Thoughts on Strength


Physical strength is the power of physics at work – the ability to exert or resist force.  That one is simple.  You have the strength to life an object, or to hold a door shut while someone pushes from the other side.  It’s arm wrestling at its finest!

Mental strength is a bit hard to quantify, but it is still the ability to exert or resist force isn’t it?  It’s pulling your tired self out of bed in the morning, resisting that strong pull of your pillow and warm blankets.  It’s the ability to keep silent when you REALLY want to comment on the color of that teenager’s hair.    It’s the ability to stand up in front of people and make a presentation.  And it’s also the ability to quietly say…I need help.

Strength is another of those buzzwords in my life, and yes, another of the words I included in my latest tattoo.  I think that I’ve evolved into a strong woman, and that many people see my strength but don’t stop and think about where it comes from.  Physical strength comes from gradually building up muscles to exert and resist force.  Mental strength is the result of that same gradual build up.  You rush past the easy stuff, you work a little harder at some things, and then there are times you have to dig really deep to get through it.  But you do get through it…stronger.  When I talked about Courage last month, I said that “Mental courage is the strength it takes to be brave, the faith it takes to believe, and the willingness to see it through.”  Huh…so mental courage and mental strength are pretty similar…what do you know?  But really, without that inner strength – it’s hard to muster up the courage.

I’ve had lots of experiences that have built up my mental strength characteristics.  MRKH for sure, but before that too.  I was bullied as a kid – probably most of us have been in some form or another.  I was teased for being poor, for puberty acne, for being a farm kid, for my haircut, and for being friends with the less popular kids.  But through the teasing and bullying, I learned compassion and empathy, and I stuck up for others, and sometimes even myself. I had to learn to be strong even when I didn’t feel like it.  When our dog died, and I still had to go to school.  When my grandfather died, and I still had to go to school. When a girl in our school was a victim of a murder, and I came home from school and NO ONE WAS HOME. When my brother got drunk at a rock concert, and he still had to go to school the next day.  When my other brother crashed head first into a mail box post while sledding, ending up in the hospital with a fractured skull, yep, I still had to go to school.   And when I knew I was different, because I never got my period…but waited another 3 years before finding out it was MRKH, and yep – I still went to school the next day!  🙂

I do see myself as a strong woman now, but  in choosing the words for my tattoo, I chose ones that would remind me of my journey and be a continual source of encouragement.  And it’s a vehicle for me to talk about my MRKH journey with others when they see my tattoo.  They can see and understand the words, but they may not recognize the BYMRKH flower logo.  I take any and all opportunities to show off my ink, and of course to talk about MRKH.

Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.  ~ Harriet Tubman

Philippians 4:13  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Psalm 118:14  The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.

Friends & Friendships

This past weekend I went on a well thought out, obsessively planned, bonsai road trip.  I had an agenda, stops were scheduled, I was fitting as much into this one day on the road as I could.

I left my house at 7am, coffee in hand (of course), Nav system tuned into my first stop, and a back pack with snacks, water, and the necessary paperwork.  My phone was charged up, the car charger on hand…and the baby goat was in the back of the car.  It would take me 5 hours to get to my first destination, and I started up my audio book.  I listen to books constantly, as I spend a lot of time on the road, and I love to read!  Today was a Kate Wilhelm book in the Barbara Holloway series.  I stopped to fill up my gas tank.  I stopped to pee (lots of coffee!).  I stopped to text and give updates to people on my agenda for the day.

At noon, right on schedule I pulled into my first stop.  Tieton Farm and Creamery.  I met Ruth, her rescue dog Jamie, and we became fast friends.  Ruth and I unloaded Rafael (the baby goat) into his pen and she took me on a quick walking tour of her farm and set up.  She runs a mixed herd of dairy goats and sheep and they make lovely artisan cheeses from the milk.  I got to meet Bella, one of her livestock guardian dogs too!  I love meeting dogs! LOL  It was a lovely place, thick lush irrigated pastures, healthy and happy goats and sheep, cute dogs, and Ruth was a gem. Back at the car we did some paperwork, took a couple of selfies, and I was back on the road.

Nav system updated with the new destination, text message sent, book restarted, stop for gas and pee again, and I was off.  A short 30 minutes later and I pulled into Red Robin and met up with Kristen for a lunch date.  Kristen is a fellow MRKH warrior and is a spit-fire!  She’s pierced and tattooed and currently sports a mohawk with bright blue in her platinum blonde!  We’ve met before in a group setting, but spending sister time one on one is always special.  No one quite gets you like another MRKH sister.  We talked and ate, and talked some more.  We talked about our physical limitations, symptoms associated with MRKH, and other random stuff.  We talked about her “threenager” Dek.  Kristen and her husband adopted Dek as a newborn.  We talked about their adoption journey, and family planning as it relates to having MRKH.  We talked about the research being done and trials being conducted for uterine transplants.  We both agreed that if we were within 5 years of diagnosis and these transplants were being done we would be totally on board in considering this as an option.  We talked about all the MRKH sisters we know who are doing or have done surrogacy.  We talked about younger MRKH sisters we know and how as “big sisters” we can work to mentor them and share our experiences.  We talked too about meeting sisters face to face, but also finding sisters our own age who can relate to what is relevant in our lives in the moment, and the value of sharing out experiences.  I personally treasure every opportunity I have to spend time with my MRKH sisters, so was sad when our time was up and I needed to get back on the road.  Several hugs, selfies, and promises to get together again soon…and we finally parted ways.

Once again, Nav system updated with the next destination on my list, text message sent, book restarted and I was off!  A couple hours and I was pulling into Dennys for my next meet-up.  I was a few minutes ahead, so took the opportunity to use the bathroom and wash up/freshen up.  At this point I was feeling the hours of being in a car driving…and appreciated the chance for blood circulation again!  My darling friend Janine pulled up a short few minutes later.  Janine and I have been friends since high school!!!  That’s 28 years.  We’ve been through it all together, and while we’ve had a few stretches were life was too crazy and we didn’t speak for several years…she will forever hold a special place in my heart.  I was one of her bridesmaids 27 years ago, and she was one of my bridesmaids 21 years ago.  But that is only one part of what makes her so special to me.  This post will likely embarrass her…but I expect she could write an equally gushy blog post about me!  LOL

So Janine and I met in high school, well specifically, we met at the Sno-Isle Skills Center.  A collaborative voc-tech school that served several school districts in the area.  We were both in enrolled in the medical office assistant program.   I don’t know why we hit it off so well, but I’m sure that God had a hand in it!  We became good friends, sharing stories of our boyfriends, families, and life at our different high schools.  When it came time for me to be scheduled for the diagnostic laparoscopy, it was Janine who would be the person who would drive me to the hospital at 5am and sit with me until time for my surgery.  This was the surgery that confirmed my diagnosis of MRKH.  The day I was told that I did not have a uterus, would never get my period, and would never carry a child.  Janine was there for me that day.  As I went back to school, and back to the Skills Center – she was there, and our friendship was cemented.  She asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, and I asked her to be in my wedding too.  So our spring was filled with graduations, our summer with bridal showers, and that fall we both got married.  I wore a red dress in her wedding, and she was supposed to wear a green dress in mine.  A few weeks before my wedding, she got hit with a horrible bout of endometriosis and was in the hospital for a couple of weeks I think.  She was not well enough to be in my wedding or even to attend.  It was sad, but I found an alternate bridesmaid.

A few months later, we both ended up moving into the same apartment complex in Everett.  Two very young couples with minimal furniture, but wanting so badly to be adults.  We shared several dinners at each others apartments as we learned to navigate as married couples.  As life continued we kept in touch when I joined the army and ended up in Colorado.  Occasional phone calls, a few letters.  This was before email and cell phones, so long distance calls were a luxury and an extra expense.  I stayed in Colorado and we all know how that marriage fell apart.  Janine and her husband moved to central Washington, but again, we stayed in touch every few months.  When I met Jeremy, I told her of course, and when we decided to get married I asked Janine to be one of my bridesmaids again.  I hadn’t seen her in probably 5 years, but I desperately wanted her to stand with me.  She agreed, and we did dress measurements over the phone, made travel arrangements, and she came to Colorado to be in my wedding.

It was a wonderful few days with her.  We talked and talked and talked and talked some more.  About little things, and big things; light things and heavy things.  We talked about family, and children, and infertility.  We talked about my first marriage and divorce.  We talked about grief and acceptance.  And she was there on my very special day…again.

Right, back to Dennys 2016.  Janine pulled in, and I gave her a giant hug as usual!  We were seated, placed our orders and took up conversation as if it had never paused.  She and her husband adopted a brother/sister pair through foster care about 10 years ago, and so I got the update on both kids, including the sick one! We talked about family, and cancer; children and infertility.  We talked about my crazy schedule, the work I’m doing with Courageous MRKH and the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.  We talked about healing, and grief, and acceptance.  We talked about our long friendship, and the roll we have played in each others lives.  We talked about girl time and forming unbreakable bonds.  We talked about God and the roll Faith plays in our lives.  And all too soon we started talking about what time it was, how short time could be, and the fact that I had 3 more hours to drive before I would make it home.  With deep regret, we hugged another 20 or so times…walked out and headed to our cars.  She to go back to her family, sick kid and all.  Me to head home to my own family.

Set the nav system for home, called hubby to let him know I was on the final leg, and restarted the audiobook.  A quick stop to empty my bladder and fill my gas tank, and 14 hours after I had started, I made it home.  600 miles – 1 goat delivered; 1 MRKH sister meet up; 1 sistersisters of the heart of the heart meet up, and I was ready for a glass of wine and some R&R.

Over the years I’ve come to deeply treasure special friendships.  The ones where you connect on a truly visceral level; where words aren’t necessary, and even physical presence isn’t necessary.  When I can walk into a room and know that person accepts me completely, understands me probably better than I understand myself; and we spend the time to build each other up…those are the beautiful sisters of the heart I cherish more than anything.  I’m so truly blessed to have MRKH sisters that fill this role, but also a few very special girlfriends – sisters of the heart.

Newton’s Law

Newton’s first law of motion – the law of inertia:  An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Newton’s second law of motion:  The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.

Newton’s third law:  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.


So why exactly am I discussing physics???

Well, because it can be directly and metaphorically related to our own lives.

1st law:  inertia…an object at rest stays at rest, an object in motion stays in motion.  If you do nothing to change the path you are on, you just keep going in the same direction.  It is the inaction that perpetuates the action.

2nd law:  acceleration:  the speed at which you move is directly proportional to the amount of force you put into it.  If you exert more force/energy, the change will happen faster.

3rd law:  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Think about a high 5 among 2 people.  Each raises their hand in opposing directions, shifts their hands forward to meet, and then rebounds/retracts back from the contact.  If one person uses more force, the other absorbs that impact and must respond with increased force to counterbalance it.

When we look at our lives along a continuum, we see times of inertia, we see times of acceleration, and we see times of adaptation or reactions.  Depending on the amount of effort we put into a task will determine where it falls on our life’s continuum.

OK, back to the matter at hand…or “What the hell are you talking about, Heidi?”  Well, it’s simple really: Your life isn’t going to change until you make an effort to change it.  You will be stuck in inertia until you do something to accelerate change.

I was stuck in a relationship, developing a pattern that unless I took steps to change things, was going to just continue on in that basic state of existing but not really accomplishing anything.  In my last post I talked about desiring change and left you with the line “Thoughts turn to intentions, intentions turn to action, and action compels momentum.”

When I finally decided that I needed to get out of the relationship, and that I had no real future with him, lots of things changed.  I gained confidence knowing the end was in sight.  I still had a warped sense of responsibility – that so much of it was my fault, thus I had this compelling need to ensure that he was “set up” for being without me (self importance, much?).  So I encouraged him again to “get a better job or go home to your dad.”  I made the suggestion to him that maybe he should consider going back into the military – after all an E-4 is an E-4 no matter what job you did in which branch.  I told him that you know, if he joined the army and did all the paperwork, we could probably be stationed together.  It was step one in my acceleration plan: Get him to join, to have a commitment and a job to do that was honorable.

This isn’t one of Newton’s Laws, but you know the saying, everything happens for a reason?  Well, I firmly believe this is true.  I believe that people come into and out of our lives for a reason.  I believe we have experiences that shape us and prepare us for future experiences.  We may not always see the value of the experience in the moment it happens, but looking back, if we remain open minded, we see that we must have these experiences in order to shape our lives.

So the short story is this:  He joined the military and went to training.  He was supposed to fill out spousal accommodation paperwork.  He didn’t.  He got orders for Korea.  He wouldn’t deny the orders or ask for spousal accommodation.  He came back to Colorado for leave, and we couldn’t see eye to eye on anything, we fought constantly, and it was a miserable time.  Bottom line we agreed that it was time to file for divorce.  He took his belongings and went to stay with a friend.  Over the course of about 2 weeks we completed all the necessary paperwork and filed for divorce.  It was inevitable.  I have never seen him face to face since the day we left the courthouse after filing the petition for divorce together (uncontested).  90 days later we would be divorced officially.  He left for Korea a few days later.

Over the next couple of months there was additional paperwork to be filed in order for his personal belongings to be picked up and shipped to his home of record, and other reasons that we needed to speak and coordinate.  I wanted it all to be over, his stuff to be gone, and the chapter to be closed for good.  He hung on, not wanting the relationship to end.  He was away from home and family, stationed in Korea, and called “just because” fairly regularly.  I asked him not to call.  His stuff was gone, the divorce was nearly final, I wanted closure.  I wanted to move on with my life without the constant interruption from him.

I was dating, enjoying my new found freedom in being 21 and unattached.  I had a social life, friends, weekend activities, my life in the Army of course. I was taking college courses and doing as much training as I could to further my career.  And several times a week in the middle of the night usually, my phone would ring.  He would be on the other end of the line.


“Hi, it’s me”

“What do you want?”

“Nothing really, just wondering how you are.”

“I’m not sure that’s any of your business anymore, especially at 2am”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t think about what time it is.”

“Right, did you need something?”

“Ummm, so my dad said that the shipment arrived last week.”


“Well, ummm, I thought you should know.”

“Look, in another week the divorce will be final.  Your stuff is gone.  Your car is sold. We have nothing left to discuss, especially not at 2am.”

“well, ok, I just thought…”

“Well stop.  You need to stop calling me.  It’s over between us.  I just want to move on with my life.”

We had a lot of conversations like that.  Random phone calls in the middle of the night, wondering how I’m doing, if I’m ok.  He just did not get the message that it was OVER.  I had moved on.  I told him repeatedly to stop calling.  Eventually I used the strongest threat I possibly could.  I threatened to call his commanding officer to alert him of my intention to file a restraining order.  Our divorce was final.  Our financial matters were resolved.  His stuff was no longer in my possession. It was over.  If he called me again, no matter the reason I would petition for a restraining order and call his commanding officer.

He never did call me again.  Our divorce was final in September of 1993.  I have talked to him on the phone perhaps 5 times since that day, mostly regarding the fact that he still had me listed as an authorized user on one of his credit card accounts, and it was showing up on my credit report, and his bill collectors were calling ME 15 years later.  I think that I may have seen him in public one time about 5 years after the divorce, but I very quickly turned the opposite direction (in my car) and drove away.  That would be Newton’s 3rd law – for every action (me seeing him) there was an equal and opposite reaction (me turning the other way and driving off).

Thoughts turn to intentions, intentions turn to action, and action compels momentum.

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.

Whenever I’m faced with a dilemma, I often spend a lot of time analyzing, and considering what options I have.  I spend a lot of time thinking about how a particular course of action might play out, what the consequences might be, potential reactions, and how that will affect the next steps.  Once I’ve analyzed to death multiple courses of action, I generally settle on one and move forward.

My life is NOT what I expected it to be when I started my senior year of high school.  Life threw me a few curve balls along the way, but after many deliberations, choices, missteps, do-overs, and triumphs…I am content with my life and the continued path my life is on.  I will continue to improvise on the fly, adapt to changes, and overcome my obstacles.  It’s what I do.  I’m an MRKH Warrior.