If you seek a life lived more authentically… 

If shame keeps you from living and loving fully…

If you want to build shame resilience and courage practices…

If you want to learn how to live more bravely in the arenas of your life…

 If you simply want to learn how to live, love, parent and lead more wholeheartedly and with deep courage…

The Daring Way™ and Rising Strong™ work is for you.

Join me on tour this summer,

full details at www.daringinstl.com.

So many moments that would never be had my story turned out how I wanted…how I hoped, dreamed, and planned. 

I no longer torture myself with the, ‘I’d trade it all for them…’ Because it’s not helpful and doesn’t honor them. It doesn’t honor them because it doesn’t honor where and who I am now, in reality only because of our three

He knew better, He had better. 

I must, however, do the work to keep my heart open enough to receive this better He has for me. 

And so, I’ll love harder, fuller, and better because of them, honoring the mom they made me. 

And, I’ll mother anyone who wants to love this way too.

This week, I am so honored to have been here to witness my oldest friend’s second daughter come into this world, my namesake’s little sister, Alexandra. 

And, I am so grateful. 

The bubble gum pink iridescent ribbons stick out of the overhead bin as if there is a tiny Disney princess taking a nap up there.

I stare at the delicate ribbons, the prized possession of a little girl from what was probably her first visit to the happiest place on earth.

I take a deep breath, a breath filled with the complicated gray of sadness and gratitude, as a tear makes its way down my face.

5 years ago, 3 years ago, hell just seven weeks ago those ribbons would have brought me to a different kind of cry.

This day, though, they are tears of trust, freedom, and appreciation of how life is, not how I try to will it to be.

Chad and I are on our flight home from Orlando as I write this. We just spent the last three days at Disney World and Universal surrounded by damsels, princes, and heroes. A vacation we purchased at the Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Angel Ball last year. And, a trip that also happened to fall during National Infertility Week because it’s timing with my best friend’s wedding in Florida was too good not to schedule together.

The Justine I was, post failed fertility treatments would have never been able to make this trip, she was too destroyed by bitter and anger, comparison and shame to go to the happiest place on earth filled with thousands of reminders of the life she would never have. It has not been until very recently that I have realized how much work I still had to do to truly thrive after infertility.

Instead, I was present this trip and allowed myself to experience things in a way I haven’t before. I didn’t overly judge any parents out of a broken and incomplete heart ravaged by our missing three or hold on to ignorant comments made by people who aren’t touched by the devastation of infertility. Being at Disney without children, trust me, were there comments.

I noticed the shift in my reaction after a comment at the end of our very first day at Disney. We sat our tired bodies on the hard comfort of the tram bench across from a couple and their devastated four year daughter who was hysterically shouting, “But I don’t want to leave yet!”

They tried to reason with her, assuring her they had a great dinner surprise for her for her birthday, undoubtedly dinner with a princess or Mickey himself. But, she would not take this peace offering and only shouted and cried louder, “But I don’t want to leave yet!”

This is when her dad noticed my “My 1st visit” button and said, “Enjoy this magical time, you know, before you come back here with kids.”

Chad and I simply smiled and I joked back, “You guys are such jerks making her leave the park for a birthday surprise.”

No need for my advocate heart to educate him that not everyone will get to bring their children to Disney, hell, some of us don’t get to have them at all, he is already down for the count as the biggest asshole parent ever, at least in the eyes of his devastated four year old.

Instead, I took a breath and said to myself, Jesus help me.

I feel.

The uneventfulness, infertility-wise, of our trip culminated on our last day at Universal. Our morning started as we walked past a “book shop” called Embryo Books Booksellers and Publishers. I looked at Chad, “Wonder if they would have given me a publishing contract?”

I snapped this picture feeling the tiniest of tugs in my heart as I allowed it to pass choosing instead sad and joy in the exact same moment because as uncomfortable as the complicated gray is, I am finding my wholehearted home in it.

I release.

We spent the day moving quickly through just about every ride line as we people watched and I stared in awe of the creativity that is Universal often exclaiming, “I mean the attention to detail, the creativity, it is so amazing!”

Line after line the Universal employee would ask, “How many?”

“Two.”

Only two.

Nope, you can’t see my three.

Only I can feel them.

And, no less than ten times at Universal that day we were told to go to three.

“Line three.”

“Row three.”

“Three.”

