Finding Joy

I was delighted when I was asked last year if I would be happy to contribute to a book about childlessness that was being written by Lesley Pyne. Lesley’s website was the first place I ever released a piece of my own writing into the wild – when I felt compelled to tell my own story – one of the hardest, but most important things I’ve ever done.

I found Lesley’s site when I was at a dreadful low. But, having read some of the challenging yet inspiring stories she was inviting others to share – I knew that the only way forward for me was to let some of that grief out myself. And so that is what I did – under the pseudonym August (August being a very important month to me).

A year later (and having already taking the giant step of saying out loud in actual words how bloody hard that journey had been), a blog was born, and here were are.

Lesley’s book is published on Monday, and it is a very powerful and potent book indeed. A deeply honest, moving and challenging look at what it is like to try to have children, by every means possible and then, when that long fought for dream is extinguished for the final time, have to try and find a way to keep breathing through the heartache, and somehow create a new life, one that isn’t like the life you’d hoped and planned for at all.

If you, or anyone you know is touched by this, I cannot recommend Lesley’s book enough. It doesn’t pull any punches, I tells it like it is, because eventually, however hard that may be, it is the only way to take that step forward, into whatever the hell is next. Thankfully, Lesley, along with the other wonderful women who have contributed – have a good idea of what could be next, and better still, how you too might get there.

With a wealth of inspiration, some genuine pain, some absolute triumph, and a plethora of fantastic exercises and ideas to help create … yes maybe a different … but nevertheless every inch fantastic life beyond childlessness – this may just be the book required for you to find your own joy – beyond your wildest imagination.

Here is the lovely Lesley, along with a little of her own story ….


Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness

What do you think when you read the title of the book? You wouldn’t normally expect to read the words joy and childlessness in the same sentence.

My guess is you’re throwing your hands up in horror and a voice inside you is saying loudly, ‘oh no, I can’t do that.’

Some reassurance
And to assure you that I’m not living in some sort of fantasy world, let me tell you three things;

  • I’ve stood where you’re standing now, telling myself that I’ll never be happy;
  • Despite 6 unsuccessful rounds of IVF and losing both parents, I can truly say that I am at peace with my past; I know who I am and I’m living a life I absolutely love;
  • It’s not just me saying this, others have walked this path, and they are also showing up in the world as themselves and living a fulfilling life without the children they desperately wanted.

When we finished IVF there were far fewer resources than there are now. I’m not a big fan of forums, meeting face to face is what helps me best. I met some wonderful women through More To Life; 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?

If you can see it, you can do it
I know from experience that achieving something in life is easier if you can follow a path laid down by someone else. So I started collecting what I call Inspirational Stories, stories of real childless women who have stood where you’re standing now, hiding themselves, but are now showing up happily in their life.

I’ve used these stories as a basis to write Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness; Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life. In the process of writing I’ve dug deep into those things the story tellers had in common; subjects such as grief, letting go, self-acceptance, connecting to my body, writing and gratitude.

I want to show readers that it is possible to have a fulfilling life, and, using these women as examples, how to make it happen. So I use my life experience, the experiences of other 19 childless women (including August), and my skills as a coach and NLP Master Practitioner to gently guide readers through their pain, using practical advice and exercises and help them to reach the other side and find their joy.

And only you can do it
I’ve come out the other side a completely different person; I am now closer to being the true, authentic Lesley. I am finally comfortable in my own skin and confident when I say that ‘I absolutely love my life, the adventures I’m having and I’m excited about what will happen next.’

It makes me so sad when I hear childless women say that they will never be happy.

I want you to know that it’s not true.

Coming to terms with a childless life changes you. The storytellers and I have made the most of these changes to become the most beautiful we can be. I hope you take the opportunity to do this too.


Copyright © 2018 · Forty and Everything After


The Mother Club

This week has seen the invention of another new word in our household …

Haribwoe –
noun: The guilt and self-loathing one feels having eaten too many sweets, resulting from no children having knocked on your door at Halloween, necessitating a frantic consumption of said sweets to do away with the evidence that you ever bought them in the first place.

