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Unclassified Woman

Unclassified Woman offers an inspiring stream of conversation with women around the globe, who are building lives beyond society’s expectations. Part myth busting, part inspirational story sharing, Michelle Marie McGrath interviews amazing childless or childfree women, including authors, film-makers, activists, entrepreneurs, priestesses, leaders, speakers and creative mavens, who share their experiences and insights, while questioning the expectations of women everywhere. Michelle shares interviews with women all around the globe who are childless or childfree for a multitude of reasons. With almost 25% of women over 40 child-free by choice or childless through circumstance, it seems absurd that women still have to justify their decisions or endure pity about why they’re not mothers. Motherhood is not a mandate and yet so many women are made to feel ‘less than’ or viewed suspiciously or disparagingly, if they are creating a life of meaning beyond biological mothering. All of these outdated stereotypes lead to one dangerous assumption: what’s your value beyond being a mother? As mainstream society still tends to over-celebrate mothers juggling ‘it all’, and under-celebrate women who, whilst not mothers, have created lives of purpose and service. Unclassified Woman is the perfect antidote to limiting female narratives. In the second season, Michelle and her guests expanded on the creative power of ALL women. We explored the power of awakening womb consciousness. The womb or hara is the sacred creation portal from where we birth everything in our lives and yet the unlimited power within is as yet untapped by most women (and men) today. This includes working with the cycles of the moon, reconnecting deeply with the cycles of nature, aligning with the elements, harnessing the magic of the menstrual cycle and reclaiming the power of the divine feminine within. So if you’re interested in a stronger connection to Mother earth, increased intuition, more soulful sex, more creativity, feeling better in your own skin and joyously walking your own path – tune in! In order to ascend, we need to descend so let’s dive in together! Season 3 commenced was released in April 2018 and Season 4 will be released mid-2019. Each woman’s path in life is equally valid and sacred. Michelle is a Self-love Mentor for women birthing their soul gifts into the world. She offers one-on-one Womb Awakening Sessions, in person events, Intuitive Guidance/Distance Healing and the Sacred Self range of vibrational aromatherapy. www.michellemariemcgrath.com
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Now displaying: 2015
Dec 13, 2015

Welcome! Today’s Unclassified Woman is Stacey Copas, who is the author of How to be Resilient. She is Australian’s #1 keynote speaker and facilitator on turning adversity into an asset, and she has been featured in national media. Now taking on a new endeavour, Stacey is training for the 2016 Rio Para-Olympics after many years of inactivity.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • How Stacey has not had a child due to personal choice and never desired to be a parent;
  • Stacey has a spinal cord injury and is in a wheelchair. People ask about her parenting/non-parenting intentions - often assuming incorrectly this is the reason for not having a child;
  • How Stacey has experienced separation from some friends over the years as they began having children and led very different lives;
  • Stacey discusses the “mythbusting” that goes along with daring to make a conscious decision to NOT have children;
  • Stacey has become comfortable when she has to answer questions about her choices;
  • Her advice for others is to have clarity about your values and what you find important in life;
  • She knew that she was here to make a difference in the world, but had to overcome the “little old me” syndrome.
  • The messages Stacey includes in her speaking about resilience as a growth opportunity include the following:
    • Take responsibility
    • Use empowering language
    • Have a support system around you

Resources:

www.howtoberesilient.com

www.staceycopas.com

How to be Resilient by Stacey Copas

I do hope you enjoyed this episode. Please subscribe and share with another woman who would benefit from this wisdom. For more episodes go to michellemariemcgrath.com

 

Dec 6, 2015

My guest today is Lisa Murray, who is the founder of Creativity Lab. She is an unconventional business coach and prolific writer. She invites you to collectively create a future to be inspired by via her live events and online programs. Join her for one of her free mini e-courses on Embracing Courage, Writing Wild, or Creating Money.

Lisa also offers the Nurture Project and holds an MBA in entrepreneurship and leadership. Lisa is launching three books this year, including Stop Waiting, Start Creating.

In this episode, Lisa covers the following topics:

  • Lisa didn’t desire to become a mother, so she was actually relieved when she reached that realisation and was able to put the associated stress aside.
  • Society “assumes” that every woman wants to become a mother.
  • Many people feel obligated to give unsolicited advice to others about the choice they have made being the right thing for everyone!
  • Having a child is only ONE kind of creative expression, but not the only one.
  • Lisa asks, “What would I like the world to be like 1000 years from now?”
  • “Exhaustion and burnout are the results of working hard for OTHER peoples’ dreams, and not your own.”
  • When Lisa was facing burnout, she made a list of the things that made her happy, and was only able to list four things at first!
  • “If you ever wonder if you are a leader, then go and play with a horse, because the horse will let you know if he is willing to follow you or not.”
  • Lisa’s favourite way to express her creative energy is by writing.
  • Lisa is inspired most by those who are kind and nurturing, especially when men show these qualities.
  • We should all be more compassionate in embracing our differences instead of labeling them “right” or “wrong.”
  • Lisa speaks about how we can encourage more tolerance in the world and eliminating stereotypes.
  • “Whatever you choose, you can have a fantastic life if you are YOU!”
  • Find out how focusing on the present moment can be the secret to happiness.

Find out more about Lisa's work at www.creativitylab.tv

 For more episodes of Unclassified Woman go to michellemariemcgrath.com

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on Itunes and share with another woman who you feel would benefit. Thank you so much!

 

 

Nov 29, 2015

Welcome! My guest today is a fear-blasting, storytelling maven for entrepreneurs and people with a mission. Johanna Walker helps people put their stories out front to help change the world. Since 1997, she has helped hundreds break through their fears, step into leadership, and claim their place. She has worked with teenage girls, incarcerated women, fledgling entrepreneurs, and corporate executives, over and over witnessing the transformative power of telling our stories and speaking our truth.

Johanna is the co-producer and co-host of Boulder’s bi-monthly storytelling series, Truth Be Told and Fearless Solos. She has performed almost everywhere---and yes, we DO mean, EVERYWHERE—and she is a certified public speaking coach. Join us for Johanna’s story!

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • How a combination of circumstances and choice lead Johanna not to have a child.
  • How she always assumed a child “would happen,” because that was the normal script to follow in life.
  • How she began to question her beliefs, assumptions, and expectations—“If children aren’t going to give my life meaning, then where is the meaning?”
  • How this decision has led her to be able to be connected to people and projects that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.
  • How she encountered pressure, judgment, and disappointment from her family.
  • How she went through the grieving process for several years because she couldn’t see that anything else in life could make life worth living.
  • How she felt alone and isolated for a period.
  • How she even went through a time of not wanting to hear or celebrate other people’s joys around parenthood.
  • “Bring forth what is IN you; if you don’t, then what is in you will destroy you.”
  • How she learned to channel her creative life force and energy through storytelling and helping others express their creativity through speaking
  • Ironically, she became a writer first and went through periods of silence, and then transitioned into speaking.
  • Growing up, the best way she could be a “good girl” was just to be quiet.
  • How she began to get a bigger picture of women’s voices, to tell her story, reclaimed her voice, and began speaking
  • Johanna’s most fulfilling work is seeing people tell a story and hear their voice in a way they haven’t done before.
  • Her advice to someone considering a “different” path is: “Use your voice. Tell your story in whatever your circle of influence may be.”
  • The major benefits of her childfree life are the relationships with young people that are unique and different from the parent/child relationship. “I get to stand in my power as a woman separate from motherhood.”
  • Johanna’s legacy is to be present for herself and others. “Show up, be curious, and then tell your story about it.”
  • The lessons Johanna has learned are: “Let go of judgment and expectations and enjoy this extraordinary life. Be open to the possibility of the moment.”

Resources:

www.johannawalker.com

www.storyslamboulder.com

For more episodes of Unclassified Woman go to michellemariemcgrath.com

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share with another woman who you feel would benefit. Thank you so much!

Nov 22, 2015

Welcome! Today’s guest is Lesley Pyne, who is a leading coach for childless women in the UK, helping them to heal and create fulfilling lives. After unsuccessful IVF treatments, she spent ten years hiding from the truth of her life. She trained in techniques that helped her learn to let go of the grief and sadness. Lesley now uses her story, firsthand experience and professional skills to help other women heal. She facilitates them in being able to have a deep understanding of their experience, so they can embrace an adventurous, fulfilling life. Lesley's warmth and empathy shines through.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Lesley pursued pregnancy through six rounds of IVF and then determined that “that was enough.” She is childless through circumstance.
  • It took ten years of healing before she found herself in the place to be comfortable talking about her experience.
  • “Childlessness is the biggest gift in my life because without it I wouldn’t have the fulfilling life I have now.”
  • Lesley shares the lengths that she and her husband went through to “give it our all and be able to look back with no regrets.”
  • As women, we don’t always realise the limits on our fertility as we get older.
  • During Lesley’s grieving process, she felt dark and alone for about a year, but she and her husband drew together and grew closer.
  • She joined a support group and found powerful encouragement from sharing stories with the other members.
  • The more that you share your story, the stronger you become.
  • Lesley recommends to others that they believe that their life can absolutely be fulfilling, even without a child. She advises that women take advantages of the resources available and search out the help that is right for them.
  • Making a difference and helping other women gives her meaning and purpose. Being in a choir helps, as does exploring different things and expanding her comfort zone.
  • The major benefits of a childless life for Lesley are flexibility and freedom to do the things she wants and enjoys.

Find more more about Lesley's work at www.lesleypyne.co.uk

For more episodes of Unclassified Woman go to www.michellemariemcgrath.com  If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on Itunes and share with another woman who you feel would benefit. Thank you so much!

Nov 15, 2015

My guest today is Riikka Rajamaki, whose life passion is to help women unlock their creative and intuitive abilities after an experience of abortion or miscarriage. She teaches women how to move from fear to love by living out one of her life mottos: “It’s better to nourish the seed than to cry over the lost fruit.”

Riikka is the creator of Womb Quest, a certified spirit coach, wellness coach, gifted body worker, trained intuitive, and holds a masters degree in sociology.  Now based in San Francisco, she is originally from Finland, and says it took her years to realise that “the greatest journey we take is inside ourselves.” Her happiness is dependent on personal growth and her ability to remain centered and connected to her spirit. Join us for Riikka’s inspiring story.

