Penned Musing: Stretch to the Warmth

Gracie is plastered against my leg, our usual morning position on the bright orange couch in the sun soaked living room My steaming coffee beside me alongside my stack of morning books and journals.

She's up against my leg providing the warm reminder of just one of the ways I am a mother.

Her sister stretched out to the warmth of her as close to me as possible while also still touching her sister; a requirement of sorts.

A reminder of the possible, yet never to be twins of ours. They would have been four this year, that ever present due date just two weeks away.

Four years.

I still can't believe how much time has passed; how much has changed and yet how much remains the same.

The grief has morphed so much, yet the longing as strong as ever.

The darkness lit up by what has become the happy and healthy version of myself; my redefined, thriving life.

 
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The darkness there, always, as my children aren't here. Yet, the light that is me - in Him, through Him and because of Him, makes the darkness bearable.

The light is there; in, within and around.

I only must stretch to reach the warmth.

~~~

It has been weeks since I wrote this, yet all the feels in it are still all too familiar and haunting my heart.

I know it has been awhile since I last posted my friends. I am asking for and hoping for some grace as I work to finish my second book, The Complicated Gray. I am writing away to get it into my editor's hands no later than March 1st with a publication goal of August or September.

Until then, I will try my best to share here once in a while. Thank you for your support, prayers and love. I very much appreciate you all.

***Background image from http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2012/02/break-out-of-prison/.

Penned Musing: A Lot

Today's writing prompt felt like it needed to be shared. What if you stopped asking permission to be yourself and stopped apologizing for who that person is?

~~~

Chin up. Chill out. Calm down. You're so intense. Don't be so dramatic.

The messages from life, society and sometimes, even people I love.

Sometimes meant to shame, other times meant for love.

I am a lot.

And, I love all of her.

I feel. I love. I fight.

Hard.

I am everything of wholehearted.

Fully and completely sincere. Enthusiastic. Energetic. Hearty. Earnest.

I am pure energy. I am whole love.

I love loud. I live full. I am mighty.

I am a lot.

 
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Penned Musing: My Happy

Happy Friday! A tiny post for you today...a poem? I am sorry I have not posted as often lately. My June is filled with a lot of travel and getting my schedule under control in order to make more time for the second book.

