Struggle… is What I Need?

For months and months while trying to get pregnant, experiencing two miscarriages and then finally during the healthy pregnancy of my son, I would see butterflies. White butterflies to be exact. They were there all the time, all around me. Sometimes it would just be one, fluttering and bouncing about, as if it were teasing me or trying to get close enough to tell me a secret. Other times, it would be two white butterflies turning over and over one another.  They acted as though they were children romping around in the coolest, most magical playground ever; or maybe they were two lovers dancing happily to their favorite song. Either way, I always noticed.

I constantly wondered what seeing these butterflies meant. So as most of us human beings do, I placed a meaning upon them. To me, they became like a whisper of encouragement; every time I saw them, they made me smile. Their presence comforted me and made me feel protected – as if I was receiving confirmation that I was on the right path.

In the many months following the birth of Henri (almost a exactly a year ago), I stopped seeing those butterflies. Or perhaps more specifically, wasn’t looking for them and didn’t notice if they were still there or not. Lately, however, I am starting to see them again! Mostly solid white ones, but delightfully sometimes even orange, one of my favorite colors.

So, what do these butterfly sightings really mean?

Struggle... is What I Need?

Struggle… is What I Need?

Who really knows.

Today, I was reminded of this phenomenon  of the Universe giving us certain ‘signs’  by a woman I have recently discovered. Her name is Danielle LaPorte. Her messages are resonating deeply for me and if nothing else, she seems cool as shit and is wildly creative and successfulall of which I am drawn to because they are INSPIRING. In her latest blog, to my utter surprise, she brought up the phenomenon of my totem animals! There I am thinking I am the only one experiencing such weirdness when I read her post: “Totem Animals and hearing the messages the Universe sends you.” Immediately, I looked up the significance of butterflies.

One resource stated, “butterfly represents a need for change and greater freedom, and at the same time it represents courage: one requires courage to carry out the changes necessary in the process of growth.”

This source went on to tell a short story about a man who found a cocoon of what would become a butterfly. He took this cocoon home so he could witness the transformation. On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched. It took hours as the butterfly  struggled to force its body out of the very small opening in the cocoon. To the man, the butterfly seemed to have stopped in its progress. He imagined that it had gotten as far as it could on its own and  that now it was stuck. In his kindness, he wanted to help the butterfly. He took scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly emerged very easily. However, its body was swollen and wings shriveled. And it was never able to fly.

What the man didn’t know as he acted so quickly to ‘help,’ is that the restriction of the cocoon and struggle of the butterfly was a way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings. This process elicits strength for the butterfly to be ready for flight once it achieves freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only occur after the struggle. In fact, “by depriving the butterfly of a struggle, he deprived the butterfly of health.”

This story was summed up with, “sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been…”

I of course think about the struggle of those of us who have experienced and/or are experiencing fertility challenges and pregnancy loss. How could we ever look at those heartbreaking experiences as something we need? Becoming a parent is our birth right! And yet, becoming a parent will be one of the hardest, most challenging endeavors one will ever experience – whether it comes ‘easily’ or not. Because of that struggle, it will also be one of the most rewarding, freeing experiences in our life. Just like the butterfly.

Sometimes life can feel so heavy. So much is coming into our thoughts, bodies and spirits, and so much is coming out of our bank accounts! Our bodies’ normal functions can feel like they are failing us when it comes to conceiving and holding a pregnancy. The empty void that is left can feel never ending – holding no clarity for something that feels like it needs hard, fast answers.

So, what do we do?

We pause. We take in a sweet breath. We nurture ourselves and trust that Life is supporting us. We try to shift the thoughts that don’t serve us. We do our best to survive the struggle long enough to find that powerful transformation that is surely around the corner.

We remember the Butterfly, who has known many forms before it takes flight. In fact, “scientific research has shown that the butterfly is the only living being capable of entirely changing its genetic structure during the process of transformation: the caterpillar’s DNA is totally different from the butterfly’s. Thus, it is the symbol of total transformation.”

If you want to be a parent, you will be. No matter the ‘how,’ becoming a parent will require your total transformation. Stepping into the struggle with eyes wide open and trusting. Remember that although it may be the hardest experience along the way it could also be the most needed. In the end, your struggle is sure to make you not only a better parent, but also a better human being.

All This Talk of Gratitude…

Walking the Talk.

The talk of gratitude is one heard over and over whether it’s Thanksgiving or not, but especially around this time of the year. Even in our practice of Strong Yoga® we suggest incorporating a ‘Gratitude Journal’ into the daily practice of life.

