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The Most Ironic Story of Ever Upward

A full circle

It was a full circle weekend for me returning to the Emerging Women conference, this year in New York City.

Last year I attended EW as a woman shrouded in self doubt and cloaked in the darkness of shame.

A woman who had lost. A woman who had fought for recovery. A woman on the edge of figuring out what to do with that tiny spark inside that she knew meant something.

I left EW last year with the spark I needed to finish writing Ever Upward the book, start this very blog and continue to walk into and fight for my continuing recovery.

This year I walked into EW as a woman more motivated than ever (sometimes to the detriment of my recovery), shining bright with the spark of recovery, ownership and true ever upward light.

I mustered up the most bravery I have ever practiced and handed, maybe even forced fed, my book to the women I admire and who have inspired my work. I practiced valuing my work both through confidently selling it and through allowing everyone to see how much it means to me and how much I believe it can help.

Yet always a work in progress

I left the conference with a plan, with motivation and with more connections than I ever dreamed. And yet, I left the conference knowing that I will always be this very messy work in progress, practicing recovery daily and working to own all the parts of the my story.

And, as usual life made sure to remind me of the irony of moving ever upward; this dichotomy of life.


Chad joined me in the city for a few days following the conference as we had never been to NYC. Late Monday night we decided to attend the Today Show on the Plaza. Which meant the alarm went off at 5 am to get in line.

What did we have to lose? We could in the least get the beautiful cover of Ever Upward on national television. And maybe, just maybe, Matt or Natalie would notice it and take a few copies (especially to give to Bobbie Thomas).

We go there early enough for the perfect spot, right on camera when the hosts come out to shoot.

Where’s the irony?

To our left is an adorable couple from Florida with a sign, a bright pink and blue sign…

We’re on our babymoon!!!

My heart skips a beat, I hold my breath and feel the thorn of shame.

To our right is a group of ladies celebrating their 70th birthdays. One notices my book cover and asks about it. I give her my sales pitch about what Ever Upward is, to which she replies that all three of her daughters went through IVF and one of them is actually adopting at the end of the month. She says how impossible it all is (even the adoption part) and how sorry she is.

Okay, this is my little miracle. I was totally meant to give this woman a book, she gets it.

And, then she blurts it out, “Well, why don’t you guys just adopt?”

Shame doesn’t overtake me completely this time and I take the chance to educate her on fertility compassion and also remind her of how difficult she just said it is. She mumbles something and proceeds to literally turn her back to me for the next hour. I hear her whisper to her friend parts of our story, including the words, “Well they should just adopt if they really want kids that badly.”

I literally feel the shame oozing from her into me.

My heart skips a beat, I hold my breath and feel what  now feels like the sword of shame.

Here to promote my book and I am between the couple who is on their babymoon and the grandmother who gets it but is still judging me harshly.


And, then they all come out to say hi, Matt, Natalie, and Al. I’ll admit I am a little starstruck as I have been watching Today since I was a kid. They are all very kind and genuine as they shake your hand and say hello.

Then you see all their eyes notice the beautiful monarch butterfly on my book cover; all three hesitate to take in the beauty. Then the magic happens, Natalie asks about it and even takes a few copies and promises she will make sure Bobbie gets one.

I can’t believe it. We are so excited, so too are the couple and the grandmother for us. You see, even though my dementor of shame tried to make me think these were the hardest three people for me to stand next to, they were actually my miracles for the day. As I gave them books the couple admits that they started trying because so many of their friends have struggled with getting pregnant and their doctor recommended starting immediately due to age. I looked at them with just the tiniest bit of jealousy but mostly I just felt love and excitement for them. The grandmother said she was excited to read the book and share with her daughters. I replied that I hope they enjoy it while in my head saying to myself that I hope she really enjoys and learns from Chapter 3-Owning Adoption.

Ironic miracle

Life is ironic. And it is no mistake.

Sometimes it knocks me on my ass at first but I will always choose to move ever upward and see the love, the connection, the miracle that is meant to be.

As incredible as my trip to NYC was through the learning and self-growth, the friendships, the vacation, the acts of courage I never thought I was capable of it could have never prepared me for the most ironic part of this ever upward journey.

Thursday I was visited by what I choose to believe is one of my never to be babies.


She came to deliver the magic.

She came to remind me of myself.

She came to love me, as she stuck around for several minutes and let me get super close to her.

She came as a sign of ever upward.

Because just over an hour after her visit, one week after I left for EW and my NYC vacation, I had my first piece picked up and published by HuffPost. I have worked, tried and submitted for almost a year to be picked up by HuffPost. It took these failures, these lessons, along with the spark of magic, connections and courageous motivation from NYC for it to actually happen.

The ever upward irony

My post was run by HuffPost Parents.

This childfree, yet childfull, mother is officially a HuffPost blogger.

A HuffPost Parents blogger with two pieces published in two days.

Full circle moment?

Nope, she told me it is just the beginning.



Ever Upward available now!

30 Day Toolkit to Living Ever Upward here!

Fertility Compassion Survey is collecting all responses.

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine


Justine is a Licensed Professional Counselor with more than 25 years of experience in traditional mental health and personal and professional development. Justine has been certified in the work of Dr. Brené Brown for ten years. Justine is the author of eleven books, including five Amazon bestsellers covering subjects such as infertility, faith, and grief. She has been honored to do two TEDx Talks, The Permission of the And and The Donut Effect. She travels nationally and presents virtually to global audiences delivering keynotes, workshops, retreats, and trainings on topics such as leadership, courage, resilience, mental health, preventing and coping with burnout, and courageous and curious conversation, especially in creating cultures of belonging and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Justine lives in St. Louis with her husband Chad, their three dogs, and for four months of the year hundreds of monarch and swallowtail butterflies.

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