Sponsor Highlight: Mary VanBuhler

As you may know, we are hosting (along with the non-profit organization, Gifts 2 Help) our 2020 Endometriosis Awareness & Support Walk. This is the first year we’ve asked for sponsorships and today I’d like to honor Mary VanBuhler.

A HUGE thank you to Mary for her generous donation for our 2020 Endometriosis Awareness & Support Walk! Mary is a fellow EndoWarrior who has an incredibly positive attitude toward the fight ahead and is here to support other Warriors, too! We’re looking forward to walking with you!

Sponsor Highlight: The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

Logo for San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

As you may know, we are hosting (along with the non-profit organization, Gifts 2 Help) our 2020 Endometriosis Awareness & Support Walk. This is the first year we’ve asked for sponsorships and today I’d like to honor The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

I cannot tell you how excited I am that the Sisters are officially joining our event! Many of you know Sister Donatella Soul and Saint Angel Con Cuernos, but did you know that several other Sisters have battled Endometriosis, too? So, their booth is near and dear to my heart. “The San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Asylum of the Tortured Heart, performs public service by educating the community on safety and health issues through outreach, promoting awareness through street theater, guiding spiritual enlightenment, abolishing bigotry and hatred and working to end stereotypes. The Asylum supports, works with, and raises funds for other charitable non-profit organizations.” Not only do they do INCREDIBLE things to help San Diego’s community grow and strengthen, but their loving nature and endless support is invaluable in this day and age. 

The beautiful Sister Donatella Soul; photograph by Compass Media Productions

Sponsor Highlight: Natural Harmony Reproductive Health

Logo for Natural Harmony Reproductive Health

As you may know, we are hosting (along with the non-profit organization, Gifts 2 Help) our 2020 Endometriosis Awareness & Support Walk. This is the first year we’ve asked for sponsorships and today I’d like to honor Natural Harmony Reproductive Health.

Natural Harmony Reproductive Health is an integrative clinic dedicated to providing compassionate, integrative, expert reproductive healthcare. 

An endo warrior herself, Dr. Merritt Jones specializes in the integrative treatment of endometriosis, recognizing that while no two people’s stories are exactly alike, many endo warriors have faced a long and arduous road and have had to fight to be seen, heard, and properly cared for. She believes that people living with endo deserve better. 

Natural Harmony takes an integrative and multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of endo, offering functional medicine evaluation, acupuncture, nutrition therapy, herbal and supplemental therapy, lab testing and lifestyle support and more. The clinic will also happily work alongside patient’s other providers to provide truly integrative and collaborative care.

Not only is Dr. Merritt my as-needed acupuncturist, but she’s a wonderful friend and an incredible support to myself and others in the Endo Community. Her compassion, understanding, and drive to help others is endless.

Sponsor Highlight: Estey & Bomberger, LLP

As you may know, we are hosting (along with the non-profit organization, Gifts 2 Help) our 2020 Endometriosis Awareness & Support Walk. This is the first year we’ve asked for sponsorships and today I’d like to honor Estey & Bomberger, LLP.

Leading trial attorneys in San Diego, the firm of Estey & Bomberger litigates personal injury and sexual abuse cases from all over the United States. They have been recognized for their efforts recently in the media for sexual assault cases involving rideshare drivers assaulting passengers, coaches assaulting athletes, teachers assaulting minor students, and members of the clergy assaulting parishioners. While their sexual abuse cases may be emotionally inflammatory and memorable, E&B also handles personal injury cases such as auto v auto, pedestrian v auto, bicyclist v auto, etc.

Not only are they incredible attorneys with great skill and compassion, but they’re the employers of Lisa Howard, the founder of Bloomin’ Uterus. Although this may sound biased, it’s not: they truly do care about their clients and achieving the best outcome possible for each case.

We’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to Steve Estey, Mike Bomberger, and the whole E&B crew for their continuing support of not only our Walk but Lisa’s own personal Endo Journey.

Sponsor Highlight: Dr. Rosebudz

As you may know, we are hosting (along with the non-profit organization, Gifts 2 Help) our 2020 Endometriosis Awareness & Support Walk. This is the first year we’ve asked for sponsorships and today I’d like to honor Dr. RoseBudz.

A local supplier of CBD products, Dr. RoseBudz offered a public workshop a few years ago about how CBD products may help those who suffer with Endometriosis. Her products have helped several of our BU EndoSisters. This year not only is Dr. RoseBudz a sponsor of our event, but she will have a booth available at the Walk. Do you have questions? Check her out. And peruse her wares on the day of the event. She’ll offer CBD salves, lotions, full spectrum tinctures, nano tinctures, and suppositories for sale.

