would still like to give you something in return). Also, keep in mind that I am charged a fee for merchandise purchases, but all donations are free of fees.
In closing, I want to say thank you. I want to tell you how grateful I am that I can put myself out there, no matter how scary it is, and feel like I have people who are in my corner waiting to catch me. I want to say thank you for how this community has held my family and I during one of the hardest times in our lives. I know times are tight for a lot of people and I appreciate you putting your support, not just into my art, but into my actual real survival. Thank you for supporting independent artists; thank you for supporting me and my family. Our gratitude is deeper than words can express. You can always be assured that whenever moments arise that I am able to pay it forward I absolute will and do.
-Such massive love, Sarah
EDIT 7/8: Unemployment ended unexpectedly yesterday. We now have zero income coming in and are in danger of having certain utilities shut off. All funds from purchases and donations will go directly to bills, food, medicine, and other costs of living. The travel costs of the Pink Door Retreat were already covered prior to this change in circumstances due to a gifted plane ticket and payment arrangements made for additional fees to be paid at a later date. Again, all purchases and/or donations will go towards our family's survival. Please help. Thank you. -Sarah