On Miscarriage, Sharing your Grief, and your Right to Remember

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Sweet little flower of heavenly birth, you were too fair to bloom on earth. ~ Author Unknown

 

Miscarriage is quite a unique type of death experience. It haunts your mind and heart in ways that are difficult to put aside. Not only are you losing a child and the dream of that little person, but you often never know what went wrong to cause the child’s life to end so soon. The grief process after a miscarriage can be a lonely, arduous time.

Although you might feel like hiding away, try to share the truth of your pain with those closest to you. Reach out and be honest, raw, and open about what it is like to lose a child so suddenly. What I have learned over the years is that no one truly understands what you are going through—especially the incredible strength miscarriage and baby loss asks and takes from you—unless the person has experienced the same type of trauma, themselves. You can still try, though. It is worthwhile to include your loved ones in your grieving process, if only to honor the life of the child you grieve for so desperately.

At first, the well-meaning friends and family you open up to might be uncomfortable with the level and intensity of your sadness as you grieve for the child you will never see, hold, nurse, nor raise. They may try to comfort you with what feels like unsympathetic comments such as:

“Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.” (Sorry, but this life I carried inside, actually did mean something to us. It was our child.)

“It wasn’t really a baby yet, anyway.” (As if a pregnancy test and a beating heart on a screen one day, but gone the next, can be denied.)

“Don’t worry, you’ll get pregnant again soon!” (As if they know this for certain—they don’t. And even if you do become pregnant soon after your loss, the next child will never replace the love and dream you had for the child that never lived.)

Feel free to tell your loved ones the truth—that you are grieving because you just lost a child. Explain that the heartache you feel is over all the hope and dreams you had, but have gone away. Gently inform that just because the baby hadn’t been born at an age when they had a fighting chance to live, his life still had meaning.

Invite your family and friends to join you on your grievous journey so they can reach a clearer understanding of miscarriage and baby loss. Allowing these loved ones to hold your hand along the way will open up their eyes and minds to the right and privilege that is yours alone to honor and cherish your miscarried babies in any compelling way, and how you’ll forever carry their memory imprinted on your heart.

 

How have your family and friends helped or hindered your ability to grieve a miscarriage? 

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The Insurmountable Grief of Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death

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“Some people say it is a shame. Others even imply that it would have been better if the baby had never been created. But the short time I had with my child is precious to me. It is painful to me, but I still wouldn’t wish it away. I prayed that God would bless us with a baby. Each child is a gift, and I am proud that we cooperated with God in the creation of a new soul for all eternity. Although not with me, my baby lives.”
Christine O’Keeffe Lafser, An Empty Cradle, a Full Heart: Reflections for Mothers and Fathers after Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death

 

In America during the month of October, advocacy campaigns support a list of worthy national causes, including those meant to raise awareness and support for the early detection of breast cancer, anti-bullying attempts, and domestic violence prevention. Though, a campaign in October that reaches the closest to my heart is the one that was deemed integral to supporting mothers and fathers devastated by pregnancy and baby loss.

In an effort to do my part to support those grieving the loss of a baby, as I have suffered six times before, I will be devoting my blog posts this month of October to spreading awareness and support. (Please feel free to read some of my blog posts and what I’ve shared in the past about my miscarriage experiences.) The blog posts I feel compelled to share this month will reflect on my personal story of miscarriage: how each of my baby losses have shaped, molded, and changed me; how The Husband and I have coped over the years with so many losses; how we have chosen to honor each of our angel babies; and what the grieving feels and looks like now.

My greatest hope for October is that you will join me in spreading awareness of pregnancy and baby loss, perhaps by lending your support to those suffering this insurmountable pain, and honoring all the children that gained their angels’ wings before their precious feet ever touched the ground. Thank you, gentle and kind readers.

Have you suffered a miscarriage or experienced the loss of a baby? What support do you wish you had during that time of loss and grief? Does sharing your story—through writing, creating art,  talking about the experience, or honoring your child(ren)in a special way—help at all?

