My Name is Joy

I recently took a silly quiz on Facebook, you know the ones I’m talking about:

-What’s your superhero name?

-What’s your emotional IQ?

Yeah, you know the ones…

Well, I can’t remember what female celebrity I was trying to figure out I was most like, but one of the questions on the quiz made me pause. I even clicked my answer, moved to the next and couldn’t get it out of my mind. You see, when I take quiz’s like that, I try not to “help” predict my answer. I try to go with my initial gut reaction. (i.e. If you could choose between skydiving over the ocean and ziplining through the forest which would you prefer?) I would just immediately click the one that jumped at me first. So, back to “the answer”. The question that I haven’t been able to shake for about a week now was, “If you could have  more of anything in your life, what would it be?” They had about 4 choices: Joy, Harmony, Peace, and Love. Immediately, all I was feeling was JOY. “Joy? Why Joy?” I asked myself. “I’m really happy with my life.” I began to second guess. Without pause, I heard the Lord say, “Happiness and Joy are two different things. They go together as part of a whole, but they are two different things…”

Here I am a week later and what do I have to say today? Well, I’ve not been able to stop mulling over this one truth: Happiness and Joy are two different things. It’s like a seed was planted that day and a week later, I’m realizing how much I have mistaken being happy for having true Joy. Unspeakable Joy! The kind of Joy that becomes part of your identity, just like your name. So what is Joy? Merriam-Webster defines it as “A source or cause for great happiness; a source or cause of delight”. To me what was a little sad, however, was that it was mixed in with things like this : ” the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” First lesson this taught me? You won’t find what true Joy is in Merriam-Websters dictionary.

I began to see that the world has a glimpse of what Joy means. But unfortunately, the world hasn’t fully come to understand true Joy. Hence, definition number two that followed. Well, what does my Heavenly Father have to say about Joy?

We see in Galations 5:22 that the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. We also see in Nehemiah 8:10, “The JOY of the Lord is our strength.” Ok, I began to ask myself, “Why strength?” Why isn’t it ,”The Joy of the Lord is our peace?” Or, “The Joy of the Lord is our Love?”  Because, here is the journey He is taking me on:

Every good and perfect gift comes from him. He doesn’t just HAVE every good and perfect gift, He IS every good and perfect gift. It is His identity and when I stepped into his eternal family and asked him to live inside me….HA there it is! Joy isn’t just happiness but it is the root from which happiness leaves sprout. Joy is part of who I am so much, that even in moments throughout my life where there will be sadness, will be anger, will be struggle, that I have a knowing deep down that happiness still follows me. Where my heart and spirit are always pointed toward what is good. Joy isn’t just happiness. It’s happiness that stays and abides in me. It’s a pattern of living, not a moment I have.

What can Joy do for you?

Well let’s see what true, abiding, deep-seeded Joy does:

-It keeps you from being easily offended.

It’s hard to offend someone who lives from a place of Joy. Why? Because it’s their strength. They let negativity, resentment, and insults roll of them. They could care less. Half of the time I don’t even think they notice insults. Their Joy is so much a part of them that it would take a whole lot more than a negative arrow to strike them down. Let’s be honest, if anyone is affected, it’s the person shooting the arrows. Why? Because Joy is so contagious, for one. It gets on them and pierces them stronger than any arrows flying at them. And because of that, there’s a place where the person spewing negativity is projecting it because deep down, they want to feel the way you feel. They want to know how you can go through the every day and the moments that suck, and still find a reason to sing. Unfortunately, a lot of times, their first choice isn’t to band together with you. It’s pushing against you because of jealousy, fear, resentment, and just plain not understanding. The only thing they understand in that moment is that it hits a nerve. I will be the first to admit that there was a time in my life where super happy and joyful people annoyed the crap out of me. I would find myself cringing everytime someone flashed that chipper grin or someone I never saw have a bad day give or take 20% of the time. Seriously? They are delusional, I would think to myself. And while yes, there are people who hind behind a fake sense of happiness because they are afraid to open up and be real, I am not talking about those people. I am talking about the people who ARE realistic about moments in their life that bring pain, bring anger, bring sadness, aren’t afraid to show it, handle it, make steps to deal with, but that ALWAYS contain JOY! They know, deep down, that sorrow may last for the night, but JOY comes in the morning! It’s a pattern of living that strengthens and keeps you ready, willing, and able to deal with whatever comes your way.

-It produces so much fruit

When I looked at the choices–joy, harmony, peace, love–I thought to myself, if I lived from a place of Joy, than harmony, peace, and love has no choice BUT to follow. I can be content in whatever comes (peace), I am able to see myself and others the way God sees them no matter how they act (love), and in turn, I am able to find something good in every situation (harmony).

I can say that today, I am on a journey. From the minute I clicked that one silly quiz, a seed was planted and a tree is beginning to grow for maybe the first time in my life. I find myself more optimistic about things than I ever did, in spite of things around me that AREN’T changing. No longer will I just have “moments” of happiness, but I will have Joy. Unspeakable Joy. A Joy that I can access anytime through the Father because He is inside me! A Joy that will never run dry but will water the dry places in my life, even when I can’t feel or see it. a Joy that is just as much a part of me as my own name!

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart-WHERE? Down in my heart-WHERE? Down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart-WHERE? Down in my heart TO STAY!”

 

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Harrison Thomas Dermott: A birth story

Sitting down to right this on this day (February 14th) brings back a little nostalgia. I remember this time last year surprising my hubby with a “staycation” at a hotel and going out for a fancy dinner. He took me to this really expensive steakhouse and I remember feeling weird. My emotions were all over the place and then I couldn’t eat. I felt a little queasy and didn’t know why…so then I cried some more. Although he didn’t say it, my husbands thoughts were, “Really? She’s not going to eat? We’ve wanted to come here for a long time and now, she doesn’t eat?” I felt awful! Literally and figuratively. Turns out when we got a positive pregnancy test 3 weeks later, it explained it all. Now we look at our little boy, laugh and say, “Remember when you were mad at me cause I didn’t eat that expensive steak? This was so worth it!” So, what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day then with writing our birth story?

