Guest Blogger

Something Beautiful: The Norwegian Fjords – Guest Post by Chloe

Dreaming of vacation? Check out this lovely post written by Chloe who shared her experience in Norway. Her photos are breathtaking and her words are too.

Author: Chloe
Website: Chloe Elizabeth

Favorite Quote: “Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.”

– Unknown

I’ve never had my breath taken away in the same way that I did when I visited the Norwegian Fjords. In the Summer of 2017, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Norway on a cruise. My Mom and I opted for a room with a balcony view so that we were able to look over the sea at night too, and my gosh it was incredible. For seven days, we sailed the Norwegian Seas; encountered some wonderful, smooth seas but also a pretty rough one on one particular night!

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All four of the days where we visited on-land places were absolutely incredible, but the third day was the real showstopper for me. We were taken to the top of a fjord and the view was just breathtaking. I think the pictures really do say it all!

I love Norway. The culture and lifestyle is such a stark contrast from where I live in the UK. The industrial towns are sparse, roads are generally quiet and a lot easier to cross. Generally speaking, the noise is just reduced. Shops look pleasant and beautiful and the staff are incredibly friendly. The only negative thing that I can bear to mention, is that the prices of everything are incredibly high (£11 for a curry in a takeaway box!), but with the views and the culture in mind it’s almost worth the cost. Cycling in Norway is much more of the norm, houses are often painted vibrant colours including, white, red and blue. Imagine how incredible they look as the backdrop of your outfit of the day photos! (gosh, I am such a blogger these days.)

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Whilst visiting Norway we were also blessed with the opportunity of viewing a glacier whilst in Flåm. We travelled by train up to the glacier and we saw so many stunning views on the route through the mountains. It astounds me that people can build houses that are so hidden away! I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to get your car up a mountain to your home, and even to walk!

All I have to say is that these people must be incredibly fit and healthy, but the views are
absolutely worth it. I’d dream of being able to live in such a place! Having never visited a glacier before, it was worth every single penny that we paid to catch that train as it was just something else. It baffles me how snow can accumulate on mountains due to it being so cold – it was the middle of August at the time!

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As my holiday was a year ago, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to remember the smaller details of my holiday. But, equally, I remember how incredible it was and how excited I am at the prospect of going back there one day. The views, the shops, and the style of Norway astound me and I would be honored to be able to live there one day.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! Have you visited Norway before? I would love to hear your thoughts and where you’ve visited!


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Thank you to Katie for blessing me with such a wonderful opportunity to write
on her blog. If you fancy checking me out, I’m Chloe and I blog at Chloe Elizabeth about all things mental health/lifestyle/fashion. She’s also on Twitter and Instagram.

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Deeply Awake – Guest Post by Zoë Trout

Have you ever come across an essay and thought, “Wow! Another human being understands the way I view the world!” As a writer, a quiet observer of humans, I’m constantly wondering if others have the same sensitive intuition as me. When Zoë emailed asking if she could post on my blog, and I read her essay, I inhaled deeply into her words. She gets it. She’s wired like me, at least a little bit. I’ve got sisters and brothers and sensitive folk out there doing the same beautiful work as me. I feel honored to share her perspective. From one beauty seeker to another, write on.

Author: Zoë Trout
Blog: https://speckonaspeck.wordpress.com/

Her favorite quote: “i thank You God for most this amazing / day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees / and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything / which is natural which is infinite which is yes”  – e. e. cummings

Lately I’ve wanted to write about beauty. When I say lately, I mean for months—
and for months I haven’t written a thing. It daunts me to render something so
vast and brilliant in plain words, and my mind spirals in a hundred directions. I
still don’t know how the thoughts will come together. What I know is that beauty
wants to be written about. It’s been knocking softly over these months of
avoidance, and I’ve come into surrender, and so begin.

. . .