A Song of Yourself

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I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil,
     this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and
     their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

~ excerpted from Walt Whitman’s “A Song of Myself”

 

Think back on a time when you were most confident in yourself. Brave, steady, self-assured. Maybe it was the you of your youth. Maybe you were the top of your class. Stand-out football player. Star cheerleader. The lead in every school play. Maybe it was the day you landed your first real job, or jingled the keys to your own place. Maybe it was the day you boarded a plane to a faraway destination to trek in a foreign land. Maybe it was when you discovered you were actually quite good at creating poetry and others often told you how talented you were, and that you should publish a little book.

What would it take for you to allow yourself to feel that type of courage and vitality once again?  To live and breathe for your true self? Do you miss some integral part of your identity from the past? Truly, have you ever felt happy and free? If yes, then take yourself back there. Relish in the delight of your childhood, your happy place, your favorite day. If you can honestly say that you’ve never had even one moment of pure happiness, nor felt free to be yourself, then today is the day to make that moment happen. No delay.

Remind yourself, what were you like as a child? What was it that could hold your attention for hours on end? Maybe you were a romantic star-gazer. Maybe you sought solace by hiding away from the rest of your family, cuddled under the safety of a warm blanket, comforted by the company of characters in a borrowed library book that you literally couldn’t stop thinking about. Maybe you kicked the soccer ball against the side of your childhood home to relieve some teenage angst, but found your feet were sort of lost without the black and white ball between them to maneuver into a game-winning goal. Maybe your life would be miserable without the cool, wet rain on your face as you clocked another ten-mile run on a back country road.

What would you do with your time if you had zero responsibilities to tackle today? What if you could gift yourself a day like that? One day of freedom to roam, play, and dream. How would you spend a day like that? Where would you go and what would you do? Go ahead, daydream a little. Now, seriously consider making this one day happen. All for you. It’s not selfish, it’s not. You deserve to feel this type of deeply held joy.

What if you could arrange to do that one thing you once enjoyed, but have lost along the way? Would you dare dream such a moment can be yours once again? What’s holding you back? Please, don’t allow fears to be the culprit. I’d imagine your loved ones would be more than willing to help. It matters to become reacquainted with a piece of your heart and identity that you’ve buried away to responsiblity, embarrassment, or feeling like there is no time or place for it in your adult life. My guess is, if you only asked a loved one for their guidance, suggestions, and help in planning your one, special day, that they’d be flattered and quite pleased to lead the charge.

Do yourself a favor: stop slighting you. Believe, instead. Conquer those fears, squelch that nay-saying voice, hush the negative opposition to your lifelong dreams, your hidden passions, your happiness, and rightful joy.

Go ahead. Dream again, and chase those passions once more. You only live once. (We all know this.) Give yourself permission to make it a good one. (I promise. You won’t be sorry.)

 

What dream are you chasing? In the past, how have you made your dreams a reality? Do you ever feel that fear, anxiety, responsibilities, a negative inner-voice, or other’s expectations hold you back from going after your true passions in life? How would you spend the gift of one day devoted to pursuing your definition of pure joy? 

 

The Simplified Closet

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You’ll never find something to wear that makes you feel beautiful, smart, or loved if you don’t believe that you already are. ~ Courtney Carver, Project 333

 

After I had completely weaned Baby Girl from breastfeeding, I was in desperate need of new clothes. Non-nursing clothes, to be exact! Even though I still had about eight pounds of pregnancy weight lingering on my frame, I was so ready to box up and donate what I had been wearing for almost two years and enjoy the freedom of dressing however I wanted. Clothing without restriction! What a dream! If I was lucky enough, toddler food stains would stay off of these enviable postpartum, post-nursing duds, too. Was it too much to ask to seek and find the mecca for all moms who just want to get the heck out of their sweatpants and wear something equally comfortable and affordable, but stylish and on-trend?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a knack for finding steals and deals at shops like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Clothes Mentor. Though, I could not find the energy to sift through the racks there and pull together stylish outfits for myself during that time. I wished for just one day to shop, to get all that I needed, and not have to think about it again. For once, I wanted someone else to listen to my style likes, wants, and needs and then actually find the clothes perfect for me in my size, favorite colors, budget, and do it all for me within a reasonable couple of hours while the kids were at school! Short of having a ladies’ maid and personal shopper at my disposal, I felt that I was an out-of-luck, tired mom in desperate need of help in the closet department.

