There has been something weighing on my heart. Something I would like to share with you. It is about a time, like many families, when we fell on financial hardship.
It was the perfect shit storm: I had just discovered I was pregnant with (the best) surprise #5 baby ever. I told Tom while I was folding laundry. He seemed genuinely excited. But then, that's Tom Walsh Super Genius.
But I have this other distinct memory of sharing the "good news" with my Mom. I braced myself by holding onto the kitchen counter, saying something like, "Mom, you'll never guess what..." and then I burst into tears. She assured me, "Honey, it will be okay." She was right. Foxy was always right.
At the same time, the recession was raging, leaving Tom's little carpet cleaning business suffering, like in a very bad way. Some weeks, we didn't have grocery money, but somehow we always managed.
We decided to file for bankruptcy. But we told no one because there was so much shame. We felt like defeated and like we had failed our family. And we were filled with so many overwhelming unanswered questions. Would we be able to keep our home? Would I need to go back to teaching full time, and if so, who would care for Charlotte?
This is certainly not where I thought I would be in my late 30's...twin 10 year olds, an 8 year old, a 5 year old (who called 911 when we brought Charlie home from the hospital because she wasn't the baby anymore - true story), and a "failure to thrive" baby on my hip, who failed to nurse. Looking back, I can almost attest to the fact that Charlotte was picking up on my nervous and stressed out energy, which is why she wouldn't latch to my breast. We couldn't afford formula . . . this kid needed to breast feed! She did learn eventually, but it left this Mama extremely depleted and wondering how I continued to fail my daughters.
At one time or another, we have all asked ourselves a symphony of the following questions: How did I get here? What am I supposed to learn from this? And when the fuck will it be over?
Tom and I hunkered down in our faith, and began to trust with really open hearts. Because when you're broken, that's all you have left. We cut out all unnecessary expenses, and I mean everything. I began cutting the girls hair on the front porch, and no one said anything mean about how crooked their bangs hung in front of their eyes. We frequented Happy Hollow because we had a Family Pass, and would walk the 3 blocks to park for free. I began buying clothes for the girls for NEXT year from the clearance rack with the little money I did have. We went to the library religiously, and I believe this is where the girls love of reading really began. And we ate dinner at home nightly, with many meals made from ground turkey . . . spaghetti, chili, taco's. My goal was to feed my family of 7 for under $10, and more times than not, I was successful.
As women do, I got real resourceful, real quick.
It was around this time, that I asked for a scholarship for the twins to participate in Girls on the Run: a non-profit, girl power after school program. It encompassed all of values and traits we were instilling in our daughters at home: being strong in mind and body, being a good friend, sticking up for people, using your voice. The program ends with a million bajillion third through fifth graders running a 5K...and it is the cutest gosh darned thing you will ever witness. Daddies and daughters running hand in hand, decked out with feather boa's. Mama's jogging side by side their little mini me's...if you ever need a pick me up, I highly recommend checking it out.
And it was there, after Abby, Bella and I completed our first 5K together, that I saw a booth for Athena Camps: a girl power summer camp in its very first season. Aby Ryan, the owner and founder, sat behind the table, and as we approached, I could just tell there was something special about her. I inquired about camp and the cost. I asked if there were scholarships available. And this is what Aby did: she allowed my girls go to camp for a week for free.
I will never forget, holding Charlotte on my lap, Emma and Cozy at my feet, at the closing ceremony on Friday, bawling with gratitude that my daughters had been given this opportunity. Aby's kindness and generosity were life changing.
Fast forward 7 years, and guess where Abby and Bella were employed this last summer? Athena Camps! It was at this pivotal moment I realized importance of the full circle. We had been helped, and now I want to give back.
My chapter of financial scarcity helped teach me this: simplicity is best, goodness in others is abundant, and love always wins. Currently, Village Well is donation based, and I never ever want finances to prevent someone from attending.
I would like to create a scholarship fund. I feel very called to have all women who want to come, be part of a Workshop or Retreat, regardless of finances.
If this tugs at your heart like it does mine, please consider donating any amount of money to help a woman make a retreat or workshop. I will take your donations and match them with my cost of time and materials. And when I say any amount, I really mean it: whether its $5 or $100!
I promise you will be making an immeasurable difference for another woman.
If you would like to donate, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call or text me at (408) 832-0089.
With Eternal Gratitude,