July 28, 2018

Sweet Surrender

I've always known I wanted to be a mother. Growing up I babysat, I loved up my niece and nephew, and then eventually my friend's children as they came into this world. I assumed my time for motherhood would come naturally, with the grace and ease we imagine most women experience in finding themselves with child. So when I did find my partner and "settle down" and open myself up to be a mommy; and then it didn't happen, I was heartbroken. I know we all hear and read stories about this, and we know it's become more common for couples to wait to start a family, but actually going through this was among the hardest things I've experienced in this lifetime.

There have been times in the past where I had no problem sharing my life struggles, epiphanies, and growth through my writing. But something shifted with this situation. For some reason, this was too raw. I was too vulnerable. I was too ashamed. This one thing, that all humans no matter what color, class, race, religion should be able to do, I couldn't. I felt like a failure. Like a fraud. Like less of a woman. How could I share that with anyone outside of my closest, most-trusted circle? I knew I wasn't alone and I read other women's tales seeking glimmers of hope, paths of progress and solutions for acceptance. Sometimes these stories lead to successful pregnancies, sometimes they didn't, sometimes they adopted, sometimes they opened businesses. The key was that I knew I was not alone and yet I felt so very alone.

Praying for a solution.

As time passed,  a year turned into two years and my fear around the subject grew as I approached and then passed the 35 year-old mark (when I women becomes considered advanced maternal age-ha!) and so we visited a fertility specialist. After some tests and then some surgical procedures, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and told it was highly unlikely I would ever get pregnant on my own. And they had an answer for us: IVF. For me in that time, in a very victim mode, this felt like an incredible injustice. We couldn't afford IVF, not many can! It felt like a stab to the heart, this blessing and miracle that so many experience without much effort, I'd have to find/borrow/steal (ok maybe not that last one!) to experience. But with this being our only option other than adoption, which I quickly also discovered would come with a large invoice, about the same as a round of IVF, we decided to go through with it. And it didn't work. And I was devastated. Devastated. I was sure this was the silver bullet, the thing that would guarantee us our baby. This was a test of all of my personal and spiritual strength. I had to reevaluate everything. What would be next? Adoption? Try again? Do IVF in Mexico? During this time, our marriage was also put through many tests. What could our future look like with no children? What would we do with our lives? Were we even meant to be together? Was this a sign? Fertility challenges for a couple who knows they want a family are so incredibly intense, it is surely one of the biggest life tests/lessons a person could go through. I'm in awe every day of my husbands patience with me. He never stopped believing our child would arrive.

By this past winter, I was emotionally spent. My prayer for a solution turned into a tearful prayer for God to take away my desire to be a mom. And after much deep-diving and discussion, we decided to take a break from the "try". To raise the white flag. To surrender. As corny as this may sound, the popular radio song "If it's Meant to Be" came out about this time and spring was just around the corner. It felt right to just let it be.

March and April are the most intense months for me at work. I knew I needed to be "on" to run our annual 400-person event, making it a good distraction from our pain. Costea's family would be coming into town for a number of weeks and so we had them to prepare for, and then work with, on our long list of home projects: bathrooms to update, basement to be finished for my yoga classes, and garden to expand to bring us a little closer to our homestead dream. So you might imagine my distraction as one day I realized I was a few days late for my period. This hadn't happened before. Even with my stage 3 endometriosis diagnosis, I'd always had a very regular cycle. I assumed it was from the stress at work and change in schedule from having family staying with us.

A few more days passed and on the way home from work one day, I decided to stop at the store and pick up a pregnancy test. I had had a dream months earlier that I had taken a pregnancy test, then another, then another, that were all positive. I could feel the elation from that dream. I remember so clearly that in the dream a Christmas tree was lit in the background. I was shown two pink lines with each test and so that's the kind I looked for this time. I brought it home and found Costea working on the bathroom floor. I took the test, and it was positive. I literally fell to my knees as I showed him the result and we hugged and we cried and we were in total disbelief. Costea never had doubts, it was me that was full of fear and, as I understand it now, impatience.

A lesson in patience, trust and surrender. 

Thank you God, thank you sweet baby being for choosing us! Thank you for answering our prayers in every way, by teaching us surrender and by making our dream of being parents come true. As I write these words I am both full of joy and also painfully aware of the other women and men who find themselves in the same conundrum we lived through for just under three years. There are no words to soothe the pain of not understanding why something so wanted is not happening. All I can offer is the hope from my own experience. That miracles do happen!

And so, baby Grozav is coming in December 2018, just in time for that beautifully lit Christmas tree.

December 21, 2017

Season's Greetings, Christmas Card!

