Welcome to 2020 Everyone. Still no Jetson cars flying around... yet the sound of 2020 is undeniably futuristic. It is also a reminder of how quickly the years keep flying by. Do you get energized and excited about the start of a brand new year? Because oddly enough, I get panicky and anxious... Filled with a sense of urgency to identify this year's mission statement or something. I cannot simply let life "happen" to me. I want to be an active participant in my life. I need a game plan for this new year, surely it must be a fluke that I made it through last year? I pace back and forth at the start of the year tossing around ideas about how to reinvent myself and my new life in 2020. How can I make sure that I'm really living the life I was meant to live? How can I be sure I'm doing enough in this life to help others? Occasionally I take a break from my pacing to mindlessly gaze out the window at the rain. I see random New Year Resolutioners jogging past with their goals and sense of purpose dripping from their pores, (also wet from the rain too I might add)... For a brief moment, I consider chasing them down in the rain just to ask them how they found their vision for 2020. But think better of it because after cleverly "demonstrating" how-to twerk dance at a women's club neighborhood event I figure I've done enough to damage my reputation around here.
Instead, I continue my pacing... breathing shallow panicky breaths like there's not enough air in the room to go around between me and my napping dogs on the rug. Annoyed, I glare at them because I cannot believe that they can nap at a time like this. I am suddenly overcome with exhaustion and hunger. I realize that I haven't eaten ANYTHING in almost 2 whole hours! Must eat food for sustenance. About that time I open the cupboards in a desperate search for the perfect snack that might feel like a hug going down...
1 week and 5 pounds later, I find myself a tad fluffier and still undecided regarding my game plan for the New Year. It kind of brings me back to this quote that I've heard since I was quite young. It's something corny to the tune of, "Do the thing you're most afraid of." Or, "Do the thing that scares you the most." I mean, come on, when I was younger that was being arrested or attacked in a dark ally. I used to roll my eyes at that quote because what does that even mean really?! But lately it's begun to mean something more to me. I've thought more and more about some of the things I've always wanted to do in my life. Some of the things I thought maybe I'd have done by now, or that I'd do later or perhaps when conditions were finally "right." In reality, they have become things that I will likely not do at all because they involve such vulnerability and are so scary to me. They demand change and great risk.
I'm haunted by this note that my finance teacher wrote me in high school as I graduated. I'd always been an A student with the occasional B, cheerleader, SGA, and mostly rule-follower (although I broke a few). I was headed to the University of Georgia and was by all appearances, "checking off the boxes of success." However, my teacher wrote a line in his card that said, "you are a highly influential person and no doubt others are drawn to you-that's a powerful opportunity for you to have a positive impact on others. You also have a tendency to become complacent and I hope you will not allow that to impede your accomplishments."
Of course at 18 I read that card and after looking up the definition for complacent, likely rolled my eyes. I remember feeling a little bit offended but also grateful for his honesty. Surprised that he had noticed me, knew me, in such an intimate way. I showed the note to my parents and wanted to know if they too thought that complacency was a weakness of mine. They disagreed, but of course they did. They love me so much and are too busy being completely blinded by my strengths to notice my shortcomings. I appreciated their vote of confidence, but in my heart, I fearfully agreed with what my teacher had said. So much so that I saved the note in my high school tupperware of memories.
Throughout my life, I've discovered that I find myself feeling most accomplished, proud, and satisfied, when I do something unbelievably brave. I have also discovered that my bravery is almost NEVER by choice. I almost never ever ever choose to be brave if I have the option of being safe. I didn't decide to tell the world about my infertility. I didn't decide to be an ally or an example of "hope" for those struggling to conceive a child. I didn't choose to fight for my mobility when I was struck with inflammatory arthritis. But I found myself in these struggles swimming as hard as I'd ever swam before. Fighting to keep my head above water and gasping for breath. It has been through my struggles that I have found my strength over and over and over again. Each time my strength and boldness actually growing.
On Monday, my husband and I took our daughter to the Martin Luther King memorial. We saw the eternal flame that continues to burn to remind us to never stop fighting for "justice, equality, and peace in our communities." We toured MLK's childhood home and heard stories about his childhood. We walked through the King center and watched video clips of the things he did and the courageous and peaceful fight he fought for freedom and change. I stood in awe of his vision and his bravery. I got the sense that he probably did not plan all along to become the great leader for change that he became. But he lived the struggle and he gained the strength. His life prepared him for his purpose, and when it become time for him to be brave, he jumped in and swam for his life.
