meditation, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc


I don’t remember the first time I meditated. I do remember inching toward it in college, reading Jon Kabat-Zinn on mindfulness, gradually becoming aware of my tendencies toward anxiety and depression and looking for relief from an anxious mind. I started doing yoga. I began to realize that the world keeps buzzing by and never gives you a break. I noticed that I felt more grounded and whole when I was doing something meditative like playing music, writing, appreciating nature.

Later, I ended up in San Francisco, where meditation is not weird and is in fact quite ordinary. I signed up for a daylong retreat. I learned about how to sit on a cushion (which, as a rule, is–still– terribly uncomfortable for me), how to focus on my breath, how to be forgiving as thoughts ran away from me like puppies and I gently gathered them back. I liked the teacher, Howard Cohn, and discovered that he did a weekly meditation and dharma talk in the Mission. I started going to that.

People may ask, “What does it do for you?” and it’s hard to articulate an answer. For a long time, it felt like I was pulling myself out of the river of my relentless thoughts, sitting on the riverbank and watching them flow by like leaves. My mind felt clearer afterward.

One time I received a phone call at work from a very angry person, yelling as soon as I picked up the phone. Once I realized what was happening, in a split second I centered myself. I acknowledged inwardly that her energy was not mine. I let her yell for a while and then addressed her from a peaceful island oasis. It’s my single example of how meditation has helped me, but it’s a good one.

Most days, I try to meditate for ten minutes in the morning. Sometimes in a chair, sometimes sitting on my couch facing the sunrise in the east. Many times, I just let the thoughts roll and don’t even remember to bring it back to my breath. This isn’t the “point,” exactly, to be planning what to wear or making mental notes about how to handle projects at work.

The point is, it’s a practice. It’s not one thing with one clear result. It’s a process of training the mind to recognize thoughts as thoughts–not my reality, not my storyline, not my truth. (Pause to take a sip of my Ocean of Wisdom tea, no joke.)

At Green Gulch, I approached our dharma teacher (and Buddhist priest) with a goofy question. I figured it would be unanswerable and/or offensive, but I had to ask him anyway. It was gnawing at me, and when I mentioned it to several others, they were curious about it too.

My question was: if I am meditating in the zendo next to an experienced meditator (like a monk or nun or priest) and there are thought bubbles over our heads, what is in the thought bubbles? In essence, what am I striving for?

He looked thoughtful and answered my question much more directly than I expected. He said that in my thought bubble, he suspects that there would be lots of images of people, places, objects. And in the experienced meditator’s bubble? “Clouds.”

He acknowledged that all people have stresses and struggles–but the experienced meditator has a choice when these things come up. They can choose not to follow that line of thinking (whereas I often get dragged along).

Earlier that day, we had done an exercise in the garden where he had asked us to find one spot of our own and focus on one thing of our choosing, giving it our full attention for 15 minutes. I laid down between the strawberries and some orange poppies and focused on the sky. The coastal fog was roiling through the blue sky, dynamic, swirling.

The image of “clouds” therefore was instantly and freshly available to me the next time I sat. For a while I just had clouds. Then a thought arose and I thought “choice” and went back to the clouds. I kept this up surprisingly well for about a twenty minute session and was excited to tell our teacher of this development. (And the next time I meditated, I spent the entire time wrestling with the cushion…)

I will keep up my practice. I’ll read Pema, I’ll attend two daylongs this coming weekend: one entirely outside in nature and the other with the famous Tara Brach. I need to get a Buddha so he will remind me to sit. And a zafu and a zabuton. I need a bolster so I can spread-eagle offer my uterus up to the gods. It’s important to have the right accoutrements.

Meditation is helping keep me mellow as life throws all kinds of twists and turns in my path. I am serene as a mountain peak. I breathe.

Less than two weeks to go.

Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being. ~Rumi


fertility, IVF, meditation, outdoors, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing


It’s so inspiring be here. Time passes slowly, the sun sliding gracefully across the sky, the clock ticking on the wall of the yoga room, the phases of the day unfolding gradually. No one is in a hurry. Last week, I was literally running from one meeting to the next. This morning, I finished my breakfast, hung around talking and laughing with new friends for what seemed like a long time, and I still have an hour free before our dharma talk at 9:30.

