Tuesday, October 31, 2017


It was a simple email exchange. My MIL is going through a work issue and Grey and his siblings have been working with her to navigate all of it. Since first learning about this issue, there's been emails exchanged between the siblings to share advice, strategy and determine who can handle which aspects.

But it was a portion of one email that caught my eye; a paragraph actually. In that paragraph, Grey shared with his siblings how taxed we've been with all the transitions, illnesses and surgeries, telling them that he was limited with what we could provide. And though that may not seem like much, this was the first time openly shared any hardships with them instead of trying to take everything on.

He would go on to do it again during a conversation with MIL. Opening up to her in a manner he likely hasn't done in years, with it being clear she was surprised. But the unsilencing has been good for him; for them too.

Like Grey, I've never been one to talk openly about my struggles. From a young age, I learned it wasn't socially acceptable to "whine and complain" about my ales as it was likely others around me had it much harder. Instead, my role was to act as a support system, helping others in need find solutions and roads forward. There's a lot of problems with this thinking, particularly the learned assumption that asking for help is a sign weakness, but another one is the burn out that comes from suffering in silence. When you're giving all the time, neglecting your own self care, it's hard not to start resenting others for their requests, be they simple or overly complex.

Loribeth's post about the Misery Filter got me thinking more about this, particularly the point most the need to educate people about suffering. Part of this education requires training and learning how to be resilient, but there's another point which involves normalizing suffering and making it much more common place then it already is.

With infertility, we're starting to see this. Whereas a few years ago, post like this one from Dear Prudence were common (and I'm still angry with Emily Yoffe for her callous response), the articles now are more sympathetic (and this podcast had me cheering for Mallory Ortberg) with people finally opening up about their journey. The big thrust behind this change is because of normalization. It's because a brave few started all of this by coming out of the infertility closet, shameless sharing their stories. And those few grew to many more, empowering many more to do the same. And though infertility and pregnancy loss are still taboo, particularly if you don't resolve by parenting, the truth is there are more much needed conversations that are happening. The unsilencing has lead to awareness.

Something has lifted in our household recently due to the embrace for openness. Things are still hard with surrounding this period (finding out our new rental is likely going to be foreclosed on in the near future hasn't helped), but by asking for help while acknowledging the hardships of others has been freeing and selecting. Those who love us and want to support us know not to jump in with assive or offer callous critiques, but instead to offer empathy and someone to talk to. But there's also something very freeing about no longer living under the shroud of silence. A validation that we actually matter too.

Monday, October 30, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Reclaiming Halloween

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Late last night as I listened to howling wind, I sat crouched over a bowl picking out and cleaning pumpkin seeds to roast. Earlier in the day, the Beats sat at the kitchen table with me, helping me scoop out their pumpkins and excitedly shouting out directions for cutting out their jack-o-lanterns. As I sat cutting out triangles and circles, they chattered on about their costumes and all the festivities from the weekend. 

There are many things I allowed infertility to rob me of. Connections with others, special events and even places I had loved to frequent. The holidays were at the top of the list, being there is such a focus on children and family-centered events. So for years, I isolated myself during this period, steeling myself to do the bare minimum in order to protect my heart.

But the downside was that I lost a lot along the way. Ski trips, hiking adventures and even going to a favorite local pub. I allowed the intrusive relatives, the baby bumps and the fear of strollers to dictate where I could go. And because of it, I missed out on the things that brought me joy. 

It was right before my final round of IVF that I declared I had had enough. So I started reclaiming the holidays in my own way, starting with Halloween. I made a point of carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds while enjoying a special bottle of beer because, damnit, it was something I enjoyed. Thanksgiving would be next, with a tradition of pumpkin pies and roasted chicken. And finally would come the Winter Holidays, being determined to find a way to bring in light despite the sadness in my heart.

Admittedly, it's been easier to celebrate since the arrival of the Beats. The things that once stopped me no longer hold the same power (though I am still terrified of strollers). But a part of that also comes with having reclaimed Halloween all those years ago. Being determined to find a way to celebrate the life I already had with my family of two. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

An epidemic

Last night I found myself staring at a virtual map detailing opioid overdoses across the country. On the heels of a press conference where a state of emergency has been declared, most people I find myself surrounded by daily seemed surprised about the degree of this crisis.

This news is on the heels of emerging reports about the homelessness epidemic in this country.

And yet, once again, our leaders are clearly failing to connect the dots about how the decisions to protect a privileged few are resulting in all of this. That actions and willful deafness to the plights of those outside their doorsteps is stressing the majority to the point of chronic life pain,  leading to the early death in otherwise physically healthy individuals.

We're well overdue for action and a solution to this issue, though I fear it’s going to get far worse before then.

Many have been talking recently about infertility being a source of life pain (myself included). But what isn't talked about as much is that having walked this path this community is in a unique position to help others navigate it. That there's wisdom so many gain from having walked this path, finding ways to survive while living on the fringes.

