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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 All of these outdated stereotypes lead to one dangerous assumption: what’s your value beyond being a mother?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: 2018
Aug 16, 2018

Welcome to today's episode of Unclassified Woman. As we conclude Season 3, it seems fitting to share this conversation with Jody Day, who was the first ever interviewee on Unclassified Woman a few years ago.

How do you combat society’s ideology about those who are on the “outside”? It’s not an easy task, but one that a few brave people are called upon to challenge.

Today’s show is all about how we approach taboo topics, the dominance of pro-natalistic thinking and current trends in the way families are formed. Don’t miss this eye-opening conversation!

 

"I found myself in midlife as part of the 'out' group because of something that was not of my choosing."

Today, we’re catching up with Jody and finding out what’s been happening in her work in the past few years. Jody is the founder of Gateway Women, the global friendship and support network for childless women and the author of Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children. 

Jody’s a thought leader on the topic of women's involuntary childlessness and a founding member and former board member of AWOC, Ageing Without Children. She’s a former Cambridge Business Fellow in Social Innovation, a TEDx speaker, and a psychotherapist-in-training. She’s a very busy lady who takes great pleasure in helping childless women get their groove back and find their tribe via the Gateway Women workshops’ online communities and social meet-ups that happen all around the globe. 

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • The update on the last four years: Jody’s blog, the feedback from her work, and finding her tribe.
  • In the UK, 1 in 5 women reach midlife without having children.
  • The difference in the UK and the US as far as making an impact.
  • How Jody developed and branded her blog so that women can identify with it and not feel alone in their experience.
  • How the topic of childlessness is a combination of taboo, painful subjects like grief and infertility.
  • How millennials view childlessness, both chosen and involuntary.
  • The changing narrative around discussions about our bodies, sexuality, and childbearing.
  • One area that still needs a dramatic shift in openness---menopause.
  • Another taboo topic is abortion and its accompanying shame, guilt, and grief. Something we need to discuss more openly...
  • Why Jody says she talks about her personal abortion experience at every opportunity--simply because it’s a taboo topic.
  • Jody’s studies that are ongoing so she can graduate next Spring.
  • In 2016, the 2nd edition of her book came out, with many interviews with childless women and men.
  • The next stages of the social change that will take place and how legacy will play into the grieving process.
  • Legacy can be a lifetime of moments of connection and empathy
  • What “Plan B” looks like and why it doesn’t always mean something different than what you already have.
  • Jody’s fantasy and what it meant about her value of motherhood and the validation of her mother’s heart.
  • The compassion Jody feels for all disenfranchised groups of people.
  • How her eyes have been opened to those who have been judged for something they couldn’t control.
  • Jody’s Fertility Fight Club talk at Fertility Fest (find it at www.fertilityfest.com).
  • The pro-natal ideology: the belief that you are a more important person because you’ve had children. The message is that if you are a parent, your life has more value.
  • The prediction for Australia that by 2030 there will be more non-traditional family units without children than with children.
  • 25% of the adult population will age without having children, but often this sector of the population are ignored.
  • The huge need for reorganisation in our social systems.
  • The future of Gateway Women as they tackle two main issues: pro-natalism in the workplace and getting stories of childlessness into the mainstream with humour.
  • The difficulty in challenging and changing belief systems: how do we get the rest of the world to understand us and shift their thinking?

Resources:

www.gateway-women.com

Find Jody on Instagram and Twitter: @GatewayWomen

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For information about more episodes go to: michellemariemcgrath.com

I would love to hear what you found most helpful about this interview. Thank you.

Aug 10, 2018

Welcome to today's episode of Unclassified Woman. Today I'm speaking to Shanghai based Keturah Kendrick, who shares her perspective on being childfree by choice.

Whose voice do you listen to most? When it comes to marriage and having children, it seems that everyone has an opinion regarding how YOU should live your life. Today’s show is all about listening to YOUR voice and making the choices that make YOU happy.

Keturah Kendrick is an American writer, blogger and podcaster who has lived on three different continents and travelled to more than a dozen countries.

For years she has written about her life as a single woman who sees being unmarried as a lifestyle choice like any other, as opposed to an “illness from which I must be cured.” She also writes about her lifelong disinterest in motherhood, critiquing the cultural expectation that black women, in particular, are destined to birth and raise children.

An English teacher by trade, she has discussed her favourite books with her students in New York, Rwanda, and Shanghai. Her debut collection of essays, No Thanks: Black, Female, and Living in the Martyr-Free Zone, will be published in June 2019. Keturah enjoys food and travel, specifically, eating her way through her favourite countries---and who can blame her?

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Keturah calls New York and New Orleans home. She needed a break and wanted to travel, so spent 2 years in Rwanda teaching English and then found a position in Shanghai.
  • Her not having a child is “absolutely by personal choice”---she always knew that motherhood would never be “her thing”.
  • How she has felt the pressure just beneath the surface and has been told she is being silly, selfish, and must be a broken woman to not want children
  • The mockery she felt when she voiced her desire to never have kids.
  • How she was raised that the only thing that validated a woman's life was to be someone’s wife and mother.
  • The subtle influences that she was “being unfair to her phantom husband” by not wanting children.
  • Where is the logic in anyone trying to convince another person to have a baby?
  • Why Keturah has become more vocal in her writing and her podcast.
  • Why parenting should be a lifestyle choice that some people make and shouldn’t be tied to your gender.
  • Many women around the world don’t have a choice and don’t have access to contraception.
  • Why there should be tolerance for everyone’s right to individual choice about their roles.
  • How Keturah uses her creative energy in her blog, writing, and being with other people.
  • How she’s always been true to herself about what she wanted--”When I look back, I see that everyone was wrong but me.”
  • The ways we encourage and blatantly tell young women that every other voice but their own is important.
  • Why Keturah is glad she trusted in her own instincts and didn’t let anyone convince her to go against what she knew was right for her.
  • How Keturah approached the topic of children with a longtime partner, who believed he may want children.
  • The conditioning by society to fit the dominant narrative and how this plays out in relationships.
  • Keturah’s advice: “Ignore everybody’s voice but your own, including your mother and your man. I want absolute joy and fulfilment for everyone. If motherhood is that for you, then do it, but if not, then listen to your voice until you make a decision.”
  • Parting words from Keturah: Don’t get off the fence if you are undecided! Don’t be afraid to tell people to mind their own business! Listen to no one’s voice but your own!

