This is it. Today Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life will be downloaded onto Kindles and appear through letterboxes around the world.
Today I am officially a published author. It feels surreal, and bonkers!
I’m not the same person who started eighteen months ago. Hundreds of hours of writing, many tears, therapy, hours on the yoga mat, and mostly fully embracing the essence of each chapter has changed me fundamentally and in the process I’ve uncovered the authentic Lesley.
Sometimes I wonder if it was a dream, well maybe not a dream, but that it happened to someone else and one day I’ll wake up and be back to the old Lesley. Then I see my blue nails; an outer symbol of how much I’ve changed inside, of how different I am now. And I know that the changes will be with me always. This is me now; the Lesley who feels so much, who by letting in grief also let in a lot of joy. The Lesley whose body can do so many things it’s never done before, who has so much in life to be grateful for, and who is now a published author.
Doing this work has resulted in many gifts and perhaps the biggest is the wonderful connections I now have to my body and my heart. As I write in the quote below, it feels like coming home.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about why I started writing a book and what kept me going through the (considerable) challenges. And it’s this.
If you can dream it, you can do it.
This is the title of Chapter 5 and it starts with this quote from Martha Beck from Finding Your Own North Star: How to Claim the Life You Were Meant to Live.
If you can’t dream it, you can’t do it.
I chose this quote because Martha says that when her clients can’t imagine doing something, it’s genuinely impossible for them. And the opposite is also true.
First the dream
I’d been thinking about writing a book for a while, and one day in a yoga class, I heard a really strong calling to write it. I saw myself at the publication party surrounded by close friends and those who’ve helped me and the book become a reality. My body was flooded with wonderful feelings as I realised how much I wanted to hold it in my hand and show other women that they can have a fulfilling life and how to achieve it.
At the same time there was a surge of power and strength through my body, coupled with an inner knowing that this is what I’m meant to do. It was like flicking a switch. I dreamed it and immediately I knew I could do it.
Then the doing
I held on to this dream over the months of challenges I’ve faced to make it a reality. Two things encouraged me to stay true to it. One is that I can see and feel it and it is also completely aligned with my values and who I am. Something inside me said; now is the time. You must do it.
Being completely honest with you, it’s been the hardest work I’ve ever done. I’ll never ask you to do anything I haven’t done myself so when I tell you that some of the chapters are grief, letting go, self-acceptance, connecting to my body, writing and gratitude, you’ll understand why there were many tears and several times I was ready to throw in the towel. But I didn’t because the dream was always there pulling me forward. Instead I took inspiration from others who were further down the path.
Reading those chapter titles you’ll understand why writing the book changed me fundamentally and why I’ve come out the other side a different person.
I’ll also add that and was some of the most fun I’ve ever had.
And it’s also who I am
I mentioned that it was aligned with my values; three of mine are authenticity, courage and growth and these also pulled me forwards. I’m also curious and open to learning and trying different things, and I went down a few blind alleys before I found what worked for me. This was all part of the learning and fun.
I’m also determined. Writing a book was the only thing I wanted to do so I did whatever I needed to make it happen and today part of my dream will come true, the remainder in a few days when I’ll be standing at the party I imagined all those months ago.
Have you ever experienced this?
Have you ever had a ‘knowing’ or felt there was something you just ‘had’ to do? Think back, maybe you experienced something similar when you were trying to become a mother, or maybe you ‘had’ to go to a particular concert or to a workshop?
What if this was the same? What if you could read about other childless women who’ve been where you are and have found their joy, might you wonder if you could find yours too?
Now I’m not suggesting you write a book (unless of course you want to), but I hope you can see that there are many parallels.
When we finished IVF there were far fewer resources than there are now. I met some wonderful women through More To Life and some of them have become my closest friends; however we were all at a similar stage in our healing journey so there was no one to look to as a mentor or guide. Sometimes we would play the ‘name the childless woman’ game and our answers would include women like Helen Mirren, Dolly Parton and the like. It was all very well to see famous women, but really, what do I have in common with them?
Then I found Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, Lisa Manterfield and Tracey Cleantis. When I read Pamela and Lisa’s books I found women like me who were open and honest about what they’d been through and were now writing about ‘life after’ being childless. Reading their stories showed me that I wasn’t alone and, more importantly that it is possible to be happy.
This is the reason I’ve written Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness. It makes me so sad when I hear childless women say they will never be happy. If that’s you, I want you to know that it’s not true.
I want to show you, using my story and those of 19 others women who are just like you that it is possible to find joy even when your dreams of motherhood didn’t come true. And more than that, together we will teach you how to make it happen.
You can find your joy too
There are many ways into this place we call childless and there are many ways out. Yes, I repeat there are ways out. If we turn Martha Beck’s quote round to ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ could you be open to dreaming a future where you’ve found joy again, a future where you’ve become the authentic you and you’ve stopped hiding yourself from the world?
Coming to terms with a childless life changes you. The storytellers and I have made the most of these changes to find their joy. I hope you take the opportunity to find yours too.
And here’s how
You can read more about all the topics I write about above (including how to find your values) in Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life which is published today and available at all book major outlets.
What do you think?
I’d love to hear what you think, so please leave your comment below.
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.