Sep 6, 2018

Mind Work

I often get asked how I was able to come to the level of peace that I have after walking away from IVF, and the dreams I had hoped those treatments would bring me.

I think a lot of times people are hoping for the quick fix.
Unfortunately, like all lifestyle changes, it takes consistent effort and discipline, and truth be told, I am still working on it. It will likely take a lifetime, but I'm willing to keep moving forward.

It is incredibly hard to make a permanent adjustment in your brain, when it's so used to doing something on auto-pilot, even if it's detrimental to your well-being and those around you.

I can assure you it gets worse before it gets much, much better, but I can promise you there is a light at the end of the tunnel...even if the tunnel is filled with shit a la Shawshank Redemption.

The process to change my thinking came after many, many days (week? months?) barely floating just above the surface of grief and depression. Those foggy days consumed my entire being, and while I may have looked relatively normal on the outside, engaging in conversation, being social, and even laughing, I was dying on the inside.

I was ashamed of how generally awful I felt, so I hid it from those that saw me and heard my words every day. People are supposed to be happy. Happy attracts happy, so I just pushed those negative feelings to the side and ignored them.

But they would eventually bubble to the surface, and I would lash out, typically on Mark.

At some point along the way I became disgusted with myself.
That became Day 1 of the post-traumatic growth. That was the day I said ENOUGH.
I came home from work, angered at how easily it always was for me to get irritated, and decided to change the way I viewed my life.

I had grown weary of trying to mask the way I felt.
And I felt this way because I spent the majority of my time wondering how things would be now if the past was different.

Let me repeat, I was sad and depressed almost daily because I kept trying to re-hash, justify, and make sense of my past. Like it was a big mistake and maybe there was something I could have done differently to have made it right.

But that's the kicker, my friends, how the past went WAS. RIGHT. It was right because it happened, whether I liked it or not. It happened exactly how it was supposed to happen, and trying to argue with it and change it will only be met with a loss for words or understanding.

Dwelling on your past and wishing it were different will literally get you nowhere.

I knew this but did nothing but feel sorry for myself for MONTHS.

Until that one day, when I so fed up with myself, so disgusted with how I was ignoring my beautifully broken life, that I decided to stop trying to change the past and instead, focus on what I could control in the present.

And with that notion, I left you for the summer to work on my life, just as it is, with my amazing husband by my side.

And friends, it has been EPIC.
I am writing today in the buzz and haze of Mark's birthday bash that I had been diligently planning for many, many months. (okay, almost a year) Turning 40 is a big deal in my book, and I wasn't about to miss out on an opportunity to sharpen my party planning skills with a huge celebration.

This amazing bash capped off one of my favorite summers to date. (and if you follow me on INSTAGRAM, you saw all the chaos before, during, and after!) Truth be told, this summer wasn't without it's hiccups and blips of grief and issues along the way...but they all seemed to be woven in between amazing memories, sunny skies, and one too many White Claws.

I felt empowered, fierce, unstoppable, courageous, encouraged and filled with happiness and joy most days.

And sometimes I also felt sad, beaten-down, less-than, incapable, sluggish and generally bad about myself.

But that's just it, folks. You have to embrace and recognize ALL. OF. IT. You don't get to just have a perfectly happy life with no issues. You can't expect that of yourself or others. So just get right the Hell over that nonsense. Sorry, it's just not how life works. But those incredibly shitty days make you realize just how amazing the good days are.

I may have dove off the deep end in my joy. Not that I have any regrets.

Chopping off 8+ inches of your hair and dying it platinum blonde will make you feel awesome, by the way, if you're looking for something dramatic.

I loved harder than ever and fiercely protected my boundaries and sanity in this season. I may have seen some people less but I found myself more. To me, that's all that truly matters. Sometimes you have to put your own happiness first, even if others don't quite catch on to your reasons right away.

If they loved you through your seasons of grief and despair, they will love you through your seasons of happiness, without jealousy, competition, or bitterness.

I started giving myself exactly what I needed, instead of looking to outside sources, events, or people to provide it for me

And that made it a damn good summer, indeed.
Thanks for reading. XO.
Jul 18, 2018

So What's New With Me?

Hello loves.
If you have been following me on Instagram, you may have been clued in that I have been riding the grief struggle bus a bit in recent days. I have noticed this often happens when I re-hash our losses or have some sort of milestone pop up.  Our baby's first birthday would be July 21st and I guess I was hoping it wouldn't hurt as much as it has in recent years. But it does, so I'm just going with it and trying to rest and take it easy while the feelings come and go.

In spite of this, I will still continue to tell my story.
I do believe it's important to share where we are and keep driving the point home that although I am, overall, in a much better mental space than I have been in recent years, no one can be happy 24/7 and when you have suffered through a loss or diagnosis of any kind, grief can and will rear it's ugly head from time to time, and if you aren't in tune with yourself, it may surprise you that it can come on so strong.

For me, I notice I tend to get more tension in my neck and shoulders, followed by headaches and migraines (that was QUITE the way to kick off the 4th of July weekend, let me tell you). I find myself frantically trying to fill my time with useless tasks and get frustrated when things don't seem to be going as smoothly as they used to. It's then I realize I am trying to hide my feelings, and usually start accepting grief for what it is, sleep more, and

The ultimate release is a good cry, and that finally happened last night.
It was like I was letting go of all this angst I carried with me in the last couple of weeks.
I feel lighter today and more aware of how amazing my life is, and that's when I know I'm recovering.

I'm hopeful I'll be walking with grief much less in the coming days, and that's always a good thing.

I shared my journey with Lindsay and her readers over at Bourbon and Lipstick today, if you would like to learn more, catch up, or just get to know another awesome fellow blogger. Lindsay and I connected through our blogs many years ago and I am proud to call her a good friend, even if we have never met in real life.

Finally, I started as an affiliate for a wonderful company a little over a year ago, called 31 Bits.
I like them so much because they source artisans all over the world and give their talents access to a global market, which in turn allows for them to provide a better living for themselves and their families.

But, needless to say, because this isn't slave labor, the price tag for their items (including jewelry and homegoods) isn't dirty cheap. What I love about the items though, is that they are all different, they are all imperfect, and you can tell each and every stone, plate, jewel, bauble, etc really is hand-crafted from scratch.

With every purchase, they send along a beautiful card that shows you the faces of the people that make your gift, and I love to imagine sitting with one of them as they show me their craft.

The best part is, if you are weary about dipping your toe into a new company, and trust me, I get it, they are having a wonderful sale of all their Sale items. 40% off to be exact.

This means that items range between $10-$15 with the sale!

The necklace I'm wearing is $15.50 with discount. Just use code EXTRA40 at checkout.
Order enough stuff and you get free shipping too!

The 40% off Sale Items continues through July 23rd and because each item is unique, they do tend to sell out quickly, so treat yourself or your loved one to something special and hop to it!

Thanks so much for checking in with me. XO
Jul 9, 2018

I Am Owning My Story

I was always a light sleeper.
Always worried that one of my pets would get hurt in the night.
Always concerned with the details of the next IVF protocol; what the results may hold, what our chances were, what the next hit would be.
I worried about making it to the next round, the next step, the next milestone, certain that if I never made it as a mom, I would ultimately be nothing.