As I go on, it's becoming clear that those who have no idea what life pain is have any clue how to address it. Meaning that as much as they believed they are entitled to steer this ship, the best course of action involves dropping them off at the closest port. Ignoring the temper tantrums that will surely come. Following that enforced grounded will come the need to new navigators. Those who know how to sit with others as they process their pain, offering support and even a simple “I’m sorry” so that healing can begin. And things can be rebuilt.

Because we cannot survive this epidemic much longer.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


So yesterday. The short of it is that the thought-experiment activity went well. But other parts of lecture, specifically focusing on the assigned reading, belly-flopped. A plan for picking up the pieces and tackling again is in motion. As is reassessing how to move forward.

But given the disappointment, combined with frustration about job applications, networking (Cristy got schooled yesterday), program design and the ongoing crappy weather, I'm in a grumpy state.

One of the things that is hard at the moment is juggling being motivated and a self-starter with constant rejection or seeing cases where the same rules don't apply. I learned a couple of days ago that my replacement is someone who doesn't have the advertised requirements, leaving me feeling like I was doomed in the position from day 1. In addition, I found two messages in my inbox this morning that indicated I wasn't being considered for those positions. Add in having the furnace at our rental break not once, but twice due to lack of maintenance and it being very clear our landlord really isn't interested in doing more than the bare minimum for correcting the problem or dealing with the leaky oil fuel tank and it's hard not to feel like throwing in the towel.

So today is about allowing myself to feel grumpy for exact 20 more minutes. Then to get back in there with job applications, preparing for Friday discussion, solidifying curriculum and bugging my network.

Because one lesson infertility taught me is that the only one who is going to find the road forward in all this craziness is me. And it doesn't matter if those outside looking in approve of if or not.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Over the rainbow

I can't remember how old I was when I first saw "The Wizard of Oz," but like so many I grew up loving the song "Somewhere over the Rainbow." It's importance changed when I moved to my version of the Emerald City and changed once again when Grey and I left.

There's a prelude to this song that most aren't familiar with. Finding these lyrics takes a bit of digging, but they are ones I first heard as a child and immediately became attracted to due to the haunting beginning.

"When all the world is a hopeless jumble
And the raindrops tumble all around
Heaven opens a magic lane

When all the clouds darken up the skyway
There's a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your windowpane

To a place behind the sun
Just a step beyond the rain"

Yesterday I found these lyrics again, in the form of a read-along book I had checked out for the Beats. As they listened to Judy Collins singing this prelude, I found myself completely overcome with emotion.

I miss my Emerald City. All that it was and all that came during my time there. I struggle with knowing that it no longer exists, instead is a shadow of what it use to be. But looking at the Beats and at Grey, I know we carry that version in our hearts. That one day we'll find our version again, though it's likely we'll have to help build it.

Hence the hope in these lyrics. That there can be light and warmth after the bitter storm. That there are rainbows and magic lanes to follow to find that place.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Yesterday went okay. I managed to accomplish my goal of getting the students talking, seeming to perk their willingness to share their thoughts and insights. Something that has been sorely lacking for these past few weeks.

Despite this, though, I still had one student fall asleep. There were others who looked at me with skeptical eyes. Hence I wasn't surprised about the email from the department chair, informing the course head (and the rest of us) that the graduate students are complaining. And despite the idea of asking for feedback, the truth of the matter is the issue stems from something a lot more fundamental and primal. That something drastic needs to be done to shock them out of their current state and help them reset.

And it needs to happen tomorrow.

The idea came while I was looking over lecture slides. Feeling once again that this relationship was far too one-sided, encouraging them to sit back and absorb (which we know doesn't work), I found myself staring at the glass of hopped apple cider in front of me. Only a few moments before I had been asking the barista what "hopped apple cider" was, to which the response was "you have to experience it to answer that question." Not a bad sales pitch, huh?

Which is when it dawned on me that these students didn't have ownership because they weren't experiencing all that comes with problem solving. To them, the answers were already a given. And they need to be reminded that this is rarely the case (and if it is, then they really haven't earned their PhD).

So tomorrow, as we dive into RNA interference and CRISPR-Cas9, we'll pause and do a modified flavor tripping experience with white vinegar.  I'm both excited and terrified as there's really only two possibilities for the outcome of this experiment.

Wish me luck.

Monday, October 23, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Flip

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

It started innocently enough. Sitting in a coffee shop with hopes of finalizing my lecture tomorrow, I was quickly becoming distracted by a young girl who was bouncing on the bench next to me. Looking up, the mother quickly caught my eye while she bounced a newborn on her knee, rolling her eyes and mouthing "sorry."

"Don't worry about it," I responded with a smile, thinking that would be the end of the conversation.

"It's just so hard sometimes!" she exclaimed.

"I know," I absentmindedly responded while turning my attention back to my computer screen. "My twins are at home with a sitter."

"Twins!" she shouted, for the whole shop to hear. "Why, that must be SOOO nice! Every aspect of parenting done at once. So much easier than doing this one at a time!"