It is no doubt: Gratitude is a powerful state of being. And time and again it is reported that having an attitude of gratitude shifts things in one’s life, often times in a big way.

But HOW do you practice this when it truly feels like your entire world is crashing down around you?

Quick story:
I was working with a client today teaching yoga therapy. She is a young woman (maybe early 20’s?) and two years ago she fell from 30 feet, severed her spine and shattered most of her vertebrae. She had a spinal fusion and all the doctors are amazed she is even able to walk. To look at her now, one would have NO idea that was her reality. Nor would they know that she is still in so much pain that she can barely function. Her profession prior to the fall? A dancer. Now, a jeweler.

Her attitude? AMAZING. I was so inspired by this woman; I really had to hold myself back from crying right in front of her. At the end of the session I acknowledged her, for her bravery, her strength and her incredible attitude. She looked at me a simply said, “Ya know, I was depressed for quite some time. But I decided to be happy. I chose Joy. I really makes it all a lot easier.”

Wow. No words really for the depth of her ‘simple’ choice… and who she is being in the world, despite this tragedy.

So, back to the original question I pose to you (and to myself for that matter): HOW can we practice gratitude when it truly feels like our entire world is crashing down around us?

Well, I think we just decide to. We choose it. Again and again.

And we can choose JOY (or any other great feeling!)

Blessings & Love. Happy Thanksgiving!


Moving Through Grief (literally)

Pregnancy loss, recurrent miscarriages and failed cycles can be an aspect of the fertility journey that none of us can fully prepare for. When our hearts ache with grief we begin to ‘protect’ ourselves in the ways we can to get through the darkness. Physically and energetically our body may begin to retreat, to tighten, to hold, to shield in an attempt to cultivate this protection we seek; this protection we yearn for…

Emotions are energy. And like most things, emotions are impermanent (thank goodness, right?). However, the residual of repeated sadness, anxiety, stress and anger can manifest itself physically in our bodies. This build up residual of emotion can cause dis-ease and imbalances within.

In an effort to keep things moving, clear and spacious, I wanted to share a simple exercise to help open the heart space. This pose can be performed sitting cross-legged as I demonstrate in the video or even just sitting on a chair with feet flat to floor.

I encourage those of you moving through grief to utilize this exercise especially in the moments when you’d rather be curled up in ball, shutting the world out. I am not at all saying to not feel what you need to feel. We all must experience our grief fully and move through those stages of grief. But if you find yourself wallowing a little too long, or you feel like you might be ready to start to move the energy, then start with some heart-openers like this one. More to come… !

Blessings on your journey.

Safe Yoga for the 2WW (“two week wait”)

Plainly put, the 2 week wait can be a time of pure hell. And not on the physical level, per say. In fact, much of the two week wait means we physically feel NO different than before. Thoughts vacillate between what has been part of our past and our desires for the future. Being present and mindful can often times be damn near impossible. The ‘monkey mind’ can be in full force swinging us from branch to branch with no clear path back to a place that will actually make us feel better, or grounded. And yet, this fragile time is exactly when we need all the support we can muster, on all these levels.

In Strong Yoga® 4Fertility, we teach a comprehensive methodology that supports all the different aspects one might need help with that interplay in this exact situation. Our conscious breath is a key factor  – as is our mindset – and there are also physical practices to apply that we know are safe and beneficial. Isn’t that a great combo? 🙂

See the video below to understand one physical aspect and a posture considered a ‘jewel’ for women.




Let me know if you have questions or feed back!

The Yoga of Birth

It has been said that our yoga practice can be considered ‘one long breathing exercise’ and that “luck” is defined as the meeting of preparation and opportunity. After the birth of my son three months ago, I say the same is true of the process of labor and delivery.

If someone would have told me even 5 years ago that I would be on the intentional pursuit to have a child, I don’t know that I would have believed them. And yet, almost exactly two years ago I found myself suffering my first miscarriage, which completely devastated me. However, this put me on the intentional pursuit, the one I have helped guide others through as a teacher of Strong Yoga®4Fertility.

One of the beautiful things yoga has given to me is the practice of not being attached to an outcome. Sometimes that is easier in theory. But when I finally got past the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy and began to believe in what my doctor kept reassuring me, that this was a healthy pregnancy and that I would have a healthy baby, I began to think about my impending labor and delivery.

Any woman who has given birth will tell you that her ‘A plan’ had to compromise with her ‘B plan.’ However, the bottom line is that labor and delivery is always unique to that individual and her child; they are unpredictable and filled with unknowns.

Embracing the unknown can be a hard concept. Most of us like the predictable, the known and the things that make us feel secure. However, the one constant in life is change and change can happen in an instant. That instant is usually rich with the unknown.

