How Hope Street Came To Me

Something happened tonight that touched me beyond words. If you remember a few posts ago I talked about visualization. And I mentioned how my favorite visualization ended in Hope Street – a wonderful avenue filled with babies and dogs and wheatgrass smoothies.

This is what I came home to tonight:

Not one, not two, but six signs proclaiming that Hope Street was right at my doorstep! Can you imagine my amazement at seeing this as I parallel parked my car? I thought I was going crazy at first – there was no way I was really seeing something that cool!

My neighbor and friend Susie made the signs and put them there for me. Holy crap. I think that might be the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. In an amazing gesture of friendship, love and faith, she brought Hope Street to me.

And how cool is that? I mean, I live on Hope Street now. It’s my permanent residence.

Thank you doesn’t seem adequate, but that is how I’m feeling: so incredibly thankful. Thankful for Susie, and for all of the wonderful people in my life. There are many of you. And I want to take this opportunity now to tell you how much I love you.

A Wino’s Farewell to Wine

I love wine.

I love the taste, the smell, the way it makes me feel. I love wineries, wine bars and wine menus at restaurants. I love it all. I even like wine in boxes.

But I’m giving it up. For now.

Last night I made the (very difficult) decision to kick alcohol to the curb until I get pregnant.

A few factors spurred this decision. First, there are some studies linking alcohol to decreased fertility. I didn’t pay any mind to these studies when I first read about them. There are other studies out there saying alcohol while trying to conceive is No Big Deal. Indeed, many of my dearest friends were 100% tipsy when they got pregnant. Alcohol does not seem to mess with the average gal’s fertility much, so why should I worry about it?

Because when it comes down to it, I’m not the average gal trying to get pregnant. Even though I’ve had a couple periods since I’ve started upping my fat intake, they’re still not super regular and I’m ovulating way late in my cycle.

Second, I’ve been doing (and blogging about) so many things to make myself healthier these last few months, that ditching the sauce seems like the next logical step in the process. One thing has been naturally leading to the next as I’ve been slowly, but surely, building a healthier me.

And finally, I’m willing to go to great lengths to get pregnant, if necessary. I’d try Clomid, I’d inject myself with drugs and, yes, I would do IVF, the final frontier. Hopefully I won’t have to do those things, but that’s beside the point. If I’m willing to do all of those things, then why shouldn’t I be willing to try giving up alcohol first? It’s certainly more natural and less invasive than the things mentioned above. Plus, those medications, etc., are so expensive that I’d feel like I was wasting my time and money if I wasn’t as healthy as possible before I even thought about trying them.

Bottom line: it just feels like the right thing to do right now. I’ve written a lot recently about listening to the needs of my body and paying attention to my inner voice. And right now my inner voice is pretty much screaming at me about this.

But it is not going to be easy. Drinking is so much a part of my relationships and activities that I think I’m going to feel lost without it. After an emotional day, I could always uncork a bottle. When I was bored? Another bottle. Oh and let’s not forget celebrations. That’s at least two bottles.

It’s going to be totally weird for me to navigate all of that without my trusty elixir.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I need your support. Even if you just post a comment on this blog or say something supportive to me in passing, it would really help a lot.

I’m not going to give up alcohol forever. Oh hell no. But for now, I must make the following goodbyes. Because it’s not just my beloved wine that’s got to go, it’s everything:

Goodbye, beer sampler...
Goodbye, Guinness...
Goodbye, car bombs. Godspeed.

Picture This

Gretel's hard at work visualizing

I’ve been playing around with visualization lately. Much like my experience with wheatgrass, I became intrigued about visualization after reading Inconceivable by Julia Indichova. I’ve mentioned this book before and I’ll probably mention it again, so much so that you may begin to think I’m obsessed with it. Which I am, a little.

Here’s the idea behind visualization: even if you’re not literally doing the thing you’re imagining, it still works because your physiological response is the same as if you were. For example, when you have a nightmare, you wake up and you’re sweating and your heart is racing, even though you were in your bed the whole time. Your body’s response is the same as if you were physically in the nightmare world. So if you picture yourself lazing in a meadow and feeling at peace, you can still obtain that feeling, even though you’re nowhere near the meadow. Or if you’re imagining your body to be mega fertile, then you can make it so. Or at least help it along.