Find out more about Keturah and her work at

www.keturahkendrick.com

Find her on Twitter: @HappySingleGal

Find Keturah’s blog: www.yetanothersinglegal.com

Find Keturah’s podcast: www.unchainedandunbothered.com 

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For information about more episodes go to: michellemariemcgrath.com

I would love to hear what you found most helpful about this interview. Thank you.

 

Jul 19, 2018

Welcome to another great episode of Unclassified Woman! Today, I'm speaking to the lovely Kate Powe.

Many people make assumptions about others without even realising it. We see a woman in her 40’s without children and assume she is selfish or too career-oriented to take time to raise children. Often there are circumstances playing out behind the scenes that we just aren’t aware of. Today’s show focuses on the problems that endometriosis can cause in terms of fertility and family-building and the need for women to have the knowledge about their bodies to make empowered choices. Imagine if we learnt about these subjects in school....

Kate Powe is an amazing naturopath based on the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, Australia. Kate has a passion for helping women balance their hormones and create happy, powerful lives. By integrating evidence-based medicine with mind-body principles and addressing underlying causes of cycle and hormonal disruption, Kate aims to support women mentally, emotionally, and physically to feel balanced and in control of their bodies, moods, and energy.

Kate holds a BA in English from the University of Sydney, an Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy from Nature Care College, and a Diploma of Advanced Metaphysics from Chiara College. Kate’s a member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS) and regularly furthers her education in naturopathic medicine, particularly in women’s endocrinology, including thyroid disease, endometriosis, and PCOS. She has contributed to many podcasts on endometriosis and written articles on the topic for numerous magazines. She has an obsession with all things Italian and sneaks to Italy and the UK as often as possible. Who can blame her! 

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • How both circumstances and choice played into Kate’s not having children. As one of six kids, she always assumed she’d meet a partner and have children---but it just didn’t happen
  • How she suffered from endometriosis and adenomyosis during her reproductive years, which complicated matters and impacted her fertility.
  • The factors involved when your life doesn’t follow the assumed “pattern” and the judgments that people make about you about being selfish and career-driven.
  • Endometriosis is a real issue and taboo topic as a condition that impacts fertility and causes painful periods. Lesions, scar tissue, and inflammation impact the reproductive organs.
  • Adenomyosis affects the muscle wall of the uterus and contributes to painful flooding periods.
  • These conditions can take 7-13 years to correctly diagnose because everyone assumes having painful periods is completely normal. It isn't....and women should not suffer in silence.
  • Both endometriosis and adenomyosis are not isolated conditions, but part of a larger inflammatory process in the body that can have a genetic component.
  • Women in the past dealt with these conditions in silence, not knowing how to treat them. They weren’t aware of what was happening in their bodies and their doctors weren’t concerned.
  • The cost of treating endometriosis can be higher than treating diabetes!
  • Two keys to know about endometriosis:
    • The only way to accurately diagnose it is with surgery--not a scan;
    • It’s a moveable disease with sometimes silent and inconsistent symptoms.
  • Endometriosis presents a wide variety of symptoms, including heavy and long, painful periods, pain in legs, discomfort after sex, and a connection with yeast infections.
  • Now we know that endometriosis is a systemic inflammatory condition around an immune disregulation in the peritoneal fluid and much more than simply a reproductive issue.
  • Naturopaths look at diet and lifestyle approaches to remove inflammation, detox the liver, and keep regular bowel function
  • A key in endometriosis treatment is to guard against toxins in personal care products.
  • How education can revolutionise women’s health, especially now that the driving force behind the push for more information is coming from women
  • The old treatments for endo included “go on the pill” or “get pregnant”. Not very helpful is your endometriosis is causing infertility!
  • The way Kate deals with grief now in her 40’s differently than in her 20’s and 30’s when there were lots of questions, suffering, symptoms, and surgeries.
  • Dealing with the implication from others that “something must be wrong with you if you don’t have children”.
  • How Kate has dealt with awkward social scenarios and the crazy assumptions people make about your personal life.
  • How women can assume many different roles in life around caring and nurturing that don’t involve having a biological child.
  • The added challenges for Kate in not having a partner and not feeling supported in that way.
  • Statistics show that by 2030 in Australia, there will be more family units without kids, a changing family dynamic, and more global consciousness around “community”.
  • Why “the pill” is not a good choice because it shuts down the female cycle, but women aren’t taught to question its use.
  • Most of Kate’s clients are having post-pill problems and hormonal imbalances.
  • How Kate shows creativity in her passion with women’s health, her energy medicine, and cycle essences to help women connect with their cycles.

Find out more about Kate and her work at www.katepowe.com

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For information about more episodes go to: michellemariemcgrath.com

I would love to hear what you found most helpful about this interview. Thank you.

 

Jul 13, 2018

Welcome to another episode of Unclassified Woman. Today I'm delighted to share my conversation with Adebisi Adewusi, based in Nigeria. 

How much courage does it take to REALLY go against what society deems the norm? As far as women’s rights and feminism have come, we sometimes forget that there are places in the world where women don’t have independence and are truly stigmatised for making 'unusual' choices. Today’s show is about someone who walks her own path and shares her own truth with immense courage. 

What was even more humbling is how modest she is about her choices. I truly hope you enjoy today's conversation with the inspiring Adebisi.

"African tradition teaches that if someone doesn’t have a lineage to pass on then their life has no meaning or purpose."

Adebisi Adewusi of Nigeria is a rockstar photographer, writer, and content consultant from startups in Israel to multi-million dollar companies in America. She’s helped various companies across the world improve their content strategy and marketing. Besides helping businesses succeed, Adebisi uses her skills to bust myths about women and bring issues that African women face to the forefront.

Through her writing, Adebisi explores issues connected to feminism, gender, and other topics with strong social and political context. She’s written about child marriage in Uganda, ending sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, gender stereotypes at work, and other spaces. She’s been featured on numerous international platforms, including the Huffington Post, She Thinks, BBC’s Why Factor, African Feminism, and many others.

Adebisi also runs a gender advocacy blog, The Female Orator, where she educates non-profits on how to get funding and interviews subject experts in the non-profit sector. She’s a feminist raised by women who climbed trees and spoke their minds when it wasn’t fashionable to do so. Adebisi’s feminism is shaped by the past and sustained by the present.

