Friday, April 29, 2011

The Chatty One

{Self portrait. From here.}

Every successful relationship needs balance. Typically this comes in the form of contrasting personality traits, skill sets and tendencies. My marriage is a perfect example of this, in a very by-the-book-almost-hilarious-it's-so-much-like-that kind of way. You would like some examples, I'm sure. So here are a few:

I'm Type A.
My husband is Type B.

I'm anal-retentive.
My husband is laid back.

I plan everything ahead of time.
My husband waits until the very last possible moment--with a typically identical outcome.

I'm outgoing, loud and chatty. I often stick my foot squarely into my mouth.
My husband is inverted, calm and speaks when he has something important to say.

I don't think things through, follow directions or mull over possibilities.
My husband thinks until there are no thoughts remaining, always reads directions/instructions and researches things to death.

You get the point.

But humorously, our contrasting traits are never more obvious than when we visit any sort of retail outlet or place of business together. We both had the day off on Good Friday (we rarely have the same days off from work, so we took advantage of it) and decided to fill the day with errands and tying up some loose ends.

We visited the bank. We went to the cell phone store. We went grocery shopping. And all the while, I was talking to people--and it was embarrassing. It all began, allegedly, at the bank. We met with our investment guy and he began his boring talk about boring stuff like the stock market, Fortune 500 companies and the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oh I'm sorry, I fell asleep because just talking about that boring conversation was so boring. In my opinion, personal conversation livened up the atmosphere.

It started with the funny questions. "Are your parents aliens?" he asked. Then, somehow, we got on the topic of cars and I insisted this grown man who is likely old enough to be my father look at us and guess what kind of vehicles we drive. I mean, that's a funny game right? And he was right on the money--he could just tell my husband drives a pickup truck because he said (after said husband left the room) "He has that utilitarian look about him." Ha-larious.

After departing the bank, we went to the gas station. Because that truck we've been discussing was out of gas. And I had to pee. Badly. So, I went inside to use the facilities and the lady behind the counter complimented me on my shirt. "It's from Target!" I said. "What's Target?" she responded. I fainted. What's TARGET?!? Clearly, this requires a conversation.

Then, we moved on to the Verizon Wireless store to purchase a 4G hot spot for our home Internet service. When the salesman realized I still had my "city" cell phone number, we began talking about sports. And our mutual love of the same football team. And the NFL lockout. And how expensive beer is at the stadium. And how he sneaks liquor into the stadium in his jacket. And he showed me photos on Facebook of him, wearing a jacket and drinking alcohol. I could actually feel my husband's eyes burning holes in the back of my neck with laser-like accuracy.

When we returned to the car, he explained his frustration in the following way: it's not that my chatting with strangers is annoying, it's that it takes up time. Slows things down, if you will. Makes us less efficient, if you please. I, on the other hand, feel strangers appreciate all the talking. Plus, I find silence to be intolerable and awkward.

So, as we headed to the grocery store I took a vow of silence. Until we ran into someone we know. So, I was pious for like 10 minutes. Does that count for anything?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I have a confession.

{Why yes, this IS on loan from the Royal Palace.}

Really and truly, I'm not into this whole Royal Wedding extravaganza. I will *NOT* be waking up at 4:00 a.m. to watch the media coverage. {Mostly because I treasure my sleep and I own a DVR.} I'm not obsessing over the Brits, feathered fascinator hairpieces, tiaras, and the super-top-secret-omg-what-will-it-be-like wedding dress. I'm pretty sure it will be white. Also, I doubt the train will be any longer than Princess Diana's 25-foot detachable lace-trimmed train.

However, I am the very first to admit the following: after Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton, I bought a replica of her ring. From here. I was even on a waiting list---and I hate waiting. It was worth the wait.

I'm wearing it today.

And tomorrow.

And I don't care who knows.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Busting an Infertility Myth: There is a simple solution to your complex problem

{My list of baby names.}
 When I reveal to people that my husband and I are struggling with infertility, I instinctively clench my fists. As my knuckles turn white, my hands turn a shade of purple and my fingernails dig deeply into my own flesh, I realize something: I'm bracing my body for an impact. It's like that moment when you realize, with both hands gripped tightly on the wheel, that no matter what you do next you are heading for a head-on collision. You are going to be hit, so you might as well brace your already battered and broken body for the accident that lies ahead.

