Saying goodbye to La Belette Rouge

Unknown-1It is sort of weird to think about that very soon there will be no more La Belette Rouge.  You see, I have hired a web designer to merge my online identities/worlds into one single .com. Soon when you come to La Belette Rouge you will be magically transported to TraceyCleantis.com.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I worked hard to keep those identities separate and now it just doesn’t make sense. It feels like a significant psychological accomplishment, somehow, that the idea of these separate selves consolidating no longer gives me anxiety.  And yet there is a kind of sadness to admitting to myself and others that I am no longer the “Red Weasel”. Yes, of course, it is nice to be me and not to need a psuedonym, yet there were so many lovely things that happened here…things that lead me to where I am today.

Hence it is with noticable and palpable sadness that I say goodbye to this chapter of my writing and my life. I thank you all for your generous support and gentle reading of my writings here at LBR. I do hope that you follow me over to Tracey Cleantis.

Au revoir, Red Weasel. Goodbye LBR. Merci dear readers. See you on the other side, Traceycleantis.com—-that is.

 

Posted in Quotidien | 20 Comments

Okay, I get what ‘regret’ is, but what’s ‘gret’ and how did it ‘re’?

I have been invited to host a panel on How to Live Child-free Without Regrets at the upcoming Fertility Planit 2014 in Los Angeles( Happily sharing the stage with my good buddy Lisa Manterfield and, the soon to meet, Lynn Newman).  I am thrilled to be invited back for a second year to be part of Fertility Planit. And I am over the moon to be considered an expert on this topic as it acknowledges that I am living child-free without regret and that is a HUGE for me to have accomplished even in the non-expert category. As I started to think about the upcoming event for some reason the word ‘regret’ got stuck in my head, looping over and over and refusing to be ignored.   You see, on occasion I get struck by a word and I get the feeling I really don’t fully understand it. Yes,of course, I know, what ‘regret’ means, or at least I thought I did until I started meditating on it.  When I think of regret I think of the noun of regret, the “pain or distress in the mind at something done or left undone.” But that definition didn’t resonate with anything I felt and so I though on.

I remember studying prefixes and suffixes decades ago in high school back when “Girls just wanted to have fun” and Madonna was “Like a Virgin”. ‘Re’ means to do again  or again and again or to go back to.  But ‘gret’ what the heck is that?  I don’t remember the last time I gretted about anything. Well, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary the “gret” of regret comes from the work “greter, possibly from Frankish or some other Germanic source (cf. Old English grætan ”to weep;” Old Norse grata ”to weep, groan”)”. Okay, I do some grætan, grata, groaning and weeping, on occasion, when I look back.  That I am okay with.  That kind of looking back I can see has value, as long as your ‘re’ isn’t got you so stuck looking back that you can’t look at any other direction. This kind of regret is defined as “to look back with distress or sorrowful longing; to grieve for on remembering”. This kind of regret I am good with in, and occasionally partake in( as demonstrated by my previous post).

A couple of songs popped in my head as I ruminated on regret. The first song I thought of was Frank Sinatra’s somewhat melancholy My Way. In that classic song Ol’ Blue-Eyes says  on the subject: “Regrets, I’ve had a few.But then again, too few to mention” Yeah, okay, I guess I fit in this camp. I feel lots of things when I look to the past: occssionally sad, disappointed, compassionate, an attempt to understand or make meaning from it…but  not the kind of regret in which you beat yourself up for things done and things not done, no, not really. As much of my life didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to I don’t really relate to that kind of regret. I don’t look at the past and think a lot about “if only I had done x, y, or z ” and then feel crappy that I didn’t do those things. Sure, like any self-reflective human being with a conscience,  I can see that lots of things would have, should have and could have done better if I had made better choices, but I suppose that there is something self-protective in me that tells me I can’t do anything about the past except learn from it and to use that information to make better decisions in my now so to be kind to myself when looking at the past. God only knows where I developed that bit of loving kindness for myself( I am guessing it came from some therapist I saw).

As for regrets about not having a kiddo of my own, the song I would sing on this subject would be Edith Piaf’s classic,  Non, je ne regrette rien. No! Absolutely nothing… No! I regret nothing. I have zero regret about all the money( enough to buy me a shiny new Bentley) we spent on trying to conceive and all the time and all the tears and all the pain. I regret none of it.  What, I think, I would have regretted was not trying as hard as I did. If I had given it a half-harded stab at it I feel sure I would wonder what could have happened if I really gave it my all. And because I tried everything that I was comfortable trying I have zero regrets about that. Knowing that I did all that I could do, all that I could manage, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially—it helps, it is a comfort. While yes, I have the “look back with distress or sorrowful longing; to grieve for on remembering” kind of regret, I am grateful to not have the “pain or distress in the mind at something done or left undone” kind.