What you’ll hear in this episode: 

  • How Adebisi made the choice to be a writer and do her work--without being a mother.
  • Adebisi’s path is VERY unusual for a Nigerian woman and some of her family think it’s odd to not have children.
  • Breaking through traditional boundaries and creating her own path--and being at peace with it.
  • How she handled the topic of children with her boyfriend, who was fine with the decision (even though men are expected to pass on their lineage).
  • How African society’s attitudes dictate that marriage and having children is normal and not having them is not.
  • How people believe that a childless women may be a witch.
  • The connection between religion and African tradition in having children.
  • If you speak openly about not wanting a child, people just assume you must be crazy. It is just not acceptable.
  • Not having children is taboo and like placing a curse on yourself.
  • The pressure for women of colour compared to a white woman--”It’s a grievous offence.”
  • Being a role model for other young African women.
  • Women in African culture are bound to the husband to do what he wants, so it takes an open-minded man to be OK with not having children.
  • Adebisi is from an open-minded, educated family who understand her choices.
  • Women who can’t have children will even buy them on the black market to avoid the stigma of being childless. Even though this is officially illegal, the buying and selling of babies happens more frequently than many realise.
  • Adebisi is a strong voice who writes what she wants to, even about taboo topics, and she doesn’t care what other people think.
  • How Adebisi is fulfilled by her writing, mentoring young women, and telling stories through photography.
  • Adebisi’s words of encouragement: “It’s OK not to have children and to make choices about your own body. It doesn’t make you less of a woman. You can nurture other people and there are other women who will support you on your journey. It's also important financially support yourself, so you are not dependent on a man and can make your own decisions."

Find about more about Adebisi and her work: 

www.thefemaleorator.com

Find her on Twitter: @biswag

Email Adebisi: adebisiadewusi@yahoo.com

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For information about more episodes go to: michellemariemcgrath.com

I would love to hear what you found most helpful about this interview. Thank you.

Jun 28, 2018

Are you content with the way things have turned out in your life? Some people spend too much time and energy living with regret or wistfulness for what they WISHED would have happened. Today’s show is about embracing what life gives you and running with it to follow your personal path to gratitude, satisfaction, and peace.

Fiona Ferris lives in beautiful Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. She writes about living a simple, beautiful, and successful life and believes you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it. Through her books on Amazon and her popular blog, How to be Chic, Fiona provides thousands of women from all around the world with the tools and inspiration to elevate the everyday from mundane to magical. She lives with her husband, Paul, two rescue cats, and two rescue dogs. 

"We can’t imagine our life any other way than it is. We are grateful for that and for the way things have worked out perfectly for us. We feel like the luckiest people in the world."  - Fiona Ferris

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • For Fiona, it was both circumstances and choice that have led to her not having a child.
  • She married her husband in her mid-30’s and they tried to conceive for a couple of years. When it didn’t happen, they decided not to pursue it further and steer their life in a different direction.
  • Does Fiona have regrets? No--she is grateful and happy with how things have worked out and feels lucky to have permission to live in an exciting and non-traditional way.
  • How she feels a small amount of grief in feeling like they will miss out on certain life experiences as parents, but she says that’s only about 1% grief compared to 99% happiness!
  • The assumption that people make that EVERYONE wants to have children and that you can’t be happy and complete without them.
  • The myths that people say about not having a child, having an only child, and not having someone to care for you when you’re elderly.
  • A dream came true for Fiona when she published her first Kindle book that was a collection of her blog posts, Thirty Chic Days, in 2016.
  • How publishing her first book gave her the confidence in her writing and her ability to teach others how to do it.
  • Her home in the country on four acres with her pets, cows, and sheep.
  • Her five books that are available online and a couple are being translated and published in other countries.
  • Taking control with self-publishing: 75% of Fiona’s sales are Kindle books and 25% are print copies.
  • How she helps others with their writing through her 6-week e-course, Create Your Dream Life, and her Writer’s Encouragement email newsletters.
  • Why we should view writing as sharing personal experience and inspiration ---it’s a shame to keep it to yourself!
  • How writers share their tone and voice and actually become a friend to their readers through their books.
  • Using nurturing qualities in her writing and work instead of raising children--if her life had taken a different turn.
  • How we each express creativity in many ways that show we value our strengths.
  • All the “shoulds” that burden our days if we don’t “let them go”.
  • Why it's better to attempt to not to be overly influenced by other people’s opinions, but stick with what aligns with our personal life path.

Resources:

Find Fiona’s books on Amazon

Check out her blog at www.howtobechic.com

Visit her website: www.fionaferris.com

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For information about more episodes go to: michellemariemcgrath.com

I would love to hear in the comments below what you found most helpful about this interview? Thank you.

Jun 21, 2018

Welcome to another fascinating episode of Unclassified Woman. It's a biggie so grab a cuppa and a journal ;-)

Today I'm speaking with a treasured mentor of mine, Seren Bertrand. It's always such a pleasure to speak to her as she weaves together so many colourful threads of wisdom in what she shares.

What do mermaids, swans, Isis, harps, and Cornwall have in common? You might be surprised---and you’ll never know if you don’t listen to this amazing conversation in today’s show.

We’re talking about feminine consciousness, Celtic traditions, the interconnectedness between the human body and the earth, how we tell our stories from generation to generation---and much, much more. Get ready for some major “Aha” moments!

Seren Bertrand is a womb mystic and midwife of feminine consciousness who has been a visionary leader in women’s empowerment for over two decades. She is the co-founder of The Fountain of Life Feminine Mystery School and the co-author of Womb Awakening: Initiatory Wisdom from the Creatrix of All Life, which has been described as a revelation and a masterpiece. It’s an amazing book and I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy! 

"Often we are called to a lineage or a place and we don’t know why. We just have to surrender, listen and travel with it." - Seren Bertrand

Seren graduated with a degree in English Literature and Modern Philosophy before embarking on the twin paths of a career in writing as well as journeying deeply into the spiritual feminine traditions. Her writing on female Tibetan refugees was nominated for an Amnesty International Award for human rights reporting.

She is passionate about the practical embodied awakening of women and men in a mystical yet no-nonsense way which calls us into our true feelings, brings us back into the body, and roots us into the wisdom of the earth. 