The Birth Story of Harrison Thomas

October 31st, 2013

Two days overdue, I was still feeling wonderful. At 10 p.m. the night before, I noticed that I was having contractions about every 10 min on the dot. Not a big deal, I’d had Braxton Hicks for about the whole third trimester. The only difference was (as expected) my body was doing something different. They didn’t feel like regular BH contractions. There were more crampy feeling and more in my back. I knew it would be any day now. Kalen was on pins and needles just waiting, timing everything. It was so cute. By the time we woke up that morning they were coming about every 7 minutes. They weren’t extremely intense, but he told me when he left for work that if they got to consistently 6-7 minutes apart that he was just calling it a day and taking his leave. We knew at this point, three days past due date, that it would be the real deal.

By noon, they were still 7 min apart and I went out to do some grocery shopping. By 3p.m., although not timing them, I noticed they were closer together-about 5 minutes. What I noticed even more, however, was that in the middle of Trader Joes, I had to stop and breathe through it and grip the cart handle. Kalen calls and in the middle of our conversation I get another one. I tell him they are consistently 5 min apart and getting more intense. They didn’t hurt, but it was definitely different. He says that he had a feeling and was already about home. By the time I get home, we eat dinner, watch some tv, it’s around 10p.m now. Kalen’s timing them (pen, paper, watch-the whole nine yards), still 5 minutes apart. I am definitely in early labor. YES! We decide to call the midwife and give her a heads up. I want to labor at home as long as possible so she tells us to get some rest and labor at home until they are 3-4 minutes consistently for over an hour, then we can go ahead and head up to the hospital. I tested positive for Group B strep which is not harmful to me, but it did mean that I needed to get at least 4 rounds of an antibiotic in my system or it could pose some respiratory issues to Harrison as he passes through the birth canal. As much as I wanted to labor at home for as long as I could, Kalen and I wanted to find a good balance of not laboring at home too long so that, in case of a quick labor, I made sure to get all the antibiotic I needed. Kalen and I were believing and praying for a very swift labor and delivery and there was not a doubt in my mind that God  could answer that prayer for us.

November 1st|3 a.m.

Early labor confirmed. Start the clock.

My contractions are intense enough that they are waking me up. I can’t sleep anymore. I have to walk around. Kalen can’t sleep either so he gets up with me. They are 3-4 minutes apart consistently for an hour, so at 5 a.m., I call my sister and tell her she might as well get up and get ready. My sister and Kalen were the only two people I was going to have in the delivery room. My sister was going to be taking pictures to document our birth, but she became so much more. She was my own personal doula. (more on that later)

I finish packing my bag, take a shower, shave my legs, put on some worship music, and we eat breakfast. When my sister and brother-in-law get to my house, we head for the hospital.

7:30 a.m.

4.5 hours of labor

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Due to the drive (contractions SUCK in the car, by the way), my contractions went back to about every 5 minutes. We get checked in to Harris Methodist Downtown, they monitor me and H for about 20 minutes, check me, confirm I’m definitely in early labor and tell me to go walk and get these contractions to pick up again. They want to check me again in an hour, so we decide to go walk. I’m definitely uncomfortable by this point and walking feels like I’m trudging through mud, but the good news is that I it just feels like a tough workout. I am still happy and strong and not in immense pain. I am actually taking this as a challenge: How hard can I power walk with contractions. 

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9 a.m.

6 hours into labor

I am 2 centimeters dilated, 75% effaced, and my cervix is posterior. She says I have two options. I am definitely going to have this baby at some point today (so we thought) but no telling when. My midwife tells me I can go home and labor some more, or I can go ahead and get admitted. If you could only see into the future right? I was CERTAIN I was going to have him that day and I really thought my labor wouldn’t be that long. I thought, “Eh, he will be here by 3 p.m.” and so it didn’t make sense to me to drive all the way home. I was here now…let’s do this. We call our family and they arrive about noon and we socialize in the waiting room, have lunch, and walk some more.

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I am feeling really worn out physically at this point. I have walked, walked, and walked some more. My contractions are very uncomfortable, my pelvis is so sore from walking around, and my back is hurting. However, if you need to know where anything is at Harris Methodist Downtown Fort Worth, I know the in’s and out’s of the place by now.

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Skip forward six hours to 3 p.m.

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Active labor|12 hours

Well, no baby. I am feeling a little disappointed, but my sweet husband is right next to me telling me it’s okay and that God knows the hour. I am feeling like me and God need to have a discussion about his time tables because I’m ready. I have now walked and walked. Squatted, labored on the ball, labored on the hospital bed, walked some more. I am so sore! And honestly, I’m very exhausted.

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My midwife, husband, and sister tell me I need to get some rest, but really don’t want to rest. I want to have my baby. But, after convincing me that if my body doesn’t rest it will slow down, (which it did-contractions went from 4 minutes back up to 6) I reluctantly give in.

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My amazing sister brought her essential oils and she is giving me the best treatment. She begins to rub my feet, my legs, my back, my arms, my hands. The whole room now smells of essential oils and the nurses loved it! My sister is such a servant, truly, and I know that she must be so tired like everyone else. But, she continues to rub all my sore areas and it helps me relax. I am trying not to feel down because I hear that family is now coming and going. I don’t expect them to stay around, but I’m upset because it meant I wasn’t progressing very fast and the reality of this long here at the hospital, in labor, with not much improvement, starts to weigh heavy on my mind.

Contractions laying down are about the worst thing next to laboring on the toilet (sorry for the visual) so resting is a little hard but I manage about two hours. Meanwhile, since I’ve been checked in, I have to get the antibiotics every 4 hours for an hour. This was the only time I needed to be hooked to anything. Otherwise, my birth was to be unmedicated, no intervention unless there was an emergency, laboring on my own (in and out of the tub), and ultimately-a water birth.

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As I continue to labor on through the night, the word “exhaustion” isn’t quite describing just how tired I am anymore. The contractions are every 3-4 minutes apart and sheesh, they are intense! I am so ready to see my baby. The ache of wanting him to come is almost greater than the aches that continue to wrack my body. Surprising myself, I am still mentally and emotionally strong even though I feel my physical body weakening by the hour. I have moments of wonder where I am in awe of the female body and just how much God created it to withstand, and then I have moments where I just plain wonder how much longer I will be able to go. I know this is natural and so I continue to just take every one contraction, telling myself, “I don’t know how many more I will have, but I will never have that one again.”