Now when I look back at some of my romantic choices or my assortment of silly and bone-headed choices from 18-26 I do a lot of “gretting” and groaning, but no one is asking me to be a panel on how not to regret the guys you dated in your early twenties.

Please come see us at Fertility Planit at UCLA on April 4th and 5th and learn more about how to live child-free without regret. Trust me, it can be done.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Infertility, The Other SIde of Impossible | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

You can’t go home again

UnknownIt is Monday evening and I am on a non-stop flight  from Chicago to Los Angeles. I have just spent a long lovely weekend in Chicago. It is the first time I have been to Chicago in years. I could, I suppose, turn this blog post into a travelogue about my time in Chicago and tell you about what a lovely birthday I had and what lovely and generous friends I have—however that is not what this blog post is about. This blog post is about something else, something I am still in the midst of processing—something that I will discover as I write.

When I first planned the trip to visit friends for my birthday weekend I knew that there was something personally meaningful in it for me( even though that wasn’t the main reason I was going), as it would be the first time Keith would be in Chicago together.  If you are new to my blog let me catch you up, many years ago( six-years, I think) I left Chicago and in doing so I left behind my dream of being a parent and the dream I had of raising a kiddo there.  It was not easy to leave( understatement). I loved Lake Bluff.  I wanted to spend the rest of my life there. Only it didn’t work out that way. Having a kid didn’t work out. My marriage didn’t work out  either. I was, as you can imagine, not so happy that I didn’t get what I wanted most. Rather, I had a three-year hissy fit about it.

However, the last three years I have been completely hissy fit free. I am happy that it all worked out the way it did. I am extremely happy with my life and I have even come to love living in Los Angeles( proof that miracles do happen).So, even as I planned the trip and delighted with anticipation at seeing my friends in Lake Forest, I was, I think, hoping that going with him  back to my old home would show me that  I was completely immune to the pain of the past….and mostly it did.

As Keith had not seen my life in Lake Bluff I gave him the tour: this is where I lived; this is where I fell on ice; this is where I ate tomato soup; this is where I substitute taught; this is the lake. It’s not a tour many would endure but he loves me and knows I needed him to see the life that I’d had. During the tour I found that I felt surprisingly little. I think the best way to describe how I felt when I saw the set I had once imagined would house my happily-ever-after was nothing. We drove by the place where a picture of me had been taken when we moved away, a place that I had stood and sobbed, and seeing that site now I felt nothing. And as beautiful as Lake Forest and Lake Bluff are, and they are, they no longer looked like enchanted mythical lands that I had been forced out of. Rather, I could see the beauty without the longing. Somehow my healing, and the joy of my new life, I could see Forest and Bluff for what they are and not as an Eden I had been cruelly ejected from. It was, I can tell you, nice.

My dear friends ,who we were staying with, have two of the most beautiful, adorable, sweet, and kind children that you are likely to meet. Being with these girls was more enjoyable than our trip to the Art Institute or a dinner out in the city. And what was also lovely, lovelier than I can say, is that I could enjoy these beautiful and wonderful girls without feeling sad or envious or anything except delight and relish. I felt nothing but lucky for having these beautiful girls in my life, blessed to have wonderful friends, and spoiled to have the life that I do. This, my friends, is what healing looks like.

When I was packing to leave to come home today I was overtaken by tears. Keith saw my sadness and asked me a number of questions all with the intention of trying to make it better. When I said no to all his inquiries he finally said, “Do you want to live here?” “No”, I answered, “that’s not it. Of course I don’t want to live here, I love our home, our life, my practice. No, I don’t want  the snow and the ice and the cold. I don’t want to live in a long ago Eden. I don’t want to live in this place that is meant for families.”  I didn’t know what it was that I was crying about but I knew that  living there wasn’t it. These tears weren’t about wanting something, of that I was sure. No, this wasn’t what this was about. Rather, this was me crying for a past me, and for all the pain I endured … and the reality that this life that I had so long dreamed of would never-ever-ever be mine, and, yes, even though I am happy about that( SUPER happy with what is) there remains a sadness for what was never to be.