Finally after the third time, Chad and I looked at one another, knowing this never was a coincidence, as if God was reminding us,

He’s got them, we will see them again and they will always be a part of you.

We are more than two.

I receive.

The bitter, the anger and the pain-filled grief almost completely gone, which I’ll admit kind of scares me. Well, the shame and scarcity part of me, the part of me that can feel so invisible a lot of the time, saying, then they never mattered.

What I know now is that this is actually the exact opposite, they matter more than ever, just in a much different way than I’ve ever allowed them to and than society may ever, especially if I stopped doing this work.

I advocate for healthier messages in the infertility journey, even though at times it feels as if I am the only one saying them and that no one will ever listen.

I advocate for women like me who end this journey without children holding their hands, because I know I am not the only one, I get messages every single day from my fellow warriors.

I advocate for myself because this life, my story, is hard and beautiful…and incredible.

This is life, a complicated gray of struggle and triumph, a really freaking beautiful triumph if we do the work.

So I will write, I will speak and I will keep helping and creating because the shining of my own complicated gray triumph can push, walk alongside and guide you into your own.

My story is not tragic.

My story is not one to be pitied, and it does not lack hope because it didn’t turn out how I, and you and society, hoped, dreamed and planned.

I am not a victim.

My story is not one to be admired either.

I am not a hero.

My story is a rising a rising out of the ashes and into the awakened and colorful life of the complicated gray.

I am the author.

A couple hours into the flight and those bubble gum pink iridescent ribbons still flutter in the stale cabin
air of the plane, no one has rescued the princess and they don’t need to.

She has already rescued herself.

~~~

For the last five weeks 24 other incredible fellow warriors have shared their stories as part of my Ever Upward Blog Tour for the launch of my second book, The Mother of Second Chances, and National Infertility Awareness Week. Yesterday my friend Julie shared her incredible story.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for their bravery and their support. The relationships I have made only because of the infertility journey are relationships I will be forever thankful for. Please make sure to read and share all of their posts here.

Absolutely love this piece and am so grateful ❤

My Beautiful Crazy

Today I am dedicating my blog to National Infertility Awareness Week and to the launch of Justine Brooks Froelker’s latest book The Mother of Second Chances, based on her blog Ever Upward, released on April 17th. Justine’s first book (also Ever Upward) felt like a permission slip to walk through infertility my way; it made me feel like I was completely in charge rather than a prisoner to my circumstances– the distinction saved my spirit and my sanity.

On  this incredible blog tour, 25 amazing women have and will share their stories of infertility and loss, because together we can shatter the stigma. Yesterday Kim shared her story over at Salt In The Womb and tomorrow we will hear from Sarah at Our Unexpected Journey. We would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide.

~~~~~~~~~~

So…I have a confession to make. Awareness weeks and chain posts aren’t really…

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Tomorrow I release The Mother of Second Chances, based on this very blog. She is technically my fourth book, although the last two in some ways I hardly count. Taking Flight, my coloring journal, I published for my own creative joy. And my ebook, Lessons in Ever Upward, I released out of the desperate hustle that is slowly, and with effort, leaving my life; leaving only because I am allowing it to.

For the last six weeks I have been working with a new coach, and for the last six weeks I have been doing assignments that have challenged me, pushed me, made me frustrated, made my body feel weird in ways I’ve never experienced, and of course, there have been tears. All to only give away to a clarity and peace I have been longing for for most all of my life.

I began my work with Cassandra after seriously considering quitting all of this; no more writing, no more advocacy, no more hustling to get this noticed, no more trying to help.

It had begun to drain me. To only feed the scarcity message I already get most days in our world, especially as a woman who cannot have children.

I am not enough.

I called Cassandra because God put her Facebook post in front of my eyes after my heart was finally willing to receive it. I was realizing I had come to a stand still in my own therapy work and that my desperation in this work was turning into bitterness.

And so, six weeks ago I started looking myself in the mirror for five minutes every morning and five minutes every night saying my affirmations (I am a good student and always do my assignments). I started reading and listening to books that are a wee bit out there for me but have nuggets of truth and light that I wanted and needed to hear. I have written down my biggest fears and focused on them as things to create rather than be squashed by. I have told myself over and over that I can trust and accept the process of life and that when shit hits the fan I choose to find the good within it.

And within these last six weeks, really only the beginning of our journey so far, everything has changed.

