A few days ago I came back from a 2-week vacation to the beach. It’s accurate to say that my re-entry to reality has hit me like a ton of bricks.
I’m back to the daily grind of non-stop busyness, from the minute I get out of bed at 5 am until at least 9 pm every day. And it’s not good busyness; it’s the kind of busyness that feels like obligation and a chore.
I’m feeling utterly overwhelmed with all the things that I have to do.
One of the worst harbingers of reality is that all of my clothes are now too tight. I enjoyed guilt-free indulgence while on my holiday but now it’s back to watching what I eat, how much water I drink, how much I exercise and sleep.
Was it only last week that I wrote to you about the importance of taking a break and how it can rejuvenate you for the physical, emotional and spiritual work that’s required of you?
I felt so refreshed a few days ago. That feeling is long gone, like it never existed, and replaced by the stresses and drudgery of mundane everyday existence.
Even my 3-year-old son has figured out that vacation is better than real life. When we were cleaning the rental house on Saturday morning in preparation to leave, Charlie whined, “But I want to stay here.”
To which one of my family members replied to him, “We all wish we could stay here, but that’s the nature of vacation. It has to end and we have to go back home.”
To me, this begs the question: why do we feel like our “regular” life and our “fun” life are mutually exclusive?
Why can’t we just get up every day and have fun all day, every day, without a care in the world?
Why do we feel like accomplishment has to be borne of struggle and sacrifice?
Why can’t life just “be” fun?
Guess what. It can. Even if you’re doing fertility treatment.
I’m not saying this from a position knowing or insight, like my life is always fun. Trust me, having enough fun is a struggle for me. I’ve long been the one that friends pull away from because I’m a downer.
The one people don’t want to hang out with because I can be boring (sometimes I even bore myself!).
The one who gets let go of when people follow that wonderful advice to “let go of what no longer serves you” and “avoid people who bring you down.”
I know this, and desperately want to change it. I want to be less serious, more fun-loving and fancy free. Almost every year when setting my intention for the New Year, my intention is to let go and have more fun. But it’s one of my biggest struggles and I usually fall short. Then I feel even worse.
I’m very fortunate that my fertility journey was just a year. To put it bluntly, it was the year from hell. If it had gone on much longer I probably would have had a nervous breakdown. I was already working too much, too hard, burning the candle at both ends, not spending time with my friends or doing things I loved. Adding the stress of the fertility treatment, the constant doctors appointments, keeping track of my cycles and all my medications, and the despair at seeing negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test, two miscarriages, and beating myself up for not trying to have a baby when I was younger, and I was a mess.
It was a vicious circle. That’s exactly the time I should have been leaning on friends for support yet I retreated further inward, which probably made things even harder for me.
Your journey may be longer than a year. It could be several years, and be much more involved than mine was. You need to make sure you keep the joy in your life so get you through it.
Trying to conceive, and undergoing fertility treatment take strength, guts and determination. It’s a long, grueling and arduous process that gets us right at our emotional core and rocks our world. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Modern society is not an easy place to be a woman trying to conceive. It’s also not a very fun place to be in general. But it is possible to make life fun so that you actually do feel like you’re on vacation most of the time.
Taking time out to have fun is not selfish or hedonistic. We owe it to ourselves, and to the people we live and interact with, to be happy. I also realized that I didn’t want my son to grow up seeing me miserable all the time. What kind of example does that set for him? I’d rather he see that life is something to be relished, not endured. The way to do that is to actually relish my life.
Here are some tips to help you make your “fun” life your “real” life:
Commit to it
Make a commitment that your life is going to be more than drudgery. Life is something that we create, not something that happens to us. If we approach life with the latter attitude, we can be sitting around for a long time waiting for that dream life to appear. While I do believe in patience and waiting for what’s “meant to be” to unfold, we are responsible for being active participants in our own lives. Deciding to make it a good life is the first step.
Do something you love that lights you on fire, every day
I know you’re busy with all your obligations. Between sleeping, commuting, spending at least 1/3 of the day at your job, making dinner, running errands, doing household chores, and yes, fertility treatment, there’s not a lot of time left over for you. Believe me, I understand this. This is my reality too.
If you can find just a few minutes every day to do something you love, your spirit will thank you. And you may find that by doing this, you’re creating more time and space in your life for these things.
For me it’s music. Long a music lover, I discovered a year ago that I had virtually eliminated music from my life, and have been making a conscious effort to put it back in. Sadly, I don’t have the time I used to, to go to concerts and seek out new performers, so the thing that I’ve been doing is listening to music every day when I’m on public transportation (I spend a lot of time on public transportation). I used to spend that time reading the news on my phone or catching up on emails, now I tune out the outside world, and tune into myself, by putting in my ear buds and fueling my soul with the music I love.
Listen to, and follow, your heart
Earlier this year one of my favorite musicians whom I’d loved for 25 years, passed away from a terminal illness. I was devastated. There was a tribute concert for him in Texas, 1,500 miles from where I live. I originally wasn’t going to go because of (you guessed it) a work commitment, but as the concert drew nearer I knew I had to go and see him one final time. I dropped everything and blew off my commitment and went.
Since I did it all at the last minute I spent a lot of money, but I don’t regret it one bit. He passed away 3 days after the concert and now I’ll never get to see him again.
I also learned a very important lesson about following your heart. You do it, and magic happens. I met all kinds of new friends as a result of that trip to Texas. It also “woke me up” in a way, and now I have two local concerts planned for the month of August and another music trip to Texas in September. You can read more about what I learned here.
Celebrate every moment that brings you joy
Every milestone that helps get you closer to your dream life should be revered and celebrated. On the fertility journey, a positive OPK, a good retrieval, lots of high-grade embryos, and a good uterine lining for transfer are all major reasons for celebration. Cherish these milestones. They’re all part of your journey to becoming a mother, and your life journey.
What we focus on expands and when we place our focus on all of the good we are intentionally creating in our lives, more good will flow to us.
As I said, I’m still working on this. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. I’d love to hear how you make your life fun – leave me a comment below!
[originally appeared at B Fit, B Fertile 8/10/17]