I was inspired for this writing prompt by the brilliant book I am reading by Vishen Lakhiani of Mindvalley, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. Definitely check it out!

~~~

I'm finally learning.

Happy is mine.

All mine.

Get your own.

Just as I have.

Fought for.

Created.

Chosen.

Sought. Found.

No longer based on my past or reliant on the accomplishments of the future.

Happy now.

Chosen in the present second.

Hustled for and with.

Earned.

And received.

Eyes and heart open enough.

Through and in the dark.

Mine.

Found.

Yours too.

***Includes Amazon Affiliate link.

Penned Musing: A Grace Filled Grief

This Penned Musing inspired after reading Psalm 6. ~~~

Grace.

A gift no one deserves and yet we are all worthy of.

Worthy through, in and because of Him.

Grief threatens to devour me.

Some days it ebbs not much unlike the slightest tide pulling me down with a quiet tug.

It can always completely devour me.

Devour in stealing my light, snuffing out joy and settling into my soul as a dark dementor.

My tiniest sparks are always there, within myself and within this world.

The spark of my children.

My children only to be held in my heart and never my arms.

Gifted to me through grace.

A grace filled grief.

If only I receive.

Grace to find my place as a mother in this world.

Grace to find my place in His story.

My grace.

 
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Petite Post: Loving Well and Fully in Honor of Them

I have found a special love, and talent for those in the battle of secondary infertility and those in the midst of pregnancy after loss. The other day I had an aha with a client coping with pregnancy after loss. One of the biggest misconceptions of the trying to conceive, infertility and loss community is that a healthy pregnancy is our cure all. I see some of the hardest struggle during this time, which if you think about it, is not that surprising. We've already had the worst case scenario happen, we already know that not everything always turns out. A healthy pregnancy, although amazing and happy, is also filled with anxiety, worry and, if we aren't careful, all consuming fear.

What I am especially seeing in my office is the difficulty for mom to allow herself to attach and fully love the growing baby in her belly,

Because what if it isn't okay? What if I lose it?

To which I say,

Your children before this, although you may have never had the blessing to meet them, made you the mother you are today. You love this baby well because of them. You love this baby fully in honor of the ones who made you a mother to begin with.

The complicated gray of afraid and brave all at once my fellow warriors, loving well and loving fully is what our children deserve, it is also what we deserve.

 
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~~~

Don't Talk About the Baby

Please share and support (if you can, every $5 helps) the film Don't Talk About the Baby, our all or nothing campaign is ending soon.

 
 

Penned Musing: Rude Awakening

Sitting across from my new friend at her kitchen table she says,

My friend follows you on Instagram. She said she sometimes feels guilty that she got kids and you didn't.

I smile with loving appreciation and reply,

I wasn't always this person. God gave me those three babies, I have no doubt, to make me fight for the person I am today. No guilt needed.

Do we really have to suffer and lose to gain?

Only with the hindsight of time and the work of recovery do we actually walk into the gain.

Would I trade it all for my babies?

No doubt.

Do I consider this all a gift and trust it is exactly as it is supposed to be?

Absolutely.

I was different before. My demons much more powerful, keeping me shackled in the darkness of mild depression, anxiety, and most of all, perfectionism and scarcity.

I struggled daily. What I did not know then is that a huge part of my struggle was not fully embracing all the parts of my story and of myself. Accepting that happiness is a perspective, a choice and work.

And most of all finding my voice, my light and living it out loud without apology.

It is a rude awakening.

Because when you awaken, you awaken to the dark parts of you and your weaknesses.

But in the fully awakened in color life you also realize that within this darkness is also your light.

That in this complicated gray of the dark and the light of ourselves lies our truest self.

 
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Penned Musing: Joy

I pause before I answer the questions. A pause both because I am annoyed by my own answer, but also because I need the words I am about to say to not only be heard but felt.

I'm finding it in Him.

She looks back at me with the expected annoyance that is also dusted with a bit of I want that too.

It's hard to explain. I fought religion and therefore my faith for so long. There is not much like being the unlucky girl who spends a year of her life in a body cast who grows up to be a mental health therapist who hears terrible and sick things in her office every day who can't have babies to make you pretty pissed off at God.

She nods her head back with the knowing of someone who has also survived great struggle and loss.

But we've all had struggle and loss haven't we?

She quickly replies from the familiar place of uncertain, desperate impatience,

But how? What do I do?

Treading with the caution of walking on thin ice I reply,

Maybe it isn't about doing at all? For me, it has been just the opposite, which is even more annoying since I am a major doer. But, I've had to surrender.

She now replies with an even greater annoyance that I have come to expect,

But how do I surrender?

And again, with authentic love in my voice I shine His light down the dark scary path,

I know right? I had to come to the end of myself. Realizing I can't do any of it all alone, and that I don't have to. I gave myself permission to be completely undone by His grace, by what He has done for me. Allowing myself to fall into His grace and trust He has the end of my story.

 
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*Penned Musings are posts based off of my daily writing prompts. You can read more here.

Penned Musing: Flight of Feathers

She looks around and sees the speckles of blood littering the sidewalk with bright red splashes, almost as if firecrackers bright in the night sky. The white feathers float all around.

The mother in her looks frantically around tuning her ears to hear a distressed bird to only hear silence.

The feathers are everywhere but nothing else.

I guess that is good, she thinks to herself, she must have been okay enough to fly away.

She is only left to wonder and be in awe of those feathers.

What do the mean as the float around one of her favorite places in all the earth? They're scattered around her light and love filled butterfly garden. The place she seeks and feels God. The place she quiets her mind and fills her soul.