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10p.m.

19 hours of labor

My midwife comes in to check me. I am 7 cm, 85% effaced, but my cervix still has not moved forward. Both Harrison and I are fine. His head is locked and loaded in my pelvis, and even though this is becoming a very long labor, it is no cause for alarm if everything is progressing; even if at a turtles pace. I start realizing I need to just remain positive. That’s all I can do and I know God has it under control and I just need to focus on the here and now.

As our family continues to come and go, it’s obvious that we are still not having the baby for awhile. I now start to doubt myself and wonder if I’m doing something wrong. I start to doubt God too, because I don’t really understand why this should be happening. “Why is my labor so long?” This and many other questions begin to plague my mind and, whether I knew it yet or not, it began to takes it toll on my mental strength that had been keeping my ever waning physical body in tact. The natural says, “First baby=long labors.” But I knew that God could give me a swift delivery and from the day Harrison was conceived, every ounce of my being believed wholeheartedly God would do that; and that God could do that. This is why I start feeling some inner turmoil.

Now, everyone has gone home but later I find out that my Mother-in-law comes back and stays on through the night interceding and keeping many other prayer warriors covering this birth.

3 a.m.

24 hours of labor

My midwife comes in to check me again. I am now on my third midwife. There are seven midwives at  Harris Downtown. You meet with all of them during your pregnancy so that they can get to know you and you can get to know them because you never know who will be on call. Kalen and I look back on how perfectly God orchestrated the times that each one took their shift and are thankful. Every midwife was exactly what I needed for that particular stage of labor.

I am SO worn out, but amazingly, still going strong. I wasn’t upset by the pain of the contractions because if it’s pain that is productive, I’m good. However, after this long, I am beginning to really have to work at not feeling like I want to give up and wondering how productive this really is. It’s taking everything in me to remain mentally and emotionally strong. It’s now a fight to stay strong more than it is just a constant reminder to my mind and body like in previous hours. Kalen tells my sister that I just want some time alone with him. I knew that I was really in turmoil. Spiritually. If anything was becoming unbearable, it was feeling like God wasn’t with me anymore. In my head I knew he was, but not understanding why I was already in labor 24 hours really caused me grief. I started to feel angry at him. I was feeling abandoned. I knew that I didn’t have answers, but I knew that I needed to come back and focus. Align myself with Him again. Deeper than the feelings of turmoil was the knowledge that He was still with me. THIS needed to be my focal point and I needed to find rest again. Once my sister left the room, Kalen and I began to just release Heaven over my body and in the room. We began to worship and fill the room with thankfulness and praise. No longer were we trying to call Harrison forth. It was time to just be. This was hard, but the more we thanked and praised, and just meditated on Him, the more we felt our souls come back into balance.

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Shortly after this, I find out that my Mother-in-law, who I affectionately call Milly, is sitting out in the waiting room. It’s 3 a.m. and she’s still here. When I get this news, something in me just knew I needed her. And now! I tell my sister to go get her and she comes back and immediately begins to love on me like she does so wonderfully.

I have been at peace and am feeling good. Feeling a little more balanced and I am now laboring in the water. I love the water. It’s so peaceful and really helps me relax.

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A little while later, my midwife comes in and performs a check. I find out I am still 7 cm and my cervix has still not tipped forward at all. When I get this news, I feel any strength I had left (so I thought) escape my tired body and my heart actually feels broken. I begin to cry and say, “No, no, no…” over and over. I am hurting so bad and the news of having made no progress really takes its toll. Because his head was so low in my pelvis (which on one hand is a good thing) it was preventing my cervix from coming anterior (to the front); and in order to give birth, that has to happen. Also, because of this fact, my labor is heavy on my back and unfortunately, on my sacrum due to the posterior cervix. This REALLY hurts! And every time they have to check me I want to cry because of the effort it takes to get up around Harrison’s head that is lodged so low. My midwife tells me that there is a natural intervention that may help. This involves having to reach up behind our baby’s head, again, but this time actually pulling my cervix forward (stripping the membranes). Sound painful? Let me tell you, I don’t feel sane anymore at this point. I actually felt like I might pass out. I see white and then I see black begin to fade in and out.

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I  slowly manage to get up and go to the restroom with Kalen’s help and when I get back I decide to labor in the water. It’s already been a struggle to try and keep that place of peace I felt I reached, but with this news, my emotional and mental reserves are maxing out.

My water still hasn’t broken and my sister suggests having them break it. I am scared to do this because I know it will make the contractions much more intense and I don’t know if I can handle it. If you know my husband, and you know me, you will understand that he is just what I need, and what I need sometimes is a swift kick in the hiney and some blunt truth. He tells me that whether I like it or not, at some point, it’s going to get more intense in order for me to have this baby, and that unless I want to be here for ten more hours plus–I need to just suck it up and do it. I don’t have anything to lose, but everything to gain if it helps bring baby H sooner. This may seem harsh but I’m telling you, that’s just what I needed. I cried a little because emotionally I’m weak, but I knew he was speaking truth and he was really speaking to my spirit in that moment and calling it to wake up and be strong. Kalen was one of the biggest reasons I made it through that day next to God, my sister, and my Milly. He never left my side, never slept, barely ate, went through every contraction with me, kept me positive, kept me focused, rubbed my back, did hip squeezes, and tenderly loved me with a fierce strength through it all. I can’t even properly put into words what it was like, but he was like an angel and he was an anchor.

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I tell Kalen I need to talk to his mom. When she comes in I’m laboring in the water and she begins to rub my hair and reassure me that I can do this and breaking my water is going to be okay.

4a.m.