I never have this kind of leisurely pace. Here, even when we’re doing something like yoga or meditation or eating or walking or reading, we’re doing it mindfully, and time takes on a different dimension.

Here it is a holiday weekend and time is not flying by. (Bonus!)

With this kind of time, you get new perspectives, new ideas for ways of being. We’ve been discussing the concept of generosity and giving vs, receiving; we’re in a mindset of receiving. I receive the birds flickering by outside my window, this simple room, a slice of steaming bread just delivered. I receive the lighthearted company of new friends, a full belly, shivasana. In this mindset, we all clear each other’s dishes, offer to get each other a cup of tea, walk together in silence to 5am meditation. In a mindset of receiving, you have more to give.

Meditation this morning was better although I still feel like such a bumbling newbie in the zendo. Getting to my zafu I have down. Sitting for 40 minutes was good, I was on my knees and pretty comfortable. My mind was serene. I listened to moisture falling off the trees and hitting the roof. I heard the frog anthems give way to birds. I heard people around me sniffling and repositioning.

We transitioned into walking meditation and a nun had to redirect me as I was going in the wrong direction.

During the second meditation, I was more restless, I repositioned a lot to avoid the panic and impulse to run away (my teachers laughed yesterday when i asked about this and agreed that torture is not the point). Amazing how quickly my brain goes there when discomfort arises. But the posture clinic and the intense yoga yesterday have me looser, more forgiving, less perfectionist.

Then we segued into chanting and prostration where I was truly lost and a kindly older man pointed me to the right place in the prayer book. It’s good to be new at something and let the wise ones guide you. Lots of bowing. Glad it’s about the Buddha and not some weird California cult.

Coincidentally, there’s an SMC here who I met last summer. She is pregnant–after a failed IVF, she went back to IUIs. We keep catching each other on the way to meals and then get cut off as we observe ten minutes of silence at the beginning of meals. Somehow I think we both only want to go there in smaller doses, which seems appropriate here.

There was a yoga pose yesterday where we laid on a bolster going the length of our spine with the bottoms of our feet together and knees resting on zafus, arms splayed out. To me it felt like, “Here’s my uterus, universe! Ready to receive!” We held the pose for twenty minutes.

family, fertility, IVF, meditation, outdoors, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing


Well, can you believe it? The Guest House has internet. So my pre-posts can now be posts.

I arrived yesterday afternoon, abuzz after zipping in from NY, unpacking, packing, and flying over the Golden Gate Bridge while talking to my mom on the phone. Arrived 10 mins late, only to find that time is a bit fluid here, the Intro to Zazen class had just begun.

Thus began my re-entry into the world of zendos, zafus, Zazen, and zen. The little mat that goes under the zafu also starts with z although I can’t remember it now…

Green Gulch Farm is a gem, an absolutely stunning property below Highway 1 and tucked into a valley just behind the coastal hills. The place could not be more green, could not have more constant birdsong, could not be any closer to the city while feeling worlds away from the city. The buildings are beautiful in their simplicity, with stairways and lit pathways forming a small labyrinthine village. The people in the office welcomed me and I could palpably feel that their pace was about one-third of my own.

Intro to Zazen was brief and covered the important “forms” to follow in formal meditation practice: step through the doorway with a certain foot, take two steps in and bow to the Buddha, bow to your zafu, turn clockwise and bow to the room, sit on the zafu without touching the edge where the monks eat, spin clockwise and get into position. It seems religious but everything has a function to help you be mindful, grateful, present.

Then we started with yoga class which was perfect for my weary jet-lagged body which has not really done yoga in years since I hurt my back years ago. We did resting poses, opened up our hips, almost always were laying down with blankets next to the wood-burning stove.

There are 17 of us. Mostly people seemingly my age, some a bit older, thoughtful, friendly. We ate dinner in the dining hall–nuns carried out giant dishes of food with brown rice, a tomato vegetable stew, and roasted zucchini. We chitchatted and got to know each other a bit, lovely people.

After dinner we did an icebreaker and I realize how many people are overly stressed at work, struggle to maintain a meditation practice, want more in life than a hamster wheel. The teacher had us invite people into the room who are not really here, people for whom we will practice. I thought of many of you.

