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,