I can imagine the conversation amongst the neighbouring parents as they took their little people up and down the street “Oh no, they don’t have children, we’ll leave them in peace”. Imagining that this is the sentiment (unless we have other issues with our neighbours that we are unaware of) I can appreciate their consideration. However, it is just one of many little reminders throughout the year that we are on the outside of a club. The biggest, most natural club in the world.Read More »

A Refreshing & Entirely Inappropriate Conversation

Yesterday my mother and I went to get our hair done. It is a little ritual we do every 10 weeks or so. Some quiet time for her to read magazines and drink coffee, and a nice little me and her thing, which we don’t often get the chance to do.

When I went to pick my mum up I was in a terrible mood. It had been a tense week for one reason and another, and when my dad asked me “So, what is new with you?” my brain leapt immediately to “Nothing good!” and I clammed up, as I so often do when asked this question.

For others I might try to invent a positive slanted something or other that tells them absolutely nothing. For my dad, I sometimes try and fudge together some diversionary train of thought, perhaps about current affairs (which he loves), or what somebody else we know has been up to lately. Yesterday I just didn’t have the energy or the imagination or the heart to even do that. I shrugged and said. “I have no idea”.

So my mum and I headed out to our hair appointment and I was left feeling agitated and dissatisfied with how my life is going just now.

The new junior (who recently started working at the salon) came over to take me to the back room, in order that she could wash my hair. She was very young, and very keen and very chatty. For me, the extraction of a tooth is often less painful than the extraction of small-talk, but I tried my best, so as not to squash her springer-spaniel spirit.

She asked the usual questions:

“Do you have any holidays planned?”
“What are you doing with the rest of your day?” 
“Any plans for the weekend?”

I have no holidays planned in the foreseeable future. The rest of my day was probably going to be spent trying hard not to get my grump all over my parents. And the weekend felt like a big gaping void of nothing fun at all at the present time.

Then the conversation took an unexpected and alarming twist.Read More »

Release & Renewal – Reflections & Wellbeing Through Writing

A Guest Piece By Forty & Everything After For Lesley Pyne 

I was contacted by Lesley Pyne recently, whose website was an absolute blessing to me, when I finally felt able to look my childlessness full in the eye.

Lesley asked if I would write a guest post for her site – which supports childless women to heal and create a life they love. She hadn’t realised when she asked me that her site was the very first place I had ever shared a piece of writing publicly. It remains the hardest writing I have ever done. The hardest story I had to tell. And it was thanks to the inspiration and support I found on her website that I found the strength to do it.

If I could tell that story, strip myself bare – not just down to the skin, but to my absolute heart – release it into the wild, perhaps I could release some of my fear and pain, confusion and grief along with it. If I can write that, I can write anything.

And here we are now, on this blog what I made – Thank you Lesley :)

Read More »

My Musical Coma & Letting The Light Back In

The final procedure performed when you undergo IVF is the re-implantation of your now fertilised eggs. This procedure is painful, both physically and emotionally. Before I underwent this procedure (on what was to be my third and final course of IVF), my husband and I, rightly or wrongly, agreed to be introduced to our two fertilised embryos (Edwin and Ernie as they became known in our house) – as they sat there, only a handful of subdividing cells between them, on a petri-dish under a microscope. Left alone to have a moment with them, we gave them some encouraging words and urged them both to “Grab on”. They didn’t grab on.

Read More »

I Had To Come Back To The Beach

I had to come back to the beach
This is where the music stopped
But now I think I need the waves
They kept rolling whilst time stood still
They’ve been all over the world since then
As have I
Now it is time to rejoin them here

I think I may have set the answer down
Amongst the rocks
And if I walk some
Write some
Is that ticking?

I had to come back to the beach
The needle got stuck
But it may now have refound its groove
The tune sounds different
Not the endless loop of before

Sam sang ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’
He knew
And now it has
It crept but it did come
And if I can bear to listen once again
The tune will sound different this time


Copyright © 2016 · Words & Images · Forty and Everything After

Turning Blue

Turning Blue
Breath held
Stance statue like
Routine rigid
No change
No movement
No conversation
Whilst your breath is held
The dream cannot end

Fixed smile
No arrangements
No plans
Suitably vague, artfully elusive
Free days for sunshine and peace
But you feel no sunshine, enjoy no peace
No respite
No rest

Hold your breath for long enough
It might be true
And although you turn blue
Sooner that than know for sure
Then you will have to rise to the surface
And gasp for breath
And that is when the pain will start


Copyright © 2016 · Image and Text · Forty and Everything After