Transition stage|25 hours

I have since moved from the tub back to the bed. This process in and of itself is exhausting. With every movement I get another intense contraction and I am so cold. When I shiver, I tense up, and hence have another contraction. My midwife breaks my water on the bed and IMMEDIATELY I hit transition. My contractions are 1 min apart lasting two minutes each time, and Kalen tells me after it’s all over that I used some expletives in those moments. We laugh because 1) I don’t remember and 2)Hey, shit happens! Yes, even nice Christian girls lose it once in awhile. Just being real. I am also having triple peaks at one point, meaning I have three, 2 minute long contractions in a row, without more than 10 seconds of rest. Since his head has not moved forward I am still having them on my sacrum and I begin to wonder if that’s where I will end up having him out of…(again, sorry for the visual.)

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They also begin to monitor H every thirty minutes instead of hourly. They don’t tell me why, but I can put 2 and 2 together. They know that after this long, they need to make sure he doesn’t go into distress.

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The biggest thing I loved about our nurses and midwives was that they never opened the door to let fear take over. They were informative, smart, and careful, but never talked negative or got in a hurry or freaked out about anything. This was one of the reasons I knew that I could trust them if they were to tell me, “We have to go to C-section and get this baby out.” I knew they would ONLY say that if it truly was an emergency.

6a.m.

27 hours of labor

Here we are again. They tell me I need to rest, AGAIN! I become angry because, if I didn’t want to rest before, I sure as heck don’t want to rest now! I WANT TO HAVE MY BABY! I am on midwife #4, Amy. Ahhhh Amy! I love her! She gently looks at me and says that a lot of times if a mom can just rest for an hour or two it can sometimes get them over the hump and their body refuels and they wake up ready to push. With as bad as the contractions are however, I can’t fall asleep. She tells me that she can give me a gram of something, that I don’t even remember the name of, and it will take the edge off just enough that I will be able to rest. Kalen finally tries to rest while I rest, as well as my sister. My mother-in-law stays up and continues praying and keeping all the other intercessors alert and praying. I am beyond grateful for these mighty warriors! Kalen can’t rest very well, because at this point, he begins to feel a little angry. At God. He spends about two hours on the couch hashing out with Him why, after everything we’ve prayed and stood on and believed that nothing seems to be happening.

Although, I’m able to rest, I can still feel the contractions, just not as bad. Unfortunately, when the pill began to wear off, it was not gentle. I immediately felt the contractions in full force again, but I was so loopy from the pill that I had no idea what was going on. I was so very disoriented and this is the worst feeling: to feel like you don’t have control.

8a.m.

29 hours of labor

Feeling a little more coherent with the world, Amy checks me. I am 8cm, fully effaced and…my cervix has tipped forward to “1” they said. PROGRESS! HALLELUJAH! I admit that in the moment however, this doesn’t feel like good news to me because I am so done. Meanwhile, Milly, Shel (sister), and Kalen are thrilled and celebrating. At this point it’s hurting so bad on my sacrum with every contraction. I remember thinking, “I might die here on the floor. Surely my body is going to break!” I look at Kalen and say, “Baby I am hurting so bad. I need you to hear me…I don’t know that I can take anymore of feeling this pain.” I make him look at me and understand because he knows what a high pain tolerance I have and so I really need him to understand that I really can’t take too much more. I tell him I want to ask if it’s too late for an epidural. You know I’m in pain if I say that. I HATE NEEDLES and I don’t like unnecessary intervention or drugs. Yet, I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this.

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Amy knew how strong I was even when I didn’t. She tells me I can have one if that’s what I want, but to understand that everything about my birth would change. I would not be able to have a water birth. She reminds me this was my dream. She gives me freedom and time to choose, but she doesn’t just give in. She knew my emotions were talking. She KNOWS I can do this. She tells me that she will give me time to think about it, and when I look back, I remember that I never revisited it. It’s like I didn’t even think about it again. I just remember saying, “I want to get in the tub right now.” The only problem was, I was due for what felt like my 100th dose of antibiotics. It would be another hour until I could get in the water.  I am feeling pretty pissy at this news. Kalen steps up again and tells me that as I’m having contractions my “sounds” sound like I am saying, “No, No, No”. He says, “This is too negative sounding, let’s actively make it positive.” So, with every contraction, we both begin to say, “Yes.” Wow what a difference! There was a huge shift in the atmosphere when we did this and I actually felt a little stamina come back…God bless this man!

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9a.m.

30 hours of labor

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The minute I finish the antibiotic, I basically strip down and run (well waddle more like) to the birthing tub. I never understood until that day what women meant when they said you will have no shame or have a care in the world about what parts of your body are bared and hanging out for all the world to see. I am not a super shy/overly modest person as it is, but I really didn’t care if I knew you or not and I guess that would be the first time I could say I went streaking. The tub was calling my name! I probably wouldn’t recognize every nurse that came in and out of that room, but I’m sure they remember me. Ha

Not more than 30 minutes in the tub and ALL OF A SUDDEN, as if someone jolted me, I felt Harrison’s head shift forward. He was no longer toward the back and I felt his head. I look forward at Kalen and say through kind of a laugh, “I feel his head, I feel his head!” Kalen, with eyes wide, says, “Really? Are you serious?” I shake my head and say I am certain. He is coming. In that moment, the pain felt productive again and I was like, “Let’s do this! I can do this!” At this news, Kalen goes to get our midwife.

November 2nd| 10 a.m.

31 hours of labor

I begin to push. This was my FAVORITE part. Why? A lot of reasons, but just to name two:

I was about to meet my son, and I was actually getting to rest in between contractions now. Holy Heavens what a relief!

I’m in the water by myself and I feel so powerful, excited, tired, sore, and beyond ready. I am on all fours and my midwife tells me to just give in to the feeling of pushing when it comes. My sister is right in front of me and told me later (cause I really don’t remember a lot of little things I said) that I cried, “Ow, ow I can’t push.” My sister responded, “Caitlin, push!” At which I responded with a really angry, “NO!” Thank God for sisters with thick skin, because she shoots back with , “YES!”She told me I kind of cowered and said sheepishly, “Okay…” I still laugh remembering hearing this a week postpartum because I didn’t recall it at all.

My midwife tells me to go ahead and flip over in the tub and I remember asking the sweet nurse next to me if I can grab her hand and then, while I’m pushing, checking on her to make sure I’m not hurting her. At this point, I am in the room, but feel like I’m having out of body experiences.