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • How the book-writing process felt like a pregnancy with a gestation of more than five years---and then a birth.
  • Receiving the Silver Nautilus Award for the book, which covers many topics that were considered forbidden and heretical for thousands of years: menstruation, lunar consciousness, and birthing wisdom.
  • For Seren, the book’s release has brought deep feeling states of the feminine consciousness.
  • Allowing yourself to become the container for the primordial birthing energy in every part of nature.
  • The next book that she and her partner, Azra are already working on and how it feels like a continuation of that birthing process.
  • The academic reading and research that goes into the writing journey.
  • Listening with your entire body and not just your mind and ears and how oral traditions factored into ancient Celtic Shamanism.
  • Plans to create an audiobook version with harp accompaniment.
  • How a book is connected to your voice and vibration, which is connected to your womb, transmitting waves of energy and sound.
  • Discovering the path of the swan priestess in Celtic mythology
  • The cellular memory in Seren’s DNA of the Druids and Celtic traditions.
  • The tradition of the prehistoric, feminine, Shamanistic, earth-centric womb religion of the faery folk and their history.
  • Stories as a connection and an intimate weaving of “patchwork consciousness”.
  • Seren’s interest from a young age in having a great love for the land and a feeling that different places have different personalities and characteristics.
  • The significance of Cornwall as a sacred site.
  • How to explain ley lines, womb awakening, and the gift of the human body.
  • Understanding that the human body is more than a “mechanical lump of flesh” and why it’s a sacred landscape.
  • The benefit of spiritual lineage in how they transmit through an unbroken thread in epigenetic memory.
  • The calling in Seren’s life of the harp and how she learned to play and find her teacher.
  • Why womb consciousness is the key to all creation.
  • The story of Cygnus and its significance, Seren’s “Star Swan” name, and the swan connections to ancient Celtic traditions.
  • One of the foundations of womb witchcraft: developing a lineage with the earth.
  • Why the swan is the symbol of feminine Shamanic traditions in cultures across the world.
  • The portals of life and death and the common threads between the mermaid and the swan.
  • The mermaid and the swan priestess: not just symbols, but the legacy of real-life women who are our ancestors who are transmitting to us.
  • The significance of the 11th day of the 11th month in Pagan worship and the swan feast, which is based on the migratory patterns of the swan.
  • The interconnectivity of each of us to the earth and the celestial realm.
  • The importance of taking guidance from our ancient ancestors: “You have to connect backward before you can move forward.”
  • How stories can find a voice to reveal themselves in succeeding generations, even in trauma: “If we don’t tell the story, then we pass it forward to the generations after us.”
  • The courage that comes in the gift of going through the shadows

Resources:

www.thefountainoflife.org  - For more information about Seren and her work.

Find Seren’s book at www.innertraditions.com or www.amazon.com  : Womb Awakening: Initiatory Wisdom from the Creatrix of All Life

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For information about more episodes go to: michellemariemcgrath.com

I would love to hear in the comments below what you found most helpful about this interview? Thank you.

Jun 15, 2018

Welcome to Unclassified Woman and today's episode features the very inspiring Azraella Raphael, a native of New Zealand, who is based in Sydney, Australia.

Azraella is an angelic healer and activator of angelic consciousness. She began her journey many years ago when seeking fulfilment in life in understanding why she’s here, what purpose she offers, and with asking herself, “How can I serve others?” 

Azraella’s journey began when she activated her own angelic consciousness and connected to her higher-knowing self to bring through a different set of life skills, using healing and reading sessions to support herself and humanity with growth and evolution. Azraella offers these sessions worldwide online, by phone, or in person, supporting those who have lost their way to align themselves to their highest path of potential purpose. Azraella also offers a range of healing and activation work in groups and is a mentor of the Divine University, offering happy life sessions, and provides charitable service to one of her deep loves that supports humanity: the Sirius Library project. 

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • It was personal choice that led to Azraella’s childfree life, even though she always thought she would eventually have children. “Through walking my path of my divine consciousness, I came to this conclusion."
  • Azraella’s divine path with two choices, the “crossroads”: she had the choice to become a divine healer OR become a family-maker. She has no regrets about the choices she’s made.
  • Why she chose the path of bigger service to the planet, rather than service to her own children, and she gets to use her work to help women align to their higher purpose.
  • The science of life is to love yourself and your purpose first and THEN love another, instead of thinking that finding a life partner is THE answer and will guarantee lasting fulfilment.
  • A void and emptiness can eventually occur over time, when you keep yourself so busy with career and family, at the expense of focusing on any personal fulfilment.
  • Why looking inward for answers goes against the cultural pressure we feel from society to follow the “normal” script for life and its purpose.
  • Why it’s not impressed upon young people to look inward for their purpose, but to be constantly be distracted by the external.
  • When Azraella experienced the deepest amount of hurt and pain in a relationship, but never became “desperate” to have a child.
  • Having “the best of both worlds” occurs for Azraella as she enjoys a special relationship with her two nephews. “Not having children doesn’t mean that you don’t have children in your life.”
  • The sudden loss of her sister last year catapulted her into a special mothering role for her nephews, being the bridge between them and the spirit world and their mother.
  • Her role as aunt has changed, even though it’s a temporary change, but it’s one she couldn’t throw her full self into if she was mothering her own children at this time.
  • Motherhood may be calling to you in a way much different than actually giving birth to your own children. We can 'mother' in many different ways, that we hadn't foreseen.
  • Why there are many paths to fulfilment, and sometimes we don’t know what lies ahead or how circumstances may be working out for our good, even though it may not seem that way at the time.
  • Azraella expresses herself creatively constantly, creating her healing programs and workshops. “I’m in constant creation mode.”

To connect with Azraella and find out more about her work go to www.azraellaraphael.com

f you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For more episodes go to michellemariemcgrath.com

I also would love to hear in the comments below what you found most helpful about this interview? Thank you.

 

Jun 10, 2018

Welcome to Unclassified Woman and today's episode is with another wonderful lady, Therese Shechter, whom I could have spoken to all day!

How many people have children because it seems “the thing to do”? Most of us grow up with the pressure to follow what society deems “normal.” My guest today, Therese Shechter, was 40 years old when she realised she really could make her own decisions and follow her own path, and for her, it was feminism that helped her figure out what she wanted in life.

Therese Shechter is a filmmaker, writer, and multimedia storyteller from Brooklyn, New York. Her work fuses humour and personal storytelling to disrupt what’s considered most sacred about womanhood. She’s currently writing and directing My So-Called Selfish Life, an in-progress documentary about women who choose not to have children in a culture where motherhood feels mandatory.

