Full Circle

Do you feel lost where you are right now? Maybe things aren't working out like you planned? I'd like to share my raw and real story of dreams, loss, finding purpose and coming full circle. I originally shared my story on Instagram, but I thought it was worthy of being shared on my blog, and I pray it brings you a sense of hope and promise in your heart if you're feeling lost.

As a young newlywed, I had big dreams of starting a family right away, being a part of a local community of mamas and being a cheerleader for those who needed encouragement. Looking back, I had absolutely no clue what that looked like in the real world, but I knew it was written on my soul. 

I had spent several years studying nutrition and plant healing and understood the fundamentals of both, so it was heartbreaking (and shocking, if I'm being real) to experience recurrent miscarriage within the first year of marriage. I had heard statistics of 1 in 4 women experiencing this pain, but I never in a million years would have thought it would be me. I felt like my body had failed me. To make the struggle more intense, postpartum depression became a part of my life. I felt swallowed whole and as if I had no one. No support system, no community, no one to just sit and talk to about how it felt. People tried, but the feelings of being alone was a direct repercussion of being brand new to an area and the family and friends I loved and felt closest to being over 2000 miles away. My poor new husband was so lost, not knowing how to help, but desperately wanting to.

Over the next year post miscarriage, through God's grace and with time, opening myself up to other mamas' stories and gradually opening up to other ladies who became my community, the open wounds in my heart began to heal. At the encouragement of Eli, I began volunteering at a local crisis pregnancy center and sharing my story with mamas who came through the door. Little did I know, this was a huge first step in the healing process for my heart.

It was around this same time that I first realized that I wanted to be a doula. I started asking questions and searching for a way to make it happen. I had a huge heart to help women through the prenatal, labor and postpartum journey–especially mamas who had also experienced a loss. To celebrate women and the amazing, beautiful and (at times) heartbreaking journey into motherhood. The sad part of this story is that at the time, the barrier to entry seemed impossible to scale and I moved on to pursuing other another venture that I loved—serving couples as a wedding photographer being my main pursuit. I continued to volunteer in the life-affirming community, but it became a side-project instead of my main focus. This is where I was when this incredible tribe came to life. 

For the next three years, I 100% felt I had found my life-long calling. I absolutely loved every single moment of celebrating marriage with the wonderful couples that became my family in a sense. Through weddings, I got to see so many gorgeous places around the US and abroad, joined the #communityovercompetition movement, started local creative groups, and cheered with my fellow lady boss entrepreneurs with every win. And I wouldn't trade all of those moments for anything!

But. Yes, I must share the "but." Health struggles began to flare with constant travel. Jet lag would put me out for a week coming and going. Eli and I barely had any time together as I was working on the weekends while he was off and wanting to hang out with his wife outside of work. So reluctantly, I had to admit that something had to give.

I committed to taking a sabbatical for six months, to give my body a chance to rest and to reevaluate where I was going. At the end of that six months, I knew without a doubt I couldn't continue as a wedding professional. I wanted to and I missed it desperately, but the toll it took on my personal life was far too damaging to warrant continuing. I felt a little lost as I wondered "what's next?" I hadn't realized just how much of my identity was wrapped up in weddings and serving couples.

"It's ok to lay down something good to pick up something greater." –Natalie Frank

After I completed my sabbatical, I looked into focusing on creative branding work for wedding professionals and event styling, but something always felt a little off with those pursuits. I just couldn't make all of the pieces come together perfectly. Little did I know, God was making me wait for an incredible, life-changing experience that was coming. 

It began with offering birth photography to a friend. I was a bit trepidus going into it, as I had previously had requests to photograph a birth that didn't work out for various reasons. So I didn't want to have my heart set on it, but I absolutely did. And this was the time it was finally meant to be. At the birth, in the moments in between, it seemed like the right thing to do to support through mama through her labor journey, so I helped where I could using the doula techniques I had studied years before. And walking away from that beautiful, successful, amazing birth space, I felt fulfilled and happy unlike any other experience I have ever had! My heart was so full and I couldn't stop smiling!

Both the new mama and her mama were huge cheerleaders in me seeking doula training once again. A few Google searches later and with the encouragement of my hubby and family, I signed up for doula certification classes through Cornerstone Doula Trainings in San Francisco.

I have officially completed the training for my doula certification and I am SO incredibly stoked for everything to come and the amazing mamas & babes I will get to serve! In many ways, my dreams have come full circle. But I truly believe this was always meant to be. It was in my heart, but I just took a really amazing detour along the way. I'll say it again, I don't regret a single step along the way. Sure, there were mistakes I wish I hadn't made and bumps along the way, but God has a way of helping us on our path and bringing us to the best.