It's the first day of my winter break from work and this is our "Christmas Card"! One perk of working at a university is the generous amount of vacation days! So I get to sit here and write, yay! We've been in our new home for a little over a year now and are starting to really feel like it's ours. It does take time. Transitions are fluid and evolving. As typical form I was definitely anxious and "in a hurry" to be feeling like this is a place where I belong which never works. All you have to do is BE and you BE-long ;)

So far we've made just a few "home improvements". Most of our furniture is the same from our apartment with the exception of a set of bunk beds my parents brought to us from Massachusetts, a beautiful chair I splurged on, and the curtains we bought for our large front window and side window, replacing the awful metal awnings that had been on the house. The bunk beds had been my brother's, then my nephew's, and now they are feeling out their place here. I'd also like to mention that all of our furniture, with the exception of our mattress, is second-hand. Either passed down, donated, or sold to us through family and friends. While every piece may not be exactly what I might "pick out" on a showroom floor, I feel so thankful to have been blessed with pieces that I feel good about and that have stories. We do, of course, look forward to the evolution of our home with time.

This post is meant to  be the first of before/after posts which hopefully will be sprinkled throughout some other writing, as we're excited to gear up more creative power into beautifying and transformation. I'm really being called to writing again. I've missed it and it's apparently missed me. In that,  I am figuring out whether this blog is still the correct medium. Does it need a new name? A makeover? Time will tell!

Without further adieu...a few before/after photos!

You'll notice that the two areas we chose to spend our resources on are related to food. Not a surprise at all as what and how we feed ourselves is such an important element to how we feel and helps to create the bedrock of so much in our lives. As you'll see in upcoming posts, my spiritual journey has not stalled, in fact it's been on a sort of super highway, which has required a lot of processing and reflection, but internally and perhaps a part of why I wasn't writing. For me, the spiritual journey began with listening to my body and knowing that in my state as a neophyte spiritualist, having some more mindfulness about my diet and nutrition was something that I could do with a little guidance and learning. And so I still believe that when a person knows something in their life must shift, a wonderful place to start is listening to one's body and making small adjustments there, to assist the flow of energy and allow for growth and evolution to occur more gradually and gracefully. (vs. what some might term a nervous breakdown or life-crisis, though sometimes those are necessary wake-up calls!)

The Kitchen
So far here we've painted! (ok, in truth Costea's family came and painted for us, but I did pick out the colors!) What a difference! 

The Garden
We were dreaming of a garden the entire two years in our one-bedroom apartment. So this was a MUST and truly our first big home project. We have plans for the coming season to turn over more forested land to field and beds as we hope to start a small-scale specialty farm. More to come on that but we're hoping that in the next 1-2 years this could become part of a full-time gig for Costea.

The Curtains and the Winnie
Oh and that chair!

Other themes at the Grozav household in 2017:
  • WINNIE! Our amazing puppy we love so much
  • Bitcoin/ Cryptocurrency-Costea is fascinated
  • Kundalini yoga-Julie has been practicing for almost a year
  • Blue Herons: we love them so much and are blessed to see them fly over our home and during our walks at the White Clay Creek down the road. I've come to calling our home the "Heron Homestead"
  • Family: Costea's parents made their first visit to us during September & October. We had an amazing time together. His sister Alina came for three weeks in September too! 

Wishing you all a blessed Winter Solstice and Sacred 2018! 

August 18, 2016

Early Days

I'm so super grateful for having a home of our own. Intellectually I am incredibly grateful for my ability to have mortgaged a home, but physically and spiritually I am experiencing all kinds of other things. Mostly exhaustion. I never really appreciated how little islands of growth around random trees spread throughout a yard could require so much work in the way of weeding. And trimming. I'm fully, for the first time in my life, understanding why I always saw people outside their homes kneeling by their various shrubs. They were weeding the millionth weed of the week is my guess.

So yes, the weeds. The hedges. The basement. (Yes, it still has a funny smell. Costea has now torn down most of the walls and ceilings and we are on our way to cleaning and sealing). The insects! I have to continuously ask myself whether it's OK to kill them. On the one hand, it's no. But on the other...I mean, once they cross over the line of being in my home... I mean just last night I turned on the light in our bedroom to find a nickel-size spider making its way hurriedly across our white bed sheets. Um nope. Sorry. Here I go creating karma. Slam. Dead. Sigh.

But even so, we're inviting people over. So many people I want to host! The house is nowhere near where I'm even comfortable having people over. We haven't bought a piece of furniture. But I know if I wait, I won't get to shower my loved ones with love, attention and hospitality they've shown me over the years. Here are a few snaps of some of our early days. We can also consider these part of the before album :)

Pre weeding and trimming workouts

Running through the porch

Dusk playtime

Watchful mamas

My beloved niece

Boys helping in the kitchen=always welcome!

Our friends across the street  
Everyone loves the baby doll sheep

The naked window that needs dressing (she's so embarrassed!). And unhung art, random plugs...