As I sit in the dark of the plane typing these words, I feel my eyes burn a little and I feel some residual ennui even as I happily anticipate going home( Pasadena, that is). Simultaneously, I feel something kind of like closure…only it isn’t exactly that( I make this disclaimer as I need to leave the circle open to the possibility of me spiraling around through this once again, if even if at a different level and entering from a different place). Yes, of course I will go back to Forest and Bluff again, but never again will it be the place that it was for me. Never.  It has fundamentally changed.  Now when I go there I will go there to  visit my friends, to play Mermaids with the girls and to see them graduate from middle school or for my friend’s birthday party, or maybe even for a conference….but I won’t ever go home again.  It is now NOT what I want. It is now what I wanted, it has moved into past tense and the lovely thing about that is that it allows for a future in which I can go back…only not back home.

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of ‘the artist’ and the all-sufficiency of ‘art’ and ‘beauty’ and ‘love,’ back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermude, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time–back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”
― Thomas Wolfe

Posted in Infertility, The Other SIde of Impossible | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

A navy camisole covered with ants

Unknown-1Which, lovely you, would you prefer to move into your home—ants or  a tiger? Okay, don’t be so quick to answer. Take your time. Sure, a tiger could kill you, eat your furniture and, yes, it bares repeating, it could kill you. But have you ever been inundated by ants? Do you know the torment of not being able to leave out a cup of coffee, or even water, for a moment without risking your entire counter being overtaken. And then once you manage to kill all of them ( and do you ever feel satisfied that you really  and truly got them all?) then there is that horrible ants in your pants feeling in which you feel they are crawling all over you even if they aren’t. If a tiger came into my house I would simply leave and call the authorities and wait for them to remove Tony to the nearest zoo. But with ants you are on your own, lady. No gamekeeper is helping you with these  And they are so small, so plentiful and there seems to be an endless supply of them just ready to pounce on every surface should you dare to leave a single crumb on the counter.

Okay, not really talking about ants…I am talking A.N.T.s which is an acronym for Automatic Negative Thoughts. You know the thoughts that you don’t even realize you are thinking? The sneaky insidious and almost silent negative judgements you have about yourself that show up and stop you without your even realizing they have. I wish we could get a download everyday of all the thoughts we had in a single day. I’m sure there would be more ANTS in our transcript than there would be if we left a bottle of Aunt Jemima open on the counter.

The ANTs pop up and tell us things like:.

I always..

I never…

I can’t…

And those are just what I like to call “Black ANTs’. Black ANTs are a nuisance and cause a mess and can stop us, but they aren’t quite as pernicious, biting and stinging as the “Red ANTs”. Red ANTs are the kind that are self-esteem attacking and come from a serious case of self-loathing, these thoughts are filled with things we would never say out loud to another( okay, most of us wouldn’t most of the time)—things like “You are so_________( chose from the following uninspiring adjectives with which to harangue yourself) stupid, fat, lazy, worthless, ugly, etc. To have your day covered with red ANTs in which we are assaulted by  predictions of failure, judgement, attack and loathing is the kind of thing that could cause depression or anxiety or at the very least a psyche that is overtaken by cruel and biting commentary. I have been in a psyche covered with red ANTs and it simply no fun. Red ANTs weren’t however all bad…it was all of my red ANTs that tipped me off to the fact that I didn’t love myself and that I had introjected some serious self-attacks that I had learned from childhood and that I better seek out an expert in discovering where all these ANTs were coming from, how they came to be and that maybe I deserved more than there relentless and sadistic attacks that were infesting my life from ever being picnic like.

Years of therapy has happily removed the red ANTs out of my life—for the most part. However, I might, on a good day have only two or three of these unpleasant or unwelcome reflexive thoughts from the past that bite,sting and leave me feeling wrong. That may sound like a lot to you lovelies who have an internal monologue that sounds like one part self-help-motivational lecture and one part Snow White. Mine however, thanks to growing up in a home with a poisonous pedagogy that was in the business of shame inducing set my default tone to an internal drone of dread. Even to this day, after all that therapy, when things go to hell and I feel weak and tired and am experiencing a trigger from my past, well, that is the ant equivalent of laying down a coat of Karo syrup, powdered sugar and, to top it off, a big gob of marshmallow goo and then I just watch those red ANTs go marching in and they are fat and happy and are at their most powerful and potent to take me down.

The trouble with black ANTs is that they can be so small and sneaky that we almost don’t notice them, they can hide in my psyche and go undetected. They hide in the cracks between the neutral thoughts, happy thoughts and down right giddy and positively predicting thoughts ( these last ones were once thought to be extinct. However in the last three-years I have discovered a rare breed of them that does particularly well in my psyche these days. Even still, the blacks ones sneak through my filter by not being loud and obnoxious or alarm activating the way they were when they are the red kind. Thanks be to God the years of therapy and clearing out my internalized voices from childhood has made red ants few and far between and there is enough self love that should a red ANT sneak in there is a neutralizing blast of self-love that interrupts and says,”Um, excuse me…but that ain’t called for and you aren’t welcome here.” And the self-love will tell me why it isn’t nice to talk to me like that and how I deserve better and it takes the red ANT out. Ain’t self-love grand?

