Now displaying: July, 2015
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;
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 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.
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.
Did you enjoy this episode? Do you have any friends or family members that you feel would benefit from this podcast series? Please share.