I'm not driving a car or operating machinery. I'm just trying to survive a conversation that I instinctively know will end with the deployment of my airbags. I can only hope that I'll escape with a few cuts and bruises instead of a concussion. It's really the hardest thing, as an infertile woman, I will ever do--tell my story. It's scary. It's heartbreaking. But more than anything, it opens up a place inside of me that I aggressively protect from the outside world. I may not be a mother, but I'm as protective as a momma bear when it comes to my fragile heart.

When the topic of children arises, I am wearing a blindfold. I listen and wait in the dark for the words to come tumbling from the mouths of those around me. Will they make a suggestion? Will they tell a story about their friend's sister's cousin who got  pregnant on her honeymoon by drinking mango juice and eating sand? I don't know what to expect and I can't anticipate from which direction the impact is arriving. So, I just brace myself for the blows instead.

More than anything, suggestions come from a good place. People have good intentions. They want to hear your story and they want to feel like they can help you in some way to achieve your dream or create a miracle. However, it's never that simple. A family member once suggested that I allow his friend to touch my shoulder, as this same friend touched his wife's shoulder once after a miscarriage and she went on to have four children. This was a serious suggestion.

What people don't realize is this: it's never simple. It's not just one thing--it's a lot of things. Chances are the person who is infertile isn't that way because they aren't trying the right things; it's because they have a serious medical condition or problem that prevents them from conceiving a child or even carrying a child to full term. They have tried everything--and I mean everything--for at least 12 months and nothing has worked. It's a medical problem, not a I-just-forgot-to-put-a-pillow-under-my-butt-after-intercourse issue. They have tried everything, they have explored all avenues and they did visit every doctor and taken every test and consumed every pineapple core they could find. And nothing worked.

For my husband and I, it truly is not a simple problem with a short and sweet conclusion. We visited doctors. We pulled down our pants. We were shot with blue dye. We were x-rayed, groped and analyzed thoroughly. We took medication. We prayed. We wore boxer shorts. We stopped riding our bikes. We cut back on our running. We had surgery--with another scheduled for next week. We paid medical bills. We relaxed. We enjoyed ourselves. We got angry. We cried. We tried to find someone to blame. After trying everything, we are right back to where we started: childless and dreaming.

You probably know someone who is infertile. One in eight people struggle with infertility, so you're bound to have someone in your life who is currently in the throes of that same struggle. You likely know someone who struggled with their fertility and was able to conceive. You've probably heard my favorite story: the couple who gave up after years of trying to conceive and decided to adopt. Then, as the adoption was finalized they became pregnant in the most miraculous of ways. It's an amazing story, I won't deny that. But as someone who has decided to adopt, I feel that same familiar pain whenever I hear that story: what about the couple that adopted and never conceived? Who's telling their story? Giving up the dream, letting it go or relaxing is not how we, as women, conceive children.

When people suggest a miracle or tell me a story about someone they know who experienced our same struggles and went on to have children, I say this: That is an amazing story and an incredible miracle. However, I believe in a different miracle. I believe it's a miracle to survive an ordeal that tests every shred of your being---your marriage, your heart and most importantly, your faith. I sincerely believe that a miracle will happen for us someday, but I have let that type of miracle go. The heartbreak of month after month of a lacking miracle is enough to break even the strongest of faith and I can only believe in miracles by letting my miracle go. There is a miracle out there for me and my husband; I don't know what it looks like and I can't call it by name, but it's just waiting for us to arrive. That's my kind of miracle.

This post is a submission for the Bust a Infertility Myth Blog Challenge, through RESOLVE.

April 24-30 is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). For more information about infertility visit RESOLVE.

Want to here more about my story? Here are some related blog posts:

My Infertility Confession

On our decision to adopt

On trying to let go

Allowing the experience to change me

How choosing to adopt has changed us

It's not what you do

On being brave

The Weight

Monday, April 25, 2011

Welcome to the 21st Century

{I'm from the future. Or the '90s. Either way.}

Our house was built in the year 1992. You probably don't remember much about the decor choices associated with 1992 (me neither, I was nine) but here's all you need to know: oak, wallpaper, pink, oak, brass, floral, oak. Needless to say, our house had all of the above items when we moved in and my 21st Century self wasn't too thrilled about it.