In this episode, you can expect to hear:

  • Riikka’s powerful and personal story of finding herself unexpectedly pregnant at age 36, married to a man who said that his life path did NOT include children;
  • How Riikka was able, through meditation, to meet the spirit energy of her unborn child and experience a clear, guided moment of clarity;
  • How Riikka, after that “miracle moment,” felt compelled to pursue a meeting with Richard Bartlett, whose metaphysical work she had followed;
  • How her meeting with Mr. Bartlett resulted in an angelic visit in which her baby's soul chose to not come into physical creation;
  • How Riikka subsequently suffered a miscarriage and entered a year-long grieving process, which was complete with shame, guilt, and blame for her husband;
  • How Riikka and her husband found healing and a closer connection which led them to begin a business together, even though they are not together now;
  • How Riikka’s experience taught her about dimensions of commitment to another person and how she had used and misused love;
  • Riikka’s advice to others who suffer from guilt or shame:  DON’T rush out of the pain or try to avoid it.  Let pure tears have their time.
  • Riikka supports the view that we, as a society, shouldn’t define each other based on whether they have children or not;
  • Even though having a child expresses creative energy, there are other ways to express creativity also, like touch, writing, and movement;
  • Riikka's advice for someone seeking meaning and purpose when they realise that a child won’t be a part of their lives: Connect with childhood passions, reconnect with happy moments from childhood, and find inspiration, passion and joy.
  • Riikka shares her REAL definition of success and why she meditates to communicate with her spirit EVERY day;
  • She created her home study course, Womb Quest, to teach others how to move from fear to love. The 16-week course is geared toward those who have lost an unborn child or are grieving some other loss.

Find out more about Riikka's work at

www.riikkarajamaki.com/wqinvitation and www.rikasf.com

For more episodes of Unclassified Woman go to www.michellemariemcgrath.com 
If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on Itunes and share with another woman who you feel would benefit. Thank you so much!

Nov 8, 2015

Welcome! My guest today is Anaiya Sophia, who is a mystic, author, and an initiator of Sacred Marriage and the Mystical Teachings of The Feminine Christ. A native of the UK, she is based at her guest house Amma Rosa in the South of France but teaches her transformational work worldwide.

She is a wellspring of both wisdom and experience and is known for her role in birthing New Paradigm Relationships and Divinized Sexuality. Her desire is to help people transition from codependent relationships to a thriving union based on Love and Freedom, held within a holy sanctified container.

Anaiya Sophia, is no spiritual lightweight. She is intensely committed to go through whatever humbling and fierce truth-telling is required to open to the full divinity that can, and will birth us.

Her work is streaming forth through the Feminine aspect of Christ Consciousness, which includes the Tantric, Virgin and Mystical expressions represented by Mary Magdalene, Mother Mary and the Black Madonna.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Anaiya became interested in deep, spiritual things at age seven.
  • How an angel experience transformed into a Christ-figure for Anaiya.
  • How Anaiya couldn’t turn from the momentum of the spiritual longing to have a child and family.
  • She never had a moment when she really wanted to have a child.
  • How she confronted the decision to not have a child with some grief, but an overwhelming spiritual longing.
  • How a health issue led Anaiya to confront her own vulnerability in writing her book, Womb Wisdom.
  • How Anaiya had to learn to trust the masculine in the form of her writing partner.
  • How Anaiya created a “womb” atmosphere on the outside, that was full of mothering energy.
  • How focusing on her own nourishment overflowed into peace and presence in other relationships.
  • How she found a “womb” quality in everything in the universe.
  • Every woman should realize the creative force within her womb and ask, “What Am I Birthing?”.
  • The choice not to have physical offspring doesn’t eliminate all forms of offspring.
  • How people need to find the balance between feminine and masculine energy.
  • There is a transformation called, “The Return to the Divine Feminine.”
  • How Anaiya’s home in the south of France is the vortex and epicenter of the divine feminine.
  • For Anaiya, the benefits to not having a child are emotional openness and the time to deepen who she is and what she is becoming.

Find out more about Anaiya's work and retreats at www.anaiyasophia.com

See her books: Open Your Heart with Kundalini YogaWomb Wisdom, Pilgrimage of Love, Sacred Sexual Union and The Rose Knight.

I do hope you enjoyed this episode of Unclassified Woman. For more, go to www.michellemariemcgrath.com

Nov 1, 2015

My guest today is Christine Rose Elle, who is a business and life coach.  She is a certified Beautiful You life coach and the founder of The Heart-Centered Coach Community.  Her passions include styling, beauty, portrait photography, branding, marketing, and all things high-tech.  Her loves furnish her with the perfect set of skills to help other coaches discover their own skills and do meaningful work with their clients.  Christine offers free monthly online training for life coaches and soulful entrepreneurs who want to create and grow their dream business.  She lives and works in a tiny Victorian bungalow in Los Angeles with her husband and two amazingly spoiled dogs.  

Christine shares the following about her life without motherhood:

  • Christine is childless through a combination of choice and circumstances.
  • She realised early in life that she didn’t want to have children in the same way as many of her friends.
  • She married early and then divorced at age 30.  It was at age 35 that she had her “epiphany” moment and realised that her whole life to that point had been lived for someone else and not herself.
  • Other factors played into her decision to not have children.  She carried baggage from a difficult childhood, a chronic health condition, and negative interactions with doctors.  Regarding the possibility of giving birth, she said, “I CANNOT be that vulnerable.”
  • She moved to Italy and met her husband.  They are content with building their lives together, and the time never seemed right to have a baby.
  • Christine has never felt intense pressure from family and friends to become a mother, nor has she experienced intense regret or grief over her life choices.
  • The decision to have children is a huge responsibility, challenge, and commitment.  “It’s not like buying an expensive dress, where you can just take it back if it doesn’t work out.”
  • Some of the advantages of the relationship between Christine and her husband are the self-actualization and support they can give each other.  Christine also loves the personal time she has to read, write and create.  This wouldn’t be possible if she were busy raising a child.

Christine has many positive aspects to her life without children, and she says she is perfectly happy being “Auntie” to her nieces and nephews.  For her, having dogs also fulfils in a way, the nurturing, mothering instinct.  Join us for Christine’s story!

Find Christine online:

www.christineroseelle.com  (Her website, with links to her Heart-Centered Community and more.)

For more episodes of "Unclassified Woman" see www.michellemariemcgrath.com

 

Oct 25, 2015

Welcome! My guest today is Karen Wilmot, The Virtual Midwife.  She has assisted over 500 women in giving birth, but has never been pregnant or given birth herself.  Twice, she stepped away from her work when the desire to have her own baby overshadowed the joy she could feel at others’ birth experiences.  At age 47 now, Karen has found peace and a deep sense of purpose in her work.  She now says that NOT having children has been her greatest teacher and the driving force behind her work.

In this episode, you’ll learn the following about Karen’s journey:

  • How Karen always thought she would have children;
  • How the death of Karen’s mother while she was young made her lose her sense of family and live a rebellious life;
  • After years of traveling and several relationships, Karen reached the point in her early 40’s when she said, “That was it.”  Her window of opportunity had closed;
  • How she went through a relevant and acute grieving process;
  • How one patient helped her recognize her “mothering of mothers” as an outpouring of nurturing and maternal instinct;
  • How Karen uses yoga, breathing, and chanting to help ground her emotions;
  • Karen shares details about her “Finding the Mother Within” workshops and how they have helped her heal;
  • How women are often deceived into thinking that the only path to fulfilment involves motherhood;
  • How Karen took the first steps of moving forward through her disappointment;
  • How she can express herself creatively in several specific ways, all because she does NOT have children;
  • The benefits of not having kids are the freedom to travel, a deeper level of compassion for others, and the ability to inspire others through your circumstances;
  • How Karen has drawn inspiration from every woman she has ever assisted in childbirth;
  • Karen’s advice to women going forward:  respect each other and the path each one travels.  Celebrate creativity and the ability to nurture and love.

Find Karen at www.expatsexpecting.com

Respect each other’s choices.  We’re all great in our own way, but we don’t all have to travel the same path.

For more episodes of "Unclassified Woman" see www.michellemariemcgrath.com

 

Oct 18, 2015

Beata Alfoldi is a teacher, workshop facilitator, Shamanic practitioner, healer, speaker, and see-er.  She has an intuitive gift for assisting individuals to move through deep transformation.  She holds private classes, sessions, workshops, and international retreats in Australia, Bali, Thailand and Mexico.  She created the Integral Woman program for the Awareness Institute in Sydney and co-facilitated a transformational group journey to Peru where she lived and studied with various healers and shamans of the Amazon and the Andes. 

Beata is passionate about inspiring others to find ways to live authentically with freedom and empowerment in life.  She is a dear friend of mine, and I’m thrilled to have her on the show today.  Join us! I'm sure you will find this conversation very moving and valuable. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Beata, at age 45, is childless, not by choice, but through the unexpected tragedy and shock of her son’s stillbirth four years ago.
  • How stillbirth, and death/loss in general, are topics that people find difficult to address.
  • How a life-changing event, like Beata’s loss, brings up personal feelings of guilt and challenges your basic belief system.
  • How Beata feels a soul-connection to her son, that assures her that death is not the end.
  • How small rituals each day helped Beata grieve and heal from the loss of her son.
  • How the support of friends, who allowed her space for her healing, helped her get through the painful loss and how she, in turn, can help others in grief.
  • How Beata has insight and wisdom to help each of us be helpful in supporting those who are experiencing grief.
  • Her experience as a Shamanic practitioner has given her a deeper understanding, compassion, and increased gratitude for life.
  • How Beata finds ways to mentor and influence the lives of the children in her life even though she doesn’t have the opportunity to mother daily her own son.
  • How Beata aspires to set up a children’s charity in the near future, and already donates a percentage of her profits to help the lives of children

“If we can set up more networks of grace, then we can build a better world where there is not ONE PERSON without access to clean water, food, and shelter.”  Andrew Harvey

  • Beata advises others who have experienced the loss of a child to take the time to grieve and then look for opportunities to serve others who are also healing.
  • How Beata’s experience has liberated her from basic fears and intensified her appreciation for the sacredness of life.

