A Workshop and Dream

Tomorrow kicks off my Rising Ever Upward Tour, and there are not enough emotional words to type to accurately describe how I am feeling. Thank God I have this work to help me navigate it all.

Tonight I am offering a FREE workshop as I wrap up my 7 week Mini-Course, I'd love for you to join me. I'll be sharing a glimpse into what this work is all about and much more. You can read more about it here.

 
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I feel a lot of writing coming from me while on tour, some for the next book of course, and some for you all here. Thank you for your patience as I enter into this new stage of my career. I cannot thank this community enough.

Another Round

Sitting on my orange couch flanked by all three of our dogs, I giggle to myself as Cassandra, my coach, continues on, "How did that turn out?" Unbeknownst to her, her face has been frozen for the last 5 minutes of our conversation; and yet her question, both powerful and one she already knows the answer to, hits me to the core.

"It didn't work out how I wanted," I reply with just the slightest annoyance in my voice.

"And, how did that turn out?" she asks.

"I created and have received this incredible and fucking beautiful life," I state back with a clarity and a knowing, though a catch of my voice and the tears in my eyes reveal my truth that this life has not come without years of loss, work, and trust.

It was just a minute before, on our call, that I had come to realize that the risk I am taking in going out on tour, offering my workshops and intensives, is not much unlike the risk we took 6 years ago in doing IVF.

Financial sacrifice?

Check.

Paralyzing fear?

Check.

Doubt, our own and that of many, many others?

Check.

Hope?

Check. Why else would we sign up for it?

So much the same, and so much, so very different.

Going through the infertility journey six years ago, I was a completely different person.

Back then, who I was with the addition of financial stress, waiting games, synthetic hormones, and no babies was the perfect storm for the deepest darkest crash of my entire life. I was, in many ways, living my life from the place of shame, scarcity, comparison, and with my weaknesses in total control.

The darkness left behind by our infertility journey that ended without kids, was the ashes from which I needed to rise.

And now, to leap into another unknown.

I needed to choose myself, to do the work, and to rise into this incredible person I am and into this incredible  life I have now.

I am preparing to leave for tour in less than two weeks, which means the talons of PTSD clutch every organ in my chest and stomach often, as if we are doing another round of IVF. This PTSD triggers overwhelming fear that could easily take over every thought and my entire body if I let it.

I find my breath stolen from me in a second, without so much as a trigger - the fear, doubt, anxiety, shame, and comparison charging up my physiological response to emotion in my pounding heart and shortness of breath.

Yet, I stop myself.

It's different now.

It has only been with this work, the work I am fighting so hard to bring to my community on tour, that I recognize the symptoms and then refuse to attach to the drama. It is in this choice that I give myself the permission to rumble with what is really going on. It is through this rumble with my shame shit that I choose to cope, to be always rewriting my story, and standing in my sacred truth.

With this work, and my team and community rallying and surrounding me, those PTSD talons are no match for this person and life I have created, fought for, and done the work to receive these last few years.

Most of all, it is no match for my level of faith. Sure, I am quite possibly the literal poster child for when things don't turn out how you hoped, dreamed, and planned. But...

I am also the flawed, full-of-grit-and-grace badass who rises from those ashes a better person, one who loves harder and shines brighter. It is within this hard that I help others and with that light that I am able to see how beautiful of a life I have been given.

I go into this unknown from a place of self-love, passion, and a burning desire to heal the world.

I eventually took a picture of Cassandra and sent it to her on Messenger. We both laughed and we ended our session in our usual way: of her palpable excitement for what is and what is to come, my complicated gray of excitement and fear, and both of our's full knowing that whatever is to come of this incredible work we are doing together, we are both certain that it far exceeds our wildest dreams.

I don't know what God's plan is for this tour. Just like I didn't know what God's plan was for our three.

 
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I know it will be filled with people who are ready to heal and courageous enough to do this work with me. I know it will change their lives, my life, and therefore, the world. I know that no matter if every registration is booked, and no matter how much money made or lost, that it will be God-willed, God-filled, and amazing.

Because unlike the 30% odds of the "successful" outcome with an infertility journey, my odds are 100% when it comes to who I have become, the work I am willing to do on a daily basis, God's grace, and my badassery rising.

Called

I am just a couple of weeks out from the kick off of my Rising Ever Upward tour. The registrations are starting to fill my inbox.

People are sending messages.

They are engaging with my Mini-Course and Facebook Lives.

In fact, 22 people took advantage of a last minute pop up class last night for FREE (a $200 value).

A couple of them even registered to come do this work with me in a city near them.

Clarity took root last night for me... I am doing this. I am supposed to be doing this.

And, I am super excited and oh so grateful.

Make sure you have subscribed to my subscriber list, as we still have 2 weeks left of exclusive content coming, along with following along at Facebook.

And, have no doubt, I have a HUGE and AMAZING close planned for this 7 week Mini-Course!

Thank you for your support!

 
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The And of Fear and Faith

The pump you up memes say, “Be fearless!”

The personal growth gurus say, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”

Some religions say, “There is no fear with faith.”

Therapists say, “Identify the fear, feel it, talk about it, cope with it, and allow it to move through.” (We therapists can be wordy.)

My new coach Cassandra is teaching me, “Feel the fear, do not attach to the drama of it, and choose faith.”

Crap! So which is it?

Click here to continue reading over at The Huffington Post.

 
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FREE 7 Week Rising Ever Upward Mini-Course

Last week I kicked off my FREE 7 week Rising Ever Upward Mini-Course on Facebook and at my Ever Upward subscriber list. I will be sharing unique and exclusive material at both platforms as I lead up to leaving on tour in July. Make sure to follow at both platforms so you don't miss anything, and of course, a share goes further than you think. Thank you in advance!

The Rising Strong™ work has changed everything for me and I am so excited to be able to offer my workshops and intensives in a city near you this summer! I'd love to see you on tour!

For now and this one time only, I thought I would share Week 1 from the email list here for you to get an idea of this incredible work for yourself. Make sure to also follow along on Facebook for a weekly challenge, live video and graphic!

 
 

The Rising Ever Upward Tour

 
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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.

A Community of Never Enough Mothers?

