Stress triggers my anxiety and my anxiety triggers my depression. As husband and wife, Marc and I decided that we needed a change. We were struggling so hard in Florida to make ends meet. We worked so hard for so long and nothing was getting better. Our eight years of marriage has been filled with financial struggles of a continuous nature. We were working nights and barely seeing the kids. We were tired, frustrated, and fed up.
One night, after a particularly frustrating day, I was working at Roy's and thought to myself, "Maybe we should just MOVE. Out of town. Somewhere new and different. Maybe we should find somewhere else to start over." Five minutes later, literally, I get a text from Marc saying, "Maybe we should just put all our money together and get the Eff out of Dodge." To me, it was a sign.
Within a month, we had quit our jobs, sold what we could and packed what we couldn't, and uprooted our family to replant ourselves in New York State. We moved quickly so the kids wouldn't miss school. The feeling leading up to moving was almost an emotional high. I'd been struggling already with depression, and this gave me a brief reprieve. I know from experience that these don't last long, and I will inevitably come crashing down, which has led me to soak up every second and bit of happiness that I possibly can when I am feeling good. I knew it would be a hard emotional adjustment for me when it came down to it, but I also chose to cling to the HOPE that it would be better in the long run for us as a family. Hopelessness, I have learned, is another huge feeling that comes with my depression.
Things, in some ways, ARE better here already. Marc and I both have day jobs that allow us to have dinner as a family every night. This is my favorite part of this transition. I love sitting around the table with a healthy meal, talking with my family about our favorite thing that happened that day.
Marc's parents have allowed us to live with them until we can get settled and find a place of our own once we get stabilized financially. This is such a blessing to us, and the girls are loving having MiMi and PaPa around. We love that they are getting this time with family. It was a big factor in choosing this location.
This part of the transition is also a hard one, though. Things can get a little cramped with us all here, and we are trying to be especially good house guests so we don't wear out our welcome. It is not an easy transition for Marc's parents, either, but they are doing their best to make us feel welcome and comfortable.
Being uprooted from our friends has been an extremely hard thing for me, one that has brought my depression crashing back down on me on certain days. Thoughts of self harm have come crashing through, unbidden, and have been quickly pushed from my head with annoyance and anger. On especially bad days, those thoughts linger.
One of our goals is to save up money while we are here to open my own bakery. This bakery idea has taken many forms over time, but has landed recently on the continuation of Cookies for a Cause. My niece, Danica, was the initial recipient of the profits of Cookies for a Cause. Two years ago, this was Danica:
She had just come through her spinal fusion surgery and would be in a minerva brace for far too long.
Two years later, this photo of her dancing is the answer to so much love and thoughts and prayers and gifts. It is beautiful.
I thought for so long that Danica was the bravest person I knew. Through the last two years, I have come to realize that she gets it from her mother, my sister, my hero.
Through this heartbreaking process with Danica, it has come to light that my sister also had the need for a spinal fusion. This was ONE of the SIX surgeries she has had over the last two years. These six surgeries have been while she has been taking care of her daughter who was healing from her own surgery. She has been diagnosed repeatedly with things most of us cannot even begin to pronounce. Her family has remained glued together through these "trials"- a word that does not even begin to paint the picture of the reality they live every day.
Over the last couple of weeks, an idea has been forming. I was watching a show on Food Network recently and there was a woman who had founded Cupcake for a Cause. Her sister was in a similar situation, and this woman decided to start a business with a portion of the proceeds going to research to help her sister. This sounded like Cookies for a Cause, but the glaring difference was that 100% of Cookies for a Cause proceeds went to my sister. Cupcakes for a Cause got me thinking. One thing that held me back during Cookies for a Cause and eventually had me stop producing cookies was the lack of time I had to devote to it due to my other obligations- work, family, and previously school. I have the deep rooted desire to open my own bakery. I have been working on making this a reality. Then it hit me. Cookies for a Cause should BE my bakery. THIS is what I should do. I would be killing multiple birds with one rock, so to speak. It has been working in my head nonstop since then.
As I was sitting here this morning working on pricing out equipment and packaging materials and researching the licenses needed to start a business here in New York, my Will to Keep Going hit me. By this I mean, the thing I have to tell myself when the lies of depression start creeping in. These lies tell myself that the only way to stop the pain is to end it. These lies tell me places to go and things to do to make it all go away. These lies tell me that people will be better off without me and my darkness.
My Will to Keep Going is that I have the ability to help my sister and her family. I have the ability to help my sister and her family in ways others can't. I can use my gift and my passion to make things easier for them. As they have said, "Even if we had a million dollars, our life would still be hard." This is a deep truth, BUT maybe with someone to help share that load, it wouldn't be QUITE so hard. And in all reality, this truth helps lighten my own heavy load. A reason and hope are sometimes what it takes to keep on going and to silence the demons.
Many of you have supported Cookies for a Cause in the past, and I would like to thank you all for that. Cookies for a Cause will soon be a full time business for me with a portion of the profits going to my sister and her family so that I may use the rest to devote my full efforts to this cause and growing the business. My hopes and goals are to eventually be able to take a larger financial burden from Monica and Dan. I will be offering my Signature Sugar Cookies, as well as the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER, and other treats that will change over time. I will be ecstatic to take special baking orders of all kinds, including cakes, cookies, truffles, breads, etc. Whatever you can dream up and need, I will be more than happy to work with you on making it a reality!! The holidays are coming up, and I would love to be the one to supply the treats for the season. Ideas of all sorts are rolling around in my head such as teacher gifts, party platters, gingerbread houses, and SO MUCH MORE. I am so excited to get started and to make this happen ASAP!!!!!!
I can't wait to be able to start taking orders, so keep an eye out for news on the Grand Opening of Cookies for a Cause!!!