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?
- Visit her website (which includes her blog), https://lesleypyne.co.uk/.
- Check out another review of the book by Pamela at Silent Sorority.
- Listen to a recent podcast interview that Lesley did with Cathy Broadwell of Slow Swimmers and Fried Eggs about the book, her story and coming to terms with a childless life.
- Lesley was also interviewed (via Skype) by Jody Day of Gateway Women, who wrote a wonderful foreword for the book. Both the interview & the foreword can be found on the GW blog.