I found what I was looking for, however. It wasn’t that difficult to find, actually. The lucky salesperson listened to my pleas and met all the wardrobe requirements I rattled off to her:

“I don’t want to have to think when I open my closet door.”

“I want items that mix and match for multiple outfit options.”

“It’s important for me to dress comfortably so that I can chase around after my children.”

“I’d like to update my style a bit, in washable, non-ironing, organic materials, if possible.”

“And, by the way, I’m more natural than fashionista, love writing, reading, hiking, all shades of green, and my favorite seasons are autumn and spring.”

Apparently, not only was I seeking a personal stylist, but female-adult-level conversation, to boot! No wonder I was so willing to hand over the bundle of cash, and walk out feeling like a better version of myself.

I walked around mall shops in a daze while seeking the answer to feeling better about myself in an entire closet make-over. After a whirlwind tour, I came home with multiple tissue paper-filled bags in each hand, having blown all of my budget in only one or two stores. And I felt… what? Nothing. That’s right, nothing different. Maybe even a little empty and disappointed in myself.

Yes, I was exhilarated having just experienced the rush of a shopper’s high. Yes, I had some nice outfits that would encourage me to dress a little better and present myself well in the public eye. Though, I didn’t feel transformed in any way. And to be quite honest, that’s what I was hoping for, to be magically transformed by a mere trip to the mall. It took me far too long to understand the fault in my thoughts and ways.

It would take the next four years for me to feel a true caterpillar-turned-butterfly moment had taken place inside of me. This magical transformation would have little to do with changing out the clothes hanging in my closet, and more to do with shedding the cloak I constantly hid behind that shielded my inner-truth and shadowed my self-worth. The woman I was years ago, that person whose desperate-to-dress-better profile was alarmingly self-important, is a vague memory.

In reality, it has been only four years since I took the steps toward living my truth and simplifying all aspects of my life. I have researched and read about living simply, sharing wealth, minimizing lifestyle, simplifying and de-cluttering, and learning to live with intention and contentedness.

Many like-minded people have begun, first, with their closets by ridding the clutter they face in the morning. They started by reducing what it takes to get dressed. I have followed suit. My first minimizing task was to take hold of my excess in clothing choices by keeping only the articles I enjoyed wearing and those I chose to wear time and again. Seems simple enough.

My appreciation for lovely clothes hasn’t gone away, and I doubt it ever will, even with taking a streamlined approach to dressing myself. I’ve learned to have fun shopping my favorite discounters once more, though I visit only when the need arises, not the want stemming from boredom, anxiety, or self-doubt. I take delight in having a clean, relatively clutter-free closet representing my version of a capsule wardrobe , and intentionally cultivated with fabrics and colors that make me feel…well, simply me. Quite beautiful, in fact.

If you are interested in minimizing your closet and clothing lot, are wondering more about capsule wardrobes, and would like to read other writers’ perspectives on how they maintain a simplified closet, I recommend reading Unfancy and Be More with Less.

How do you manage the clothing clutter in your household? Do you have a capsule wardrobe for yourself or your children? What, if anything, would you change about your style?