Thanks for joining me for Beata’s touching story.  I highly recommend her programs, workshops, and retreats.  Learn more at www.wildheartawakening.com.  

Please share this episode with any friends who are dealing with or have experienced similar situations of stillborn birth, miscarriage and loss.

My hope is that Beata's story will bring comfort and support as she's a wonderful role model of how we can gracefully and gently navigate these extremely challenging experiences. Thank you so much! 

For more episodes of "Unclassified Woman" see www.michellemariemcgrath.com

 

 

Oct 9, 2015

Randi Buckley writes and coaches emotionally aware, deeply contemplative women toward finding their truth, with depth and beauty, with life’s big questions and sticky situations.  She is the creator of “Maybe Baby" - When you hear this whisper of “maybe” in your heart”, “Healthy Boundaries for Kind People”, and “The Viking Woman Workshop”. Today we discuss the nature of ambivalence and our experiences with it. You can reach Randi at www.randibuckley.com

As Randi covers the following areas of ambivalence about having children, you can expect to hear:

  • Randi knew as a 6-7-year-old girl that she didn’t want to have children because she equated having a child with NOT being a feminist.
  • She never saw herself as a mother and was horrified when she heard the whisper of “maybe” in her late 30's.
  • Randi found that many of her beliefs about motherhood and childbearing were not her own, but were society-driven.
  • Randi had initially believed that motherhood would make her into all the things she didn’t want to be.
  • It’s ok to be ambivalent, but some people (especially well-meaning mothers) will try to talk you out of your ambivalence.
  • Each woman is the only one who can decide what’s right for her.  
  • We have the responsibility to have compassion for the different roles women play and appreciate those roles.
  • You can reserve the right to change your mind about what you want for your life - at any time.
  • “Maybe Baby” is a 6-week self-study course in which several hundred women have participated.  The course teaches you how to find what’s true for you and how to be at peace with it.

Wise Words:  “What’s right for me probably isn’t right for you!”

I hope you enjoy this episode where we discuss in depth our experiences with ambivalence. Would love for you to comment on the post at michellemariemcgrath.com
If you enjoyed this episode please share. Thank you.

Oct 5, 2015

A very interesting interview today from a mother's perspective on the topic of being childfree.

Melanie Holmes is a mother of two sons and a teenage daughter.  She's also a writer and researcher, who has interviewed over 200 women and examined the cultural assumptions of motherhood within today’s society.  She received her BA degree in 2011, a degree that took 20 years to complete because she took time out from her education to raise three children. 

At age 51, she achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a writer with the publication of The Female Assumption: A Mother’s Story: Freeing Women from the View that Motherhood is a Mandate.  For this book, she won a Global Media Award.  You can find the book at http://www.melanieholmesauthor.com

Melanie has witnessed firsthand the pain of women who are viewed as dysfunctional or selfish for deciding to pursue something other than motherhood.  Her own daughter was the inspiration for her research and writing.  She wanted her daughter to know that there are many options besides motherhood for her within her female experience, as she grows into adulthood.  

In this episode, the listener can expect to hear the following:

  • How many women never question or have a choice in having motherhood as part of their story;
  • How the need exists to amplify this conversation among women—that womanhood does NOT equal motherhood for everyone;
  • How people rudely assume they have the right to ask VERY personal questions about your intentions and your timeline concerning having children;
  • How the need exists to raise consciousness publicly about people who choose to be “childfree” or “childless.”
  • How we, as a society, still assume that motherhood is the ultimate goal for every woman, even though the number of women over 40 without children has doubled in the last ten years;
  • How women are viewed as being naturally disposed to be nurturing and caring toward children, totally discounting the fact that men are just as capable of caring for children;
  • How media influences our visions of ourselves—“We can’t aspire to be what we don’t see.”
  • How double standards for the roles of men and women exist in today’s society and how very little progress has been made;
  • How motherhood should be revered, but not presented as the panacea for all that might be wrong with someone’s life;
  • How the “Parenting Partnership” doesn’t have to include merely a man and a woman.

Points to consider:

  • “Motherhood should not be something to check off the to-do list.  Women are complete beings.”
  • Respect each others’ boundaries.  We live in a diverse world, and we don’t all want the same things.
  • We need more women in politics and high-level leadership positions.  There are 19 states in the US that have never sent a woman to the Senate!

 

Sep 28, 2015

Andrea Louisa Glazier is a native of the UK, has lived in New Zealand and currently lives on the northern beaches in Sydney, Australia.

Andrea thinks she has the best life ever! She wakes up excited, packs her bag for an adventure, heads down to the beach, walks with her feet in the water, camera in hand, takes photos, meditates, exercises, does whatever she likes, eats breakfast in local cafes and the returns home and begins client work around midday.  Around 5.30pm she picks up her camera and returns to the beach to take photos of the sunset.

It wasn’t always this way. She used to live in London and kill herself on the daily commute rushing to appointments and working late. For twenty years she worked in the media as a TV presenter, producer, director and journalist and switched to starting her own business after suffering from adrenal-fatigue and burnout after working 90-hour weeks.

Andrea lives a childfree life by conscious choice and is always ready to boldly affirm her decision. Join us for Andrea’s story!

You will learn the following in this episode:

The niche of childfree women is a growing sector of the population and a target market for many advertisers.

Almost 25% of western women over 40 don’t have children.

Andrea made the choice NOT to have children at age 11, and has been re-making that choice for 31 years.

Andrea loves the freedom and control she has in her life. She has never regretted the decision NOT to devote her life to having and raising children.

She has created a life that feels “really good” and is deeply satisfying.

People with children often don’t understand how a childfree life can be equally fulfilling.

To Andrea, the whole idea of having a man, children, and the conventional lifestyle seemed like a life lacking imagination.

No matter our choices, we all need to realise that people are entitled to different priorities and paths to fulfilment.

Andrea shares that she did become pregnant once but decided not to continue when she realised bearing children was not right for her.

Andrea doesn’t buy into the stereotypic myth of needing to procreate and that the purpose of a woman is motherhood.

Andrea shares details of the population growth and strain on earth’s natural resources. She believes all women should carefully consider the kind of world into which they are bringing children.

Andrea shares the purpose and fulfilment in her life.

Connect with Andrea and her stunning photography on Instagram at andrea.louisa.glazier

I would love to hear your comments below. If you found this helpful and interesting then I would love you to share with a friend who may also benefit. Thank you!

Sep 21, 2015

Justine Brooks Froelker is a Licensed Professional Counselor, who has a private practice in St. Louis, Missouri.  She is the author of the book and blog, Ever Upward.  She is an advocate for breaking the shamed silence surrounding infertility, loss, and recovery.  Justine writes for St. Louis Health and Wellness and Huffington Post and makes regular TV appearances on the midday show, Great Day St. Louis.  She went through costly infertility treatments and now lives “child-free,” but not by choice. 

In this episode, you will learn the following:

  • How Justine reacts to the ever-present question, “Well, why don’t you just adopt?”
  • How to apply the grieving process to loss that isn’t commonly acknowledged or understood.
  • How Justine recommends navigating through a journey like hers.
  • How relationships can become “casualties” of the journey and what true empathy is.
  • Why people don’t know how to respond to infertility that doesn’t end with a happy, bouncing baby.
  • Two “Motherhood Myths” that are prevalent in today’s society, and how to respond to them.
  • How unexpected “mothering roles” can bring fulfillment to the nurturing desire, even to the point of raising butterflies-----yes, butterflies!
  • How a “child-free” life can bring a deep sense of meaning and purpose so that you can choose your legacy and impact the lives of others.
  • What Justine refers to as the “complicated gray” of life, where nothing is all-black or all-white.
  • How Justine advises other women who live their lives without children of their own.  “YOU are the only one who knows what is right for your family.”
  • Find Justine on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and at her blog, www.everupward.org
Sep 14, 2015

Karen Malone Wright is the creator of TheNotMom.com  She's an experienced writer and communications strategist who launched her website in 2012 as a resource for and about women without children in a mom-centered world.  This October, Karen will host The Not Mom Summit, which is a groundbreaking international conference for childless and child-free women.  Previously, she worked independently at her own business, The Odyssey Creative Communications Consultancy.  Karen has worked for clients as diverse as Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice in the Netherlands and Goodwill Industries of Ohio.  Karen is an example of someone who created the resource she was trying to find.  She is dedicated to helping and guiding women around the world who would otherwise feel unsupported.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Like many women without children, Karen assumed she would have children during her first marriage.  Ambivalence to the idea of children began during her second marriage when she was in her late 30’s.
  • She was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and realised she could be subject to a high-risk pregnancy.
  • Karen talks candidly about the “active grief” that consumed her for 1-2 years as a result of the loss of her dream of pregnancy and children.
  • It was a day-long retreat for women with pregnancy loss that finally taught her, through labyrinth work, to let go of the grief.
  • Karen has found that women’s experiences of life without motherhood can be very different across regions and cultures.
  • Karen discusses various reasons for the ambivalence many women feel about having a child.
  • Building a life without kids CAN be rewarding and satisfying.
  • Historically, women’s attitudes about motherhood began to change as women pursued college degrees.
  • This is a trend that could have long-term effects on the population for the future.
  • Women without children have to consider alternative care arrangements for their long-term care as they grow older.
  • From Day One of launching her website, Karen knew she wanted to connect with women going through the same thing---and wanted to connect them with each other.
  • One of the challenges is to figure out what legacy means when it doesn’t involve leaving a child behind.
  • One of the major benefits to NOT having a child, Karen says, is having your own money and spending it as you wish—and NOT having to pay for college!

Resources Mentioned:

www.thenotmom.com

www.notmomcon2015.sched.org

 

Sep 7, 2015

I'm happy to share this lovely interview today with Nicola Newman, based on the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Nicola is an award-winning artist. She’s an organic gardening teacher, author and entrepreneur. Her mission is to help women explore their creativity and inspire them to live an authentic life that supports their heart's deepest desires to be self-expressive and enjoy even greater well-being. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and she’s produced and directed three documentaries on contemporary Australian artists.  Her paintings are featured in a multitude of public and private collections all around the world. She is the author of Grow Abundant Herbs and Greens in Pots and the creator of two acclaimed online training courses, The Abundant Veggie Patch System and Grow Organic Food in Pots. Nicola has taught hundreds of beginner gardeners worldwide to grow their own organic food and nurture their health. She’s currently working on a new project, Flourish with Painting and Creativity, which is an online mentorship program dedicated to teaching practical, soulful and nurturing ways to explore painting with acrylic and oil paints and express your innate creativity.  In Nicola's words "I want to inspire you to create things. Whether it’s a garden, a painting, a business or a life that supports you, it would be my honour to share the tools & inspiration I’ve found to push past creative blocks and see the results of your heart and hands unfold before your eyes."