Ironically, our technology has also been living in the year 1992 since 1992. My boss told me recently that I have the brain of a nine year-old, so really it all makes perfect sense. Truthfully, the technology of the 90's hasn't changed much at our house. Take the Internet, for example. The superhighway of relevant and irrelevant information, if you will. The only way on God's green earth we could access the Internet at our home when we moved in was through a satellite dish. I mean the ONLY way, too. Really, I would be OK with this whole Satellite Internet Situation if it meant that it wasn't a gigantic eyesore, a piece of crap, slow and ridiculously expensive. Otherwise, it's totally awesome and great! {Insert extra, sarcastic exclamation points here.}

As you can see in the photo above, the dish is ballin' out of control. It's right next to the driveway. Also, near our TWO propane tanks. We are so fantastic that just one propane tank won't do. Just so you know, the one on the left is empty (except for a giant nest of robins that I don't have the heart to disturb) and waiting to be removed by our former propane supplier. Who, clearly, is in no hurry to get their propane tank/bird's nest back any moment in the near future. So, we just pretend we are so needy and important that we need two propane tanks. You know, one for us and one for our birds. But since we're fancy we say it like buuuurrrrrds with our pinky fingers in the air.

But, I'm getting off topic. Recently, we took a good hard look at ourselves and realized that it's time to move--into the 21st Century. By leaps and bounds and all at once, really. Ripping our 90's selves off like a band-aid, if you will. It all started with a smart phone that has a data plan, then boiled over into an iPad 2 and a 4G hot spot. We are both rocking and rolling over here, let me tell you.

Things really came to a head yesterday when we elected to remove our unsightly satellite dish and it's corresponding cables from our backyard and home. Nothing would give us greater pleasure than to dig a hole in the yard in the rain, we said. We may have willingly entered the current century, but our old fashioned, horse-and-buggy-using-candles-for-light loving satellite dish wasn't going without a fight. Who knew the 90's were so damn resistant to change?

Really, what happened was we removed 70+ feet of cable, patched the holes, removed the dish and realized: whoever installed the pole in the ground clearly loved the 90's more than the dish does. That baby is coated in concrete and is now a muddy, water-filled hole with a pole in it. I say we just wait a week or two and turn it into a May pole. Or, another home for our buuuuuuuuuurrrrrds. Either way, I'm just happy to say goodbye to the 90's.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday Thought

“…the sea’s only gifts are harsh blows, and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong. Now, I don’t know much about the sea, but I do know that that’s the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing the blind, deaf stone alone with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.”   -Into the Wild

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Weight.

{My list of baby names, years in the making.}
 Things have felt very heavy lately. Do you know the feeling? It's like your entire life is resting on your shoulders and after a while, it becomes tiring. Maybe it's all in my head, perhaps my overabundant hormones are to blame, but it feels like a weight is resting upon my shoulders. It can feel like there are more things to worry about than there are to be thankful for, which I hate to admit.

Sometimes, I wonder what it all means. You know, the waiting and wondering and the pain that can be involved in our lives. At what point is it decided that we have adequately learned our lesson and we're able to move on? Years? Decades? An eternity? Never? In the end, what causes the tides to again turn in our favor? I don't have the answers, and perhaps that is what has caused that intense weight to settle in again. I often rack my brain for theories, because I'm that person. The person who always, even when there is no answer, must know why. Why is this happening? Why do people make their choices? Why, why and why?

I have an intense interest in hearing the story behind the story for just about everything--and often, it doesn't exist. There is a reason for everything, but there are plenty of times we never have the opportunity to hear the entire story. Our "whys" are lost in the shuffle. The best way I know to answer those lingering "why's" is this: my story is not your story. Your story--your life--is not the same as mine. Our stories have already been written. Our paths have already been decided. And worrying about, asking questions about and lamenting over the direction is useless.

