A quick post of the latest happenings in this life of ever upward; the life of creating my rainbow…

14457421_10211147408106638_5891882131494483474_nA piece I am super proud of (I bought a skirt for it and everything). I submitted it for months. I was rejected from many. All to finally find a home over at Rebelle Society! Please click here to read one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written.

My 2nd YouVersion Bible app reading plan was published last week. I will have another one coming out next week on hope. Please click here to see my self-care reading plan.

Finally, I hope you are following along with the Footprints blog tour as we gear up for National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month in October. There are been some incredible stories shared, and we are only halfway through!

As always, thank you for your support, your shares and your love. I can feel it in this journey, and for that I am so grateful.

Justine

I sit at the dining room table. The slightest glimmer of the rising sun brightening the sky outside the floor to ceiling window as I take the first drink of my yummy, albeit nutritious, breakfast smoothie. My usual songs of rising playing and my coloring journal in front of me. Oftentimes my morning writing turns into written prayers, as if talking to Him helps to clear my head while also making it all the more real.

The work I am doing. The words I am speaking. The fight I am fighting.

I know He is listening, and yet I often have to remind myself I am not alone in this.

When suddenly I am surprised by the words I am writing, my own words, in the chosen color of pink for today,

Why Lord did you write this story for me if you aren’t going to give people the ears and hearts to hear it?

As soon as I see the sentence, the prayer, it does not take but a half breath for the next sentence to come out of my hand,

report

Today’s reading on the First Five app…of course.

Give ears to the earless.

I close my eyes as a exasperated breath escapes my lips, damn it.

Yep, I curse, even when I talk to Him. He knows I am thinking it anyways. And, guess what? He loves me anyway.

Please God, help me to find a way to do this. I pray for clarity, creativity and courage to create the openness…

Perception may be that I am uber successful, the emails I get each week thanking me for my work and also asking to take me to lunch to learn from me speak to this. And yet, most days I feel as if I am jumping up and down, waving my arms desperately and screaming, “Does anyone see me? Can anyone hear?”

I have come to realize I am in the business of the invisible unspoken; I speak my life into a world of people who don’t want to hear my story, in fact some of them actively deny it.

Let’s just start with therapy. The stigma is changing as people begin to not only admit but boast that they see a great therapist and you should too. Yet, mental illness is widely misunderstood by both the general public and I am finding even more so by the medical community; let alone, that happiness is a choice and takes intentional daily work. I am a therapist. People love my resources, my education and inspiration. Yet, they struggle, and sometimes even refuse, to do the damn work themselves.

Then we’ve got my side gig in network marketing with a supplement company that I am very proud of, whose products have changed my life and an industry I love more and more each day. The misconceptions on network marketing and supplementation are endless. People question my motives, products and the industry daily. When all I am trying to do is help myself and others find freedom in their health and finances. Rather, than open up to a different way, what I think is a better way, many choose to stay in their known misery (not much unlike my daily work as a therapist).

Finally, my purpose and calling here on earth; my motherhood, although most won’t call it that. My story scares most people, I am the epitome of life not turning out how you planned, hoped, dreamed or paid for. I am the worst case scenario: tried to have kids, paid a lot of money to have kids and ended the journey without them.

I am childless and a mother.

thedevilwhispers-you-cantwithstandthe-storm-she-replies-i-am-the-storm-1I am the case who lowers the infertility clinics statistics because I did not get the baby and I am the therapist who is helping women thrive through and after this journey no matter what they get. Because despite what the media and the average clinic wants you to believe, not all of us end up with babies; yet there are many versions of the happy ending, I promise.

I am the infertility community’s black sheep and one of the hardest working advocates for anyone no matter where they are in the journey. I know my narrative scares the shit out of most and yet it is my scary story, the permission to speak the unspoken and to say enough that helps so many thrive no matter what they get in life.

I am the general society’s unacknowledged unsuccess story and a change maker, even if only on the tiniest of scales. People want the story of someone who never gave up and got the traditional happy ending. When in reality those stories are actually few and far between because none of us get out of this life without having to redefine something and choosing to thrive thereafter. My truth is about thriving when life did not turn out, and despite what is shared in the media, or even in my own community, I have one hell of a happy ending. I fight for it, create it and receive it every day.

I was made the mother I am to teach and model it for you.

Now sitting on my orange couch flanked by three little dogs, I take a sip of my steaming decaf coffee. I set the timer on my phone for five minutes for my creative writing which begins as a continuation of my earlier written prayers. My handwriting slows down and clears up after I write again, why give me this story if no one is ready to hear it?