A non-mom is no way to live by society's standards.
I have offered nothing to this world. 
I cannot grow anything within me.
I have no purpose and should just back away in shame.

To say I was unhappy during those trying days of uncertainty in the midst of failed cycle after failed cycle would be the understatement of a lifetime.

Often times loved ones around me would try to give me the standard pep talk.

It will work, Tia.

And I often, so very often, would combat it with the shielded response.

But it might not.

Call it intuition.
Call it whatever you want.
But there was always something nagging at me, deep down inside, and with every forceful grasp at the next layer of mountain I climbed, I always knew we would likely not succeed at this.

This wasn't what we were meant to do as humans.
We were not destined to raise our own children.

And that intuition worried me to my very core.

And then we stopped trying.
We stopped treatments.
We stopped.
Just. Stopped. Everything.

I finally let go of that mountain I kept a tight grip of, and fell back into the clouds.

My head stopped spinning.
My feet, once grounded in impenetrable cement, moved again.
My body yearned to run, to leap, to do anything that didn't involve sitting in another chair having my blood drawn.
My mind became laser focused and my vision narrowed.
And my heart expanded ten-fold to the immediate loves in my life and everything I have been cultivating for the past decade.

And I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of.
Worry faded away, and the little annoyances and frustrations of daily life seemed so trivial in comparison to the storm we just walked through.

I slept. Deeply.
And continued this pattern each night.
And still do to this day.

Embracing my life, just as it is, has freed me from the criticism and judgment that I was putting on MYSELF because I THOUGHT that's how society viewed me.

And to be honest, society might still view me that way.
As nothing.
As no good.

Because I'm a non-mom.

But I can assure you that I simply raised my middle finger at the criticism, and kept looking forward, kept walking. 
Because none of that worry or judgment matters, really.

Sickness and death and despair will happen in the future.
But I now know that ultimately, when the dust settles, I am resilient.
I will continue to put one foot in front of the other, and keep walking forward.

Because life will go on.
And I will not fear the variables.
I will not fear the what-ifs.
I will not worry about failing.

Failure, you see, is just another part of life.
You MUST fail to succeed at something better.
To try a different route.
To keep pressing forward.
Only the strongest take failure and turn it into a positive, rewarding aspect of life.

And I can assure you I fail every damn day.
And it's glorious.
I get to reinvent myself as often as I want.
I get to try again.
I get to keep going.

So, when people ask me how I'm doing these days.
The honest answer is....I'm doing amazing.
Free from worry and embracing failure and watching how resilient I am.
Focusing inward and erasing the judgment and comparison and simply ENJOYING living.

THAT is the spice of life, folks.

Everything else is just....details.
Details that will eventually fall into place.
Most of which I can't control or manipulate even if I wanted to.

Those types of expectations are what causes worry, anyways.
The expectation of how life is SUPPOSED to go.
Life is SUPPOSED to go exactly as it's going.
We're living our best life, don't you see?

When you remove the comparison and expectations, all you're left with is the stuff and situations and destiny you were always meant to live. 

It's good to try new things.
To take chances.
Because you might just fail.
And then you take that failure, turn it into a life lesson, embrace what happened and move forward wiser, and lighter, and with more ease.

So, my dear, infertility did so much for me, even if it didn't give me the baby I thought I would have.
It gave me my LIFE BACK.
And I will be eternally grateful for all the failures along the way.

Thanks for reading. XO
Jun 12, 2018

I. Am. Free.

Hey there!
As you have obviously noticed, blogging is taking more and more of a back-seat in my life these days. I can honestly say I'm not upset about it, though. When I started writing in 2012, I needed an outlet because I didn't have many people to lean on (read: zero) that understood what I was going through with infertility, trouble trying to conceive, finding my footing in the corporate world, and, most importantly, finding MYSELF along the way.

And look how far I've come in those six years!!
My's been so, so good.
All of it.

And it really does take an extremely healthy mindset to believe that all of those really shitty, tough times actually HELPED me. But I can assure you they have.

Not once in my entire life have I ever looked back on a trying period with anger and resentment.
And I truly mean that.
I have taken everything I have ever walked through and pulled out the most important, most influential pieces and weaved them into my soul.

I can do hard things, my friends.
And keep doing them.

Life isn't supposed to be handed to me on a silver spoon.
It was never supposed to be about forging the path of least resistance.
It's not supposed to be ridiculously easy.

It's supposed to be worth it to put all the hard work in. All the mental anguish, all the tears, all the adjusted sails, all the beautifully broken times.
I'm a more dynamic, empathetic person because of it.

No, we obviously didn't smash every goal we set out to accomplish. (who does, really?)
We didn't become parents because we stuck to our own personal limits to make that path work, and have fully embraced this new lifestyle.

I feel unstoppable these days.

And you know how I'm getting to this amazing mental state?

Well, it's a lot of things, actually, but the biggest one is:
In like....every way, shape, or form.

It's so good to stop looking over the fence-line, hypothetically.

I feel so damn amazing in my own shoes, on my own path, in my own way, with my husband and our pets by our side, under the roof of our home we work so hard for.
I feel like we are a force to be reckoned with.

I am trying my hardest to spread the good vibes as far and as wide as I can throw them. I hope you have felt the same pride radiate from me into your beautiful souls as well.
I want you to feel as good as I do.

Life is so crazy, right?
Some moments it's so incredibly hard and trying and exhausting, and some moments make you want to shout from the rooftops with excitement and joy!

Embrace all of it.
Seriously....the good isn't good without the bad.
We are the makers of our own destiny's.
We are only able to go as far in life as we want to push ourselves.
We are our own worst critics.

It's not about the perfect life.
It's about the one that you are most proud of.

Anyways, hopping off my soapbox quickly.

I'll be on here every so often, but I can guarantee if you want to be more immersed in my daily life, you'll need to hop over to Instagram and follow along there.

I have paired down my social media outlets because I find it incredibly annoying to hop between a bunch of sites all the time. I big puffy heart Instagram these days so you'll find all the funny, crazy, happy, inspiring and trying times over there, in real time.

Just click this link HERE and give me a follow. It's so much more fun, I promise. :)
Until next time, see you on the Gram!! XO
May 30, 2018

Amazon Finds That Make My Life Better

Do you guys online shop as much as I do? I find it helps me keep my budget (and sanity) in check by avoiding all the extra pretty stuff in stores and also from clothes-lining an obnoxious person in the process.

I have tried to curb the frivolous spending as much as possible, so I would categorize most of these items in the "need" section of my life. If you follow along on Instagram, I tend to rave about my favorite stuff sometimes, and most likely they have 2-Day Prime Amazon shipping attached to them.

Without further ado, here of some of my recent faves I buy on a regular basis.
(all items are affiliate linked...enjoy!!)

Tyler Brand - Diva Dryer Sachets
OK guys...friend's of mine RAVE about this laundry detergent. I was nervous to bite the bullet since I wasn't sure if I would love the smell, so instead I found they sold these cute little dryer sachets with the same scent.

YOU GUYS. They are heavenly and leave the same wonderful scent on my clothes as the detergent. They do an excellent job softening everything just enough, and each sachet last 8-10 rounds in the dryer. For under $9 you can't lose!

Diva Dryer Sachets

Hayward Tigershark Robotic Pool Cleaner
Obviously this won't appeal to anyone that doesn't have a pool, but for those who do?


