Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest post: Scars & Watermarks

While I’m on a business trip (cue violins — I’m on the gulf coast of Florida), I’m leaving this space in the hands of some bloggers who may be new to you.

Keeping my chair warm today is Erica from Parenthood for Me. You may remember her as the winner in the Limerick Chick Contest.

Erica Schlaefer is an adoptive mom and co-founder of Parenthood for Me.org. Her non profit is dedicated to helping those building families through adoption or medical intervention by providing emotional and financial support along with educational tools. Visit her blog, ParenthoodForMe.

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Last night a couple of images came into my mind as I tried to fall asleep. They pertained to the effects of infertility on my life, how it has changed me, and how it doesn’t define me but is a big part of my life, my persona.

Scar tissue. Infertility is like scar tissue. The wound may eventually heal, but the skin surrounding the wound looks different, it feels different. The scar could be big or large- its size doesn’t matter. The fact that it exists is what matters. It becomes a part of your body just like the freckle above your eye or the dimples on your cheeks. As with many Infertiles my wound kept opening and closing, opening and closing. It never really healed in between failed pregnancy attempts, but it would become well enough that I could take the band-aid off and have the strength to continue on with another procedure, another round of needles.

Each failed attempt at conceiving changed me. In many ways for the better. Admittedly I cannot be sorry for any of the changes that happened to me because of where I have ended up and who I have become. I am a wife and mother. I am living the dream. I have a new dream to live.

Watermark. I also imagined a watermark. When we were going through the really rough times, I wore my heart on my sleeve. I was covered in an opaque watermark. Depending on which light you saw me in, my pain was evident– almost too evident. I was hard to be around because there was a big gaping hole in my heart and no one knew how to fill it. That watermark covered my entire being, and it didn’t make me feel pretty. It made me feel a million shades of different. I was sad, angry, and hopelessly lost. I was at the bottom; I could no longer continue in the same direction.

Lately I have noticed that my scar tissue is fading more and more; the watermark is nearly gone. I smile more and feel like I have come into my own. Open ends have closed; they’re packaged up, taped up, sealed away somewhere for me to revisit from time to time. There are new open ends like, what will my son be like next week, next month, next year?
When can we adopt again and bring Finn home a sister? When will be able to start really helping people with our nonprofit venture?

All these open ends came to me because of infertility. I know that struggle is a part of life and no one can escape it. Well, hopefully you can escape it eventually by finding a new way to be happy and finding a new way to fulfill your dreams. Infertility and loss are just one part of the road for me; I can move on.

I have moved on.

Present Tense

You know things are dire when you are hoping for a root canal. If the antibiotics kick in by tomorrow afternoon (fingers crossed tightly), Tessa might be able to keep the tooth stub for a few more years. The goal is to hold on to it until she’s a dental adult. Please continue to think toothy thoughts for us (and thanks for the ones you’ve already sent).

After my middle sister, Sheri, guest posted for me, I also blackmailed asked politely asked my youngest sister to tell how she became a New Age Republican.
Well, that’s half-right. Her Republican part was the same as Sheri’s and mine. But her New Age pathwas not.
From Tami:
So my sisters both speak of life-altering moments when their chakras expanded, their minds enlightened and their 3rd eyes opened wide. So when was the moment I became “one of those” New Age people? What if there wasn’t one?