We’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to Dr. RoseBudz for her support of not only our Walk, but to the community and to those fighting Endometriosis.

Sponsor Highlight: Special Flower Oil Co

Special Flower Oil Co logo

As you may know, we are hosting (along with the non-profit organization, Gifts 2 Help) our 2020 Endometriosis Awareness & Support Walk. This is the first year we’ve asked for sponsorships and today I’d like to honor Special Flower Oil Company.

You may remember I wrote about Special Flower Oil Company last year. Not only are Raul and Yuliya friends of mine, but they have created a small business to bring handmade, healthier products into our homes. And with a world of toxins, chemicals, parabens, and who knows what else out there may affect the growth of Endometriosis: I truly appreciate their products.

Not only will Special Flower Oil Company be sponsoring this year’s walk, but they’ll have a booth at the event! You can feel free to pick up some of their hanmade soaps, lotions, perfumes, and other wares!

AND? They’ll be donating a care package gift basket for our opportunity drawing!

Raul and Yuliya, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Not only for your support, but for the wonderful products you create. You’re a glowing beacon of generosity, friendship, and you genuinely care about helping others. ❤

Our walk will take place on March 28, 2020, in San Diego, California. It has traditionally been paid by out-of-pocket expenses, but has grown so large that donations and sponsorships are now a thing! I’m truly honored and super excited to be able to do this walk yet again.

If you would like more information to be able to attend our walk, registration is free (although we are asking for optional donations). Or if you, or someone you know, would be interested in either sponsoring the event or hosting a vendor booth, please contact me! These donations, vendor fees, and sponsorships go toward paying for the cost of the event. And are tax-deductible as a donation to Gifts 2 Help.

Sponsor Highlight: Erin Curlee

headshot of Erin Curlee

As you may know, we are hosting (along with the non-profit organization, Gifts 2 Help) our 2020 Endometriosis Awareness & Support Walk. This is the first year we’ve asked for sponsorships and today I’d like to honor our first sponsor, Erin Curlee.

Erin made an anonymous donation, which earned her a sponsorship title! She’s been a friend of mine for many years and has been so very supportive of my Endo journey, and the journeys of my EndoSisters. Although she doesn’t reside in San Diego, her presence is well-known in our group and her support is endless.

She’s been truly amazing. And her heartfelt donation took me by surprise and made me hug her all the harder.

Our walk will take place on March 28, 2020, in San Diego, California. It has traditionally been paid by out-of-pocket expenses, but has grown so large that donations and sponsorships are now a thing! I’m truly honored and super excited to be able to do this walk yet again.

If you would like more information to be able to attend our walk, registration is free (although we are asking for optional donations). Or if you, or someone you know, would be interested in either sponsoring the event or hosting a vendor booth, please contact me! These donations, vendor fees, and sponsorships go toward paying for the cost of the event. And are tax-deductible as a donation to Gifts 2 Help.

We’ve got a big announcement to make!

Breaking news announcement

It’s with great pleasure that I’d like to announce that Bloomin’ Uterus has partnered with the local San Diego-based non-profit, Gifts 2 Help, for 2020’s Endometriosis Awareness Walk.

Not only is Gifts 2 Help a local organization, but it’s run by a fellow EndoWarrior! Amy started Gifts 2 Help in honor of her mother who passed away in 2007 as a way to continue her legacy: helping those in need however she could.  Ongoing projects include an annual CHP Appreciation Day, EveryDay Heroes Appreciation Day, and Christmas Miracles.  There are many more projects that Amy would like to take on through Gifts 2 Help, and I was thrilled when she suggested helping with our annual walk.

Donations toward the costs of the walk (and expenses of any future events) will be tax-deductible!  All donations that Gifts 2 Help receives on behalf of Bloomin’ Uterus will go into a separate account, the funds to be exclusively used for our future walks, events, workshops, and projects!

Together, we’ve recently secured the City of San Diego permit for our March 28, 2020, Endometriosis Awareness Walk at NTC Park at Liberty Station!  So, it’s official!! Expect a registration page and details soon!  But please do mark the date on your calendars!

Thank you, Amy, for your passion to help others, even as you have your own battle to win.