Our acquaintance is long, I’ve always loved beautiful things. When I was little I
slipped into imagination easily and intuitively and no one demanded answers. I
collected beautiful images in a mental folio for daydreams, pouring over
photographs in coffee table books, and copies of O magazine and House &
Garden. I treasured a calendar with pictures of French countryside, and pictured
my own “some day” life nested in fine art and stylish decor in a beautiful setting.
The appeal extended beyond possessions, I wanted my whole being to be a
beautiful thing. I sat on the big purple couch in our living room and practiced
writing in cursive over and over, pouring my attention into the loops of o’s & p’s
& b’s, and the quick, elegant peaks of lowercase r’s—it wasn’t task so much as joy.
I wrote, and drew, and painted; I took pride in helping my mom choose furniture
and fabrics, and in laying out outfits for her to wear. I courted loveliness with the
unspoken belief that it would enrich my life, or really that it already was.

I continued to harbor that belief as I began to grow up. Driver’s license in hand,
many of my first independent trips were to beautiful places that made the world
feel quiet and deep. I went outside, into green spaces and under trees. I went into
chapels and galleries, and visited art I loved. I sat before text and pictures, and let
myself steep in their harmonies. I obeyed the same gravitational pull that lured
me into daydreams, the same finger wagging me towards pockets of delight. I
followed enchantment with beautiful things.

Beauty inspired more substantial decisions, too. In high school I let it direct me
to my first job in a restaurant with windows on a stylish plant nursery across a
little green lawn. At night Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday swam through the
candlelight like honey and kept the restaurant glowing. I wasn’t always excited
for long shifts on my feet but my delight was renewed in going to a beautiful
place, and getting to be part of its melody. When I had to choose a college, an
impalpable charm drew me to the school I attended on first glance. Even from the
car, its campus had the same lyrical poise as a poem, and held me under the same
power of awe.

I would go on to choose apartments the same way, and find myself laying tracks
in beautiful spaces wherever I went. Now, I often get pressed into the fog of daily obligations and then wake up to some physical grace, like a silk scarf, or leaves on
a tree branch, twirling together madly in a sudden breath. Out of the daily plod of
emails, errands, and hourly pay emerges something plainly extraordinary, like
sun on the grass, and my spirit lights anew. Sometimes I don’t watch the road as
carefully as I should in the car; my eyes drag on glassy pond-tops, shop windows
and wings outstretched in the sky; my heaven is a perch with a view.

. . .

The question of vanity is raised, and also the question of escape. Isn’t it
superficial to swoon for aesthetics? Isn’t it irresponsible to abandon screens and
numbers and the high-stakes sport of “figuring out?” What do you get from
simple reverie? The spreadsheet and the checkbook demand an answer. The
insurance company demands an answer, and the accountant, and the banker, and
the boss.

For a long time I asked these questions, too. I thought I must use beauty as a
means to escape or avoid, running away to a false palace of my mind. I assumed
my delight was undisciplined. I reasoned that it was, by nature, a weakness.
It’s easy to confuse immersion with escape.

Today I know the difference. I still seek out brilliance in nature and art, and
anything else that stills my soul. It’s no secret that I know how to escape, and
have plenty of practice, but now I see that beauty never asks me to hide.
Submerging into wonder might look going to sleep, and perhaps it is a kind of
numbing to the outside world. It asks to be prioritized over tasks and lists and
news headlines. It asks that I surrender thinking, and let myself be led. But on the
other side of that quiet I hear my own harmony in a timeless choir. I come to
know myself as lovely and beloved. I come home to my necessity in the great,
mosaicked mystery of everything alive.

The world may continue to question. All I can offer is heartbeat, and sky reflected
in my eyes. All I can do is continue, pen in hand; there’s more to see and more to
say. I keep an eye out for wonder, and the discovery reminds me I am never
asleep in beauty, but only more deeply awake.


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Zoë Trout was born and raised in Texas and studied English and psychology at the College of William & Mary. Despite living in the Boston area, she harbors a deep affinity for the South and enjoys memoirs, contemplative poetry, and traveling widely. She has previously worked as a university writing consultant and served on the editorial board of The William and Mary Review, and she continues to write creative nonfiction while working in mental healthcare.
You can read more of Zoë’s work by following her blog, where she writes about growing up, living with purpose, and finding meaning in a noisy world.