I’m using visualization for fertility, but the cool thing about it is that you can use it to help with anything: stress, depression, illnesses, whatever.

But let’s get specific. Because this would not be a complete blog post unless I made it weirdly personal. So I’m going to walk you through my favorite visualization exercise. The CD I own is called Fertile Heart Imagery (also from Julia Indichova…I should start an official fan club, no?) and the name of the exercise is Sacred Choices. In Julia’s words, “This exercise can be quite useful when you find yourself obsessing about statistics and so-called realities that might feel overwhelming.”

Obsess about stuff? I don’t know anyone who does that.

The exercise goes like this: Picture yourself walking out of your house. When you get to the street, look to the left and see a street sign that says Infertility (or any other word you want. I was using Amenorrhea when I wasn’t getting a period, but you can name your street whatever). Take note of the people walking on that street. Check out the buildings, the store windows, the weather.

When I look down that street it’s always raining. The sky is grey. The sidewalks are made of stainless steel. Doctors are walking around in white coats, generally ignoring everyone or else handing out plastic cards with stark diagnoses written on them. The stores are selling dusty baby bottles and empty boxes of diapers. The other patrons on the street are crying or wearing stunned, confused expressions.

After taking in that whole scene, you look to the right and see a street sign that says Hope. Again you notice the weather, the vendors and the buildings. On my street of Hope, there are gardens lining either side of the street, filled with rainbow-colored roses and zinnias. The weather is sunny and warm. Babies are crawling everywhere (don’t worry, no car traffic on this street) and one of them, I know, is mine. Dudes in carts are giving away wheatgrass smoothies. The people on this street are happy and they’re all making their way towards a fountain at the end of the street, which is bubbling over with cool, healing water. My favorite part about this street is that Tim is always there waiting for me with our two dogs. He’s smiling at me and the look on his face says, “What are you waiting for?”

Once you finish visualizing both streets, you choose which direction to walk in.

I did this particular exercise every day, twice a day, for two weeks straight. After I’d completed it, I was usually smiling. I felt calmer. And, yes, I felt more hopeful. Most importantly, I chose to feel that way. I didn’t let my anxiety choose for me.

This exercise is so ingrained in me now that whenever I start getting upset about the world of babymaking, I just picture my street of hope and my mind is quieted. Is it a fool-proof, cure-all technique? Of course not. But it helps.

So which direction do I choose? I’m heading straight to Hope Avenue.

I’ll see you all there.


Give Me A Break

My apologies for the recent blogging silence. I’ve been taking a break, both literally and figuratively.

A couple weekends ago I went from this:

To this:

…in a matter of seconds.

Hello, broken nose! Hello, lacerated lip!

Here’s the story: I was camping with some friends and we decided to go hiking. Just an easy trail – no one was really into exerting themselves. We were psyched for a nice day out in the wilderness.

But, ahem, we were unprepared. A few reasons why we were dumb about the hike from the outset:

1. We’d had a few drinks the night before and everyone was hungover and dehydrated.

2. We only brought three bottles of water…for four adults and three dogs.

3. We didn’t bring a map.

4. My hiking shoes were old. (This one’s all me.)

Not surprisingly, we got lost. Six hours later, our easy hike was turned into an all-out quest. I was worried about the dogs. I was worried about taking a shower. I was worried about how soon I could eat a hamburger. I was not at all worried about where I was putting my feet.

So I fell. Hard. And since I was carrying a big plastic dog leash, I couldn’t break the fall with my hands – I broke it with my face instead. And let me tell you, it was scary. And there was a lot of blood. I immediately started screaming.

First I yelled out, “I broke my nose!” Then I yelled, “I’m going to die!” Then, “But I liked my noooooose!” Glad to see that even in a moment of terror, I still had the presence of mind to be vain.

