Petite Post: The Empty Well

Sometimes our loved ones do not have what we need, or perhaps, what we deserve. Our work is in accepting their limitations, loving them anyways and setting boundaries if need be.

 
My version of Johanna Basford's Secret Garden adult coloring book.
My version of Johanna Basford's Secret Garden adult coloring book.
 

Stop going to an empty well expecting there to be water.

But, also do not be the person who stops going to the well completely, because people can change, grow and surprise us.

Instead, go to the well to enjoy the sun, the beautiful flowers and the peace you can find in yourself and in your acceptance.

And, if there is water one day, if your loved one can give you what you want, need and deserve, you can be pleasantly surprised.

*An updated excerpt from Chapter 5 of Ever Upward.

The Night Before Birth

I cannot tell you how many times and in how many different ways I have been asked how I have prepared for the launch of my first book, Ever Upward

What are you doing? What do you have planned? Who have you hired? Are you ready? Is it going well?

Here I am after seeing seven clients today on the eve before my baby enters the world. Here I am feeling a little bit of everything in anticipation. Here I am feeling like I suppose many mothers feel on the night before they give birth to their child. Because in many ways, this process, I can only imagine, has many parallels to pregnancy (except, of course, I will not need an epidural tomorrow).

I have prepared for months. I have changed many things about myself in the care of this baby. I have fought hard through the difficult days. I have felt every emotion, sometimes all at the exact same time. I have planned as much as I can plan. I have sought help and support and I have received lots of love in return.

And, now tomorrow she will be here for all the world to see.

And, I am as ready as I can be.

And, I know I am surrounded by more love than I ever dreamed.

Ever Upward is coming into the world with the support, love and light of not only my friends and family but also that of many I have never met. I am overwhelmed and so thankful for the support from my blogging family, Twitter community and all the fellow warriors who have supported the book thus far. I still cannot believe I am launching with 50 Amazon reviews.

Tomorrow, I will be doing the biggest part of how I have launched this book: seeing clients. Because, frankly that is the job that pays the bills. But, tomorrow evening I will celebrate with a few of my favorite people eating a nice dinner out and toasting that Ever Upward is finally here.

I will also close my eyes, take that breath and feel my three lights; my babies I never got to hold here but who have changed me forever. I will honor those three soul scars while at the very same time trusting my ever upward. And, so in that same breath I will also feel Him and say thank you with a heart full of joy, love, sadness and hope.

Most of all I am going to lean into the glory of this light, which is actually my light. Because this has been some of the most difficult work of my life; and yet, the most important.

It is with this trust that I will lean in, let go and know this is just the beginning.

