How I Cultivate Self-Worth in the Face of Fertility Challenges

(*Please note that the full article has been published in October 2018 issue of ROAR, Fierce Feminine Rising Magazine)


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I ask you to meet yourself with kindness in this moment. Put your hand over your heart, breathe deeply and send love to yourself. I know how much you need it. Lean softly into the calm intuitive wisdom of your centre. Affirm to yourself: I am worthy, simply because I exist. I have a right to be here, simply because I breathe. I am whole. I belong. I am enough. I value myself. I love myself. I accept myself as I am.

Say these affirmations as many times as you need to. Let the medicine of these words seep like healing honey into the depths of your soul. Now think of one kind or healing thing that you can do for yourself right now, and then focus on allowing yourself that loving gift today.

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 I see it every day – women who feel broken, worthless and betrayed by their own bodies. They are hurting, all the while making their best effort to smile, to heal themselves and the bodies that they feel stuck in. They are nursing their broken hearts on the path to fulfil their deepest desire, the path to becoming a mother. I understand what it is like to grapple with the experience of being a childless mother. I know first-hand how easy it is to turn the war inward, to internalise the sense of failure that you feel for not being pregnant and not yet having created the family that you long so deeply for. A simple thing – you tell yourself – that any woman should be able to do effortlessly. And in a society whose patriarchal gaze places little value on our empty wombs, one where your success is quite often still defined by whether or not you are married and how many offspring you are able to produce, how could you feel any differently about yourself?

“It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry about.” ~ Amy Poehler

In my case, it took hitting rock bottom at mid-point of what has turned out to be bumpy 6-year long TTC journey for me to see this reality clearly. Somewhere between descending the downward spiral of depression and trying to keep breathing through grief, uncertainty and shame, I started to see how my perceptions of my situation and of myself were harming me. As my longing for motherhood remained unfulfilled, I’d allowed myself to be defined by a growing sense of inadequacy. In addition, not meeting the social expectations of what a woman my age ‘should be’ eroded my self-worth. At my lowest point, I found myself at a crossroads – either I would continue on a very painful path deeper into the abyss of negativity, or I could rescue myself …

READ THE FULL PIECE IN THE OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE OF ROAR, FIERCE FEMININE RISING MAGAZINECLICK HERE

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30 pg digital
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Create Your Own “Soul Therapy Box” for TTC Self Care

Soul Therapy Box.

A little space for you to retreat to when you need some extra love.

Fill it with gentle things to comfort, ground and restore your soul on those difficult days when life feels so hard.

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How do you keep breathing through your hardest moments?

You know those days, the ones where you’re feeling triggered, where anxiety runs high and your heart is heavy with grief and longing? Those days where the stress of trying is taking toll on your tired body and you don’t know how to stay strong, positive or hopeful anymore?

Are you able to meet yourself with kindness?

You often tend to be hardest on yourself during those sticky moments when you’re plagued by feelings of inadequacy and are slipping slowly into the depths of despair. Yet, that is the very instance when you need to soften, breathe deeper and lean into the mothering energy of the inner nurturer.

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In my last blog post, I wrote about identifying your restorers – the soothing things that you can reach for when you are feeling depleted. Building on that foundation, a ‘soul therapy box’ is simple idea that serves a similar purpose since it is a self-care tool you can turn to when you’re in need of comfort and restoration.

I keep exploring different ways to integrate *TTC self-care rituals into daily life. I feel that this sort of practice is an integral part of creating balanced in our lives and restoring some semblance of harmony within. Emotional/mental distress is a very real by-product of a difficult (and sometimes traumatic) fertility journey, so having the right kind of support is important (both professionally and personally). It’s just as important to create supportive tools and healing strategies for ourselves in order to cope better. That means creating space to show up for YOU when you’re in a place of vulnerability, space to nurture yourself and to offer your inner self the balm it needs when the going gets tough. This is exactly what keeping a ‘soul therapy box’ has allowed me to do for myself. I’ll add that I recently created boxes for a few of my soul sisters who have experiencing a lot of stress lately as well. I was really moved by their overwhelming feedback, because it reinforced just how effective a self-care tool the simple act of keeping a ‘soul therapy box’, ‘care package’ or ‘rescue me kit’ is. In a small way it lessened their mental load, gave each of them permission to carve out more space to tend to/restore their well-being and inspired them to keep cultivating a daily practice of self-love. It really has reminded me once more, not to underestimate the profound impact that taking little steps to be there for yourself can have.

