Hope and the holidays
I'm a positive person. Its the top strength on my Strengths Finder assessment and comes up time and time again in feedback from others. I think this is a good thing - but I've been called naive, a "Pollyanna" and other not-especially-complimentary names from those who think I'm seeing too much in the glass.
That's ok. I'm comfortable with this part of myself and happier when I lean into it.
I share this because I'm going a bit against the grain of what you may have read about infertility and the holidays. If you aren't feeling positive at all - and would like to stay that way - I respect that. This post may not be for you. But, if you, like me, believe there is always a reason to hope - read on.
Please know that the holidays are tough for anyone facing a loss, a health challenge, or disappointment; there's so much joy and festivity everywhere it can seem that the whole world has forgotten there is sadness and darkness, too. Those building their families can face a special kind of pain given the emphasis on kids, young families, and "magic." I know this first-hand. Our first miscarriage happened in mid-December and our second failed IVF was the following year around the same time. So, yeah, I get that your normal jolly elf side may want to take the year off.
Taking care of yourself during this season is critical. CRI-TI-CAL. Listen to your body, your mind, your spirit and give yourself the best gifts like self-compassion, boundaries, and self-love. If this means you don't celebrate at all or only just a little, that's OK. If it means you are simply sad and need time before you can consider another emotion, that's OK. If it means you go back and forth between lots of emotions, that's OK.
But, if you are interested in exploring how the season could offer a different perspective, below are some ideas. To hell with letting the kids have all the perks; create your own magic this season.
- Seek out adults-only activities
Many places that are typically "just for kids" (think Zoolights, ice skating, outdoor holiday markets, etc.) offer nights just for those over 21. This often means there's more ready sources of adult beverages - which may be a welcome bonus - but also there will be no children present. Find the activity you'd like to do and then look through the special events section or call the main office to inquire about their adults-only schedule.
- Jump start a new habit before the resolutions race
Always wanted to try out yoga, learn how to meditate, or incorporate podcasts or audio books into your daily routine? Now could be the time. Pick something you've been wanting to do - or have stopped doing that you could add back into your life - and set up time to do it. Be intentional: take a few minutes to understand your motivation, create a plan and a schedule, and ask someone to hold you accountable. Keep it fun, inspiring, and make sure it fills you up. Allow this to take the place of something you'd normally have in your schedule that you're dreading this year. Not sure you're ready to commit to the full new habit? Just try it once and go from there.
- Create a new ritual with your partner
Seek out something you and your partner can do together that you look forward to, that feels special, and that draws you together. It could be enjoying the latest holiday drink at Starbucks, watching a holiday movie or a new TV series, shopping for decorations for your home, volunteering together, or creating gifts for family and friends. My husband and I make a point to see a holiday show and have a nice dinner out every year, just the two of us. Its a tradition we started while we were waiting for our babies and we've continued now that they're here.
- Go out on a weeknight, after 8 PM
Once your waiting for family period is over, this may not be so easy to do. Enjoy it.
- Decorate - or not
There's a lot of pressure to decorate "for the kids." If decorating and living in a festive house makes you happy - and feel like a kid again - go nuts. Get out all the tinsel, holly, lights, ornaments and the whole thing. You deserve to live in a space that makes you feel delighted.
If, though, decorations feel like a burden and remind you of your struggle - and not in a hopeful way - then give yourself permission to skip it this year. Taking one year off, or reducing in some way, doesn't mean you can never go back. This, too, shall pass and next year will be different.
- Get your support tribe together and declare it a "fertility-free" zone
You know who they are. Your supporters who can lift you up no matter what. Get them together - whether old friends, family, or new friends you've met through your fertility journey - and make one rule: No talk of fertility. Give yourselves the time off, the chance to connect about something different, the chance to remember all that you have together.
- Build some quiet time for self-care
This season is synonymous with "busy" and "rush". Take the opportunity to slow down, to spend time with the most important person in your life - you. Process what you're feeling, write it down in a journal, use the quiet time to check in about what you need that day. And then do that. Or, treat yourself to a new, healthy, habit like starting a gratitude practice, becoming a smoothie expert, or reading a good book - just for fun. Consider a physical treat like a massage, a delicious dessert or bowl of pasta, or an acupuncture session.
These are just a few ideas of activities that could build hope, joy, and peace into your holiday season. I encourage you to think of your own ways of approaching this season with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and anticipation of what could be next, what could lie ahead, and how you might use this time to prepare yourself and your life to greet it.
My sincerest wish for you is joy, love - and most of all - hope this holiday season. May you find peace in the season, may life be different for you next year, and may you learn and enhance your well-being along the way.
If you could use a little help getting started, I've put together a few "hopeful thought starters" here for you to download. Or, if you'd like to talk more specifically about how you can bring more hope and ease to your family building process, please contact me to set up your complimentary coaching session.