Because, my child, it is not about you, it is about them. It is about Me. Therefore go out and love like Me. Walking in the grace and the mess of truth in love and the complicated gray. I promise, you were made for such a time as this and they are listening.

Join me and 14 other bloggers from around the country as we lead up to October 15th, 2016 with our Footprints Blog Tour.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

On the morning of October 15th, 2016 I will join thousands of fellow bereaved parents to walk in honor of our babies at the National Share Walk of Remembrance in St. Charles, Missouri. Later that evening, at 7 pm, all around the world candles will be lit in honor of our lost babies as part of the Wave of Light.

This year I am partnering with Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support to create a virtual Wave of Light through our social media outlets.

To help us raise awareness of pregnancy and infant loss join me the next several weeks for a blog tour. Read my fellow warriors stories of loss, courage, hope, healing and honor. Let us come together to educate the world on pregnancy and infant loss and therefore build compassion for our continued healing.

We would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide. We’d especially love to see your own Walk of Remembrance and Wave of Light pictures on your social media outlets, please use the following hashtags: #ShareWalk2016, #pregnancyandinfantlossawareness, #WaveofLight.

Together we will #shatterthestigma.

~~~

Post links will be published once blogs are posted.

untitled-design-5Laura Gaddis – Sophia’s Story – A Pregnancy Loss Story

Elena Ridley – Baby Ridley Bump – Share’s Walk of Remembrance and Wave of Light

Lindsey Bast – Awaiting Autumn – Do You See the Real Me? 

Erin Boelhower – Our Journey to Three – My Motherhood

Lisa Manterfield – Life Without Baby – My Perfect Children 

Lisa Newton – Amateur Nester – Glimpses of God in the Darkness 

Brandy Wilson – Windy Wilsons – Fall of Remembrance 

Lindsay Fischer – Survivors Will Be Heard

Jen Noonan – In Due Time

Nora LaFata- Here Comes the Sun

Jennifer Massoni Pardini – Jennifer Massoni Pardini

Brooke Taylor Duckworth – By the Brooke

Christine – chickydoodles

Chelsea Ritchie – Trials Bring Joy

Justine Froelker – Ever Upward

 

“Is there a park nearby so we can get your last interview?” Ann the director of Don’t Talk About the Baby asked.

“Yep, super close,” I replied.

311A8270.MOV.17_04_31_17.Still002

Looking for monarch eggs and caterpillars at sunrise

It was Saturday night and we were both exhausted. We started filming my morning routine at sunrise and were approaching hour 14 of filming. We had spent the last two days filming no less than 12 hours.

We reached the park and stepped into the thick damp air of St. Louis summer. Of course there was a playground at the park. Of course there was a little girl’s birthday party. Of course there were butterfly balloons at the party.311A8340.MOV.20_30_23_06.Still002

Of course.

I write this on August 31st.

It is August 31st again.

Again.

It comes every year.

They would be four this year.

Four years ago this day felt crushing. Four years ago that playground with a birthday party and butterfly balloons would have sent tears down my cheeks. Instead, I stood there while being filmed for a project that I wholeheartedly believe in and am honored to be a part of, taking it all in and giving myself permission to feel it.

311A8340.MOV.20_30_51_04.Still001The joy. The sadness. The pride. The longing.

The blessing and the manifestation.

It took me about a year to dig my way out of the darkness that was left after our failed infertility journey. A year of working with my therapist, building and wrestling with my faith, truly taking care of myself and re-engaging in my marriage. A year of owning all the parts of my story, speaking them, honoring my truth and my babies by creating this happy, healthy and magnificent version of myself.

Since then, all five of these years, I have spent working my ass off on making sure the infertility journey, hell life, does not leave us all empty shells of who we once were. Helping others to give themselves permission to feel it all, all at the the same time; to feel the clarity and healing of the complicated gray. Writing and speaking the often ignored and rejected words of truth, the words to our freedom to ask for what we want and need and to have the courage to speak our truth always.

To shine the light of thriving out of the darkness to create our own second chances.

“I need you in every interview, this film is focusing a lot on you,” Ann directed me last week at the beginning of our three days of filming.

“Oh, I didn’t realize,” I replied.

I shook my head as if to clear the confusion. The confusion that after four years of rejection after rejection, being called terrible names on HuffPost, a couple negative reviews, being ignored by even some of my closest friends and family, money spent, the hardest and best work of my life for no pay, this was finally happening.

My truth and story, my healthy, albeit controversial, messages are the focus of a feature length documentary on infertility and pregnancy loss. This was everything I had been working for.

There was no time to let it soak in, we had a movie to make, which I quickly learned was not for the weary.

Long hours, bug bites, lots of sweat, more wardrobe changes than you can imagine, pauses for planes and thunder and growling tummies all further complicated by my shock, disbelief, overwhelming gratitude and relief that all of my work was paying off.

For three days straight for 12 to 15 hours a day I was filmed while interviewing my friends, family and clients. We discussed the heartache of infertility and pregnancy loss. We spoke our truths. We rallied the healthy messages of shattering the stigma and talking about our babies.

It is only now a few days later and two mornings of letting myself sleep in that the fog and exhaustion of filming has lifted a bit. I’ve written some and processed the amazingness this all is, only to realize it is one of our due dates today.

They would be four this year. And, this year I miss them, love them and wonder even more than the first three.

I am also more thankful for them than ever. They’ve helped make me who I am; a mother to many and a mother of second chances. It is because of them I am changing the world. I honor them with broken silence, hand holds in the power of me too, by embodying the warriorship of fighting for and creating a happy life in this world; a world without them and yet so much of them. 

The tenacity of a mother who loves and honors her children always; a blessing made manifest.They would be proud.

They are my biggest blessings.

My life, a blessing through and because of them, is also a manifestation. A manifestation of my work and of my choices to embrace all the parts of my story and to always speak.

God made me the mother I am to do this work, to help others and to change the world.

I have done the work to create this incredible life and to be open enough to receive it. I have believed it was possible and that I am worthy of it. I have had the tenacity of every mother who loves and honors her children always.

It is a blessing made manifest.

And, it is only the beginning.

***All photos by Ann Zamudio, Director of Don’t Talk About the Baby

A piece many may struggle to read, which is exactly why I wrote it and submitted it to HuffPost! Enjoy! 