Beauty Happens Every Night – All Around the World – Guest Post by Charlotte

Another Twitter connection. Another delightful person working bravely to write, create, and appreciate gifts right under her nose. Check out this sensory guest post from Charlotte Underwood. I love how she reminds us we don’t have to venture far to find experiences that please the senses.

Author: Charlotte Underwood
Blog: www.charlotteunderwoodauthor.com

Her Favorite Quote: “Time passes, people move. Like a river’s flow, it never ends. A childish mind will turn to noble ambition. Young love will become deep affection. The clear water’s surface reflects growth. Now listen to the Serenade of water to reflect upon yourself.” – Sheik

Nature is a gift that we receive every day and yet seem to ignore and maybe even act ungrateful for. It’s easy to forget that in our ever-increasing urban lifestyle, that we are on the doorstep of some of earths most beautiful creations.

I have always been infatuated with the beauty of nature and the little gems that the world provides us, memories of me playing in the mud, dancing under blossom trees and going on adventures through woods and dipping my toes in the hidden lakes of my hometown; these are the ones that showed me true happiness, love and awe, it reminded me of life.

Now, I must admit that as an adult with severe anxiety, I do tend to ignore the world that I crave all too much. I want nothing more than to pack up and travel the world, to see each of the wonders of the world and to experience every culture known to man; but for now, that is but a dream but one that I will achieve.

Until I am able to jet off, it doesn’t mean that I can’t make the most of my local area, we all seem for forget that our own towns and neighborhoods contain some truly beautiful sights. Be it the park that has contains a pond full of rainbow fish or a building that fills your mind with curiosity, when was the last time you actually took the moment to look and to ponder, to let that imagination flow.
My old garden and the memories of it has become my happy place when things start to get hard for me, because the environment it gave filled me with such warmth and safety; I’ll never forget it. I used to lie on top of my trampoline in the evening, with the sun glistening through the trees the enveloped my garden and caressed my cheek, I could hear the birds sing and the trees sway in the wind that was tickling my toes, this was happiness.

I can no longer sit in that garden but the memory will last a lifetime and also, right now, like you, I am surrounded by opportunity that will surely leave me breathless and thankful. A short drive away from my home is my local beach and while it is not the prettiest, have you ever sat and watched the sunset on a beach? Where the sun shines a golden coat across the coast and then folds into a hypnotic shade of purple before darkness fades in? This happens every night, all around the world and yet so many of us, even those who literally live on the doorstep will miss out – why?

Mother nature is an artist with the most precious and fine creations that not one person could ever mimic, with no cost or trap to experience the beauty and lust of these masterpieces, it seems almost wasteful that we do not spend more time appreciating what is right under our noses.


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Charlotte Underwood is a young 22 year old from Norfolk, UK. She is a growing mental health advocate and likes to use writing to inform and support.

You can follow her blog,  where she posts a lot about mental health, depression, anxiety and suicide. She hopes to raise awareness as well as end the stigma. You can follow her on Twitter.

A Beautiful Moment is Enough – Guest Post by Ruth

Twitter. A mysterious, magical thing that connects me to readers and writers all over the globe. I’ve been following the #bloggerswanted for awhile now and throw my name and my website into all kinds of hats to see if I can write for bloggers. So when Ruth tweeted one of her goals for her blog was a guest post, I was happy to send her my guest blogging requirements.

She’s right, sometimes a beautiful moment is more than enough.

Take it away!

Author:  Ruth of the blog Ruth in Revolt

Favorite Quote: “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” – William Shakespeare

It was spring 2018. Spring – a time for new life. A time for hope.

There I was, not feeling much of anything at all. At best, I was lost. At worst, I was empty.
I had been on a slippery slope for a few weeks. The stress of work, the stabbing ache for home and the constant fear I wasn’t good enough were consuming me. I was being sucked into a black hole. I needed something to hold onto.

The sun was shining, but there was a cool breeze. It was the perfect day for a trip to the beach. So, that’s where I decided to go. Strange, indeed, how I needed solid ground, but I sought a body of water.

I set off in search of relief. All I wanted was a moment of clarity.