So, when I think about adoption---I think about that path. Because deep in my heart, I know that it will not be an easy journey ahead. The journey that has already been decided for us is just waiting for us to arrive. And our path involves adoption. Adoptions, even. The more I talk about adoption, the more I realize that I need to prepare my heart now for what is to come. I can only dream of what it will be like, but I know it will dig deep into that place in my heart I've been protecting. The one that I don't let people see, because it's still battered and bruised from the journey behind us.

More than anything though, I find myself hanging on to the things that people say. Despite the journey, and beyond the shell I have developed, I still can't keep myself from clinging to the words. Regardless of what is or is not said, words still hurt. They still carry meaning. And for me, I fear that the day will come when those words pierce that soft place in my heart.

When I say, "We are adopting," I quietly wait for a response. I ready myself for, "Once you adopt, you'll get pregnant." and "I know 5,899 people who adopted and then they got pregnant." and it hurts. That's the truth. And here's why: as anyone who has experienced infertility will tell you, it's never that simple. It's not about letting it go. It's not about relaxing. It's not about what it's about. (It never is, right?) It's about years--at least 12 months--of failure, followed by doctor's appointments, financial burden, medical procedures and surgery. And for many, it's about heartbreak and loss. So it feels like the suggestion, which is likely meant to inspire, is actually minimizing a terrible pain. And that's what hurts the most.

Making the choice to move on to adoption is truly about actively choosing to let that other part go. I make that choice every single day, because it's the only way I know how to live. It's about saying goodbye to month after month of heartbreak and embracing the hope of a family again. A family that, perhaps, will not look like we once imagined. But at the end of the day, it's not about a child who has my ears and my husband's eyes. I've said goodbye to that child, because I had to--not because I wanted to. That doesn't mean I've stopped believing in miracles; it means I have accepted that kind of miracle may never arrive. Living in the light of possibility, believing in the arrival of a miracle--it's different, but it's still present.

Considering all that has been, I know all that will be won't be easy. I know that adoption will test me, just as infertility has; I believe that to be a guarantee. I'd be a fool to think it's possible to truly prepare myself for the journey ahead. What I do know is this: despite the disappointment, regardless of the pain and in spite of the heartbreak, life is still beautiful. Miracles are possible. And your life's path has already been decided--so it's useless to lament over what is not. Life is about how you react, learn and grow from the hand you're dealt, not the moments you've wasted feeling sorry for yourself.

If you know anyone (and I'm sure you do) who is struggling with infertility, I highly recommend you read this article, written by Resolve, the National Infertility Association:

It's perfect.

Friday, April 15, 2011

You're Fat.

{No, not you. Me.}
 It has become clear that there are two schools of thought at our house: Those Who Think Rudi is Fat and Those Who Think People Who Think Rudi is Fat are Crazy. As the person who lives at our house and is primarily responsible for feeding, attempting to keep the dog hair from suffocating us grooming, cleaning up after and walking Rudi, you can imagine I take some offense to this name calling situation.

My husband, naturally, believes Rudi is fat. Obese, even. He even has the nerve to say things like, "Hey big fat doggie," while patting her backside and because she neither speaks nor understands the English Language, she loves him anyway. But I understand and speak English, and I'm not amused. The Rudi is Fat Situation often comes up whenever my husband goes to the grocery store. {If you're doing all the cooking around here, you might as well buy all the food, right?} I'll ask him to buy dog food and he always returns with DIET dog food. The bag says things like "Fit and Trim" or "Sleek and Agile" or "Weight Management" and if Rudi had thumbs or could read, she wouldn't be excited about it. Because she would know that those are all kind words for: You're fat and you need to go on a diet.

As the only other woman who lives at our house, I feel the need to defend Rudi's stature in conversation. Eventhough every winter we scale back drastically on our walks and when the "Winter weight" begins to creep on, denial is very important. Well, that and sweatpants.

Monday, April 11, 2011

How my brain works

{Just ring already.}

I'm waiting for something important. (side note: what else is new?) It seems that despite my efforts to write blog posts about how I really need to learn to be patient, I'm still not residing in Patientville, USA. In fact, most days it feels as though I recently purchased a home a few towns over (like 345 towns over if you're into counting things).