Being present
Several years ago my life and business coach Bill Brakemeier asked attendees what we wanted to get out of his Embracing Your Potential seminar. I thought the other attendees were more evolved than I was because they all said they wanted to “be more present.” Puzzled, I didn’t know that being present was something I should aim for. I thought that some day I would understand and that I, too, would want to learn to be more present.In the time that has passed I’ve learned that being the last-born — along with the lucky benefits of wearing hand-me-downs, living up to my athletic and intelligent older sisters’ reputations, getting to do my own activities only when there was an opening on the already full family calendar, and getting the last 27 seconds in the bathroom before the yellow Chrysler station wagon left the driveway — being the last-born delivered with it the ability to be present.
Being present allowed me to love the time I would spend with my son Dominic putting together puzzles. It allowed me to find gratitude in the middle-of-the-night wakings. When my grandparents each died, I didn’t mourn their passing with sadness. I celebrated their liveliness. When my husband Gino was so, so, sick, being present allowed me to make each life-saving decision with clarity and certainty. Yes, presence has been quite a gift.
Healing and modern medicine
A gifted massage therapist enabled me to continue my new age normalcy. We called the massage room in her house “God’s Room.” When I broke a finger and the doctor told me I might have to have surgery to reattach my tendon, Suzanne spent night after night after night breaking up scar tissue in my injured finger. When we got the slightest movement out of that finger, she assured me that surgery wasn’t necessary. The doc confirmed her prognosis. This was when I made the jump from “believing” modern medicine wasn’t always the cure-all to “knowing” modern medicine isn’t always the cure-all.Hypnotherapy has helped me manage and alleviate pain. Hypnobirthing helped me bring Dominic into the world, and hypnosis meant the end of chewing tobacco for my husband (an “A-Ticket to Heaven” Catholic). Gino‘s current use of hypnosis is to reconnect his memory to his legs, reintroducing him to the way he used to walk. To neither of us did hypnosis seem at all strange. Among other things, this fell into the category of “won’t hurt, might help.”
And indeed, it does.
The power within
When Gino and I became Body-for-LIFE Champions, I learned the most about my own power. My Grandma (who died 3 years ago today) had always told me I could do anything that I decided to do. It took 12 weeks to prove it to myself. After I lost 30 pounds, 7% body fat, and 7 dress sizes, I became one of those “before and after” stories that people view in disbelief. At the end of 12 weeks I realized that Grandma was right.
This revelation has gotten me through many, many tough situations.Last year when Gino got Guillain-Barre Syndromewas when I most needed to be aware of my inner strength. (It is also when I realized I am still grateful for modern medicine.)Everyday New Ager
I’ve been in the publishing industry for more than 10 years. Deciding what books we could and could not help market, there was always a stack of books on the night-stand. The ones that got read first, and most thoroughly, were on the spectrum of New Age / Self Help. Wine in hand, my business partner Kim and I would enjoy in-depth, after work discussions about the juiciest books. The book industry brought me face-to-face with many New Age notables. I’ve shared a platform with Jay Abraham, Mark Victor Hansen, and Jack Canfield; held the hands of Louise Hay, shared a prayer with Doreen Virtue, and gotten a reading from Monte Farber.
Unlike my sisters, I’m not sure I ever experienced that one eye-opening moment. And oddly enough I still find comfort in the same Lutheran church I attended when I was my son’s age. Does it deliver all of the answers to life and the after life? I’m not sure. But is a good place for my son to learn to believe in something bigger than himself, and how to treat others with love? You bet.
So here ends the story of how my inner beliefs were formed.
Naw. It was probably the time I drove Lori’s car before I had my license and prayed to each and every GOD ever exalted that I wouldn’t get caught. Yeah. That’s it.
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OK, everyone. You can relax now. I’m out of sisters.

Wait a second…what was that about my car???

photo, l-r: Tami, Sheri, me. For a slightly older photo, click here.

While I wine, my sister writes

Just a quickie update before I turn this space over to a guest poster.

I’m reporting now from Oregon’s wine country because I’m on a Girls Weekend with Lucy and Cheryl, two women I met the year we all lived in Japan. Thursday I also got to visit with my cousin and explore themes in our unfolding lives as children, women and parents. It’s been a weekend of reflection and rejuvenation, and I am having a marvelous time.

In my last post, I invited my sisters to share the path they took for their spiritual development. I’ve found it interesting that we three were raised the same way (in the Lutheran church) and ended up at the same place (what some would call New-Agey mysticism) but we took different paths to get there.

From my sister, Sheri:

I spent the first 30+ years of my life creating and living a life of illusion. I was following the path that had been laid out for me: college education, professional job, getting married, and having kids. As I took each step, it seemed like I was moving ahead, but in looking back, I realize that each step took me into a deeper trance-like state. It took the very emotional crises of divorce (which shattered the illusion) to get me to “wake up.”

This is when I discovered that I was very intuitive. This was the beginning of my “New Age” journey. Here’s how it happened:

The divorce left me feeling lost and alone. How could I be leaving my marriage? This wasn’t part of the story/illusion that I believed and yet it was happening to me. Out of desperation and curiosity, I heard about a woman who read tarot cards and scheduled an appointment. As she laid these foreign-looking cards on the table, she accurately explained what was going on in my life and how I was feeling. Through the reading, I found clarity and felt as though someone finally understood.

Although I didn’t know her before the reading, we became good friends – even though we are polar opposites. She later told me that I had a gift of intuition and could read tarot cards. At first I didn’t believe her, but we went to buy some cards for me. I hesitated, thinking that I would probably use them for a while and then they would sit in a box somewhere.

I found that I could read tarot cards and it helped me to get in touch with my intuition and my emotions. I wrote in my journal and noted what questions I had, what cards I pulled, etc. and I got pretty good at it.