The prior homeowners left us their old Aquabot, but it stopped working correctly last year and we knew we had to bite the bullet and get another one. So I purchased a few from Amazon including a Dolphin and another Aquabot, but the Hayward Tigershark was the clear winner.

We have a pool heater from Hayward so I knew the brand could be trusted, but the overall design and effectiveness of cleaning really won out with this model. We have a freeform, kidney-shape pool and this guy detects dirt on all surfaces. It has a full-clean and quick-clean mode and rinsing out the filter is super easy (as opposed to the aquabot diaper bag, which is how I refer to the old one) :)
Not cheap, but WELL worth it if you have a pool and want to offload some of the maintenance.
Oh, and don't bother with the caddy. It's not that heavy and can be easily stored in a pool shed when it's not cleaning.

I have been eyeing this solar-powered floating skimmer for the crap that keeps falling into the pool from the trees. If anyone has used one and wants to clue me in let me know!! We may end up buying it in the next couple of years.
Pool Vacuum

YS Organic Bee Farm - Bee Pollen
I heard a rumor that eating bee pollen can curb seasonal allergies. After some research and confirmation that I am NOT allergic to bees and bee pollen (you MUST ensure this is true otherwise please don't eat this stuff. You will likely end up in the ER), I found this company on Amazon and they just happen to be local to the Chicago area (which is ideal when buying pollen....local is best!) I take a heaping teaspoon of the pollen granules each morning before I brush my teeth (the aftertaste isn't ideal) and I must say...coming from someone that basically weeps all spring and fall....this year hasn't been NEARLY as bad! I also bought their raw honey and am obsessed!

Bee Pollen

Iron Out
If you have hard rusty water and get those nasty stains in your toilets, sink and shower areas....just do yourself a favor and buy this shit immediately. It. Is. Magic. (just make sure the area is well-ventilated while you spray). I tend to buy 4-5 bottles at a time we use it so much!

Do NOT buy the toilet tabs. They don't work at all. I accidentally bought the shake bottle of this stuff but that's really just for washing machines. Sometimes I'll throw it in with a load of whites since they tend to get rust stains from the water. It does the trick but this spray stuff works so much better!!

Iron Out Spray
EO Everyone Lotion

A long time ago, back when I was in the midst of fertility treatments, I sourced out as many chemical-free skin and beauty products as I could muster. I became addicted to this lotion in the process. They used to sell it at Target, but when they stopped, I found it on Amazon.
I love both this coconut lemon scent and the mint/coconut scent...smells like a mojito!!

EO Lotion

Finally, this may not necessarily be a NEED. But it IS SUMMER. So I can justify it as a need because it is awesome and fun and exactly what you NEED this summer.

A Pineapple Pool Float....DUH.

Pool Float

Hope you find some of these things as useful as I have!!
Thanks for reading, XO
May 23, 2018

My Brain Flipped a Switch

Oh, hey guys.

I took an unintended hiatus from writing, obviously. Not to rummage through a bout of depression or anything, more just because, didn't seem needed in my life at the moment.

But I'm here today. So glad you're here, too.

We left off in the week dedicated to spreading awareness in the infertility community and because of that week, I sort of hit a brick wall.

Like, I felt as though I kept running in circles and replaying all the shitty stuff in my head, and I finally had enough.

I had enough of the pity parties, of the constant need to sleep because my brain was exhausting me.
I had enough of the self-loathing, of the inability to think about the future and only focus on the past.

That's no way to live.
So about a month ago, I woke up one morning and decided I was done.

My brain flipped a switch and from that point on I started dreaming again about my future.
I committed to fully embracing my family, just as it is. I fully accepted that what we have is NORMAL and not to be judged, and I started making plans about OUR future, as a family of two. 
And I have never felt better.

I started really thinking about family, and motherhood, or lack thereof.

For the record, no one has scorned me, no one has lashed out at me or made me feel less than for not successfully procreating. I have not personally been victimized, but I have seen it happen one too many times in other's live's to keep quiet. No one has done anything to me in a negative way at all, to be honest. 
I am just attempting to dispell societal norms by giving a voice to the minority of women who are in the same stilletos as me. 

So go ahead and X out if you're unable to read a differing viewpoint without throwing a shit-fit.

I realized that I was trying to keep up with the "Jones's," so to speak, to become a mother.
I wanted to become a part of the in-crowd so badly it was blinding.
NO ONE wants to feel left out, especially when they can't control it.

Mom's these days have done such a wonderful job sharing all the up's and down's about motherhood and created this incredible bond with each other in the process.
There is SO. MUCH. written about mom-life and pregnancy and parenting and raising kids and everything in between.  You are all such wonderful, selfless people and should be acknowledged for your efforts no matter how you intend to raise your children.

But then there is this minority; the uncomfortable few that society wants to sweep under the rug and forget about. Women who either cannot have or do not want children.

And you can nay-say all you want, but what's true is true.

As a woman, you either attain your higher purpose as a mom or you might as well crawl in a hole and die because you are nothing worth talking about in society's eyes.

We non-mom's should just take all our money and free-time and sleeping-in and brunches and late-nights and shove it right up our selfish asses, right?

How often have you heard, "Welcome to the Club" cooed from the droves of other mom's, with a wink and a nod, when a new mom presents a newborn?

But what if you.....aren't a mom? What if you never make it to the club?

I understand this is not intentional, and that not everyone thinks this way, but I would fare to say that most women in society would look down on non-mom's with pity, or think they are selfish, or toss out really fucking stupid phrases like "well there's still time" or "better seduce your hubby" or "you can always adopt."

Because, obviously:
You have no real purpose until you are able to raise a child.
You have no business as a woman if you aren't crooning your brood.
You don't know the true meaning of happiness unless you are watching your child grow.
Your life couldn't possibly be complete if it doesn't contain offspring.

I am here to combat that stigma and tell those other non-mom's that it's not only OKAY but TOTALLY NORMAL to choose to stop fighting, or never fight in the first place. To back away from the chaos of trying to conceive. To move forward with your life sans kids.

Bra-fucking-vo for taking that scary step away from societal norms and putting your foot down.
Your sanity and your health are FAR more important than attempting to squeeze a watermelon out of your busted lemon vag.

I know damn well that life is completely fucking amazing without kids. Mark and I are living proof that you are only bound by what you're afraid of, and sometimes stepping outside your comfort zones is what attains the unimaginable.

There may not be droves of us women in the same boat, but there are more and more by the day. Just read the stats....the US is at an all-time-low birth-rate since the 50's.

And we need to stop feeling ashamed because of what other people might think.

It takes a shit-ton of courage to admit that maybe, JUST might be awesome if we're not mom's. Maybe it is EXACTLY what was intended for us. Maybe we DON'T need to conform. Maybe forging our own path was exactly what we were supposed to do in the first place.

But I know. I get it.
It's scary to not be part of the popular crowd.
It's scary to be the odd one out.
It's fucking scary because you KNOW you are being JUDGED for supposedly NOT CARING ENOUGH.
For supposedly NOT TRYING ENOUGH.

But you know what?


I will continue to make my voice heard that life as a non-mom is just as valid and hard and exhausting and exciting and fulfilling and productive and USEFUL as that of a mom, just in a totally different way.

It's NOT a competition.