Nicola never felt that yearning to have children that some women feel.  She thought that maybe it would kick in when she was ready to have children.  For some reason, that never happened.  Today, Nicola has allowed herself to be liberated in being childfree.  It has given her the opportunity to pursue her passions, and in turn, impact the world in a much bigger way.

In this episode you will learn:

  • How being childfree has liberated Nicola;

  • The morning creative exercise that Nicola practices and recommends;

  • When Nicola first discovered her creativity;

  • What it really takes to make a living as an artist;

  • The role her Mother played in accepting her childfree situation;

  • Why Nicola is open to not being childfree forever;

  • How to put the opinion of others regarding children,in perspective;

  • Why having children is no guarantee of “being taken care of” when you are aging;

  • Why having step-children can change your perspective;

  • Tips for navigating a new Step-Mother relationship.

  • The positive and negative lessons she learned in Step Parenting.

Nicola’s Advice for Reigniting Your Creativity Within:

  • Don’t believe the stories in your head

  • Keep focusing on what’s coming up in front of you

  • Be open to all sorts of possibilities

  • Take short courses

  • Find what makes you happy

  • Allow yourself to explore and go to the things that you are interested in

  • Give yourself permission.

I really enjoyed this down to earth and practical conversation with Nicola and I hope you did too! Find out more about Nicola's work here.

 Resources:

I would love to hear your comments below. If you found this helpful and interesting then I would love you to share with a friend who may also benefit. Thank you!

Aug 31, 2015

Today, I'm delighted to share this episode with a friend and an amazing woman in my life. I'm so inspired by Amanda and the valuable work she is doing.

 

Amanda Rootsey is an Eco-Model, Gentle Living Coach and a passionate educator. She spent many years as a fashion model working in Australia and Europe for labels such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Myer, Alex Perry and Cartier, to name but a few. After a 2-year battle with cancer, she decided to settle on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Australia.

 

Being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma certainly changed her perspective on life and inspired her to go vegan, start meditating, enjoy each moment and encourage others to find their balance and joy in life. She blogs about simple living, natural beauty, wellness, eco-fashion and more. Amanda presents a fresh and inspiring take on personal development training in her business, Shine from Within. With a strong focus on self-love, compassion for others and healthy living, her zest for life and positive but yet calming attitude is infectious. Nothing gives her greater pleasures than to see her students shine bright and realise their full potential. Still modelling, she now works exclusively with eco-friendly and ethical brands who share her values often with more than an ambassadorship focus. You can find her at http://www.amandarootsey.com.au/ or http://shinefromwithin.com.au/

 

Please share a little bit about your personal background and whether you’ve not had a child due to personal choice or circumstance. 

 

Amanda was diagnosed with cancer when she was 24 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as well as natural therapies. Due to the harshness of the chemotherapy treatment she was informed that there’s an 85% chance that she’ll never be able to have children naturally.

 

Did you have a driving desire to have a child?

 

Amanda has gone within to explore the answer to this question in the last year or so. The doctors haven’t given her any definitive answers. They’re not sure if she is also going through early menopause. Each person's body is so different and individual, so it’s hard to generalise.

 

Is early menopause the result of the treatment? 

 

Amanda believes that is the case. However, every so often she does still receive her period. The body is amazing in trying to heal itself. Her periods had stopped but due to her healthy regimen of eating healthily and meditation they have returned.

 

How did you feel when you were told that you couldn’t have a child, especially when you were quite young? 

 

Amanda is only 30 years old. The thought of not being able to have a child was upsetting. The reality of having the choice taken away is difficult to deal with. 

 

Did this situation stir up many feelings? Did you then feel like you might have wanted a child?

 

Amanda confirmed it certainly did bring up those feelings. That’s pretty much a normal response. However, she is philosophical and always come back to “whatever is meant to be, will be” and having the faith that went with that. She believes in having the faith and trust that your life is unfolding the way it was meant to. Amanda has noticed that some women seem pre-destined to have a child and long for it. "We, as women shouldn’t fall for the stereotypes placed by our culture. Many women feel guilty for not wanting to have children. It’s still quite taboo and such a personal topic."

 

Did you feel any pressure from your family about having a child? 

 

Amanda's cancer treatment has inadvertently provided a reason to cut these conversations short. It's more clear cut to have as a reason rather than saying you possibly do not want to have children. It is easier and less confronting.

 

How did the work with "Shine From Within" come about? 

 

The transition from being a girl to a woman is such an important time in our lives. Amanda loves modelling and never thought that she would be teaching others. However, after going through her ordeal health-wise, she learned how important it is for us to take good care of our health and look after ourselves. "We’ve always been pushed to achieve and succeed in life." After going through that experience Amanda felt the need to share the message of taking care of our bodies and living healthy with young women.

 

Did you work as a model before you started teaching? Was modeling something that you focused on intentionally?

 

Amanda undertook a modelling training course and was also studying drama at school. She started to teach other young girls, whilst working as a model.

 

When you were diagnosed with cancer you were working as a model. When did you decide that you were only going to represent eco-conscious brands?

 

After her illness, Amanda didn’t think she continue modeling at all. She started meditating and a healthy lifestyle. Then she started to work with businesses who approached her who were eco-friendly and ethical. That’s where eco-modelling came about. “Life can change in an instant. We need to take care of ourselves and others around us.”

 

One of the myths in our society is that we are made to pro-create. The fact is that we are using up the earth’s resources extremely rapidly and having a huge impact. It’s easy to take it all for granted but we need to be aware of our carbon footprint. “The richest 20% in the world are producing 80% of the wastage and are responsible for most of the consumption.”

 

What are your thoughts around this topic? Should people consider how many children they are having?

 

There are plenty of children in the world who need love and care. Amanda feels that it’s beautiful when people provide that help for children who are already here. The environmental impact of people’s decisions to have children should enter their thoughts. However, that’s not the reality.

 

What would you love to leave the world as your legacy? 

Amanda feels that it all comes back to being gentle with yourself, others and the earth. 

 

What do you feel are the major benefits in not having children? 

  • Being able to sleep in (sometimes).
  • Being able to consciously carve out my day and concentrate on my projects.
  • Being able to focus on supporting the environment.
  • Having the freedom to plan recreation easily.

Amanda is a Gentle Living Coach for women who want to bring more peace and happiness into their lives. Amanda is also wonderful mentor to teenage girls and if you have a daughter, I wholeheartedly recommend you check out her workshops. You can find out more about Amanda and her work at http://www.amandarootsey.com.au/ or http://shinefromwithin.com.au/.

 

Aug 23, 2015

Lori Portka is a licensed artist whose mission is to spread love and happiness through the art she creates. Utilising bright and colourful imagery, her messages are about gratitude, being true to yourself, and extending kindness to others. She creates artwork by sitting quietly in front of a blank canvas giving thanks for sacred time to create.

Lori believes that artwork carries energy and feels she’s called to spread love and healing through her paintings. She illustrated Crazy Sexy Love Notes, an inspirational card deck, published by Hay House and was featured in a short documentary film called, “Gratitude Grows” about her hundredth painting Gratitude Project. She’s about to release a book titled Infinite Purpose. Lori’s greeting cards, prayer flags, and stationery gifts are carried in more than a hundred locations in the US, Canada, France, and Australia. See here.

For Lori, being childless was a combination of personal choice and circumstances.

What were the subjects that you explored during that process?  What were some of the questions that arose?

“A big question for me was that I wondered if there was something wrong with me. I went through a lot of years of ‘why am I not like how I thought all other women were?.’

Now I know it’s not true. There are lots of other women who feel the same as I do. I went through a phase of ‘what’s wrong with me?’ and ‘will I regret it?’ I remember having a period of fear around the possibility of future regret.

Did you feel any pressure from family or friends? 

"My mother felt like she lost a lot of her life in having kids and she would voice that from time to time. I know that I was a mistake and she was devastated because she felt like she was going to be free until she got pregnant with me. This was stuff I was aware of early on. I think my mom felt, ‘Go Lori! You’re free!’ Although she’s never said that directly to me, that’s the underlining feeling I have."  It’s true that the majority of pregnancies are unplanned.

What compelled you to stay quiet about the topic?

It brought up a lot of shame. Lori had the fear of what people would think. It forced her to face all her feelings. There was much grief involved, even though she felt clear that she didn’t want kids from the time she was young. She also had to grieve 'not wanting' and 'not having'.

Were you letting go of the possibility of that reality? 

"It was letting go of the need for life to be any different. Letting go of what society thinks a woman’s life should look like and also accepting myself for how I am and my life for the way it is."

Looking back on her life, Lori sees that it made perfect sense that she didn’t have children. She’s now remarried and her husband already had children. She’s now a step-parent and her relationship with her stepdaughter, Katie, is very strong. Although she identifies herself as a woman without children, she’s able to connect with Katie and build a close relationship and strong connection with her. Her stepdaughter is a huge gift in her life and feels that she wouldn’t be this close to her stepdaughter if she had her own biological children.

You didn’t completely immerse yourself into your artwork until you were in your 30s. How did that come about? 

Lori's divorce was a huge life-changing event and changed the direction of her life. She was teaching and counseling at the time but wasn’t feeling fulfilled and was starting to get burnt out. When everything was turned upside down, she was devastated and felt that she needed to take care of herself or she was going to fall into a pit. She knew that it would be beneficial to start being creative.

Shortly after her husband left, she went to the art store, bought supplies, and poured her feelings out on paper. She started creating art and she really loved it. This was how her art started. Very soon after she read the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She felt she was a “shadow artist”, as her ex-husband was an artist and many great friends were artists, but she never created anything until after her divorce.

What advice would you give to women who want to explore their creative potential? 

Creativity is healing so go toward what you are drawn to.

Don’t be afraid to take that first step.

Do it for fun.