So, yes, I had an “ideal plan” for my labor and delivery. Although it was my first birth and I was told to expect a long, drawn-out labor, I hoped for a short, fast, natural, drug-free birth that included laboring in the comfort of my own home as long as I could. I wanted to feel it all and remember it all.

And so, determined to feel ‘prepared’, I dragged my hubby to childbirth classes where they taught us breathing exercises, how to shift the focus of your eyes to help quiet the mind, and massage techniques to use while in the throes of a contraction. In addition, during my pregnancy I continued doing yoga with a practice shifted specifically to my quickly changing and expanding prenatal body. Connecting with other women on the same path, we shared in class how many weeks gestation we were, how we were emotionally, physically, and what fears might be arising while the exciting progression of human life grew in each of us. I was always amazed that although we could all relate so deeply with one another with what we were feeling, each of us had our own individual experience of pregnancy and therefore each woman would also have a unique childbirth.

Learning ‘the breath’ and focusing the mind were by far the most helpful tools for me. But it wasn’t the breath I learned in the childbirth classes, it was the breath I had learned in yoga. There were also techniques I learned in this very special prenatal yoga class which included postures and movements in repetitions (like a contraction), as well as how to soften and breathe through moments that felt extremely uncomfortable (also like a contraction). We even learned specific breathing techniques which would occur during the final stage of childbirth: the pushing.

As we moved almost two weeks past my son’s due date I had still not had a single contraction or any signs of baby making his way down. My doctor knew my wishes but when he checked me once again, my cervix was 100% effaced and completely closed. After that ‘induction talk’ I went home and cried, feeling completely defeated and convinced that if I was induced it would end up in a C-section.

The next morning I woke up determined to get that baby moving downward and out. In the shower I swayed. I did a ton of squats. I danced. I prayed. I breathed. And I walked. In fact, that day I went to a place in Los Angeles called the Peace Labyrinth. I set my intention and began walking with a deliberate, slow focus. I visualized the labor experience I wanted all the way from the beginning through the baby being laid on my chest for the first time. I felt in my heart space the joy I anticipated. And I had conversations with my unborn baby: I explained to him that I needed his help in order to make this happen, that we were a team. And then I felt my first contraction. In the next several hours things started progressing quickly.

I labored at home as long as I could stand the pain. When I arrived at the hospital, I was told that I was 10 cm dilated. The preparation had gotten me to that point and yet I still needed to maintain more focus to get through the final pushing. I have a vivid memory of that stage. As I began another contraction, the intensity moved into my face and throat. The nurse said, “Take it out of your face and put it in your butt!” With that cue I shifted the energy down into my pelvic floor area. My doctor said, “Whatever you just did then, do it again!” In two more pushes my son, Henri Bennett Carriere, made his way into the world, his cries like music to my ears. As they laid him on my chest, I panted like I had been running for miles. My body was in shock and yes, it was painful. My first thought when I saw him was, “Who are you?”

The ultimate outcome of my childbirth was ideal. Once the first contraction started it took only 10 hours and 7 pushes (my husband counted) for my son to make his way out.

Everyone’s story will be different but will ultimately be perfect once that perfect baby arrives. I approached childbirth with an open mind, open heart and a willingness to get an epidural if I really needed one. But I also was armed with the practice of conscious breathing. This is something I teach to my yoga students on a daily basis. Our breath is everything. It is our guide. It is our strength, and also the vehicle to our capability in softening.

I wasn’t convinced I ever wanted to bear a child myself.

I am now convinced that I must be the luckiest gal on earth.

Henri Bennett, born March 22, 2014 ~ 7 lbs, 7 oz at 1:03 am

Henri Bennett, born March 22, 2014 ~ 7 lbs, 7 oz at 1:03 am


Henri - 3 months & loving life

Henri – 3 months & we are loving life

“The Prophet” profits me, indeed…

A gift given to me by sweet husband years ago, the simple book entitled “The Prophet” is filled with deeply profound musings by Kahil Gibran. Depending on where I am in life, I find myself gravitating to this little book as I can easily flip to the table of contents and find something inspiring to ponder on about just about any ‘life’ subject.

Cover Image from The Prophet

As I enter my sixth month of pregnany, the impending birth of my son feels more real by the day. He is moving inside of me in ways that create little space for doubt that this is really happening! No longer can I label these crazy sensations as gas bubbles… Now my husband has actually felt our little guy move, as well, which is exciting for both of us.

