J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 10.
A: But you can choose joy in the midst of suffering and I just want to encourage you to do that and not let the suffering wipe out your hope and overcome you.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: Hi there, I'm Jen Riday, and on our last episode, I spoke with Jodi Danen about getting more active and feeling so much happier as a result. Jody challenged us to find a 5k in our areas that we can run or walk and I hope you've done that. Today, I'm chatting with Amanda Teixeira about her struggles with infertility and the peace she has found through adopting her little girl. Amanda has made it a priority in her life to choose happiness and I love her story, I know you're going to find it very inspiring, so we'll go ahead and get started.
Okay, Vibrant Happy Women, welcome to our newest episode. I'm thrilled to introduce Amanda Teixeira today Amanda blogs with her husband at truegoodandbeautiful.com about money, mission, and marriage. Her unique perspective has led her to be a guest on several podcasts and national radio shows and she's had articles featured on daveramsey.com and moneysavingmom.com. She inspires audiences on topics including money, the importance of intentional living, and the everyday real-life experiences of infertility, adoption, and motherhood. She's joining us from Denver where she lives with her husband, Jonathan, daughter, Josephine, and Labrador Retriever, Wrigley. Welcome, Amanda.
A: Thank you so much for having me, Jen.
J: Yeah, I'm excited to talk with you. So take a minute and fill in the gaps that I didn't cover in that bio.
A: Sure. Just a disclaimer for all of you who are joining us right now, it's bedtime for our little 18 month old, Josephine, and you might her upstairs kind of fighting going to bed, you might even hear our dog Wrigley walking above me in our living room so just to let you know what those sounds might be. But just to give you a little bit more about my history, I grew up in Nebraska and after my husband and I got married, we moved to Colorado. We have worked for a collegiate ministry organization called FOCUS, stands for Fellowship Of Catholic University Students. Our 8 years with FOCUS, we've moved through a couple different States and finally settled here in Colorado and we love it. Just we are made for Colorado, we love to hike and ski and do all the outdoor fun things that this wonderful state has to offer. We love the sunshine and we also are very busy at this time in our life with an 18 month old who is becoming very busy as the days go by, and her favorite hobby right now is to ransack everything in her house. So I typically spend my days either blogging or following her around and cleaning up different things she tears apart.
J: Ah, you're busy.
A: Yes, we're busy and very happy.
J: Ah, that's great. We love to start off a show with our guest’s favorite motto or a favorite quote, do you have one for us today?
A: I do. This is a quote that is… it's been something that has meant a lot to me for at least, gosh, a good decade now. Saint Teresa of Ávila who lived many centuries ago, she's the one who said it, and the quote is, “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, all things pass away, God never changes, patience attains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”
J: Hmm, I love that.
A: Yeah, and when I… you know, when I originally was kind of drawn to that quote, I didn't really know how it would relate to me in my life, but over the last several years of being married, I've… this quote has come to mean a whole lot more to me that I meant when I initially heard it over a decade ago.
J: Yeah, isn't that funny how meanings change as we gain awareness and understanding through our experiences? (Laughs)
A: Yes, yes. Sometimes I'm like, “If I only knew what was coming down the road 10 years ago or, you know, in the future, I just… I think I’d pass out in fear.”
A: It's good that we don't always have a glimpse to all the things that we're going to be asked to experience and overcome in our life.
J: Tell us about some of those experiences that you're kind of referencing, if you had known 10 years ago.
A: Sure, I'd say the hardest one for us, for Jonathan and I in our marriage, was finding out that we were battling infertility. Probably 6 months into our marriage, we were ready to start a family and it just wasn't happening for us. And we started getting tests, I was taking medications, I had a couple surgeries, gosh, it just… it felt like infertility and trying to expand our family was consuming my every thought, it was consuming every day, it was just literally wearing me down and just taking all the energy out of… out of my life and out of our marriage and it really took us to a really tough place. I referenced already that we are Catholic and, typically in the Catholic world, people are really excited about children and it's just such a blessing to marriages to welcome the gift of children. And so a lot of friends that were married around the same time I was, you know, were announcing their first pregnancies, and then a year into our treatments, they were announcing another pregnancy. And it just was really tough and it felt like I was kind of falling behind and it was hard not to place my identity in my infertility.
J: Mm. So how did you make it through that and keep your identity separate from that situation?
