Two years ago this week I became an (Amazon No1 Bestselling) author when my book Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness was published.
If you’ve been following my blogs, you’ll know I love an anniversary as it’s a useful time to reflect on what’s changed (or not) in the interim. Normally I get inspiration from reading through my journals, however this time I thought I’d start in the book itself, so here are the final paragraphs of Finding Joy which give a lovely assessment of who I was at the time.
Who I was when I published Finding Joy
‘…I can now confidently say that I am truly owning my story, showing up, and letting myself be seen. Many of my friends applaud me for my courage, but, although courage is one of my values, I don’t feel that what I’ve done has been brave or courageous. I feel that I’ve got this far by letting go of expectations and taking one small step at a time.
It’s not just that though. The keys were that I trusted myself and my teachers, and I did everything with an open mind. I am always open to change, to asking for help and to learning something new about myself and about life. These, to me, have been most important.
When I started writing I was doing everything I could to avoid the pain, and now I agree wholeheartedly with this quote by Baal Shem Tov, ‘Let me fall if I must. The one I will become will catch me’.
My falling was beautiful, because it encouraged me to do what was needed for the true Lesley to catch me. I found many gifts in my pain, and the biggest gift was myself.
I felt that I’d arrived somewhere
It’s interesting to spend a few moments reflecting on those words & I feel quite emotional as I do so. I recall I was tempted to write that I was now THE authentic Lesley & something encouraged me to add in the words ‘closer to’.
Those words & posts I wrote at the time suggest that I believed I’d arrived at my destination & there was no more work to be done. Publication felt like the end of my journey (or maybe I just hoped it was).
However, I’m glad to say I was wrong
I remember when I confirmed the publication contract; my yoga teacher Emma said that what we thought was the ride was only the queue. She was right, & there have been many twists & turns in the interim. When I was writing I was going through a huge amount of change as I dug deeply into all the subjects in the book so it would be hard to match the intensity of the time. I’m also not sure I’d want to.
The ride continues & is now more magical
Now my ride has changed, it’s more internal, subtle & challenging in different ways. And much more magical.
Life continues to get better; the scar of childlessness becomes less & less noticeable. It will always be part of me but with time that part becomes smaller & smaller.
I continue taking one step at a time
I recently read that people who have a detailed plan & specific destination in mind make less progress than those who just start to move. That’s always been my approach; take a step, try something if I enjoy it take another step & if not try something else.
The only destination I have in mind is to bring more joy into my life.
It turns out I love the work of self-enquiry. Not, at the moment through reading self-development books but by trying different things & approaching each one with curiosity & a willingness to learn. Even (or especially) my yoga & Qigong practices, in this way each class teaches me something new about my mind & body.
This approach continues to lead me to interesting places, opening up further questions & potential next steps. For example my love of yin encouraged me to dip my toes into studying anatomy & Traditional Chinese Medicine. On my training course we practiced some Qigong which I enjoyed so I took some classes, it’s now become part of my regular practice & I’ll soon be taking a couple of courses.
I’m also continuing to delve into my yin practice & plan to do more training. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to take online classes with different teachers, broadening my skills & knowledge, testing & pushing my limits & expanding my comfort zone.
In Finding Joy I wrote that I loved embroidery as a child & was curious whether I could still do it so bought a kit. It turns out I really love it & am enjoying testing myself with various projects. Making things really sooths me & gives me a huge sense of achievement especially when I try new designs or improve those I’ve done before by making adjustments.
If, even 3 years ago you’d have suggested that Yin Yoga, Qigong, Nordic Walking & embroidery would be a huge part of my life I wouldn’t have believed you. But they are because I was curious & took small steps.
And I’m done with waiting
A year ago a friend suggested I make a list of the things I want to do in life & touching a grey whale was at the top of the list. I was going to wait until my next special birthday but one thing I’ve learned is if you want to do something, don’t wait.
In February we went to Baja Mexico & 4 times I touched grey whales & looked into their eyes. It was every bit as emotional & magical as I hoped & the memories are something I can always return to in challenging times.
I appreciate how lucky I am (or maybe I should say ‘was’) to be able to travel & I’ve taken this ‘do it now’ approach into other areas of my life. You can do this to, we may not be able to venture very far at the moment but there’s plenty of other opportunities to explore.
It all comes back to joy
Each of these experiences & examples I’ve given (& many more) bring me joy. As I think back over the past couple of years I realise that, above everything I’m driven by the quest to bring more joy into my life.
I find joy in many places; of course huge moments such as touching the whale but joy comes to me more often in small moments, such as finishing a piece of embroidery, baking a cake from Mum’s recipe, writing, connecting with friends & of course on the yoga mat.
I sincerely hope that my magical ride continues with all its ups & downs, twists & turns. I will continue taking one step at a time being curious about where it might lead.
Maybe my purpose is all about finding joy
As I finish this blog & reflect on my experience over the last couple of years it hits me that:
Maybe my purpose is as simple as bringing more joy into my life & into the lives of those I touch.
For me, that’s enough.
What about you?
I’d love to hear your thoughts (by commenting below or email) especially how you’ve changed in the last 2 years & where do you find joy?
And if you’re sceptical that the words joy and childlessness belong in the same sentence, you don’t have to just believe me, there are 19 other women who share their stories in Finding Joy.
You don’t have to have a destination in mind, please take the first step.
You’ll find everything you need to support you in taking the first step & beyond in Finding Joy which is REDUCED until 30th June 2020.
You can download Chapter One of Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness when you sign up to my email list.
You can read book reviews and interviews I’ve done here.