Yesterday, I spent the day at Oprah's 2020 Vision; Your Life in Focus Tour. I expected to be inspired. I needed to be inspired. I paid a lot of money to be inspired. And I was. Of course I was, it's Oprah y'all. But the message that reached me loudest was that she said she believed that our lives, our struggles, prepare us for our purpose in this life. They help us to build the muscles and strength that we need to handle the trials that come our way. It's the struggles that make us invincible and brave. She also said, "No excuses" because she had a million of her own growing up and yet here she is today on this stage.
While, I will never be an Oprah or a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I am becoming more and more brave with my own life. Less dependent on being "pushed" in and forced to swim. I'm getting to place where I'm ready to "dive" on in and be brave. Do the things I'm afraid to do and trust the strength of my own wings as I fly. Your trials in life may actually be your greatest strengths. No experience is wasted, good or bad if you are willing to learn from it, take what you can and allow it to strengthen you. I hope you too will get to a place where you feel brave enough to do the things and take the risks this year that you've always dreamed of. Happy New Year! May this be the best year yet!
So many feels when I read this quote by Brene Brown. Have you heard of her? If not, you are missing out you guys. She talks a lot about shame and how it affects our lives, how it binds us, how it holds us back from living our happiest and most authentic lives. In the past, if I were to describe my "problems" prior to learning more about shame, I would have said something to the tune of, "I got 99 problems and shame ain't one." Turns out shame is often the basis of all of them. Shame is the root of insecurity, guilt, negative self-talk, self doubt, feelings of being undeserving, and not feeling good enough.
If you are anything like me, you find comfort in the things you can control. You love the idea that if you do everything right, you will reap the benefits, whatever those might be. And although that might work for a while, and work quite well for many things in life...eventually you will come across a situation in which you simply cannot control. It won't matter how organized you are, how careful you have been, how well groomed, polite, educated, or moral you are... and it will test you. It will be something that makes you "not like the others." Something that you will not want to share with the world because it is something you feel like most people can't relate to. You feel like you might be judged for it, criticized for it, or misunderstood...
It might even be something that you feel like you brought on yourself. A slip in moral judgment. A sticky situation. A health problem. Depression. Anxiety. Family dynamics. A past.
If you can just get organized enough, volunteer enough, wear the right outfits, make the right friends, go to church, kill it at work, kill it in the gym and just. literally. control. every. damn. thing. possible... then you will "fit" in. You will "be like everyone else."You will succeed. You will not have to address your imperfections. Nobody will even notice them. Everyone will be so busy being distracted by your perfections that no one will notice your weaknesses, your differences, your past, your imperfectness, your current health issues, the constant battle going on inside your head... Am I striking a nerve here?
The problem with shame is that you will always. And mark my words when I say this...always...feel like an outsider in your own life as long as you struggle with shame.
Did this quote just make the tiny hairs (or long dark ones- I'm not judging) on your arms stand up? I love that last part about how "our sense of belonging," meaning how well you feel like you fit in, "can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance." You guys that is a life #truth. Like this is as good as #gospel if you ask me. Can I get an Amen??
So your feelings of belonging will be directly correlated to your own self acceptance. Bam. Drop the mic. Amiright?
If you are telling yourself over and over and over that you are not good enough, thin enough, organized enough, successful enough, mom-so-harding enough, stylish enough, or whatever-enough... then no matter how much you try to control. No matter how perfect you make yourself appear. In your mind, you will never. belong.
And finally, to the good news. Those of us who find the courage, and believe me it takes courage, to be authentic, to expose your shortcomings, your weaknesses, your mistakes, your differences... You will stumble upon a sense of belonging that is far greater than any perfectionist will ever achieve no matter how hard they try.
I've never really felt like I belonged growing up. I had a bunch of "friends" in high school, was nominated to the homecoming court every year, was very social, was invited to all the parties, wore the right clothes, got into the "right" college. But I often wondered why I felt like I didn't belong. I wondered if we all felt like that and I supposed we did. I heard people talk about getting older and how you reach a level of self acceptance once you are in your 30s. But then in my 30s I still felt a glaring level of not belonging or fitting in.