 

 

Healthy Eating, Simplified

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Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels. ~Author unknown

Before I go on about the ways I have simplified the task of feeding my family, I want to say that it has been a long road getting here and I’m not quite sure the path to eating perfection will ever be attained, nor should it. For many, many years, we ascribed to the “beans and rice, rice and beans” mentality until we learned that those meals, albeit healthy and frugal in their own right, were not kind nor helpful to the multiple health issues I am fighting against daily (Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, hormone imbalances, infertility, repeat miscarriages, migraines, and more). A few years ago, before I became pregnant with The Toddler, I was facing some serious stuff. That’s all I’m going to say about that except to note that my long-time doctor (sadly, now retired) and I had a major life-changing discussion in his office while going over my recent test results, ultrasound scans, and everything that could and couldn’t be done about the extent and seriousness of my illnesses (think: Cancer and gene testing). Scary stuff.

As a last resort, this doctor—who was a champion for me and my health from my first appointment on, a beacon of hope in some of my darkest times of baby loss, one whom celebrated with us the birth of every child he surgically delivered, and the adoption of The Girl—urgently prescribed a type of modified-Paleo regime that strictly eliminated ALL grains and sugars from my diet for three months, and put me back on natural progesterone support. What I needed to commit to was a diet without rice or pasta (not even gluten-free), no pizza or breads, no fruits or desserts, nor sugar in my tea. You get the picture. He wanted me to check in every month and let him know how I was feeling, continue sending in my NFP charts, note any changes in all symptoms and frequency of migraines, any new or worsening conditions, anything positive or negative related to my cycle and health issues. After the three months’ trial, he said that I could begin to add one grain or sugar back  into rotation at a time to see if and what I could tolerate in those food categories.

I owed this special doctor so much for the family he helped us build, the prayers he prayed in our name, wholeheartedly trusting his medical knowledge and advice on the management of my health-related issues over the years, and appreciated his candid, yet gentle discussions with me about the truth and seriousness of the female disorders I live with every day. Although, in the past I had tried The Endo Diet, I was unsuccessful each time I tried to modify my diet to meet the requirements. It seemed overwhelming and daunting, especially during the times after another miscarriage or months on end of trying to conceive another pregnancy. However, three years ago, I was desperate.

Hitting the vortex of desperation with my doctor’s newfound research, empathy and conviction to keeping another pending surgery at bay, he put me on the path to a whole new me. Truly. This major change to my diet, which seemed simple and doable against all the odds I was facing (after all, what did I have to lose?) in turn changed my health around almost instantaneously and, in a sense, gave me my life back. Quite possibly, considerably changing my diet is the one and only reason—aside from a true miracle—that The Toddler’s life exists. For this reason alone, I am humbled and feel blessed beyond compare, and try my best to maintain this type of eating regime for optimum health so that I can be the best version of myself for those I love the most.

~

The one area of my life I refuse to scrimp on is what I serve my family to eat. In our household, we have multiple special-diets that we must adhere to due to a list of life-threatening food allergies and serious medical conditions. There was a time when I enjoyed cooking and learning new, elaborate recipes. Although I do still enjoy cooking and trying enticing recipes, health and safety is always on my mind. Over the last few years, I have discovered that simple, whole foods are the easiest, most cost-effective, and healthiest means to feeding my family.

So, what are some of my strategies for feeding a large family with all the variables I mentioned above? How do I keep the necessary tasks of cooking and preparing healthy and safe meals, and shopping within a budget possible? For one, I make it a priority to serve raw and fresh fruits and veggies at most meals and for snacks. I tend to only steam, cook, or roast vegetables at dinner time. We do serve your typical “kid-friendly” snacks (Veggie Straws, Goldfish crackers, Annie’s bunny fruit snacks, etc…) but the list of packaged foods we choose to buy is slim due to allergen restrictions and my commitment to feeding my family more whole foods and less processed ones, and find it a relief to both my healthy-eating conscience and wallet staying away from most pre-packaged snacks for daily consumption.