Was there anything that held you back from creating art? 

Lori loved creating when she was little (she made greeting cards) but believed that you couldn’t make money as an artist. She thought you needed a secure, stable job. She was intimidated by people who had art degrees and she doubted that she could ever make a career out of it.

What are the other ways that you nurture yourself?

An important way was to accept her feelings. Lori has a tendency to want to feel good all the time so she would push down the feelings that aren’t so good. “If I let myself feel the way I feel, stop all the craziness, and let the hard feelings come, then it would be a peaceful way to mentally be with myself. It’s loving myself through it. Giving myself permission to feel the feelings."

How did you decide to create the Gratitude Project?

“For me doing my artwork is all about spreading love and happiness. I believe that my purpose in the world is to hold a space of love.” Lori is very sensitive and open. She saw that as a negative thing for a long time. Now she see herself as a peacemaker in the world and she believes that’s part of her job. Artwork to her is spreading love and healing and happiness around and she knows a huge part of that is gratitude. She wants to live from a space of gratitude.

What else are the major benefits of not having children?

Lori believes a big benefit of not having children is having freedom and open space. She loves how convenient it is not worrying about school districts or making sure she provides a good place for them. Therefore, she’s able to focus on her husband and have quality time with him. Lori also enjoys the financial benefits and is extremely grateful for that too.

What would you like to leave the world as your legacy? 

"Being a person filled with love and spreading love."

Lori believes that her artwork is a part of her legacy.

“So many women feel that they’re on their own and isolated and you realise that they’re not. It’s just that so many people don’t talk about this openly.”  

Find out more about Lori's work here and order a copy of her upcoming book "Infinite Purpose" here.

 

 

Aug 17, 2015

Sas Petherick is a big-hearted, cognitive coach for real women. She shows women how to experience a life of love, meaning, and joy by thinking on purpose. Sas is an in-demand certified coach, the creator of Rethink Group Coaching programs, and co-host of “The Heart and Hearth Circle.” Sas’ energy, smarts, humour and intuition guide every transformational coaching session and sold out retreat. Find out how to amplify your life with curiosity and kindness here.

Sas believes that being childfree was a conscious, personal choice. It’s mostly because she felt ambivalent and never had that ‘pull’ to have a child.  It has taken a number of years to come to a conclusive place with the decision. She is very happy to be childless although it’s taken time to get to that place.

Sas got divorced at 32 and felt like that part of her life was over. Many people said to her that once she met the right person then she wouldn’t hesitate. She later met Ash, her husband when she was 35, and they had an intimate conversation on their second date about having children. She informed him that it wasn’t something she had in mind and asked him if he was okay with that. It was a very important conversation to have and was their first personal discussion. They then got married and discussed the concept of having children for many years. They’ve been together for more than 7 years and still wonder from time to time if they’ve made the right decision. Fortunately, Sas and her husband continue to believe they have made the right choice. She came to the conclusion that once you meet the right person, you’ll make the right choice (whatever that may be).

When you are not 100% certain of your own position and are still deciding, for someone to then question what you’re not certain about, can make you feel vulnerable and exposed. That can be a challenging place to be in. It can be uncomfortable when we feel we have to defend ourselves. It’s important to realise that it’s okay to be in the uncertainty…live the life that you want to live.

Did you feel influence from your family or friends that made that made it more difficult? Or were they understanding about your decision? In the past, most of the friendships that Sas developed were through work or travel. She found that she needed to be mindful of who she chose to reveal that vulnerability to. It’s about being respectful of the people we talk to about this. Her mother passed away about a decade ago. She was a psychiatric nurse who worked with women who suffered from post-natal depression. She was a brilliant example to Sas of a woman who was nurturing and mothering. Sas believes that more and more women are deciding that motherhood is not the right choice for them and because of that, can be easier to find people who share your same views and position.

What are your thoughts about the question, “Who’s going to look after you when you’re older?” 

“My standard comeback is about the beautiful Spanish male nurse that I hire.” (Me too please!) Sas says that she has a pact with a few of her close friends that they’ll pitch in and buy a house together and hire some hot Spanish nurses. As we are an increasingly ageing population, it will be more of a reality of friends getting together and living with each other when they’re older.

The exciting thing for women who are not going to have children is that you’ve got thirty or forty years ahead of you where you could whole-heartedly focus on something meaningful and fulfilling. One of the key reasons for making the choice to be childless was:

The immense freedom with opportunities and possibilities in her future.

A common question is:  “What does your life mean if you don’t have children?” It can be confronting but you can reveal to yourself a lot of interesting, exciting, and not of the “norm” answers for yourself. For Sas, it was about trusting her intuition and trusting her inner voice. That possibility and freedom feels very exciting to her.

Do you have advice for somebody who is struggling with how to respond to people questioning them about being childless?  Sas believes that if you are in a place of not knowing what the answer is and people are questioning you, saying, “I don’t know yet” is perfect. “Thank you for your interest, I really don’t know yet” is also a reasonable response. It’s really about letting other peoples’ voices wash over you. This is true for anyone else’s opinion about anything in your life.

What would you like to leave as your legacy or message of the values that are important to you? A statement that Sas read a while ago that really stuck out to her was, “A hundred years after you die, no one will speak of your name.” That idea filled her with such relief that she can just live the life she wants to live without anyone having to judge her about it. Sas says don’t live your life worrying about what other people will think of you.

Freedom is a huge benefit that you experience without having children. For Sas, it gives her intellectual freedom, financial freedom, and spiritual freedom. Without children, she doesn’t have anyone dependent on her, which gives her the space and freedom to play, create, and do what she wants to do.

Aug 10, 2015

Adele is a published and best selling digital author, owner of vegiehead.com and the Vegie Head Academy and she also writes the national magazines. She’s appeared on the cover of health magazines across the world and lives near the beach on the sunshine coast in Australia.

Adele is a recipe evolutionist for people who want to enjoy more plant-based recipes in their diet. She creates food with integrity and encourages others to live a powerful life with powerful plant-based food. Her site “Vegie Head” is a place where saucy, tempting, recipes live and Adele’s inspiring words touch hearts. Adele’s first published cookbook was released worldwide in March 2014 and has been reprinted three times and is now available in three languages. For more about Adele’s work including Vegie Head’s VIP Clubhouse see here.

Adele believes that not having a child was a combination of circumstance and a personal choice. In 2010, she had an ectopic pregnancy. She was 10-11 weeks into the pregnancy when it was discovered. It was a shock as she had not known that she was pregnant at the time. She went to the doctor several times and yet they couldn’t find anything wrong. Later, she was rushed to the hospital and went under emergency surgery. This was a scary experience for Adele and looking back she realised that she wasn’t listening to her body. She does not want to take the risk of experiencing another ectopic pregnancy or going through the process of having a child.

Adele has always been the type of person who was not particularly interested in having children of her own. She has a 3-year old niece that she absolutely adores. She says she’d rather be a cool auntie rather than a mother. The thing that bothered her most about the ectopic pregnancy was:

The pregnancy was unexpected.
The fact that she was undergoing such serious surgery that she had no control over.

Inspirational aunt: Adele’s aunt (now 60 years old) had her tubes tied at 18 because she also had an ectopic pregnancy and was not interested in having children. Adele has spoken to her about this multiple times and her aunt said that she’s only met a couple of people in her life who can whole-heartedly say that it’s a decision they made consciously. Adele says she was an awesome aunt and was always active in her life. Adele sees herself in more of a similar role.

Not every woman is a natural mother or should be a parent.  Many women don’t have a biological urge to have children, whereas some feel that drive very strongly. If you know that it’s not your path, then it’s important to listen to yourself and follow that. Also, to respect people who say that that’s not their choice. Adele experienced people questioning her and making her feel that she didn’t make the right decision. There has to be respect for women who make the conscious and unconscious decision not to have children. Adele has had that forced upon her, even coming from her husband’s family members asking, “So when are you and Paul going to have kids?” It’s not the right thing to ask, especially if they are going through a difficult time.

Were there any challenging situations, beliefs, or questions that came up? Did it send you to a period of self-inquiry?  Adele really felt like the whole ectopic experience was her fault. She was in agony and in the hospital had hot water bottles on her shoulders and an ice pack on her stomach for the inflammation. She turned to her husband Paul and cried in pain and fear. She felt like she manifested it and that it was her responsibility for what happened. She did a lot of self-inquiry and has taken her a long time to be able to talk about it freely. It’s about being honest with yourself, listening to your body, and to your instincts.

It’s one of those subjects where we don’t give ourselves enough credit and listen to ourselves. In Adele’s life, she doesn’t think that having biological children is for her. However, she and her husband are open to fostering and adopting. There are so many children out there that need homes and loving parents and Adele doesn’t believe that love or parenting has anything to do with biology.  You don’t need to give birth to someone to be their mother or that you don’t necessarily have to be a biological mother to give them the motherly love that they want.

We are extending that feminine, mothering, caring, loving energy in so many ways in different parts of our lives. It’s up to each individual to see which way is most fulfilling and rewarding for them. Adele shares that kind of relationship with her pets. It’s an example of having a loving bond and in return they give us that unconditional love. Adele calls her dogs her babies and treats them like humans. She’s grateful that she can experience that and have that bond like how she would with her own children. They need that same love, care, and stimulation that a child would need. She compares taking care of her dogs to parents taking care of their children. Having a dog is great if you are practicing to be a parent and do require a lot of hard work. This is one way that Adele shows her nurturing, caring nature.

Adele believes that if we have a loving relationship with food then we can eat it lovingly and feel good about it as oppose to having these confusing and disparaging relationships with food. When we are eating good food and fueling our bodies, we’re saying to our bodies that we love them and that we are mothering and nurturing our bodies in a way. For her, working with women, connecting with people and making sure that her cubby is full allows her to do it for other people as well. It’s mothering yourself and treating yourself how you would treat a child and showing kindness. Adele models that through her relationship with food. She is also writing and educating about that and is creating a book about recipes for dogs. This goes back to nurturing someone else other than ourselves but at the same time, she is nurturing herself because cooking for her dogs gives her love and happiness to do that for them.