I think you could have heard a pin drop in the moments that followed as all eyes quickly became glued on me. Everyone in the shop seemingly waiting for a response, with the energy and looks suggesting anticipation for a fight.

One of the things that is guaranteed to put me in a fighting mood is the comparisons from others about how difficult their lives are. I struggle with others jumping in, cutting people off with their attempts to share and empathize by exclaiming there's no possible way as this situation is extraordinary. With infertility and parenting, the situation is much more tangled as there's this assumption that those who are not parenting have zero frame of reference. From sleep deprivation to financial issue to simply juggling the day-to-day of a new reality surrounding a little one, the thought process is that of exclusion.

Recently, though, my outlook on the Pain Olympics has shifted. Part of it comes from having a family building story that can easily cause the audience to fall silent fairly quickly, but the other has been me learning to stretch and search for the root cause of this complaining main due to my own fumbles and belly-flops I've inflicted on others. Being socially awkward, I'm frequently an offender especially in the arena of answering the question "so what do you do?" And as those awkward pauses have come, usually with me kicking myself immediately afterwards, I've thought about the snarky remarks or the stone-cold silence and how I've struggled being on the receiving end.

There's another element, though. Being an educator, the core of my job is identifying misconceptions and helping guide people to new conclusions. As I walked home from the coffee shop, I thought more and more about a compulsive need most of us have to top one another's venting episodes. That sometimes it can be about an oddly failed attempt at commiseration. While other times it's actually a sign of something terribly wrong; that either this person is feeling isolated or overwhelmed or abused or feeling trapped. Often they are hurting, sometimes in ways that will even surprise them. Geared up for a fight as that is really their only form of being able to connect with humanity.

And if you look at the situation that way, flipping the view from someone who is unnecessarily venting due to privilege to someone who is broken on some level, all the sudden addressing the problem at hand becomes a lot different.

I honestly don't know why I responded the way I did. Maybe it had to do with it being a warm, sunny day or me fighting fatigue from staring at a computer screen for way too long. But following the comment, I looked right at this women with small children and I saw someone who was overwhelmed and tired. Quietly packing up my things, I pulled out a set of crayons and some scratch paper that I always keep on me in case the Beats are getting out of hand. Immediately the bouncing young girl's eyes lit up and she swiftly settled into coloring.

"How old are your kids?" I asked, hoping to initiate a conversation as I observed another older woman slide in next to the young girl to encourage her with her drawings. And almost as if the flood gates were opened, the whole shop spent the next 10 mins with this woman listening as she told life story, including her frustrations with being a single mother and finding balance in life. Discovering very quickly that this was someone who was actually pretty lonely in life and struggling to find connection.

And though the interaction wasn't a long one and the transition wasn't completely smooth, the outcome was one where the atmosphere in the coffee shop changed with someone offering to buy this woman another cup of coffee, most others smiling at the little girl as she proudly showed off her drawings and even others beginning to open up about their struggles with loss and failed life goals.

All of it stemming from seeing the situation as it actually was, which wasn't about someone wanting to fight, but about trying awkwardly to connect.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Faking it

It's sunny today. Sunny, warm and unseasonably beautiful as I'm rolling around the chemistry between SOLiD vs SBS sequencing in my head. Learning about SMRT and Nanopore as I prepare for the conversation tomorrow. Hoping upon hope that I sound like I have a firm grasp of what I'm talking about (even though I don't).

Part of my anxiety comes with the audience, knowing there's someone there who is watching me and hoping I'll belly flop. Part of it comes with the fact that I know if all goes well, tomorrow's conversation could actually be that: a conversation. An opportunity for these students to bring their opinions and insight to the table that they haven't really done so far during the formal lectures. And as that is my main goal, I'm trying to figure out how to allow for the comfort of conversation to come while also having enough material there so that they have a firm foundation to speak from instead of defaulting to a state of bored silence.

So right now, with slides finalized and me reviewing Drop-Seq, I'm also formulating a strategy to fake it well. Remembering that it's not my job to have all the answers. In fact, it would be better for all if I don't so that they can have the opportunity to shine.

Friday, October 20, 2017


For over a decade, Grey and I have struggled with early morning wake-up calls from Jaxson. He's always been glorified food whore, requiring constant supervision when any meal or snack is out, but the wake-up yowling has been a different level of torture. We've tried ignoring him, locking him up, have positioned squirt bottles, constructed shake cans and even in moments of pure desperation have resorted to launching pillows in his general direction. We've also had him evaluated by vets (all of whom have assured me he is in good health after spending a small fortune on blood work), books and the web.

Nothing has resolved the situation.

Thursday I hit the end of my rope. I haven't been sleeping well to begin with, but a 4 am wake-up call where he decided to wake-up the Beats in order to get breakfast put both me and Grey over the edge. After taking the morning to calm, I decided to do a last-ditch internet search, using a different combinations of words ("yowling" being the key). Which is when this article appeared. And after reading it, with it making sense given the behavior pattern, I formulated a last effort plan of instituting second dinner for Jaxson and Daisy just before Grey and I went to bed.

