Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone – A Post by Elizabeth

I spent last weekend in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains. I love California. So much, in fact, that it’s gotten to the point where I nearly cry when it’s time to leave. Okay, maybe that’s a little bit dramatic but it IS true that I am always super excited to travel there and sad to leave. I have to admit though that I was really nervous about this trip and while I was happy to enjoy the beautiful scenery, meet up with friends, and visit some favorite establishments, I was NOT looking forward to what I was going there to do. Attend a retreat with Xtraordinary Fertility’s Renee Waggener, to “revive my baby making mojo”.

Redwood lodge, on the grounds of the Quaker Center, where the retreat was held.

Redwood lodge, on the grounds of the Quaker Center, where the retreat was held.


It was nothing against Renee. She’s fun, vivacious, and as I said, I was looking forward to seeing her again. We met at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association’s Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. in May, where she first told me about the retreat. My first thoughts were, “Hey, Renee seems cool, and it’s in the Redwoods, I’m in!”

Shortly after returning from D.C., she asked if ART of Infertility would be willing to present a workshop during the retreat. I couldn’t say no. However, as the time to fly across the country came closer, my anxiety was building. I was going not only to lead the attendees in making prayer flags around their infertility journeys, I was going to be participating in Renee’s Fertilicious Living Program myself.

My prayer flag representing the different paths my life could take and the treasures I hope to collect along the way.

My prayer flag representing the different paths my life could take and the treasures I hope to collect along the way.

I was finding a few problems with that. One, I’m not currently trying to make any babies. Renee is pretty clear that she broadly defines “baby making”. It could be literal, but it also could be moving on to adoption, or finding and nurturing some other passion, something like ART of IF, which I definitely consider my “baby.” Still, I’m at a weird point in my journey. Not trying to conceive or adopt. Not resolved to live child free. I’m just kind of hanging out. While there are others hanging out in this space with me, it can still be lonely in the broader infertility community.

It seems there are so many resources for those who are shooting up with Lupron and Menopur or dealing with background checks and home studies and not so many for those living without children after infertility or on extended breaks, living in the limbo land of still figuring out where this journey will take them. I was worried about spending a weekend surrounded by people who were still in that world of “trying”. How would it make me feel? How it might make them feel to hear my story, learning that I am 6.5 years in and not yet resolved? I’m often immersed in the world of infertility but this felt different. Almost like I might be invading their space.

Had to throw in a pic of the food because it was AMAZING.

Had to throw in a pic of the food because it was AMAZING.

Another problem was that I was finding Renee’s message about the retreat to seem a little too much like a get rich quick message of magical thinking. It seemed to me like I was going to arrive and be told that, if I was just positive enough, unblocked myself, and practice envisioning my spirit baby, I would achieve my dreams. While that’s fine for some people, I’m totally not into that. I’m a realist. I’m into science. I don’t even like the messages, “don’t give up!” and “follow your dreams”. I’m much too practical for that. I don’t think I’ve always disliked those messages but infertility has taught me that there are some things in life that just aren’t possible and sometimes we have to redefine our goals as a result, and that’s okay!

However, the biggest problem is that there are some things around this infertility experience that I just having a hard time really talking about and dealing with. Not only is it hard, I’m totally out of practice talking about it in the infertility community on a deep enough level. I host a peer-led infertility support group and I’ve interviewed dozens of men and women about their own experiences for the project but I’m so used to being the one who is listening that speaking out has become much harder than it once was. I’m now used to being the one, in a group setting at least, who is making sure no one monopolizes the conversation and that it moves along. The one who is silent so that others can talk their hearts out. I knew that, as a participant in the retreat, I would be in a very vulnerable place. A place that, frankly, I’d rather not go at the moment because I’m afraid of what I’ll find.

View of the tree canopy during our hike.

View of the tree canopy during our hike.

I was pleasantly surprised by how different the reality of my experience at the retreat was than I imagined it would be. While the others at the retreat are still pursuing medical treatment, I felt I easily fit in. They are an amazing group or strong, insightful, compassionate women who made me feel at home, even though I’m at a different point in the journey than they are.

It’s true that Renee’s message is ultimately positive. However, it wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and magic like the website made me believe it would be. Instead, it was much more profound. She offered a safe space and really asked me the tough questions I needed to be asked and, not only asked them, but held a space for me to answer them. To really get to the bottom of why it was I didn’t want to answer them, or to understand what my answer meant to me. She’s pretty amazing at what she does, and, even though It was as hard as I thought it would be to go to a space of such vulnerability, maybe even harder, by the end of our time together, I felt more peace and clarity than I have in a very, very long time.

I’m glad I chose to attend the retreat, opening myself up to entering a space that I knew wouldn’t necessarily be fun, or comfortable, or relaxing, so that I could really dig deep, answering questions and learning tools that will help me get closer to resolving my infertility. The experience, and Renee, reminded me that these feelings of pain and discomfort are temporary, and that by allowing myself to feel them, I can find so many paths to, and opportunities for, feelings of peace and happiness.