My legs were shaky as I walked. There was a tightness in my chest and butterflies furiously flapping their wings inside my stomach. Anxiety had its fingers wrapped around my heart. In spite of it, I took strides forward. I turned my music up, desperately trying to drown out the thoughts in my head. I could see the sea in the distance. It drew me in. I told myself that if I could make it there, I would feel better. A sense of determination washed over me. My legs moved quickly now, until I reached the esplanade.

There were people everywhere. We had all had the same idea, but I imagined they were here for very different reasons. They were smiling. I was barely holding it together.
There were children, laughing as they played in the sand. There were couples holding hands. There were dogs, chasing balls and splashing in the sea. There was a photographer or two, trying to capture the magic of it all. It was a hive of activity. It was full of life and for a moment, I was, too.

I noticed an elderly man, sitting alone and eating ice cream. He must have faced troubles in his life, but he looked content.

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I decided I wasn’t leaving the beach until I felt it. I knew it would come. It had to.

The air seemed clearer here; lighter. For what seemed like the first time in weeks, I felt like I could breathe. I took deep breaths to ensure the air reached the depths of my lungs. My chest rose and fell, mimicking the tide sweeping in and drifting out. I turned off my music. I could hear it all now – the talking, the laughter, the sweet sound of memories being made. The delicate sounds of the waves kissing the sand was playing on repeat in the background. It felt like a hundred sounds reaching my ears at once, yet so peaceful.

As the waves came down, the grip of anxiety loosened. I let myself relax. Something about being here made it seem easy. All the problems slipped away, like grains of sand in my hand. I couldn’t tell you how good it felt.

Staring out at the sea, I knew I was bigger than my problems. I could conquer them. I could do anything. I was more alive than ever before. I knew it couldn’t last forever, but it was a beautiful moment.

And, sometimes, a beautiful moment is enough.


 

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Ruth is 27 years old and lives in Aberdeen, UK. She writes about everything and anything. Loves bourbon biscuits, typewriters, cats and music. Collects notebooks and Dr Martens. Happiest by the sea.

You can find new posts on her blog Ruth in Revolt every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  Send her an email at hello@ruthinrevolt.com or follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

 

Come Now, Let’s Begin

I just realized it’s National Poetry Month.

After Dylan’s cousin started posting his haiku’s on Facebook, I was inspired and frankly, copied his idea. For the next 30 days I’ll be posting a haiku on my Instagram.

I think 30 days of haikus will be easier than 30 days of yoga, or 30 days of no coffee, or Whole 30. I admire those Whole 30 people.

But for me, I’ll be a 30 days of poems person. I missed the start of April, but as wise folks say, “Better late than never!”

I’m extending an invitation for you to play along.

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Here are the rules. 

Compile the following and email me at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com between now and May 11th.

  1. Email me your haiku. I’d love it if you can write it in your handwriting and snap a photo, but if you need to type it that’s fine too. Bonus points if you write about something beautiful in your life right now.
  2. Include your name and if you’d like, links for how you can be contacted – ie. email, Instagram, or Twitter feed.
  3. Be willing to share the post I create with your content with your network – share on your Facebook, send an email blast, work with others to promote poetry, creativity and writing.
  4. Your entry will then be shared in May in a haiku roundup of sorts on this very blog.

By submitting your materials you will be entered into a drawing to win a few of my favorite things. You also agree that it is ok for me to repost your content on Instagram, this blog, and Twitter. On May 11, I will put all the names in a hat, and draw one winner who will later be contacted.

Please note: no violent, hateful, or derogatory poems will be reposted. Swearing’s ok. Making fun of others, not so much. Keep it clean people, keep it clean.

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

 

 

 

Women Helping Other Women – Guest Post by Brittany Larsen

Ahh the internet. That magical place where you can follow your high school classmates without having actually seen them in real life for ten years. When Brittany Larsen, who I was so jealous of in high school because she had a magical soprano voice, posted on her Facebook that she was starting a community for working women I knew I wanted to be involved. Never mind we haven’t seen each other since 2007.

Her new project supports women in all paths and her rallying cry to support one another as women is SO NEEDED in this world. I sent her an email and boom – another connection. She was so kind to feature me on her new blog and I’m happy to share her beautiful message with you – the first guest post of 2018. To women!

