She's not a plush toy!


Recently, three boxes arrived at my office. When the first one arrived, I wasn't expecting anything. Then I saw a tiny pink plush ear peeking out from one corner of the box... and I remembered. It was the first delivery of Wanda Petunia plush toys.

I was excited and a little scared. How would they look? This had been a risk and all of my small savings to create the first batch of Wanda Petunia plush toys.

Who knew that one day, years after the name Wanda Petunia came into my head and I created the first Wanda plush toy, that this amazing experience would occur? It felt like a big deal, because it was!

For much of my adult life, I've had anxiety. I've had fears. I've had doubts. But several years ago, I met a friend to help me. At first, she was my imaginary friend. Then, she became my self-care coach. Her name? Wanda Petunia. She came to help me care for and love myself more. She helped me be brave and overcome fear.

After a crowdfunding a few years ago, my friends Julie and Andy helped get a sewing collective going ~ to create Wanda plushies. Andy was the chief Wanda seamstress for quite awhile, and then my friend Bernice joined him (we traded her sewing 20 Wandas in exchange for me performing her son's wedding)!

Following that, someone at Pilates was going to Haiti and that sparked an idea that turned into two batches of Wanda Petunia plushies being made there - sewn by women to help keep their kids out of orphanages. It's hard to get things in and out of Haiti so that ended - at least for now.

In the meantime, I was super blessed to connect with Candace Rae, from WVU Extension. She has been such a great resource and helped me get a grant to refine the pattern and film a video of how to sew a Wanda. Candace also helped me research small batch manufacturers.

Then, I wrote several companies, 5 wrote back and 3 seemed worth visiting. In December 2015, I went to NYC to visit my oldest son and to look for a small manufacturer. I visited the three possibilities and settled on one. Over the next several months, I had them create two prototypes. I also visited an embroidery house who would sew Wanda's faces. Learning, learning, learning!

Finally, almost a year later, an opportunity to share Wanda in a bigger way appeared. Decisions! I had to pick out the fabric - which pink plush? Should they all have the same outfit and what kind? I decided to make these Wanda plushies look like original Wanda. Even the stuffing, which was one of the priciest parts, had a great discount on the day I ordered it AND there was reduced shipping too. An opportunity had appeared where I could share Wanda with more people! I took the leap ~ even without all the money to get it done. It was time to start.

My mind does not always help me: at times, I think I should be in a better place in life by now. I think there isn't a flow. I think things don't seem to work out. And, sometimes they don't. After starting the NYC production, the event I created the Wanda plushies for cancelled on me. I listened to Steve Job's interviews to feel better!

My life has been about retraining my mind. It's been about shifting old negative thought patterns. It's been about picking myself up again. It's been about removing the drag from my ship - whether it's troubled relationships or just the troubled thoughts in my own mind - so I can be free to be me and to create with joy.

After I found a small batch manufacturer, I decided to leave original Wanda in New York to have her pattern improved. I cried on my solitary walk to the subway. It's like Wanda was a person to me, even though she was in plush form. Then I had to remind myself, that Wanda is a spirit. Original Wanda, and all the plush toys of Wanda, are not plush toys. They are Wanda Petunia Love in plush form. They are the visible expression of the Wanda Petunia Spirit.

As I opened the box... it meant a lot to me. So many people had believed in me when I doubted myself. So many people had invested in me - with money, time, sweat, love. Everything that went into opening that box was a powerful journey of creative empowerment. All the self-care, soul searching, decision making, tears, talks, worries and joys were part of my Wanda Petunia story. And, I know these little ladies, Self-Care Coaches in pink plush, will eventually find homes and create even more amazing stories - Grateful :)

Wanda Self-Care Coaches are also sewn locally thanks to some amazing friends who have supported this dream. Thank you Bernice, Patricia, Debi and Marsha! Hugs!!


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