Kalen was behind me outside the tub, my sister was in front of me as well as my mother-in-law, and Amy was to the side gently coaching me on.

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10:55 a.m. on November 2nd, 2013

31 hours and 55 minutes of labor

I gave birth to Harrison Thomas Dermott weighing 8 lbs. 11.5 oz. and 20 inches long!

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The feeling in that moment catching my baby and having them thrust this BIG ol’ baby boy on my chest was so surreal and amazing. Along with the shock of the fact I did it and it was over was the shock of realizing this was not a 7.5 pound baby like even my midwives thought. I can’t put into words the joy, excitement, release, and relief I felt all wrapped into one moment. My mother-in-law told me that as I was crying and laughing I yelled out, “I just had a baby!!!” It was so awesome!

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All I remember right then and there was shaking, not knowing what time it was, not even caring. I just remember holding my son, smelling him, and saying, “He smells like a baby!”

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Kalen teases me because of the obsession I (along with just about every woman) have with the newborn baby scent. It’s like smelling Heaven on earth!

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Skin to skin
Skin to skin

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Daddy cutting the cord
Daddy cutting the cord

In that moment, it’s so surreal that every bit of pain I felt, exhaustion, frustration, doubt at times, was replaced in a matter of a split second with a rush of love, relief, unspeakable joy, and it was just…over. I was done. My baby was here, and all of that was now in the past. And, just like that, my new life was beginning!

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And that’s our story. Thirty-two hours of labor for a moment so timeless that I will never be able to put words to.

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I, in no way, write any of this from a negative standpoint and don’t post this for others to feel afraid of birth. It’s actually the complete opposite. My labor was hard, it was long, at times it was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced, but this is what I went through. This is what happened. It’s our story. It’s real and through it all, it was so good. It was healthy. It was productive. It was just….slow.

My midwives called it “phenomenal”. And it’s true. It took me about a month or so to see it, and I admit, I had a lot to work out and hash out with God because I was a little angry, initially. I really believed I was going to have a quick and easy labor and for weeks following his birth and even in the development of writing our story, I didn’t understand why it had to be like that and I didn’t even want to ask him why because I didn’t just want a “bigger picture”. But the Lord so kindly began to show me how beautiful it was and how, through it all, He was there every step of the way. He held me, kept me and Harrison safe through the whole thing. He made me to do this. He made each of our female bodies able to handle this and it’s a miracle. Giving birth is a miracle! A miracle that happens about every minute of every day throughout the world. A miracle we often take for granted.

It has taken me so long to write this because I have been afraid. Afraid to let myself feel these things again. Afraid to revisit this. I realized that although I have walked through a lot with the Lord concerning H’s birth and come to a better place with it, writing this actually opened my eyes to see that there was a lot that I was trying to forget. I thought I was dealing better when really I was blocking a lot of it from my memory and calling it healing. I don’t want to do that because my heart isn’t angry.  So why was I afraid? I was afraid because although I loved my birth and am not bitter about it, it was still an experience that hurt on many levels. It was an experience that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough to have a quick labor. I realized I was afraid to revisit all these details because it would be a Pandora’s box of emotions that I didn’t know how to handle. Feeling so happy to have my son, but wondering why I had to go through 32 hours of labor for it. Why did it have to be like that? Did I do something? Why didn’t you answer my prayers? Why does everything have to be a lesson? I felt afraid, as well, because I felt like if I wasn’t happy about it then that meant I didn’t love my son. I didn’t want to be misunderstood by any readers. Do I want to do 32 hours of labor again? Well no, but I am so happy and I would go through it all again to have my healthy, precious boy. Writing this has been a healing for me. Choosing to walk back through this and not being afraid to allow myself to feel the emotions again has brought me to a place where I can actually cherish all of my labor and birth. Not just some… I’ve had to write some and walk away when it became too much to process and feel again. But then I would come back, reread, and let myself feel again. And the truth is that every day God is showing me-in His kind ways-what that 32 hours did in the natural and the supernatural. He is showing me every day what the purpose was, not only in the moment I was going through it, but even yesterday I saw a correlation of that time in the hospital with a season Kalen and I are walking through in the present. And He is showing me things that are happening right now that mimics the “fruit of my labor”. Literally.

Kalen and I knew from the beginning that Harrison has a huge destiny (just like every child does), but God is showing us every day how much that long labor was tied in with that. It’s so easy to look at things negatively at first. The human mind immediately thinks, “If he has such a grand destiny then it means things will be swift and easy because of the favor he carries.” That was a part of my struggle. But the kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom. God doesn’t do things in terms of what our natural mind can comprehend. He began to show me the deeper connection of a powerful destiny and my labor. The things Harrison is called to and  the favor that rests on him allowed him to stay in there without complication or sign of distress for 32 hours because it was not time to come yet and he was not going to force it. He found peace. He waited. And when it was time. He came. It’s positive. It’s beautiful. And, looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s amazing how your own experiences you once found hardship in can actually heal your heart in more ways than one.

Thank you for taking time to read about one of the best days of my life and allowing me to share my heart freely about a journey that grew me. I will never forget God’s faithfulness through it all and the ways that I am forever changed because of it. He had things to show me. As always, everything that we go through in life happens for a reason (even when that’s the last thing we want to hear in the moment) and sometimes it has something entirely different to do with the situation we are even in. They are opportunities to grow and to learn. Well, we grew and we learned and will have new knowledge that we will carry with us forever, along with an ocean-sized capacity to love our beautiful breakthrough that we made out of our love for one another; and our hearts were opened to see deeper into the Father’s Heart and embrace that in our lives.

Lost in Black & White

There is a quote that says, “No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.”