A: I… for about 2 and a half years, I just was in a very dark, desperate, it was lonely… a lonely place, it felt like all my dreams were just dead before me and that the life we had a dreamt about and imagined for our marriage just wasn't never going to happen. But I… again, about 2 half years into our marriage, I joined an online support group actually on Facebook of other women experiencing infertility and their marriages too. And I think that was a changing point for me because it felt like a… just a breath of fresh air. And all of a sudden, I had people that really understood and got my situation from their own life experiences, and they were able to kind of support and encourage me and turn me to the right resources that really helped me and helped Jonathan and I’s marriage. And through just getting that support, he and I were able to discern that it was probably time to just take a break on some of the medical stuff and we started turning our eyes towards adoption. It was something we had talked about in our engagement that we were interested in doing at some point in our marriage, we just didn't know when. Obviously, we didn't think it would be the first thing that we were… we went towards and growing our family, but we just really felt like it was something we were supposed to do at that time. And so as… as soon as we started that adoption process, it just felt like hope came back to us.
J: Hmm, nice.
A: Our energy was restored and it just felt like it was something positive to look forward to; it almost felt like we were paper pregnant. I had appointments to go to, I had things to do, I had a room to get ready for the baby we would adopt someday. And so it just changed everything from just this dark and lonely place to a situation filled with hope and with excitement and just joy for us.
J: That's beautiful, and something where you could have a little bit of control over things and not feel so powerless.
A: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, it just… it felt again like I could actually do something, I could work on adoption. Every time I sat down and did paperwork, I was one step closer to bringing that baby through our front door, whereas with infertility, it felt like everything I did ended up making us go 2 steps backwards and we found out more bad news and I just was ready for something good and something positive in our life, and so we just… you know, we'd overall in. I… I did kind of an adoption maternity photo shoot with my husband. We took pictures with, you know, little signs saying ‘Waiting for you’, and we held little balloons and tiny little shoes and just did everything to kind of prepare us and get our hearts excited for whatever child God was going to bring into our family next.
J: That's really nice. So did you post those on your blog?
A: We did post them on our blog. And it's actually kind of a fun story because we took these photos and we decided to put them on our blog and then on Facebook and we asked for people to help us find a birth family that might be looking for an adoptive placement. I'm not sure if you're familiar with adoption, but it can be very expensive just when you get different agencies involved, and we were trying to meet somebody without an agency kind of matching us and it would keep costs down.
A: And so we put our picture out there, and literally 10 hours later, we had somebody message us saying they saw our photo, they had specifically gotten on Facebook that day to ask some people about if they knew of an adoptive family and she saw our photo in her newsfeed.
J: Ooh, serendipity.
A: Oh my gosh…
J: Meant to be. (Laughs)
A: … is amazing because, you know, the stories we had heard were, “If you're going to adopt, you better be ready for like a 2-year wait, you better be ready for just a roller coaster, you never know,” and, I mean, we put our picture up in 10 hours later, we’re matched, like nobody has that story. It was just unbelievable and it was just, again, a time when we were just so happy and excited that we had turned towards adoption instead of, you know, continuing the medical route at that time.
J: Tell us more about what happened after that.
A: Yeah, so after we were matched… adoption, again, it… it can be an up-and-down thing just because, you know, birth family, they could change their mind and rightly so; they… they definitely need to have the freedom to do that until several days after the baby's been born. And so over the next couple months, you know, we were kind of preparing and painting the nursery and doing everything that expecting parents would do. I had baby… a couple baby showers thrown for me. Again, it was a very exciting time, but we had to be kind of cautiously optimistic. We flew to California and that's where our daughter was born, and we just had the most special 3 days in the hospital with her and her birth family. They've really become beautiful friends of ours and we have just a great relationship together. And then I'm just thrilled for our daughter that she gets to experience that love from us and then from her birth family as well.
J: So is this an open adoption then?
A: It is, yes, it's a very open adoption so we're all friends on Facebook and we tag each other in our posts and, yeah, we… we feel like family to one another. So…
J: Aww, that's really great.
A: … it’s a very cool situation, mm-hmm.
J: Do you ever get together in person?
A: We have not yet, but that is kind of a goal for the summer upcoming. They've talked about coming to visit us, if that can't happen, we're going to fly out to California and visit them. We do things like Skype and FaceTime just so our daughter keeps, you know, an image of them in her mind and we show her pictures of who they are and so she knows who they are, what they look like and what they sound like. So even though we are so far away, she can still know who they are and had a relationship with them, and that's really important to us. We wanted to do an open adoption for our daughter's sake because, you know, a lot of adoptees, they want to know where they came from and who they might look like and they want to ask those questions, you know, probably not when she's 1 or 2, but when she's 17 and 18, she might want to call them and just say, “Hey, guys, let's talk about more of our family tree,” or, “I am battling depression, does that run in the family?” or just that access to them is so important for her that we really wanted to maintain that openness for her sake.