I went to bed at 9:00 and it was perfectly quiet even though there are many people here.

Alarm at 4:30 (thank goodness I’m on east coast time) and I dressed in many layers to head to Zazen in the meditation hall. I stepped outside in the dark and looked around to get my bearings and there was the full moon like a spotlight in the night sky, it absolutely took my breath away.

I didn’t need my headlamp. Walked in, a nun showed me to my zafu, whether or not I did all the steps right I don’t think anyone noticed, and I settled in. Occasionally there was a gong or a bell. There was a symphony of birdsong.

I felt wonderful and proud and grateful for about twenty minutes and eventually my body started hating it and going into distress mode and I repositioned and breathed and knew I would survive. (I’m going to a posture clinic in 15 mins which will help.)

I survived. Afterward, rather than walking meditation followed by a second Zazen, I went back the Guest House for delicious bread with peanut butter and jam and chamomile tea and then headed out on a walk. The moon now hung pale pink in the lightening blue sky. I crunched down the gravel path alone, through the gorgeous farm with its colorful rows of flowers and leafy greens, saw quail, rabbit, a red-winged blackbird, some horses, breathed the cool air. I emerged at Muir Beach as the sun came over the hills, heading over to the little house I rented with my family two Thanksgivings ago, the first time I officially told my family of my plans to become a single mom.

Facing the sun on the way back, I walked a bit faster to make it in time for breakfast. Everything sparkled in the morning dew. I ran into F, one of my favorite people so far, searching for a very noisy woodpecker he could not see. We strolled in to breakfast: hot rice cream cereal, tofu sweet potato something or other, hard boiled eggs, and hot apple juice.

Over breakfast, I connected with L who has a beautiful Hawaiian name, who is a freelance writer. She’s actually here on assignment. I got so inspired talking to her. Let’s be honest, this is my passion. I just have to start navigating from here to there, and write more, and write all kinds of new topics and formats and just dig in. When we were done she said she’d be glad to talk to me more about it later and I came back here to write this.

From here. With peppermint tea. xo




And now I will transition on a dime from nonstop action-filled gogogo NYC with not a single moment to myself outside of sleep into a restful, meditative, peaceful oasis where I will be pulled into the present moment, my body, my breath, and the timeless California coast.

I have a lot more to say about it, but I have to hit the road! Because there’s no internet up there (a blessing), I’ll see if I can write some pre-post material, if I feel like it. Meanwhile, I’ll be clearing some mental space, focusing on me, gearing up for the big moment in approx 2.5 weeks. Yay.

Happy long weekend!

fertility, IVF, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing


I’m in the Phoenix airport on a flight delay due to a maintenance issue and just discovered free wifi and a quiet seat in a dim corner to write. Let’s make the best of this!

My brain is fuzzy after getting up at 3:45am. Although I slept the whole flight here, I feel like I could curl up in the corner and sleep for another three hours. My appetite is a bottomless pit as it sometimes is when I have to get up at an inhumane hour; so far today I’ve had Greek yogurt with honey at home, oatmeal with nuts and berries at SFO, and an egg and cheese breakfast burrito at PHX. I text-waved to my uncles and friend V who live here.

The airport is full of messy, cranky, beautiful humanity in shorts and tank tops. There are throngs of people streaming up and down the corridor to the point that getting across to the restroom is like jumping into a game of Double Dutch and then jumping out again, requiring timing and strategy to avoid a tangle.

These days, staying productive relies so much on battery power. All my chargers are in my checked luggage, so I’m going to do some pre-work (read: handwritten) to make sure my laptop time is optimized on the next flight, since my sad battery only gives about an hour and a half. But, meanwhile, I’m just going to ramble away this half hour on my iPad because this thing lasts forever, and the free wifi is flowing.

So, where am I besides Phoenix… Looking forward to this trip, seeing J and my other work and non-work friends, walking in Central Park with girl J tonight, diligently keeping up good habits of sleeping, eating impeccably (or at least deliciously), and just enough drinking to reassure everyone I’m not pregnant in case they heard a rumor. Work is a tidal wave constantly on the verge of overtaking me, and I’m paddling like crazy to stay ahead of it. At the moment, I am ahead of it. And I strive to take it all with a grain of salt as I do my best and keep space for one other big notable goal in my life.