Those feathers, some fluffy white and others big and bold in color, like mere wisps in the wind; a reminder that many things are never meant to be caught.

Again, the constant lesson of letting go in her life.

 
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*Penned Musings are posts based off of my daily writing prompts. You can read more here.

In Awakened Color

The floor to ceiling windows allow the sun to wash away some of the darkness that is often brought into my office. As if the sun has the power to wash away the dark with light and hope. My office, a therapist’s office, despite feeling like sitting in a sunlit filled tree house, is the place some of the hardest work on earth is done. No matter what is brought into that room, my job is to hold the space for love, hope and change; to hold it enough for my clients when they are unable to themselves. When we speak the dark into a space of safety and love, it loses power over us, especially the present and future us. In that place of light we have the space to heal.

My clients sit across from me in that sun washed room surrounded by warm light speaking words they may have never spoken out loud before...

Click here to read the full post over at New York Times Bestselling Author Laura Munson's blog as part of her Haven Winter Blog Series. Laura has become a friend and in incredible mentor to me and I am so thankful for her support.

 
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Penned Musing: Open Window

Open the window.

He said referring to how stuffy the room had gotten during their difficult discussion.

They both needed to open the window; their window into themselves, for each other and to the world.

The windows that have now been slammed shut by loss.

Three babies, no more and no more chances, to be a normal family with 2.5 kids.

Windows slammed shut so hard they had shattered in ways never thought possible, never easily understood and forever changed.

What now?

She asked knowing there wasn't answer to this besides to move forward.

How do you move forward into a new normal after everything you had hoped and dreamed of is no longer?

She shifts her weight uncomfortably wrapping her arms around herself tightly as if to protect herself from further damage, and yet, in reality, more as a preventive step to not completely fall apart.

He walks forward enveloping her body in the hurt strength of his own.

Together.

She looks up,

Together.

Penned Musing: I Don't Care

Penned Musings are posts based off of my daily writing prompts. You can read more here. ~~~

"I don't care." she looks at me with eyes so full of pain I knew she meant it.

"Don't care about...?" I ask her back with my eyebrows slightly raised leaning my body somewhat forward, exuding the love and blessing I desperately need her to feel from me but more so from herself.

"Anything." she declares now more with a frustrated adamancy that I know as the stubbornness that is the suffocating stuck we can all feel in the dark.

"Then what made you show up today?" I question with love, curiosity and a tad of that I-know-the-answer-and-I-know-you-do-too sarcasm.

Her eyes shift downward as they fill with tears and her body relaxes softly into the dark brown leather of my couch. The geese fly overhead in the picture window of my office which makes it feel as if we are sitting in a sunlit washed tree house rather than a therapist's office. The geese are practicing their V formation as I feel the shift of change both in the room and the season they are doing flight practice for.

Change of the work ahead.

Change of the glimmer of fear and faith of something better.

Change that she dreams, hopes and wants it to be different.

I across from her sit knowing the journey as I've walked it myself, some days still walking through the dark into the light and love of the life I choose.

Drowning the I don't care.

Because I do.

Petite Post: Negotiations With a 3 Year Old

As a trained and experienced therapist I know the five stages of grief well. As a survivor of loss I'll tell you where you can stick those five stages.

Loss leaves us forever changed and not wrapped up pretty with a bow in the 5th and final stage of acceptance.

Rather, grief and loss are like handling negotiations with the average three year old; riding the waves between wild, stubborn tantrums full of attitude and affectionate cuddles sprinkled with articulated love.

Grief can feel like the dramatic threenager, and sometimes we just have to be along for the ride.

 
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Penned Musings: Shoulder Pads

Penned Musings are posts based off of my daily writing prompts. You can read more here. ~~~

Shoulder Pads

Speak it.

Speak it so fucking loud that the shame monster looks at you shocked and frozen. Because that monster speaks lies to you. That monster tries to lull you into submission by telling you that you don't matter. That you're unworthy. That your fear will always stop you.

Look her straight in those sinister green eyes and speak.

I'm scared. I'm lost.

But you're not my truth.

And then walk towards her feeling your racing heart and sweaty palms propelling you forward and wrap your arms around the shoulder padded business suit of shame.

Hold tight and feel the fear and shame melt between you both to make room and allow the warmth between you; invite in your awe.

The awe that you've survived. The awe that you have a story. The awe that your voice is beautifully important.

Because you're it. The only one ever like you; shame monster and all; fucking shoulder padded business suit shame monster.

And say,

Thank you, but no thank you.

May I take your blazer?

Show your beauty, your heart; your awe.

The light filled awe.

Shine bright my love, shine bright in awesome glory; in awe struck, fear filled awesome glory.

 
 

Penned Musing: A Spoken Sea of Names

Penned Musings are posts based off of my daily writing prompts. You can read more here. ~~~

A Spoken Sea of Names

Another name.

A voice both full of love and sorrow all in the same breath speaks another name into the microphone over the crowd of people awash in a sea of orange.

Another name.

Over 500 names.

Over 500 souls lost too soon.

Over 500 names, never spoken out loud enough, put into the crisp, sun-filled fall day along the river.

And with each name another wave.

A wave of grief. A wave of smiles. A wave of sadness. A wave of love; all washing over me with my senses too overwhelmed to really take it all in.

A wave of orange.

With each name a wave of orange balloons both escape and release from the hands of a forever changed family.

At times it is a tiny wave of a only a few balloons, others a multitude of them.

Floating high into the blue sky, some with messages for their babies in heaven.

Tears. Smiles. Tears. Laughter.

Love. Honor.

The honor of loving them coexisting with our grief of losing them beyond too soon washing over us like the waves in the sea.

The sea of spoken names in waves of orange taking my breath away still.

 
 
 
 
 
 

