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Living in the “Yes” of Life

In chaos there is fertility.” ~Anais Nin

The word fertility formerly had a one-dimensional meaning for me, but I’ve come to broaden its definition.

In my time living in Seoul, Korea, it has played a big part in defining my experience. You see, my husband and I have been trying to conceive since 2009 and have not been lucky.

There’s a long story behind this that includes testing and monitoring and modifying our diets and trying acupuncture. And, for about a year, I became that person I did not want to become—swallowed up by the pain and stress surrounding this issue.

In the meantime, we’ve taken on forging new paths in our professional lives. Having been a teacher for 15 years (10 of those international), I finally heeded a different call.

It started out as a whisper and then grew in volume until I could no longer ignore it. I was burnt out on education and came to see my love for creating spaces and interiors. This was a natural consequence of making “home” in several countries.

After some soul searching, I enrolled in an online interior design program while still working as a teacher. It was the step I needed to feel creatively challenged and to envision a wider future.

Yet, as this happened, my desire to start a family intensified. It has been a very difficult place to be emotionally. What’s more, is figuring out how to deal with the negative form of the word: infertility. It feels large, empty, and desperately sad.

People, having the best intentions, offered advice:

“Just relax. Have fun with the process of trying.”

“Try not to focus on it. I know someone who, once they stopped trying, got pregnant.”

“What about some fertility treatments, or adoption?”

These words sounded hollow to me. They didn’t resonate with my core being.

Then, I remembered some that did. Several months ago, a wise advisor said to me: 

“You have a choice. You can live in the No of your life or you can live in the Yes. Look at what is flowing, working, moving. Being in that energy will beget more positive experiences.”

Being in a state of infertility, where things seem to be stagnant and stuck is a very human experience. We all feel stuck at one time or another. We all know what it’s like to feel an absence of growth or progress.

And, in a world where chaos unfolds easily, we all have felt a lack of control and organization.

So, the question is: what does living in the Yes of life look life?

  • Being thankful. Having a daily practice of gratitude, acknowledging the blessings we have, (however small they may be) goes a long way.
  • Being present. Discard the “should haves” or “if onlys,” as they only lead to regret and disappointment. Breathing into our present realities makes each moment meaningful.
  • Shifting perspective. The comparison game can be destructive. It is helpful to take that half-full glass, empty it, and refill it completely with the positive things we have in life.

In less than a week, my life will be topsy-turvy. I will leave a stable job in education. I will pack up all my belongings and store them indefinitely. I will work and fumble and learn in a new profession while exploring Laos as our next home.

Yep, things feel a bit chaotic.

But there’s undeniable movement here.

In the uncertainty of success in a new field or profession, there is will and passion.

In the nervousness of starting over without concrete support, there is marital encouragement and communal strength.

In the fear of “not making it,” there is personal conviction and growth.

And, although the question of how we start a family visits us again and again, I now have a new definition of fertility.

In our daily lives, something beautiful has taken root, and I know it will be fruitful.

During moments in life when you feel stuck, what do you do to ignite movement or growth? How does chaos play out in your life? Is it paralyzing or can it be positive?

Photo by Charles Chan

About Christine Martin

Christine Martin has lived in Colombia, Tunisia & Korea. Her passions are interior design/interior architecture, yoga, travel, photography, and writing. She and her husband are moving to Laos in October 2012. You can find her on twitter or blogging on Happy Impermanence and Somebody’s Home.

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  • Christine – I totally feel where you are coming from. I was also in education and sought out another career years ago. Over the years, it morphed into a coaching role – to help others succeed online. It isn’t about making money but rather using a deep calling to help those that are overlooked because they are just starting out in building their own companies.

    But, on a more deeper level, I fully understand the pain of “infertility”. My husband, having been born with Cystic Fibrosis, cannot have children naturally. We knew this before getting married but I refused to let this deter me from marrying my best friend. We had all the tests done and weighed our options. For us, we have opted out of having children by any means and, instead, have focused our energies to helping all those in need on so many levels – even children. This has allowed us to become the whole person that God intended us to be in this world. I succeed in helping other succeed. I tithe. I also give to 3 different charities – an organ transplant fund (to help others afford their life-saving transplants), a Labrador Retriever rescue (in lieu of adopting every dog I see) and the Children’s Hospital (to help in whatever area of greatest need they have). This is what is working in my life and this is what drives me with a sense of purpose – even if  children are not in our future.