This I find to be so true! Me and my husband love to read. One of our new found favorite “mini” dates is getting in the car after work and heading to the library. It’s like an exciting adventure to see what we can come away with. No lie, I feel quite intimidated when I go with him though. He’s is a machine in a library. He meets me all in a time span of about ten minutes with at least three large books, and then proceeds to show me about five more that he already has on his mental “what to read next” list. Oh, and don’t let me forget he’s already on the library website requesting new reads to come in from other libraries through this system called the “inter-library loan”. On top of that, he is the most diverse reader I’ve ever met. He is a history major so he’s always got some kind of historical novel in there, but then he will have a scientific fantasy novel and then a book about Abraham Lincoln being a vampire or something like that. I believe that is why he is so smart, he never puts boundaries on himself when he reads. Do you see what I mean? Intimidating… This is a guy who reads a 350 page book in a day–not kidding. Meanwhile, he says, “What did you find?” I timidly hold up the latest little Nicholas Sparks novel I haven’t read yet (yeah just one), and you bet your sweet speed-reading hiney I will probably take the full three week time limit to read it. Hey , it’s just the way we are, but all our reading differences aside, we share the same love of reading and it’s become one of our favorite things to go do together.

I say I only read one book at a time, and normally I do, but pregnancy changes a lot of things. It wasn’t until I started compiling my list to share with you that I realized I’m literally reading all of these right now. Uh oh folks, she’s getting cool!

I’m going to share my latest reads from spiritual reading to even pregnancy reading and give you a little review on what I think. If you’re looking for your next “good read”, I hope to inspire you. And for all the soon-to-be mommies out there, we go into like crazy new mom mode trying to read up on everything before little one gets here, so hopefully you find some inspiration as well.

Enjoy your day friends!

First book on our list:

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This book will blow your mind! So often we look at books that talk about forgiveness and walk the other way because we’ve heard all the religious spiritual ritual before. I’m here to tell you that this book gets to the heart where forgiveness can freely flow, and THAT’S the truth of forgiveness. Learning to free our own hearts from the ice prison we’ve locked it in is just the first step. This is a magnificent read! Go pick it up.

Next:

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Blessing Your Spirit by Arthur Burke is such an amazing book. They are daily Spirit blessing you read over your spirit to bring it to life. If you’ve never done spirit blessings, let me tell you that they are amazing. We have the authority to call our spirit to attention and speak life into it. Every day has a new area to bless your spirit in, and I love the depth at which he calls our spirits forth. You will feel the daily difference. It’s amazing!

And next:

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The Healing Codes is for any of you who believe like I do–God and science aren’t separate. God created all things and said they were good. He is in science and every health related issue is related across the board to every other issue in our life. This book shows that truly every little ailment all the way to cancer has a root source to stress and stress alone. Not the surface level stress we experience on a daily basis, but because of surface level stress or trauma, or emotional pain left unresolved sends our nervous system shutting down and before you know it–too much pressure on any one area untreated for too long is bound to break. He tells about how, on a plane home from a medical seminar, he was crying out to God for a way to heal his wife from severe bi-polar depression for the majority of their marriage. Nothing worked, medicine, nothing. God encountered him, gave him a scientific download. He got home and used the healing codes on her and she hasn’t taken another prescription drug since. His co-author, ailed with a a fatal disease–healed because of the healing codes. Some people don’t believe the way I do, and that’s okay. But, I believe that God and science are one in the same. If he created my entire being and its functions, and he created ALL things–that’s what the Word says–then when I chose to follow Jesus, I didn’t just choose to believe a little of Him. I believe in all and all of Him! I’ve said this before, but Christians get so weird about meditation and things that other cultures are tapping into. They put a demonic label on it and never choose to look at the fact that, while these cultures are using these things to worship other gods or make them their gods and (we don’t believe that stuff), that God created all things. But we’ve put limits on it and these cultures haven’t. They are brave enough to reach out into the earth that OUR God created and embrace all of it. I’m amazed and saddened at what we have shut ourselves down to that is our territory in the first place. Satan has no original thought. He can only take what God created FIRST and counterfeit it. When I go to yoga, for instance, and see parts of the Healing Codes being applied and knowing the yogis/Hindus have been doing this for centuries, I’m truly saddened by the number of Christian people who refuse to believe that our God did this first and that, had we just taken what’s rightfully ours in the kingdom, could have been experiencing all of this before now. Well, I believe it. You may not, and that’s your prerogative, but if you believe this way and love health, fitness, and Jesus as much as I do–read this book. I’m not finished with it yet, but everything I’ve read is SO good!

download

I just finished this Nicholas Sparks book. Huge fan–I know so girly–WHATEVER! Have to say, it wasn’t my favorite of all his books so far, but one can hardly complain because even though it wasn’t in my “top”, it’s still so good. He’s just that great!

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And currently haven’t even finished the first chapter of this yet, but I read her book beach girls and watched the show based off that book–loved it. So, this is my current read and I’m excited to see what it’s like.

OK, that’s it for just regular reading. Now onto pregnancy reads.

First up:

We have these three gems.Photo Sep 03, 8 39 38 AM

Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize–AMAZING! Short and sweet-childbirth does not have to be pain. It talks about living in the New Covenant and not the Old. Pain in childbirth is under the curse of the Old Testament law and that when Jesus died, he restored the standard. YAY! It’s a faith building book that teaches you how to build your faith when it comes to believing for children after miscarriage onto healthy pregnancies, healthy deliveries, and healthy babies. The author was told she would never conceive and she has four beautiful children because she chose to believe the word of the Lord instead. It’s practical and realistic, but it’s also standing on God’s word and believing for your portion and inheritance that He’s given to us through the death of His son. Truly amazing book.

The little book with it is called Prayers and Promises, is from the same author and it is just that-prayers and promises. It’s scripture promises from the word of God and prayers they have in their that you read over yourself and stand on. Really awesome. I recommend it with the book.

And of course, you can’t be pregnant without having the holy grale of pregnancy books:

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

This is just great and most everyone knows what this is. I will say that I take parts of this book with a grain of salt and I’ve even chosen to not even read some areas because either they are too fear based or I know they aren’t good things to fill my spirit with–meaning, as I said above, so much is under the curse and it’s not my inheritance. So, while I’m building my faith in the areas that are truth and life-giving, I’m not going to read all the “You could have this and this and ya-da ya-da ya-da…” Just as with everything–take the meat and spit out the sticks.