2019 Endometriosis Awareness Walk Recap

2019 Bloomin' Uterus Endometriosis Awareness Walk Group photo of 275 attendees
2019 Group Photo by Compass Media Productions; view the full rez by clicking on the photo

On March 30, 2019, a few of us got together to support one another and walk together for Endometriosis awareness. This year we had a total of 275 attendees! Two Hundred Seventy-Five!!!! You guys – that’s insane!! I’m still so very excited! If you weren’t aware, this year we gathered once more at NTC Park at Liberty Station.

This was our first year where we actually had amplified sound (thanks for the generator, Todd!). So, we had a welcome speech, and several EndoSisters and their support came up to say a few words. The microphone was made available to anyone who wished to say a few words. Wonderful stories, thanks, and advice was shared.

We also had some beautiful posters up on display:

Infographic re: Endometriosis by artist Sarah Soward
Infographic re: Endometriosis by artist Sarah Soward; photograph by Compass Media Productions
Infographic re: Endometriosis on a few San Diego Endo Sisters by Bloomin' Uterus
Infographic re: Endometriosis on a few San Diego Endo Sisters by Bloomin’ Uterus (from 2018); photograph by Compass Media Productions

We also had a fun little temporary tattoo booth this year. We’d totally like to do this again! I was assured by the manufacturer that there was no latex in the tattoos, but someone had a small latex-allergic reaction. So sorry about that!

Our walk was a one-mile trek around the park, which ended back where we started. Many stayed afterward to enjoy lunch together on the grass in our perfect San Diego weather. It was wonderful. The whole damn day was wonderful.

I cannot amply express to you how wonderful it is to be surrounded by fellow EndoWarriors. And their family, friends, and support networks. There was SO much yellow! So many smiles. So many tears. We are all family. And we are all in this together. And just knowing that, seeing that, FEELING that with you all present – that is why we’ll continue to do these walks. Always.

FUNDRAISING

We had two running campaigns this year: 1) fundraising for the Endometriosis Foundation of America and 2) fundraising for the expenses of the walk.

This year we raised $1,771.63 for the Endometriosis Foundation of America! These funds came from online donations, button sales, bracelet sales, t-shirt sales, and the fundraising efforts of Tanya Linda and the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence! That’s way over our 2019 goal of $1,000! THANK YOU!

And this year we asked for your help to fund the costs of the walk (it cost $1,558.19 to put on this year’s walk). And with the generous support of our donors, 97.5% of our out-of-pocket costs was covered by donations! This truly is OUR walk! THANK YOU!!!!! If any of our readers would like to see a detailed accounting of costs and donations, please contact me. I’d love to share it all with you. 100% transparency here.

A special moment

Sister Donatella Soul of the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
The beautiful Sister Donatella Soul; photograph by Compass Media Productions

Before the walk started, Sister Donatella Soul took the microphone. She not only introduced herself and described what the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence do, but she took a moment to do something incredible for me. Let me preface by saying I’ve known Donatella since 2015 and she’s been a constant pillar of strength for my own Endo journey, and those of others. We’ve become incredibly close and I am honored with her presence in my life. She’s also made it her personal mission to advocate for those with Endometriosis and to raise awareness for this illness. She’s incredible; she’s one of my heroes.

Even sitting her trying to type it out brings tears to my eyes. She recognized my efforts, not only for the walk, but for bringing our community together; gathering EndoWarriors, giving us a place to learn, love, and grow together. I do not do this for the recognition. If you know me, you know that.

But Donatella petitioned the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to give me the highest honor they could bestow upon a non-member: the title of Angel Anne Doe, Keeper of the Flowering Chalice of Power. And the title came with a beautiful certificate, a lovely lapel pin of angel wings, and the best hug EVER.

My hero. My hero did this for me. And I am so honored. And touched.

Certificate naming Angel Anne Doe, Keeper of the Flowering Chalice of Power

ALL THE Photographs!!!

Viewing these photographs may best be done on a PC or laptop as the image sizes are large and loading times may vary. if you SAVE and/or share these photographs, please give credit to the respective photographers.

A HUGE thank you to Richard T. Reyes and Exxes Hauffen of Compass Media Productions. Year after year, you two come back and capture our moments, our hugs, our memories, and our strength; all out of the goodness of your hearts. You’re incredible. And we thank you for it.