 
 

~~~

I'd love to see pictures of you and your copy of Ever Upward at your favorite bookstore or in your favorite reading spot. Post to your social media walls and make sure to tag me or Ever Upward (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and use the hashtag: #everupward. I'll be giving away an Ever Upwardjournal each week for the next few weeks!

Please consider sharing and supporting my story on CNN's iReport here. It would be amazing for the other side of infertility to be featured.

Our Light Can't Shine in the Darkness of Perfectionism

The planting season.

For the last 6 months I have been working nonstop to get Ever Upward noticed, read, reviewed, Tweeted, Facebooked and loved. I have also been trying to maintain my sanity, marriage and relationships. I have also been trying to not go broke while pushing out my debut book without a big publishing house behind me and no experience in marketing or PR. All while seeing the most clients I ever have each week and being the best therapist I have ever been (only because I work my own recovery).

All this pushing and planting about topics that many don't want to talk about or even hear about.

All this pushing and planting because I believe in myself, in my message and in the need for it.

But now it is spring.

My seasons are changing.

Less than two weeks out from the bookstore launch of Ever Upward and I am realizing, again, the need to step back.

Step back to watch what I have planted grow.

Step back to make room for it to grow.

Step back to give it back to Him.

Step back to allow it bloom.

To imperfectly bloom.

As all of my work begins to bud, I am also beginning to be faced with one of my personal struggles.

Perfectionism.

Because not everyone likes what I have to say or how I go about it all.

But, no one has ever changed the world by being liked by everyone and the people who know me and know Ever Upward can trust that my intention is always to help. Besides, I only have room for those who are actually in the arena with me; living their lives every day with wholehearted courage.

And yet, the perfectionist part of me also cringes at the thought of being disliked by anyone. Or worse yet, people out there saying negative things about me and my message.

However, rising ever upward means not being defined by what others think of me and always choosing to shine my light no matter what.

Because nothing is perfect and light will never shine in perfectionistic darkness, which means nothing will ever grow.

The perfectionistic darkness

This darkness almost got me recently when I received my first 3 star Amazon review that contained good constructive criticism. Now I am not delusional, I know those negative reviews are coming; just as I have learned that I will never please everyone. But this one was my first and it stung a bit.

But just for a bit because I wasn't going to allow that perfectionistic dark to steal the moment.

Because the truth of the review was that the better (and longer) half of the review was incredible and super supportive. If I focused on those 3 stars and the criticism for too long it would completely negate the positive part of the review.

But, isn't that what we all do?

  • You were told five exemplary points during your job review and you can't get the one thing your supervisor needs you to work on out of your mind.
  • 95% percent of the evaluations are raving positive reviews and that measly 5% is haunting you.
  • You didn't get those three jobs before your dream job that you actually got and yet you hold onto those rejections for way longer than they deserve.

Give yourself permission to take the feedback, the rejection and the criticism in order to grow from it but then let it go. Because, we must give ourselves permission to celebrate and to actually pat ourselves on the back, especially when we deserve it.

The crazy part is my 3 star reviewer reached out to me after I posted about my disappointment on my personal Facebook page and the Ever Upward Facebook page. You see part of my ever upward journey is to be honest and vulnerable on social media because that is real life. Just as my friend Jen of Daring Happiness says, "Facebook Happy" is our fault not social media's fault. Take a chance and post about your real life on social media and feel how much your life and the connections in your life flourish.

My 3 star reviewer apologized and reiterated how much she loved my book and even offered to change the star review on Amazon. To which I wrote her back and thanked her for her apology but assured her it was completely unnecessary.

And then, I thanked her for her criticism.

She is now a significant part of this journey for me. I need to trust who I am, to know my message matters and will help others. I don't want to develop a tough skin because then I am not honoring the wholehearted and authentic person I am and want to be. But I do want and need to practice my recovery wholeheartedly, which means I get to learn and grow from criticism while also allowing the light in.

My 3 star reviewer allowed me this practice: to let go of that perfectionistic dark in order to allow the light in.

To let my light in.

Because none of it can bloom without that light.

 
 

~~~~

Just 2 pledges left for the Thunderclap to go out to over 90,000 people on April 7th. Please help by signing up here!

I am also slowly getting closer and closer to launching with 50 Amazon reviews, please help by clicking the Kindle version of the book and leaving your review of Ever Upward. Thank you so much!

Settling the Panic of Failure

I started the week off with the lingering panic of failure that had crept in last week.

My, oh shit people could actually read this book and hate it and judge it; hate and judge me, feeling from several weeks ago shifted last week.

This fear of judgment morphed into the panic of failure. The panic of, oh shit my numbers aren't high enough to sell a book. The panic of not catching the break I've been fighting for incessantly.

The panic of failing

Does that mean I am a failure? That Ever Upward is a failure?

My failure in Ever Upward is not wrapped up in fame or money. I could care less about both.

It is wrapped up in not enough people finding this message, which could mean the people who need it most never find it.

And, I'm a helper.

I help

I can't not help.

Ever Upward is not only my light to this world to shine onto the darkness of the shamed silence of infertility and recovery. It is also my light of help. It's my soul. It is what I can't help from coming out of me everywhere I go, no matter who I meet.

My constant mantra has been, everything is unfolding just as it is supposed to be because God's timing is perfect and I am enough. I know this statement to be true with every cell of my being. But my anxious, type A, doer part of my brain has to be constantly reminded to let go.

Glimmers of hope

And, then Wednesday a glimmer of hope.

Finally some concrete proof of all of the work, all of the social media, all of the platform building.

The editors at WordPress featured Ever Upward, completely unbeknownst to me, and one of the best surprises ever! As if that wasn't enough, they called my writing, "at once unflinching and moving". I am so thankful for this amazing compliment and this exposure, to think that I am finally on the radar of the editors at WordPress is something I have only hoped for and dreamed of throughout the last year.

Also, on Wednesday I got the email subscriber list up and running which I've been so excited about. Make sure to subscribe to receive the 30 Day Toolkit to Living Ever Upward.

On top of that the Ever Upward Book Launch Party is almost sold out. Also, the Fertility Compassion Survey received more responses than I could have imagined (I'll be posting about these soon, I promise). And, the Kickstarter campaign for the Ever Upward Book Trailer is more than half funded (only 4 days to go). This support means more than words can ever convey and more than anyone will ever be able to truly realize. I am endlessly grateful.

