December Caravan Etsy Shop

April 5, 2018

Ever since I was a young girl I have loved to create things. I have always enjoyed using the things that others might not find as "pretty" or see as a "mistake" to create something new and beautiful. As a young girl I once dreamed of being a painter or a "professional" artist, even pictured myself painting in some adorable European village. 

Unfortunately, as time continued, a high school teacher and a college professor both told me that I couldn't make it as an artist, and my little tender heart was a bit crushed. Instead of seeing that what they wanted me to draw (still life fruit) was not my calling, I believed them. Life got busier and busier with teaching responsibilities, and when I couldn't find the time to really create, I started to believe that maybe those teachers were correct. 
And then my health started to completely decline. At thirty-three I ended up leaving the career I loved, I lost my independence and had to move back into my parents house. I saw my dreams of further education wan, had to use a wheelchair to move, couldn't get out of bed without help or do the most ordinary things without lots of assistance from my parents, and spent almost every waking hour in extreme pain, and traveled across the country (literally) to find answers. 
I was diagnosed with numerous conditions and still continued to deteriorate. Life looked incredibly dark with absolutely no joy or color. I saw over 273 specialists and doctors (many who told me it was "all in my head" or that I was "exaggerating my symptoms to gain attention") and was finally correctly diagnosed in March 2013 (on my birthday) with Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease.
Six weeks later I was diagnosed with Cancer along with several other serious health issues.
I was heartbroken that it taken so long to find a correct diagnosis, that my concerns over a mole had been ignored (despite being seen at some of the best hospitals in the United States), and found myself walking a long dark hallway with little light and little joy. 
Lyme Disease was a maze of confusion and everything I read told me that I was just beginning a journey that would last a very very long time. 
And it has been. A very long journey. 

In the five years since those diagnosis' I have traveled the roller coaster of emotions of in the healing journey. I have grown and learned a lot in this journey. Lessons that I had never wanted to learn, yet lessons that have made me who I am. And beyond personally, this has affected my artwork in numerous ways. I have learned that the smallest gift can be the greatest and so I treasure using tons of small details in my pieces. I have also learned the valuable lesson of delighting in the beauty of ordinary.
And I have learned that despite incredibly painful days there is always joy and color if we look for it- whether that is from a bed (where I spent several years) or from a corner office doing a job that you love.
And that is the mission and motto of my Etsy shop, December Caravan
December Caravan creates unique & beautiful altered journals, altered books, buntings, cards, artwork, and family treasures out of sweet materials to inspire joy and hope in every part of your life through handmade creations. 
The name fits my journey of creating- walking through the "cold month" of December and creating beauty on our "caravan" or "journey" artistically and also was picked because it uses all of the letters of my first and last name (minus the "k") which I also love. The symbolism in the name of seeing joy and something unique beyond first impressions is perfect. 
I realized something also profound in this journey. My high school art teacher and college professor were wrong. NOT because I think that I am some amazing artist, but because anyone can be an artist- it is simply an expression of who you are. My encouragement to you if you have been told that you can't do something artistically is to step forward where the and take a risk and just create. Don't compare yourself- forge your own path and creations.
As I have continued to heal and consider what I desire for the shop to look like, things have evolved and changed. These past six months I didn't do a lot with the shop as I was prayerfully considering how to best move forward in this new season that I find myself in. I really have wanted to consider how December Caravan fits into not just this new season but into my life.
I have come away even more inspired and more confident of the direction that I plan to head with this shop. I have so many ideas and dreams of where I want to take the shop and I am excited to share in the weeks and months ahead. 
The shop will be expanding in the coming months and one of the ways that this will take place is in adding in a section in the shop of "supplies" for those that want to create their own artwork but don't have the time to gather the materials. I will be adding this section in in the late Spring so keep your eyes out! I will also be adding in additional buntings, more travel books, more altered journals, and more altered books. I am so excited to share it all with you! 
While the proceeds from the shop do go to help cover the cost of my continued treatment, a portion of all proceeds is donated to charity. You can read more on my shop information page about this! 
One last exciting thing? I will be holding special weekly sales on the shop's instagram page! These will be special items and will vary from craft supplies for your own creations to special buntings and altered books. These sales will be every Wednesday in the morning starting Wednesday, April 9th. You can find the shop's instagram page HERE!
Thank you so much for reading the story and the journey behind December Caravan! I also want to say a note of thanks to all of y'all who have been such a beautiful support and encouragement throughout the years of the shop. You have truly touched my heart! 

Happy Thursday friends! I hope that y'all have a wonderful day!!

Want to check out the shop? Click HERE!

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