This morning, I woke with a start realizing that despite it being 6 am, the house was quiet. 10 minutes later, with two Beats wide awake and ready to begin their morning routine, I found two drowsy cats who were stretching themselves awake and slowly making their way to the kitchen for breakfast.

I've been thinking about this sudden change in cat behavior all morning as I've been confirming appointments for follow-ups for She-Beat. Specifically there's been a request to bring in a speech and language specialist to observe her as it's now suspected that the root of her difficulties is due to her ears. That what we're seeing from her is actual a struggle to communicate, initiated due to her limited ability to hear. Something so simple and yet the effects are insanely profound and it's this idea of a cascade, like ripples in a pond following a single event, that's been giving me a lot to think about.

This isn't the first time I've encountered dramatic shift in directions and paths solely due to identifying a minor detail most wouldn't consider. With infertility, though the root cause was never formally identified, I found myself on a different road following the addition of a blood thinner. When I was younger, it was the decision to brave being alone in the world and failing at my chosen career path that allowed me to pack a van and relocate West. More recently it's been this active decision to sit back and wait for the pieces in motion to move around, hoping they will fall into place. All of these seemingly minor, trivial events or actions that to outsiders should not have any impact.

The ripple effect isn't a new concept. Within biology, we talk about buffering for such effects through redundancy and robustness, but the reality is that sometimes a seemingly stable system can collapse upon instead simply by eliminating a certain component. Any though this collapse can seem destructive, this change can also identify something that is crucial. A keystone required both to heal and rebuild.

Grey is a bit more pragmatic than me, usually the more data is required before he'll declare anything is resolved. Even this morning, when he too was surprised to find the house unusually quiet, he's skeptical that we've found the core issue of the hell from the past decade (though he is quick to let both cats know that he's always been for second dinner, putting the blame squarely on me). So the experiment will continue, just as we'll continue with assessments and working to lay down foundations for the future.

Still, the thought of ripples and finding the stones that create them is one I'm focusing on. That maybe bringing about meaning change requires looking for the minor events and digging down to what rings true.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The space between

The cursor has been blinking back at me all morning. Despite the mountain of work I have to do, the words fail to flow and efforts to chip away at the walls seem quickly to be undone.

It doesn't help that my body is tired, causing my brain to feel foggy and heavy. Filled to the brim with no way to drain. And yet, drain it must. Drain in order to be filled again, with ideas and plans modified so as to continue striving for an ever-moving end goal.

Next week I begin my last round of lectures. For the most part, the slides are done and I have an idea of what I want to talk about (one lecture slide needs to be finished and the paper read). But I'm struggling to get the motivation to do this last round of polishing. Of getting my act together enough to make sure I bring my "A" game to lecture. Part of it is normal: polishing too far in advance means I'm overcooked when its time to present. But the other part is that after these lectures, my obligations are technically over, leaving me free to put my energy into building these new opportunities and pushing for changed.

Easier said than done given that nothing is solidified and pushing on things seems not to have had much of an effect.

This space between is mentally trying. The remembering that what I'm leaving behind, though it has served me well, no longer fits. Even though there's still this primal drive to go back to what would be comfortable. To climb back into the nest instead of braving the fall.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How infertility kills

Like many, I have folders on my computer filled with photos. There's wedding photos that have been digitized, hiking/camping/rock climbing photos from youthful adventures, photos from trips and vacations and family photos, including separate folders specified for the Beats and Jaxson & Daisy.

But there's also a folder I rarely look at; one that contains photos of myself during my time in the trenches. This folder is much thinner than the others, reflecting a period were I avoided the camera at all costs. The photos that are there are an emotional trigger as the version of me looking back is zombie-like: The forced smiles, the glassy eyes, the visible pain. It's clear something is very wrong.

A common theme that echos through society is that infertility, unlike other diseases (cancer being the go-to one for many making this argument) doesn't kill. When looking for support, many who are infertility-naive will immediately point out this "fact" that the infertile should be counting their blessings as they aren't dying and hence should really shut-up. But there are two things that aren't considered by the people making this STFU argument. First is most aren't actively dying and usually have no direct experience with death outside of the pending fear they have on the topic. But the second, which is far more potent, is that there are many forms of death with grief and trauma being a very formidable one.

BnB and Mali had separate posts talking about moving on from infertility as a form of survival, with BnB having a similar observation about self photographs following her infertility diagnosis. The death that comes from a life planned and hoped with expanding one's family for isn't something that can simply be covered up but is instead physically manifested. And hence the conclusion that infertility doesn't kill is actually dead wrong.

The memory of my time in the trenches, where I felt completely detached from the world and was instead living in a gray-toned, muted Elseworlds is still painful. There were moments were I wondered how long I could go on living that way. Hence why Mali's call for choosing to survive, stepping outside the comfort zone to find a way is so important and it's was a choice I remember making even when our path to resolution wasn't clear.

