Kelly O’Brien wrote an amazing post for MindBodyGreen a few weeks ago and I jumped at the chance to have her share her beautiful story! As we know, fertility is not just about making babies, and Kelly exemplifies what it’s like to live a fertile life at 40… without children!
1. So often, women are guided by the following checklist- Fall in love, get married, have a baby. Did you ever feel pressure to follow the status quo?
Let me first share that I am genuinely honored & thrilled to be able to share my experience with your readers. It’s so inspiring & heart warming for women across the country to support one another as well as encourage one another to honor whatever path suits them best.
To answer your first question, I absolutely felt pressure to get married, fall in love and have a baby. I felt a yearning to fill both emotional voids as well as societal expectations. Let me add that this was such an engrained belief system at the time that I did not obviously realize my actions were being influenced by emotional voids or societal expectations. I believe many women understand what I mean exactly when I say that the lessons from many of my life experiences came after the fact.
I did get married several years ago and we were both very career oriented and focused thus, putting off attempts to conceive. We focused on simply enjoying the first several years of marriage. With further years came mutual discontent followed by the demise of the relationship. Thus, we divorced.
After my divorce, I was still heavily chasing an ideal image of a life that I ‘should’ be living’.
2. How did you first deviate from the life you “should” be living?
My deviation from the life I ‘should be living’ came with a sudden and literally shocking event. I had received a routine flu vaccine after not feeling well for several days. This took place on January 8th, 2010. It was my very first flu vaccine as an adult. Within hours of the vaccine, I was heavily disoriented and told by my doctor that I was simply ‘anxious’. She was certain I just had ‘anxiety’ and I wasn’t successful at convincing her otherwise.
The next 48 hours were traumatic & horrifying resulting in me collapsing both in my condo and then on the ground in Chicago while walking my dog. What followed was me lying in a hospital bed scared and too ill to hold my body up.
What proceeded was endless hospitalizations for the entire year of 2010, the loss of my 14 year career as a Medical Sales Representative at a fabulous company & well over 80,000.00 cash savings spent on medical tests. After misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis, I was finally diagnosed with a rare autonomic disorder labeled ‘POTS Syndrome’ by Mayo Clinic in early October of 2010.
I provided a very summarized version above of what could be a haunting book which I may write one day. We all know that with any life crisis….be it health, divorce, loss of a child, parent, job, etc. comes perspective we couldn’t have had otherwise and for me, incredible clarity of what is truly important in life.
What I shared above was the beginning of my journey in which I completely not only deviated but detached from the life I thought I ‘should’ be leading to the authentic one I ‘am’ leading over 40 years old.
3. What challenges arose from taking the path less traveled?
I think this is great question! The challenges have all been internal for me. When I started to honor myself and truly focus on God’s Will in my life along with completely losing concern for what others think, society ideals evaporated. Society ideals became a silly misnomer to me.
What also completely dissolved was my people pleasing nature along with my overwhelming concern for ‘what people think’ of me.
So what I thought was challenging was the internal process of my own psyche. Unfortunately & fortunately, this process didn’t happen overnight. Unfortunately because who wouldn’t love not to go through internal ‘growth’ in a day – fun stuff! haha. Fortunately, because while the growth process is often painful, it is always those times that we end up flourishing when we are standing glancing in the rear-view mirror.
Letting go of a life lived on one path and choosing a new one proved to be a temporarily painful process of growth. Challenges turned into what I feel are endless invitations & so much joy – doors were opening in every area of my life and continue to. I felt and continue to feel ‘free’ despite any life trials and there are many.
4. What seeds have you planted in your life that you wouldn’t have been able to do had you had children?
I want to share first that I adore children. I am not a woman who set out ‘not to have children’ is what I want anyone reading this to know. I am not a woman to wallow though either and my illness took me completely off an old path and placed me on a new one….quite frankly, whether I wanted to be on a new path or not. The ‘challenge’ initially was if I wanted to ‘stay’ on my new path after all of the introspection I had lying in hospital beds and seize the opportunity of living a fertile life. The irony in this is that being in those hospital beds for so long was such a wonderful gift in a really screwed up looking package. Who get’s to spend 9-12 months resting in bed reading, thinking, praying, etc. Trust me that it’s a rare gift.