 
 

Do the glimmers take away the fear of judgment?

A little. But, the fact is some will absolutely hate the book. And, many will judge me. However, I will respectfully choose to look to the people who live their lives from a place of love, the people who try to get it and the people who also live their lives wholeheartedly brave.

Do the glimmers erase the panic?

Not completely but they definitely help. Ever Upward may never be a bestseller. But, I will choose to trust that the lives who need the message will find the book in their hands and find their lives changed for the better.

Do the glimmers settle down the doer part of my brain?

I wish they did more but it is also just who I am. So I will continue to tweet, I will keep begging people to read and review and share, I will keep trying, I will keep doing because that's what I do.

Do the glimmers give me more hope?

Absolutely, which means my hope is stronger and the light brighter than ever on giving me more courage.

The courage to fly. The courage to try. The courage to be the magic of ever upward.

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

Emerging to Own Myself Again - Chp 8 Review

It takes my breath away to see my words sharing space with the beautiful words of Dani from Blooming Spiders. Thank you so much Dani for your review, support and friendship!

Some time ago, fellow blogger and sister-in-loss, Justine Froelker, reached out and asked me to review a chapter of her upcoming book, Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life. I’ll admit I was hesitant, since reading and somehow “grading” a person’s heart notes can be scary, especially if the relationship isn’t the stuff of marrow and soul. But I wanted to do it for her, in honor of the heart shards we share.

The chapter title which spoke to me most was Chapter 8: Emerging to Own Myself Again. The visual representation I had was of a wounded butterfly recocooning itself to heal, yet reemerging, after a Season of grief and recovery, better and stronger because of its traumas or, as Justine calls them, “soul scars”. It is precisely that image that Justine puts into words:

It was with these words, “own and…

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The Latest in Ever Upward

Ever Upward book
Ever Upward book

The presale is live!

Help us get an idea of demand by preordering your copy of Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life. This will help us to order at the lowest price point from the printer and help in shipping costs (much needed in this self/entrepreneurial publishing deal).

Ever Upward launches on October 1st and will be available on Amazon in February and in bookstores in March 2015.

If you are in the Saint Louis area (or want to make a trip in) I would love to see you at the book signing and launch party on October 4th!

I have several more reviews going up in the next several weeks but, for now make sure to check out the reviews so far.

Thank you so much for all the support, the shares, the feedback, the love and friendship!

In ever upward light and love,

Justine

It's here!!!!

A year in a body cast. Twenty years of my dimmed light.

A year of infertility treatments and losses.

A year of writing and editing.

A year of submitting to publishers and agents.

Over two years of practicing my recovery.

Ever Upward is here!

 
Ever Upward book
Ever Upward book
 

And, I am feeling all the feels.

I am feeling scared to death. I am feeling excited. I am feeling hopeful. I am feeling scared to death. I am feeling accomplished. I am feeling at peace.

I feel amazing awe; to hold it in my hands, to see the brilliant colors of the artwork that means so much to me, to flip through it to see my words and pictures and to feel the light that I hope this holds for others.

I hope it helps and I hope you like it.

We hope to have presale information up within a week.

Book launches October 1st on www.everupward.org, Amazon in March and bookstores in April. We will be celebrating with a book reading and signing on October 4th here in St. Louis click here for invite/registration.

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

Breaking the Shackles of Shame and Fear Because I Think I Can Help

The light blinded out the shame. The light shined so brightly that I found another piece of my clarity.

My light sparked just a bit more brilliantly.

All ignited by two simple conversations with my 8 year old nephew.

Dogs aren't kids?

Earlier in our visit my nephew heard me call the dogs my babies. To which he replied, "They are kind of like your babies since you can't have babies." I honestly am unsure as to how much or what he has been told about our journey through infertility or why his Aunt Justine and Uncle Chad don't have kids.

I said to him that yes he was right. I can't have babies so Gertie, Gracie and Bosco are my babies. And, in his amazingly loving 8 year old way he replied, "Well, you will have to get more of them because they just don't live as long as us real kids."

I laughed, a true laugh because he is funny and I love him.

I also laughed, an uncomfortable laugh, as I know how true that is.

Because, sometimes, our babies never even take a breath of this earth's fresh air.

A book that can help

Later in our visit my nephew discovered that I had written a book. He asked what the book was about and if it was a series like the Harry Potter series he loves so much. To which I said I plan to write several books but not a series like Harry Potter. His dad also reminded him that there are no wizards in my books.