Author: Brittany Larsen

Website: www.livlyhood.com

I have always found beauty in things that are rare. I love finding what is different and seeking out the unique. I like to consider myself a connector and I love to find the links between people and their interests. This prompt got me thinking about what I consider to be beautiful, and I’ve realized what makes me feel beautiful is when I lift the people around me and find meaningful connections with them.

One thing I felt I struggled with growing up was maintaining uplifting female relationships, which is ironic given that I know Katie from High School and we just recently connected after a decade, so maybe I wasn’t as bad at it as I thought. When I got to college, I decided that I was going to focus on encouraging the women around me. I was in a predominantly female program (Broadcast Journalism) and it was extremely competitive. I wanted to figure out what made my fellow students tick and encourage them. For too long I felt like I had been competitive with the women in my life because of my artistic endeavors, so I learned a lot by trying to avoid gossip in my college years. At times this approach cost me friendships or “popularity,” which took some getting used to. But I persisted and tried to find the higher ground whenever I could.

In my first job out of college I struggled with this concept of lifting the women around me. I realized that working in a real career unfortunately had a lot more in common with my junior high experience than I had anticipated, and it likely didn’t help that I worked in politics. I quickly learned that back biting and negativity in the workplace were more common than I would’ve thought, especially from my female colleagues. I was frustrated with myself when I would get caught up in talking about things that just didn’t matter. Again, I had a choice to seek out the rare by finding women who would help and guide me, and women I could trust. I also had to choose to rise above the negativity. More than anything, I learned how to fight for myself and the women around me in a professional way. I am still not even close to being perfect at avoiding the stereotypes of working with women, which is why I have had to make a conscious effort to avoid negativity in my female relationships.

Here are a few ideas that you can start with right now that have helped me combat the stereotypes of women working with each other:

  1. Today, write a thank you note to a female mentor and express your gratitude for how she’s guided you. This can be a teacher, former manager, peer, etc.
  2. Publicly acknowledge a woman that you work with in a meeting for her ideas.
  3. Text an encouraging quote to a friend struggling with her career path.
  4. Next time you hear someone say something negative about a female coworker, find a way to redirect to one of her positive attributes or just change the subject.
  5. Stop yourself next time you make a snap judgement about a woman you work with or a friend’s career choices.
  6. When a friend posts about a new job on social media, congratulate them for their success.

It is truly a beautiful thing when women fight for each other, instead of against each other. This is one of the main reasons I recently started Livlyhood; a community for women who work.

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Women are already so naturally hard on themselves and I’m firm on the idea that we don’t need any negativity coming from each other. I’ve learned through trial and error that women can unfortunately be our own worst enemies. We don’t lose anything by positively recognizing the efforts of those around us, especially at work. In my current professional role, I manage a team of primarily female professionals and I constantly remind the women I work with that we have more in common with each other than what may be seen on the surface. I am so proud when they stand up for each other and positively encourage each other.

With Livlyhood, I hope to continue to shine a spotlight on my beautiful connections (both inside and out) and to share what they’ve taught me. Every woman is worthy of positive relationships, even in the workplace. The glorious thing is that we don’t have to be best friends to be kind to each other. I hope to contribute in a way that makes what is currently rare and make it commonplace… women helping each other climb the ladder of success in their careers.


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Brittany Larsen is an experienced communications professional with an extensive background in crisis communications and public relations. She currently leads the Public Relations Department at The Summit Group.

You can also find her here.

Twitter: @brittlesser  Instagram: @larsenlivlyhood

We Didn’t Get the Baby – Guest Post From Becca

When Becca sent me an email asking to share her story I was touched. She told me she wanted to write about a different kind of loss – infertility. I thanked her for her honesty and for the way she chooses to look for beauty while moving towards acceptance. Thank you, Becca, for desiring to create connection, awareness, and strength for women experiencing infertility.

Here are her thoughts.