Over the weekend, I typically will buy the ingredients I need for cooking a pot of homemade chicken and vegetable soup, turkey and veggie chili, or Tuscan vegetable soup on Sunday or Monday for myself to eat at lunch and/or snack all week-long. This has been a lifesaver for my health-related and time-saving needs. It’s especially helpful to have this type of healthy leftover on hand for nights the kids have swimming lessons (pizza night!), or when my husband is away on business and I serve the kids a meal they prefer (think: chicken nuggets, French fries, applesauce, and green beans!).

What saves us the most time and money is eating a ton of left-overs, non-complicated foods, and simply, meal planning. An organic rotisserie chicken goes a long way and can be made into multiple meals throughout the week. The last of the chicken leftovers get thrown into the soup pot and all of the pieces combined make a delicious bone broth. Food waste is a big deal to me and one that I haven’t quite ratified 100% from my kitchen. However, I will tell you that by simplifying what is written down on my grocery list and not being too over-zealous in my meal planning, we waste much, much less than ever before.

Managing to keep my food shopping to one or two grocery stores only—the two that best serve our eating and monetary needs–also helps. (In case you are wondering, I shop primarily at Aldi and Kroger.) Texting The Husband at the end of his work day when we are out of: whole milk, eggs, bananas, etc… and asking him to please stop  on his way home helps me to stay out of the grocery store every few days, which also saves me from the temptation of over-buying and over-spending (but, it was on sale!) when we need only a few essentials to get us to the next pay period. We rarely eat out because it’s difficult to keep The Toddler in a high chair, not to mention the many allergies to consider. At this stage in our family’s life, we’d much rather spend our time and money elsewhere.

Keeping to particular food shopping and meal preparation routines enables me to simplify my life to ensure there is adequate room for what matters most: keeping my family well-fed in healthy and safe ways, and making memories by spending our precious time together doing what we enjoy.

 

Please share with me how you simplify the ways it takes to feed your family. Do you enjoy eating out together, or do you prefer to make homemade meals? What advice can you offer about simplifying meal-prep routines?

 

Uniquely Minimalist: Why my Definition of Minimalism is Different than Yours (And, that’s okay)

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“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.” ~ Joshua Becker

If you ever came to my house for a visit, first of all, I would offer you a cup of Harney and Sons Tea with perhaps a homemade pumpkin muffin, and side of freshly cut fruit to complement. We would chat nicely for a time while you took in the surroundings of my home enveloped around us. After seeing for yourself how my family and I live, you might switch your friendly tune, abruptly stop our kind chat with teacup mid-sip, and proceed to yell at me, “FRAUD! LIAR! DECEPTIVE, you! Just who do you think you are? YOU, my friend, are NO MINIMALIST!” You might go so far as to almost slam the teacup down in protest, and storm out my front door in righteous anger.

At once, I would apologize for inviting you over under false pretense, and plead with you to come back, stay for a just a little while longer so that I might explain myself with complete honesty. You might relent, but may come back to hear my explanations, though keep your arms crossed the whole time, and glare at me from across my beat-up kitchen table.

To begin anew, I would smile at you in genuine likeness, then justify myself by telling about the beauty and calm I find in the art of simplifying. That I find intentional living a meditative process, and feel quite called to be sharing my family’s abundance with those in need. I might add that adhering to the practice of minimalism isn’t something that can be done in a day, a week, a month, nor even in one year’s time.

Of course, I would tell you that I presently remain in the thick of becoming a minimalist, with a gentle reminder that my mantra all along has been “striving toward minimalism.” It would be worthwhile to add that my definition of minimalism may vary widely from others’ minimalist ways, and certainly may look completely unlike what you had in mind.

From this point,  I would encourage you to look around once more. I’d ask if you would you be so kind as to take into consideration all that I have just explained, with the meaning and purpose of my striving toward minimalism advising your thoughts and opinions? Perhaps, I would say, could you put on fresh eyes and glimpse again, though this time with a newfound understanding of my commitment to becoming so much more in the wake of a minimalist, intentional, and simplified undertaking ? Would you see it all rather differently this time?