This question is tough for me because I feel I could have planted most of the same seeds with children or without. After a lot of thought about this though, I am confident, I would not have been able to apply the focus needed to my own healing if I would have had children. The healing process from waves of intense trauma has been very slow, both physically & emotionally. The cost has been astronomical. With children, I would not have been able to afford it unless I was gifted finances and in addition to the time & commitment it took to heal? The process was a full-time job. There is no possible way I would have been able to care for my children during this time which I imagine would have been gut wrenching. They would have had to stay with their father or caretakers. It wasn’t meant to be and I am grateful I didn’t have to put them through that period in my life.
I have a strong faith in the Lord and I trust Him that He did not bless me with children for a wise reason. This doesn’t mean He will not bless me with children ‘ever’. He already is! I have the ability to interact w/ children that have been diagnosed with the same health condition I was. I motivate them & encourage their parents to be patient. This is parenting. Also, I believe God knew this would all happen to me and without the entire experience, I would not be as good of a mother on that old path. My old path was more superficial with a touch of ‘Keeping Up with the Jones’ mentality sprinkled in.
I can adopt if I would like and I am in a relationship with a man who has two daughters. He is divorced and I am helping in the nurturing process of these lovely girls.
5. What does it mean to you to live a fertile life? (sans children!)
Gosh, to me living a fertile life means to feel all encompassing joy day to day!
Living a fertile life means honoring my interests and what I am so passionate about which is animal activism, veganism, love, writing and simply a multitude of opportunities that align with my values and morals.
Living a fertile life means surrounding myself with the most authentic friendships and chosen family. My friends just blow me away with how amazing they are and I adore so many of my family members. They have all proven to be the shoulders I have needed to lean on and the hands needed to pull me up the mountains I needed to climb. My relationships are so fewer on my new path but so enriching and just plain awesome! I believe it is my relationships – these friendships – that will be my legacy when I leave this earth one day. I have so much FUN being with them and enjoying LIFE.
Finally, living a fertile life means not caring one iota about what people outside of my circle think and outside of what God thinks really. I humbly do not care if someone judges my path or criticizes my choices that doesn’t know me well or that I didn’t ask. I also feel super young as I get older and very motivated to have a blast on some amazing adventures I would have never taken.
I think what was such a life changing learning lesson for me was that this ‘pressure from society’ all originated in our minds. Yes, bear with me. When you start living an authentic life, you realize how much YOU were as much of a culprit, participant and possibly a driver of ‘society expectations’ as what you believed to be impressed upon you. If you disagree, think about the times you gossiped or criticized someone you care about for a choice they made that you didn’t quite ‘get’ or agree with. When you did that? You were planting a seed of ‘societal pressure’.
The truth is? When people see you making changes in your life that genuinely suit you best? When people see that you are radiating real joy? While this causes discomfort in some, they are quietly inspired by you and thinking ‘that’s what I want’. Trust me there. Why? Because to me there is absolutely nothing more inspiring then to see someone living their own truth – nothing.
Kelly Lynn O’Brien’s goals are vast in that she wishes to inspire those that suffer from chronic health conditions, to dig deep and realize that 100 percent restoration of health is possible. After years of abundant success in the medical industry, Kelly was diagnosed with a rare health condition that she is amazingly now healing from. She is incorporating a primarily alkalizing plant based diet and an overall Integrative approach to health. Kelly Lynn is a Wellness Expert here at MindBodyGreen, Freelance Writer for multiple publications & magazines, Social Media Entrepreneur, Blogger at girlgoneveg.com & heading a ‘Chicago Street Style Campaign’ for Beagle Freedom Project of which she is both the director, stylist & photographer for. Finally, she speaks on wellness at various locations in the city of Chicago. She plans to return to medical sales to teach what she has learned to the masses.