So, I encourage you to step outside of your own comfort zone to do something this weekend that allows you the same opportunity. Whether it’s something big, or small, you might be surprised by what you find.



My Spiritual Awakening: Thoughts from Renee Waggener of Xtraordinary Fertility

I’m constantly amazed by the opportunities for meeting those dealing with infertility, and helping them on their journey through art and story telling, that ART of IF is allowing me as the project grows. One upcoming opportunity is to present a prayer flag art workshop at the Revive Your Baby Making Mojo retreat in Ben Lomond, CA. Ben Lamond is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where the Redwoods meet the ocean. Sounds awesome, right?! It’s an incredible experience any time there’s an opportunity to get together with others living with infertility so I hope you’ll consider joining me in California to create some art around your infertility experience. There’s still room at the retreat and it’s an amazing value ($197 includes food, lodging, and all activities when you register by September 1st) with a great line up.  This event is being hosted by Renee Waggener of Xtraordinary Fertility October 2-4. Maria and I met Renee at RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association’s Advocacy Day this year and she is sharing as our guest blogger this week. Thanks, Renee, for inviting ART of IF to share through art making at your retreat and for sharing with us through your blog post this week!


My Spiritual Awakening

I just got done listening to 13 speakers in the Meditation your way to Millions Master Class lead by one of my super hero’s Lisa Cherney.  It was awesome.  Each speaker gave away super cool tools and insight into what “spiritual Practice” has lead to their business success.  I found so many parallels in how you integrate your spiritual habits into building a business with how each of us builds a family.  This sooo doesn’t surprise me, because the same section or chakra of our bodies… the root chakra is all about “Creation”.  Whether it’s a creation of a business or we are creating a baby thru our bodies or adoption… we still need a spiritual “Practice” to help each of these succeed.

I’ve never really tooted my own spiritual horn because I really believe that we each need our freedom to choose for ourselves what works for each of us.  And one of the things that really hit me in the summit is that I need to start speaking more from my heart when it comes to spirit and the message that I’m spreading with Fertility.  I believe deeply that each of us is surrounded by a team of angels, guides, God, Universe, Mother Earth… and sometimes I call all of that “Spirit”. You call it what feels right for you.

My personal spiritual practice has gone in waves through the years.  Sometimes I do something and sometimes I don’t, which is when I’m hiding or scared to connect.

This past year, I’ve put into practice a journaling exercise that I’ve been consistent with and it has opened me up to more possibilities, new relationships and deeper growth on my own personal purpose path in helping all of you in the fertility community.

Now that I’ve listened to these awesome speakers and what they do; I’ve realized it’s time to step up my practice.  This is so much more than thinking positive, or prayer.  It’s building a life practice that will not only help me help you, but more than that it will deepen my connection to spirit, give me more confidence to “Let Go of the outcome” (harder to do) and Really Trust in the process so that I can reach more people and help them (YOU) have babies and ultimately live a Fertilicious Life well into parenthood.

With that I really want to give to you today’s tips:

Knowledge is Power. There are many treatment options available for your infertility, so the more you know about each procedure will help you to make an empowered decision for you and your partner.  There’s no one size fits all solution here. Don’t compare your decision based on what others do.  Also, when you do the research, you don’t have to make a decision right away. Let it sit and let your intuition guide you on your “next best” choice.

Tick-Tock. Determine how long you will try to conceive. Being on the same page as your partner is important and you should agree on this.  There is no right or wrong decision here.  Choose a reasonable length that is comfortable for you and your partner. Also, know that this can be subject to change at anytime.  Maybe even schedule in some breaks to where you are NOT thinking of your fertility.

Cha-Ching! Determine how much money you are willing to spend on treatment. As you may already know, fertility treatments can be costly.  It’s important for the health of your relationship to determine how much money you are willing to part with. Again, this number will be different for each couple. It has to work for you! Also, look at your relationship with money. Do you have some beliefs around money that inhibit you? (I.e. I’m broke all the time = I’m unworthy) Notice this, then call me because I can help with this at the Revive Your Baby Making Mojo Retreat October 2-4.


Register Here

I look forward to seeing if this touched you at all.  Please post a comment on FB if it did.


With Peace and Light,





We’re featuring artwork from the project’s permanent collection in this week’s blog post.  Marissa McClure has created this piece, s/m/othering, in which she has removed the babies, children, and reproductive organs from well known pieces of art. She then invites others to choose an image that speaks to them and share their reaction to the image by pasting it, along with their narrative, in a book.

File Aug 18, 4 26 43 PM

File Aug 18, 4 23 30 PM

We’ve been traveling with the book and it’s been in Iowa City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Northern California with us so far. We’re sharing some images and stories from the piece this post and you can look for us, and the book, at our upcoming events in New JerseyMichigan, California, Illinois, and Arizona where we’ll invite you to share your own story through Marissa’s piece, mini interviews and photo sessions, and some other fun interactive projects we have planned.