Let me boil down the events of the week into a more ego syntonic euphemism( which is a short and elegant way of saying that I had a crappy week that I want to spare you the details of). It was the kind of week in which I could have gotten over taken by a colony of red-fire-death ants that could have taken me down. However, the inoculations of self love, the support of dear friends who love me and kindness of strangers who barely know me yet resounded to my pain in the way we would hope from people and all of this love managed to get the red ants out of my psyche.

I was, up until yesterday, feeling good and cocky about surviving this humdinger of a week with nary a red ANT bite to show for it. It was then that I became aware of a sneaky batch of black ants that had moved in. It went like this,( we are now in Tracey thought land: Ooh, this camisole hurts. I should throw it out. No, you shouldn’t. You just bought. You should keep it. But it hurts. I know it does. Take some Advil, that will make the pain go away. Okay, I will. Silence as I take the pills. Then the thoughts return. That’s stupid to have a camisole that is so ill-fitting that it causes your shoulders pain. You should throw it away. No, seriously, you just bought it. Yeah, but it was only $5 at Nordstrom Rack. It’s now worth the money. But its $5. Okay, so ends the transcript of my thoughts. First off as I look at it the conflict seems absurd and there seems only one right choice. I can also see the automatic reaction and acceptance to my suffering for money. As hard as that is to see it gives me something to look at and see if I make massochistic moves out of economy. If I do that then I need to reevaluate my personal economy system.

The good thing about ANTs is that if you pay attention to what you are thinking they will allow you into the rules you make, schemas to which you are attacked for no good reason, and maybe how you have internalized the rules of family members and they are acting as ANTs in your head. ANTs leave clues about where they came from and what they want, you just have to engage with them to find out about them.

I am keeping my eyes open for other ways I self-loathe when it comes to my self-care. The messages that these sneaky and subtle ANTs tell me are: “It doesn’t matter that you are tired, cold, overwhelmed, hungry, thirsty or in pain. Your needs don’t matter.” These are some destructive ANTs that would advise me to take Advil before they would advise me to take off the stupid top.These are a bread of ANTs that came from lack of care I got as a kiddo and it made me take crappy care of my physical being. The message of those ANTs is “you don’t matter.” Only I do. So I am throwing away that stupid $5 camisole from Nordstrom.

Having said all this, do you think you’d prefer the tiger now?

Posted in Belette in Psychotherapy, Psychology, Quotidien | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Madame Tracey’s Psychic Shack is Closed for Business

Unknown-1I don’t know about the psychics in your town but in L.A. I don’t think the economy has been very kind to the Psychic set. Many a Psychic business has a big ‘for sale’ sign on their establishment. Madame Yvonne, Madame Claudia and Madame Ethel have all either gone out of business and/or have moved their Psychic trade to bigger or better environs( I have a hunch it is the former and not the later).

While I am not now and never have officially been psychic that has not stopped me from going into the prediction business in a big way. I spoke in my last post of all of my “I cant’s” which had the emphatic tones one might expect of Madame Claudia—only I imagine her predictions are more positive and more along the lines of: “You will travel, find love, meet a handsome stranger, have some adversity that you will overcome and there will be money” or she would have gone out of business much sooner, no one wants to pay good money to hear “Everything you want to do you can’t do.”

Well, the good news for me was that all of my predictions were free. I didn’t have to call a 976 number to get a prediction or make an appointment or wait for anyone to dust off a crystal ball or shuffle some tarot cards— no, I was always available to predict how things were going to go. I was an all area, all occasion and all topic prognosticator. My readings were instant and emphatic, with never a bit of ambiguity to them. Madame Tracey was bold, brazen and available 24-hours a day. She was especially active in the evenings. She tended to do a lot of midnight readings when I was suffering from insomnia and she would keep me up with her predictions of doom, failure and suffering.

Here’s how a reading with Madame Tracey would go: I would choose to do something or go somewhere or take an action of some kind and that is when Madame Tracey would pop up, replete in an archetypal ensemble of  a Gypsy turban, a velvet shawl and an armful of bracelets. She would cluck her warnings and admonishments as her bangles clanked, “Ooh, that’s a bad idea,” she would warn. “That will never go well. What are you thinking? He won’t like you. You will fail at that. There is no way you should do that. You should cancel. Cancel now. You are going to humiliate yourself. Stop. Really, seriously stop that. I can tell you with 100% accuracy that this will NEVER work. Listen to me.”