Everyone was getting married, having babies, buying homes, and doing all the things people do in their 30s. However I was different. I couldn't have a baby. And it quickly became the greatest sense of shame I have ever experienced. I went to extremes to hide it. I got busy getting my masters degree, achieving at work as a math teacher, became the math department head of the middle school, working on my fitness, stayed organized, kept the cleanest house you've ever seen... I was so good at everything y'all. But I felt like I didn't belong anywhere. I couldn't be vulnerable with others. Even those I considered to be my friends. What would they think if they knew I wasn't who I appeared to be? If they knew how I cried every night about my infertility, how I dreaded baby showers, how I avoided talking about having kids or my future plans, how I wished I hadn't moved into a stupid neighborhood with so many kids.
And then a thing happened. My sister was carrying my baby. For the first time, I had to come out of the closet in which I'd been hiding all these years. I had to be completely real and raw about something that made me completely imperfect and flawed. I considered getting off Facebook, I de-friended half of my Facebook friends because I was afraid they might judge me. I was so damn afraid of being judged. And then to my complete and utter shock and surprise people embraced my flaws, my struggle, my imperfectness. For the first time in my life, I felt like people accepted me for my authentic, imperfect, messy self. And you guys, it felt great.
Then came my autoimmune arthritis, I went through months of struggling with the simplest of tasks due to my pain. But once again, I didn't talk a lot about it to others because it made me so "different." I withdrew from many social situations because I knew I couldn't stand for long periods of time to talk at parties, I couldn't go for long walks, or run around at the park chasing our kids together. And I didn't want to explain that to people. I was afraid they would reject me. Judge me. I was afraid I wouldn't belong anymore.
Once I was finally diagnosed and treated with incredible medications, I started feeling a little more courageous again and I once again came out of the closet of shame and told people about my arthritis. And once again, people accepted me with open arms. They loved me even though I was different and imperfect.
It's made me realize that Taylor Swift has it right in her song ME, "I'm the only one of me. Baby that's the fun of me." and "Your'e the only one of you, and baby that's the fun of you." Our imperfections are what make us real. They are what make us relatable. They are what makes us lovable. They are what make us fun. And until you accept yourself exactly as you are, imperfections and all, you will never achieve that sense of truly "belonging."
So cheers to our imperfect selves. May we all work harder on self-acceptance than we do achieving perfection in this life.
And Finally, because I saw it on Pinterest and literally laughed out loud...
This is kind of an ironic day because for the first time in my life, I'm seeing really clearly.. Literally. As in, I just had Lasik surgery on my eyes on Friday and my eyesight is damn near perfect at this moment. The ironic part is that my life, has just been all shaken up. Things are a bit blurry there.
Have you ever seen those "dead end" signs on the streets that have culdesacs? Well, I guess you could say I've hit one of those. Today. We got the news that our very very last embryo transfer with our gestational carrier, was unsuccessful. Yes, sad. But, also very final. There's a certain finality to it all when you are literally out of frozen embryos and have no plans to do another retrieval. But like a culdesac- often referred to as a "dead end"... I somehow view it as just a giant circle that is turning me around and re-routing me, if you will. Yes, we are done with our embies. I'm done there. Stick. a fork. in. it. Done. But we still have a lot of love to give and I'm not quite done there.
I'm not sure exactly where that takes us... But I know there is a plan. You can scoff at that, or say, "well, thank goodness she believes in some kind of hocus pocus.." But, it is all just simply- im-possible... to say there is no Grace... no Plan... my daughter is literally, the light of my life. She arrived here against ALL. all odds. ALL. ODDS. Today, when I took her to a swim lesson and did my best not to cry in front of her... I was reminded.. My God told me. Fear Not.
She could not wait to jump into that pool and show me her newest tricks. There was not one second that I thought- truly this is all shit. It's a total shot in the dark. This child. This child is mine. And she is ALL of ours. Let her represent hope when life throws you a curve ball. When life shows you who's boss. When God says no. When His answer is nope, never. When you reach your, "Dead End." See this. Look here.. Just LOok. At this...