File Aug 18, 4 22 41 PM - Version 2

File Aug 18, 4 27 23 PM

You can read Marissa’s complete paper on s/m/othering at this link. Thank you, Marissa, for sharing your art with us!

File Aug 18, 4 28 24 PM




Naturopathic Medicine and Fertility

This week’s blog is from Dr. Aumatma, who I had the pleasure of meeting at her practice in Oakland, CA last month. She’s delightful, very passionate about what she does, and since I was interested in learning more about her work, I invited her to share a blog post with us. Dr. Aumatma will be at the Xtraordinary Fertility retreat in Ben Lomonde, CA October 2-4. I’ll also be there, leading a prayer flag art workshop. I’m looking forward to getting to know her better and hope some of you will take the opportunity to join us there. You can learn more here. Thanks, Dr. Aumatma, for sharing with us!


What is Naturopathic Medicine and is it different from acupuncture when it comes to treatment for fertility?

Lots of people struggling with infertility know about acupuncture. There is lots of data. And, it’s pretty popular to be getting acupuncture while you’re optimizing your fertility so that you can start that family you dream of. What you may not know is that acupuncture is quite different from Naturopathic Medicine, though they have a similar philosophy of using nature to support the healing process. From this article, I hope to inspire you with something that you haven’t already tried or considered, and encourage you to reach out sooner if you are on this path—the sooner your reach out do a Naturopathic Fertility Specialist, the better… because this medicine really will help you fill the gap between your Western doctor and your acupuncturist. So, in a lot of ways, Naturopathic Doctors are truly integrative doctors, with an ability to understand both eastern and western thought.

Naturopathic Medicine has a few basic tenets that seem almost common sense. Use of natural substances (such as herbal medicine, nutrition, and homeopathy) to help rebalance the body and allow for the healing force to heal itself, is the ideal. Naturopathic Doctors are trained in 4-6 year medical programs that integrate eastern and western medicine. While Western Medicine is primarily focused on diagnosis, followed by “fixing” the problem, Naturopathic Medicine is focused on discovering the root cause. Many people consider Western Medicine to be a proficient band-aid. Western Medicine does have many advantages such as the advance of technology that allows doctors to help with things that even a hundred years ago may have appeared miraculous.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, on the other hand, have gotten good results for helping women rebalance their bodies from stress, reverse the damage to ovaries and eggs, as well as tonify the body overall to be able to conceive. I know lots of women get great results with Acupuncture.


Naturopathic Doctors fulfill a very different need, however. NDs consider it fundamentally important to understand the functions and pathways of the body and intimately understand hormones that can affect health and wellness. In addition to this foundation, however, Naturopathic Medicine also includes training in natural modalities for supporting the vital force of the body to heal. These therapies vary from Naturopathic doctor to doctor, as different practitioners may focus on different therapies. A majority of NDs do practice herbal medicine, functional medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, energy healing, and more.

Infertility is a complex diagnosis with many potential underlying causes. Naturopathic Doctors are particularly proficient in helping uncover a deep underlying cause that may not be obvious. Because Naturopathic Medicine views the body in a holistic way with a myriad of connections (that could be deemed otherwise unrelated), it is easy for NDs to recognize the deeper issues that may be contributing to a couple’s inability to conceive.


In my experience, Acupuncture is a great adjunct to Naturopathic Medicine & IVF/IUI. My recommendation is to go all out, with multiple approaches, because the complexity of infertility needs to be addressed on many levels. All of the different approaches fill very unique needs for the client, but there’s no one right answer. When we, as practitioners, collaborate fully, our clients get results faster. And, that’s what I am all about! When couples are ready to start a family and they are getting older and don’t have a lot of time, I think it’s ideal to use a multi-disciplinary approach. It breaks my heart when clients come to me after having tried acupuncture for 5 years… I wonder why they waited 5 years before trying something else or adding something else? Often, they come from referrals from their acupuncturist, but it’s only after they have fully exhausted their time with the acupuncturist. And, I have been able to help most of these couples– however, I just wonder if they wouldn’t have been saved anguish and disappointment if their work with me was started sooner, in collaboration with acupuncture.

So, overall, what I can offer clients is very different from acupuncture. Acupuncture can strengthen the body, help with stress, and re-balance the energetic body. I really like to work on the physical-mental-emotional from a different perspective. On the physical level, we want to detoxify and clear the channels of the body. Then, we are testing and rebalancing hormones (often undiagnosed abnormalities that Western Medicine missed). And lastly, we work on the mental – energetic layers. In short, using a mind-body approach to conceiving and birthing a healthy child is essential — and can happen easily when you have a team of practitioners caring for you and your partner’s health and well-being.

Remember they say, “it takes a village to raise a child?”…. these days, I say, it takes a village to conceive and birth a child. Who’s making up your healing village?

By Dr. Aumatma

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