It can be a difficult and challenging process to foster and adopt children. There are so many children who would benefit from a loving home and there are many people who would love to have a child but may not be physically able to. Adele mentions that it will be interesting to see how the processes become easier over the years, so that it’s more accessible for suitable parents. Adele has seen neglected kids everywhere with parents who aren’t good influences. She had a girlfriend who was trying to adopt and suddenly lost her job. She couldn’t get another job in that industry and so was unable to adopt a child. It isn’t right that the process is so complicated, when at the same time people can easily have children and neglect them. Hopefully the process can become easier so that suitable and responsible parents can give children the loving homes they need.

What do you feel is your most important message? What would you like to leave as your legacy? Adele asks herself, “What can I do to change the lives of the people around me or the animals around me?” For her, it would come down to working closely with dogs whether it be leaving people with books or educating people about it or raising a charity. If we:

Connect to what we feel passionately about and believe in;
Be ourselves;
Give ourselves permission to share openly.

It can only be of positive benefit to others and yourself, because you are living and speaking the truth. We have to respect each woman’s path and not judge women based on the actions they take.

Adele loves her own space and loves doing things for herself and says that if she can’t give to herself, she can’t give everything she’s giving out to the worldritual2-e1411623300440-681x1024

One of Adele’s wonderful projects is“Rituals”. I was delighted to contribute my personal experience of a molar pregnancy and also an aromatic bathing ritual.

This is about ‘celebrating and grieving the loss of a child. A collection of stories to help you grieve, release and heal’. There are some beautiful tools and resources in here and I highly recommend it for any woman who is looking for sacred rituals to assist in coming to terms with what has occurred. There are some very moving personal stories. You can find it here.

Find out more about Adele and her wonderful work atVegiehead where she shares a wealth of information, recipes, and courses.

 

Aug 2, 2015

Christine Erickson believes in reflective learning through connecting with nature and works with horses as teaching partners for executive education and individual development and healing. She is the founder of One Legacy Coaching, LLC and The Mother Within initiative. Christine has facilitated learning programs for incredibly diverse individuals, executive leadership teams and social businesses internationally.

As a coach and entrepreneur she enjoys working with clients who want to practice and embody intentional and creative living, self-leadership that inspires, and the heart space to serve others. It is her intention to connect with and serve other women through The Mother Within initiative in order to create an expressive and representative space for women without children and to breach cultural and social conversations that ultimately affect all women.

Christine considers that for her, not having a child was circumstantial. At a time when having a child may have been possible, she was  in an unhealthy marital relationship and didn’t feel it would be right to bring a child into that situation.

By the time she had healed and moved on, her next partner already had children and did not want more. By this time, she was in her 40′s and had come to terms with the fact that having a child was not going to happen. It was a gradual realisation for herself and her life. A time of acceptance came slowly and with deep awareness.

What helped Christine feel clearer about not having a child, was getting quiet and observing the pain and the process of going through it. This is the point in time when she wrote her book The Mother Within. imgres

She used many coaching tools and mindset work, but what really helped her heal was being quiet. She realised that she is a maternal Being. Owning and accepting this allowed her maternal sense to show itself in her relationships with others. She realises that this will be within her in various ways in different stages of her life.

In her relationships with family and friends, Christine didn’t feel particularly supported about this issue, mainly because she wasn’t completely open about it. Her experience was more about the silence around the issue of not having a child. Once she became more comfortable about responding to things it opened up a gateway for communication with others.

There has been awkwardness around the issue. Some people in our society have been not been conditioned to accept the possibility of not having children. In the US, almost 50% of women of a childbearing age do not have children at all.  This number is much larger when you consider men who are also childfree.

One point that Christine discusses in her book: if you look at things systemically, taxation or different regulations in our society; they feed the need to have children or get married. This is a paradigm that needs to shift and consider what we are and who we are right now. We are a rapidly ageing population and increasingly more are without children.  There needs to be much more open conversation around this topic.

With her work with women and the horses, Christine has integrated the work of women as coaches and healing professionals. This allows people to move out of the verbal mind space and to get back into their bodies in the sensing and knowing/feeling space with horses. Some of the positives:

  • Horses are non-judgmental;

  • A horse’s energy is clean;

  • They are so present that it draws people into that presence;

  • There’s a harmonic exchange between the person and the horse;

  • Being around horses allows our minds to release energy in different ways;

  • Everyone has a horse story;

  • We don’t have to be perfect around a horse (it’s about being authentic);

  • Horses are very sensitive.

Many people have had a fearful experience with a horse. When someone has a lot of energy emanating, the response from the horse is basically trying to meet that energy. How to distill those fears, which is not necessarily negative, (it’s just information) can become a damaging experience. The facilitator needs to feel the honour of helping others come away with a positive experience. Acknowledging people’s fears is important. It’s better than trying to pretend that you’re fine, when you’re petrified inside. When you acknowledge your fears and accept them, the horse will be more relaxed around you.

Christine has been doing this work since 2009. She has had a coaching practice for many years before she started incorporating work with horses. Everyone is at a different space within their journey. This is a great way of leaving a legacy. The one thing she wanted people who are in her situation to be conscious of, “We don’t have to leave or create a profound legacy just because we do not have a genetic legacy.”

Her definition of legacy is more around people tapping into what is authentic for them, what they love to do, how they interact with and impact people or their own lives. If you can share that with others or serve other people, that’s a legacy. It can be creating a vibration of words every day intentionally that you send out to building a non-profit that serves girls and leadership. We’re all here to leave a legacy with or without children. Name it and do it consciously.

There are many myths about not having a child such as You can’t experience real love if you don’t have a child or can’t relate until you’ve experienced that type of love.” This is part of what drove Christine to write her book.

  1. Reclaim the real space – “Whatever our greatest experience of love is, IS our greatest experience of love.”

  2. Myths (proposed fact) are there to support social construct and not necessarily what’s real.

  3. Myths divide the notion of what real parenting is – it traps women in two different directions

  4. When the language is absolute, “There is no love in the world like…” “No one except your mother…” – reinforces all those social constructs.

  5. It forces competitiveness when there’s no right or wrong in this area of life.

The reality of parenthood is something you can’t imagine until you’re experiencing it. We should never claim or define someone else’s experience. We may be losing our womanhood to motherhood. Some women that Christine admires as mothers are so conscious and work really hard at being themselves, at the same time as being conscious mothers. They’re living in such a keen awareness. Christine believes that at times the social definitions of motherhood or women without children, keeps us in a space of judgment and separation and also takes our energy and contribution as women collectively.

In creating or producing meaning for your life – through the grief and acceptance of not having a child when you wanted one, this is the space we should re-acknowledge women and to be able to not only heal but compassionately witness each other and honour and celebrate each other. The Mother Within – what we are doing and who we are being is the expression. As for her greatest work, Christine feels that is “who are we being and what we are becoming in life”. She is working to continuously live a very conscientious life.

As for role models, Christine doesn’t look at someone or would name anyone based on whether they have a child or not, what she considers as someone she’s inspired by is Jody Day, of Gateway Women. It’s the people who are becoming visible to create a conversation for a more feasible, creative and spiritual life for those who are maternal Beings and acknowledgment for women as a whole. Be our best selves…no matter what it looks like.

Get Christine’s book here and find out more about The Mother Within here.

 

Jul 26, 2015

Julie Parker is one of Australia’s foremost life and business coaches and trainers, with more than a decade of experience, inspiring hundreds of clients and thousands of people to create beautiful lives and businesses. She is the CEO and founder of the Beautiful You Coaching Academy. Julie passionately trains and supports heart-centred, gifted people to bring their talents and love of giving into the world, as life coaches.

Julie is a published author and TedX speaker and has shared the speaking stage with amazing ladies such as Clare Bowditch, Christina Re, Gretel Killeen, Carolyn Cresswell and Gala Darling. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Australia Day Citizenship Award and Business and Professional Women’s Woman of Achievement Award. Julie appears regularly in the media including Today Tonight, A Current Affair, Sunrise and The Morning Show; as well as in publications such as Grazia, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, Fitness and Health and national newspapers. She is also the Editor in Chief of the fabulous Inspired Coach Magazine.

Julie lives in Melbourne with her husband, stepdaughter and two much loved adopted cats.

Was not having a child due to a personal choice or circumstance?

Julie’s story is a mixture of both. She had always thought that she would have children and be a biological mother, but by her early to mid-30’s she hadn’t met the man who was to be her future husband and she started to think differently and accept the possibility of not being a biological mother.  Around the same time, she started having gynaecological issues.

Shortly thereafter, she met her now husband who had a child from a previous marriage. From the beginning, he was honest with Julie that he didn’t want to have any more children, and being convinced that she had found the man that she would be with for life, having children wasn’t as important to Julie anymore.  What was more important was building a great life with her husband and being a good stepmother to his daughter.  Her desire to have children greatly lessened, something she came to very much be at peace with. Overall, Julie felt that not having a child emerged to be due to her circumstances, but in the end became a life choice.

“The experience of being a woman in the 21st century is so very different to what it was like.”

In deciding not to be a biological mother, were there any processes that you had to go through? There was an interesting response from a friend and her mother and Julie had to think very carefully if this was something she would regret. She spent a lot of time by herself and had to dig deeper within herself, as she realised that she needed to be the one who had to be okay with her decision.

Julie has always been taken aback with people’s response when they hear that someone has decided not to have children, noting that it is interesting because they don’t respond the same way if people decide to have children. Some responses Julie has found have been that she might have been compromised in some way and she had to them that she was fine.

Julie was most concerned about her mother’s reaction to not having children but it came back as a surprise to her.  She asked Julie, “are you happy?” to which she answered “never ever been happier in my life”, “Well then, carry on with that! Children do not a marriage make. It’s all about your partnership.”

On her relationship with her stepdaughter:  Having been a part of her stepdaughter’s life for over 7 years now has been very fulfilling for Julie. Although she does acknowledge that a step-parent’s role is not an easy one at times, she feels very blessed.  A big reason for that is because her husband has always been a great father.  Some people suspect from someone who may not want to have any more children, that they are tired of being a parent or that it was difficult, but that wasn’t the case at all with her husband. He was at a stage in his life where he was very happy forging a relationship with his daughter and just didn’t feel the need to have more.