J: Wow. I think… I think it's a beautiful story, you… your daughter is very lucky. Tell us more about your current day life, how you're living a vibrant happy life today and you can talk about…
A: Sure. After 3 years of infertility, sometimes I feel like I need to pinch myself because all I wanted to be was a mother. Ad today, you know, when I wake up in the morning and I hear Josie talking to herself in her crib, I'm just in awe, I’m like, “Is this really my life?” And it's just such an honor and a gift to be a mother to an amazing joyful little 18 month old. Parenthood has definitely had its challenges, I mean, goodness, you know, I didn't really expect all the lack of sleep, but it has ultimately drawn our family a lot closer to one another. You know what Jonathan and I used to kind of dream about and talk about, we now get to do in our everyday life. We get to go on a walk with our daughter, we get to take her to her grandparents, and it really feels like we're living a dream come true at this time and it's just an answered prayer for us. Even though we still have infertility and those struggles, you know, they're still present in our life. I am still… I’m pursuing medical treatment again for that, but it has… just adopting and becoming a mother has changed my perspective so much on that, and it's just easier to kind of trust that God's going to take care of our family. And, you know, this time around, I'm a lot freer from just that pressure and the anxiety of infertility.
A: So that's just been a gift… a gift for us. And then also, my husband and I are kind of working on launching and online business and that is, again, very challenging, but it feels like we're on this adventure and we don't really know how big our business is going to go, but I think it's going to be bigger than we could ever dream of. And that's just kind of exciting to kind of be on the cusp of change of not knowing what the future brings, but knowing things are going to be really different 3 years from today; so that's kind of fun. And then lastly, I would say we're really excited and happy because we are about to start the process of adoption again.
J: Mm, nice!
A: So we're hope… we're hoping to adopt the baby Teixeira number 2. Again, we… we took some photos and we're going to put them up on Facebook and on our blog and we're going to just kind of cast the nets out there and see if there are any opportunities for us and kind of let God bless us in that way, if that's what he wants for us.
J: Hmm, that's going to be so fun. And maybe some of our listeners will share your story and it will make that happen quick again; that would be great.
A: That would… that would be awesome, thank you.
J: So tell us more about the business you're launching, what's that about?
A: Yeah, so our first business idea is, when we were going through the trenches of infertility, we needed help and we needed support and we didn't… we just didn't know where to turn. And so Jonathan and I have created an online package, it's… the website is theinfertilitysurvivalguide.com and we have basically created this powerhouse package for couples that are kind of navigating the trenches of infertility if they've got medical questions or emotional questions or friendship questions, I mean, really anything about their marriage and how to communicate better. And we've covered it from every angle, we left no stone unturned, and we really… we brought in doctors, we brought in different experts to speak into different aspects of infertility to make couples that purchase our package feel like they've got support, feel like they have hope, feel like they have a community and a connection to others going through the same exact journey. We're really excited to give that to people because it just doesn't exist out there right now.
A: You know, there's blogs about infertility and that's awesome, and there's a couple e-books that are out there, but you… when you're battling it, you just need more, and so we went ahead and created that more to give couples an opportunity to continue to, you know, go through the suffering infertility, but have a way that they could still live joy in their life and still have a sense of peace even though they're suffering.
J: And we will have links to that in the show notes at jenriday.com/10. So, Amanda, we've reached my favorite part of the show where we get to talk about a few of your favorite things. So, question number 1, what is your favorite personal habit that you feel contributes to your success?
A: That's a great question, but I would say the most influential thing on my success has been just prayer and meditation. You know, I am a Christian and so that involves praying to God. Other people in different faiths and religions have various forms of this, but I have just really always felt grounded, and after I'm done praying about a situation, I feel more peaceful and I feel more joyful and when I'm… than when I'm not praying. So, you know, when life gets crazy, I make sure to, every day, have room for prayer and meditation and it seems to just kind of make everything go smoother, put things in perspective, calm me down and my reactions down and give me the strength to kind of continue pushing through.
J: So I know a lot of our listeners pray and a lot of our listeners meditate, so I would love to hear more about how both of those look in your life. Do they… do you mix the 2 at the same time or do you do one first and then the other?