    And, because of our belief, we continue to live life according to that voice that stirs deep within us. Who knows, maybe God will surprise us with a miracle when we aren’t looking. But, in the meantime, we will enjoy the journey.

  • Hi Christine,
    Agree that life sometimes may not happen the way we want it to be. There are things that are just beyond our control. The only control we have is to face it positively and be grateful for the small cherishes we have or to wimp, blame and hold anger within ourselves. It is all about the choices we make today that defines who we would be tomorrow.

  • D

    What a beautiful post that I really needed to hear.  I too got lost in the emptiness and pain of infertility and was finally able to find more strenght and beauty in the world around me once I started to take control of my thoughts and focus on the positive. Eventually we found our way to our beautifu daughter who was born to a mother that was a lot stronger and happier than before.  Wishing you the best.

  • Christine Martin

    Wow! This is so inspiring to read. It is lovely to think that all of this is preparation for being the parent we are meant to be. Thank you for that reminder.

  • GalFromAway

    Thank you for your post. Infertility is such an empty, echo-filled place at times, and it can be a struggle to get away from the feelings of brokenness, jealousy and disappointment. It seems to be a bit of a cycle at times.

    But I found solace in writing. And challenging my perspective.

    http://offbeatmama.com/2012/02/infertile-but-not-defective

    And this has been a good reminder for me today. I’ve been stuck a little more than normal.

  • Christine Martin

    I completely agree with your comment. This lesson on control and surrender is a big one for me. Living grateful “for the small cherishes” is definitely a practice I want to maintain. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Christine

    Shannon, your strength, courage and compassion are so inspiring. It is a beautiful thing to offer your big love in so many ways. Sometimes I feel stuck in the tunnel vision of being maternal in the conventional way. We can be generous and loving in so many forms. You and your husband are examples of this. God bless you for sharing this here.

  • Christine – You are so kind. It is such a blessing to connect with you. If I could ever be of service, just let me know. In the meantime, stay strong and follow the journey with open eyes and an open heart.

  • Thank you for this beautiful reminder. My DH & I have also been trying to conceive since 2007. We did all the testing, charting, etc. only to have all our results be “normal” – no medical reason that we shouldn’t be getting pregnant. Heard the same well-intentioned advice from friends & family who really didn’t understand how hurtful their comments and lack of truly understanding could be. But after a couple years, we had the opportunity to start our own business. This has meant cutting down to one vehicle, living off one income, working almost every day, and frankly surviving in a way that we feel would have been impossible if we had gotten pregnant while we were trying so hard. And yet we have joy in pursuing our passion for our business. We have adopted a third dog to join our little “family” and while it’s not the same as having our own child, we have found happiness and contentment in allowing the goodness of our lives to surface and flourish in whatever way it chooses to manifest. At the end of the day, I feel this is all any of us can truly hope for. And in a very strange way, maybe it’s actually best that we don’t have a child now in order for us to fully pursue our dreams. Things happen for a reason. 🙂

  • Anita

    Hi Christine,

    Thank you for your post today.  It brought back memories for our struggle to start our family.  It took four years of trying, two attempts at IVF, an adoption, and finally a true miracle for our journey to be complete. 

    My fertility doctor asked me the following question at the beginning of my treatments and it changed my perspective forever.  He asked if I wanted to be pregnant or if I wanted to be a Mom.  When I answered Mom he said, “You’re going to be fine. Stay focused on the Mom part and not the ‘I have to get pregnant to feel like a real mother’ and regardless whether or not we’re successful here, you’ll be ok.” I didn’t believe him at the time, but he was right.  Focusing on, and fiercely believing, God would send us a little soul to be part of our family, regardless of how that soul made its way to us, made the process much less stressful and easier. 

    Our second IVF try brought us our son, Paden.  We adopted our daughter, Parker, four years later (after one final IVF attempt), and miracle of miracles, I got pregnant (with no help…except from God, of course 😉 with our daughter, Presley, three months after adopting Parker. 