No one wins in this game, anyways. We all just try our best every damn day and hope to God we die peacefully in our sleep at the end of a very long and fulfilling life, preferably surrounded by a pile of puppies. At least, that's what I hope for.

Only a pile of assholes would bother judging each other, anyways.

Now to hop off my soap box....

As I said, something flipped in my brain and I woke up one day and just fully embraced my life and my future and my family and all our beautiful time together.

We are making plans to eliminate all our debt and loans and do all the things I have hesitated to do in the past....just in case....I became a mom.

But now,
There will be no more hesitations.
No more focusing on the past.
No more focusing on the what-ifs.
No more focusing on the if-only's.

You don't evolve as a human by wishing things went differently.
What was supposed to happen in your life, happened exactly as it should.

I was not meant to be a mother.
And that is totally, absolutely 100% okay.
It's not a place for's a cause for celebration.

I now know and embrace my life path, and it does not include children.
So. What.

It's 100% okay to embrace the path less taken.
To carve out your own way.
To go opposite of the crowd.
To not be in the majority.

I am finding that I like the adventure of the unknown, anyways.
Thanks for reading. XO
Apr 27, 2018

NIAW: All The Feels

Hi guys. Happy Friday and happy good weather week!
My mood is ALWAYS guaranteed to be brighter when it's warmer, anyone else?

So, today is (almost) the final day of NIAW, or National Infertility Awareness Week.
And I won't bore you with possibly redundant details about what it is. If you're interested in learning more, head over to the Resolve website and educate yo'self.

I also guest posted over at Fertility Bridge, in case you missed that article!

What I wanted to talk about today are the feelings and thoughts that come along with this week.

When you start re-hashing your infertility journey, whether you are holding a baby in your arms or not, it starts drumming up a ton of emotions that you may have been ignoring or pressing pause to.

For me, this week has filled me with both a sense of community and overwhelming grief.
It didn't help that I got my period halfway through the week. The hormones will obviously run rampant, and I may or may not have spit some venom towards Mark about bringing in some delivery boxes from the front porch because I was feeling really sad at the time (I did that, and apologized).

You see, it is easy to fall back into the dismal past where despair and frustration and loss consumed our lives during our stint in IVF treatments. It's easy to let the sad and angry thoughts consume your entire brain. It's easy to let them win. It's easy to stop pressing forward, in whatever way, shape, or form eases you out of the normal routine of gloom and doom.

I have said it many times because it's true; knowing we were constantly met with dismal results at the end of each IVF cycle became oddly comforting, because it was all I knew, and I was well-versed in failing.

I forced myself to become uncomfortable when I said no to further treatment.
I put myself in a vulnerable position that doesn't have a forged path.
I am choosing to bow out of the grief cycle and try to see the light in a different path.

You see, it is EASY to continue the cycle of addiction that relates to "trying again" with fertility treatments. You know exactly what to expect and can easily just rewind and do it all again.
That may seem harsh, but it is so, so very true. It is EASY after you have completed one IVF cycle, to do it again. Even if it means a huge hit to your mental state and finances.

There will always be more money.
And there will always be therapy.

So why stop? Why not keep trying until it works if both of these things are technically limitless?

That answer, unfortunately, is not cut and dry. It's something that evolves over time and will be different for every. single. person. 

NIAW week drummed up a lot of the older struggles and made me start questioning if I'm doing the right thing. It made me sad all over again for our losses and made me feel less than because I never became a mom with all my efforts.

But you know what also happened during these trying years?
I met and connected with HUNDREDS of like-minded women.
We have shared stories of triumph and loss, and have laughed and cried together.

I have met SO. MANY. local couples in the same boat, and because I was blessed and fortunate to have excellent insurance coverage for medication, I donated A LOT of my meds to those in need.

And you know what?
I helped SIX couples find their dream.
I helped build SIX families.
I helped create SIX miracles.

That is astonishing to me. It would have never happened if I hadn't struggled myself.

Going through the droves of infertility has been one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn. It has shaped my life in ways I didn't even know were possible. I have gained an immense amount of empathy and understanding for other people around me. I have slowed down and truly absorbed the beauty that life has to offer. I completely understand what a miracle it is to conceive and bring life into this world. I have learned that a family is built on love, not necessarily DNA.

I will always carry grief with me. I will continue to sow it into my soul and sit with it just as I sit with laughter and confidence and happiness and honor it's presence when it wants to join in.

But I won't let it consume me.
I am too driven in my life to let anything take over so completely that it negates all my other efforts.
And believe me, there are PLENTY of pots to fill up.
There are plenty of ambitious things and dreams I am looking to fulfill, in whatever way I can make them happen.

Backing away from fertility treatments and choosing to stop spending all of our hard-earned money to make a baby does not make me weak, less-than, or a failure.
It makes me sensible to know there is a stopping point.
This was my stopping point.
It takes courage to put your foot down, even if you are putting your foot down with yourself.

I want every aspect of my life to flourish.
I want to continue to love, honor and respect my husband.
I want to continue to give undivided attention, care and love to my pets.
I want to continue to cultivate a tribe of beautiful diverse friendships, both in real life and on social media.
I want to continue to excel and find success in my career.
I want to continue to improve our home and flex my creative side to make our house a home.

And I can do it all in time. With balance. And patience. And love.

We are all worthy of the life we are willing to create for ourselves.

This is my story.

I hope you continue to follow my dreams as I am following yours.
Thank you so much for reading. XO
Apr 20, 2018

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

I listen to The Life Coach School Podcast to and from the office most days, as it keeps me centered, especially when life becomes super chaotic and my brain feels fried.

The title is a mouthful!! But, this book provides many, many important lessons, so I thought I would share my thoughts on the 13 things.

1. They don't waste time feeling sorry for themselves

I get it. No one is perfect. I am human just like every other being, and at times, sure, I have felt sorry for myself. Had a little pity party. But I do realize how meaningless this is. We are our own worst critics, right? Making mistakes, stumbling through life, feeling shame...all of this will come at some point or another, but the goal is to recognize you are knee-deep in a pity party, and focus your mental strength toward happier, more confident thoughts. This takes a lot of practice, and ultimately the pity-parties lessen over time.

2. They don't give away their power

This means, essentially, that mentally strong people don't allow other people's actions or emotions to dictate our own actions or emotions. Someone screaming in my face doesn't necessarily mean I need to stoop to their level and scream louder. It gives them my power. Someone pushing through my personal boundaries and making me feel frazzled or less-than is giving them my power instead of holding firm and lovingly providing my side of the story.

3. They don't shy away from change

Everything evolves all of the time. Always. Plans change. People change. Life changes. I know sometimes when things change from a way I had planned, especially since I am very Type A, that historically I would get all worked up over...well...nothing. These days, and especially since going through the ringer with IVF, I have taken a more laid-back attitude. It is possible to change your thinking and have more confidence that it will all work out how it's supposed to.

4. They don't focus on things they can't control

I. Failed. at this one when going through IVF. I tried to control everything and it ended up blowing up in my face. I figured if I was dumping all my time and energy and resources into something with terrible odds, they should just do as I wish and meet my expectations. Well guess what?
It didn't go that way. I had no control from Day 1 and I recognize that now. Trying to control what I can't was part of the reason I started Lexapro. Anxiety took over and made me legit crazy. One thing I strive to do these days is walk away from a situation that I clearly can't guide to fit my plan. Typically, and oddly enough, life does have a way of working out as it needs to in the end.

