Calligraphy for a Cause

calligraphy

A year ago my life changed. What started as a simple pain in my right hand transformed into excruciating surges of pain in both arms day and night. I was working on a complicated case at work and didn’t think much of it. I needed to write and the job needed to be done yesterday. So I put in the hours, ignored the pain and stayed focused on my goal. In the end, what started as carpal tunnel and a repetitive stress injury turn into a nightmare.

I couldn’t type, couldn’t open doors, couldn’t lift anything, couldn’t grasp objects and couldn’t sleep because of the pain. I could talk and walk, but that was it. If I tried to use my hands, they would scream in pain, go ice cold and start changing colors for several hours. If I tried to carry objects in the crook of my arm, then I would have pain in my biceps, shoulders and neck. If I stayed perfectly still, it was better but the pain never went away.

Three months after my injury my workers compensation was approved. I had doctors turn me away because they didn’t want to deal with the paperwork. The doctors that would see me assumed that I was making it up to get paid leave. They would do a partial job and refer me to someone else. It was absolutely horrific. All I could do was sit there watching helplessly as another doctor did nothing. This was only compounded by the constant pressure from my manager to get back to work. I tried to push my hands so I could keep my job, but only made my condition worse. The doctors wouldn’t help me and my manager constantly demanded more. It was like being stuck on a medical merry-go-round with my manager smacking me every time I went around the circle.

I had no choice but to pay out-of-pocket for all the tests that the doctors ordered. Some of it was covered by my insurance, but the co-pays were not small. Every specialist wanted to see you at least two or three times, even if it was just to tell you that the results were not conclusive and they wanted you to see someone else. Do the math. I’ve seen around 10 doctors. I pay $40 for every visit and each doctor wants to see you at least 3 times. That doesn’t include the out-of-pocket expenses for tests. To put it lightly, our finances were strained.

My husband spent at least an hour and a half every day driving me to and from work on top of his hour-long round-trip to his office. He had to drive me to all of my doctors appointments, repeated bloodwork, the two MRIs, CT scan, echocardiogram, ultrasound, EMG and chest x-ray. I couldn’t cook so we ate a lot of pizza and Chinese take-out, which we normally don’t do for health and budget reasons.

It’s been a year since my injury. I’ve gotten used to my new life. I have anywhere from 40-60% of the functioning back in my arms depending on the day. I can drive for short periods of time. I don’t have to use a straw to drink or ask my husband to cut my food for me. I can cook, which I really missed. I’m starting to feel like myself again and not a shell of who I used to be. I’m still not sure if I’ll ever get full functioning back in my arms. I may not be able to do so many things that I love anymore.

I decided the best way to help with the financial burden my injury has caused is to sell my calligraphy pieces. The medical bills are far from over. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do calligraphy again, especially not to that scale. I want my creative outlets to be more than a reminder of something I used to do. I may be finishing a chapter in my life, but it could be the start of an amazing one. Maybe my limitations could lead to something wonderful. Maybe I can sell a piece of calligraphy, pay a bill and enrich someone else’s home with something I created. Maybe one case and one decision will become something truly positive.

calligraphy 2

Please consider purchasing a calligraphy piece. The proceeds are going to a good cause. I’m happy to answer any questions, but sadly will not be able to do any custom pieces.

The True Spirit of Christmas

The Christmas season is finally here! It’s the time for Christmas trees, beautiful lights, caroling, and presents. It’s also the time when weekends are booked, traffic gets backed up, the perfect gift is sold out and budgets become strained. Christmas is such a nostalgic time of the year and it’s also the most stressful. Why? Because we forget what the season is all about.

My favorite quote I try to remember most during the season is: “But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas … as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely … And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, ‘God bless it!’” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

Christmas isn’t about the Black Friday sales or stuffing our faces with sweets. Christmas was meant to be that one time a year we step back and not only appreciate the many gifts that we have, but we share them with others. It’s so easy to forget that the gifts we have to share don’t have a price tag.

This December I have decided to take part in a 12 Days of Kindness challenge. For 12 days, I get to stop worrying about my To Do Lists and think of someone else. Whether it’s writing a thank you note to the fire department, baking Christmas cookies to give away, helping someone carry their groceries to the car, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or picking up trash on the sidewalk, every action – big or small – makes a difference.

I have gotten wrapped up in the chaos of Christmas too many times. This year, I want it to be different. Perhaps you feel the same way too. Would you be willing to join in? It’s simple. Here’s the website: 12 Days of Kindness. Anytime you take an extra moment to make a difference in someone’s life this Christmas season, tell us about it. We’ll share your story and help encourage others. You don’t have to wait until December. Make a difference today!

Think of the impact we could have. 10 people across the nation or around the world could change a season bombarded with selfishness. We could remind people that the true spirit of Christmas doesn’t fit under the tree. It’s a simple action we take to make a difference in a stranger’s life.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Goodbye Sweet Memories

Before I even started my organizing, I knew there was one thing I had to do. I just wasn’t sure I was ready to donate my wedding dress. I was never one of those crazy wedding obsessed children who spent years planning their wedding before they even started dating. When my husband proposed it was one of the happiest days of my life. In all of the wedding planning chaos, the one thing I was the most excited about was the dress I had chosen.

Most of my youth was spent as a tomboy. I wore my jeans and tennis shoes everyday and enjoyed hiking, canoeing, shooting guns and any other adventure I could follow my brother on. As the years passed, I started to expand my preferences and wardrobe. I bought jeans that actually fit and clothes based on my body type. I learned which colors go well with my skin tone and started to let go of my ugly duckling stage.

By the time my husband met me, I still had little hints of tomboy left in me. I still wore my jeans and tennis shoes. I just paired it with a cute top instead. The more he pursued me, the more beautiful I felt. The more beautiful I felt, the more I was willing to wear something that made me feel beautiful on the outside too. When I picked my wedding dress it was the most beautiful dress I had ever owned. It reminded me of the classic Hollywood bombshell dresses. I couldn’t wait to see the look on my husband’s face on our wedding day. He’d seen me get dressed up, but never like this.

The look on his face was priceless. They say on your wedding day you’re supposed to look like a princess. I never really wanted to be a princess. However on our wedding day, I felt radiant. I was so happy thanks to the friends and family that helped make it so incredibly special. I look back at the wedding pictures and don’t see the ugly duckling I used to feel like. I see the woman I’ve become.

So why would I ever want to let go of such an important dress? Because I know my dress could make a difference in someone else’s life too. I wanted to donate it to Brides Against Breast Cancer – a non-profit organization that supports breast cancer educational and support programs that help the patients and families by selling gently used wedding dresses. Someone could buy my dress at a great price and support the needs of millions of women. How could I not donate my dress?

I have the pictures. I’m not going to wear the dress again and I wouldn’t expect my future daughter to wear it either. Part of the fun of being a new bride-to-be is wedding dress shopping. When you find the one, your heart soars just like mine did. My heart can soar without my dress hiding in the back corner of my closet.

A part of me doesn’t want to let it go and I know my husband would never be mad if I didn’t. I just know that I have to. Some other bride-to-be deserves to feel radiant too.

I was brave enough to pull my wedding dress out of my closet. It’s still just as beautiful as I remember it. I packed it up as delicately as I could and shipped it to Brides Against Breast Cancer today. It was like letting go of a best friend. I will always have the memories. I just hope the new owner appreciates it as much as I did.