A: Sure. I I'd say when I pray, oftentimes, it looks a little bit more like journaling, so I'm kind of just journaling a conversation to God about whatever's going on in my life or the day or other people's lives, my family. And so once I've kind of journal prayer, then typically I will pick up the Bible and I will find just a particular scripture passage and I'll read it a couple times through, and that's when I do more of the meditation. So I won't pick a huge portion of Scripture, but maybe like 5 to 7 verses and I'll just read them a couple times, and each time, I'll read them a little slower and a little slower and I'll try to just kind of glean whatever I can from those few verses and apply them to the day. And so that's when I do more meditating is just when I slow down more and it's focused on something in front of me.
J: I like that, slowing the mind and focusing; that's beautiful. Okay, well, question number 2, share your favorite easy meal that you like to eat regularly.
A: Yes, I actually eat an autoimmune paleo diet, which the… the thing that made me laugh was you said ‘easy meal’…
A: … which because I eat autoimmune paleo, means everything I eat is from scratch. And so ‘easy’ is a relative term in my world. But if I'm going to do something quick and simple, I'll stick with like a grilled chicken, you know, marinated with some lime, maybe a sweet potato on the side and then some roasted veggies.
J: Do you have an autoimmune condition?
A: Yeah, so that's what we're trying to figure out. We think that some of my infertility might be linked to an autoimmune disorder, and that's what we're trying to nail down, “Is it an adrenal condition? Is it Hashimoto's thyroiditis?” that's what we're trying to figure out right now through some testing. But I'm responding really well, that’s with the diet, and so it… it's giving me a hit that, yes, something is off in my autoimmune system, I just don't know exactly what and I'm hoping that we're going to get some answers soon.
J: Yeah, the autoimmune puzzle is a very tricky one.
J: So question 3, what is your current favorite household possession?
A: I would say, because I do the autoimmune paleo diet, I have spent a lot of time with my Vitamix which is kind of like the Cadillac of all blenders, if you've ever seen one like at Costco.
A: We have to blend a lot for my diet and so, yeah, I definitely said, “We need one of those,” and I blend something in it every single day and I have totally fallen in love with our Vitamix.
J: Mm. So speaking of Vitamix, what's your favorite smoothie recipe or combination?
A: Yeah. I have been making… lately, I throw in half a banana, a bunch of berries, and then like 3 or 4 handfuls of spinach and kale, and then I'll throw a splash of… splash of orange juice in and then blend it up; it's so good.
J: That sounds so good; mm, making my mouth water.
J: So what's your favorite book that you'd recommend to us and why?
A: Yeah. Actually, I just read this book a couple of months ago, it's called ‘Living Forward’ by Michael Hyatt and Dan Harkavy. And the reason I love the book is because it's all about creating a life plan, just kind of figuring out, you know, “What do you want to be known for? What do you want your legacy to be in life?” then figuring out how do you design your life today to set you up to leave that legacy you so want to leave in the lives of your workplace, your fa… your family, your friends, your children. And I just… I love it because, 1, I'm kind of a type-a person who likes to always have a plan and kind of schedule things and all of that; so of course, it appealed to that type… that part of my… my brain. But also, it just… I felt like it was so good at helping you become intentional about your time because we all know that time is such a precious gift and it can be spent well or it can be spent poorly, and we only… we all get the same amount of hours in the same… in each day. So I want to spend my life investing my time and not wasting my time, and I felt like this book, ‘Living Forward’, was so geared at helping me invest my time, I just loved it and I think it's going to be it a staple for us for the rest of our lives. And so I just want to encourage other women maybe to pick that book up because it'll help you just become 10 times more intentional in your daily living.
J: Hmm, I definitely need that book; great. Okay, so our next question is, what's your favorite item on your bucket list?
A: I want to run a half-marathon with my husband. And why that's on my bucket list is, my husband and I don't get to spend a ton of time doing hobbies together, just because we don't have a ton of free time. And if we do, we typically do things that I like, but he loves running; he loves it, it makes him come to life. And I don't love running.
A: But I want to love running so that I can run with him because it would be something that would be really fun for us to do together and I think would be kind of an adventure to train for it side by side and I know it would be a memory in the making, we just need to pick a date, sign up, and get training.
J: Hmm, so are you thinking this summer?
A: I'm thinking maybe the fall.
A: Yeah, summer running sounds hot.
J: Looking back at your life so far, share… if you can pick a favorite, share your favorite happiest moment.
A: Oh gosh, okay. No, I think I can name this one. So 8 years ago, I did something called the Cam… I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. And what this is, it's a pilgrim route and it's from the base of France all the way to the west coast of Spain. So it's over 500 miles that pilgrims over the centuries have kind of paved a route, and there's these little towns along the way that you walk to each day. So every single day for a month, me and a group of friends would put on our backpacks, tape up our feet, and walk anywhere from 15 to 24 miles a day.