For many a year I blindly took the council of Madame Tracey and I didn’t realize that under the velvet, jewels and crystal ball was a big ball of fear and that what was masquerading as intuition was in fact the inner critic. I, for far too long, took her unwise, negative and naysaying council. Only, you see, in the last three years when I could have really used some intuition to guide me through some big changes in my life, Madame Tracey continued to tell me that everything was going to hell and that I was going to fail and that there was no way I could do x,y or z.

Last March when I attended the Harvard Writing Conference I took Madame Tracey with me. I could barely hear the lectures for all of her predicting. “You don’t belong here” she warned me, “You should leave.” And when it was time to go into the room where the publishers and agents listened to would-be authors pitches that is when Madame Tracey got serious. “No, really, you need to listen to me. I am telling you this for your own good. None of them will like you. They will ALL hate you. They are going to think your idea is incredibly stupid. You are going to be humiliated if you could actually present a pitch, but you can’t.”

For some reason, I decided to take a risk and see if she was right. I pitched to the first guy, a 60-something Irishman from a prestigious Ivy-league University. I decided if I was going to fail I would fail with the man in the room who MOST looked like my father. You see, I had  loads of experience with rejection and judgement from him( my father), so I thought it wise to pick his doppleganger. Only this 60-something Irishman didn’t reject, lambast, or ridicule me. Madame Tracey grew louder, “That was a fluke. Trust me, everyone else in the room will do as I predicted.”  Something about having the experience of Ivy-league school publisher love my book idea and have him hand me his business card and tell me to contact him emboldened me to try again and ignore the predictions. I did, and by the time I had everyone in the room interested in my book Madame Tracey grew especially truculent. “Yeah, I know that it seemed like that went well. But they are just being nice. They don’t really like your idea. And that last agent, no way was he interested in your writing.  You are definitely not good enough for him.” The joy of having over twenty publishers and agents all seemingly very interested in my topic was dampened by her paranoid predictions.

A week after arriving home from that conference I was contacted by that agent that Madame Tracey told me was really not that into me ( I think she even told me that he hated my idea). A month later  this supposed hater was my agent. The same week that I signed with my agent I fired Madame Tracey. The ending was, as you can imagine, filled with dire warnings about what would happen if I let her leave.  Even though she is no longer in my employ, Madame Tracey still comes around. She still likes to tell me about the future and failures that are just around the corner. I haven’t yet found a way to totally get her out of my head. I have looked into a psychic restraining order and yet I haven’t figured out how to install such a thing. What I do now is hear her predictions and I remind her how wrong she has always been and of all the times her predictions have been wrong, and that shuts her up for a little while. I also thank her for trying to protect me, only thatI don’t need her protecting anymore.  She seems to appreciate that I understand her motives were not all malevolent. Hopefully someday Madame Tracey will retire all together and go wherever it is that Madame Claudia, Yvonne and Esther went to once they went out of business. Maybe the Home for the Retired Intuition Workers, that would be a good place for her as she’s worked very hard for all these years and deserves a gold watch, a good retirement and sometime on the shuffle board court.

Posted in Psychology, The Other SIde of Impossible | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The other side of “I can’t”

shutterstock_62564440The more time that I am away from the blog the harder it is to come back. Somehow having been away so long makes me feel more pressure to come back with something of great gravitas or to somehow come up with a really good explanation for my absence. Certainly, I do have good excuses for my extended absence from blogging: work, the book, speaking engagements, a new house, trips to Paris, London and NYC, and hired another intern. Yeah, I have excuses but they don’t feel like good ones. Maybe a doctor’s note might feel more legit. Something like, “To Whom it May Concern: Please excuse Tracey for not blogging. She’s had a lot on her plate and hasn’t been swanning around doing nothing. I can attest to the fact that she is so busy that she hasn’t yet seen an episode of this season’s Downton Abbey. However, she is getting better at managing it all and is even adding more to her plate and seems to be less overwhelmed. It is my professional opinion that Tracey can return to blogging with some limits and modifications. Best, Dr. Isayso.”

I guess what really got me thinking about coming back here is that I am coming up on my third-year anniversary of my move into being a singleton and I am, as I do, thinking a whole lot about what I have learned about myself in the last three years. If I was to put it in a nutshell in give it to you in a sentence it is a sentiment that I have shared before and it is: I was wrong about ‘I can’t’.” It is am amazing lesson to learn that your beliefs about your self and the limits you put on yourself simply aren’t true. I have over and over proved that my “I cant’s” are mostly a whole bunch of bologna. It is awesome to learn this lesson, however I wish I had learned it earlier.