Anyway, the trick is to enjoy life during the in-between. Really live. Really love. Really enjoy life. Even when you're in a season of waiting. Even when you're frustrated. Heartbroken. Disappointed. Lonely.... Desperate. Give thanks for your health. Your sunshine. And this baby girl in goggles, because there is always Grace if you choose to see it. Clearly. You don't even need lasik. You just need to look with your heart.
So, go ahead and hit your culdesac, but look with your heart. It doesn't have to be a "dead end," that part is up to you.
I haven't written in forever because life has just been so busy with teaching pre-k and the holidays. But, today is a special day. I had to write today. Three years ago today was the greatest day of my life. It was the day I became a mommy. Three years ago today my whole outlook on my life and my circumstances changed. I went from thinking I was the unluckiest person alive, to being humbled by and in complete awe of the grace shed upon me. I will always believe in miracles. I will always have my faith and I will always be proud of my strength. I now know what I'm capable of and I'm thankful for that. I will never forget the tiny army of incredible human beings that loved me and supported me through my journey to become a mommy. and my sister that selflessly took on the heavy burden of carrying my child.
We celebrated with Elsa cupcakes at her favorite indoor play spot with all of her friends and classmates. We were surrounded by family and it was a celebration of her birth and the sunshine that she shed on all of our lives. Her arrival changed me in every way for the better.
These past three years have taught me so much. I know. I know. I'm always preaching about my life lessons. But there are so many to share. I can't believe how the years have flown. Sometimes I want them to slow down, or I wish I could hit pause. But, ultimately, every single stage has been full of wonder and most of all, I just try to remind myself to soak it all up and take it all in- to live it, and not just let it fly by in a blur. Isn't that how life should be? Shouldn't we all learn to enjoy this moment and not contantly wish to return to the past or wish time would speed up so we could get to the next thing? She taught me that.
You know what else she taught me?
Perspective is everything and perception is your reality. If you have the power to correct a situation, do it. But, if it's out of your control, you must embrace your own ability to change your mindset towards it, whatever it may be. You don't have to be the victim in your story. You can be the heroine. You have that power.
She's taught me about what I'm made of. I would have described myself as the potato before all of this. But not anymore y'all. I'm the egg. Definitely the egg. And you are too. It's not about the circumstances. It's about you and finding out what you're made of. You're braver and stronger than you think.
Once you climb that mountain, the one you thought you could never climb... you know this. You know that the comeback is always stronger than the setback...because it has to be. She taught me that too.
And my last bit of wisdom for this special day...Did you ever think that maybe we are all assigned our "mountains" in life not only to prove to yourself what you're made of, but to show others that they can be moved? So whether you are making your climb or enjoying the view from the top, remember to notice the climbers all around you and reach out, because we all have something to offer one another.
So happy birthday to my little Sunshine. Thank you to my sister and all those that physically helped get her here to us. And thank you to my God for never leaving my side and for seeing me through the climb. Here's to being wild and three!
If you have ever suffered from infertility, you are familiar with the feeling of "being slighted." You go through all the "why me's?" and the "it's just not fairs." You simply cannot shake the feeling.
I was talking the other night to an old college friend that also suffered from infertility, however has since been blessed enough to have twins after ivf. She talked about the feeling of "being slighted" and how it didn't completely go away even after her miracle twins were born. She said that after all she had been through to conceive, she had hoped she would be able to soak up the infant stage, but instead was thrown into "survival mode" with doing everything times two. Not that she would have changed it, just that she was resentful that she didn't get to do any of it like everyone else. She felt slighted.
I can relate to this 100% because while I would not change a thing and I'm more grateful than I could ever put into words, I do feel slighted. I feel slighted out of being pregnant, breast feeding, getting to plan a pregnancy, make the medical decisions during pregnancy, and well, I could go on and on. But, before I go on. I thought, You know, I feel certain that there is not a person in this world that doesn't feel a little or a lot slighted.
Maybe you got pregnant before marriage and you feel like you missed out on the whole "kid-free honeymoon" phase of marriage or you didn't go as far in school as you wanted to. Maybe you are single and don't want to be. Maybe you married the wrong person and are feeling like you wasted too much time. Maybe you got married too young and missed out on your "wild and free" years. Maybe you have been diagnosed with an illness or disease that has robbed you of countless opportunities and caused you to become more of a spectator in your own life. Maybe you have lost a close family member or spouse too soon and you resent the moments in your life that they will miss and a day does not pass that you don't miss every ounce of their being.
