Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness" by Lesley Pyne

While the childless-not-by-choice (CNBC) segment of the adoption/loss/infertility (ALI) blogging community may (still) be on the small side, we're definitely growing -- and we count some pretty awesome women among our members. We also like to support each other where & when we can. :)

So when Lesley Pyne asked a couple of us if we'd like an advance e-copy of her new book (due June 18th) to read & review, I jumped at the opportunity. :)  (Lesley featured me & my story on her blog back in 2014.)

Lesley -- a survivor of six rounds of IVF -- will be the first to tell you that she never thought she would be using "joy" and "childlessness" in the same sentence -- but these days she is happier than she's ever been, or ever thought possible. "I absolutely love my life and the adventures I'm having, and I'm excited about what will happen next," she says. Her new book --
Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life -- is all about helping you discover that same joy for yourself.

Lesley believes in the importance of story -- that the stories we tell ourselves become our reality. ("If you tell yourself that your life has no meaning and will be miserable, then it will be.  However, if you tell yourself -- like the women you'll meet here -- that there are gifts in the childless life, and you're prepared to do what it takes to receive them, that's what will happen.")  Beyond Lesley's own story, you'll hear from 19 other women who have found themselves living without children, not by choice, and yet gone on to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. (There are some very familiar names among them -- including Jody Day, who wrote the book's foreword, Lisa Manterfield, Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, Linda Rooney, Tracey Cleantis, Jessica Hepburn and Karen Malone Wright.)  I really liked how Lesley groups their stories (or facets of their stories) together, analyzes and then draws common lessons & meaning from them.

Lesley also believes in the importance of grief work -- of facing your grief over not having children and working through it. "Time is a healer to some extent, and healing happens much quicker if you do your grief work," she says.

"The main thing I have learned is that running from grief doesn't work. It will eventually catch you, maybe when you least expect it, so it's better to face it in your own time and your own way."

She offers a number of strategies for working through your grief, including rituals for letting go of the dream of children, reconnecting with your body (she is a big fan of yin yoga), self-acceptance and self-care, developing a writing practice (each chapter comes with journalling prompts to get you thinking and working through the process), telling your story, finding your tribe/support group, practicing gratitude, and reclaiming happiness and joy in your life.

Finally, Lesley shows us how to create new meaning in our lives -- to recognize how we've changed and what we want our lives to look like in the future.

I would have LOVED to have a book like this to lean on when I was first coming to terms with my own permanent childlessness. Even today, some 17 years (!) down this road less travelled, I learned a few new things from Lesley and her storytellers. I am sure you will too, wherever you are in your own journey. I rated this book a solid four stars on Goodreads.

Want to find out more about Lesley & her book?
This was book #11 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 46% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am (for the monent, anyway...!) one book AHEAD of schedule to meet my goal!  :)  

Monday, June 11, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: While I'm alive...

(Mel recently asked us what we want to do before we die/while we're alive. I thought my answer might make a good microblog post. ;)  Slightly edited -- and bullet-pointed, of course. ;)   )
  • I want to travel more, with England/Scotland/Ireland, Scandinavia, Italy and other parts of Europe at the top of my list, as well as PEI & Newfoundland, in my own country. 
  • I want to take dh to New York City (and I REALLY want him to like it, so he’ll go back with me, again & again ;) ). 
  • I want him to take me on a surprise trip, ANYWHERE, even just for the weekend. (I’ve always loved the commercial where the wife is dropping her husband off at the airport -- & he holds up two airplane tickets. ;) ) 
  • I want to put together my family tree research into some semblance of a book & publish it for my relatives -- and I want at least a few of them to care and be excited about it. 
  • I want to meet more of my blogging & other online friends in real life. 
  • I want to see a woman president of the United States (frankly, I thought I’d see one before I ever saw a black man elected to the post…!) and another female prime minister of Canada (who gets to stay in office longer than three months). 
  • I (REALLY) want to see the Donald Trumps & Doug Fords of the world get their just desserts :p and for some semblance of sanity and decency to be restored to public life. 
I could ramble on, but I guess that’s as good a place as any to end. Am I asking for too much??

What would be on your list?

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Monday, June 4, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: A few annoying things...