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What to include in your Soul Therapy Box:

You can include anything that you find calming, grounding and that helps bring you back to your centre. Here are some ideas of what works well for me:

  • Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower Essences) – I always think of flower essences as a gentle hug for my heart
  • Calming Essential Oils (Lavender – for relaxing baths, Geranium + Chamomile for my oil burner)
  • Soothing Tea (brewing a pot and taking a moment to breathe as I sip a cup is a therapeutic forms of meditation)
  • Gentle crystals to meditate with/calm my mind
  • A Love Letter/Pep talk to Myself (I found some beautiful botanical print cards to write some love letters to myself in. Think of all the encouraging things you’d say to one of your TTC sisters going through similar to what you are right now, then write all of that down in a heartfelt love letter to yourself. Write down everything you love about yourself + everything you have to feel proud of so that it fills you with good vibes/happy feelings when you read it in your time of need.)
  • Bath oils + Facial masks + Skin care treats for a little bit of pampering 
  • A Mini-Gratitude Journal – It’s so helpful to shift your attention to all the wonderful things that are already in your life when you’re feeling a little low. 
  • Remember to keep refilling your soul therapy box so that you continue to enjoy a nurturing routine that supports your well-being.

I added some nice chocolates to the boxes that I made for my friends (though not to mine since I’m trying to manage my PCOS/hormones/Insulin). So the idea is to find whatever will work best for you, whatever helps lift your spirit and restore your inner resources. When your self-care is a regular practice, then you begin to offset the effects of prolonged stress and distress that could otherwise become overwhelming. And while there are so many factors that are outside of your control, it feels empowering to know that you can take mindful actions to guide yourself back a place of balance in small but nurturing ways.

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Have you tried this out? What other supportive routines/daily rituals do you turn to nurture your well-being while TTC? Please share your experiences and ideas in the comments (or use the hashtag – #ttcselfcare on Instagram

 

[ *TTC – Trying to Conceive ]

How to Fill Your Own Cup: 3 Rituals to Restore Your Soul

 

Waxing Moon.

Quench your thirst. Restore your soul.

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How do you fill your own cup? When your body is aching and your heart is empty, how do you reach beyond that place of depletion to restore your tired soul? When the world has disappointed you and you lose sight of your path, how do you carve out the space to come home to your sacred self?

Our modern world is made up of over-scheduled and frenzied lifestyles, so much so that it becomes difficult to heed the heart’s call to slow down. It’s so easy to give to others – to pour your heart, your love and your entire being into the things they need of you or into the tasks that demand your time. But when it comes to filling your own cup, does the giving come as easy? Too many of us put ourselves last, often at the expense of our own well-being. In the end, the ‘deep river within’ (as Abby Seixas describes it) runs dry.

Despite the fact that words like ‘self-care’ and ‘self-love’ have become common place, the deeper I go into conversation with women, the more I see just how many of us are still begging for permission to care for and restore ourselves. It’s a common theme that seems to crop up around this time when so many reach the end of the year feeling overwhelmed, overworked, completely depleted and desperate for a break from life.

We constantly need reminders that ‘Me-time’ is a necessity, not a luxury. Creating breathing space is not just an act of self-love, but also a means of self-preservation. It serves your well-being and your highest good, which in turn sets up a positive effect that trickles down into your work and relationships.

With this in mind, here are three ideas for simple + soulful self-care rituals to nourish and refuel your soul:

The Cup of Restoration: Create a list of things that you need to fill you up: Things that restore you, things that help you breathe easier, things that make you feel supported, things that inspire your and things that bring you joy.  Write each individual item on a small piece of paper and then place the bits of paper in a cup. This is your cup of restoration. Visit your cup once a day (or at least a couple of times a week) and pull one piece of paper out. Then do that one thing to nurture your soul and fill your own cup. Keep refilling your cup of restoration from time to time and make sure that it stays full of ideas and prompts to nurture your soul with.

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 A Cup of Light: Get yourself a teacup candle (or simply place a small candle in a teacup if that’s easier). Light your teacup candle once a day and take some time out for yourself. Meditated, unwind, listen to soothing music, read something that you love or just do something fun and relaxing. Do whatever makes you feel most nurtured.  When you feel you’ve had enough breathing space, then blow the candle out. Return to your cup of light daily to for some time to yourself.

A Teatime Ritual: A teatime ritual is one of my favourite daily practices. For this ritual, make yourself a pot of cup of your favourite tea either in the morning when the world is still calm and slowly waking up, in the late afternoon or at night when you have a moment of quiet before bed. If you like, you can light some candles and just find a quiet spot in your home where you can be alone for a little while. Or you can find a relaxing spot in the garden, surrounded by beauty. Sip your tea mindfully, taking in the aroma and taste. Feel yourself relax, breathe easier and visualise yourself quenching your soul’s thirst for replenishment and your inner well filling up with each sip that you take.

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