Richard T. Reyes:

Richard has been a huge part of my Endometriosis journey and an incredible part of our little Endo family. He has been photographing our EndoWalks and gatherings for four years now and we are blessed to call him friend. ❤ Richard shares three galleries of photos with us today: a group photo, the pre-walk gathering , and the walk itself. Not only is he an incredible photographer, but also a wonderful artist! You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Compass Media Productions:

Exxes Hauffen of Compass Media Productions is a good friend of mine, too. We met a few years ago as he was the videographer for our wedding. And we kind of bonded over various interests and now he’s stuck with me. Exxes has also streamlined the “Stronger than Endo” project, making it possible for a few of us EndoWarriors to share our stories, as well as spread awareness of the illness. The full interviews of each participant will be released later this year. Exxes donates his time, skill, and passion to our walks as a photographer. You can view the Title page for our EndoWalk photographs, or follow the page directly to Endo Walk photos (while we circled the park) and the Endo Gathering (speeches, arrivals, etc.). If you would like to download any of the photographs taken by Compass Media Productions, please do so before July 11, 2019. If you’d like to view the high-res version of our group photo, just scroll back to the top and click on it; it will open in a new window.

There are several videos and photographs that our walkers have shared on their Facebook pages. Many of which were tagged in our Event. Please feel free to check our Facebook event page for any posts, photos, or videos as well.

If you have ANY issues accessing these photographs, please contact me.

Prizes

This year we had a game of Endo Bingo (or as some called it, Endo Tic-Tac-Toe) thanks to an EndoWarrior in our BU Crew, Andrea. It was a fun way to get people involved with one another, learn about Endometriosis journeys, or what support people went through.

Our Bingo card! Photo by Richard T. Reyes

At the end of the walk, everyone turned in their Bingo cards and winners where randomly pulled out of a big box. A huge thanks to our prize donors this year:

1.  A brand spankin’ new Livia unit!  Many gals have found relief from menstrual cramps when using this little device (myself included).  It’s a $150 value.  Thank you Livia!
2.  A gift certificate to Natural Harmony Reproductive Health (I love you Merritt!) for an initial consultation and acupuncture session. A $175 value.  Thank you Merritt Jones!
3.  A gift certificate to Sacral Spaces for either a 90-minute session of acupuncture OR an introduction to pelvic reintegration work.  A $230 value.  Thank you Maggie Flood!
4.  A gift certificate to Skin & Wax Bar in Poway for some pampering! A $50 value!  Thanks Skin & Wax Bar!!! 
5.  A $50 gift certificate for a service with Hair By Kayleigh Elizabeth in Carlsbad, CA! This woman puts a little bit of color into my life…
6.  A $50 gift certificate for a handmade flowered crown by MsFormaldehynde,
7.  A foot reflexology session by Youko Hasegawa of Youko Touch.

Lisa Howard holding up Liva unit for Bingo prize
Bingo prizes! Photography by Compass Media Productions

Volunteers

I would like to take a moment to thank ALL of our volunteers for this year’s walk; whether you were assigned a volunteer role or just stepped up and filled a need. This would not have been possible without your help. Brooklyn, Caryn, Heather, my husband, Kelly, Kristin, Leesett, Marie, Mom, Nicole, Timbrely, Todd, Rosie, Emily, and Kathryn; I owe you so much gratitude. And if I missed someone, please let me know. ❤

I’d also like to shout out to our vendors who made the walk doable: The City of San Diego Parks & Recreation Department for the permit, Debris Box for the trash dumpster, and Safiro’s Sanitation for the port-o-potties.

And if you are a member of our BU support group, you (hopefully) received a keychain created and donated by Sierra Alford. They’re gorgeous! If you didn’t get yours, get in touch with me!

And if anyone would like to volunteer for future walks in any capacity, please contact me.

Memories

As part of our 2019 wrap-up survey to all attendees, I asked people to share their favorite moments. And I share them with you (with permission, of course):