Three years ago I believed:

  • I can’t take care of myself.
  • I can’t succeed on my own.
  • I can’t be self-employed.
  • I can’t be happy without a baby.
  • I can’t ever find love again.
  • I am an introvert so I can’t do_______.
  • I can’t write a proposal.
  • I can’t get an agent.
  • I can’t get a publisher.
  • I can’t do public speaking.
  • I can’t do live TV.
  • I can’t do x,y, and z because I am not smart enough, young enough, pretty enough or good enough.
  • I can’t be an employer.
  • I can’t get a speaking agent.
  • I can’t have a house like that.
  • I can’t stand up for myself here.
  • I can’t end this relationship.
  • I can’t write a book.
  • I can’t take this risk.
  • I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

I was wrong.  I was wrong about all of it. Each prediction was totally and 100% WRONG. And this is the point that I really and truly want to make is that “I can’t” is mostly a self-protective lie we tell to ourselves to protect ourselves from hurt, failure, and rejection.  After three years of proving that “I can’t” is wrong I just don’t trust “I can’t” anymore. Yeah, sure, it still shows up and tells me that this time is different and this time I really can’t. But now I listen to it like I would a scared child and tell it, “Yeah, I know you are afraid but let’s try this and see what happens and see if we need some help, support or a a plan to make this happen.” And if I chose not to do something I am careful to never tell myself that I can’t….I can, but I chose not too. Yes, I still can’t ride a bike, drive a stick shift, ice skate, or ski. It’s true, I don’t have the ability. However, if I wanted to I could learn how to. It’s not something I chose to do. It feels better to say that, to own the “I don’t want to take the time or energy to make that happen” than to say “I can’t”.

I am NOT telling you all of this to toot my own horn.  Rather, since I really and truly got this lesson I feel a bit like a person who found religion, I want to take your “I can’t” away from you and help you get to the other side and to help you see how when you say “I can’t” and see how you are protecting yourself with it. That said, I know there are things that we can’t do because to do so would hurt us physically, emotionally, psychologically, or financially. There are some “I cant’s” that are true and valid and that is why I am writing my book…however, I just want you to look at your “I can’t” and see if it is REALLY and TRULY true. Check and see if there is some fear hanging out in your “I can’t” as there usually is. And if there is fear, knowing that fear is normal part of any new venture helps me to expect it and welcome it. As soon as I say yes to something I know fear is going to show up, “But you can’t,” it will immediately say in dramatic and emphatic tones.  ”Oh, hi”, I say, “I was expecting you” and then I promptly ignore it and keep on doing the very thing that the “I can’t” told me I couldn’t do.

Posted in Meaning Making, Psychology, The Other SIde of Impossible | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

The wait is over, the book is sold

Remember in this post how I wrote about waiting? The waiting wasn’t actually that long— it just felt it was( wasn’t it Einstein how explained the theory of relativity by comparing five minutes spent at the dentist versus five-minutes spent with Marily Monroe?) Well, I am not waiting any more.

I am THRILLED to announce that my book is sold. Here is the announcement that appeared on Publisher’s Weekly Publisher’s Lunch:

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 8.41.32 AM

We have sold my book, “The Other Side of Impossible: How to Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a Happy Ending”, to Hazelden. I considered including a video here off me jumping up and down( I have actually  been doing this a lot these last few weeks. My joy is great that my body can barely contain it). When your dream actually comes true it is, I can tell you, extremely energizing. This is what I haven wanted since I was nine-years-old and it has happened and I am ecstatic.

The day we found out that the deal was done we went to the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. In Los Angeles it is a tradition that if you sign a big deal that you go there to celebrate, so we did. And when we walked in we heard what I thought at the time was a perhaps over-cocktailed older women singing “Someone to Watch Over Me”, alas it was actually Richard Simmons ( yes, that Richard Simmons). And, I will have you know, Richard was wearing an all white suit, a sparkely sequined tie, and spats. Thanks to you, Richard( and Keith), for making my special day totally unforgettable. The ex-Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, but as he didn’t sing and/or wear such an incredible ensemble, he was a less exciting sighting. It, I can assure you, was one of the most memorable and magical days of my life. I felt like I was in a dream, and I sort of am still feeling that. However, this isn’t a dream it is a dream come true.