On Becoming Baby Wise:

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Haven’t started this yet, but I’ve heard overall really good things about it. Again, I’ve heard there are some sticks you have to throw out but that, for the most part, it’s a great book that covers topics on feeding philosophies, hunger and sleep cycles, and helping babies establish routines. I’m all about that. I’ve watched too many children at the age of four and six throwing fits when their parents say the word “bedtime” and that’s ridiculous in my opinion. Or still sleeping with mommy and daddy, or barging in the bedroom. Boundaries people. We all need them and children actually want them. It’s healthy to grow a self-sufficient human being. A good friend of mine did a church led version of this, and she said something that’s stuck with me from this method. It was that the parents bedroom is sacred and that while you’re children should always feel safe to come to you, they need to understand they just don’t have the right to barge in, especially if the door is closed. This is so true. Keeping healthy boundaries is an essential and beneficial part of life. While it will be a while before little one is old enough to think about barging in on mommy and daddy, discipline doesn’t happen overnight and this book is supposed to teach you how to put little things in motion at each stage that they are at while still supplying and nurturing their needs.

*If you’ve read this book, give me your feedback. I’d like to hear it. The two featured here are birth to a year I think, and then book two is 1-5 years.

Last but CERTAINLY not least:

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Remember the Spirit blessings book? Well, this is actually a 3 CD version called Baby Blessings. Each CD is filled with a plethora of different spirit blessings. Pop them in and he calls your baby’s spirit to attention in the womb in the name of Jesus and begins blessings over your little one that are truly outrageous! Some of the things he prays I remember thinking, “Whoa!” The revelation and the depth of each prayer are things half of us haven’t even thought of to pray. He received the download from the Father on what to pray and because of that, and just by me agreeing in the spirit, I’ve even received amazing downloads from these CD’s. That’s what’s so beautiful about it–you and your baby are one at this time, so things you receive are transferred to your baby and vice versa. It’s such an intimate and supernatural experience. HIGHLY recommend!

As for one more category of “reads”, I want to feature my online reading. Hence, I want to feature a blog. My sister’s blog actually. She’s an amazing entrepreneur, wife, homemaker, and just about anything under the sun you can think of. She’s basically awesome and I think you’ll really enjoy her blog. She’s doing a Fall Foodie Challenge right now that you should get in on. Twenty days to send her your easy and healthy Fall recipe favorites and she will feature one of them a day on her blog. At the end of 20 days, you will have printables of every recipe that was turned in. The holidays don’t have to be a waistline killer, but we are both foodies and don’t want to sacrifice taste either. We LOVE to eat! Anyway, here is the link to her blog–check it out!

http://shelbyehomemaker.wordpress.com/

And stay tuned…my next blog will be my favorite healthy Fall dessert recipe!

What we do…

Ps23

How did this happen? When did I wake up and realize how different everything was? When did it change? DID it change or was it always this way and I just didn’t see? How could I not have seen? It’s all so clear now. But why now? Why, when I have so much going for me? Why, when there’s so much to celebrate? What if I don’t want to accept this as reality? What if I refuse to believe this? OUCH! Stop! Just STOP! Please, don’t do this! Fine! I’ll accept it…it’s become too painful not to. But what now? Now my pain stems from the fact that I even have to accept this.

Reprieve. Can I just get a reprieve from this. Even my dreams haunt me, toy with my head, and every day I wake up weaker than the day before. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” I quote this over and over so much that I feel it’s become an appendage on my body. Between the confusion, painful self talk, and positive self coaching, I find myself looking for a hole in the universe to slip into. One that is not bound by time. One in which I could be gone for years. Living free like an exotic bird that takes flight whenever it chooses and can soar above it all. A nomad. Yet, would only be nothing more than a bathroom break to the rest of the world. The world, that offers me nothing more than unsolicited advice half the time. Can I not just tell you how I feel without your peachy, positive opinions? When you ask me what’s wrong and I say “nothing”, it’s because I want to be able to say how I feel without you telling me what I need to do about it. Can I just be alone for God’s sakes? Can I just purge it all from my system like a physician does to an overdose victim? If it was easy enough to mourn it like a death, I would have already done so. But how can I mourn a living thing? Living and breathing.

I’m so angry!!!!! What did I ever do? Do you know how much I care? Do you know how much I love you? God! Do you know how much I wish I didn’t? If I could numb myself of you, wouldn’t that be easier? I ask myself this knowing that it’s not true. I wasn’t made that way. I wasn’t made calloused and cold, despite what you might think. If you only knew me. The real me. If you only saw me. I’m so angry that you are so incapable of that and yet, I hurt for you that you can’t. I want to curse you, slaughter every memory of you-past and present-and I want to magically change it for you, for us; wrap you in a hug that melts every layer of anguish from our cells, never to remembered anymore. 

This internal tug of war must end. What must I do? Help me. Help me. Someone. Something. Help me…

 

This, this is what we do…

I sat down not knowing what the heck to write about. I wanted to blog about nursery updates and really light-hearted, fun things. But the minute I set my hand to the keys, this title came to my head. Pounding in my head almost, and I suddenly couldn’t think of one way to write my “cute little blog” for the day. I said, “God, really? What do I write?” He said, “Just write what you’re feeling, go with it.” I am willing to bet that there is not one of us that haven’t experienced this inner dialogue between our mind and heart at one point or even many in our life. It’s what we do… By “we”, I don’t mean we in our conscious selves try to feel this way. I mean the “we” that is our subconscious. The place that most often goes unnoticed, unseen, and unappreciated. It’s sorting through information trying to bring stability to my conscious mind before I am even aware of it. Behind the scenes… If we could understand what our subconscious carries, remembers, and even provides for us on a daily basis, I sometimes wonder how different we would all be. I am not here to offer any advice today. Rather, the opposite. We don’t always need advice. We don’t always need the “bigger opinion”. The “higher way”. If you identify with the written words above, I suspect you want nothing to do with advice. And you know what? I think that that’s okay. I think that’s just perfect. I think you should be allowed to just feel sometimes without the pressure to “not stay there” or the “Okay, what’s my next step?”