Three weeks to go. My last bc pill was last night which means the imminent arrival of what Olga insists on calling “menses.” Furtive Lupron injections will continue through this week as I’m staying with a work friend who doesn’t know. The day I get back to SF and head to the retreat, I’ll start Vivelle patches. It’s still feeling long, especially as I circle back on places like Phoenix and NYC where I’ve already weathered some stage of this process or another and here I am, back again with a flat tummy. Everyone in the airport has a baby except me. Just kidding. (But it’s Sunday, so not really.)

In truth, my attitude is pretty darn positive, so let’s not question it. Never question the positive attitude when it’s here! Seek out the good signs. Choose the better outlook and watch it take on a life of its own. Smile and lift your chin and take a deep breath. These are things we can do.

Maintenance complete!!! Good to go. Boarding. xo

fertility, IVF, meditation, outdoors, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

it’s still my life

I play Draw Something with my almost 5-year-old niece on the other side of country, and I’ve noticed that she’ll often start drawing something and erase it and start over and then erase that and then start over. She usually gets it by the third try, her human figures consistently tall triangles with tiny heads, two eyes, and one thin line making an upside-down U, depicting long hair. I think this is my third try getting this blog post started. Let’s stick with this one.

I had a productive day which started with a smoothie made of peanut butter, açai, spinach, banana, berries, chia seeds, protein powder, and coconut milk, and a run with my trainer at 7:15am as the sun rose over the bay. I was bursting with congratulations to myself for making such a fabulous thing happen–every time I actually get it together to do an early morning workout I feel like a genius for the entire day. I am plowing through to-do lists at work as the lists continue to expand. I feel mostly competent, sometimes inspired, frequently ineffectual. Tonight I worked till 7:30 and left the office with my eyes feeling heavy.

One burrito and one West Wing episode later and I am yawning on the couch.

A friend asked me today where I am on the IVF schedule and I checked the calendar and the answer was “3.5 weeks.” Goodness gracious this is taking a long time. I think time is slowing down. I remember back when everything happened in two-week increments, which was positively breakneck speed compared to IVF. One of my cycle buddies who had her retrieval the day before mine and did a fresh transfer will be 10 weeks pregnant by the time I have my transfer, if my math is right.

Still, it’s weird not to have anything much to do or think about related to fertility. I looked up at the clouds tonight and thought I saw the number 5. I want to mentally commune with them but it all feels so virtual.

I’ve made a whole bunch of plans. First, I’m going to NYC on Sunday. It’s a very packed week with some quite exciting projects in the works. Sometimes when I go to NYC I hardly tell any close friends I’m there because I’m so  busy I don’t want to max myself out or flake on anybody. Well, this is going to be one of those trips where I’m going to see everyone. It feels like a good time to just go for it.

Then on Friday, I’ll transition into peace and quiet. Last night, I started searching around for a meditation retreat for the holiday weekend since Palm Springs is a no-go. These are so hard to get in to–you have to plan months and months ahead. Seems like me and my friend KC are always deciding less than a month beforehand that a certain retreat is perfect and we get our hearts set on it and then by the time we call it’s all booked.

So, imagine my surprise when I called to find that they had one small room left, for me.  This retreat will be a mix of yoga, meditation, vegetarian meals (they are known for their fresh baked bread), long breaks for naps and hikes. Tea and books. Fog and trees. No cell service. 20 minutes from SF and folded into the wilderness. The perfect homecoming at a reflective and transitional time.

My therapist reminded me that although it’s a transitional time, it’s still my life.

With that, I’m going to transition right off this page and into bed. good night



dating, depression, IVF, Mother's Day, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing


Just a quick hi, how are you, and Happy Mother’s Day! I didn’t mean to not write for a week–and now the ‘how are you’ texts are flowing in.

I am great. Last week was an exceptionally busy work week and I came out drained at the end of each day and not inclined to keep looking at my laptop. I also was drained enough that I started moving away from things that have proven to keep me energized–when you’re buried, it can seem like more working more now will equal less stressing later, and then when I get home all I can do is watch multiple West Wing episodes to stay awake until bedtime.