Anyway. As you can see, there were numerous factors that contributed to my fall. But I know, deep in the place where you know these things, that I fell because I was exhausted. Not just from our long, unprepared-for hike, but from life in general.

I wouldn’t take a break, so my body gave me one. Literally.

I am an over-planner. I love to do stuff and I hate to say no. I hate it. I feel like if I say no to a proposed plan, the planner will think I don’t love them. Or that they won’t invite me again the next time. So I end up saying yes to virtually everything that comes my way, which means I am almost always over extended. My exhaustion from summer comings and goings had been building and building and I wasn’t listening to it. I thought I could just power through until the fall.

But the truth is, you should never power through. There should always be enough time – even if it’s only an hour here and there – to rest, relax and rejuvenate. This may mean I have to cancel plans at the last minute sometimes. It may mean I have to say no. But it’s something I need to do. I need to take care of myself because I am the only one who really knows how I’m feeling.

This is the lesson I’m taking from my epic spill. To listen to my body.

Everyone else, please, make an example out of me! The next time you’re burning a candle at both ends, just take a look of that lovely photo of my busted up face. Or use it to scare small children. Whatever.

And with that, I’m off to take a nap!

The Happy List

My new blog friend – Kate of Katydid Did It – makes lists on her blog all the time. I love reading them. They are like two-second insights into her personality. I enjoy them so much that I decided to make a list of my own.

As I’ve mentioned before, the previous year was kind of rocky for me. So I’m going to take the opportunity now to focus on the good parts of that time period:


1. Beaker:

Wouldn't this guy make you happy, too?

He is sitting next to me right now, curled up against my left hip. This dog is 6 pounds of pure snuggle. We got him last October at Almost Home animal shelter, and I can say with certainty that he has made my life better. Every morning I wake up and there he is, happy as can be, leaping across the quilt with his tongue hanging out.

He totally likes Tim more than me, but whatever. I freaking love him anyway.

2. My Kindle:

So many books, so little time...

Call me materialistic. I don’t care. Some people are addicted to heroin, some can’t kick the crack. I’m addicted to books. I inhale them, sometimes reading more than one per day (on a good day). I never thought I’d be touting the praises of an e-reader. I love the feel of a real book, the smell of paper and ink. But the Kindle, man, it got me. Having every book you could ever want at the tips of your fingers? It’s like Christmas morning, every day! Books are my main form of escape, and knowing I have a humungous library of escape – any time, anywhere in the world, within 30 seconds – is priceless.

3. Drew & Susie:

Drew and Susie live across the street from us. I wish I had a picture to post of them because they are this adorable blond-haired, blue-eyed couple, with equally adorable blond-haired, blue-eyed children. And they are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Tim and I have known them for a while, but it’s only been in the last year that we’ve started becoming real friends. Not only are they fun to be with, but they’re always offering to help us – anything from feeding our cats to shoveling out our cars after a snowfall. Living in a city, I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be friends with my neighbors, but these two make me feel like I’m part of a real community, almost like I have my family living right across the street.

4. This blog:

From 2004-2006, I lived in Florida and completed a master’s degree in creative writing. Those were two of the best years of my life. The weather was awesome, I met other people who shared my passion and I was a writing machine. Once I left Florida, I don’t know what happened. Writing stopped being fun. It just felt like one more thing I was supposed to be doing outside my 9-5 job. I didn’t look forward to it anymore. But this blog is changing that for me. I like writing it, a lot. Sure, it’s not the grand works of fiction I’d imagined myself writing, but for now it’s just what I need.

And this blog is healing me in more ways than one. Since I’ve begun writing it, I feel mentally healthier. I feel better about my fertility situation and my life in general. It means a lot to read your comments and feel your support. So thank you, readers. All 10 of you.

5. Iceland:

Vik, Iceland

Wow, wow, wow. If you ever have a chance to go to this country, do it. You will not regret it. I went there in June and, holy crap, it was amazing. It seems dramatic to say a trip was life-changing, but it was. Every minute I was there I felt 100% alive. For the first time, ever, I felt like I was really, truly living in the present moment. My words will never do it justice, so I leave you with some pictures of this otherworldly place.