Gratitude

Mother’s Day: Brand New… Or Is It?

It’s five days before Mother’s Day - my “first” Mother’s Day.  I’m perusing through Target pushing a stroller. I catch the wheels on a rack as I turn the corner, again, and it’s clear this is still a little new for me.  I look down and the most adorable little face I’ve ever laid eyes on looks back at me with big, round, blue eyes. Eyes that remind me of my own, with lashes for days like his Daddy.  My heart skips a beat - bursting with love and amazement - I coo at him and continue to look for infant-sized sunglasses.

I notice a happy song is playing the background.  At first it registers simply as familiar, then I come to recognize it.  Then comes the pit in my stomach, my heart skips a beat, my throat chokes and tears spring into my eyes.  It’s “Brand New” by Ben Rector. It’s the song I played at full volume and sang to my baby I never got to meet.  My second pregnancy. My second loss. That baby took hold of my heart from the moment I saw the positive symbol on the pregnancy test. That was “our” song. When I hear it, my heart hurts. My soul hurts. I already knew this, but it is reaffirmed that the love I felt for him was real.

I quickly check myself and bring myself back to the present moment. This moment, this day, this week, this year has been filled with blessings and love and absolute wonderment thanks to baby Lucas and my incredible little family.  Everything I prayed for. But even still, in that same moment, I’m acutely aware that I carry those two losses before him with me along with my joy.

No single experience in life defines us.  A doctor of mine once gave me a powerful analogy to a chess board that has stuck with me.  We are the chess board - steady and constant. Each game piece is a life experience. Some are good and some are bad.  They move around and sometimes the good are in the lead, sometimes the bad are in the lead. Each piece is critical to the game, but the board does not change.  The board - we - always stay the same no matter where the pieces go. The pieces, our experiences, do not define us.

I’ve learned that the good and the bad can, and do, co-exist.  It’s entirely possible, and ok, to feel joy and sadness at the same time. To be grateful beyond belief and have grief pop up all at once. Especially in the case of motherhood.

I have said it before - Motherhood begins the day you decide you want to become pregnant.

And so, as I approach my first Mother’s Day since my son was born, I have already had three Mother’s Days along my motherhood journey.  On this special day, I will celebrate my son and my family with a very special appreciation. My heart is overflowing with love and gratitude. Lucas and I will dance to our song, “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart” by Old Dominion as loud as the volume will allow. He is my best bud, my love, my little miracle. I will also inevitably remember the babies I never met but who remain in my heart forever.

To those of you reading who have lost a pregnancy, I know Mother’s Day has meaning for you as well. If this day is difficult for you, that is perfectly ok. Talk about it. Acknowledge it. Seek support. Know that you do not have to push through it alone. Also know that it’s ok to find joy on this day wherever you can and feel it along with your sadness. Your experiences do not define you, and the good will inevitably be in the lead again.

What feelings and emotions are coming up for you this Mother's Day?  I welcome you to share with me in the comments below, or send me an email at ashley@feelfireflow.com .


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Start A Gratitude Practice

What you pay attention to grows. Pay attention to your loveliness, your magnificent self. Begin now.
— Geneen Roth

2018 Winter Survival Wellness Challenge 1

Happy New Year!  It’s that time again...the feeling of a fresh start, new resolutions, and renewed hope.  It’s also the dead of winter, hooray!  Winter has its charms - a crisp, clean, sunny morning that sparkles with new snow after a storm, Starbucks’ Gingerbread (almond milk) lattes, skiing and sledding, and if you live with me - the Super Bowl, to name a few.  

Winter also comes with its challenges.  It can have a way of trying to spotlight sadness, insecurities and inconveniences.  But if we embrace this season and appreciate it for what it is meant to be, it can definitely work for us.

Winter is a natural time to go inward, slow down the pace, and take comfort. If we think of it as time for reflection and recharging, as Mother Nature intended, then we can use it to our advantage.

I hope you’ll accept my challenge to implement new self care habits as the New Year kicks off and we look ahead to the next few months of winter.  Every two weeks I’ll be issuing a new “challenge” to help keep your spirits and energy up, connect with and tune into yourself, and feel good.  You’ll have plenty of time over the course of two weeks to give each challenge a try and make it work for you!  

Start A Gratitude Practice

What can a gratitude practice do for you?  Daily reflection of what IS working for you in your life is a great tool for building emotional and mental strength.  So often we hear “focus on the positive” and “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  These are fantastic affirmations and small reminders - but how do you actually DO them, especially during a time when everything seems difficult and unfair, such as after a miscarriage, loss, or when battling infertility?

A gratitude practice is exactly how.  All it takes is writing down three things you are grateful for every day.  Try to find something new and different each day.  

Two suggestions for implementing this daily are:  

  1. You can start your day off with this little exercise by incorporating it into a morning routine.  Simply keep a notebook by your bedside and write down three things you’re grateful for that you’re looking forward to or that happened the day before.

  2. Before going to bed, write down three things you are grateful that happened during your day.

This seems so simple that it’s easy to question its impact but when done regularly, you will begin to feel more positive.  At the same time, what you give your attention to is what grows, so by giving positive energy to the things that you do want in your life, you will begin to attract more of those things to yourself.  Who doesn’t want that!?

Let’s start now!  Share something you are grateful for today in the comments below, and see if you can keep the momentum going as part of your daily routine over the next couple of weeks!