When I told him my book is about what his Uncle Chad and I had gone through to have our own babies his response surprised me. He stated, very matter of factly, "Oh so it's just a book for our family to read then."

Even then, a very innocent question from my nephew triggered the shame. For a second, I felt myself doubt, question and dim my light some.

That inner critical voice of my shame:

We didn't lose enough.

No one cares.

We didn't try enough.

Who am I to try to help others?

I am not good enough.

I am not enough.

But, just for a second did I allow shame to take over before I practiced my resilience and spoke my story.

Instead, I took that moment to let him see my soul and the world through my heart, because, again, I honestly don't know what he has been told about our journey. I said, "Well there are lots of people who go through hard stuff like what we did to have a family."

"Millions in fact."

I said that I think, and hope, my story could actually help some of those people.

By this point his 8 year old attention span was kaput and we moved on.

The power of shame

The power of the shame that surrounds our infertility, miscarriage and pregnancy and infant loss stories is overwhelming.

Even if just for a second, mine was even triggered by the childlike wonder of my nephew.

 
 

But, even that innocent wonder brought on the dementor of my shame; the shackles that drown me.

I have done, and continue to do, great work surrounding my shame around my story. I have had to compose the elevator speech on what Ever Upwardis about. I have had to compose the marketing blurb also. But to explain to an 8 year old what Ever Upward is, was nothing I was prepared for.

He made me stop and think, why is Ever Upward so important?

To which the light brightly blinded my shame and broke those shackles.

Because I think I can help.

Because I hope I can help.

Because I can't not try.

Doing this work of recovery does not mean that shame isn't always lurking in the background to steal my light. It simply means I must practice my shame resilience when needed by speaking it and owning it.

Shame and fear

I felt it again the other night when I had my first sheer panic about the book coming out. The oh shit people could actually read this book. The oh shit I will have people who really hate it, criticize it and judge it....hate me, criticize me and judge me. The oh shit I might even upset some people I love. 

And, then I remember to look to the important seats in my world; the people who love me, see me and know me.

And, that this is who I choose to be in this world. I want to live my life with wholehearted courage and owning it all.

Always.

Because, that is ever upward.

To stop proving it. To truly own it. To fight for it. To break the silence. To embrace it all. Always living wholeheartedly brave.

This is my story. This is our story.

*To read more about my story and my recovery make sure to pick up a copy of Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life available October 1st at www.everupward.org.*

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

Book Cover Reveal Sneak Peek #2

Here's your 2nd sneak peek of the book cover of

Ever Upward!

 
 

And your reminders for some cool giveaways!

My dear friend and fellow vulnerability warrior Jen at Daring Happiness has lovingly heard my cry for help in building the platform. She is an amazing artist and will be doing a few pieces of art for me to use as giveaways to some of my supporters.

So here are your guidelines ;)

Blog giveaways

FB giveaways

  • 1st share on Ever Upward’s FB of book cover reveal – free signed copy of the book
  • 20th share on FB of the full cover reveal – free signed copy of the book and artwork
  • 400th like on FB – free signed copy of the book

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

Book Cover Reveal Sneak Peek

After much work, effort and help from many people the book cover of Ever Upward is ready! I am so amazed at how it came out. And I hope you all love it as much as I do. I will post the full cover tomorrow some time. Make sure you like the Ever Upward Facebook page and follow here at the blog so you don't miss any updates or giveaways!

My dear friend and fellow vulnerability warrior Jen at Daring Happiness has lovingly heard my cry for help in building the platform. She is an amazing artist and will be doing a few pieces of art for me to use as giveaways to some of my supporters.

So here are your guidelines ;)

Blog giveaways

FB giveaways

  • 1st share on Ever Upward's FB of book cover reveal - free signed copy of the book
  • 20th share on FB of the reveal - free signed copy of the book and artwork
  • 400th like on FB - free signed copy of the book

And, here is your first sneak peek:

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

14 Reasons This is Just the Beginning

The growing momentum of Ever Upward. My continued ownership of my whole story.

The continuing opportunities to share this ownership.

All leading me to more and more clarity with which I am seeing, feeling and growing this light inside of me.

My essential truth.

Which I hope can become part of many of our essential truths; maybe even, the essential truth.

Talk about it.

Embrace it.

Practice recovery ofit.

Own it.

No matter what it is.

For my first televised interview on the book and blog, Ever Upward, I was blessed enough to be interviewed by Virginia Kerr of KMOV's Great Day St. Louis. I have appeared monthly on Great Day for over four years, in many ways I feel part of their family. I am so grateful for their love, support and the opportunity on the show to break the shamed silence of infertility.