Here is a picture of me basking in my joy ( and, you can see Richard Simmons in the background)

1170942_10201798419706886_834908779_n

The part of the post when I go on a tangent of gratitude

I just want you to knowdear reader, that I am so extraordinarily grateful to you for your encouragement, and how you helped me to make this happen. I wouldn’t have done this without you, truly, Thank you to those of you who have been with me since the beginning, you will never fully know how much you mean to me ( some of you even show up in my dreams: Linda H, Kate S., Kristen, Lynn Z, Marcela, Marjorie and Leigh)—your encouragement and long-term bloggy friendship means the world to me.  Thank you for making me feel like what I have to say makes a difference. And thank you for hearing me when I needed a place to be heard.

This part you might want to skip, but I feel compelled to thank a few people who I know are here and a few who aren’t. Now, not necessarily in any order, I would like to thank a few people who have made a big difference in encouraging me in different ways: My 9th grade english teacher; Don FehrJennie Nash; Keith; Wendy West; Jamie Cat CallanDorothea; Kirie R; Hannah Stephenson;  Laura MunsonWendy BrandesPaul Steiger Lee Woodruff; All the people at the Harvard Writing ConferenceLisa ManterfieldPamela Tsigdinos; The Huffington Post and the editors at Psychology Today.

So now I have moved from waiting to writing.  I am on a bit of a strict schedule, however as daunting as that feels it is also unbelievably exciting, now that the waiting is over, and I have shared my joy and gratitude with you, I must get back to writing—this book won’t write itself.

Posted in The Other SIde of Impossible | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

The Book is Sold, The Waiting is Over

Remember in this post how I wrote about waiting? The waiting wasn’t actually that long— it just felt it was( wasn’t it Einstein how explained the theory of relativity by comparing five minutes spent at the dentist versus five-minutes spent with Marily Monroe?) Well, I am not waiting any more.

I am THRILLED to announce that my book is sold. Here is the announcement that appeared on Publisher’s Weekly Publisher’s Lunch:

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 8.41.32 AM

We have sold my book, “The Other Side of Impossible: How to Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a Happy Ending”, to Hazelden. I considered including a video here off me jumping up and down( I have actually  been doing this a lot these last few weeks. My joy is great that my body can barely contain it). When your dream actually comes true it is, I can tell you, extremely energizing. This is what I haven wanted since I was nine-years-old and it has happened and I am ecstatic.

The day we found out that the deal was done we went to the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. In Los Angeles it is a tradition that if you sign a big deal that you go there to celebrate, so we did. And when we walked in we heard what I thought at the time was a perhaps over-cocktailed older women singing “Someone to Watch Over Me”, alas it was actually Richard Simmons ( yes, that Richard Simmons). And, I will have you know, Richard was wearing an all white suit, a sparkely sequined tie, and spats. Thanks to you, Richard( and Keith), for making my special day totally unforgettable. The ex-Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, but as he didn’t sing and/or wear such an incredible ensemble, he was a less exciting sighting. It, I can assure you, was one of the most memorable and magical days of my life. I felt like I was in a dream, and I sort of am still feeling that. However, this isn’t a dream it is a dream come true.

Here is a picture of me basking in my joy ( and, you can see Richard Simmons in the background)

1170942_10201798419706886_834908779_n

The part of the post when I go on a tangent of gratitude

I just want you to knowdear reader, that I am so extraordinarily grateful to you for your encouragement, and how you helped me to make this happen. I wouldn’t have done this without you, truly, Thank you to those of you who have been with me since the beginning, you will never fully know how much you mean to me ( some of you even show up in my dreams: Linda H, Kate S., Kristen, Lynn Z, Marcela, and Leigh)—your encouragement and long-term bloggy friendship means the world to me.  Thank you for making me feel like what I have to say makes a difference. And thank you for hearing me when I needed a place to be heard.

This part you might want to skip, but I feel compelled to thank a few people who I know are here and a few who aren’t. Now, not necessarily in any order, I would like to thank a few people who have made a big difference in encouraging me in different ways: My 9th grade english teacher; Don Fehr; Jennie Nash; Keith; Wendy West; Jamie Cat CallanDorothea; Kirie R; Hannah Stephenson;  Laura Munson; Wendy Brandes; Paul Steiger ; Lee Woodruff; All the people at the Harvard Writing Conference; Lisa Manterfield; Pamela Tsigdinos; The Huffington Post and the editors at Psychology Today.

So now I have moved from waiting to writing.  I am on a bit of a strict schedule, however as daunting as that feels it is also unbelievably exciting, now that the waiting is over, and I have shared my joy and gratitude with you, I must get back to writing—this book won’t write itself.

