On Creating

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

For the past few years, I lived to support creativity. Working in arts administration can be a funny thing. You go into it because you’re drawn to creativity in some form or another. And, because you want to make a living and make a difference, you wind your way over to the business side of artistic endeavors. And, at least for me, that meant I inadvertently began to distance myself from the creativity that drew me there in the first place.

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I loved my job, and I cherished most every moment of it. And there were certainly creative opportunities in the job. It just wasn’t the get-down-and-dirty kind of creativity that really uncovered the depths of my soul. It had to be more polished and professional, less revealing. Because government work doesn’t generally provide lots of space for vulnerability. I’m sure I could have found a way to weave creativity back into the fabric of my every day existence, but I never really found that balance.

I was inspired by the work I read in the grants that came across my desk. These were true artists — people devoting their lives to their craft. Seeing their devotion, passion and brilliance was moving. But comparison is a trap. Compared to these artists, I had little to contribute but my support and devotion. No originality. No artistic endeavor. Nothing good enough, at least. Comparison stopped me from even starting.

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Beyond all that, the work of arts administration can be exhausting. At the end of the day, all I wanted to do was plop down in front of Netflix and binge. And that’s about the least creative undertaking there is.

At the end of last summer, I made a job/career transition. I left arts administration. I’m sure I’ll be back someday, because, like I said, I loved my work. But this time away has been significant. It’s given me the opportunity to refocus and center myself.

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It’s reminded me that life is about creating. It’s not about sitting around and waiting for something to happen to you. It’s about intentionally choosing a path, and making a life that gets you there. It set us on the path toward adoption, giving us the time and energy to evaluate our lives and our direction and our goals. And it’s helped me remember self-expression. Writing, drawing, photography, painting — all those creative pursuits in which I barely qualify as amateur yet are so deeply engrained in my way of seeing and expressing — have again risen to the surface. They’ve grounded me again. I am no longer floating through life. My days feel more intentional. My evenings feel longer.

Plus, we got rid of Netflix. (Gasp!)

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When I likely return to arts administration, I’ll have this newfound awareness. This memory of this moment in time where I was free to create without so much comparison and planning and strategy.

And, so, we’re creating. And we’re putting that creativity out into the world. We’d like to announce our little shop in it’s beginning stages. Making Three is an Etsy shop that Jeff and I have started as our creative outlet. It’s our way to fill our time with more than reruns. We don’t expect to make money, but any money we happen to be lucky enough to make will go toward funding our adoption journey — our quest to move from a family of two to a family of three.

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Mostly, we’re excited to create this shop, and this life, together. Is it professional? No. Is it polished? No. Are we trained? No. But is it a happier, fuller, bigger, expanded, more interesting life?

Hell, yes.

Letting Go

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I stared down at the question: “How has infertility affected your life? How have you processed your infertility?”

A few years ago, I don’t think I would have been able to answer that question.

Jeff and I are working on our adoption home study right now. If you missed the announcement, here it is.

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The home study consists of a lot of parts, including: a lengthy 12-page questionnaire to be answered in essay format, a background check, a home inspection, a doctor’s report, and a financial disclosure statement.

It’s a lot of paperwork.

The questions are personal. And that question about infertility struck me. It caught me off guard because I saw the word. I thought about infertility, and it didn’t hurt anymore.

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I realized that I am content. I know I am worthy of love and belonging despite my (in)ability to become pregnant. And I’m grateful the pain has dulled.

A few years ago, hurt hung over my head daily. With pointed reminders of my inability to get pregnant, I was always seconds away from despair. I thought about it all the time. I changed my diet. I changed my lifestyle. I visited the doctor. I took medicine. I prayed. I hoped. I wrote. Looking back now, I can see I was grieving. I needed to go through it.

But, still, my body remained unchanged.

And then.

A shift.

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I moved forward. I started (and finished) grad school, and I began to see that my life could mean something even without children. I made goals. Jeff did, too. And we stopped waiting to make decisions for an imaginary future. We made our lives fit us for the present.