I started thinking that all of us are in this thing together and we have more in common than we realize. I find myself often saying, "nobody can relate to this. I just feel so alone." And that's partly true. Most people cannot relate to infertility. However, most people can relate to feeling slighted in this life.
So what's the lesson? I think the lesson is that this is life and there are no guarantees. I think the lesson is that we can't expect it to go smoothly. It's life. Have you ever thought that maybe we actually create our own heartbreaks through expectations? I don't even mean unrealistic expectations. I just mean by having any expectation at all.
Maybe we need to change our expectations into hopes. Maybe we need to never, never, never give up hope. But expect nothing because you will be disappointed. If you expect anything, expect that. But hope for the best, make it a habit to see the good even when it's hard to find, and whenever you catch yourself feeling like nobody can relate to how slighted you have been, look around. Look past the smiling faces and perfectly filtered selfies on social media; because behind the facade, we are all... a little slighted.
So I'm writing this post because I have been feeling really proud of myself lately for all the little accomplishments in my life (I know, your face is that emoji shocked face right now because it sounds super braggy). We are taught not to toot our own horns, But y'all.... TOOT away! That's my motto. OK maybe not under the covers after eating Italian, but you know what I mean. We are taught not to be braggy and not to boast. But sometimes I almost think we go too far. It's like you can't ever even admit that you've busted your *ss on something. Like, "oh no, really, it was nothing" is the only acceptable response to a compliment these days. Well that's hogwash. You get to be proud of yourself sometimes- especially since the majority of the time you probably walk around feeling like you're constantly falling short. You can be proud of accomplishments that might seem silly to other people- even stupid and useless. In fact, you get to be proud. Because if it means something to you. If it matters or has purpose in your life- then it's not stupid.
I just think that these days, we tend to set the bar for success (in our own minds) so high that we end up feeling like we are always falling short. More often than not, I'm making a list ten miles long about all the things I need to work on and all the things I wish I wasn't. I'm too this or too that or not enough this and not enough that. It's easy to make a long list of short-comings, but can you make a long list of your greatest successes? Do you talk about things you are proud of with you kids? I think you should because I think it's important that kids know that you have the right to be proud of the "little" accomplishments too. They matter too. Success in life is not just about the big moments that deserve a round of applause before an audience. It's all the little things that make you who you are. It's not simply about having the right diplomas on your wall, the highest salary, or the fittest body. It's not always the things that people can see.
So, I've accomplished a few things in my life thus far that I should and could be proud of. Things like earning a masters degree. But, you know what? It wasn't my proudest moment actually. It felt great, don't get me wrong. But most of all, I think I was just glad I'd proved so many people wrong- people that joked in a "friendly" way about my "blonde" ways and said things like, since I married a lawyer, I wouldn't need a masters degree. Ouch. I can take a good teasing like the best of 'em but sometimes a joke is so long-running in one's life that it begins to feel like a truth.
Thankfully, I graduated with a perfect 4.0 with my Masters in Adolescence Education specializing in Mathematics as well as earned my Gifted and Talented endorsement (certification for working with gifted children). I. wrote. A 31 page paper on a single trig math problem. ME! That was a proud moment y'all... it was awesome and I've never regretted it for one second. I feel pride in my heart for those accomplishments. I have stretch marks on my brain from those accomplishments. But ya'll, that proud moment was more for them. Do you know what I mean when I say that?
So here I am. Keeping it real and laying it out there. I've made my list of (maybe weird to you, but amazing to me) things that I'm super proud of. Things that you might not think are so impressive. But you know what- I don't care. I'm finally reaching a place in my life where I get to celebrate these things and I won't apologize for it. I've learned that life is just waaaaay too short to spend your time worrying about what other people think of you. They don't get to decide whether you get to be proud or not. You do. So here it goes y'all..
1. I can give a damn decent haircut, I've been cutting my husband's hair since 2007. Had no idea what I was doing then, but I was determined to learn. Now I can do whatever cut he requests- no appointment necessary. I taught myself in seventh grade how to do highlites with foils too. Just ask my sorority sisters. I'm good.
2. I'm really freaking proud that I taught myself how to mow, edge, and landscape our yard. When the hubbs gets super busy at work, he just has no time to get it done. So I started with weeding, then mulch, edging (totally addicting), and now I'm mowing in.... wait for it.... diagonals. Oh the joy it brings me to see all those beautiful angles. Sigh.