~

My continual journey of striving toward minimalism is fueled by my commitment to being intentional about my choices for what goes and stays, finding a harmonious balance of my family’s needs versus wants, and weighing out all of my decisions on a scale of joy, usefulness, and intent. Yes, I’m being deliberately slow in the process, but I’m inclined to keep a snail’s pace in order to be sure about what I am minimizing, and to pace myself for this lifelong pursuit.

If you could choose one place (room, closet, cabinet, etc…) to de-clutter and minimize right now, where would that place be? What is overtaking your time, cramping your space, and hindering your peace? How might you immediately begin to simplify that area in your life? 

 

 

The Why? before the How? Why I’m “Striving toward Minimalism”

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Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” ~Elise Boulding

Embarking on this journey of self-imposed minimalism was not a path chosen on a whim, by accident, or for no good reason other than I was seeking something worthwhile to occupy my days. Rather, striving toward minimalism has been quite a lifelong internal pursuit of mine. Finally, I have reconciled my true desires—those of living more simply and intentionally by drastically reducing, de-cluttering, and minimizing all my worldly possessions—with the myriad of outward mistakes and demoralizing failures I chose to make by listening to the world’s voice—subtle, yet persistent—constantly calling out to me, “Consume! Spend! Add! Acquire!” Instead of heeding to my own truth, that inner-dialogue and guiding compass reaffirming that I was content and beyond rich with all that I had and have ever had, I gave in to the norm for far too long.

Embarrassing as it is to admit my weaknesses—such as my propensity for over-consumption, my increased discontent even with all I owned and could buy, shopping too much and for pitiful reasons, and especially allowing my self-worth to be measured and determined by the type of things cluttering every shelf, closet, and corner of my home—I find it is worthwhile and important to expose my flaws here because it represents the pinnacle and point of realizing that I was stuck in old, demoralizing, woeful habits. And it is precisely where my journey to a better life begins.

Changing oneself for the better is a terrifying, yet exhilarating experience. After all, someone once said, “If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” I couldn’t agree more.

What changes have you made that improved your life for the better? What has been your most compelling heart’s desire that you’re still afraid to pursue? 

Striving toward Minimalism

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“The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.”  – Mother Teresa 

Minimalism. Intentional living. Simplicity. These few words are my mantra, lately. For some time, years now, a tide has been turning inside of me that spoke of desire and intent to finally do something about the chaos swirling all around me. Clutter. Things. Stuff. I had had enough.

As it is with most pivotal moments and new choices, obstacles were to be met and threatened the positive change I was seeking. The biggest of those obstacles was the unsettled question, “How am I to dramatically simplify, de-clutter, and minimize my family life and home without upsetting or hindering my children in the process?”

To make these monumental changes I was hoping for, to live the simpler life I was craving, I wanted everyone on board—husband, children, all of us. (My husband is, by nature, a minimalist and lives rather simply. So, he needed no prompting or cajoling!) Yet, I knew this personal crusade was my own internal calling—not the expressed desires of my precious little ones. This was going to be a tough sell, and I knew it.

Naturally, life with children growing at multiple stages of development can be chaotic in and of itself with all the toys, books, clothing, shoes, and necessities required to keep them all appropriately dressed, nurtured, and happy. The effect I was seeking for myself, my family, our home, and lifestyle was an undertaking that promised to be a struggle and quite the challenge. I knew this. Yet, I craved the change and I felt this passion inside me would not let up. No longer could I ignore the call. We, my family together, would strive toward minimalism, and I would lead the charge.

The start of this journey would be about changing myself only. Instead of focusing on the excess within my family, making all of us spend our Saturdays together collecting, piling, and donating, I made the conscious choice to make the initial change all about me and only me. My things. My clothes. My books. My collections. My consumption. My choices. My wastefulness. My consumerism.

Convicted to forging this path of simplified living, I made a promise that I wouldn’t allow myself to become a martyr to minimalism in the process. And I wouldn’t lecture my family members. Nor would I nag at them to follow suit. Instead, I hoped and prayed that my personal conviction to be striving toward minimalism would inspire my family to join my quest to live a better way. 