I let go of the responsibility of getting pregnant. I let it go. And it made all the difference.

We still wanted children. We still wanted that life. But our approach felt different somehow. It gradually became less important to achieve that vision of our future through traditional means. Adoption became our Plan A — even though it took us years to process our grief to get there. We needed to grow and change and learn.

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Of course, I still have moments where something triggers that old familiar pain. A family member announces their pregnancy. Oof. I attend a baby shower for a dear friend. Ouch. But those moments are rare. Mostly, I’m grateful.

Adoption is not a cure for infertility. There are things I will never get to experience. I will never carry a baby within me. I will never experience the strength and courage of childbirth. I will likely never nurse my child or feel their kicks or hiccups in my belly. That’s a real loss.

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But my gains will be real, too. My story will be different. It will be shared. It will have a level of connection with other humans that is incomprehensible. I will be a parent. I will get to love and nurture a child. I will get to provide them with opportunities and watch them surprise me as they grow. And we’ll have a big, beautiful, different family that is connected through love. I am thrilled to see how life will unfold. How I change. How I grow. And how my love will expand.

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I wouldn’t change my situation. I’m grateful for the person infertility has helped me become. Infertility didn’t end me. It didn’t become me, and it didn’t define me. But it changed me, and it’s giving me the most meaningful experience I’ll ever have.

How have I processed infertility? I let it go. And letting go made room for so much more.

*Jeff and I love to explore our city and all it has to offer. The photos in this post are from those explorations.

Planting a Seed

We are growing our family. It’s going to happen. We just don’t know exactly how or when.

Jeff and I are excited to announce that we have started the domestic infant adoption process. We are working on our home study now. (The home study is a big pile of paperwork that assesses our ability to provide and care for a child.) This means that, once we are (hopefully!) officially approved, we will be legally eligible to adopt a child in the USA.

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We have gone back and forth on how and when to announce this to our family, friends and acquaintances. After all, announcing during the home study phase may be akin to letting the world know that you are trying to conceive. Usually people don’t do that. We certainly didn’t. Beyond that, adoption is often a long and difficult process. Once a home study is complete, it can take years to be matched with expectant parents interested in pursuing adoption. And, once matched, there is still no guarantee until final relinquishments are signed after the child’s birth. In short, there are a lot of questions and unknowns. Going through this pain would be difficult, and going through it publicly seems (at times) as if it might add heartbreak to already heart-wrenching situations.

But we believe in connection. And vulnerability is a prerequisite to connection.

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Jeff and I love to escape to the mountains whenever we can. In our beautiful state of Utah, there is a single quaking aspen that covers 106 acres through an underground connected root system. Like the aspen, we, as human beings on this planet, are all connected.

It is because of this connection that we’ve decided to step outside our comfort zone and make our announcement early in this journey. We need you. And if there is anything I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, it’s that you have to make your intentions known. So, here it is:

We are searching for our baby, and we need you to know.

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It seems implausible, but you may know somebody, who knows somebody, who knows somebody, who is considering placing their baby. When that trusted friend comes to you looking for comfort and friendship and hope, we hope you will be able to offer them support. More than anything, we want you to be the friend they need in that moment of vulnerability. We want what is best for that person. And we may not be what’s best. But if we are, we hope you will think of us.

We are all connected. Adoption is a miraculous manifestation of this belief.

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It may seem trite, but we hope you will follow our journey on our Facebook page. We’ll share updates about our journey over there. Please like and share our posts. I know it feels strange and impossible, but many matches are made through Facebook connections.

We are over-the-moon excited about this journey — long and challenging as it may be. We have wanted to be parents for as long as we can remember, and we have been trying to bring those dreams into reality for over five years. We are excited to bring baby Attermann into our home whenever the time is right. We are completely at peace with this direction, and we’re grateful you will now be walking with us.

We are all connected, and we can’t walk this path alone.