But part of this focus on survivorship that Mali and BnB make a wonderful case for is also changing the conversation about what infertility is. That it actually is death, killing dreams, hopes and promises for a chapter of our lives. That infertility and RPL actually do kill. And that telling an infertile to "get over it" is just as terrible as saying this to a cancer patient.

Because death comes in many forms. All of them terrible and live changing for the survivors.

Monday, October 16, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: For worse, for better

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

The phone number popped into my head unexpectedly; one that I hadn't thought about in 15 years. A quick internet search confirmed what I suspected: it belonged to a guy (nicknamed "Mr. Wonderful") I had been casually seeing prior to Grey. That lead me down a rabbit hole I hadn't allowed myself to think about for years, ultimately ending with me finding his Facebook page where there was a photo of Mr. Wonderful with two small children. 

Years ago, a woman on a TTC forum I belong to posted a long rant about finding out her ex was getting married. Despite the fact she had a loving husband, a beautiful son and was unexpectedly pregnant with her second (no fertility issues what so ever), she lamented the news that this ex was building a life without her. I remember seeing red upon reading her post, positively angry that someone who had easily achieved the life I was breaking myself over was seemingly pining over an alternative.

As my time in the trenches went on, I would begin tormenting myself with thinking about Grey leaving me, building a life we both desperately wanted with someone else. I had many an ugly cry with those images of him with two small children, thinking of the woman who would help him complete this happy family.

But despite how hard I pushed him away, Grey stayed. Granted we had some help from David and Dee, but the reality is he also made a choice to not give up on the family we already had

Basic Protestant Wedding vows contain a well-known verse of "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health," and yet when asked about the moments of love most people will focus on the for better parts: the happy memories or the richness of life. But what we fail to grasp is that it's the worse parts of life, the hard moments, that truly test love and solidity of relationships. With infertility you get that in spades: the scary RE appointments, the shots in the ass, the tears following someone else's pregnancy announcement, the dark ultrasound rooms where the tech can't find a heartbeat, the negative tests, the pain and even the moments where you wonder if you'll ever find your way out of the darkness. It's in those for worse moments that love is tested and were many find themselves abandoned by those they thought loved them. But there's also the ones that continue to stand beside us, being our rocks, grieving with us, helping us crawl our way out of the darkness and back into the light.

Looking at that photo of Mr. Wonderful with his children, I literally felt the same passing feelings I would feel for a stranger. My he have a happy life. But when I opened up a photo gallery of Grey, containing all the photos we have together through our time together, particularly from our time in the trenches, my heart soared. Because despite the darkness, the hard, the uncertainty and the pain, this is someone who chose to fight with me, to stand by me at all costs. 

For worse, for better. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Love and light

It started in the most innocent of manners. The Beats asked to see the box I keep on top of my dresser, filled with memories from their time in NICU and from before. Their bracelets, the smallest blood-pressure cuffs one can imagine, onies marked size "P" which barely fit She-Beat's doll and the pictures of them from the ultrasound scans.

It was as we were looking through the pictures we came the ones of them as embryos. Of the Beats from Jan 2, 2013, but also of the first one: The one of them all together.

Today is October 15th: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. Part of October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Tonight at 7 pm is the Wave of Light. There was a time in the ALI community where this night would be filled with posts, remember those precious children we lost too soon. Today it seems quiet. Or maybe it's just quiet in my corner.

Still, today I've been remembering. Allowing myself to feel that sadness that once consumed my every waking minute. And tonight Grey and I will once again light candles in remembrance of our precious 7 we didn't get to hold. In remembrance of those babies our friends lost too soon.

Sending love out to this community tonight. May you all feel wrapped in love and light

Friday, October 13, 2017

Golden Afternoon

All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill
By little armed are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.

~Excerpt from "All In The Golden Afternoon" by Lewis Carol

Thursday, October 12, 2017


About 4 months ago, I left my keys at work. I realized what I had done after I arrived at the Beats's daycare to pick them up. In a panic, I quickly realized that the only option I had was to take the Beats with me on the bus, commuting back onto campus to go retrieve them. The whole time hoping my coworker was still in the office so I wouldn't have to track down security.

It was a mess of a situation. The bus ride was abnormally long due to traffic, the walk across campus was compounded by rain and He-Beat, in the excitement of the situation, failed to tell me he had to pee resulting in him having an accident and I didn't have a change of clothes. By the time we all got home (thankfully Grey modified his commute to meet up with me on campus so we could brave the packed bus back together), it was very late, we were all soaked to the bone and I was sorely in need of some wine.

But apparently that opinion of misery wasn't shared. Since the key incident, both Beats have announced "we need to go get Momma's keys!!" on almost a weekly basis. Between the bus ride, the new people, new place and meeting up with Grey in a way they normally don't, the whole situation was a grand adventure that must be repeated.