Her previous documentaries include How to Lose Your Virginity, about the myth and misogyny around our most precious gift. She also curates the interactive crowd-sourced story collection, The VCard Diaries, which was recently exhibited at the Kinsey Institute. Her films, including the award-winning documentaries, I Was a Teenage Feminist and How I Learned to Speak Turkish, have screened in festivals, college classrooms, and on television from Rio to Seoul to Istanbul.

Therese’s work has been covered in the Atlantic, Salon, Elle, Jezebel, The Guardian, and the Jakarta Globe, amongst others. In her spare time, she co-hosts Downton Gabby, a podcast that discusses media by and about women.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Why it was a personal choice for Therese to not have children, to the point of her being vocal about it in high school.
  • How Therese explored beliefs and desires that were very different than her sister’s about marriage, career, and family.
  • How every woman feels the pressure to follow what the outside world thinks should be a woman’s identity.
  • The liberating clarity and realisations at age 40 that she could create her own path.
  • How Therese felt no pressure from friends and family as such, but felt pressure more from society and media about how she 'should' live her life.
  • How feminism helped her figure out what she wanted in life.
  • How a 70’s TV show defied all conventional wisdom and blew her mind with possibilities.
  • The push to make My So-Called Selfish Life.
  • The backlash and conversations that occur when people feel free to open up about their stories around motherhood.
  • Why we should question society’s norms about womanhood. How womanhood and motherhood are NOT equivalent.
  • How our economy, history, and the media perpetuate beliefs about what is “normal and accepted”.
  • Some sensitive topics covered in the film are sterilisation, regret about motherhood, and fertility treatments.
  • The messages sent to young women by cultural and religious groups and how limiting and damaging these can be.
  • Why there is more than one path in life, but society presents only one that’s deemed “normal”.
  • How talking about our beliefs provides a sense of community--”Telling the truth about our lives keeps us from feeling lonely.” said Sheila Heti.
  • The film’s projected release date: August 1, 2019--and why that date is significant.
  • How Therese shows her creative expression (and gains MUCH satisfaction) through singing show tunes, baking, paper engineering, graphic design, writing, and her podcast.
  • Why not everything in life should be attributed to a “thwarted maternal drive”.
  • Why it’s OK to be ambivalent about motherhood and to have a conversation with yourself about what you truly need and want
  • Even skin colour affects the pressure we feel, because not everyone has the same privileges and some women don’t have the same level of control over their lives.
  • The myth of “the urge of the biological clock”--”The desire for children is NOT innate within every woman.”
  • The bottom line: We won’t all agree, but we need open and meaningful conversations about these topics.

 Resources:

www.myselfishlife.com

www.trixiefilms.com

A book we discussed, Motherhood by Sheila Heti

Free to Be You and Me TV special: www.freetobefoundation.com

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For more episodes go to michellemariemcgrath.com

I also would love to hear in the comments below what you found most helpful about this interview? Thank you.

Jun 2, 2018

Welcome! I'm delighted to share another great episode of Unclassified Woman. Today I'm speaking to the inspiring Dr Kimya N Dennis in Salem, North Carolina, USA.

How much actual freedom are you willing to give people in their beliefs? Most people fall into the trap of trying to impose their beliefs on others in some way. Liberals, for example, will speak of freedom in many areas of life, but they still hold onto pro-natal opinions about people having children. My guest today explores with intellect, experience and research the topic of being childfree by choice.

Dr. Kimya N Dennis is a consultant, speaker, community advocate, educator, and researcher who works with organisations and community members in the areas concerning mental health, suicidal self-harm, reproductive freedom, and being childfree by choice.

Between 2013-2016, she conducted the first known study solely related to immediate African diaspora people who identify permanently as childfree by choice. There were 62 respondents, with 59 women and 3 men across the US, Canada, England, Kenya, Sweden and Switzerland.

Dr. Dennis created and teaches the first known college course of its kind: The Childfree, about reproductive freedom and being childfree by choice. Her research and course are featured on sites such as werenothavingababy.com, lauracarroll.com, and thenotmom.com. Dr. Dennis is an associate professor and the creator and coordinator of the Criminal Studies program in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Studies at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

"There are people who believe that women exist only to reproduce, so those who are infertile are seen as failures. Those who are childfree by choice are seen as failing on purpose." - Dr. Kimya N Dennis

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Kimya’s decision to be permanently childfree, because she never wanted to have a child.
  • Why her work addresses cultural variance because being childfree by choice impacts different cultures and communities in different ways.
  • Why it is much less common to find black and Hispanic women who are not having children than it is for white women.
  • African women are told that if they aren’t reproducing, that they are helping to “ethnically cleanse” their people.
  • Why your beliefs are manifested in behaviour when you vote and in the policies you vote for.
  • How most liberals are pro-natalists in their views.
  • The definition of “childfree by choice”--those who have decided to not have biological or adopted children.
  • “Bingos” and what that means.
  • The best “bingos”---”Why do you exist?” and “Just have a child anyway, and others will help you take care of it.”
  • Why pro-natalism is based on a trap and is used to prove male dominance.
  • How to look at being childfree without “pros and cons”.
  • How Kimya’s family is accepting and respectful of her decision, even though she is the only daughter in a family of boys.
  • Kimya’s work and the way it is reaching across the nations
  • Why child-free men are under-represented.
  • Some ethnic groups see “childfree” as having a viewpoint that challenges your culture.
  • Being childfree shouldn’t feel “lesser than” or like losers, or that their voice doesn’t matter.
  • The hurtful comments that are directed at childfree people.
  • Why most people have a narrow view and perspective of what love and family look like.
  • We say we want freedom and equality, but that must include reproductive freedom for all women.
  • How Kimya shows her creative expression and purpose: “I love being able to do what I want and have my own peace every day, doing my community work, working with my students, and living with my life partner.”
  • How we can release the taboos connected with not having children and having reproductive choices

To find out more about Kimya and her work:

www.kimyandennis.com 

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For more episodes go to michellemariemcgrath.com

I also would love to hear in the comments below what you found most helpful about this interview? Thank you.

May 26, 2018

Welcome to another great episode of Unclassified Woman! 

Can one person really make a difference? So many times, we resign ourselves to the fact that “it is what it is.” We want society’s perceptions or opinions to change, but what can we do to affect the change?

In today’s show, you’ll meet a woman who decided to use her talents to create a film to help build awareness---and hopefully, change the narrative around living as a woman without children. 