Author: Becca 

Her Website: Post IVF World

Her Mantra: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

To see the beautiful things in every day life is a very positive thing to do, although, sometimes I do find it hard. This is why I was so exited to do a post for Katie, not only will it (hopefully) be a good addition to her blog, it will also make me write about the positives I have found through my journey.  I experience really bad anxiety, mostly due to the lack of control I feel I have had over my life thus far. As a result I do have a tendency to overlook the positives.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Becca. I went through the Menopause at 15 and this has made life a little different for me. I have chosen to be open about my diagnosis with friends and family, where we talk about the way this change has effected me, us as a family, and my friendship group openly and honestly.

I consciously made the decision to speak about my experience in an attempt to make the process easier for everyone. I learned early on it isn’t just me going through the turmoil that can follow an infertility diagnosis at such a young age. My Mum, Dad, sister and wider family are still impacted too!

This openness has worked well for the most part, but sometimes I just don’t want to talk about this loss. My choice to remain quiet can be hard to explain to my support network.

I am not going to say that my journey has been all positive just because we are talking about ‘beautiful things’. My journey hasn’t been rosy all the time and I don’t want to paint an untrue picture of what it can be like to find out you are infertile, especially at such an early age.  If I am honest though, the diagnosis was the easy bit – that was just the beginning.

My partner and I have in recent years, had 3 failed IVF attempts, including 2 pregnancy losses and naturally they were hard times. These losses and the days following are ones which I don’t think I will ever fully recover from. I still think of those babies on a daily basis as ours, a potential future, a future that was taken from us.

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Photo by Claire Nolan on Unsplash

Saying all this though, I have for sure found some beauty in my journey. I have found how strong I am as a person, at times when I really thought life was battling against me. I fought through such gaping voids and I am still here.

IVF and infertility is hard on a couple. I’ve realized my partner and I are lucky in that we have been together since we were teens. It’s in our nature to be open and honest about our thoughts and feelings when it comes to our fertility journey.

I have known my partner, who is now my fiancé, since my school years. We were friends for a long time before we got together and because of that, my infertility was never an issue in our commitment to one another. We never had to have ‘that talk’. He quickly accepted this limitation it was just a part of me. We knew from day one of our relationship that it may be difficult to get pregnant and even then it was no sure thing.

Like any couple we have had bad times. We both dealt with IVF and the losses differently. We fought with each other, we shouted, we cried a lot.  We also had other things going on in life –  family loss and a failing business were surrounding us all at the same time as IVF. We struggled to keep our heads above water. Somehow, we managed.

It was touch and go many a time but our extended families were amazing with us. Sometimes we needed their support more than anything. Some days we didn’t want to see anyone at all and they took it all in their stride. What a beautiful gift it was that these members of our family let us take the lead and not pressuring us to ‘recover’ any sooner than we were able to!

Now, at age 28, I am proud to say we are moving forward. After finding out I was infertile at 15, being on an IVF waiting list for 7 years, and 3 and a half years of failure after failure, it makes me happy to be able to say things are better for us now. Today, we are a year out from the day we decided to end IVF. We didn’t get the baby we have always wanted but somewhere through the journey I think we both realized that it is first and foremost each other that matters. We are concentrating on that as much as possible!

My blog ‘www.postivfworld.wordpress.com‘ focuses on our lives after IVF, not dwelling on the past, but talking of the way things are now. This loss still lingers. I still struggle with my mental health issues.

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Yet, I’ve found new things that we live for like our new puppy Hector.

 

My blog has been an amazing solace for me, something that I can control, that is mine, that I can make what I want of it! The people I have met and the communities I am now part of as a result of this loss are way beyond anything I ever imagined. I wish I had found out about them years ago, a couple in particular are the Daisy Network (concentrates mostly on early menopause) and The Fertility Network UK who cover a much broader spectrum of infertility. I urge anyone who is struggling with infertility to get involved with some of these powerful organizations as it really does help one sort through the complex emotions associated with this reality. I am happy to direct you to the right places depending on your diagnosis or concerns!

So there it is, my story. A somewhat shortened version, but everyone has their own story, and everything is relative. I choose not to moan about what I have been through, nor am I here to make light of infertility and pregnancy loss.  I hope to raise awareness of infertility and direct people who may have similar experiences towards resources. I hope to reassure people that life can get better. Acceptance takes time, and recovery needs to be at your own pace, but rest assured, you are not alone!

 

Becca can be found on her blog