Would they care that I was now habitually donating my personal excess to people and organizations in need? Would they notice that I was making a stern and conscious effort to no longer shop out of boredom nor justified wants? Would they allow my small, changeable actions to speak louder than my typical wordiness? Would they benefit from my newfound freedom, lightness, and joy that has stemmed from letting go of all the things cluttering my space, time, mind, and soul? Would my example gently teach and inspire my loves to follow suit?

Guess what? Actions truly do speak louder than words. And I can’t wait to share more with you about my journey toward living a simpler life and the positive impact it is having on me and those I love most.

Are you a minimalist or “striving toward minimalism,” too? Why or why not? What are your thoughts on minimalism, intentional living, and simplified ways? Thanks for sharing!

Joy: It’s Your Choice

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
Jalaluddin Rumi

This blog post has been a long time coming–a year in the making, actually. The time away has been spent on rest and rejuvenation, intense personal renewal and reflection, an invaluable year spent refining myself in a chaotic storm center of trial that has taught me lessons about slowing down, pacing myself, letting go, breathing deeper, choosing happy, loving stronger, praying more fervently, infusing simplicity, being still, and living day by day–going no farther than the moment ahead. This incredible change inside of me, I feel, has been powerfully positive. God is working through me in this crisis at hand and I feel compelled to not resist His timeline. I know that the struggles and challenges being placed before me are not for nothing, and that I am being sanctified in the process.  There is so much to say about letting go of control and placing the internal care and future success of your loved ones, and of yourself, directly in the hands of God.

As I’ve learned to live a new normal and continue on with an intentional pace, I’ve continued to read voraciously and write almost daily. Although, I’ve not made much time for writing on the computer, hence the hiatus from creating blog posts here, I have, instead, handwritten my way through the year by filling two fully lined notebooks that I use as journals. Two weeks ago, I broke open the spine of the third. This daily practice I’m adhering to is therapeutic, melodic, and life-altering. Truly, I believe writing, or any creative endeavor, is a healer.

My plans for the coming year include writing–both inside my journal and online–and pursuing lifelong dreams. Some of the journey, I will chronicle here. Though, what I want to explore through writing in the coming months involves living well–gently, creatively, and intentionally–despite life’s challenges and struggles. This I know for certain, we can be met with the worst kind of heart-wrenching loss, yet still come out of the abyss fully alive, even choosing joy in the process.

Won’t you join me?

 

 

From Darkness to Light

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“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” 
― Albert Camus

When tragedy falls upon us, how do we respond? When tremendous joy is off-set by excruciating trials, which wins over your heart? When your faith in God is tested daily and you feel your mind darkening and your heart hardening, how do you bring yourself back to a place of light and peace?

Lake Michigan's rocky shore.

Lake Michigan’s rocky shore.


These are the challenges of my current days. This year has been filled with the joy of welcoming a newborn son—the most joyful, sweet boy, and the pain of The Girl’s myriad of disorders, special needs, and past traumas affecting her ability to function in a normal place—one far away from our loving reach. My silence on this blog is time spent away caring for my family in a way I never imagined I would have to do, facing enormous decisions that debilitate me on my strongest days, and inviting forgiveness and healing into my heart and home, often, on a moment-to-moment basis.

Always in the back of my mind is my  commitment to writing and what’s pulling me away from my writing goals. So, I’m figuring out a way I can continue to write about this whole mess of a year–wading in the murk and turmoil, despite the incredible challenges, changes, and triumphs, amidst the melancholic tragedies–and trying to not forget or dismiss the golden moments, too. My hope is that I can discover a new way to write it all down in order that my words will count for something and resonate with a kindred spirit living a similar dichotomy of joy and pain; that my wordy reflections bring about peace and hope, shedding light and love back into the world.

Sunset on Lake Michigan

Sunset on Lake Michigan