I've been thinking about moments like tis more and more given recent conversations I've been having with people in all aspects of my life. Yesterday I had a conversation with a colleague and dear friend who is in the lecturing circuit and frustrated by the lack of opportunity available to her (despite her amazing evaluations and skill set). She asked how I was doing and proceeded to tell me she was impressed how calmly I was handling my transition. Later I got feedback from a student about how put together and on top of things I seemed. The final bit was two separate emails from advisors on a project I'm trying to get off the ground. They both read through a concept paper I had put together and were apparently very impressed by this first draft, wanting to talk about edits and next steps all while commenting that I really seemed to have a clear direction forward.

It's odd to think that for those not privy to my head space, things can look downright rosy and exciting at the moment. Sure there's planning with me spending far more time in front of a computer than I care for combined with uncertainty about the future, but there's also new things happening that weren't even a consideration a couple of months ago. It's just a matter of which filter you choose to look through when assessing all of this.

All of this got me thinking all the more about we, as humans, see people in our daily lives; the images we project, whether consciously or unconsciously, for the world to take in. It still amazes me that people can a comfortable living off of this projection, using social media as a medium for promoting their own brand. The power that's there is really impressive, but what we tend to forget is that these perceptions are always through a filter of some degree. And there's the additional level of what we as individuals bring into the experience that can impact that filter.

Though logically all of this makes sense, what has been a bit of a shock is thinking about how those outside looking in would see me in the world. That though I have an imagine of who I am and how I fit into the grand scheme of things, others likely have a different perspective. I've been getting a taste of this with some recent experiences with the Beats. From swimming lessons, where other parents have commented about how fearless they both are about getting in the water (all while I'm watching, concerned they are overly wild), to a comment yesterday at the park where as the Beats were wrestling with one another on the ground while giggling uncontrollably and someone commented that it must be nice that they liked one another and wanted to play together, pointing to her children where one clearly didn't want the other around.

But I've also thought about it with this space and what I write her, with the filter being applied no matter what I say or do. How the things I see as hard or wonderful or even life-changing others see differently. How that can be isolating when there's this lack of understanding, but also freeing too. Because sometimes the answers we seek come from viewing the problem differently, but other times it's a matter of trusting your gut, following the road forward that makes the most sense to you. Even if it doesn't to everyone else.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The "I'll never"s

Bargaining is something you do a lot of when you're facing trauma. It's part of the grieving process, with our minds trying to find a way out of the situation we are facing and its a normal, healthy survival strategy in order to avoid pain. Like many, I did a lot of bargaining while in the infertility trenches. From modifying my diet and incorporating "healthy" lifestyle changes to promising to reform all aspects of my life, I made a lot of statements and promises about how life would be one day when I was no longer in the trenches.

One of the most profound things I did was make promises about the type of parent I would be. Part of this came from the bargaining, but the other part was also from a deep-seated fear I had about not being worthy due to how I was raised. It's a hard thing to explain to those who have good relationships with their parents, but given the trauma that came from my childhood (and how I behaved as part of it), I also was coming from a place where I didn't want to revisit that trauma on any child. Hence I promised to be a model parent, as if somehow proving my worth to even be given the opportunity.

There's a problem with such bargaining, though. We see these models of how things should be, but fail to grasp or understand that bottling it all up to be picture perfect can actually be just as damaging. For me, this has been particularly difficult both due to me being a people pleaser but also due to me not knowing how to manage angry in a healthy manner.

All of this got tested yesterday. After a emotionally trying morning with She-Beat's assessment (she did awesome; me: not-so-much) followed by a hard drop-off at daycare, the Beats were both wired. The effort to burn off some of this energy quickly went south at the playground and quiet time at home ended even faster when I discovered they both had scaled by dresser, using the air conditioning unit next to the window to aid in this endeavor.

But the straw that broke this camel's back was finding them both in the bathroom later, covered head-to-toe in a Shea Butter ointment I use on dry skin, having emptied the entire container  and clogging the bathroom sink in their exploration and attempt to clean-up.

It is safe to say it's the maddest I've ever been at both of them.

Through deep breathing, I somehow managed to strip them both and got them into the tub to be scrubbed and degreased. But I wasn't the kindest I could have been in that moment and 10 minutes later, Grey would come home to find both Beats in their room with both of them looking pretty upset having been sent to bed without having had dinner and me in the bathroom, swearing under my breath as I declogged the sink.

I didn't sleep well last night after the episode, even though Grey made sure both kids got dinner and were made aware that their misbehavior wasn't okay, but we loved them just the same. A big part of it was the guilt I faced as I could literally see the 2012 Cristy, with all the "I'll never"s that I swore up and down not to do staring me in the face.

Because here's the thing about infertility and the side effect of all the platitudes people feel inclined to give: you start believe there's a reason that you cannot get pregnant or carry a child to term. The "it wasn't meant to be" translates into "because you would be an awful parent." So in an attempt to overcome it, to prove it all wrong, you bargain in a way that those gifted with fertility fail to grasp.