I didn’t even realize how buried I was until I went up to Point Reyes on Saturday with MM for a 9.6 mile hike among the tall trees. My body said WHOA!!! and I totally woke up. Today I felt like a new lady.

A theme in my reading and radio-listening this week was the mind-body connection. There are many mysteries about the human body but it is well demonstrated that our beliefs shape our biology (e.g. the placebo effect), and our biology shapes our beliefs (e.g. mental clarity after a run). So why isn’t the whole medical industry focused on helping us feel great about ourselves?

I’ve been reading about childbirth, in part because it’s fascinating and in part because I’m getting my head in the game (with the hope that the rest of me will follow, i.e. belief shaping biology). In childbirth, so much is determined by how the mother is feeling emotionally and how that manifests in her body. Ina May talks about “sphincter logic”–just like the urethra and the anus who can get performance anxiety without privacy, the cervix can be shy. Scare the mom and labor will slow down. Tell her she is “marvelous” and stroke her hair and you might buy yourself a couple more centimeters.

Ina May says (and I’ll take her word for it) that a bunch of men peeing at urinals in a mens’ room will all spontaneously stop when someone bursts in loudly. Shy sphincters!

She also talks about a woman who had been adopted and grew up with the fear that her mother had died in childbirth. When she was in labor, her body was holding on to the fear that the same thing would happen to her–until she was asked if anything was worrying her and she articulated it, let the fear go, and her body let the baby be born.

I’m gradually making my way toward finalizing a four-week curriculum for gearing up for transfer, in which I am fully believing I’ll get pregnant this time. I need to remember how much exercise and the outdoors are my natural Paxil. Alcohol has the opposite effect (the anti-anti-depressant). Working extra hours is sometimes necessary but has diminishing returns. Thanks go to Dr. Hawaii for helping me realize I am happy to be entirely and peacefully off the market. Same ducks, new row.

In the coming weeks, I’ll do a two-hour psychic healing session to clean out my chakras. I will make an appointment with B’s “Mayan abdominal massage” lady whom I think of as “the vagina steamer” based on her description. I will write more (promise). I will spend time with people who energize me and avoid the emotional vampires. I will be driven at work and disconnect and recharge outside of work. And I will let my body rejuvenate my mind through maybe a new set of exercise types like yoga, swimming, and extended hikes in the endlessly mind-blowing wilderness.

Some Sunday nights feel like New Year’s Eve, and so be it!

Good night, mamas!

anxiety, dating, fertility, IVF, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc


Over this weekend, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I want to spend the next five weeks before my transfer. I’ve been kind of back and forth on this. At first, as I wrote in my last post, I thought–wow, this is a long period of being “off the clock,” an opportunity to run, travel, date, drink, all the things I’ve been more or less avoiding to focus my energy on being healthy, rested, and positive.

After that post, new mom A recommended starting to live as though I’m pregnant now (which frankly sounded boring although I heard an echo of wisdom in it). Then my dad suggested that maybe running a race could leave my body depleted of energy just when I need it to be ready to perform a major feat. Uh, good point. Another friend C raised a virtual eyebrow today when I mentioned maybe putting my online dating profile back up, you know, as a fun distraction.

There were two baby showers this weekend, so I spent both afternoons with my SMC friends. After knowing them for over a year, I love each of them individually and would be friends with all of them outside of having this big thing in common. And having this big thing in common is so powerful and bonding. As I talked through the above considerations, more eyebrows raised, including eventually my own, and I started really thinking about what my goals are for this window of time.

It turns out that giving myself a holiday, easing the reigns and letting go of limits, is really not aligned with my bigger goal here. The few drinks I’ve had in the past week have made me feel foggy and exacerbated my allergies. None of the races I looked at are lined up on weekends that work and the distances made me anxious given how little time I’d have to train. I’ve stayed up past midnight the past two nights and still woke up early. And Dr. Hawaii threw me for a loop this weekend.

It should have been no big deal, let’s meet up for a drink. Still, a pleasant prospect of seeing him again, maybe despite all the poor communication he’d turn out to be great in person again, right? Well, after not hearing from him all weekend he texted me tonight, already back in Hawaii after “a whirlwind trip,” with no acknowledgement that he’d left me hanging on tentative plans (which, of course, were his idea). He concluded by asking whether I have any plans to come to Hawaii. Wow.