~~~

Four years out from ending our own infertility journey and the difficult decisions of the infertility journey are still part of my daily life.

In full disclosure, we ended our journey without the intended, hoped for, dreamed of and paid for ending of happy, healthy babies in our arms.

Professionally, I have been working with clients through and after the infertility journey for the last three of those four years; had to work out my own stuff first.

Throughout these three years I have worked with women in every place of the infertility and loss journey; years of trying, all levels of treatments, miscarriages, stillbirth, secondary infertility and everything in between. I, especially, have found a true gift in walking alongside someone during the pregnancy after the infertility and loss struggle.

I have also been honored with witnessing and guiding my clients through some of the toughest moral, ethical and relational decisions of their lives.

Because making a baby in 2016 is not simple for over 7 million of us.

It is those tough moral and ethical issues no one ever really thinks about when they embark on the infertility journey that, I think, have great potential to destroy us.Click here to continue reading. 

I’m tired all the time.

I am not sleeping well.

I worry so much.

I just want to be happier.

I feel like my life is passing me by.

All comments I hear from almost every single client who has ever had the courage to walk into my therapy office. These are also comments I hear from just about all of my friends and family on a regular basis.

As a true educator and mental health therapist I have a usual first recommendation for just about every single client and my loved ones: self-care.

So much of our lives will be improved by working on self-care, however most of us are not choosing to make the time to practice it daily. Self-care that includes a morning and nighttime routine, exercise, proper nutrition, supplementation, water intake, meditation and true talk therapy, especially talking about shame and fear must be practiced daily.

We cannot give from an empty well.

Practicing self-care fills up our well.

The biggest eye rolls and groans I ever get?

That, of course, would be whenever I mention the word meditation.

Despite the growing research and popularity of meditation it, unfortunately, is still far from a household name, let alone a daily practice.

The biggest complaints about meditation being:

I don’t have time to meditate!

I can’t get my brain to shut off!

I don’t know how!

My responses to these complaints, right after, “I know, it can feel so hard!” are:

Meditating will actually help you to feel like you have more time and energy!

It is really more about focusing and freeing your mind than shutting it off!

There are so many ways to try!

I practice what I teach and have meditated more days than not the last four years despite being wired as someone who will never be naturally meditative and calm.

As my new acupuncturist asked me a few weeks ago, “Do you consider yourself pretty Type A?”

To which my response was a scoffing and owning, “Um, yes!”

“You’re pretty intense aren’t you?” he asked.

“I am. I like it. I’ve learned to manage it and I don’t want you to take it away,” I proudly stated back.

Type A, intense or passionate, no matter how you describe it, it is one of my best qualities.

It can also be the quality that kills me if I am not careful.

Our strengths can become our weaknesses, and so I’ve learned to manage my intensity with my self-care practices, and especially with my mediation practices. The most helpful way I have stuck with my meditations is to have a toolbox of different ways and resources to meditate.