"Having a child is one of the most beautiful experiences a woman can have, but it is not the ONLY experience a woman can have." - Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller is a writer and filmmaker who lives in California. I watched her film, A Womb With a View, which is available on Youtube, and I knew I had to talk to her.

Jennifer grew up in New Jersey and worked in various positions throughout her corporate career, which took her from New Jersey to Wisconsin to New York. She moved to California in 2002, where she later married her husband, Peter.

In 2012, Jennifer completed her first feature-length documentary film, which was screened at several film festivals, including the 2012 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The film explores the lives of many women who either chose or evolved to not have children, and how that impacted their lives. Her second film was Hair Therapy, which she wrote and directed about the relationships between hair stylists and their clients. The film highlights how that relationship transcends other relationships for many people. Today, Jennifer is doing a lot of writing and is currently working on her novel. 

"I had to look deep within myself because I felt very worthless. So much of my self-worth was tied to my ability to create another life."

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • As one of five children, Jennifer absolutely expected to have children, but in her 30’s, she wondered if would ever happen. She battled uterine fibroids, which required a hysterectomy, so after this operation, she knew she would never be a mother.
  • How she wasn’t prepared for the unexpected grief that took over her life and left her feeling worthless.
  • How a comment from a complete stranger prompted her to say, “I need to change this dialogue.”
  • Why she decided to make a film, interviewing 28 women who didn’t have children for various reasons. She calls it a “gentle conversation” and “a cathartic experience.”
  • How she endured the horrible periods and much pain for years before letting go of her uterus----which meant also letting go of the pain.
  • How she took control of the emotional grief and didn’t let it control her.
  • How different cultures around the world view childless women with disdain, pity, ridicule, and judgment.
  • How Jennifer wanted to redefine the conversation because there is SO much more to women than whether or not they have a child.
  • Judgment vs. Wonderment
  • The sweeping generalisation and common perception that if you don’t HAVE children, that you don’t LIKE children.
  • The feedback from the film: that the women in the film were selfish because they chose another path for their lives.
  • Why people make the decision to have an abortion or to have or not have a child, like finances, the responsibility, relationships, and more.
  • The common thread with the interviews for the film: Several of the women had been told that they “would never know true love without having a child.”
  • Supporting children in other ways, and how Jennifer likes to give an alternate perspective other than a parent would give.
  • Creating other things besides children and giving beautiful gifts to people, showing that a woman’s worth is SO much more than having children.
  • Why we have to debunk the myth around motherhood and womanhood.
  • The courage it takes to say no to motherhood---we may never know the reasons behind the decision or the circumstances.
  • You can never really know someone’s story unless they share it, but we are all too quick to make assumptions about other people.
  • Why Jennifer “owns” herself a lot more at her age and holds her head up high and doesn’t need anyone’s approval.
  • What she offers is different and unique compared to what society expects.
  • The gift that these women can take away from a conversation--compassion in the approach to a stranger.
  • Why the dialogue needs to change and how the numbers of women without children are increasing.
  • Some women around the world don’t have birth control available to them.
  • Besides the Hair Therapy film, Jennifer’s creative projects include writing a TV series and writing a novel.

You can watch Jennifer's film 'A Womb with a view' on Youtube at her channel.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZmEeAXqCoI

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For more episodes go to michellemariemcgrath.com

I also would love to hear in the comments below what you found most helpful about this interview? Thank you.

 

May 17, 2018

Welcome to today's episode of Unclassified Woman. Today I'm speaking to one of my all time favourite bloggers and all round lovely lady, Susannah Conway in London, England.

Just so you know there is much giggling and we discuss all sorts from tampons and technology -  to dating apps! Grab yourself a drink as this is a long one. ;-)

How does it feel to approach mid-life realising that motherhood will never be yours? Would you have regrets? My guest today shares how her life’s path has taken her to places she never imagined, proving there is so much that we cannot control. The key is to enjoy the experience where you can, find peace with it, and use your journey to inspire others. 

Susannah Conway is a photographer, writer, and teacher who has been sharing her heart online for over a decade. She helps people know, trust, and express themselves by sharing what has healed her own heart. Her work is steeped in self-compassion, kindness, and practicality, and her courses have been enjoyed by thousands of people from over 50 countries around the world.

Her first book, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, hit bookshelves in 2012. Her most recent book,  Londontown: A Photographic Tour of the City’s Delights, was published in 2016. I can personally highly recommend her courses, as I’ve taken a few of them. The first one was Blogging from the Heart that I enjoyed several years ago. She shared behind-the-scenes insights as to how she puts together her blog, ideas for blog topics and writing, and I was so inspired.

You must also grab her amazing free PDF that she shares at the end of every year (something I’ve shared with many others) called Unraveling the Year Ahead, in which she teaches you to reflect on the past year and look to what’s ahead. It's an essential end of year ritual so definitely check it out at www.susannahconway.com

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • It was a combination of circumstances which have led to Susannah being childless. At 45 now, she’s had 3 serious relationships, one of which lasted 10 years and a year of that was spent trying to conceive.
  • A few years ago, Susannah had fibroids removed from her uterus and the surrounding area. 
  • Even when women are unsure or ambivalent about having children, society conditions us to feel a certain way and to follow a prescribed timeline or 'the script'.
  • The “joy” of being a woman, growing up with little to no sex education. We discuss the joys of tampons and sanitary towels ;-)
  • Why it’s important to Susannah to understand and honour her cycle.
  • How being a “mother” can take many forms other than giving birth to a baby.
  • When you feel like “time is running out” and you wonder if a child is even a possibility.
  • Becoming an auntie to her nephew--how it changed everything
  • The disaster of pursuing a relationship solely for the purpose of having a baby, and how a partner usually feels in that position when they can feel that desperation.
  • Being a mother for Susannah would have to be her biological child with shared DNA--there was no other option that felt right.
  • “If it had been my soul path to be a mother, then it would have happened by now.”
  • Why having her two nephews and sharing their lives is a reason she’s OK with not being a mother: “There are two little beings that have me forever.”
  • Why you shouldn’t ask questions or make assumptions about the marriage or motherhood status of others--don’t show judgment and a lack of sensitivity.
  • Why we are hyperconnected to technology, even to the point of ignoring the people around us, but we are constantly disconnected from each other.
  • The difficulties of using dating apps when you’re in your 30’s and 40’s and how the subject of having children is approached when trying to meet someone. Always an interesting topic!
  • Why Susannah doesn’t really want to have a relationship with someone who already has kids, but what she really demands is upfront honesty and transparency about the topic.
  • How Susannah fills her life with passions and hobbies and does her journaling and photography all the time as she is “'livin’ the dream!”
  • The “acorn” of dreaming of furnishing her hew home the way she wants, in a way that brings her peace, and how this can help to alleviate stress and anxiety of life.
  • When she hits 50--and later, 60--she will reflect upon the fact that she hasn’t had children or grandchildren.
  • “I know there will be a little piece of me that acknowledges what I didn’t have.”
  • When your parents have to deal with the fact that they will not have grandchildren.
  • The topic brings up a lot of reflection on our lives and our choices.
  • The crazy ingrained standard in society of the glorification of motherhood, reflected particularly in celebrity lives.
  • The extremes of the representations of womanhood presented in tabloids and online media: either you flaunt your body or you’re a mother.
  • The growing demographic: in the last 10 years, the number of women over 40 without children has doubled, and that will only increase in the future.
  • Why some people are intent on always adding more children--”Why would you have more than you can carry?”
  • Remembering the obsession of trying for a baby for a whole year, after having an abortion with the same partner 10 years prior at age 21---no regrets!
  • Why the decision to have a baby should be a conscious one.
  • The myriad of thoughts and feelings - and coming to a place of awareness and acceptance, understanding the sadness in life is constantly changing and evolving.
  • Looking forward to devoting time and care to her next loving relationship, and creating this very special connection together.
  • Apparently The Guardian Soulmates is where it's all at for online dating in the UK ;-)