Our six minutes went so fast, too fast. After the interview Virginia looked at me and said, "Did we cover everything? I don't think we did, I was just having an amazing conversation with you on air!"

It was real.

It was authentic.

It was amazing.

And, no, we didn't even begin to cover everything...

But, I will make sure it is just the beginning.

The clip has been one of the most shared posts I've had. It has also sparked some of the most amazing words of encouragement, support and love from friends, new and old.

And, this is just the beginning.

My essential truth was definitely highlighted throughout the interview but, what our short six minutes didn't allow for was why this essential truth is so important, especially in the world of infertility and in the world of whatever you need to recover from.

It's now been a few days since the interview. As I continue to navigate through the shares, comments, support and love, I am also overwhelmed by random moments in awe with glimmers of but wait this is part of my message too moments.

Things like:

1. We must talk about infertility so the public is more educated.

2. We must talk about infertility in order to get any of the understanding we want and need from our loved ones.

3. We must talk about infertility in order to be healthier and happier versions of ourselves both throughout treatments but, especially thereafter no matter the ending to that part of our story.

4. We must talk about infertility because only using our doctors and our partner for support is too much for just about any relationship.

5. We must talk about infertility because then, maybe, it could actually result in a higher success rate.

6. We must talk about infertility to educate on how expensive, painful and difficult the process is.

7. We must talk about infertility to challenge the message that you must keep trying because it will eventually work and to give permission to stop.

8. We must talk about infertility and fertility because it is the only way to broaden the story and increase understanding no matter the situation.*

  • The couple who has any kind of infertility diagnosis or a lack there of.
  • The same sex couple.
  • The single man or woman who desperately wants to be a parent.
  • The couple who cannot have a healthy baby with their own genes.
  • The couple who chooses to adopt.
  • The couple who chooses not to adopt.
  • The woman or couple who courageously gave up her/their child for adoption.
  • DSC_0507
  • The couple who use a donor egg or sperm.
  • The couple who adopts an embryo.
  • The couple who uses a traditional surrogate.
  • The couple who uses a gestational surrogate.
  • The couple who has embryos left.
  • The couple who has no embryos left.
  • The couple who were able to have one or some biological child(ren) and then chose adoption.
  • The couple who chooses to have one child.
  • The couple who can only have one child.
  • The couple who has children many years apart because they suffered miscarriages or endured infertility treatments between.
  • The couple who chooses no infertility treatments.
  • The couple who is able to try infertility treatments many times with success of children.
  • The couple who is able to try infertility treatments many times only to never have it work.
  • The couple who had kids before they were really ready or even really trying.
  • The couple who has suffered a loss of any kind, of any gestation, of any age.
  • The couple who has suffered a loss of any kind, of any gestation, of any age and is blessed with healthy children still.
  • The couples who are still parents no matter what the loss.
  • The couples with children.
  • The couples who live childfree but childfull lives.
  • All the families who don't know their loved ones are suffering.
  • All the families who know their loved ones' suffering but are flailing for the words to support.
  • Any couple, any family, because in reality life hardly ever turns out how we hoped, how we planned or even sometimes what we paid for; loss is loss.

9. I must educate about infertility and thriving thereafter because it is how I have fought for and continue to practice my recovery; in it I have found my calling and purpose.

10. I must break my silence because within this fight I have been found by my ever upward.

11. We must talk about all our losses, traumas and tragedies in order to heal.

12. We must embrace all the parts of our stories.

13. We must fight for and practice our recoveries to be healthier and happier versions of ourselves.

14. We must own it all to find and be found, to live our ever upward.

As I continue to practice my recovery, write Ever Upward, the blog (especially as it has taken on it's own amazing life) and build the platform for Ever Upward, the book, I hope we all find permission.

 
 

My essential truth of giving myself permission.

The essential truth of giving us all permission.

Permission to talk, to embrace, to practice and to own it all.

Because, this is just my beginning.

As, I will make damn sure my infertility journey is just one of my many epic journeys in this story of my ever upward life.

*Sometimes it is difficult to make sure I include everyone, if I've forgotten a situation please comment below so I can edit the post and add (giving you credit if you like).

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

Hopefully the First of Many

My first television interview on the book and blog. So thankful that Great Day St. Louis on KMOV was willing to help me break the silence.

 
 

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

This post included in Amateur Nester's Link Up.