We are obviously from different planets. I didn’t expect much from him, and he delivered even less. He doesn’t matter–truly–and I am not heartbroken. I just feel the reminder that opening up means you can get slammed back down, and does it really make sense to take the risk at this critical time? Not that lovely moments can’t pop up at the most random times, and not that I don’t crave companionship, but am I really in a position to go seeking it? Shouldn’t my precious positive energy be directed at the basics that keep me afloat: physical, mental, and spiritual health?

I sense now that there is no spring break from this process and embryo #1 is counting on me to enter into my transfer as ready as I can be, with reduced clutter, minimal interference, a fine-tuned landing pad. Sound body and mind. Inner calm. Focus. Now I’ll develop my five-week curriculum around that.

I suppose it makes sense that when I realized that what looked like a longer-than-usual ‘hiatus,’ I would try to get ‘back to ‘normal.’ I think what I’m realizing now is that it’s not a hiatus, it’s actually a runway.

And this is the new normal.

dating, fertility, IVF, ovulation, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, trying to conceive, ttc

ducks: in a row

Sitting on the couch with the windows wide open (it was 90 degrees today!) and my too-hot laptop on my lap. I can hear heels clicking by on the street below, I can see headlights flash from the top of Twin Peaks in the dark. I was supposed to be on a long drive tonight but decided to do it in the morning, early, rather than risk it feeling sleepy and with only one working headlight. So, 6:30am departure it is. I’ve got to get to bed, but first:

My ducks are finally all in a row, as of today. FET calendar is set! I really had no idea that this part was as complicated as it is…I guess for most people it merges with stimming so it doesn’t get separated out. Here is my protocol:

Started bc pills last night. In about 10 days I’ll start Lupron injections again. Then stop bc pills at around day 18, then AF. It’s a short cycle, but according to Dr. Tran, or “Nam,” as Olga called him today before correcting herself (is he dating Olga??), we have to turn my brain off again. Then I start the transfer cycle, crazy numbers of estrogen patches on my belly, continued Lupron, and then a lining check to determine when I’ll start Medrol and progesterone injections which determines my actual transfer date. Which will be the week of 6/10. And that’s the week Dr. Tran is working, so he will do my transfer, yay!

He is the most conservative doc in the practice and he gives me a 40-50% chance of conceiving.

I know, it sounds like a long wait. But it’s really not. I have some time to rest and relax and line my uterus with silk pillows. I’m planning to sign up for a race to get in maximum shape before I start half-assing my runs again. Also planning a getaway weekend, possibly to Palm Springs, with J over Memorial Day, if one of us can actually get it together to plan it (I give us a 50/50 chance).

After my call with Olga today, she sent a follow-up email to remind me that while on bc pills and Lupron (which shuts off ovulation), I need to be using condoms if I have intercourse because getting prego on Lupron is bad. It is just so ironic–here I am, trying to get pregnant for over a year and, should any action come my way, I’m looking at three forms of birth control. IVF is hilarious.

Speaking of action coming my way, Dr. Hawaii is on a plane right now heading toward SF. He’s so perfectly terribly great. He pushes all my buttons at once. His texts make me pull my hair out–maddening, yet adorable. He’s laid back and inconsistent, super-casual Hawaii dude, but I forgive him because of that one good night kiss in the moonlight. What can I say? Years of therapy have not lessened my affection for the unavailable guy.

Unclear when or if I’ll see him since so far we haven’t found a time that works for both… He’s here to see his family and may stay a day later to hang out with me. I have him penciled in around existing plans.

Meanwhile, I have not one but two SMC baby showers this weekend: one for B and one for C. We’re expecting a girl AND a boy and it’s just about the happiest thing ever. B did a fertility marathon of 1.5 yrs and C got prego on the first try… and here we are! This road is so unpredictable. These will be joyful celebrations.

And I am joyfully celebrating just knowing that my fab five are nestled in their cozy dishes, gently put on pause, frozen in a single moment of human potential.

Today’s thanks go to the scientists.

good night