 Find out more about Susannah's wonderful work at:

www.susannahconway.com

 

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. For more episodes go to michellemariemcgrath.com

I also would love to hear in the comments below what you found most helpful about this interview? Thank you.

May 11, 2018

Welcome to today's episode of Unclassified Woman. Today I have the pleasure of talking to Faith Agugu.

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball that could show you the future? Often the decisions we make today might be different if we knew what was around the bend for us. Finding real peace, though, means coming to terms with the past, including the decisions we’ve made and the way those circumstances have grown us into who we’ve become today. My guest bares it all to share her story and how it didn’t quite turn out like she had expected. In spite of it all, she is thankful for the path she’s taken and the impact she can have on other women in the world.

Faith Agugu has always been motivated by service. Her first job after leaving school was with a not-for-profit organisation in London, working with children from troubled backgrounds. She then discovered the bright lights of the fashion industry and worked as a catwalk model for over five years before she left London for the sunny shores of Sydney, Australia.

Faith landed a job with one of Australia’s leading fashion houses, and continued to advance her career as a model, and then launched her own fashion business--Raw Fashion Agency-- in 2004. Representing local fashion designers as a PR and sales agency, Faith also began teaching at FBI Fashion College in 2006, mentoring the next generation of up-and-coming fashionistas. 

"I thought it would be irresponsible of me to hand my child over to this man every weekend if I chose to carry on with the pregnancy." - Faith Agugu

After 25 years in the fashion industry, and approaching her 50th birthday, Faith felt the call to return to helping others and took time out to study for a bachelor’s degree in social science, majoring in counselling. Faith launched her new business, The Healing Process, where she offers counselling, energy healing, and mindfulness coaching to women tackling the challenges of mid-life. She also runs regular workshops to assist her clients to work through issues of self-esteem, relationships, and addiction.

Faith also has a particular interest in balancing the disadvantages experienced by the indigenous community. Faith is a passionate, motivated, and driven entrepreneur, and through her private practice, she seeks to help women find their voice and claim their place in society. She is a very inspiring lady, indeed. 

What you’ll hear in this episode: 

  • The circumstances that led to Faith’s child-free life. In her 20’s, she thought she would definitely be a mother by age 30 and she assumed the man she was in a relationship with would be the father of her children
  • That relationship ended, and she met another man and actually got pregnant at age 31, but she knew there was no way the relationship would last or that she could share a child with him
  • She made the decision to terminate the pregnancy, never realising at the time, that it would be her one and only opportunity to be a mother.
  • Why many women don’t talk about the topic of abortion and terminations, because of the shame, guilt, and pain.
  • Why Faith felt an urgency with every ensuing relationship to have a child, even rushing the relationship along to accomplish her “agenda”.
  • The desire to have a child felt natural for Faith. She had a strong sense of it that she took for granted, and it never occurred to her that it would NOT happen.
  • The difference in cultural expectations for women of colour or certain ethnicities around the topic of childbearing.
  • How Faith’s mother had to “come to terms” with the idea of Faith--and some of her siblings--NOT being parents and giving her grandchildren: this affected Faith profoundly and made her feel “less of a woman” at the time.
  • The estimated facts are that by 2030 in Australia, there will be more family units without children than with them---there are BIG changes occurring!
  • How Faith felt judged and “less than” when compared to other women who had children.
  • The deep grieving process it takes to “let go of the dream”.
  • For Faith, the best tool for getting through the grief was therapy. It helped tremendously to talk about the grief she felt each week with a therapist.
  • There are different ways to find meaning and purpose through nurturing. Faith resonates with what Melanie Notkin says in using the word "child-full" in that she has children in her life, but they are just not her own. Faith finds fulfilment in her close relationship with her godchildren and her hands-on work as a case worker and counsellor for girls ages 18-27. Ironically, this is the age that her daughter would be today if that pregnancy had continued.
  • Faith is grateful for the chance to “mother” and mentor other women, to hold space for them, and to nurture them. “I’m at peace with my soul’s choice.”
  • Faith expresses her creative energy and essence in cooking as a way to show love and intentionality in a purely meditative process that transforms people that receive it.
  • Faith’s also currently works with daughters on the powerful healing journey for the mother-daughter relationship. This of course impacts all of our relationships with women and how we perceive ourselves as women.

You can find out more about Faith and her work at 

www.thehealingprocess.com.au

If you enjoyed this episode and would like to help more women access these stories, then please subscribe and leave us a review or rating on Itunes. Thank you so much for your help. Much appreciated. 

For more episodes go to michellemariemcgrath.com

May 7, 2018

Do you have regrets about the choices you’ve made regarding having or not having children? Many people make a decision and then wish they had made a different choice, but not my guest today. She made the conscious decision to NOT become a mother and to pursue her own dreams in life.

Yamini Toohey is based in Sydney, Australia, and is an astrologer, educator, entrepreneur, and the founder of Global Woman. One of her favourite things in life is seeing women get energised about stepping into their power, finding a life that’s theirs, and living revolutionary lives. She believes that this time of personal, cultural, and planetary change is the time to bring forth new ways of living, relating, and economy.