~~~

The Share Walk of Remembrance and Hope was on October 17th. You can support Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support by purchasing your signed copy of Ever Upwardhere! Use coupon code OCT15 for $5 off!

Penned Musings: My Shifting Shadow

My trip to Montana for the Haven Writing Retreat with New York Times bestselling author Laura Munson was the best money I have ever spent, the best moment I have ever listened to that voice telling me I have got to do something and some of the best days of my life. Montana is my happy place. Laura is my friend, coach and a gift to the world and my life; I learned so much from her. In addition, there simply are not enough words for the women I met at Haven. They are my new found tribe that I so desperately needed after the last year of lonely platform building and trying to get Ever Upward noticed and selling. They are my soft landing spot full of inspiration and love.

I found my voice there in the quiet of beautiful Montana. And most of all, Laura and my new friends helped me to discover that my passion, although one of my very best qualities, was allowing the mission to get in the way.

And so, I am anew; practicing my art of writing differently, and daily, and working on the sequel to Ever Upward in a completely different way.

Because through only my truth and only my voice will the mission actually shine bright.

~~~

And so, I thought I would occasionally share some of my writing prompts that I work on daily here at Ever Upward, especially while I work more on the second book for now. I hope you enjoy, I hope they inspire you, I hope they make you laugh, and most of all, I hope you can trust me in this slightly new direction.

~~~

My Shifting Shadow

Walking down two short gravel roads in the Montana crisp air alone with only the bright moon as my guide I realize how quiet my surroundings are and just how alone I am.

Shit, I did not walk along this barn before.

The gravel crunches beneath my feet as my pace picks up both out of fear and shiver as I feel the cold Montana air seep through my clothes and onto my now anxiously sweating skin.

It's okay just back track, I think I just missed a turn.

The stars shine bright, more of them at once than I have ever seen, and the moon nearly bright enough to guide my walk.

Oh fuck, what happens if I can't find my way?

Oh how loaded this question really is...

She had put me in the back of the property in the most isolated and quiet cabin she had. She was the New York Times bestselling author, so I knew she had her reasons but my stubborn ass was not going to thank her that first night as I calmed down from missing a turn in the pitch black Montana night.

And I sure as hell wasn't thanking her as I laid in my bed that first of four nights attempting to journal through the deafening silence that hit my eardrums as hard as the bass at a Taylor Swift concert.

A deep breath makes tears spring to my eyes but only briefly as the clarity of my voice begins to gain strength.

These women will change my life. God, I have missed community.

And I begin to write, just a bit because tomorrow begins the first big day of finding my voice with the guidance and loving arms of Haven.

My voice, now more audible than a library whisper,

I'm here, just a bit drowned by the social media-ing, the earning a living-ing and a mission we are so desperate to accomplish.

By the third morning, she's no longer a whisper but a rather confident and renewed heart and soul-filled voice.

She's me.

With the sun shining bright, the morning air crisp with possibility and the Canadian geese as my own personal morning playlist, I walk up that gravel road alone. I am greeted by the steam rolling off the tree embraced lake and with my next step I notice her, my shadow.

My shifted shadow.

My shadow that is no longer casting my darkness ahead but rather trailing behind as if to stand in holy support.