Sometimes, all we need is to know we are not alone. That someone else is feeling exactly what we are feeling. That it’s okay. To be allowed to feel. Because the truth is….it’s what we do, and you are not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toning up your Soul ☮ {the spiritual side of lunges}

As many of you know I am a huge fitness and health fanatic! I follow a community and trainers called Tone It Up. They have inspired me to be even healthier than I already was from the inside–out. Everything works together, challenging your body physically, but also through meditation and challenging your body to be still. I do believe in meditation. I’m not new age or anything, but the Lord talks about meditating on Him and on the word. Yoga is one thing I absolutely love. As you meditate and you find that still place beside still waters, not only are you challenging your organs, muscles, joints, and Central Nervous System to “rest”, but you are able to hear clearly what the Lord wants for your life. That is my passion…to bring that to other people.  This post was the word of the Lord for me last August 2012 and I found it hidden in some Facebook notes today. I saw it on the TIU blog from a lady who is the founder of Tiny Devotions (a Mala bead company) and affiliated with the founders of Tone it Up so I take no credit for this post, but thought maybe it would speak to some of you as it did me. Have a wonderful day!

P.S. Be on the lookout for some quick, easy, and healthy recipes for your weeknights. 🙂

 

 

Toning up your Soul ☮

{the spiritual side of lunges}

 

What I was most surprised and impressed about after hanging out with my girls K and K for a day was not their beautiful faces and rockin’ hard bodies (I was expecting that). It was actually their inner beauty and their rockin’ souls.

Karena and Katrina are the real deal and you can tell by peeking into their lives for a few hours or even by watching one of their youtube videos that they are world class manifestors. {the make it happen, live your dreams kind of gals}

I really should not have been surprised because Karena and Katrina radiate love, inspiration, light, joy, peace and give so much to the universe that all of the energy they put out comes back to them in the form of their most amazing TIU community. They manifested you and me as TIU members! And, we are aligned with their values and were looking for them – so we manifested them too 😉 A match made in manifestation heaven!

I believe that manifesting begins with the body. Our body is our vehicle here on earth and although we don’t have control over what life throws at us – we have control over what we eat and what we do with our bodies on a day to day basis.

Now, I don’t know much about the anatomical make up of the body {I’ll leave that to K and K}– but I do know about the energetic. We are made of so much energy and much like our muscles and bodies hold stress and strain – they also hold memories – both good and well… not so good {break ups, injuries, negative emotions and traumas}.

How we feel in our bodies affects every other aspect of life. How good to you feel after doing the Beach Babe Workout, drinking a green juice, a protein shake or going for a run. { you feel phenomenal – and are happier, healthier, lighter, more energetic and lively }.

Besides being the founder of Tiny Devotions– {a boho chic mala bead company encouraging people to live inspired and intention based lives} I am also a yoga teacher and have seen amazing correlations in the body that relate to someone’s soul and entire life.

Disclaimer: I’m not going to get all chakra’d on you all but we have energy centers in the body that correlate to different area of our life such as grounding, security, sexuality, power, heart, communication, intuition etc. It’s a whole other post 😉

Check in with yourself – are you breathing? Is there a certain area of your body that feels tense and stressed? It’s likely that this physical tension correlates to a mental, emotional or spiritual tension you are also experiencing.

My beliefs are that what you are feeling in your body is a direct manifestation about where you are at in your life.

If your shoulders are heavy and tense it is likely that you are “carrying the weight of the world” in some area of your life – perhaps taking on too much at work or in a friendship.

If you chest is tight – it is possible that your heart is not open and that you may be shutting yourself down from love – either self-love or love in your relationships.

Every part of your body corresponds energetically to a certain aspect of your life. Many people who feel “stuck” in life are those that don’t exercise. When they start using their body and start feeling their legs work then they can start energetically moving forward.

If we acknowledge that there is an energetic side of our bodies – it empowers us that our workouts are much more then calorie blasting or muscle building sessions – they are the beginnings steps for the recipe of the life that we are creating.

Challenge yourself to set intentions before your work-outs and use them as a time to not only work out your body – but visualize and create a road map for toning up your soul and manifesting your dreams.

In order to manifest, create or attract what you are looking for the first thing you need to do is know what you want.

What do you want?

 

Are you sure that is what you want?

Many people struggle with figuring out this key question – if you are looking for clarity –  do quiet meditative work outs for a while – go walk on the beach, hang out in some yoga poses or simply turn off the music and go for a run in silence. If you have no idea what you want – start with what you don’t want.

One of the first steps in manifesting is usually letting go of what you don’t want and creating space for new and good to come in!

I once had to let go of a broken heart left behind from a previous boyfriend. I made it my mission to let him go – repainted my room, got rid of the clothes that reminded me of him, threw the ring he gave me into the ocean (extreme but affective) and dedicated a yoga class and every exhale during it to letting him go. {and it worked}.

In a matter of days I felt more space and joy then I had felt in a long time and right in front of my eyes I was introduced to a whole group of new friends and found myself unexpectedly in a yoga teacher training living out my dreams.

I had been carrying around so much heartbreak that although nothing changed with time or money  – the space in my mind and heart opened up new opportunities and possibilities in my life.

Ok, so now you know what you want and have let go of the people, things, and beliefs that are standing in the way. Now what?

Now you have to feel it. If you want to be a _________________  have a ___________ or you want to go to ______________ {or whatever else you dream about} you need to feel as though you already have it. You need to talk about it, express it and most importantly take action on it.

A lot of people get stuck because they cannot imagine how what they want could possibly happen. It’s important to not be attached to the how but more importantly know the {why}. Why do you want this? Is it for the betterment of yourself and the world?

The universe conspires to make peoples dreams come true. Unfortunately – we are often the ones in our own way. We don’t believe we are good enough, or believe that it is possible. We often don’t even show up.

When you commit to something – with 108% of your heart and mind and soul then there is no possibility that it won’t happen. {unless of course it is the wrong door and it will lead you to the right door for you}

Set an intention everyday for what you want to achieve – no matter how big or how small – when you live in this way every minute is a living meditation for creating the life of your dreams.

From the words of my man Goethe,

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

 

 

Do it, Do it now.

– Diana Charabin