    I will keep you in my prayers and believe a little soul will find its way to you and your husband wherever you’re living 😉

    Hugs from a fellow infertile traveler,

    Anita

  • Christine

    Hi Anita…It is amazing to connect with women this way. For so long I was feeling like I was suffering alone. Living overseas can amplify this feeling. It was when I started to accept and be open about my frustrations and concern that I found all of these kindred spirits around. The support of women, even those I do not know, is incredible. I am taking your Dr.’s advice to heart. There is a distinction there and I need to be mindful of that. Thank you for being so open here and reaching out in this way.
    Big hugs back.

  • Christine

    Deborah…your comment has really resonated with me. This is exactly what’s happening to us and while there are times I feel like I should sacrifice more in order to “make this happen”, I know, too, that things happen for a reason. Gripping on so tightly to have control hurts more than it helps. All the best in your business endeavor (what is it, btw?) and here’s to following our dreams.

  • Christine

    Hello…yes, there is some cathartic-ness in writing. It’s the best way I know how to sort through my feelings. I will check out your thoughts and be on board as a supporter. Blessings.

  • Marcelgavila

    Truly loved your reflection. As you know I have been experiencing a similar journey and your words resonate with my process. I love the way you can reframe your experience and focus on what is “fertile” in your life.

  • Ani

    Dear Christine,

    I have been through the same journey as you did, and I completely relate to your situation in every way. I had been through 4 years of infertility treatments, right down to the point where the doctor asked us to try for IVF. I was completely distraught, my career was in doldrums at that point of time, plus I had to shift back to my home country. I decided enough is enough, and decided to put aside the thought of conceiving and focus on all that I always wanted to do. After relocating, I joined an Ashtanga Yoga class. I reconnected with all my friends, and did things that I always enjoyed. And surprisingly ended up conceiving naturally. This made me realise that there’s a time for everything. We just need to enjoy each and every moment that we have in hand and the rest will follow at its own time.

    I am really happy that you have decided to make a fresh start and pursue your passion. So..all the best. My prayers are always with you and your happiness shall find you.
    Take care.:)

  • Aralerm

    Hi Christine this post struck a chord  with me as I have been through infertility, miscarriage and an aborted attempt of IVF (my partner did not want to go ahead)  with no positive outcome.
    At the moment the situation is so bad that he  has decided he does not want children and he is incapable of explaining 100% why. I feel lonely and isolated and after 5 years of infertility battle also completely empty. Your words however put a smile on my face and remind me that in so many ways I am lucky. I am sure I will find my own way to give sense to what is happening in my life and start “over   somehow…for now I just want to remind myself how grateful I am just to be here. All the best in your new endeavours
    D

  • Christine

    Hi Ani, Thank you for sharing this here. It’s funny that your reconnection home and doing the things you love was the key. Although we have these big plans to keep moving overseas, there’s a draw home as well. It’s been a constant question. Was that hard for you to decide? How long were you overseas?
    I think that the truth here is surrounding ourselves with love and joy…which begets more love and joy. thank you again.

  • Christine

    Thank you, Marcela. Sharing this journey with you has been painful but I feel blessed to have you as a friend who is compassionate through it all.

  • calliope

    Thank You!  I love the way you made me think about fertility and infertility in a new way.

  • Brent Oh

    Good Post.

  • What a heartfelt post.  I truly feel for you and although I have not had a similar journey, I just wanted to voice my support.  It can be so hard when people offer “advice” that is anything but helpful.  I wish more of them would think before they speak!  Anyway, thank you for sharing such an intimate part of yourself here.  All the best to you. <3

  • Christine

    Thank you, Alannah. Support in any form is a gift. I know when people offer their words, they come from a good place. It’s just hard to hear sometimes. Anyway, I appreciate your kindness here. Be well.

  • Christine

    Thank you for that. It’s funny how common words/experiences have various perceptions. That’s the beauty of our individuality. 🙂

  • Christine

    Oh wow…my heart goes out to you and your partner. Infertility affects our partners so much as well in different ways. And while we are “going through it together” the experiences can feel so very lonely, as you say. Please know that you are not alone, as you can see comments here. A friend going through infertility just recently pointed out how birth is really a miracle and the fact that WE are here makes us miracles…here for a reason. I loved that idea.
    All my warmest support to you.
    Christine