3. Can we talk about angles again? I'm sorry, but I'm really proud of these diagonals too. I painted the "back-splash" of the shelves in my living room almost 5 years ago. Still love it. Did it all with painters tape and paint. Eye-balled the angles. Yes, I taught geometry, but still...
4. I actually take off my cover-up at the pool. I throw on my fave trendy suit and I do not care that my body's not perfect. I'm 150+ lbs. and only 5'5'' but the fact that I'm not a size zero doesn't keep me from enjoying the pool with my honey bunny. Because life... is too short guys. Put on the dang suit and go. And when you get out there and you have fun- be proud of yourself because that's something a LOT of women cannot do.
5. And last but certainly not least, I'm proud of my struggle to become a mommy. I'm proud of myself for having the strength to be open- well I had no choice, but y'all just have no idea ok. It was THE. HARDEST. thing. I've ever done. Like. Ever.No seriously. Ever. The pain of it all was excruciating and feeling so incredibly exposed was the worst. I had not even swallowed the bitter pill of the news that I could not carry a child and I yet was having to go public with the news that I was expecting via gestational carrier. It was like being dragged through the mud. But- I'm stronger in every single way. And in September when my Infertility support group kicks off for year number 2- I could not be prouder.
Ultimately, I want my daughter to know that she gets to be proud of the little things too- ok so maybe not super braggy and annoying. But in her head, she gets to be, and should be- proud of the little things. The weird things- the things that matter to her. Because ultimately, once it's all said and done- it's your life to live- not anyone else's. So make sure you are busy building a life that you are proud of-you will never. be sorry.
What are you proud of? Share share!!! Please share!
Every single morning, when I grab my Oil of Olay face cream out of my Lancome makeup bag I think of her. We will call her Angel* well, because she was one (is one). I moved to Knoxville after teaching for three years in Atlanta. I was newly married and my husband was in law school at The University of Tennessee (hence, why we moved there). I was the "bread winner" and as a young teacher, I did not make much. We both drove very old Ford Focuses (one that we are still driving), lived in a 600 sqft apartment and we had no money. I remember that my budget for new clothes was about $15 a month and we only ate out once a week at this one Mexican Restaurant. Special occasions (like our anniversary or birthdays) were spent at the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant (that was a big deal to get a steak and some peanuts). But ya'll, we were happy. We were so happy.
The hardest part about infertility or really any major life hurdle, is that you cannot help but ask "why me?!" I ask it. But I know I shouldn't. Because I know damn well there is no answer for that question. I know that a better question is actually, "Why not me?" I don't think life is about deserving or not deserving what you get. I don't really believe in karma either. I have seen some pretty great things happen to some pretty rotten people and some simply awful things happen to some of the best people I know. I think it's honestly more about doing the very best you can with the hand you are dealt in this life, so to speak.
I also believe that there is a purpose for each and every one of us. I believe that we were never meant to live a life of rainbows, lolly pops, and butterflies. I think God gave us free will and intelligence and that he wants us to be resourceful and to use our gifts for the greater good of others as long as we are here. There are no guarantees in life, even if things seem perfect now- we all know how quickly that can change. The faster you can get over the why me? Life isn't fair type-of-thinking, the easier it is to accept this truth and move on. And that's what you have to do, because there are plenty of rainbows, lolly pops, and butterflies out there, but you will absolutely miss them all if your head is too busy being stuck in the rain clouds asking why me.
On December 24th, (yep that's Christmas eve) we found out that our second ivf attempt had failed. Just days before, my husband had fallen down some stairs and torn his patellae tendon. He needed surgery. Perfect timing because we had over-spent on Christmas gifts, paid for this second (failed) round of ivf, and our shower door spontaneously shattered, ya know as they do.....???!
We worried about all these expenses at once, but more than anything... we were sad. I asked "why?" a lot, but my husband was mostly quiet. I knew he wondered too, but he hated making me feel any worse than I already did. I watched him cradling our daughter's new baby doll on Christmas and I could read it all over his face. He wondered why too.