I know what you're going to say. The questions like "why are you beating yourself up?" or statements of "you're being unreasonable." Truly, my logical brain gets it. But that's the thing about "I'll never"s. The aftermath of infertility or any other trauma, with those platitudes always seeping through.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


One of the hardest things about any transition is changing the self-dialogue that goes along with it. Though there's initially excitement about anything new, it doesn't take long for it to wear off, particularly when you start encountering roadblocks or set backs.

This weekend was a major roadblock. Though the quality time with the Beats was very good, the reality is nothing that needed to be done (like job applications, correspondence, deadlines and finishing lectures). And generally, it never does despite all the best intentions. Normally while this would be a mild frustration, it was aggravated when Grey wanted to start talking about future plans (i.e. strategies for retirement, savings and buying a house). When I pointed out that I still didn't have anything solid lined up for January, he was quick to answer with "I'm sure you'll find something even better."

Despite his best intentions, this really didn't help.

After waking up due to a rather unpleasant nightmare, I've been feeling rather down this morning. And all the self-doubting dialogue was streaming in full force.

What if I don't find a new job?
What if I never will because my contract wasn't renewed?
Maybe it's for the best that I stay home with the Beats in light of the challenges they are facing.
Maybe it was stupid to push for all the things I've pushed for.

It was in that moment, when nothing but negativity was flowing through my brain, that this happened.

The light was so strong, it actually physically hurt.

But it also snapped me back to the moment. To what I was missing with all that bad dialogue and the fact that the main thing holding me back on all of it was me.

Today I'm at the library, staring directly at the mountain of work. But you know what, I've scaled steeper mountains and crawled my way out of deeper pits. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the naysayers say.  It time to change the dialogue, snapping out of the mood that is productive to no one.

Monday, October 9, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Nature Walk

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Braving the rain, we went for our walk. They carried their bags to collect bits and piece from the journey. The only rule being that nothing was to be picked or pulled from the ground; all had to be found lying along the trail. And for the most part they followed that rule. 

But most interesting was the conversations from observations. The noting of berries only at certain parts of the trails, the observation of moss and seeing the birds fly over the pasture. All moments from a nature walk.

Deep in the Quiet Woods

Are you bowed down in heart?
Do you but hear the clashing discords and the din of life?
Then come away, come to the peaceful wood,
Here bathe your soul in silence. Listen! Now,
From out the palpitating solitude
Do you not catch, yet faint, elusive strains?
They are above, around, within you, everywhere.
Silently listen! Clear, and still more clear, they come.
They bubble up in rippling notes, and swell in singing tones.
Now let your soul run the whole gamut of the wondrous scale
Until, responsive to the tonic chord,
It touches the diapason of God’s grand cathedral organ,
Filling earth for you with heavenly peace
And holy harmonies.

By James Weldon Johnson

Friday, October 6, 2017

Final preparations

CAPRICORN HOROSCOPE (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) ~ by Jessica Lanyadoo @ The Hoodwitch
You can’t please all of the people al of the time, and trying to is a fools errand. Emotions are running high this week, and if you get too caught up in what you think other people are saying, thinking, or doing, you’ll lose track of what’s really happening for you. Stay centered within your own feels, and make sure your actions are in accord with your integrity. You’re not in control of much, but what you give your attention to is always at your own discretion, my love.
One of my weaknesses is that I'm a people pleaser. It's a survival mechanism I developed at a young age that seemed to serve me well throughout my youth, with me pleasing the adults around me and being rewarded.

As an adult, though, this tendency to please has really bitten me in the butt. I find myself often caving to strong personalities or those in positions of power in an effort to keep the peace and have been overly concerned about how others see me in the world as I don't like being on the outs. It's because of this that I struggle with setting boundaries, often feeling like I'm being minimized or used when conflicts arise and often feeling spent in the process. I've lost count of the number of times where I would have benefitted everyone if I had swallowed my fear of disappointing someone and instead spoke my mind or defended my points or observations.

The hardest part of being a people pleaser has been dealing with strong personalities and those who are use to getting their way. Engaging with people who are use to battling (and even thrive off of it) is extremely difficult as it doesn't take much for boundaries to be crossed. There's also a sense of competence that comes from those who are able to defend their points of view. I've been in situations where the person arguing has been flat-out, factually wrong or is just being an asshole and yet struggled to defend myself or bring the facts to light. In my world, it can make the difference between being taken seriously or shown the door.

My horoscope this week has been a potent reminder of this as I'm meeting today about material I will be presenting in a couple of weeks. The final lectures for my current position. Already, I'm getting push back and different opinions on the material I've selected and where to focus. But underlying all of this preparation is a sense of whether I'm competent enough to actually deliver this information. A feeling that my failure would somehow be a validation for the sudden decision to not renew my contract.