But despite my extended waiting, learning to be patient and not killing my brain cells with increasingly irrational thoughts, I still have a lot of work to do in the patience department. Which is why, I presume, I'm still waiting. For all eternity. Don't you just hate when all you want is to KNOW and you don't? Your brain does funny things to you.

Your brain starts reminding you of all the things you probably did wrong. And all the reasons that the world should probably return the favor, old school Karma style. Like, maybe there was one time you saw a girl wearing terrible pants and you judged her with your mind and then some other time where you didn't hold the door for an old lady or something? Maybe the Universe has been keeping track of all of these things in a list format and in your moment of greatest need, Universe hasn't forgotten your mistakes. I haven't done either of those things, by the way.

So I'm just sitting here, thumbing my fingers on the desk and mentally willing my cell phone to ring. So, far it hasn't worked.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday Thought

We Are More Than We Appear to Be

"I say the universe speaks to us, always, first in whispers. And a whisper in your life usually feels like 'hmm, that's odd.' Or, 'hmm, that doesn't make any sense.' Or, 'hmm, is that right?' It's that subtle. And if you don't pay attention to the whisper, it gets louder and louder and louder. I say it's like getting thumped upside the head. If you don't pay attention to that, it's like getting a brick upside your head. You don't pay attention to that—the brick wall falls down. That is the pattern that I see in my life and so many other people's lives. And so, I ask people, 'What are the whispers? What's whispering to you now?'" — Oprah Winfrey

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Let passion be your guide

{My passion: drawing terrible pencils. Seriously.}

It feels like we spend most of our lives trying to figure out what we're supposed to do with our lives. There are so many questions involved in finding our path. I can clearly recall the feeling of overwhelming panic that washed over me when I sat down with my parents and tried to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I said a lot of things like, Do I really have to decide now, at age 17, what I want to do for the next 35-40 years? Like, right now? What if I make the wrong decision? What if I'm unhappy? I think the answers went something like yes, yes, you can change your mind and you can change your mind.

I did change my mind, slightly. I switched my major from advertising to public relations and the rest is history. But, I think deciding what you want to do with your life goes much deeper than deciding as a teenager on your major in college or where you want to go to school. It comes down to one thing: passion. Anyone in this world who has success or happiness started with passion. They began with a dream. They listened to their heart and did what felt right to them every step along the way. And that's why they are successful.

But it's not always easy. The path isn't always carved out as clearly as we'd like it to be. They are twists in the road. There are hills that we can't see past and sand traps that slow us down. There are moments when it feels like the sun has stopped shining and it's too dark to see our own hand in front of our face. But that's just part of the journey, isn't it? Through it all, we drive on. We chase our dreams as they lead us down the road. And we always end up exactly where we are meant to be.

For me, my passion is writing. Really, it's always been that way. I remember sitting in the interview for my current job and seeing the looks on the faces of everyone in the room as I told them how passionate I was about writing. Writing was my life's passion, I said. They lit up and nodded in unison with understanding. In that moment I realized something important: people admire you when you're passionate because they can sense you're telling the truth. I can't convince you that I'm passionate about anything else, because it wouldn't come from that same place in my heart where writing lives. Explaining what it's like to have passion hits people squarely between the eyes, because they know exactly what it feels like. They have a passion, too.

My boss later told me that as soon as I said it, I was hired. Truthfully, I hadn't planned to say it--it just came out. But that's the one thing that unites us as people; we all have a passion. We all have a dream. And life, we know, is about finding and pursuing our passion. It's the only way we'll ever be happy.

As luck would have it, having a natural talent and having a passion go hand in hand. It's not that we are passionate about something because we're good at it---it's that we are good at something because it is also our passion. The universe just has a funny way of working those kinds of things out. Really all you need is your passion, your undying drive--that's it. You follow your dreams, you dream and hope and do all that you can do, and that will always be enough. It might not feel like enough, but truly it is.

And when that's not enough, you just have to let it go. Surrender. Let it fly. It will always come right back and land in the perfect place. Exactly where it belongs. And it will give you more peace than you could possibly imagine.


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