But don't feel sorry for us. This was the best Christmas we've ever had. That may sound odd after hearing about our bad news, but I cannot even begin to express how this news just brings to the forefront that we had all better look around this minute before we miss something; because there is so much to be grateful for- no matter where you are standing in this moment. There is always something.
In this moment, we are grateful for our amazing little angelic gift-of-a-daughter, whose eyes were literally lit up with excitement and joy! She loved opening every gift and marveled at each one. She asked the most wonderful questions like, "Where Santa go?" and she exclaimed with excitement things like, "Happy Bird Day Jesus!" My heart has honestly never experienced joy like this before. I made a conscious decision to just let go and let myself experience that. I didn't want to hold onto that anger or those feelings of, "life isn't fair." How can I even think that?! Look at her.
So here's the thing. It's true. Life. is. not. fair. It most certainly is not. But that doesn't mean you should miss all the good stuff because of it. Stop comparing your situation to others'. The grass is greener where you water it, but even when it's not...because it's not always going to go/grow as you planned... Even when you did put the work in; don't forget to look up because there is no doubt you are missing something good out there.
And for those of you wondering, yes we are done trying ivf. The doctor feels as though I simply cannot carry. I'm still searching for a sense of peace with that thought. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how long it will be until I find it. But I still have faith that our journey is not necessarily over. It's just taking a detour. I'm reminding myself every day to look up, because sometimes I forget.
This is such a simple quote. I know. But I just think it's so true. I believe it with all my heart. I think we all wonder sometimes how the person stricken with serious illness or the one who has hurdles in life we couldn't even fathom, manages to get by. And especially those who are more than getting by. Those who are happy anyway. Those who choose to be happy right where they are, even if it's a lonely place, a place of illness, or fearfulness.
How do they do it? Are they actually the lucky ones? When you really think about it, how unlucky are those that have so much to be grateful for, yet don't have the hearts and eyes to see it? It's tragic really.
I don't ever want to be one of those people, yet the other day, I was reminded of a time in my life when I was just like that. Halloween used to be a sad time for me. It was one of the worst holidays for me when we were struggling to conceive. It is a holiday that is all about the children and my neighborhood is the epicenter for Halloween. Each year we have over 200 trick or treaters and the evening commences with a never-ending parade/sea of children decked out in costumes and marching proudly with their parents toward the neighborhood pavilion where they enjoy a cook out, costume contest, and haunted forest tour. Then the trick or treating begins. My husband and I usually just sit on the front step because the flow of trick or treaters is so constant, that it makes no sense to close the door between knocks.
With each little angel, fairy, and pirate that approached us, it used to tug at my heart strings and also make me kind of angry. Why couldn't I have a child? There are so many children! It seems that everyone can have a child! Why not me? Why not us? My husband also disliked the holiday and we both wished we could just close our windows and turn out our lights. But nope, not in our neighborhood.
However, once we became parents, it's funny how all of that sadness just sort of melts away. I've been enamored with dressing up my daughter and parading her down the street. I volunteered to help with judging the costume contests and I enjoy every single moment of the evening. But to be honest, I'm not sure it was just having my own child that changed my heart, although let's be honest, it helped. However, I believe that the journey I took to become a parent changed me and how I see the world around me.
The picture above was taken this year at Halloween and I had a total blast. Unfortunately, it was only days after finding out that our recent ivf attempt had failed.This news was another bitter pill to swallow, but this time it was different. I was disappointed, but I also knew better than to crumble. I have too much to be grateful for, right here! It's almost overwhelming when you start to count all your precious blessings, but it doesn't mean you aren't sad. You just know better. You know better than to miss out on all the beauty around you by spending your days wishing for better or different ones.
It's about perspective. And in life, you are allowed to feel real feelings. Sadness, pain, and anger. They are natural and healthy feelings. You have to allow yourself to feel them. It's not wrong to feel them. But at some point you decide how much of life you want to miss out on by allowing those feelings to control you. My girl Oprah once said, " You do the best you can until you know better. Once you know better, you do better."
But like I said, doing better doesn't mean you don't hurt. It just means you know that life goes on and you choose to live it. You choose happiness and you choose to be present. I have no idea where our journey will take us next but I feel quite certain that it's far from over. I can say that with a lot of peace and faith in knowing that there's beauty in the journey and I plan to look for it even when it's hard to see.