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Royal Baby Watch Can be a Royal Pain

Britain Royal Baby

Huffington Post contacted me to ask me if, as a childless not by choice woman, if I had anything to say about the Royal Baby buzz. It turns out I did. Please check it out.

Posted in Childless Not By Choice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sex and infertility: How infertility f%@!d up my sex life

images-2Okay, kids, this one is personal. Yeah, I know…they are all personal. But this one is REALLY personal and I sort of can’t believe that I am writing this and I am not sure exactly why I am sharing this with you now— other than I am sure that I am not the only person that this has happened to. I am about to admit something very personal and something that I might not tell you if we were sitting across from each other. But the truth is that infertility ruined sex for me, and I am sure that I am not the only person that this happened to.

Pavlov, and the other Behaviorists, believe that a behavior will get stronger or weaker depending on what type of consequences follow it. When doing x can lead to y and you can’t make y happen it is likely that you no longer want to do x.  If you keep up the x and eat yams, and go to acupuncturists, and change your Feng-shui and you still don’t get y then you might extinguish your desire for x altogether.

All of the trying-to-conceive  made it impossible for me to have sex and not think of potential pregnancy.  In the early days of trying to conceive the sex was all about being on a mission which made sex more monotonous than the missionary position. The sex was no longer about sex or making love or anything other than “trying to conceive”, which made it more of a means to an end than an end in and of itself. “I’m ovulating” became the stand in for seduction. Lingerie abandoned, as there were no studies that showed garter belts had any impact on conception rates. Ovulation monitors were the closest we came to any kind of sex toy. Positions were chosen not for their potential to please, but rather because they had a higher potential to impregnate. Post-coitus was no longer about cuddling, but rather it became a high-anxiety time in which I timed how long to keep my legs up in the air in order to up our odds of implantation.

The more we tried to conceive and failed to do so, the more I started to dread sex. There was just too much emotional weight to *sex*, there had been all those times we tried and didn’t conceive and “doing it”  started to feel like a hurtful reminder of all the other times we tried and failed. It was impossible for me to have sex and not think immediately after,  ”I could be pregnant”—-even when the doctors told me that there was absolutely no way we could conceive naturally. I was never thinking about sex during sex—but I was thinking. I was thinking about  the quality of the sperm and imagining if I really was ovulating and maybe that the ovulation thermometer had been wrong . I thought if maybe I visualized my egg accepting the sperm that we might improve our chances at conceiving. Instead of enjoying myself I thought about all the pumpkin seeds he had eaten and how maybe they had impacted his sperm production. The more I thought the less I was there and the less I was there the less I wanted to be there.

Once I got to the point of KNOWING that there was absolutely no way we could conceive, my ex-husband didn’t know it. He was immune to the hard-science and  hard-truths we were told by our doctors. He, you see, had moved on to hope and faith. He took to praying after sex. No, he wasn’t praying out loud  or even telling me that he was, I could just see it. When I would catch him I would call him on it, “It’s not going to happen and no prayers are going to make a difference.” “You never know,” he’d argue. However, I did know. I knew I wasn’t going to get pregnant and yet if we had had sex prior to the time my period was due I would join my ex-husband in this folie à deux . And then when I didn’t get pregnant I would grieve. I asked my ex-husband to stop hoping (which I know isn’t really fair, and yet he couldn’t help himself from the hope). But to see him hope after sex was extremely hard for me. And that made me even less interested in having sex than I already was.

If we had stayed together I feel sure it would have taken a lot of work and therapy to separate sex from the hope of having a baby. We weren’t even close to differentiating that when we broke up. And, please, hear me, I am not at all blaming him or the infertility or how the infertility f#$@!d up  or our sex-life for our breakup–that’s not why we aren’t together. But I do think it has a lot to do with why we weren’t “doing-it” and “doing-it”, I think, and studies show, is important in the success and well-being of an intimate relationship.

For the past year-and-a-half I have been in a new relationship and thankfully, in this new relationship,  there was no history of trying to conceive and I had really and truly given up on having a baby( okay, there have been micro-seconds of insanity—but happily they have all passed pretty quickly) and so…uh, yeah, this is where it gets embarrassing and hard to write about…so, sex is no longer about trying-to-conceive and I am extremely happy about that. Now when I have sex( and yes, I am having it) I am thinking about the sex and not about conceiving. For me, sex is no longer about babies and hence my sex-life is no longer f@#$%ed up. And, as long as I am being so extremely personal with you, I will admit something that will likely not surprise you at all,  sex is better when you are not thinking about something else. X for x and not x for y is better x—at least in my opinion.

Posted in Childless Not By Choice, Infertility | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments