Personal Philosophies: Positivity & Gratitude

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As I look forward to embracing my 38th year and look back at last year, what first comes to mind is how emotional it has been, but with the ultimate happy ending.

I have a small but growing repository of annual reflections. It’s invigorating to mindfully re-engage with my core life philosophies: life happiness (continuously learn, be inspired, and act upon goals), life fulfillment (appreciate others and lead a meaningful life), and self-health awareness (align personal health circumstances with life expectations).

With last year’s challenge to articulate my internal turmoil given infertility challenges, my biggest struggle was to eek out positive takeaways from my on-going experience. Having identified data (e.g. diagnosis) and known constraints (e.g. statistical rate of failure/success) can easily lead to mulling over when and where things may have gone wrong, why things aren’t working, and the sobering chances of failure. It requires an active mental shift to set aside a fatalistic diagnostic mindset (e.g. feeling like a victim) and replace it with a proactive, positive future-facing psychological resolution.

Think Positively

List setbacks and then re-frame them as opportunities. My most valuable self-insight from my experience was to “stay encouraged that [I would] find a path to take, even if it’s not the one [that I] initially expected or wanted.” That kept me going as I progressed through treatment. Instead of holding myself to a specific statistic of some (low) [x]% chance that I would be able to conceive, I nurtured general optimism that with a positive mindset and some amount of creativity, and open-mindedness, I’d eventually reach a good state of resolution.

On September 11, 2015 I had 10 eggs extracted. I documenting the moment pre-op: nervous, bloated-like-a-balloon, and hopeful that all of it would be worthwhile.

Smiling with excitement to get things going, despite my dislike of needles (of which I had to endure many through the process).
Smiling with excitement to get things going, despite my dislike of needles (of which I had to endure many through the process).

Lots of expressed love and support helped immensely!
Lots of expressed love and support helped immensely!
On November 23, I had a 5-day blastocyst (1 of only 2 that survived the fertilization and growth process; one had a 50% of survival and the other had a 20% chance) carefully inserted into my uterus. I remember being thrilled, still-nervous, and enormously protective of my fragile new addition.

Post-op of having the blastocyst inserted (circled in red on the monitor); fingers crossed that 'she' would stick!
Post-op of having the blastocyst inserted (blastocyst and surrounding air bubble are circled in red on the monitor). Fingers crossed that ‘she’ would stick!

Leilani's first photo as a 5-day old blastocyst consisting of about 100 cells(!)
Leilani’s first photo as a 5-day old blastocyst consisting of about 100 cells(!)
While progressing through incremental hurdles, keep an optimistic mindset. We used the following to help nurture a sense of calm and optimism through the process:

  • Silly antics by my husband to make me smile and laugh (I so wish I could share video evidence 😉 )
  • Yoga, mediation, and soothing music at frequent and regular intervals
  • Active recognition and avoidance of potential stress triggers
  • Indulgent self-pampering: massages (Cocoon Urban Day Spa = my oasis), favorite foods (dim sum!) and relaxing activities (reading cookbooks and Saveur magazines)
  • Quiet moments to mentally center myself and send protective, soothing thoughts to the minuscule being within me

Now, almost exactly a year later, we’re absolutely thrilled to be celebrating the success of our efforts. Such precious success, complete with downy hair, contented coos, wide bright eyes, and miniature pouty lips.

Photo thanks to Kent Hwang (
Photo thanks to Kent Hwang (

Exercise Gratitude

Acknowledge your current life successes – both achieved and on-going – and express gratitude for the people and circumstances that made it possible for you to have your current happiness. Yes, there are unavoidable challenges, setbacks, and unanticipated curve balls that can whisk you in a completely new direction. But what you get out of the path that you take is purely dependent on how you frame your journey.

I choose the mindset that allows me to celebrate the best of my experiences thus far, and those which have yet to come. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a parent – I delight in every aspect of her (which includes laughing over magnificent poo-splosions) rather than being frustrated with the little nugget responsible for prolific messes.

I made a huge wish on my birthday last year. I am so thankful that it came true.

Making a wish this year, along with my wish-come-true from last year.
Making a wish this year with the help of last year’s wish-come-true.
My beloved little wish was beside me as I blew out this year’s candle. I could not be more filled with gratitude and contentment, and I eagerly look forward to the life insights I’ll gain by having her in my life. I can’t wait see what I’ll have to share this time around, next year!

xoxo and aloha,
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  1. […] (Previous annual reflections are: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) […]

  2. Congrats! Very happy for your new born. = )

  3. Fifi B. says:

    beautiful. so happy for ya!

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