I just got news that I am able to rent a room in a nearby church to host an infertility support group for women struggling to conceive. I'm calling it STC (struggling to conceive). I'm absolutely passionate about reminding these women like me, that we are not alone and there's nothing to be ashamed of! So cheers to the birth of my newest endeavor! May it bring strength and inspiration to those in need. I could never have planned it or dreamt it, but it is exactly right. And I'm so glad I have eyes that can see that!
Wherever you are, be all there. - Jim Elliot
Lately, I've found myself embracing exactly who I am and making no apologies for who and what that is. I think when you go through hard patches in life and you are open about them (okay so I was sorta forced to be open), you find this wonderful freedom. You start to see yourself in a different light. One day you look into the mirror and you realize, I don't have to be the "victim" in my life. I'm not just going to let life "happen" to me.
I say all of this because the other day I was reflecting on how great my thirties have been. Yes, the dirty thirties come along with a lot of not-so-fun stuff like a slower metabolism, a few gray hairs, and the start of wrinkles. But, then also, it's one of the first times in my life when I've found myself able to be completely present in the moment. Do you know what I mean by that?
As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be bigger, older, and more self sufficient. I wanted to hurry up and grow up! Then in high school, I longed for college where I could live on my own, stay out as late as I wanted, and finally get to escape the exhausting high school drama. But in college, I couldn't wait to finally earn my own money and live alone and be a "grown up".
In my twenties, I was sick of that awkward in-between stage. Half of my friends were married, while the other half were still partying like it was 1999. Some began starting families and I hadn't even met my one and only. At family gatherings, I always had to sleep on the floor and hold the family cat in group photos because I was "the single one." I looked forward to marriage and settling down with my best friend. Then once I was married, I found myself already longing to become a mommy and just wanted to fast forward through our struggles to become parents.
After hearing all of this, you might think, "so were you ever content? Were you ever happy?" And the answer to that is yes. I was actually always pretty happy, even during my struggles. But, do I think I missed out on truly enjoying and absorbing the wonder in each stage? Yes. And that's why I'm so grateful for my thirties because I'm finally in a place where I'm starting to realize that the "hurry up" and "let's just get through this" thinking is a mistake. I take one look at my little baby that has become a little girl over night, already telling me what she wants for dinner and which shoes she wants to wear, and I think to myself, "how did this happen so fast?" I was exiting those hospital doors to take her home just yesterday it seems. When did life start speeding by like this?
And the truth is, it was always speeding by and it will never stop. You may have many years ahead of you or only days and nobody really knows the answer to that. That goes for your most treasured loved ones as well. So, stop treading water in hopes that the time will quickly pass and then you can finally live. Live now. Live even if you are hurting, if you're going through a rough patch, or if you're at an "in-between" stage in life, because this life is a train on a one-way track. You know what I'm saying? You can't hit reverse and you will never go back. Make it count and stop wishing these moments away.
I look at family Christmas photos from my twenties and see myself sheepishly holding the family cat, perched next to my sister and her husband, along with my proud parents and grandparents and I think to myself, "why was I in such a hurry?" That was a great time in life and I had all the freedom in the world, but I never really stopped to smell the roses. I was just busy "getting to the next phase in life" and blink...here I am. But that cat is no longer here, and neither are those grandparents. In fact, that house has been sold and I haven't seen the inside of it in years.Why didn't I stop and smell the roses more?
No phase in life is perfect and you will always miss certain things about past phases, but you can never go back. All you can do is go forward from this day and make an effort to be present. Be here. Enjoy this. Find those things that you are grateful for and hold on tight. Tell those people that mean the world to you that you love them, now! Because in only a handful of days, today will be your past and you can't go back.
I used to love the quote "Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle." But you know what? I don't like that quote anymore because it insinuates that you will eventually "catch up" or have a similar "middle". Maybe you won't. And that's okay too. There's not one acceptable way to live this life, so stop comparing and don't compete. It's not a competition. Not even with yourself. Love yourself and encourage yourself. Strive to be the best version of you that you can be, but it's not a competition and at the end of this thing, there is no medal. No prize. Ultimately, you have to look in the mirror at yourself and what you've become every single day for as long as you stick around, so make it worth your while. Be proud of what you see. And be present. Today. And if tomorrow comes, be present then too because you can't go back. Make it count.
How do you remind yourself to be present?