A: Yes. So…
A: … by the end of the month, I mean, gosh, we were so bonded, we had… you know, we'd suffered together, we'd laugh together, we gotten sunburned together, we walked through the rain together. Just the… the end of it, you reach something called the Santiago de Compostela, kind of this giant Cathedral where St. James the Apostle is buried because he went to evangelize Spain in early Christendom; and so that's where he's buried. And so as we walked into the plaza in front of this giant Cathedral, our group was just singing together and we were, you know, kind of kumbaya moment, we're all holding hands…
J: Oh. (Laughs)
A: … as we reached our final destiny, and I just remember being so happy to be done with walking over a month.
A: But also, just to know that I had done it and that I'd overcome a hard thing and that we had grown so much in that time.
J: Mm, that sounds amazing. And it's one of those things you can't really do as easily once you're a full-blown adult, so that's great you took advantage of that opportunity.
A: Yes. Now, I have dreams that Josie's going to want to run or walk it someday…
A: … and that I’m going to be… I'll have to train and get myself ready again and to walk with her.
J: Oh, yes, that would be the best; and you could blog about that, of course.
J: (Laughs). Well, Amanda, now our final and my favorite question, if you had to create a 3 to 5 part formula of actions or behaviors that maximize your happiness, what would you include?
A: You know, I feel like I'm just such a simple person. When I think of happiness, I think I personally need to make sure I'm sleeping, I'm praying, I'm exercising, I'm eating the right things, I'm spending time with friends and family, and I'm participating in kind of an adventure of some sorts.
A: So really, I mean, yeah, I'm so simple, who puts sleep in their equa… in their happiness equation? I don't know, but I do, because when I'm… if I'm not sleeping well, I'm just not happy. And so, yeah, those things are kind of really foundational to me. And when I talk about the adventure, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm, you know, backpacking through Europe, it could be going to the grocery store, just something that I'm doing with, usually my husband Jonathan or that… knowing that we're participating in doing something that's bigger than us and that we're trying to impact the world in a better way just through our daily life.
J: Mm, I love that. You're taking care of your body through the sleep and the exercise and the eating and then taking care of your spirit with the prayer…
J: … connecting with others, you mentioned service and then time with friends and family and…
J: … and the adventure. I love that you've got it all right there.
A: Yeah. So, yeah, I'm a simple person and that's it. (Laughs)
J: Beautiful. Well, Amanda, I have loved listening to your story and I'm so impressed with your… your positive mindset about the difficulties you've had with infertility. And now that we're reaching the end of this show today, I want to have you give our community of Vibrant Happy Women an actionable challenge; something we can work on this week.
A: Okay, so my challenge to all of you women listening is to learn how to choose joy because it's going to help you prevent the sufferings in your life from sinking you. And what I mean by that is, when we all go through hard times and hard experiences, we do have a choice. There's definitely going to be pain, but you can choose joy in the midst of suffering and I just want to encourage you to do that and not let the suffering wipe out your hope and overcome you.
J: Mm, choose joy. Well, thank you so much for being on the show, and everyone, you can find Amanda over at truegoodandbeautiful.com. For everything else, you can find links on my website at jenriday.com/10. Amanda, thank you so much for being on the show, we've learned so much from you today.
A: Thank you for having me and have a great night.
J: Take care.
Thank you for joining us today. I love Amanda's story of shifting from that place of darkness and despair that accompanied her infertility experience to that place of light and hope that came with the decision to adopt. She completely was able to overhaul her experience and her emotions so she could feel good again, simply with that decision. Next week in the Vibrant Happy Women Facebook group, I'm going to be leading a 5 day challenge. For anyone who would like to participate, it's free. It's called ‘The emotional detox 5-day challenge’ and we'll be working on shifting our own emotions from darkness and negativity to a place of positivity and light. No matter what experience you might be having or what has happened in the past, we can work together as a group to make this shift and learn from one another and grow together. We would love to have you join us so please go to facebook.com/jenriday to join the Vibrant Happy Woman Facebook group; and more details about the challenge will be forthcoming. On our next episode, I'll be speaking with Sara Gilbert about her experience of having to leave her husband who had a gambling issue and becoming a single mom. Now, Sara had every opportunity to be negative and depressed and to feel like a victim, but she chose not to. She is one of the most empowered women I've met, she is filled with amazing quotes and positivity and they just seemed to bubble out of her. You're really going to love this interview and to hear her story and to feel of her courage and her hope. So join me next time as I speak with Sara and we'll talk to you then. Take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.