A woman with two devastating losses currently pregnant with a miracle. A woman in the midst of her very last round of infertility treatments after five losses.

A woman with two losses she has never felt good enough to claim.

A woman told at 16 years old she would never conceive.

Women who are all mothers, not in your traditional sense of the word of 2.5 children in the family picture, but mothers still.

I am one of these mothers; failed infertility treatments, three lost babies and learning to live life parenting from afar. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor who has been certified in the work of Dr. Brené Brown for almost three years now. I have completed The Daring Way™ curriculum with over 50 clients helping them to rise over shame and learn to live and love wholeheartedly.

A couple of weekends ago I led the four above mentioned women through Brené’s new Rising Strong™ curriculum. It was my first infertility and loss intensive, and it was four years in the making.

Click here to continue reading over at HuffPost.

 
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The Wholehearted Hustle

I'm trying to finish getting ready. I know I am not late and yet there is an overwhelming sense that I am. I am rushing all around at lightening speed and no one is around to help.

I run down the hallway my heart beating at top speed as fly down the stairs. I push open the door so hard it bangs on the outside wall that the sound nearly brings me back to reality.

I feel the crisp air on my face and piercing my lungs as I try to catch my breath when the sound of the closing door stops me in my tracks realizing there is no one there and nowhere to go.

They left.

I am alone.

For months it seemed like this was the theme of my nightly dreams, different settings but always the same scenario and feelings; fear, sadness and confusion.

They left me. I am forgotten. They've moved on.

And, they didn't even look back.

I am invisible.

I've done enough work to know where these dreams are coming from. There is not any unconscious or subconscious bullshit that I am not aware of because I've done the work and live it every damn day.

As a woman without children and an infertility advocate without the "happy" ending not only do I hardly ever fit in but I am also often ignored and forgotten.

So why were these dreams beginning to plague me now?

It wasn't until I went to my Rising Strong™ facilitator intensive that I was able to see and therefore understand and even change this theme in my life.

In the Rising Strong™ work we identify a face down in the arena moment, a moment in our lives here we have fallen or failed or perhaps completely lost ourselves. It was only in picking myself back up and rewriting my story that I realized what was happening.

I'd been hustling for so long to build the platform of Ever Upward; working my ass of on posting, emailing, writing and submitting, all in hopes of my healthier messages reaching a bigger audience. Along the way in Montana I realized, with a lot of help and love from my tribe, that my mission had actually stolen my voice. What I learned further in my Rising Strong™ work is the reason for this; the inner critic of fear and shame.

I am feeling invisible.

Often feeling like the invisible advocate only seemed to strengthen my hustle but not in a healthy way. Rather, it was a hustle from scarcity as if trying to convince myself that I am enough. Finally, with the Rising Strong™ work I realized that this shameful and fearful part of me felt that if I didn't get Ever Upward noticed and keep hustling, that not only would I be unseen and invisible but my fear of disappearing would come true.

And yet, I know I matter. I will never disappear, even if I am unseen.

Because I am worthy.

The dreams have since stopped. In this work I have been able to again let go a bit more and walk even more into my own grace as my friend Susan says.

And yet, I know I am still a person of hard work and hustle.

I am determined.

But, for my well being and to honor the work I have done, and my truth, I must hustle from a place of wholeheartedness and not scarcity.

This clarity came right at the same time as a book was delivered on my doorstep (God knows when you are ready to receive).

I had preordered Hustle Believe Receive months ago and had honestly kind of forgotten about it.

And just like that my hustle became fun again and not desperate.

 
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I highly Sarah Centralla's book. I love her 8 steps to getting what you want in life because she makes them tangible and doable for everyone. It is also highly aligned with my values and the work of Ever Upward; we choose our lives and define our own happy ending. I especially love that she shares her story along with 51 other stories of people who believed they could, worked their asses off to create the lives they desire and allowed themselves the belief and love of themselves to receive it.

I am rising Ever Upward.

I just finished Sarah's Step5: #SeeIt and can feel the strength of my dreams empowering my hustle instead of it being powered by the fear of being left behind.

Because I believe in hard work. I believe in my voice, my truth and my dreams.

I believe in rising ever upward in the wholehearted hustle.

***Includes Amazon Affiliate links.

The Elusive Empathy Enigma Expanded

My latest original post for HuffPost Healthy Living. ~~~

Expanding the Empathy Enigma

To feel seen, known and loved.

What we all want and need in this life, and what we all probably hope to provide to those we care about.

How do we truly see, know and love someone when their experiences are so different than our own?

Can we truly understand? How can we really get it?

In many ways this is the work of Therapy 101.

The difference between empathy vs. sympathy?

Sympathy: I feel for you; the opposite of what it is to be seen, known and loved. Empathy: I feel with you; the epitome of what it is to be seen, known and loved.

Are you an empathic person?

Empathy is in my bones, not only in my personality but also in my education and training as a mental health therapist. There are times of my life where I feel as if I was born with too much of it. Empathy comes very naturally to me; to consider all sides of a situation and to truly identify with what someone must be feeling.

Do you struggle to have empathy for others because you haven't been through their exact same situation?

Continue reading on HuffPost here.

Why WHY is Unproductive

I have been blogging for a year and half now. A lot of learning, growth, healing and connection has happened in that year and a half. 195 posts of learning, growing and healing to be exact. As I am continuing to work on growing the platform ofEver Upward, I am growing my Justine Froelker’s YouTube channel. You can find Self-Care Tip Tuesdays, funny videos of the dogs, tapping scripts, my appearances on Great Day St. Louis and videos of me speaking to old blog posts, so please subscribe!

I originally wrote Change the Why in May of 2014. This is a slightly reworked and updated version of it, along with a NEW video explanation.

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Why? The word that so many toddlers torture their parents with as their curiosity about the world overwhelms them so much that they must know why about everything.

Why? Why? But, why?

It is counseling 101, and in reality, one of the most helpful communication tools I teach to my clients; take the why out of your conversations, especially the difficult ones.

Saying why can feel accusatory, and when we feel accused our defenses go up which means healthy communication typically becomes even more difficult and can even shut down.

 
 

Why did you do that?

Why do you feel that way?

Why do you think that?

Why can't you just be better?

Taking the why out of these questions feels a lot different.

What was that about?

How come you feel that way?

What is that thought process about for you?

What is holding you back from changing?

These small changes may seem trivial but try saying those statements out loud to yourself and feel the difference. Now imagine how much your communication can be helped if you become more conscious of the why.

But, the why I really want for us all to change is your self talk why. The why you beat yourself up with when you make a mistake.

I first learned of how hard I am on myself when I took a workshop with Kristen Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, at Emerging Women last year. In the workshop, she talked us through her self-compassion break meditation and for the first time I had to see in my own handwriting how hard I am on myself when I make a simple mistake. That berating self talk, calling ourselves names and really just not being nice to ourselves at all. This kind of self talk does not motivate us to change even though we've convinced ourselves that it has. We must realize what our inner critic is really trying to do, which is keep us safe or or keep us from suffering or improve us but through the years it has developed a pretty mean way of doing so.

Neff's research shows that self-compassion is where confidence and change can really occur. Her self-compassion model includes self-kindness (talking to yourself like you talk to a loved one), common humanity (reminding ourselves that everyone struggles and everyone makes mistakes) and mindfulness (being present with all our emotions). Combine that with the shame resilience skills from the work of Brené Brown and your self talk becomes a lot more pleasant and motivating.

A typical day for me will always include a trip, a spill or something breaking. It is just who I am, I am usually going too fast and as a firm believer in the one trip that often times means I am falling or breaking something. Yesterday for example, at coffee with a new friend as we are deep in great conversation I pick up my coffee cup to take a drink and it literally explodes; lid pops off, hot coffee all over my dress, the table and in my bowl of oatmeal (in my defense the barista had bent the cup before handing it to me but I was also moving too fast as usual).

Before learning the work of Kristen Neff and Brené Brown my inner dialogue would have been:

You're such an idiot. Oh my gosh, you are ridiculous. Why can't you be more careful? Just f*cking slow down! You're so stupid. How embarrassing!

After doing this work in my recovery:

Well, that had to be hysterical. That sucks, I'm covered in coffee. I need to stop, slow down and be more careful. Great girl, but not great choice.

I think we all struggle with this mean inner dialogue from time to time. I see it every day with my clients. My challenge to us all is to be nicer to ourselves. To take the why out of our self talk and replace it with how come or what. And finally, to remember we are worthy, lovable and great people who make mistakes but we don't have to be those mistakes.

Today become conscious of how you talk to yourself. Be nice and change the why

 
 

Living Wholehearted With Perspective Not From Comparison

Only nine months ago I had to go back to work as the authentic therapist I am after being out from a family member's life threatening, and ultimately life changing, accident. Only nine months ago I had to pray before each session and take a deep breath in order to be present for my clients and to not compare my hard with their hard. Only nine months ago I had to have the conversation with my clients that they are still allowed to their hard even though they know I am going through hard too. It was only nine months ago that my dad fell 6 feet off a ladder and sustained a traumatic brain injury and a life long disability. It was life or death. Less than two months ago Chad's sister, Becky, suffered from Spontaneous Coronary Dissection of all three of her heart arteries and on December 18th she received a heart transplant.

So I again still had to be the authentic therapist I am . I again had to pray before each session to help be present. And, I again had to assure my clients that their hard is still hard.

This is living life in the wholehearted way. Hard is just hard. Sure there is life or death but hard is just hard.

 
 

This is perspective. What I think we must remember is to practice this wholeheartedness with perspective but not through comparison.

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This comparison comes up a lot in the practice of gratitude. Practicing gratitude has been something I've taught to my clients for years at this point. Practicing gratitude has years of research to support the positive benefits of it. Practicing gratitude has been tweaked and improved by many of my favorite people such as Sonja Lyubomirsky, Marie Forleo, Brené Brown, Gabrielle Bernstein and Elizabeth Gilbert.

I write about the different ways I practice gratitude myself and what I teach my clients in Chapter 4 - Choosing Change in Ever Upward, especially in gratitude journals. Which you can guess are usually received with an audible groan and rolling of the eyes. But, it works! I promise!

What I have learned since writing the book is that I need to check my intentions when practicing my gratitude. I need and want my gratitude to come from a place of wholeheartedness. I need and want my gratitude to come with perspective and not from comparison.

We've all heard the sayings, be thankful someone always has it way worse than we do or it could be worse. I think practicing gratitude from this place of comparison is not healthy for us. And I know for sure, that practicing gratitude from this place of comparison, especially when coping with anxiety or depression, only makes it worse. Practicing gratitude from comparison leaves me asking myself, "Why can't I just be happy?" Which, ultimately, only feeds the depression.

Of course, things could always be worse. Trust me, half the time I've survived the worse. However, I must choose to practice my gratitude from the intention of a new perspective and not from comparison.

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This has been coming up a lot for me personally lately with Becky.Very unexpectedly all of our lives changed, hers the most, and it was life or death.

And, it is scary, it is sad and it is miraculous and amazing.

But, if I torture myself by saying, "Well, at least my heart beats." I minimize my struggle. If I look at my clients who are very much struggling after this holiday season with this place of comparison in my heart, I would never be able to help them.

Because, hard is just fucking hard.

Needing a new heart. Depression. Mold in your newly purchased home. Struggling to find the right diagnosis. Struggling to find the right partner. A chronic illness. Anxiety.

Whatever our hard, it is all just really hard. Sometimes, hard is actually life or death. But, all the time it is the life or death battle of losing ourselves.

It is true, comparison is the thief of joy, happiness...really of all good. Check your intentions as you practice your gratitude, better yet as you live your life.  Live wholehearted from the lens of a new perspective but not in the darkness of comparison. I promise you will feel the difference immediately. I promise your ever upward will come into full focus for you to walk into and fully embrace.

This post linked with Amateur Nester's Link-Up.

Please Just Stop Trying to Make It Better - Part 1

Because you can't, sometimes things just can't be fixed

 
 

I'm sad.

Just cheer up, it will be okay!

I'm anxious.

Just take a deep breath and calm down.

I'm angry.

Just count to 10 or walk away.

We're having trouble getting pregnant.

Just adopt! Just relax! Just stopping trying!

We think these above statements are empathy. But, really they are pity filled sympathetic responses to provide that quick fix; our attempt to try to make it better.

It seems like empathy skills are missing for a lot of us. We aren't taught how to be empathic and, I think, we even sometimes think we would rather have sympathy than empathy.

Sympathy is I feel for you; pity.

Empathy is I feel with you; I get it.

A think a major confusion is that we are mistaken in thinking that we must have gone through the exact same instance in order to have empathy. But that just isn't how it works. In order to be empathetic we simply need to be able to understand and know what it feels like to feel the feeling that someone is experiencing. As Brené Brown states in The Daring Way™ curriculum, if you have ever experienced guilt, sadness, anger, disappointment, etc. then you are equipped for empathy.

So we all (outside of the extreme sociopath, read the Underwood's from House of Cards) are able to show empathy and yet we are so quick to just fix it coming from a place of sympathy.

When we hear someone is in struggle we want to take away the pain, we want to make it better, we want to fix it.

Why?

We cannot stand discomfort.

We don't like to feel sad or mad or disappointed ourselves, let alone to be with someone we care about in their sadness or anger or disappointment.

We don't want someone we love, hell even a complete stranger, to feel this discomfort either. But, really it's more about our struggle sit with them through it.

So, we try to fix it with a quick solution, a just stop talking about it.

And when we do this we minimize and invalidate; even if it does come from a place of love.

Practicing empathy means being willing to sit with someone in their discomfort. It means being willing to just be with someone maybe not saying a single word. It means simply saying, that is so hard, that sucks, I can't imagine, ugh.

Compassion

This is where I birthedfertility compassion.

The world needs a whole lot more compassion in every area. But through my work in Ever Upward, fertility seems to be one of the biggest areas.

Why?

Because everyone has an opinion on family planning and it is assumed that everyone wants, needs and is able to make a family.

When in reality, this can't be further from the truth.

My #fertilitycompassion survey had three questions:

  1. What are some of the most difficult/insensitive statements or questions you have received in regards to your family planning?
  2. How did you respond? And why?
  3. What could have been a better way for the question to be asked?

The survey was anonymous and was answered by both men and women and by both people with and without children, fertile and infertile, and some childfree by choice, chance or circumstance.

Unfortunately, the results were not surprising to me as this has been my life, especially for the last years since we tried to have kids with a surrogate and are now accepting a childfree life.

Question #1 - The minimizing, invalidating, simple fix questions

These fell into 11 categories.

  1. God's plan.
  2. Just adopt.
  3. Getting pregnant is so easy.
  4. Just relax.
  5. But you're the lucky one.
  6. Parenting is the only purpose.
  7. Empathy versus sympathy.
  8. Easy solution.
  9. You'll change your mind.
  10. Point the finger and blame.
  11. Family planning.

1. God's plan - reading these statements made my heart ache and my eyes sting with tears.

"You're just not being faithful enough. You aren't praying the right healing prayers. It's just not in His plan for you to be a mom. God doesn't think you're financially ready to be a parent. It's just not meant to be."

2. Just adopt - these still spark some anger in me, mostly at the lack of understanding.

"Just adopt. Why don't you just foster? There are so many minority kids who need good homes. Don't you think you should save a child before having any more of your own?"

3. Getting pregnant is so easy - obviously not: 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility and 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage.

"You're so young, you have so much time. You're next! A lot of women miscarry! You were so early!"

4. Just relax - if only it were this simple for all of us.

"Just relax. Go on vacation. Have a margarita. Just don't think about it."

5. But you're the lucky one - the one upper, I have it so much worse.

"You have it so easy without kids. You don't need time off work, you don't have kids waiting for you at home. Oh, I'm a terrible mother, you can have my kids. You can borrow mine any time."

6. Parenting is the only purpose - if this is true I'm screwed.

"You aren't a parent, you wouldn't understand. But kids is the only purpose we have in life. Who will take care of you when you are old? But, having kids is the only way to really feel love."

7. Empathy versus sympathy - your pity does nothing for me and only leaves me feeling even more alone.

"I feel for sorry for you. Oh, I am so glad we never struggled, I can't imagine."

8. Easy solution - there are a millions way to make a family, none of them easy.

"Have you tried this? Or that? $15,000 isn't that much money, just do IVF. My friend had that too, she got pregnant just fine. Just try again. I'll carry for you."

9. You'll change your mind - we each have our own path, allow everyone to own theirs even if it is different than yours.

"But how do you know you won't want kids later in life? You can always just adopt later on."

10. Point the finger and blame - this feels so damning.

"Is he shooting blanks? What's wrong with you? Who's fault is it? There must have been something wrong with it."

11. Family planning - everyone has an opinion they must share or could this just be a bid for connection?

"Everyone assumes we have 3 because we stopped trying."

"You must want a girl or aren't you glad you didn't have a girl?! (We have three boys and our little girl is in heaven)."

"When are you having another?"

"Be thankful for the one healthy child you have."

"You don't want them too far apart! (we've had three miscarriages after our first)"

"You should really try for a girl next time. (we have two boys; we have lost three female babies)."

"Shouldn't you just be happy with the two you have."

"You don't want to be too old."

"Was she an accident? (she is five years younger than her brothers)."

Before I move on to writing about questions 2 and 3, I will let these settle in some.

Are we all just being too sensitive?

Perhaps.

But as someone who has struggled to do the very thing that many of us believe we were put on earth to do, be a parent, these questions and statements cut like a knife.

They hurt.

They invalidate the painful journey we have been on.

They minimize the paths before us.

And, even though I sincerely believe they come from love (and curiosity), I also know they come from ignorance and comparison.

So for now, think before you speak and watch your tone, you honestly have no idea what the person on the other side of your words has gone through; the pain they have suffered, the losses they have endured and the struggles of their daily lives.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."—Rev. John Watson

"Including you."—Glennon Melton

Don't make your words added pain.

And, in part 2 I will share how people respond to these questions and statements. But, mostly I will focus on what we all really want and need to hear instead.

Compassion. Empathy. Hope.

Ever upward.

Housekeeping:

Kickstarter for Ever Upward Book Trailer has only hours to go and we are so close! Every dollar (share and prayer) helps!

Ever Upward presale live now.

Ever Upward Launch Party is October 4th.

Fertility Compassion Survey will continue to collect responses.

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

Fear: Embracing It To Move Through It, Not Living From It

There is a lot of fear right now. Fear of struggle. Fear of violence. Fear of depression. Fear of it getting worse. Fear of sadness. Fear of unanswered questions. Fear of pain. Fear of loss. Fear of it never getting better. Fear of the unknown.

Fear of fear.

Fear is a constant topic in my office with my clients; most often the fear of the unknown or the fear of things never getting better.

The exact sentiments we are seeing and feeling in our community lately.

Fear keeps us stuck and paralyzed. Fear makes us react instead of respond. Fear keeps us from living our lives authentically and wholeheartedly.

Our challenge is not to get rid of it or to not feel it or to stuff it down or to numb it out. I think many times we are socialized to believe that we shouldn't feel "negative" emotions; fear especially. But the fact is, just at Brené Brown states, we cannot selectively numb out the dark.

Our challenge is to embrace it, move through it and live our lives with courage despite the fear.

Living from a place of fear

We must make the choice to not live our lives from a place of fear. When we live our lives from a place of fear we only hurt ourselves and others. Living our lives from a place of fear means we use shame and anger to get through our days. Living our lives from a place of fear means we compare and live from scarcity.

Living our lives from place of fear means we ultimately choose to live in the dark all alone.

Allowing fear to move through

Rather, we must make the choice to live our lives knowing that our fear will not kill us. Knowing that our fear doesn't have to mean we hurt ourselves and others. Knowing that we can embrace these "negative" emotions (jealousy, anger, sadness, shame, etc.) and trust that most are coming from this place of fear.

But, knowing that we can move through the fear with bravery.

If we can embrace our fear to move through it and not live from it, it can and will exist right alongside hope. As much of the research shows:

Brené Brown discusses in her research how we cannot be courageous and comfortable at the same time. We must be brave and afraid all at once. This iswholehearted living. And,

"The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows."

As Jarrett Stevens guest pastor at The Crossing said a few weeks ago said:

"Fear borrows from a future possibility and makes it our present reality. Fear is believing that the best God has for me is the worst I can imagine. But, faith can bring us through it."

Panache Desai in Discovering Your Soul Signature (love this three times a day "devotional" book):

"We need to find our courage, which of course, is not the absence of fear but rather the willingness to feel the fear and move forward anyway. Fear isn't going to kill us. It's an energy that we can allow to move through us."

And finally, that through this hope, compassion also exists...

Glennon Doyle Melton says,

“Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.”

And, as Jeff Brown says,

"Compassion. It's not just a word. It's a way of being. It's not just a concept. It's love in action. It's not just something we conveniently practice. It's something we consistently embody. Compassion for those who are struggling. Compassion for our shared humanness. Compassion for the courage it takes to make it through. Unity begins with compassion. I see me in you, I see you in me, and I want us to live from love together."

Living through fear to compassion

What would it be like for us to simply name our fear? Name it, identify it, feel it and embrace it. Allow it to move through us by also allowing enough space for courage. Through practicing this bravery we will not have to keep living our lives from this place of fear.

We can find the compassion for ourselves and others.

We can find the light in ourselves and others.

We can find our loving power in ourselves and others.

And, maybe, we could heal.

Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life is now available for presale!

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 linked at Amateur Nester's Link-Up!

Witnessing the Choice to Live and Love Wholeheartedly

Truly honored

"Be free my guarded heart and I shall flourish.

Tear down the walls that guard and I will thrive.

Expose my inner depths and shine light on what's real.

Afraid and brave, she will live and love freely and entirely.

Watch her fly. Watch her grow."

The words my client wrote as part of her work in The Daring Way™. Her work to choose to live her life wholeheartedly. Her work to choose to practice shame resilience. Her work to live with brave authenticity and to love courageously vulnerable.

Her work to choose to change her life.

The work I choose myself every day.

The work I can only hope, wish and pray everyone chooses.

Bearing witness

I didn't know I wanted to be a mental health therapist until I lost one dream.

I only dreamed that I would get paid to do something I love with every cell of my being.

I never knew the depth it would provide in my own recovery.

The honor of bearing witness to choosing change

I have always felt honored to witness the choices my clients make to change their lives; let alone the permission to fight beside them. I have always felt honored to be the one to walk alongside them and push or pull them forward when needed.

It is nothing short of a true honor.

But, nothing could have prepared me with how much my career would change when I did my own work, when ever upward entered the world and when I earned certification in The Daring Way™.

I feel blessed, I feel lucky and I am more grateful than words can contain for the honor it is to bear witness to someone choosing to change their life. Choosing to live and love with their whole heart. Choosing to fight for themselves.

Speaking their truth.

Embracing their whole story.

Practicing their recovery.

Owning it all.

And, I can only hope that owning my story helps my clients to own theirs. That my courage sparks their courage. That my fight helps them fight a little harder.

Because courage begets courage and knowing you have someone fighting the good fight beside you can only help.

This is not easy work.  But, it is work that is worth it. Because, it can and will get better.

But, we must choose it. Because, we deserve it.

It will be the hardest thing you ever do, but I promise the work, the love, the light, the healing is here to pull you through.

And, nothing is more heartbreaking than a battle lost*.

Every day I see the change. Every day I feel the courage. Every day I witness someone choosing themselves. Every day I see the world change one person at a time. And, every day I thank God for the chance to wholeheartedly witness it all.

Because, this is nothing short of amazing:

"Be free my guarded heart and I shall flourish.

Tear down the walls that guard and I will thrive.

Expose my inner depths and shine light on what's real.

Afraid and brave, she will live and love freely and entirely.

Watch her fly. Watch her grow."

*If you're struggling with some tough emotions or feeling lonely, don't hesitate to call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

This post linked to Amateur Nester's Link-Up.

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

Our Infertility Rap Sheets

Ever Upward is growing. My world is expanding. My recovery is strengthening.

Which also means my shamed silence is triggered more often. Even though my shame resilience has grown as a result of my practicing recovery.

As I meet more and more people in the infertility world, blogging or otherwise, I am finding myself comparing my story to theirs. I have always been uncomfortable with the TTC (trying to conceive) timelines. I am especially uncomfortable when our About pages and Twitter bio's are our TTC timelines full of numbers and acronyms.

What I have come to realize is that my discomfort is simply a result of my shame being triggered.

The numbers we share to describe ourselves; how many miscarriages, cycles, IUIs, IVFs, BFNs, etc.* Hell, I have my numbers in my bio (two rounds of IVF and three never to be babies). I thought I included these because they are part of my whole story. But what I think I am figuring out through working my recovery is that I have left them in for proof and as a way to cope with my shame.

Proof that I too have suffered and lost; my comparing my story to others', my way of shouting out, "I tried too."

But, this really comes from my sense of not being enough, of trying to prove myself rather than owning myself. The scarcity culture, as Brené Brown describes in The Daring Way™ work. The never ______________ enough. Never pretty enough. Never thin enough. Never rich enough. Never happy enough.

This scarcity culture has helped turned these numbers into one of my biggest shame triggers.

My fear that I will be judged that I didn't try enough. That I didn't lose enough.

Because I don't have a long rap sheet of years of trying to conceive or IUIs, IVFs and BFNs.

And, I have no doubt that I have been and will continue to be judged for not trying more, just as much as I am judged for not choosing adoption.

And so, at least from Ever Upward, the blog, I have removed my counts, my proof, because I am more than just my two rounds and three lost babies. I am actually even more because of my lifelong losses. These numbers could never come close to describing what I have been through or what is left as a result.

Because within this I truly it own it, and myself.

Apart from surviving infertility and thriving thereafter, I also have the mental health therapist part of my head and heart at work with these TTC timelines and rap sheet descriptions. I cannot help but be scared and saddened by it. That as men and women suffering through infertility treatments we are identifying ourselves, sometimes completely, through how many treatments we have endured.

 
 

We are so much more than this.

We have to be so much more than this.

We have to be because, I think, that is the only way we will survive infertility and thrive thereafter, no matter what our ending looks like.

I am not sure what our motivations are for making our infertility rap sheets part of our bios or even our whole story. But for me, it was about comparison and scarcity. Comparison in making sure the world knew I tried too and therefore have suffered. Scarcity in proving that it was enough.

Comparison and scarcity; two things I am practicing shame resilience and recovery from.

Because, I did try and I have suffered.

Enough.

Because, only I define my enough and my "did we do everything?"

For me, I need to be more.

Because, this is ever upward.

I will talk about it, I will embrace it, I will practice and model recovery from it and I will own it. Because maybe within my ownership, one person will be brave enough to demand to be more than their infertility rap sheet.

Because we all are.

So much more.

And, we all deserve to be.

*For a full list of infertility acronyms click here.

*To read more about my story and my recovery make sure to pick up a copy of the soon to be published Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.*

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 linked with Amateur Nester's Link Up #9.

The Tablespoon of Shame

Many say our generations have been raised very differently. Some say that our previous generations were raised with humility at the core. This message that you aren't that special and you must work to prove your worthiness, maybe even to the point of perfection. This message was especially delivered with that sense that you must appear perfect, especially to everyone on the outside.

Then we have some saying that our newer generations are being raised one of two ways:

  • to think we are all too special thus leading us to this sense of entitlement on one extreme, maybe even to the point of laziness and a lack of responsibility.
  • Then the other extreme, this sense of needing to always be the best at any and everything, leading us to having an identity of only accomplishments, hence even more perfectionism.

I am not here to share the research or to even prove or disprove either argument. And, I am not going to write about parenting today. However, as I work with clients every day, especially through the shame resilience work of The Daring Way™, and I continue to work on my own recovery, I am seeing a few patterns that seem to be haunting many of us today.

 
 

With the previous generation this message of humility seems to often have been handed down with a tablespoon of shame. This idea that you aren't that special. You must prove yourself; you must be perfect even.

What I see in my office with clients today are people trying to figure out what to do with this sense of unworthiness that this tablespoon of shame has left them with. This sense of never being enough. This idea that unless I am perfect, unless I prove myself, I am unworthy of love and belonging; because, I am not that special.

With the newer generations and the message that we are all really special, still taught with a tablespoon of shame as it is directly tied to self worth, I see clients who are feeling extremely lost.

So scared to make a decision, maybe even scared of the work required of whatever decision they finally make. The fear of the responsibility because if they do make a mistake then they are handed the message, with that tablespoon of shame, that they are no longer special at all.

Or the other side, the side of always having to be the best; to have the ultimate college application or resume. That perfectionist, only born out of that tablespoon of shame, accomplished list rather than a soul or person. Because, I am only special because of what I can do or what I have accomplished.

I am finding that they too are very lost. Lost in finding their authentic truth. Lost in being able to trust themselves. Lost in knowing who they really want to be, especially outside of their accomplishments.

All three groups, at least what I see in my office on a daily basis, are left with this sense of never being enough and yet this sense of having to be everything. And, this damn tablespoon of shame that seems to haunt them relentlessly. Making it all tied to their sense of love, belonging and worthiness.

We are all worthy. We are all lovable. We all belong.

And, we are all worthy of love and belonging.

However, I think, this tablespoon of shame, leaves many of us never believing the above statements.

Technically we are supposed to get this sense of love and belonging from our family of origin but sometimes they just don't have it to give, maybe because they were never taught or shown it or because life has just been that difficult. Hopefully then we get it from our social and peer groups or even school or work settings.

For me, with where my life is, my tablespoon of shame is typically delivered from our culture and, unfortunately, even from some loved ones.

It is delivered in those messages that try to dim my light and shame my story.

The complete mis-education and misunderstanding of infertility.

The invalidation of the lifelong costs and losses of infertility.

The judgments on me for not choosing adoption and accepting a childfree but childfull life.

The denial of my story because it is too difficult or uncomfortable to hear.

No matter the tablespoon of shame in our lives, this sense of love and belonging can still be felt by all of us. It is in all of the daily practices we must choose in order to find this for ourselves; to find it within ourselves. Those daily practices of connection, compassion, brave vulnerability and self care. For me, it has been the work that I have learned from Brené Brown's research combined with everything I have learned working in this field for the last 14 years.

It is recovery.

It is living the wholehearted life. It is practicing happy to be happy. It is being authentic. It is being brave. It is being vulnerable.

It is in owning it all.

No matter which group we may identify with above, I think our answer through it to our happier and healthier selves is in our practice, fight and work in our own recoveries in life.

It is in owning all the parts of our stories.

It is in leaving out that tablespoon of shame in our recipe for an ever upward life.

*To read more about my story and my recovery make sure to pick up a copy of the soon to be published Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.*

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

Change the Why

Why? The word that so many toddlers torture their parents with as their curiosity about the world overwhelms them so much that they must know why about everything.

Why? Why? But, why?

It is counseling 101, and in reality, one of the most helpful communication tools I teach to my clients. Take the why out of your conversations, especially the difficult ones.

Saying why can feel accusatory, and when we feel accused our defenses go up which means healthy communication typically becomes even more difficult and can even shut down.

 
 

Why did you do that?

Why do you feel that way?

Why do you think that?

Why can't you just be better?

Taking the why out of these questions feels a lot different.

What was that about?

How come you feel that way?

What is that thought process about for you?

What is holding you back from changing?

These small changes may seem trivial but just try saying those statements out loud to yourself and feel the difference. Now imagine how much your communication can be helped if you become more conscious of the why.

But, the why I really want for us all to change is your self talk why. The why you beat yourself up with when you make a mistake.

I first learned of how hard I am on myself when I took a workshop with Kristen Neff, author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, at Emerging Women last year. In the workshop, she talked us through her self-compassion break meditation and for the first time I had to see in my own handwriting how hard I am on myself when I make a simple mistake. That berating self talk, calling ourselves names and really just not being nice to ourselves at all. This kind of self talk does not motivate us to change even though we've convinced ourselves that it has. We must realize what our inner critic is really trying to do, which is keep us safe or or keep us from suffering or improve us but through the years it has developed a pretty mean way of doing so.

Neff's research shows that self-compassion is where confidence and change can really occur. Her self-compassion model includes self-kindness (talking to yourself like you talk to a loved one), common humanity (reminding ourselves that everyone struggles and everyone makes mistakes) and mindfulness (being present with all our emotions). Combine that with the shame resilience skills from the work of Brené Brown and your self talk becomes a lot more pleasant and motivating.

A typical day for me will always include a trip, a spill or something breaking. It is just who I am, I am usually going too fast and as a firm believer in the one trip that often times means I am falling or breaking something. Yesterday for example, at coffee with a new friend as we are deep in great conversation I pick up my coffee cup to take a drink and it literally explodes; lid pops off, hot coffee all over my dress, the table and in my bowl of oatmeal (in my defense the barista had bent the cup before handing it to me but I was also moving too fast as usual).

Before learning the work of Kristen Neff and Brené Brown my inner dialogue would have been:

You're such an idiot. Oh my gosh, you are ridiculous. Why can't you be more careful? Just f*cking slow down! You're so stupid. How embarrassing!

After doing this work in my recovery:

Well, that had to be hysterical. That sucks, I'm covered in coffee. I need to stop, slow down and be more careful. Great girl, but not great choice.

I think we all struggle with this mean inner dialogue from time to time. I see it every day with my clients. My challenge to us all is to be nicer to ourselves. To take the why out of our self talk and replace it with how come or what. And finally, to remember we are worthy, lovable and great people who make mistakes but we don't have to be those mistakes. Today become conscious of how you talk to yourself. Be nice and change the why!

Courageously Contagious

The overarching theme of Brené Brown's research and work is shame, vulnerability and courage. And it has completely helped me to change my entire life. The courage she displayed in her first TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is something to be in awe of. It has only been through witnessing this courage that many events in my life have unfolded and taken place; Emerging Women 2013, Ever Upward the book and the blog, The Daring Way™ Certification training, and really, the first spark of my own recovery.

Because courage is contagious.

Witnessing courage in others; through the work of my patients, through my own loved ones and through amazing people like Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert and Glennon Melton helps us all to believe in our own power to change our lives.

And there are simply not enough sufficient words to portray the emotion I feel when others own their stories because I have owned mine.

Every single like, comment, and especially, share of Ever Upward posts.

The woman who has never spoken to anyone but her husband about their infertility struggles and stumbles upon Ever Upward to then post on Facebook that she is starting a infertility support group at her church.

My friend who admitted to more friends of how they finally became pregnant with their soon to be born baby girl.

My patient who chooses her recovery every day because she knows we've all had to fight some sense of recovery in our lives, even me, her therapist.

 
 

It is not always easy to speak, let alone own, all the parts of my story. Shame still resides in me, really in us all, as my unhealthy, unwanted, and really unneeded, savior; the dark dementor that comes in to shut me down, to protect me from pain and judgment.

The shame that comes in making me feel a dark, heavy pit in my stomach that then wafts the suffocating fog over my spirit dulling my light.

I felt it just this past week when Huffington Post ran the article, The Question The Gives You a One in Eight Chance of Being an Insensitive Jerk. I was so excited to see a huge site like HuffPost run a blog post about infertility. And I will completely admit, I only wish they had featured my blog and that they had spoken more to every side of the infertility world, but breaking the silence of infertility on any level is a step towards the death of shame that silences us so much.

But then I made the mistake of reading the comments on HuffPost's Facebook page in response to the article. The amount of ignorance, judgment and mercilessness were all I needed for my shame to pull everything I've worked so hard on right out from under me. I was faced with the words that bring on my shame spiral in a blink of an eye, "I don't understand why people who cannot have kids don't just adopt."

It hit me like a two ton shield. My heart started racing, my breath quickened and I could feel the dark pit in my stomach churn. My dementor came in so quickly to shut me down, to "protect" me, to steal my light.

And then I named it.

Shame.

I took a breath, reminded myself of the power of my light and I spoke. I took a moment to post a comment myself on the Facebook feed, taking the opportunity to educate on how much infertility is misunderstood, minimized and invalidated, especially with that inevitable question. And, then I also emailed HuffPost asking them to run additional articles on this subject and even submitted for an opportunity to write something myself.

I took a breath and I found my courage.

I took a breath and embraced the pain and the judgment to remind me that the flame of my spirit, my core values, are courage and hope. And unless, I protect that flame myself, no one else will ever be able to see it.

 
 

I took a breath and I spoke.

I took a breath and I tried to be contagious.

As, it has only been through the courage and spark of others' protecting and living their own flame, that I have found mine.

Because courage is contagious.

So even if HuffPost never features Ever Upward or my book doesn't become a New York Times bestseller or the blog never achieves a hundred thousand followers I will still be here.

I will still be here, shining my light of courage and hope because it is the only way I honor my own recovery. And, if my light sparks the courage in even just one person to fight for finding their own ever upward, well then, I consider it contagious.

My Dementor: Shame and Self Doubt

Today I gave a presentation for a Lunch and Learn at a major corporation here in Saint Louis. This is my sixth Lunch and Learn with them. I always have good attendance, great feedback and they actually pay me to speak.

And yet this morning as I over-prepared, I literally made myself sick with anxiety and self doubt.

Because, today I spoke on Wholehearted Parenting.

And, I am not a parent.

And, I was scared shitless.

A few days ago my shame consumed me as the presentation got closer; "I am not a parent and I am speaking on parenting". I remind myself that this is also major public information now.

The self doubt settling over me like a thick fog casting fear inside my very core.

Shame.

Fucking shame.

Like the dementor to my light, stealing my voice, sucking away my soul, leaving my heart empty.

I reached out to my friend,Janine, who organizes the talks and she of course gave me an amazing pep talk. And then last night my friend and colleague reminded me that I am actually a parent. Kelly's words will forever and always mean the world to me. She said that I parent as much as she does, just in different ways; I parent my dogs and I parent all of the children in my life and that most of all I parent my clients. In many ways therapy is like parenting or even re-parenting with clients. She parents her two boys, but my audience of children is simply bigger as this is my purpose, and my path.

I cried and took in her words because I knew they were my truth. I drew in a deep knowing breath and thanked her for reminding me of my light. She reminded me of what I know every day in many ways, I wasn't given the chance or blessing of my own children because I am meant for this greatness of working with clients, writing and helping others. It's neither better nor worse or more or less important, it's just different.

 
 

So, this morning before I walked into that board room I wrote myself a permission slip, just like we ask ourselves and clients to do as they work through The Daring Way™ curriculum. I wrote myself my permission slip and set it right beside my notes.

I have permission to be scared. I have permission to not be parent enough. I have permission to know, and own, that I know what I am talking about and that I can help even though I am not a parent in the traditional sense.

And so I spoke. And I was painfully vulnerable in owning to them that I am not a parent but that I was there to teach them about wholehearted parenting. I called out my own imposter syndrome, and let them in to my world: I don't get to be a parent but I can still help you be a better one I think.

I also stated that I am the right person to do that because, one, I actually have the time to read the research and parenting books because I wasn't able to be a mom. And two, I parent every single day, just not my own children (and according to Kelly this probably means my house is cleaner, I am more well rested and I have more sex).

I was real, I was vulnerable and I allowed my brilliant light to outshine my shame. And because I fought for that bravery, I connected and delivered one of my best lectures. And I have no doubt that there will be some families this weekend with some new language and new ways to love and parent because of that hour we spent together today.

Doing the work of recovery and learning shame resilience doesn't mean we won't experience shame. It simply means that we will be able to better cope with it when it does come in.

Shame is my dementor. And it has been very ominous this week, floating over me threatening to take my spirit with this parenting presentation and with more activity from agents and publishers on Ever Upward, the book. But that self doubt has been further shattered today by the success of my last post. A post that I struggled with so much to write and didn't think was my best work; damn art of letting go. And yet, it has been viewed over 450 times in two days, breaking my record of daily views today alone.

I almost let shame and self doubt stop me from writing that post earlier this week, I almost let it steal my light this whole week, and especially today.

It was only through courage, compassion and connection  that ever upward prevailed.

What do you need to give yourself permission to do, say or feel in the crazy journey of life or in your recovery? How can you practice courage, compassion and connection to remind yourself of your ever upward light? 

**This prompt later linked with the WordPress Daily Prompt: The Great PretenderAre you full of confidence or have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome? Tell us all about it.**

Worth Every Raindrop and Thunder Strike

It has been a week of witnessing the dichotomy between the sheer terror and the joyful hope of change. A week of asking clients to trust that if they feel the fear and choose change anyway there is light waiting for them. The fear of the storm that must be felt at the same time as having the courage for riding out and fighting through the storm, along with the bravery for the calm after it.

The work my clients do each week will be the scariest and most difficult of their lives. And yet it can, and will be the work that changes everything. The work that leads them back to their true, whole, healthy and authentically happy selves.

Even though we know we want, deserve and can do, be and have better, we are so fearful of it and scared to death of what it will take to get it.

So we settle and stand in our own way because it feels safer, even in the dark misery of it.

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I know, because I did it.

I know, because I didn't define my rock bottom for myself and life did it for me.

I know, because I've finally gotten out of my own way and fought for myself.

I know, because I felt the fear and I chose recovery anyway.

Our recoveries will all be different, but have no doubt, eventually we will each need to choose to recover. Because life is beautifully flawed and heart breakingly difficult.

But through the fear and the work of the storm, after we make the choice to change, lies the calm and brilliance of recovery.

Because we must be afraid and brave at the same time as Brené Brown has found in her research. We must feel the fear and choose ourselves in order to fight the fight of recovery.

I have my story, myself, to show as evidence. And I will model that every minute of all of my days.

I will model that it isn't easy; that there are setbacks and it definitely doesn't feel fair most of the time.

I will model that on the other side of the storm is ever upward light.

And, all I can hope and work for is that my clients, and my loved ones, see my fight and my light every day.

Because through me, I hope they can trust and have faith that I will fight alongside them. Constantly reminding them that their light is worth both riding out and fighting through the storm because the ever upward calm of recovery is worth every raindrop and thunder strike.