  • Looking forward to a relaxing browse at the bookstore this afternoon, only to find it was overrun with families/kids when we got there (was there a school holiday or something we didn't know about??). 
    • (Also having to dodge a local author who was aggressively hawking his new book near the front of the store -- and blocking access to the new books section while he was at it. Grrrr....) 
  • People who don't even pause or glance to see if there are cars coming as they amble across the road (whatever happened to looking both ways & making sure you made eye contact with the driver before proceeding??). 
  • The no-good-choices dilemma facing us for our provincial election this Thursday (including a Trump clone who stands a very real chance of becoming premier). :p  
  • White House press conferences (watching one right now -- and wondering why I bother sometimes...!). 
  • Seasonal allergies. :p  They haven't been as bad for me as they sometimes are, but I've been waking up with goopy, gritty eyes lately, and I've been sneezing on & off today. Bring on the Claritin!  
  • Not being able to come up with a different topic for today's #MM post. :p  ;)  

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Friday, June 1, 2018

Right now

Right now... (an occasional meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current")

Reading: A new book by fellow CNBCer, Lesley PyneFinding Joy Beyond Childlessness. (In fact, it's so new it's not even listed on Goodreads yet...!) It's not officially out until June 18th, but Lesley was kind enough to send me a PDF. (Review to come when I'm done.) Year-to-date, I've finished 10 books (out of my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge goal of 24 books).

Recent purchases:
Watching: The Handmaid's Tale," which continues to be gripping, extremely well done television.

I watched a wonderful new adaptation of "Little Women" from PBS recently, with Maya Hawke, daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, as Jo, and a charming young guy with amazing dimples named Jonah Hauer-King as Laurie. I've seen several different movie & TV adaptations of the novel (I got an abridged version for my 7th birthday, and I sometimes wonder if Jo March was my original inspiration for wanting to be a writer...) -- and I think I still like the 1994 movie with Winona Ryder as Jo and Christian Bale as Laurie best -- but this was very good -- beautifully filmed and acted.

Haven't been to a big-screen movie since "Infinity Wars" on Voldemort Day... hoping to remedy that soon...

(Not) Listening: Every Sunday afternoon, since around the same time I came to Toronto, the local classic rock FM station had a program called "Psychedelic Sunday." featuring music from the era 1965-75 -- album cuts as well as hits. We would often listen in the car as we drove to & from the movies, the bookstore, visiting people... I say "had" and "would," because this past Sunday was the last show. The host -- described as having "a voice that sounds like God's cooler brother" -- had been let go, but he was allowed to host one final show and say goodbye to his loyal listeners. He is, of course, in his early 60s, and the station has been showing the door to a lot of its longer-serving DJs lately, in a quest to appeal to a younger audience. Ageism strikes again!!

(Not) Following: The Stanley Cup (hockey) playoffs no longer interest me, now that my beloved Winnipeg Jets have been eliminated. :( (Besides, I've always thought it was ridiculous to still be playing/watching hockey in June)(which didn't happen when I was younger & the league was smaller).

Drinking/Eating:  Drinking a lot more iced tea lately. ;)

Wearing: Capris, shorts, tank tops, T-shirts and sandals. FINALLY!! :)

Buying (besides books, lol):  I recently bought a couple of new purses. I am very picky about my purses -- they have to be big (but not TOO big, because otherwise I will overload it), preferably with lots of pockets and compartments -- and when I find one(s) that I like, I will scoop it/them up (sometimes buying the same one in different colours), even if I don't think I'll use it right away. I found one purse, deeply discounted, at a Nine West store, which is closing, and couldn't resist the bargain. ;)  I also bought two purses by Jessica Simpson at a discount shoe warehouse store, one in off-white (for summer) and one in brown (for fall). My current purse is a Jessica Simpson and I had another one of hers that I liked (before it fell apart...!). I've never thought much of her singing or TV shows, but I do like her purses. ;)

Wanting:  To visit the gelato shop (sooner vs later, lol).

Loving: The milder weather, the longer days, and the beautiful sunsets in the evening (which seem to happen more frequently in the summer than in the winter -- or maybe we just notice them more...!).

Celebrating: A good dental checkup (albeit still expensive...!).