One day I remember trying to communicate with a friend of mine. He couldn’t put into words what he wanted to say, so I summed up what I thought he felt. I was right on…and both of us were amazed. I asked him, “Can’t you tell what others are feeling?” He said he couldn’t. I realized I had been doing this my whole life. I could somehow feel other people’s feelings and identify/describe them – some times better than they could themselves. It’s called being empathic.

I started reading tarot cards for other people. In the beginning, I didn’t charge because I thought it was no big deal. It was a cool “party trick.” I was amazed at how accurate the cards were and how much people got out of a reading. Three years later I started getting paid to read cards. I did it on the side and didn’t talk about my hobby very much for fear that it would not be accepted.

My business cards for tarot readings now hang in several locations and I read cards as part of my life coaching business. I have even started a class on how to read tarot cards. People want to get in touch with their intuitive voice and the tarot cards provide a great tool in which to do so.

Tarot cards and life coaching go hand in hand. Tarot helps people discover what’s going on emotionally; life coaching takes their progress to the next level. As a life coach, I help clients move forward and keep them accountable and supported as they make changes in their lives. Life coaching is a bit more “main stream” and more generally accepted than tarot cards. Some of my clients prefer a mainstream approach, and with some clients, I use tarot cards as a tool. It just depends what feels right.

Before I “woke up,” I depended on my left brain to help me navigate through life. This would amount to listing pros and cons and trying to intellectually analyze what the right answer was in making a life decision. With the tarot cards and through my intuition, I have added my right brain into the equation. When there is a decision to be made, I pull out my tarot cards long before I even think about creating a spreadsheet to analyze the pros and the cons. I have found that my intuitive voice is much stronger and more accurate than my analytical, left-brained, logical side. Plus, it’s more fun to play with my intuition!

I guess the shock of the divorce, meeting my friend the tarot reader, and the emotional growth that came from the crisis of divorce opened my eyes to all of the possibilities. My empathic abilities and my tarot cards were the first steps on my intuitive, New Age journey.

Sheri writes a weekly column for her local newspaper, and I keep trying to get her to blog. If you think she should, shout it at her in the comments below.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled wine tastings…

A guest blog entry, bought to you by the Great Blog Cross-Pollination

Geohde at Mission: Impossible is holding a blog cross pollination, the idea being that you go and read your usual blogs, but along the way, you’re exposed to other voices and ideas without needing to do a single click. I’m sure if you went over to her blog and told her how much you love this idea, she’d be willing to hold another one in the future…

Welcome to My Ginormous Faux Pas
from Blogger X

This is the story of the little stirrup queen who put her foot in it…

You would think, living in the same house as the film festival director, that I would have some inkling as to the major themes in an opening night film. But I didn’t. I knew it was Argentinian and I knew the director. And that was about it. I have to tell you, that if you’re going to invite a friend to come see a movie with you, you may want to find out the topic of the film beforehand. It’s just a thought.

The lights dim and my friend and I start watching the movie. It is a sweet film about sons and fathers and how we are similar and different from our parents. Midway through the film, it becomes obvious that the father is not going to make it onto the final reel. Which is when my heart begins to pound. Because I’m watching the film with a friend who lost his own father to brain cancer a few years earlier.

Afterwards, I apologize and he is incredibly nonchalant about the whole experience. He told me it was fine and didn’t seem anxious to talk about it. So we didn’t. We went out and got dessert. And we dissected his love life. And we talked about a picture of a vomiting clown that I got in Italy. And we didn’t discuss the film.

At all.

I felt like the biggest ass. If it were me, I would have (1) cried during the film, (2) excused myself afterwards to cry some more in the bathroom, and (3) then wanted to talk about it at dessert. If I have to sit through it, I would at least want to use it a cathartic release.

But that’s just me.

It really drove home the whole idea of men and women mourning differently. I think sometimes because men don’t necessarily cry openly or as frequently as women, we forget that they’re mourning. Or we think that they’re not upset. But seeing his back tense and his chin resting on hand as he leaned forward in his seat reminded me that just because tears aren’t streaming down your face, just because you don’t want to discuss it for hours, just because you can compartmentalize and move away from the emotions doesn’t mean that you’re not in mourning.

If this were a Hallmark card, the outer picture would be an ocean of tears and the inner message would read something poetic in a cursive font about crying and mourning and love and inner connectedness.

But they don’t really make Hallmark cards for these sorts of faux pas.

But I am sorry that I didn’t find out the subject of the film beforehand…

Can you guess the identity of the guest blogger? Look over here to not only discover her identity, but to see my own post for today. And check out this post at Mission: Impossible to play along at home.