So, lately (and with good reason), I find myself reading all kinds of books, trying to prepare for what’s to come and expected in the final months of pregnancy, labor, birth, the first few weeks and months with newborn, parenting in general, and on and on. Yet I know in my heart that parenthood is mostly ‘on-the-job-training’ and that no one and no book can prepare you for what your unique experience will be with this little being that is your child. That perhaps my greatest strength as a parent is to try to be the best me I can, from day to day. And also live – as much as one can – day by day. Being present to what is; Breathing; Grounding; Being open to the Unknown. And maybe, most importantly, accepting that I am human and I am bound to make some mistakes along the way…?

However, I was seeking something a little more inspiring from another source, other than my own thoughts. 🙂

This is what I found in the table of contents of “The Prophet” entitled ‘On Children’ —

“And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backwards nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

Wow. I can only hope that I step into the role of that flexible yet stable bow. Definitely thoughts to mull over.

In the meantime, I hold gratitude for so much and so many on this eve of Thanksgiving. There is truly a bounty in this life for which to be thankful. Peace to you all.

Practicing What I Preach

woman reaching for birdsA cherished part of my purpose in this life encompasses holding the space for women moving through fertility challenges and guiding them, as best I can, to breathe, to stay as present as possible and to recognize that just about everything in this beautiful & complicated life is impermanent — especially the hopeless thoughts and heartbreak that can accompany the fertility journey.

I am grateful I have the tools to help others and that I can utilize those tools for challenges in my own life. But that doesn’t mean the road doesn’t have its very hard moments. That fear doesn’t creep in. It does. Oh boy does it. Especially when we are trying to move forward from past ‘failures’, pain,  and experiences that may directly feed into the current ‘pursuit.’

I​n his book The Power of Now, Elkhart Tolle writes, “Die to the past every moment.”

That is such a profound idea; another way to say “Live in the Now.” But that ​sure can be​ difficult to put into practice, especially when you are moving through, say, pregnancy for the third time in just over a year with two losses behind you.

I have longed for some time now to share freely to those I teach and guide about what I am personally going through, and yet, something held me back. Just a few months ago I posted on our fertility support group page on facebook how I was feeling melancholy at the one year anniversary of the loss of my first pregnancy. Then, I proceeded to ‘preach’ about how we should all share freely what was happening for each of us. I deeply meant everything that I very passionately expressed in that post. And then just a mere 3 weeks later I found myself withholding my own sharing. Out of fear? Unreasonable mental chatter? Avoidance of ‘jinxing it​’? (Ugh. So silly, that last one.)​

And yet, another part of me kept saying to myself, “Y​ou better practice what you preach, girl!”

So, almost three months later, I have finally gotten the guts (and time) to sit and spill it. I want to share for many reasons and my hope is that, no matter what happens next, my sharing prompts others to share whatever  — ​ and whenever — ​they may feel inspired… And that my sharing is somehow helpful…? I want others to know they aren’t alone. The fertility journey can feel very isolating. And truthfully, so can pregnancy.​

Almost exactly one year from my first miscarriage & subsequent D&C​, I conceived. I have been doing my best in this last year to prep my body, my heart, my spirit, and my relationship for this. And yet, being the analytical and ​practical p​erson I am I also was some how trying to consider a life without having a child and really being okay with that. Life is so unpredictable. The one thing that is constant is change and so very much of life we have absolutely no control over. So, with the ‘excitement’ of getting a positive pregnancy test also came with it a feeling of detachment. I kept saying, “We’ll see…​[what happens with this]” with almost a sense of disbelief. Looking back, I think this was a way of protecting my heart. Of coping with another potential loss. And also feeling in my heart that if this one didn’t take that I​ had to get really honest with myself and my husband because I wasn’t sure I could try again because the losses are so painful​. And then,​trying to be okay with that!

So, with all that preamble, all I really wanna say, with joy, with trust,​ is: I’m pregnant. 12 weeks! Everything so far looks amazing. Waiting now on blood work from the first trimester genetic screening. But I finally feel peaceful. I finally feel like I can be with what is without trying to trick myself into not feeling all these many feelings, fully.

I am sorry I withheld. And I apologize to you, but it is also an apology to myself. ​It felt wrong, honestly. And yet, I stayed quiet. For fear of not appearing ‘together’, maybe? Or the self-struggle of releasing the need to be ‘perfect’, perhaps? Who knows?​  All I know is I am human. And I am hoping to continue to push myself to grow and practice what I preach. In all areas of my life.​

The cycles of life are humbling, for sure. I just lost my dear father-in-law last week to a massive stroke. I feel my husband’s heartbreak deeply, and yet we are reaped in the joy of this little one inside me. It is so true what they say: we must have the contrasts in life to fully know what it is to love, to ache…to live.

Blessings to all.

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