16 Ways You Can Create Your Rainbow After the Storm.
The sleeping newborn is folded up into a contorted, yet adorable, pose only an expert newborn photographer could achieve.
Her knitted hat is the ROY G BIV shades of the rainbow. Everything looks perfect. Photographs like this take our breath away and cause an involuntary release of an authentic and audible Aww!
Everyone loves a rainbow, and everyone loves a newborn baby. It is a perfect combination. The visual captures a story that is sure to fill our hearts, souls and social media walls, earning more shares and likes than this small-time author could dream of.
Pictures like these go viral, the stories inspiring and full of hope.
Rainbow babies are the children born after a family has experienced a loss: the rainbow after the storm.
They are the endings I help so many of my clients thrive into as a mental health therapist specializing in infertility and loss.
I guide my clients through the work of owning their grief, embracing their story and loving themselves through it — an intense, but incredible, journey to wholeness after heartbreak. Owning the adventure to define their own happy ending: to be the mother they were meant to be because of the mother they have already become.
But what happens when life doesn’t turn out how you planned, hoped for, dreamed of, and maybe, even paid for? What happens when you don’t get the rainbow baby?
This is my story.
And it is all of our stories, because we will all have storms we must survive. Life is beautiful yet hard; we will all have trauma, loss and tragedy.
But what comes after?
You create your own rainbow, damn it. You must choose to thrive.
My cheap seat critics will say my life is full of overcompensating for a infertility journey ending without children. In fact, one of those critics once told me to get a therapist and a dog.
To which my only-in-my-head reply was, I am a therapist, I see a therapist and have three dogs, you f&@*!$# @*!$&%&.
Overcompensating or creating my own rainbow?
I don’t care which you consider it. What I know is that this life I choose to create every single day is one I am proud of, fight for and love.
It is my rainbow.
The three babies I will never get to hold in my arms were just one of my storms, the loss of them quite possibly the biggest storm of my life. Yet, the mother they made me has helped me create an incredible life I had never dared to dream.
This life, a rainbow life I work to create, honors them and the mother they made me.
I think we all can create this life. We must choose to be more than our losses, traumas and tragedies, redefining our own happy ending.
We all must choose it. Because whose life has turned out the way they planned?
Here are a few places you may have never considered to paint your own rainbow:
- Get a weird hobby, and I mean weird, only requirement is that you have to absolutely love it. For me, I raise butterflies. You read that right, I am a butterfly farmer, specifically monarchs and swallowtails. So weird, and admit it, cool.
- Read or listen to at least one personal growth book a month. If you need recommendations, let me know. The seven piles of books on my nightstand has got one for you!
- Break the rules that society says you have to live by (or as Vishen Lakhiani says, Question the brules.) For example, I am a childless mother.
- Color in an adult coloring book. I know you’ve heard about them, go buy one already!
- Connect with people. Social media makes it really easy, and despite what many believe, these relationships can be some of the most authentic and fulfilling friendships of your life. Or for goodness’ sake, make eye contact and say a true hello to everyone you come into contact with today… truly connect.
- Immerse yourself in nature regularly. Watch the bug intently, smell the flower, look up, breathe in the fresh air even if it makes you sneeze.
- Animals! Get a pet, go volunteer, visit the zoo or watch a YouTube video. I don’t care how you do it, but get them in your life.
- Your definition of health. Supplements, water, feeding your body a good balance of medicinal foods and fun food, and moving your body with something you actually enjoy, even if it is dancing around like a weirdo.
- Pour into someone else’s life. Build them up, love them well, believe in them.
- Stop asking for permission to be yourself, and stop apologizing for being her.
- Get excited about something, even if many of the people surrounding you don’t get it. I’m talking childlike-can’t-sit-still excitement.
- Laugh. Every. Day.
- Get grateful.
- Meditate. Yes, I know it is annoying, and not easy for a lot of us, but sit your booty down, close your eyes, and breathe for five minutes. Or try other meditative tools to help like Headspace, floating or Muse.
- Choose childlike wonder… always.
- Practice happy to choose happy.
Life will never turn out how we planned, hoped for or dreamed of, but with work and bravery, it can be the brightest, most magical, pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow.
I may not have the newborn baby curled up in her rainbow-colored outfit for everyone to ooh and aah over. Hell, I know my story scares the shit out of most people. It is hard to see things not turn out. Most have no idea how to respond, but with disconnecting sympathy and words of unhealthy hope. But my hope isn’t about a rainbow baby or the dreamed-of and planned-for ending.
My hope is about creating a rainbow life, and shining that light to help you create yours, because I have no doubt, should you see the pictures of my life, you’d see rainbows coming out of places you’d never imagine.
Justine Brooks Froelker is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (based on the research of Brené Brown) working in private practice. She is the author of her book and blog, Ever Upward, and an advocate for speaking shame and learning to thrive after life doesn’t turn out how you hoped, dreamed and planned. Justine lives in Saint Louis, Missouri with her husband Chad and their three dogs. She enjoys her child-full life by spending time with friends and family, practicing creative self-care, laughing (sometimes at herself) and building butterfly gardens on her acre of land, which has made her an accidental monarch butterfly farmer. You could contact her via Twitter.