  • It was a beautiful setting to have the walk. It really touched me to see the other women who are going through the same issues I am. Just being with everyone was my favorite!
  • My sisters face, smiling enjoying herself, as if nothing was wrong at all, that is priceless.
  • It was all amazing as it was our first walk and we loved that there was over twice the amount of support people that was lovely.
  • It’s hard to pick a favorite moment, I love it all. The speeches were great.
  • The unexpected honor bestowed upon me by Sister Donatella Soul on behalf of the San Diego Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: the title of “Angel Anne Doe: Keeper of the Flowering Chalice of Power.” I don’t do this for the recognition. Ever. But it was so damn touching and wonderful and perfect. And I need a tissue now just thinking about it. The amount of people who have come up to me afterward, or emailed/texted telling me I deserve those wings, that I am an angel, and also having my surgeon tell me recently that I am an angel sent from heaven for our EndoWarriors – it’s too much. And having one of my dearest friends be the one to give me those wings is priceless. Surrounded by my friends and family? Even moreso. It is my honor, privilege, and joy to bring us together, and I love our little family. Thank you.
  • Group picture.
  • Meeting all my endo sisters and seeing all the amazing supporters we had there.
  • Hugging my sisters!
  • Lisa’s tutu!!! So fluffy & squishy.
  • The walk.
  • Lisa getting Angel wings!
  • The whole thing from beginning to end!!
  • Supporting.
  • The talks before the group picture, made me cry and touched my heart!
  • Watching everyone get big hugs.
  • Seeing how much the walk has grown. Loved the breathing and stretching before hand. And listening to the fellow speakers.
  • When the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence made Lisa an Angel.
  • All of them.
  • Donatella’s speech.
  • Opening remarks.
  • Lisa’s being initiated into the Sister’s of Perpetual Indulgence. (I’m not crying, you’re crying).
  • Being able to see the community and come together.
  • Just seeing other sisters that are in the areas seeing that I am not alone.
  • Meeting new people!
  • Speeches before the walk, my husband loved [Lisa’s] husband’s speech!
  • When I was able to thank all the beautiful endosisters, Lisa, and my family for their love and support through my journey. I also would say it would be making a new friend. Caryn she was so friendly and awesome!!
  • The walk.

We look forward to many more memories ahead.

Snafus

Like any event, we had a few snafus, hang-ups, and mistakes. We will always strive to get better and better each year, but this year’s were a bit fun. Thanks to everyone who submitted feedback surveys!

  1. There were two sets of port-o-potties this year! What?!? And one you couldn’t even get into! Well, it turns out the set closest to the City restrooms belonged to an event that was scheduled for March 31, 2019; the next day. They had their Blue Rooms delivered early (much to the surprise of the City representative who was present), and placed the portos in a fashion to where they could not be accessed by anyone. This caused a bit of confusion among several attendees. Our two lonely port-o-potties were further down in the parking lot surrounded by yellow cones. If you had the pleasure of using our porto’s, they were so immaculate and clean! OMG!! I’ll use Safiro’s FOREVER!
  2. The park has a weird “no signs” rule. I’m going to talk to the City representative for next year because there were a few other events going on in the park that morning and having a big ol’ yellow sign would be helpful to directing traffic to the appropriate field. We’d also like to have signage for the Tattoo Parlor, Check-in, and the Medical area to better point out these fun little stations.
  3. The event started at 11:00, but the walk didn’t head out ’til about 40 minutes later. There were games and speeches and stretching between check-in and walking. Some people weren’t able to stay due to tight schedules…so for next year we’ll be releasing a schedule of events. (Why didn’t I think of that before?!?!)
  4. I’ve received such wonderful feedback about our check-in volunteers. Check-in, I understand, was a bit confusing because it was by first name this year. In year’s past, it’s been by last name. So please expect to register with mandatory last names in future events. Also in the future, if you register for multiple people, you will have the option to pick up everyone’s badges when you check-in .

Every year we learn. And every year we put new ideas to work. And, again, thank you to EVERYONE who submitted feedback. If you have any other ideas on how we can continue to improve our walks, you can email them to me at any time.

What’s next?

So many things!!! I’ve never been one to just have a walk once a year and leave you Warriors stranded for the rest of the 364 days. We do stuff often!

  • We meet once a month for a face-to-face support group meeting. We’ve got one on April 14, 2019, and another on April 27, 2019.
  • We hold workshops as often as we can arrange them with professionals! We’ve got the May 19, 2019, Navigating Painful Sex workshop by our very own Maggie Flood coming up!
  • In June, my excision surgeon Dr. Mel Kurtulus and I will be presenting about Endometriosis to the Exceptional Family Member’s Program at the Marine Corp. Recruitment Depot.
  • A workshop about Pelvic Floor Therapy and Endometriosis is in the works.
  • A workshop about the emotional affects of Endometriosis (and how best to handle it) is also in the works.
  • Planning for 2020’s walk is already underway. Again, if you’re interested in volunteering please contact me.
  • We’ll be putting together separate online forums for moms, dads, siblings, friends, and partners of EndoWarriors to email each other to discuss tips, tricks, suggestions, share stories, and support one another.
  • Have an idea for an event, workshop, etc.? Let me know!

Again, thank you to everyone involved in our 2019 walk: and this goes to volunteers, photographers, and attendees. I’m still flying high, even several weeks later.

See you in 2020!