It seems that there may be a lot of young women out there who thought that having a child would fulfill them and Julie wonders that if they had to make the choice over again, if they would have chosen differently. Everyone is different in their perception of what a beautiful and fulfilling life ought to be. It’s obvious that Julie, through her work in helping other women to be life coaches, utilises her own nurturing and mothering qualities in this way.

Unfortunately our society tends to look at women without children as:

Someone who couldn’t love others;

A mean person;

A threat in some way;

Someone who doesn’t like kids.

A definition of a Mother = to give rise to or to produce.  We all do that in different ways.

What brings Julie fulfilment in that way?  All life coaches that train with Julie are women who want to birth their own business or emerge as a life coach. She has been able to help others create a business or a life which is surrounded by heart and compassion. Julie feels that this is exactly what she was brought here to do. She feels that she helps people give rise to that in their lives and step out into the world with new found confidence and skills to establish their businesses.

How do you support yourself on a physical or mental level? Julie has never been much good with routines. She feels that if she sustains a lovely practice that will keep her topped up. Other things that Julie does to nurture herself:

Use oils on her body;

Meditation;

Warm baths;

Good wine;

Being outdoors in her garden;

Spending time with children;

Doing her work.

She enjoys meditation but also she surrounds herself with incredible and supportive people. She has already cut ties with those who have brought her down in the past.

On social infertility:  there seems to be a growing phenomenon with women who are accomplished in life but can’t seem to find a man who they would want to have a family with. There is a growing group of women who are empowered and well accomplished in life and at the same time, there seems to be more men who don’t want children as well. It’s creating a mis-match.

Another issue is that people stay at home longer and struggle to purchase their own homes. There has been a report on the average cost of raising a child to be just under half a million dollars. It is astronomical to raise a child in our society nowadays. On top of the expenses you also have to be the best parent that you can be. We need to be very clear about our life decisions and at the same time respect other people’s decisions. Unfortunately there are still so many people out there who are very judgmental about others decisions to not have a child.

On a practical level, Julie is very busy with her business and travelling.  If she had a small child she would have had a lot more to juggle. She realised that if she had had a child, her business would have been very different from what it is now or even potentially may not have happened.

On the legacy she wants to leave: the hope that she had inspired people to truly embrace and love themselves for exactly who they are and the choices that they make. She feels that this is really what she needs to do is to help people realise that they are enough. These are people who are natural born givers and helpers.

You can find out more about Julie and her work here.

Jul 22, 2015

Amy E. Smith is a certified and credentialed confidence coach, a masterful speaker and personal empowerment expert. She is the founder of the Joy Junkie Enterprises and uses her role as a coach, writer, podcaster and speaker to move individuals beyond their limiting beliefs and sabotaging mindsets to a place of radical personal empowerment and self-love. Amy is very focused on helping people find their voice and uses her popular weekly podcast, the Joy Junkie Show to address issues of worthiness, self-confidence and letting go of people pleasing tendencies to assist listeners in creating and living radically joyful lives.

She’s also the co-founder of The Self-love Revolution and has been instrumental in aiding hundreds of women to step into their authentic power and crafting lives they desire. She is a highly sought after speaker and has an uncommon style of irreverence, wisdom and humor. She’s also a featured expert on Fox 5 San Diego and Your Tango.  You can find out more about Amy at The Joy Junkie and get a free copy of her eBook, Stand up for Yourself without Being a Dick, how to face challenges to radically improve self-confidence and self-love.

There’s almost 50% of women in the US of the child-bearing age who are currently childless. Amy sees the difference in how people speak to her about this subject from the first few years of her marriage with her husband of 17 years to now. Lately there’s more of an acceptance in that regard than what it was years ago. Almost a quarter of women over 40 don’t have children.

What are your thoughts about that? One of the overwhelming response that Amy received from people when she broached this subject on her podcast was that they didn’t realise that they were allowed to not want children. Now she feels that there is a huge personal development movement.

How did this decision evolve for you personally? When Amy was a little girl she saw clearly for herself to not have any children of her own. She didn’t have the overwhelming feeling of being matriarchal. It still took many years to be totally confident about it.

It’s not our job to make people understand. This is where self-love and self-care comes in. People may never get it. She decides to not participate in conversations where she feels disrespected about her decisions. No one has the right to tell you when you should be fulfilled or not.

Did you have any backlash from family or friends on your decision? There was a long period of time when people within their families were convinced that she would change her mind. By the time they were about to go through the procedure they had already been married for 9 years. They then understood that having children just wasn’t for them. Amy’s mother mentioned one time, “it just makes it really hard when everybody in the office talks about their grandkids.” Amy clarified the fact that it’s her own life that’s being affected and not so that her mother can talk about grandkids.

A conversation regarding having children historically:

  • You needed children to work your fields.

  • You needed children to carry on your lineage.

  • We weren’t over populated like we are now.

  • That was the priority at the time.

The word selfishness leaves a really bad taste in our mouths. What’s needed is more people tending to themselves. Decisions should be based on yourself and not what other people think you should be. Those people who are fulfilled with themselves don’t need to look outside of themselves for validation. “By being selfish, you’re being selfless.”

 How would say you mother yourself? “To mother” = to give rise to; to produce. Amy feels that the word didn’t resonate with her. She considers this more like self-care:

  • If she feels good about something she doesn’t cower about expressing it.

  • She handles herself with grace and kindness.

  • If someone says something to her that’s highly offensive, you need to conduct yourself in a way in which you are proud.

  • Take care of yourself.

What do you feel, upon reflection, is the major benefit of not having children?

She and her husband are planning on moving across country, they don’t have to worry about a school district or uprooting them from their friends. Amy sees that there’s so much freedom to speak off. There’s no sense of loss for her. Her relationship with her husband leaves her completely fulfilled. The expense that they have not incurred with having children is also another freedom.

What do you feel is your message for your life? In doing her work, Amy feels that what we all really want is just to be happy. Her goal and purpose is to be happy and joyful – to live a life of happiness. She believes that most people are chasing what they want to feel. She feels that fundamentally we do crave love from other people. If she can affect change in people’s lives, that’s an amazing legacy for Amy. That’s what fulfills her.

“You’re allowed to feel strong and convicted about your beliefs.”You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Amy also has discussed this topic with her husband in a podcast episode that you can access here “Top 10 Reasons Why We Don’t Want Kids” and find out more about Amy here.

Jul 20, 2015

Melanie Notkin is a media entrepreneur, author, speaker, marketer, and a leading voice of childless, often single women.  She is the founder of the Savvy Auntie lifestyle brand and is also the national best selling author of the book, SAVVY AUNTIE: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids and Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind of Happiness. You can find out more about Melanie’s work here.

Melanie believes that being childless for her was due to circumstance. She always wanted to find love, get married, and have a child with that man and yet she remained single. She is 46 and always expected to have found that love and would not settle for anything less. Unfortunately, whilst she hoped it would happen before her fertility waned, she has remained without a child.

What do you think are some of the reasons that women are facing?

“Social infertility” is an increasingly used term.  Melanie uses the term “circumstantial infertility,” the pain and grief over not having a child because you don’t have a partner and you would prefer to have a child with a partner.  It is a global Western trend and is a global phenomenon. There was a 15-page feature in DE Morgan, the largest daily in Brussels for Mother’s Day on “Otherhood”,  the title of her second book. “I think that part of it has to do with the fact that women today, our generation, the daughters of the feminist movement born in the 60s, 70s, 80s, imagine we’d have the social, economic, and political equality our mothers didn’t have when they were born. Naturally we’d have the husbands and kids that they did have. Plus the education and the financial stability, and independence, alas many of us had not been able to find that love.” Melanie thinks it’s partly because of the even split in education and in financial strength and ability.

This generation of single women are among the most well educated, most financially successful, often the most fit and fabulous. These are the most A+ women who can’t find a match.  It’s not because they are too picky, it’s that they want to have a partner who challenges and supports them and to feel that the person adds value to their life and family. Also, on the women’s side, we’ve been told, believed, and in some ways agree that in order to be equal to men, we have to become a little more like men. Women have lost our femininity and trying to shoulder a lot of the traditional roles that men often participated in. Melanie thinks that we are all a little confused about how we should act and truthfully feels that we get turned on by courtship. It seems that there is work to do on both sides to try to bring that together in a more balanced way.  She believes that the simple solution is honesty. Melanie learned to only agree to dates that only work for her. This means that she would make the man work and choose the place of venue rather that her making the decision.

We have to understand as women, that there is tremendous power in our femininity. If there weren’t such great power in our femininity, there wouldn’t be such male misogyny. It’s actually our femininity that is threatening to men than there is masculine energy. As women, we nurture everyone around us so we need to be aware and know how to use that femininity appropriately.

How did Savvy Auntie come about?

Savvy Auntie came about before Otherhood. Melanie had the idea in 2007 and she launched it in the summer of 2008. She was in her late 30s and always expected to be married and have kids by then. The most important people in her life were her nephews and nieces. She didn’t know what to do, what they were in to, and all the things parents were talking about. Often, women who don’t have children can feel left out because they are spending a big part of their life without kids. Melanie then got the idea that there needed to be a community just for them, which is how Savvy Auntie was born. She was a marketer by trade so she knew there was a business in that.

When is International Aunties’ Day? International Aunties’ Day is always on the fourth Sunday in July so this year it will be on July 26.

What do you typically do on that day and what do you do to celebrate that day? How does that work? Just like Mother’s Day, it’s a day to celebrate and honor the aunt or godmother in a child’s life. It’s up to the families how they want to celebrate that day but it could is simply be a Skype call to communicate or with a card or a hug. It’s a way to acknowledge how much you love and care about them and how much they mean to you.

 What is your definition of “childfull” and how did that word come about?  Melanie struggled with the words “childless” and “childfree”. Childless is the generic term for a woman or man who doesn’t have children. It has the word “less” in it and nobody wants to feel less than. Childfree is the implication of one that is free from children. Melanie does not feel childfree because she has children in her life. “Childfull” means that one’s life is full of children they love. This sounds very positive and most women who don’t have a child of their own but have a child in their life would agree to that term.

Melanie titled her book Otherhood because it’s not motherhood. Feminists talked about the idea of women being second to man, that women are other to man, and that equality would mean that we are no longer other to man. Childless women often feel other to mother. Melanie thinks that our next stage of liberation and feeling equal of our own equality movement is to show that we are equal to mother and that we are not other to mother. It is a good way to show we are fighting for that sense of equality.