5. They don't worry about pleasing everyone

YOU GUYS. Why are women so guilty of this all the time?! I can honestly say I hardly ever fall into this category, and likely have come off as a raging bitch because of it. Oh well, I say. I cannot even count how many times I see or hear things like..."I was thinking of doing this....but we can do whatever you like as well!!" don't you just say your preference instead of back-tracking and trying to please the whole crowd. Nothing ever gets accomplished with dilly-dallying. Ha.
We have opinions about things or we don't. End of story. Your needs and your desires and your wants matter just as much as everyone else's. Grow a back-bone and own it.

6. They don't fear taking calculated risks

I am queen of the calculated risk. No shame in my game. I like to have general ideas about future desires in my life, figure out the logistics, and execute them as best I can...even if I have no idea what the actual outcome will be. It's that risk that lights a fire within me and gives me life.

7. They don't dwell on the past

When I deal with my grief, and recognize I am not as mentally strong in those moments as I should be; I often times find myself dwelling on past issues and drum up all those shitty feelings again. I KNOW they offer me nothing, and help zero things, but recognizing that grief is a normal emotion and you can't be on your A game every minute of every day is also okay. Dwelling on the past lessens over time, especially as you work through a shitty event. But ultimately, the past is the past...all we can hope for is take the lessons learned and become a better person because of it.

8. They don't make the same mistakes over, and over, and over again

I make dozens of mistakes every day. Who doesn't? But, the difference recognize how you can do better next time. Try something new. Change things up. Worse case, you make another mistake, but at least it's not the exact. same. one.

9. They don't resent other people's success.

Yes. So much yes. The grass is never greener. I promise. Someone's highlight reel is never going to be identical to my own. How so and so got ahead has nothing to do with any potential opportunities I may have. People may view my life as successful, but may not understand what it takes to get there. Everyone has strengths, and everyone has weaknesses. Try learning something from other people's good times and give them grace during the shitty times. You would want the same reaction when it happens to you.

10. They don't give up after the first failure.

You guys. Can I tell you how many times I have been tweaking all of my social media stuff? The first idea is hardly ever the right one, but you have to start somewhere. See what works and what doesn't. Tweak things. Change things up. Fail. Every. Day. Yes, you heard me. I fail as often as I make mistakes. It's what ultimately gives me fuel to be more creative. Trust this one. Failing doesn't mean you are a failure, it means you were strong enough to try in the first place, and gives you the opportunity to try again next time. 

11. They don't fear alone time

I LOVE being alone. LOVE. IT. Crave it. Desire it. Carve it out and make it a priority. Do you? I know some people fear being alone because you actually have time to listen to your own thoughts and feelings, and that makes people really uncomfortable. Being surrounded by outside stimulus puts a veil over our true thoughts and actions. It is incredibly therapeutic to recognize all our feelings in our own time, away from other people and places, and accept the good, the bad, and the ugly.

12. They don't feel the world owes them anything.

I feel like this is such a millennial phrase. I'm not stereotyping, necessarily, but how many times have you heard that the "younger" generation based on however old you are, expects to become CEO the second they step out of college? The harsh truth is the world doesn't owe us anything. Ever. If we want something then we gotta work for it. Expecting other people and things to give us what we desire is only going to set us up for failure, make us bitter, and lessen our mental strength. Don't give in to the easy way. It is never more rewarding.

13. They don't expect immediate results

We live in an instant gratification world these days, right? Remember dial up AOL? Now if our internet blips out for a hot minute we fantasize about smashing our phones to the ground. Or at least I have done that. You see those time-lapsed home renovation shows but wonder how come you can't gut renovate your home over the weekend, and therefore feel like a failure. We try things once, fail, and quit immediately. This is why people say they can't lose weight, or gain weight, or climb the corporate ladder, or have the life we expect. Because it's not immediate. 
But guys...the spice of life is the slow simmer of cultivating our lives. Growing the good stuff and simplifying. Letting go of the toxic. Becoming who we are meant to be based on life lessons and many, many, good and bad days. 

Tell me....did any of this resonate with you? What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading. XO.
Apr 13, 2018

A Life to Impress Me

Fully embracing the career I have created for myself has been a real struggle for many, many years.
I have been recognizing it more and more these days, as I dig my way out of the trenches of grief and expectation.

I have often times felt ashamed and silly when people ask me what I do.
I don't even know why I do it.
To me, it's just...a job. Nothing exciting. Nothing to see here, folks.
I tend to brush over the question and change the subject.

Who cares what I have to do?

I'm not doing anything extraordinary. Just your typical, boring corporate job. No fancy title or description. Nothing to promote or market. Nothing unusual or cool. I'm not changing the world.

Just lil' ole me....over here doing my thing and bringing home a paycheck. Just like everyone else in the world.

I think a lot of times I fall into this trap of trying to create something more amazing than I am capable of, because I somehow think I am falling short of "living my best life."

We are told we can and should do anything we want.
To pursue our passions. To not settle. To not listen to the corporate nay-sayers.

Our job should exude passion, and if it doesn't...then it's not worth our time or effort.


I think the main issue with this statement is the confusion of what the word passion means.
To most, I would fare to say that people assume passion means whatever you love to do the most.

So for me, what that means is I need to try to figure out how to make a career out of by petting bulldogs, sipping wine, perusing Homegoods and hanging with friends in my pool.

That sounds magical, but not attainable. I'm not exactly a trust fund baby nor a celebrity.

But yet, that is literally what is being choked down our throats these days. That we should bash the corporate structure and be our own boss. Follow our own path. Carve out anything other than having to set an alarm clock before dawn, right?

I have often times been torn between two obvious differences in my life: what I have actually accomplished vs. what I think I should be doing instead.

Like, no one cares that I have fine-tuned my REAL career because it's not flashy or fun, in the traditional sense.

A career in Human Resources and Finance and the back-bone Life Coach and House Mother of an expanding company isn't

I don't travel often or have perfectly staged photographs or fancy clothes, or spend my days in hipster coffee shops or working from home in my pj' I MUST be failing at this whole...REAL LIVING thing right?

But you know what I have realized I am truly passionate about?


I have said it a million times before and I will say it until my last working day.

My goal is to make the most money in the most efficient way I know how without burning out and losing whatever marbles I have left in the ole' noggin.

So. Hot. Right?

Yes, I have an abundant creative side. I love taking photos and renovating spaces and growing plants and painting and fashioning a good cocktail and finding new uses for old things and DIYing the ever-living shit out of my life.

I also have a very structured side. That side loves lists and to-do's and budgets and organization and bottom lines and curfews and deadlines and alarm clocks.

I also like adventure. I'm outdoors-y and like to try new things, even if they scare me sometimes.
I don't often say no to new people or places.

I'm outgoing yet introverted and love my home and my dog and my husband and our life to death.


But the reality is....I cannot really make a dime off of any of these things.

My needs and my passions change with the seasons.

I love home renovation but couldn't fathom doing it every single week.
I love budgeting and structure, but not always. Sometimes I'm more go-with-the-flow.
I could stare at my dog forever but sometimes I get really skeeved out that he drools on everything.
I am happy to share my life and my wisdom, but I also like to talk to no one for long periods of time.
I love cocktails and parties, but also quiet, sober days alone.