The past 24 hours have really brought all of this to a head. After an emotional morning with the Beats' evaluations (on an aside, they really worked very hard and I'm proud of them), my day only got harder following some phone calls and discussions where it became clear that I'm the one developing programs and designing curriculum. Things are falling squarely on my shoulders and people are watching to see if I can step up to the challenge. The final icing on the cake was hitting dinner time and realizing that only Daisy was in the house and ready to eat. Sitting outside and knowing it was fruitless to go hunting for Jaxson (I've never found a cat that wasn't ready to come home on their own accord), I faced being powerless for what felt like the 50th time that day. When Jaxson reappeared an hour later (and has now been grounded until death), I reread my horoscope and knew what I could control is what I chose to focus on.

So that's where I'm at this morning. Pushing aside any thought about what others think of me. Sure, I don't know every minute detail into various processes, but honestly that's not the point going forward. I have to start trusting myself and assuming that some level of conflict can be resolved as long as I do so. Because I cannot please everyone. Some people seem damn content to be angry that I'm even breathing. But what I can and should do is be true to myself. That's all that really matters in the end.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Brave for them

It's funny what kids take in. Their ability to observe and see the world in a way most adults have lost. I was once told that small children are the ultimate scientists, driven by a need to know and a willingness to fail in order to find the answer. A big part of that, though, is observation. The things they clue in on and can take in, all in a manner that betrays them either being uninterested or being completely unaffected.

Today I took the Beats in for their evaluations with special education. Though I wasn't in the room with He-Beat as he completed his evaluation, I did sit in for part of She-Beat's evaluation with the speech and language assessor. And though I hid in the corner as so not to distract She-Beat from what she was doing, I could hear how the assessment progressed. The waves of emotions that suffered throughout the entire 2 hour process left me marveling at how strong so many of these parents and caregivers before me have been just to sit in that chair and observe.

Through it all, I knew it was critical that I put on a brave face. That I cheer them on for doing such a good job even though all I wanted to do was breakdown and cry.

At the end, I didn't completely succeed. While talking with the staff at the end, the tears readily flowed. But I promised to do better next time. For the road ahead. Because though I'm feeling like a complete failure, I know that going through this process is so very important so that we can help them grow and thrive. That it's important to be brave for them.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ticking things off

Busy. Theme of my life at the moment. Busy with preparing my last lectures. Busy with developing new programs. Busy with trying to develop a new project. Busy with applying for jobs. Busy with family and preparing for the evaluations tomorrow. Busy with life.

I've been very overwhelmed with all the uncertainty and having so many balls in the air. A lot of it is excited (all of it is scary), but I'm struggling with keeping things together.

Yesterday, in a fit of feeling I had no grounding, I pulled up an old FET calendar. And using it as a template, I began to make a list and timetable for events. Who knew thing calendar would ever serve another purpose.

This morning, readings were completed. Two job applications have been submitted. Another one will go out the door this afternoon. And then there's reading up on NGSS followed by putting together some flyers for advertising new programs. An expense sheet too. If I'm lucky, I'll get an outline of my concept paper completed so I can begin working on a draft.

Just need to keep ticking things off the list....

Tuesday, October 3, 2017


In December 2012, Grey and I took a much overdue vacation to Las Vegas. I didn't write a post about the trip given it wasn't terrible stellar (though Hover Dam was awesome!!), but there was a moment that has stayed with me. A moment I've remember vividly since the news about Las Vegas yesterday morning.

As part of the trip, Grey decided to surprise me by booking a room at the Bellagio. Not just any room, but one with a view of the fountain. After checking in, taking a much needed nap and getting some food, we came back to the room with the intention of relaxing prior to some sight-seeing the following morning.

As Grey went to shower, I found myself staring at the fountain. A few moments later, music timed for the fountain show began to flow into the room. And it was then that I grabbed a bottle of champagne, pulled up one of the chairs in the room in front of the window and parked myself for the next couple of hours, watching the fountain performance again and again.

For the past two days, as the media focused on all aspects of this mass shooting, I've had memories of the calm and peace that was in my heart as I watched that fountain. Of something that brought me joy as I was facing so much uncertainty and trying to will myself to have hope.

And it makes me angry and sad to know that though so many have died and suffered footsteps away from this structure that brought peace to my heart when I needed it most. To know that despite a few well-meaning tweets, nothing is really going to change to prevent something like this again. Not without turning everything else on its head.

Las Vegas isn't my favorite place in the world. There are so many other places I can name off the top of my head that I would rather spend my time at. But just because it's not my favorite place doesn't mean I don't wish this tragedy didn't happen. That the shootings in general didn't stop. That we weren't becoming so numb to this violence.

Monday, October 2, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Metanoia

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Metanoia: a transformation or change of heart. Usually in the spiritual sense.

This past weekend was a beautiful one. The rain on Saturday set the stage for a crisp, clear Sunday. With autumn in the air, Grey and I decided to venture out to the harbor in order to take in the scenery and run the Beats.

And even though this is not home, the peace that came from being by this ocean and seeing the islands in the distance helped bring about a transformation in my heart. We're here for a purpose and though this beauty is foreign, it's still beautiful.
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