There was a study done in Australia that showed how even among self-assured, confident, successful women, the feeling of otherness can make a woman feel less than. It’s interesting how people now choose the natural period in a woman’s life when to have children. People often make stereotypes that can be damaging and are not valid at all. It can be a lot of pressure on a woman who’s not necessarily responsible for her circumstances.

Melanie thinks that one of the stereotypes are called “career woman.” If you are single at 40 and don’t have children, most people will identify you as a career woman meaning that you care more about your career than a family which can be completely incorrect. Melanie talks about women freezing their eggs in their mid to late 30s even 40+ in order to have children once they find a man. It’s quite an expensive process that women are doing. Two major companies, Apple and Facebook, said that they would fund up to $20,000 for women to freeze their eggs, which is an extraordinary gift.

Melanie calls it “The Dating Bermuda Triangle” where women are between the ages of 35 to 40 and men often think that the women are desperate for children. The truth is that she could be feeling desperate and can be a challenging and tough time for her. One should know that this whole process reverses itself. Once the woman is in her 40s, all of a sudden a man who is in his 40s or 50s, starts to wonder why isn’t that woman desperate for me and he becomes more desperate for the woman who was once the confident one. However the woman of the “otherhood” will never settle for lesser love because if they were to have done that, it would have been at age 22 when their eggs were much fresher.

What do you think is the way forward and how do you think we can address this? Are there more women than men in that age group? Melanie thinks that it can be very helpful to be more honest.

We have to be the ones to expect something different from ourselves. Once we start doing this, the conversation will start to change and the way the conversations are told back to society, through media, marketing, etc, that’s when things will start to change.

There are so many women leading fulfilled lives creating things for themselves when they come to a point where:

They either didn’t choose to have children by choice.

It just did not happened due to circumstance.

“Babies are born from the womb, maternity is born form the soul, and there are many ways to mother.”

Melanie states that this was not the life she expected but it is in many ways a life beyond her expectations. She is doing things she never expected to do. People have asked her if she had any regrets. Her response is no but beyond that, the way she looks at life is, “Regret is behind me and my love and my life is ahead of me and if I’m back there in regret, I’ll never meet him and I’ll never life the life I was meant to live.”

The only advice she gives to “otherhood” is to the reader to turn the page and start her next chapter. She wants everybody to move forward. What happens to many of us is that we get stuck. Many of us live on this “borderline regret.” “Do I choose A or B?”  Melanie wants every listener to make a choice and once you’ve done that, you’ll be free and you’ll be living the authentic life you’re meant to live.

Be honest with yourself/ Have honest conversations with others.

Don’t live in that regret and try not to be stuck in that grief.

As children, we’d imagine and dream what our future would be like. We do that today as adults and we don’t let go of what our imagination had decided our life to be. Whoever is feeling stuck and that their life isn’t the way they want, write down 10 things that you appreciate abut yourself and the accomplishments you’ve made. Then you’ll realize all of the things you actually have rather than what’s missing.

 Who would you say are your most inspirational role models of women?

Diane Von Furstenberg – her mother is a Holocaust survivor.

Elizabeth Gilbert – childfree by choice

No matter how you feel, there are women like Diane who are born out of the ashes. Sometimes it takes those low moments to realize that change is about to happen. What would you like to leave the world as your legacy? Move forward and keep going.

You can find out more about Melanie’s work here.

Jul 20, 2015

I’m excited to share this first episode of my new podcast,Unclassified Woman. This is a short audio where I explain why I am creating the podcast, what I hope to accomplish and who it is for!

Unclassified Woman is for women who don’t have, or don’t intend to have children, but do intend to create a meaningful life they love. Unclassified Woman gives voice to the almost 25% of Western women who aren’t easily heard over the mother-focussed mainstream media. Part myth busting, part inspirational story sharing, the podcast features women living meaningful lives, sharing their experiences and insights, while questioning the expectations of women everywhere.

I have a dream that one day, women who don’t have children – for whatever reason (and there are many) – no longer endure the unfair judgments placed upon them. My hope for these women, of which I am one, is that their worth as women isn’t measured by their ability to birth children, but rather by their ability to birth their true desires and contribute their gifts to the world.

We have so much to look forward to and each episode will bring you the inspiring story of a woman who has chosen to birth the true desires of her heart. I will be sharing information that I hope is helpful and insightful.

I would also love to hear any suggestions of any possible guests for future episodes. A new episode will be published weekly.

Jul 20, 2015

Jody Day is an author,  social entrepreneur and the founder of Gateway Women a global friendship and support network for childless women.  She is a founding member at AWOC, (Ageing without Children Collective) and a Fellow in Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School at Cambridge University in the UK.  Jody’s book, Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Life Without Children is an Amazon bestseller. Jody runs workshops, social events and private sessions for women coming to terms with the life that doesn’t include motherhood as well as speaking out about the issues and prejudices that childless women face. You can find out more about Jody’s work here.  

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In this episode, Jody shares how she be turning 51 this year and her journey and experience of being a childless woman up until this point in her life.  At 20 years old she had an abortion. She was in a long line of women who have had children at a very young age and her mother had impressed upon her that she needed to live her own life before she should have children.  At 29 she tried to conceive with her then husband. However, by 33-34 she still was not pregnant. By this time she was doing all she could to conceive.  Unfortunately her marriage started to deteriorate. At 38, her husband suggested they try IVF. However she realised that it wouldn’t be right to bring a baby into their marriage. After having a nervous breakdown soon after and many realisations, she decided to divorce her husband. By the time she was 43 and had experienced a few other relationships, she realised that that her opportunity to be a mother had passed.

Reflecting on her life and wanting to have a child, Jody realised how obsessed she had been. She admitted that at one point she even was willing to ignore her husband’s addictions because she wanted to have a child so badly. It was a very difficult and challenging time. Realising and accepting the fact that she wouldn’t be a mother was an excruciating and long process. For about 15 years she had the strong feeling of connection within her belly that she put her life on hold and planned her whole life around that feeling. She called this, psychologically nesting. She was preparing this space in her life for the family that was coming. She was living a half-life – it became one-track. It was a massive shock realising that this life would never happen. She went into a profound period of grieving which she wasn’t aware of at the time. Since she couldn’t find the right help for herself at that time, she decided to become a psychotherapist.

At first she thought that she couldn’t be a good psychotherapist since she wasn’t a mother but then realised that after going through her experiences she could be a great one. She is in the process of completing her studies.. When she was going through the portion of her class on grief she realised that was what she was going through a few months previously. She wrote down a map of her emotional experience including the emotional experiences of the women she was meeting while she was writing the Gateway Women’s blog and realised that it was a perfect fit. With great relief she realised that:

There was a name for what she was experiencing.

She wasn’t going crazy.

This will be over one day.

She compares this grief to losing a parent. Once you lose them, you can’t have another. That’s the same as realising that you can never have a child, you will never have all the “firsts” experiences. The grief also came in the form of alienation from her peer group or how they thought about her because she’s childless. The loss of her identity as a woman. Some of her friends were understanding but it was too painful for her to be around them. She withdrew. People made the most hopeless but well-meaning comments.

How do you deal with some of the inappropriate questions or comments? “It depends on who the person is, what the situation is and people are a bit clueless about it but it is still a socially acceptable question.” Some feisty women in her Gateway group have been known to say – usually to strangers – if someone asked “Do you have kids? Why not?”

The response, “Well, I didn’t know that we were going to get personal so quickly, so how much do you earn?”  This is a private matter!  Jody found that her answers have changed over time after facing her grief.  There’s a myth that people who don’t have children hate children. Jody says that it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Her response has changed to, “No, I’m just not fortunate enough.”

She feels that the culture should probably change to where if someone does (or does not) have children, they should be the first to mention them. People may not be intentionally unkind, they’re just being thoughtless. This is no longer a small subject.

1 in 5 women are turning 45 without having children.

10% of those have made the choice.

10% have some kind of medical infertility or other medical issues that prevent them from having children.

80% are childless by circumstance due to so many reasons at the time of their fertile years.

“The really important reason they haven’t had children is because they haven’t gotten pregnant accidentally on purpose.”

Social Infertility  is a term that is commonly used now – There are so many women out there in their 30’s and 40’s who want to find a suitable partner but just can’t. Jody feels that there are some important reasons for that. She calls the current generation as the “shock absorber generation” after the sexual revolution because:

We have access to the pill.
We have access to legalized and safe abortions.
We have access to higher education.
We have access to executive professions.
We have access to fertility treatments. 

There has been an increase of women going into the higher professions but we don’t have the same corresponding number of men doing so. 

It’s important that we put our situation into the social and economic context of our time. We are living through an extraordinary moment in the history of dating and mating.

Can you now see the gifts and benefits having gone through all that experience?  For Jody, not being able to have children really broke her heart. “…broke me but also broke me open in a profound way that has changed me…childlessness broke my heart but grief healed it bigger.”  It has helped her become the woman that she was meant to be.

Jody has been able to use her mother’s heart in a different way in the work that she’s doing now. It’s deeply satisfying. She’s comfortable with the idea that she might be single for the rest of her life but there are times that it is difficult. She really loves her life now. “How am I going to fill my life until death?”  Jody understands that grief is a form of love. “We only grieve that which we have loved.” Grief is a relational emotion. It may allow us to love again. “Time does not heal grief, only grieving heals grief.” Grief needs to be related to. The most important thing about grief is it needs to be heard. Steps toward healing from grief:

Allow yourself to feel those feelings.
Allow yourself to go through the process, don’t try to stop it.
There needs to be some kind of dialogue – with anyone.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Being open and vulnerable allows others to be open and vulnerable.

Moving forward, Jody is excited to confirm that her book is going to be republished by Bluebird (PanMacmillan) in the UK to come out for International Women’s Day in March 2016. It’s a revised and expanded version and will be translated into other languages.

She was also made a Fellow of Social Innovation at Cambridge University for her work with Gateway Women. This gives her the opportunity to teach the new generation of leaders. These group of women are an extraordinary resource in a culture in desperate need of cause. It’s not a coincidence. Jody feels that this group of women are filling in the gaps, where mothers out there may be too busy raising the next great generation.

See here to order Jody’s book

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