Friday, April 2, 2021

#GiveBackGetInvolved: Resources for Donating Effectively

We've now passed the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent quarantine reaching us here in the U.S., which have affected all of our lives in profound ways. Certainly, the striking political events of the past year have also shed light on the various injustices and plights that our friends and communities are facing and were facing already. It's also spring cleaning time, and I wanted to share some quick tips on donating effectively to local organizations and name a few Chicago-based orgs that are seeking items now. If there is an event, organization, or volunteer opportunity you would like to see featured in a future post, please contact me at ameliamcotter@gmail.com:

For Animals: Animal shelters always accept monetary donations, of course. The top items otherwise generally needed are: dog food, cat food, food for other types of animals (depending on the type of shelter), food bowls, cat litter, litter pans, chlorine bleach, and office supplies. Check with any local organization on their specific needs and wants before bringing them a donation. PAWS Chicago offers a comprehensive list of Chicago Area Animal Shelters.

For People: Money, yes, and clothing, always. But while donating clothing and food to shelters and depositories is a common practice, people tend to overlook basic needs and, with good intentions, donate "fancier" items in lieu of badly needed essentials. Some items shelters and community outreach programs need the most are: blankets, socks, shoes, and underwear, as well as diapers, feminine hygiene products, and general hygiene products. Some organizations also need school supplies, earbuds, books, and art supplies. Check with any local organization on their specific needs and wants before bringing them a donation. The Youth Empowerment Performance Project offers an excellent list of resources and services, including for Chicago Youth Mutual Aid, for those who want to help and for those who need help.

I'm grateful to Broadway United Methodist Church for inspiring this post. I joined their community at the end of last year and have been deeply moved by their commitment to accepting all people, and their dedication to activism and social justice. They have a Community Donation Box and a Community Food Pantry, where people can add or take items. Donations of socks are especially needed, and all items should be new.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Introducing Amelia's DragonGoddess Boutique, Part 2!

Exciting things are happening! At the end of last year, I launched a small online store with autographed postcards and signed copies of my books. At the beginning of last month, I launched the DragonGoddess Boutique with my husband, Jonathan. This venture is long overdue, as far as author branding and marketing are concerned, but it has also been one of Jonathan's lifelong dreams to make and sell homemade incense and other Magickal items. Our first month proved to be quite a success and, just in time for International Women's Day, we've made a few changes, tweaked some things, and have launched a full online Store with our small but lovingly created and curated collection of items. It's been an interesting journey to view my brand and myself as a "woman-owned business," but it's true now more than ever. In fact, I've been a one-woman show (with some excellent help along the way) for more than a decade since my first break into the publishing industry.

Working logo for Amelia's DragonGoddess Boutique.

Coupon Code and Giveaway

This month, please use coupon code IWD15 for 15% off your entire order at my online Store. Additionally, anyone who makes a purchase this month will be entered to win a free item. I'll notify the winner on April 1!

In the coming months, we may even launch another DragonGoddess Boutique item or two, including bath teas or even candles (opinions welcome!). I have two books on deck for publication this spring and summer as well, which will of course be added to Amelia's Books and More.

Customer Reviews

Below, please see preliminary Customer Reviews for the DragonGoddess Boutique. Items include handmade incense blends created by my husband, Jonathan Montgomery Pollock, and unique bundles featuring dragon figurines and other goodies. Each attractively packaged kit comes with a corresponding handwritten affirmations card. Happy Women's History Month and, as always, Happy Hauntings!

"The stuff you guys sent me is fabulous and a nice blend of tradition and innovation. Thanks again!"
–David M., Banishment Blend/Tarot Contemplation Blend Incense Bundles

"Thank you! I enjoy the fragrance, it's real nice. It reminds me of when I lived in the Southwest."
–Mitchell P., Tarot Contemplation Blend Incense Bundle

"We got our blends today. Made our offering. They smell so nice!"
–Michelle L., Banishment Blend Incense Bundle

"Such a great birthday gift! I'll be ordering more! Thanks, Amelia!"
–Shelly W., Dragon Meditation Bundle (Blue/Intuition)

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Poem #6: The Stranger

I really enjoy looking back on and sharing old poems and stories that I wrote when I was a kiddo. I'd love to travel back in time and tell myself that I appreciate that awkward and nerdy younger version of mewho apparently had a real flare for the dramatic. I encourage you to look back on your childhood self as well, and celebrate how cool/uncool, creative, and fun you were. Here's a darkly romantic poem for a cloudy Valentine's Day mood, courtesy of 13-year-old me:

As only a stranger’s could have been,
His manner was peculiar to me.
I passed him on the street many nights,
Into his eyes I could not see.

His steps were long and without direction,
But followed a rhythm of some intention.
His breath lingered on the cold night air,
Like many banshees dancing about the Devil’s lair.

I passed him near the cemetery
Along its rusting gates,
Where perhaps a lonely vampire 
In anticipation waits.

There was a lustful grace about him
That as he passed caused me to shudder.
And I wondered if his heart
Was in possession of some other.

As we met more and more
In the same fashion each night,
For me to call him “stranger” 
No longer seemed quite right.

I wanted to speak to him one evening,
By the old graveyard.
But when I opened up my mouth,
I found speaking hard.

I longed to say something wise,
And delve into his mind.
But when I looked into his eyes,
He looked right down into mine.

And startled by their beauty 
And their iciness I stared,
Unnerved but somehow touched
By their cool, demanding glare.

His lips were pursed in thought,
And I felt the urge to flee.
But instead I smiled up at him, 
And he smiled down at me.

He was quite an elegant creature
Taken in by the night,
And I was still a little bit afraid
With a mixture of delight.

I managed a “Good evening,”
And watched his chest rise and fall.
To him I must have seemed so strange,
Compared to him so small.

“Good evening, lovely lady,”
He replied with a certain ease.
And with so much I still wished to say,
He vanished on the breeze.

"The Stranger," copyright 2021 Amelia Cotter