Recuperating:  Housecleaning on Wednesday; dentist appointment Thursday;  lunch with some online (non-ALI/scrapbooking) friends in the city today. Had a wonderful time, but between the heat & humidity (and the nonstop talking, lol) I am tuckered right out. ;) 

Feeling:  Sad that our summer vacation plans are so up in the air... and then guilty, because of WHY they are up in the air (FIL's illness).  :(

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

When a door closes...

A Facebook find that resonated with me...
(Sometimes easier said than done, of course...!) 

Monday, May 28, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: A few annoying things...

(An occasional series, inspired by Mali!) 

  • Hot, humid weather (already), which meant closing up the balcony door & turning on the a/c.  It wasn't that long ago we still had the heat on. There has to be a happy medium...
  • Getting woken up by construction noise on the townhouse building site behind us, on a morning when I'd really like to sleep in. 
  • Not being able to make summer vacation plans because of FIL's health issues. I am glad we can be here to help, but at the same time, I miss my own family too. :( 
  • The onslaught of photos on social media from the end of the school year (which has already begun, with my friends in the U.S., and will continue through to the end of June with my friends here in Canada...!), reminding me of what I don't and never will have... 
  • Crying during a sad movie/TV show (in this case, a new adaptation of "Little Women" on PBS, which I had PVRd), and feeling tired and drained and melancholy for the rest of the day. 
  • Having to wait another week to find out what happens next on "The Handmaid's Tale." 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Sunday, May 27, 2018

"Ask Me About My Uterus" by Abby Norman

I don't have endometriosis. At least, I don't THINK I do. Put it this way, I've never been diagnosed with it (yet). But I'm willing to bet there are very few of us -- particularly here in the ALI community -- who haven't been plagued with some sort of gynecological issues or mysteries -- even just occasionally painful &/or heavy menstrual periods. (Or even just plain old medical mysteries, period.)

"Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain" describes Abby Norman's quest to make sense of her own experiences with endometriosis -- as well as other mysterious maladies.  It intertwines her personal story with the research she has done on endometriosis and other women's health issues -- including psychology, menstruation, infertility and childlessness (by choice, and not). You probably won't be surprised to learn that she found information and support from other women through the Internet.

Norman had a heartbreaking childhood -- her mother battled an eating disorder all her life and was barely present in her life, her father was mostly absent, her brother was autistic, her grandmother was abusive, and she legally emancipated herself when she was just 16.  Nevertheless, with the support of a handful of caring adults, she earned herself a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she flourished. 

Then one day, early in her sophomore year, she was stricken with pain -- which became so debilitating and so persistent that she was eventually forced to drop out. Her illness also had an adverse effect on her passion for dancing, her relationships, her sex life, her ability to work and her finances (this being America, she quickly amassed a crippling load of debt related to her huge medical bills).

Many of the doctors Norman consulted suggested her medical issues were mostly psychological -- i.e., all in her head -- something she learned has been an all-too common experience for women throughout history. (She notes they started to pay more attention when she brought her boyfriend along to appointments:  "...my suffering alone wasn't enough to inspire action. Becoming a disappointment to a man, though, seemed to do the trick.")  And so Norman set out to educate herself -- and confounded her doctors by successfully diagnosing herself not just once but twice.

"I had two choices," she writes:
I could either stay bitter and disappointed about what I didn't have, what I would never have, or I could see the loss of control as an opportunity to change direction again. The hurdle was, I didn't want to go in any direction other than the one I'd been going in when I got sick. But that road was a dead end.  
...I finally decided that I could either try to live my life the way I'd wanted to, where I would continuously fail because I was asking too much of my body, or I could design an entirely new life. (p. 223-224)
The book ends somewhat unsatisfyingly (SPOILER ALERT), with Norman still battling mysterious health issues. But yet, isn't that true to real life sometimes? We don't always get satisfactory or lasting solutions presented to us on a silver platter, all neatly tied up with a big, pretty bow. 

The book has its flaws -- it rambles a bit, and might have benefited from more editing -- but Norman deserves kudos, not only for surviving, but also for shedding light on an important and neglected topic, and for doing it so eloquently. It deserves to be read widely, and it especially should be read by doctors of all kinds. I gave this four stars on Goodreads.

This was book #10 that I've read so far in 2018, bringing me to 42% of my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 24 books.  I am (for the monent, anyway...!) one book AHEAD of schedule to meet my goal!  :)