There somethings I wouldn't wish on anyone( enduring infertility treatment that doesn't lead to the much longed for child is such a commonality), however it is also really nice to have friends who really gets it. Justine Brooks Froelker is such a friend. We also have some other important stuff in common, we are book therapists and we both write about how to move Ever Upward to our Next Happy. I invited Justine to share her Next Happy story with you here and she accepted. Thank you, Justine! Justine Brooks Froelker is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (based on the research of Brené Brown) with a private practice in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the author of her book and blog, Ever Upward, and an advocate for breaking the shamed silence surrounding infertility, loss and recovery. She also writes for St. Louis Health & Wellness magazine, The Huffington Post and appears regularly on the mid-day television show Great Day St. Louis.
The same concept, much the same path and similar outcomes all to forge in an eerily parallel story to a friendship I am beyond grateful for.
After trying to be a mom to no avail and choosing to redefine my own happy ending, or rise ever upward, I quickly found my fellow warrior in Tracey and her next happy. There are days that my comparison gremlins get the best of me and tell me that perhaps Tracey is far ahead on her next happy while I am still trudging through the dark in rising ever upward. And yet I know those gremlins do not speak my truth. Nevertheless, we both are women who shine the light on topics not many want to discuss or discuss in the way we have found to be healthy, albeit difficult.
My life circumstances have forced me to build a foundation of redefining my dreams and finding my next happy. Two back surgeries, a year in a body cast, failed infertility treatments and life without my own children are enough to make anyone bitter. However, rising ever upward means finding the dream and talent of counseling and psychology, defining my own happy ending and parenting the world.
My next happy has been seeking and practicing other ways to parent even though my dreams of becoming a mother in the traditional sense of the definition of a mother did not come true.
This means parenting my pets, all my chosen children in my life, my faith and my clients. Recently, it has also meant parenting through connecting with nature as I have become quite the accidental monarch butterfly farmer.
Finding unexpected parenting roles means choosing what my legacy is, even if not left in carrying on my husband’s last name, his athletic genes and my passionate personality.
I have also learned that my next happy must include the dark fog that can settle in through comparison and scarcity, especially as a woman who feels like she does not fit in much in our society. The fog that settles over me as I work as an infertility, loss and recovery advocate diligently shouting my story and trying to change the conversation.
Whether you call it your next happy or rising ever upward, it is a journey and not a destination. It will include many bumps, bruises, turns and even some deep dark pot holes you must dig your way out of.
The path is not our choice but how we respond and take this path to our happy is our choice. This is the work of both mine in Ever Upward and in Tracey’s Next Happy.
Choosing to live our lives from the place of love and to respond in ways that honor all of our story and not live from the place of fear and simply react to what has happened to us.
This is the work we all must choose.
This is the work of rising Ever Upward to define our Next Happy!
Please check out Justine's new book, Taking Flight: An Ever Upward Coloring Book. Through coloring pages and journaling prompts, Taking Flight guides the reader through the miraculous life cycle of the monarch butterfly while leading the reader to draw parallels to their own life journey and struggles.