Having a corporate job is the constant in my world that keeps me on track and provides all the monetary benefits and vacation days I need to pursue all my other passions and hobbies and feel secure at the end of the day.

So why then, am I constantly believing the lies that my corporate 9-5 job isn't enough?

I was able to take my college degree and completely flip it on it's axis.

After working in the corporate world in various fields for the past 15-ish years, I fine-tuned what I am actually awesome at, walked into a company, and literally created a position for myself when the option wasn't even available.

I found an opportunity and jumped on it.
That is literally what I'm awesome at.

My paycheck is what has created every other opportunity in my life.
It's a guarantee even if it's not glamorous.

It gives me purpose, if only I would just open my eyes more often.
I help people every day, and help a company grow and profit.

I get promoted and get raises and have insurance and a retirement plan...all things that so many others wish they had, and yet...sometimes I actually have the balls to view it as not enough.

People come to me on a daily basis for advice and support.
Isn't that exactly what I'm preaching on social media all the time?

So yes, I guess I have a lot of personal work to do.

My life should be impressive to me.

I fucking created it out of thin air, after all.
I broke that glass ceiling and demanded things most women are boycotting on the streets for.
I have a ton of respect and leverage in a job that is 99% men.
And I own it like the fucking boss-lady I am.

I really need to pat myself on my back more.

In the quest to change my mindset about my career, I am diligently re-prioritizing other facets as well.
Social media will always be in my life...this isn't the 90's, but maybe it gets put on the back-burner a bit more often so I can focus more on my own shit.

I still like sharing things with everyone. I still like being the open-book that I am.
But maybe it will look a bit different moving forward.

I know Mark and I lead incredible lives.
When we really start talking about all the stuff we have done, been through, will do and are capable of, we shock ourselves sometimes.

But that doesn't mean that it's any better or worse than anyone else.
Everyone is capable of incredible things, you just have to stop comparing apples to oranges with everyone else's highlight reels. Right?

So I'm off to continue to live the life I keep dreaming of, because it's already happening, my dear.
Apr 6, 2018

Filling Up My Cup

Let's check in with ourselves and each other, ok?
How are you doing? Like....really....How are you feeling these days? Okay? Could you do better? Feel better? What do you honestly need if you feel like you're barely staying afloat, or worse....drowning?

For me, I am...strained.

I feel off.
I can identify exactly what is going on and what I need, and I'm hoping to share some honest information to deeper connect with this audience.

If some honesty is not your cup of tea today, that's totally cool. Just exit out and come back when things are a bit lighter around here. No shame in your game.

Here goes.
(This is likely long-winded and more of a stream of consciousness rather than a well-edited post. Bear with me.)

Also, I'm not looking for solutions. I know that it's normal for humans to find solutions to other people's problems. But really, just read this and if you identify with something, that's super.
I'd love to hear about it.
I actually have a little plan in place and I promise to get to that at some point in these ramblings.

My sleep has been incredibly broken. Our cat is literally in the last few days of having his cast on his leg and I am just trying to survive him. I know that sounds silly, but he is literally screeching loudly all. night. long. because he is frustrated that his space to roam is limited while he heals. I "think" this would be similar to an infant, but I can't be sure, obviously. His cries are every couple of hours, sometimes every couple of minutes from sun down to sun rise (and probably all day long when I'm at work.) I sympathize with him but at the same time, I just want like one full night of sleep and daydream about locking him in our garage at night just so I can get some honest rest.

Me without proper sleep wreaks havoc on a lot of other aspects of my life. I feel like a zombie, trying to survive each day. The wash, rinse and repeat of daily, mundane life, mixed with the fact that work is nuts right now and the weather is doing nothing for my well-being is making me feel gross.

I keep missing my alarm clocks because I have two ear plugs shoved deeply in my ears, which eats into the carefully allotted time to wake up with intention, instead of leaping straight into the shower and attempting to cram 30 minutes of morning routine into mere seconds.

I am tired of wearing the same "winter uniform" to work. This winter has literally been seven months in Chicago and I am just. over it. Granted, we were blessed with the opportunity to take a little vacation escape this insanity, and I strive to not wish time away, but I keep checking the weather, hoping to see temps consistently in the 50's and 60's. Rumor has it that is coming next week.

I have been diligently making myself more available as I expand my tribe and demeanor to those I don't, or wouldn't normally connect with.
And it's been great.
But also exhausting.
I have put a lot of my OG friends on the back-burner because of this, and crave the steadiness that comes with old friends who just get you. Therefore, I have blocked out most of my time in the near future to welcome them back into my home. I can't believe people haven't really stepped foot in our home in like...four months.
Winter does that to us. Our home is currently geared for summer days, but I need to force myself to connect with friends and family indoors as well.

When my sleep is minimal, and my nerves are high, sometimes I start getting really shitty thoughts about other people and circumstances that are simply not true. Your mind does weird shit sometimes, and it takes a lot more mental muscle to combat these untrue lies you keep wanting to tell yourself.  For me, recently, I have succumbed to the whole grass is greener issue that so many people fall victim to. There are things I crave in my life and I just want the instant gratification of them happening.
But for Mark and I, that is not reality a lot of times. There are environmental and financial restrictions that leave us with long pauses between activities and upgrades because there are simply not enough dollars or time each week to do everything.
I do realize this is very much a first-world know we will eventually have all the time and income needed to make our dreams come true.
And so what if it doesn't happen all at once. I know I get to simmer with the good stuff longer and dream about the future more, because of it. And for that I'm lucky.
But that doesn't mean that the shitty thoughts don't infiltrate and win out sometimes.
We are human just like everyone else.

So, where does that leave me?
Well, for one, I am turning my sights back to me and my home.
This dreary weather is the perfect opportunity to continue a little self-care.
For me that means working on my home, and making space for a few more naps.
I find the most happiness and inspiration when I creating beautiful things, even if those beautiful things are simply shampooed carpets and a little paint on the walls.
I am planning to deep clean, purge, and find better organization for the upper portion of our house, just in time to host a few smaller get-together's.

Our rental is in the final weeks or repair and with that comes the chance to make the final pass to eliminate the bulk of our credit card debt and start chipping away at a few loans we have in place. A serious, and very honest, bonus to not having kids is there is actually an end in sight with this type of debt that makes my skin crawl.

I am declaring April the month to fill up my cup with all the good things I love so deeply.
To regain my sense of self and to uncover the inspiration and overall happiness I am missing most days.

Thanks for reading. XO
Apr 4, 2018

I Changed My Mind

Hello, lovelies.
Thank you so much for the feedback and alliances and love thrown my way as I sloshed through March in a haze of grief.

I feel lighter this week, and I believe I'm coming out the other side of what could easily have been a month of depression and grief.

I can tell I am on the up and up, because daily tasks aren't weighing so heavily on me.
The simple tasks of getting up without hitting snooze seven times, or dressing myself, or drying my hair in the mornings aren't met with annoyance and struggle.

So, I wrapped up the bathroom facelift in the first couple months of 2018.
And last year at this time, I gave our bedroom a little facelift as well.

...and I sort of hate it now.

Which is completely normal. Sometimes I hate the way things end up in our home, but I have the capabilities of changing things up as the mood strikes.

Speaking of moods...I have been loving the idea of moodier walls in our bedroom.
Like this:

The gray ombre look is soft, yet dramatic at the same time.

It would be a chance to flex my painting skills again and create an overall lighter landscape in our bedroom, in lieu of the hard stops between light and dark that are currently between walls.

Plus, Mark keeps smashing his face into the wall sconce at night, and as amusing as that is, I actually think these lights would be better suited over the piano in our lobby.

So, nothing is set to go yet...I actually promised myself I wouldn't start anymore interior renovation projects this year, but with the cat's cast coming off in less than a week, I am dying to deep clean the upstairs and get everything freshened up, and what better time to do a little painting than when all the furniture is already out of the space?

And, since spring is clearly nowhere in sight, I anticipate another month of indoor activities before we are officially cleaning up and landscaping the outside of our home.

PS - I finally got my act together and permanently switched over my domain name so you can type in Forever Orchard in any manner and it doesn't land to the old "shehasgoodgenes" website any longer.
Hooray for figuring our this junk on my own!!

So tell me, do you have an spring cleaning or decorating projects on the horizon?
Mar 30, 2018

Grief is a fickle bitch

Yea, I said it.
Grief is a fickle, conniving, manipulative, little bitch.
It strolls in all....hey girl, how YOU doin'..I promise I won't be psycho like last time.
And me, trying to extend kindness to all parties involved, sheepishly accept it back into my life.

But dudes, once it's has only one job.
And that job is to throw your entire life into a tail spin.

It makes you do things and think things that are just crazy.
It makes you believe things you don't want to believe.
It starts giving you false hope, then snatches it away.
It starts to make you feel like you aren't good enough, fulfilled enough, worthy enough.

Well meaning words uttered from friends and loved ones, are met with vile, seething, hurtful responses.

Grief isn't you. It's your shitty alter-ego.

It isn't the kind, optimistic, let-the-little-stuff-slide-off-your-back, go-with-the-flow, practice gratitude person you normally are.

I can't even recall how many times I have apologized for ugly-crying around Mark recently.
I keep thinking how psycho and unsteady I look. Turning into a psychotic puddle of tears is no way to honor my half of this marriage.

Granted, I'm not lashing out on him.
I just constantly feel defeated.
Less than.
Over it.

So, I started jumping to rash conclusions.
This is why some of you may have seen me start posting about donor eggs, and why the fertility clinic now wants to set-up a consultation.
Because in my frantic, fragile state...I ignored my heart and assumed what I needed to feel better was my child. Any child. From ANY donor that even remotely resembles me.

These feelings make me start feeling frantic and out-of-control, incredibly similar to where I was just after my miscarriage. At the time, I felt so crazy I could have been easily persuaded to steal a baby from a hospital just to have one.

Grief makes me think crazy thoughts.
The difference between then and now, is I know and recognize they are insane thoughts.
They are not me.
And I can reign them in and basically just cry through them.
I know what I'm saying is not what I actually want and need in my life.
I really still am gun-ho about our baby being our DNA.

The part I need to work on, is truly accepting my life as whole if a baby never comes.
Right now, I think what I'm doing is slapping a bandage on that part.
I kept myself really, really busy with my bathroom renovation for a couple months.
And now that it's over, my brain wanders a lot, and starts mixing up reality with wishful thinking and it can get toxic, quick.

It's actually more exhausting going through 10 emotions in one day than renovating a bathroom or surviving an Orangetheory class.

So, what I can offer is...well...not a whole lot.
Grief DOES come back in waves, at weird times, and can take over your life.
People are GOING TO THINK YOU ARE CRAZY, because you are actually acting crazy, and if they love you and know what's going on, they will pet your hair and not offer advice.
And if they don't know what's going on, firmly tell them advice is not the answer.
Answers are not the answer, if that makes sense.
It's just a pile of emotions the grief-stricken person has to work through.
It does get better. Time makes it better.

You do hurt less. And you probably don't even realize it is less until someone else that has watched you wreak havoc on yourself can attest that...yes...this time was slightly less crazy than last time.

Outside of half-heartedly reaching out about donor options, and ignoring my heart on this one, I didn't drag us back to the fertility clinic.
I didn't ignore our ever-present debt to pile on more debt.
I didn't lock myself in a closet and scream-cry for hours.
I didn't hit my husband.
I didn't break a bunch of household items.
I didn't pop a vein in my eyeball.
And I didn't let it take over my life.

So, yes...grief is less these days. But it's still there. Lurking.
That fickle bitch will be back again, and I just have to hope I have more strength than yesterday.
Mar 28, 2018

In the end, it's him and I

You guys have heard that song, right?
I admit, I'm not too into a lot of newer music these days, but every now and then a good beat or catchy lyrics stick with me.

In the end, It's Him and I

Apparently the singer is G-Easy (LOL), and the grammar makes me cringe, but it's damn catchy, that's for sure.

Moving on.

So, if you have been following, you know that I have been in a bit of a funk recently.
My mental state has been off and I am more sensitive and cry a lot easier.

I kept using different excuses, be it the weather, the gray skies, lack of motivation, etc.
But the reality is, I have been slipping back into a wave of grief.

Sometimes I can push aside the tough feelings, the thoughts of loss and despair.
Now is not that time, unfortunately.

It's funny how time really does wash away those open wounds.
This time last year I was still deeply battling the overwhelming emotions of grief and loss from my miscarriage, while shoving both of us back to the fertility clinic to start round four.
That hazy time seems so far away these days.

As easy as it is for me to speak openly about my struggles, I should clarify that these sad thoughts and waves of grief most certainly don't take over the majority of my day. It's actually rather shocking how many emotions one person can  have in the span of 24 hours. I have noticed I encompass most of them in constant rotation.

Frustration, despair, hurt, sadness, joy, gratitude, content.
These ALL happen every day.

I still long, wish, and hope for my baby.
I still deeply desire to become a mom and I wish every single day that I actually see a miracle happen, since I no longer have the desire or drive to pursue fertility treatments.
I am still very much set on a biological child from our DNA.
I still turn a blind eye to all the hurdles that stand in our way to actually conceiving, thinking that a miracle would need to happen to overcome everything.
I still hold out hope every single month.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't fully aware of exactly where I am with every cycle.
You most certainly don't just stop tracking every twinge and pain and hormone that shows up just because you aren't going through IVF anymore.
If you commit to tracking something that is literally within you, every month, for five or more years, it sort of becomes second nature.

Mark knows what is going on.
He knows when I'm sad and when I'm hurting.
He knows to snuggle up behind me and pet my hair.
He knows not to intervene with the massive amount of emotions that build up within me.

I am forever grateful that we went through such struggle.
What seemed like a sort of sticking point in our relationship, where I felt like I literally needed to spell out what he needed to do in my times of despair, now come second nature to both of us.

I don't know how long these sad moments each month will last.
Sometimes I get worried this is the new normal for me.
That each month that passes will be left with me wiping the crust out of my eyes because I cried just before I fell asleep, because the world just got too damn heavy for me again.

And yet, I still have so many happy moments each day that I can't help but pause and reflect on all the good in my life.
My husband is my soul mate.
I am sometimes baffled that I actually found THE PERSON and knew from the VERY beginning that we were the perfect match.