I am less reactive.

I am going back on my own work to say, that yes, peace is actually possible.

My faith has grown.

And for real, like no joke look-you-in-the-eye-with-a-joy-that-you-can-feel-taste-and-smell, I am actually trusting, letting go and surrendering.

None of this was without much convincing. But it did not take me long to learn and to agree with Cassandra that if I did not change my relationship with my pain, to let go of it, to change how I do this work and to trust and know that I am enough no matter what, that I would never ever help the people I truly could. And, I would continue to be stuck in the dark of never enough.

I knew with all my heart, that quitting would only mean a life with regret. And, to be honest, my fear of this regret mixed with what can be a bitter pain-filled grief from a life without kids was too much for me to risk.

I have not been through what I have for a life like that.

My work with Cassandra has only proven that more.

One of the books she has had me listen to is Caroline Myss’ Advanced Energy Anatomy, I’ve listened no less than 4 times in the last several weeks already (I speed up my Audible because, well, this is the life of an entrepreneur). Through this  book I am learning that it is my child and victim archetype at work when I torture myself with,

Why me?

Why did this happen?

This is not fair!!! How could You do this?

I’ve especially listened to Chapter 8 where Caroline talks about Jesus as the ultimate example of surrender and therefore co-creation with God. It is also here in this chapter she talks about Helen Keller and states,

…in accepting what happens to you, in accepting it, not as a disability but as some form of directive, some form of purpose…

Lightening strike clarity.

I am done.

Done with the how could this happen to me? Done with the victim mentality that this is unfair. Done with insisting for an answer as to how and why this could happen. Done holding onto this as a disability.

This whole time I thought I had let this go, that I had redefined my own happy ending, hell it is the subtitle of my bestselling book Ever Upward. But, what I have learned in the last six short weeks is that I needed to change my relationship and the meaning I attach to my pain.

I am done because if I don’t release it fully the only thing in the stranglehold of my pain is my very own happiness, truth, joy and power.

I am not a tragic story; back surgeries, a year in a body cast, failed IVF and life without my children, none of it tragic.

And, I will no longer allow anyone else to project that travesty onto me.

None of it was tragic then and it is definitely not tragic now.

Hard? Yes.

Sad? Still and always will be.

Exactly as it was meant? Absolutely.

A brilliant and amazing gift of this incredible life? More than I ever dreamed.

Surrendering to and accepting this allows me to receive the gifts within it and to co-create all the goodness within and from it because my God’s got this, and because I am worthy of it.

All this, and yes I’m wordy but you know this by now, to say,

I am done.

I am different.

Five years ago today we got the phone call that would end our infertility journey without the hoped for, dreamed of, planned for and paid for babies.

It is no coincidence that this five year anniversary falls on Easter, the day my Lord and Savior was resurrected giving those of us who receive His gift of grace a new life.

Five years later I am finally ready to receive this new life in the way He always meant for me.

Five years later I am resurrected myself.

Five years later I wonder who they would be and I am grateful for who I have become only because of them.

Five years later I am letting go, giving them back as they were always His to begin with, and receiving a new life.

This is truly rising ever upward.

And so, tomorrow I let go of The Mother of Second Chances.

She is beautiful, she is flawed, she is exactly as she is meant to be.

She is a gift.

She is me.

Rewriting Ever Upward, burying the bitter and anger to allow the peace and joy to grow.

I’m done. I’m different.

Our three.

I absolutely LOVE today’s piece by my new friend Kristy over at TTC a Taxon Baby. This is why I keep doing this work, because broken silence heals.

I’m Stuck in a Life I Didn’t Plan

I love living by the ocean!  There’s just something about breathing in the salty air, with your toes in the sand and looking out at the waves rolling in that will bring a sense of peace and calming over your whole body. I find myself sitting in the sand and staring out at the ocean a lot more lately, needing that calming feeling I’m so desperately trying to hold on to. During my latest TWW (two week wait), a little over a month ago, I found myself here again just thinking about everything and focusing on staying calm.  I sat there trying to read my book but found my mind wandering. Thinking about my life and how it didn’t go according to my plan. I always knew I wanted to have kids one day, but I kept changing my mind on exactly how many. Never in a million years did it ever cross my mind that I wouldn’t be able to have any.  You see, unfortunately, infertility treatments never worked on me.

Click here to keep reading.

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