Because I have chosen to find some way to meditate most days, my sleep, mood, presence, immunity and happiness are all much improved!

Here are some of my favorite resources to get you started as well, give me five to ten minutes every day for the next 21 days using one of these techniques:

  1. Color in an adult coloring book. I love Johanna Basford.
  2. Use an app like: HeadSpace (my personal favorite), OMG I Can Meditate, Calm, Mindvalley Academy 6 Phase Meditation (my new favorite) or Oprah and Deepak’s app.
  3. Watch a candle flame.
  4. Use an scented essential oil, rub it on your hands and wrists and sit quietly, when you get distracted smell your wrists and refocus your mind.
  5. Listen to the same instrumental song every single day. Breathe by Stanton Lanier is my favorite.
  6. Search a guided meditation on YouTube.
  7. Use a mantra. For example: I am calm or I am loved or Love (in breath), Peace (out breath). Repeat it over and over.
  8. Chanting like from Gabby Bernstein’s YouTube channel.
  9. Try acupuncture.
  10. Count your breaths, inhale 1, exhale 2, inhale 3, exhale 4 and so on. Only count to 10 then start back at 1. Repeat for ten minutes
  11. A real time feedback tool, my favorite is Muse. Muse provides you with nature sounds for feedback, such as birds chirping when you are in the calm state.
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My meditation pillow for my morning 6 Phase Meditation or Headspace. Gracie always joins me right when I hit the sweet zen spot. Followed by Muse later in the morning.

So sit your @ss down and try one of these meditations for ten minutes every single day.

Challenge accepted?

I bet you feel a difference for the better, and if you don’t let me know.

But, I’ll probably tell you to try again with a different tool.

It is all about being open to new things and finding what works for you.

Go out my intense, passionate, Type A warriors and find the glory of calm.

~~~

The only affiliate link above is Muse. By purchasing Muse through this link you get 15% off the purchase price and I make a small commission. All the other links are simply because I love their work and have found them helpful in my journey.

 

The three of you would have turned four this year.

Four.

The year of becoming little people. The terrible language barriers and potty training of the 2’s out of the way and the dramatics of the 3’s in our past.

Four.

The years I have spent wondering of you every day, feeling you always and wandering this earth with pieces of my soul tethered to heaven.

I’ve been told to write a letter to you a few times and for quite some time. But, it wasn’t until I asked one of my warrior mamas to write her babies a letter in hopes of her finding some clarity and healing, even within the uncertain darkness of infertility, that I realized you deserved and I need my words.

I could write of how much I miss you and yet feel like I never had you. The weeks of synthetic hormones to retrieve you, the five days to only hear about your growth in a phone call from the infertility clinic and the gut wrenching two weeks of praying and hoping you would stick in her warm uterus. All to end in a one minute phone call with the words, “She’s not pregnant.” Years of trying, tens of thousands of dollars spent and lifelong dreams crushed in a phone call telling me our relationship was over before I even got to meet you.

I was not a mother.

And, I believed that for a long while.

It was dark, there were tears, a lot of anger and a sense of self that disappeared behind never being seen.

I could write of all my wonderings. Would you have had my freckles or your dad’s blonde curls? Would you have been spunky like me or stoic like him? Would I have handled the poop and he the puke? What books would have been your favorite in your nighttime routine? What kind of grandparents would they have been? I could fill the biggest library on earth with my wonderings of the last four years, let alone of the lifetime of wonderings ahead of me.

I am a mother.

I worry, I wonder, I question, I doubt, I love.

Even if only from afar.

I could write how forgotten you and my motherhood are most days. No one speaks of you, some even say you don’t count. Many aren’t sure what to ask me or how to relate to me; a childless mother, I am often the only one everywhere I go.

The invisible mother.

The one without the happy ending.

Yet, only through you have I fought for, found and created my own happy ending of thriving.

What I hope you know is how loved and wanted you are and were.

I hope I make you proud.

I hope every day you are honored in my work, my words, and especially, my love.

I have learned God gifted you to me, even if only for a whisper of time, as you were always His to begin with. I am blessed He chose me as your mother, it is the best gift I have ever received.

In the lifelong absence and the daily presence of you, I have found me.In the lifelong absence and the daily presence of you, I have found me.

It is because of you I notice every sunset and sunrise, see beauty in pain, feel with my whole being, believe in the unseen, give more than I ever have, seek the unknown, laugh with childlike wonder, walk with curiosity and have more gratitude for it all than ever before.

It is because of you I love harder and better.

Four.

I love you always.

Four.

Thank you, my loves.

mom

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