As much as we razz each other and poke fun and rough house, we are so very deeply connected on a level that most can only dream of.

I am so grateful knowing that, no matter what, baby or not, we still get each other, for as many days as we have left on this earth together.

It's the one thing in this world that I can count on.
During all the trying days in our 20's while we hustled to get ahead, losing the battle to infertility, watching our marriage teeter during the miscarriage, and picking up the pieces and connecting more deeply.
All the struggle and all the triumphs have been with each other.
We made it out the other side.

He is who I will choose, over and over, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
He is the one I have the most fun with.
He gets me.
He is my person.

In the end, it's him and I.
Mar 23, 2018

Bumps in the Road

The last couple of weeks have been bumpy to say the least.
A part of me feels as though we went back a bunch of weeks to the dead of winter. Getting up before dawn and feeling generally lethargic most days seems to be the new normal again.
Granted, I don't believe we've had as much snowfall as in the past, but it is only March.

Sometimes cultivating happiness is really hard.
Like when grief creeps back in and nearly chokes me out with it's power.
Sometimes I need to allow the grief to walk in so I can let it sit with me.
Last Friday was that day. And boy was it a loud one.
How many people can say they have ugly-cried in a hot tub, outside, sitting next to their husband?
I can.
And I have no shame for it.
As ugly as I'm sure it needed to happen.

I do fall back into the trap of "what-if's" and "how come's" and "if only's" a little too often these days.
It's not really fair to myself, though.
But it's really, really hard to walk away from something that you only briefly held onto for a moment in time. It's hard to utter the true words, I will never be a mom, and not pause to stifle a sigh.

It's a weird predicament to be in, indeed.
For 28 years I wanted nothing to do with motherhood.
There were so many women around me that did nothing but dream of becoming a mom one day.
And I would assume they may have been the same people that also planned their wedding since childhood.
I was never one of those, either.

Sure, I figured I would be married. I loved having a monogomous relationship that didn't collapse under pressure. One I could really lean on.

But babies?
That was always met with hesitation.
There was even a point where, as a naive early 20-something, vowed I would have an abortion if ever some monstrosity occurred and I got pregnant too early.
And then I had an abnormal pap smear and feared I may never be able to have kids because I was convinced I had cancer and my life would be over sooner than later.

Can you tell I have a flair for the dramatic?

But getting back to babies; although I never completely said no, I most certainly never said yes.
The closest I got to a real motherhood conversation was when I was dating Mark, way back during my first job out of college. We were getting rather serious in our relationship and I needed to have one of those serious conversations about whether or not we were both on board with big-ticket items.
Such as babies.

But what if one of us changes their mind? I asked, tearing up, because I knew I had a knack for doing that kind of thing.

We finished the conversation on the same page.
If it happened, we would embrace it.

And then age 28 rolled around and lit a fire so bright I couldn't deny it.
Now, at age 34...where am I? How does that fire look?

It's blinding.

I'm at a loss about what to do about it, though.
I have no fight left in me to pursue fertility treatments.
I can't fathom going through another miscarriage after all the time and money and emotions that come with IVF.
We aren't the type of people to adopt.

But yet, I get nervous sometimes.
About regrets.
Regrets that I'm not using the good years of my life to get the thing I thought I wanted most.

Other times I wonder if it's even what I want anymore.
If maybe I just became to hard-wired with fertility treatments and failure and the THOUGHT of becoming pregnant, that anything after that doesn't actually appeal to me anymore.

I don't have an answer.
And I think that's okay.
This is grief spilling onto these pages.
It's a season of my life that I recognize as not the most pleasant, but definitely necessary.

I know everything I have been through has been shaping me for whatever the next day, weeks, and years hold. I know this is just a blinding bump in the road of my life. I know this isn't my whole story.

But, I will continue to share it with you. All of it.

Episode 9 of my YouTube Channel also touches on this topic of what grief felt like last week.

I know this post isn't the uplifting joyful Friday post I am accustomed to, but it's not like I can schedule grief, so you get what you get. :)
I promise to not dwell in this mundane state too long. I know it's not permanent.
This too shall pass, right?

Just another bump in the road.

And to think, my emotions can only get better from here. Now THAT'S something to look forward to.

Finally, on a lighter note, I am hosting a Magnolia Homes Gift Card giveaway on Instagram today.
Be sure to check it out and enter, and thank you, as always, for following my journey. XO
Mar 21, 2018

Our Bathroom Facelift: The Reveal

Yay guys! It's reveal day!!
The bathroom facelift is ready for viewing! It's been a labor of love and I'm so happy with the result I was able to create working with the existing foot-print.

The entire upgrade was completed for $450 in 12 twelve days (spread out over a couple months).
I took on this project solo (as I do with most home renovations).
It's my combat and therapy for the winter blues.

If you want a quick walk down memory lane, you can catch up on prior bathroom blog posts starting with THE INITIAL PLANS, WEEK 1 PROGRESS, and the last WEEK OF RENOVATIONS.

And then I sort of left you high and dry while the rest of my life unfolded.
I have been finished with the renovation portion of the bathroom for over a month.

But, I have a small confession.

I struggle with the details.

You see...I HATE tchotchkes (pronounce know...all the knick-knacky crap that people vomit all over their homes?)

Any accessories that go on the vertical and horizontal surfaces in my home typically need to have a purpose or some sort of sentimental value to them, or Hell...are just THAT pretty....otherwise I just can't.

I volleyed with exactly WHAT to put WHERE in this little bathroom for literally an entire month. We got back from vacation, and I knew I wanted some of my photos printed and manipulated for the space, and after 5+ trips to Walgreens, Hobby Lobby, and everywhere in between.....I'm finally thrilled with the space.

Burn could care less
Without further ado...Here are some comparison photos!









...and some detail photos

So whatta ya think?
I love how light and airy it feels in here, even though I didn't modify anything besides surfaces and accessories.

Let's do a quick run-down of items and their costs (all available sources linked)

Wall Paint - $0. I re-used existing paint from the rest of the first floor. The color is called Tahitian Vanilla by Valspar.
Tile Paint - $52. I used this tile paint and needed two boxes to complete four coats for all the tile on the walls.

Grout  - I used this grout dye ($14) and this grout brush ($4)
Sealant - $0. I re-used existing gloss sealer from Home Depot from a previous project.

Medicine Cabinet - Renaissance Chalk Paint tinted to match walls. Final coat is same Tahitian Vanilla wall paint
Vanity - Wood Primer then finished with two coats of Benjamin Moore's Desert Twilight

Shower Curtain ($29, on sale now for $20)
Shower Rod ($12, on sale for $9)
Shower Liner ($3, on sale now for $2)
Bamboo Waste Basket ($20, on sale now for $14)
Rug ($30)
Hand Towels ($14 for 2)

All other accessories were purchased at either Homegoods (duh), Hobby Lobby, or Tuesday Morning.

The rest of the renovation items including things like paint brushes, plastic, rollers, trays, painter's tape, Comet, and caulk all came from Home Depot.

So that's a wrap! If you haven't subscribed to my YouTube Channel, you can do so HERE.
I will be posting a video walk-through of the space on soon! You won't want to miss it!

Please let me know your thoughts and if you have completed similar renovations or facelifts! 
I love connecting with fellow DIYers!! 
Thank you for reading and continuing to support the blog! XO