Yamini started Global Woman because she wholeheartedly believes that the revolution will be feminist-connected and global. Every day she goes to bat for her Global Woman sisterhood, helping them to call on their intuition and hustle, slashing through obstacles fearlessly, boldly, and powerfully.

Yamini’s soul work champions women to explore, evolve, and embody boldness, fierceness, creativity, power, and ambition, which are universal themes in every woman’s life. I can highly recommend Yamini’s work!

"It took me a long time to love and understand my menstrual cycle and realise that it is a creative act. It helped me be curious about the world and want to create." Yamini Toohey

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • As one of eight children, Yamini saw that mothering was hard work and caused her mother to give up a lot of herself.  She chose to be childfree, saying, “There is no way I could do this.”
  • How she felt pressure, not from her mother, but from others who would say, “Your time is running out!” Complete strangers would pass judgment on her fertility, but she never waivered about her decision.
  • How she made unconscious decisions to have relationships with men who were NOT interested in having children.
  • How she became pregnant once, but then miscarried, which was the best thing that could have happened. It taught her that she couldn’t be carefree about birth control if she clearly didn’t want children.
  • Having and raising a child is serious business and should not be taken lightly.
  • How some men assume that EVERY woman’s dream is to have a child, even though many mothers say, “I want my life back”.
  • The mixed feelings and envy that some women have who are busy raising children, compared with the perceived freedom possessed by those who don’t have children.
  • The ambivalence that many women feel toward motherhood, but they don’t talk about it.
  • The myth that every woman feels the need to procreate, because it isn’t true!
  • How she loves children, but that’s not the same as having what it takes to be a great mom or wanting that permanent responsibility.
  • How Yamini shows the nurturing qualities in her life through creativity and curiosity.
  • Her work with the Goddess asteroids and how they tell the story of relationships, autonomy, and gender roles.
  • How do we “mother” the earth for sustainability?
  • How small changes can make an impact on the planet and its resources.
  • How we are individual activists with the choices we make each day.
  • Yamini’s advice to women to find a life that’s theirs--”Work with your menstrual cycle." We also discuss what you can do if you are no longer menstruating.

Find about more about Yamini and her work at www.globalwoman.com

I really hope you enjoyed this episode. Please subscribe and I would also be so grateful if you would leave us a rating and review.
For more episodes go to michellemariemcgrath.com

Apr 22, 2018

How are you supposed to deal with the intense grief that accompanies the disappointment and shock of an unexplained infertility diagnosis? What if you’ve finally found the one person with whom you REALLY WANT to have a child? Yvonne’s story covers these emotions and more as she shares the circumstances that have transpired to alter what she thought was her perfect life.

After taking a break to move back to the UK after 20 years living in Australia, I’m back with the podcast, sharing the stories and the healing experiences found in the lives of unclassified women. My guest today is Yvonne John, who is based in the UK and the author of Dreaming of a Life Unlived, the stories and portraits of women who are childless by circumstance. The book highlights women who are coming to terms with their grief and moving toward fulfilling lives without children.

"I was the person sitting with my head down, feeling embarrassed and ashamed and not worthy to belong. I then became someone who has been accepted now for everything I am. It’s just fantastic."

Yvonne was never sure if she wanted children, but she knew there was the expectation that she would get married and have a family, in that order. Somewhere between her dreams of travelling and experiencing what life had to offer, she wished for the perfect family, which for her would be comprised of a husband and four children. By the time she reached her 30’s, this dream had lost its momentum, and when she reached her mid-30’s, she’d given up on this dream of being a wife and mother. Because of her past, Yvonne decided it was now time to live by her choices. She believed the opportunity to become a wife and mother had passed her by, so it was now time for her to move on to something new. However, it wasn’t until she met her husband at age 38 that her faith in love was reignited. Maybe she could have a family after all?

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Yvonne’s background: married for 8 years and tried to conceive for 3 years, and then an unexplained infertility diagnosis, with a the distressing conclusion: there's no obvious reason why you can't have children.
  • "I was surprised at how emotional I got at the “unexplained infertility” diagnosis. My heart sank and I knew that I wasn’t going to be a mum. I went home and cried and I couldn’t even talk about it."
  • She had been ambivalent about having children until she met and married her husband, finally realising that they wanted to share a child together.
  • The emotional heartbreak when she realised her dream was NOT going to happen. She couldn’t be around children or those who were pregnant. She blamed herself, carried immense shame and guilt, and couldn’t make sense of it all.
  • Since Yvonne had also experienced two abortions in her 20’s, she thought her infertility was a result of those choices she had made back then.
  • How she felt the pressure from friends and family and the difficulty in explaining what was happening. Explaining her situation was hard because it opened the door to those emotions for others.
  • It wasn’t just the difficulty of wanting to have a child, but wanting to have a child with the husband she had finally found later in life.
  • The emotional journey when people would say, “Why don’t you ‘just adopt’?”---like that’s an easy process to go through
  • How she found Gateway Women to be a helpful place to accept and normalise what she was feeling, even though she didn’t at first understand the emotions as GRIEF.
  • How the grief in telling your own story gives others permission to share and opens doors to the healing process.
  • How Yvonne wrote a letter to her younger self and gave permission to forgive herself.
  • The common threads of the stories in her book: why she wanted each woman to have a voice and be heard in a deep and powerful way, giving a platform and courage and control over infertility.
  • The commonalities of grief and sadness for all women who go through these experiences.
  • The differences Yvonne noticed between hearing white women talk about grief and how women of colour discussed the topic.
  • The Reignite Weekend, for women of colour, whose grief is represented in a different way, mostly because of the culture they were brought up in, especially because of the language used about “God’s will”.
  • Why Yvonne felt the hurt, thinking that God didn’t love her enough or think she deserved to be a mother---that she wasn’t “good enough”
  • Yvonne’s greatest gifts that she's now experienced to heal her grief: public speaking opportunities, self-expression, love, kindness, and acceptance from other women.
  • Through what she found at Gateway Women, women can be with others in the same places of grief and find the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • We also discuss abortion - another taboo subject that we need to discuss more openly.

Resources:

Find Yvonne John at her blog:

https://findingmyplanb.wordpress.com/about/

Find Yvonne's book on Amazon at:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dreaming-life-unlived-Yvonne-John/dp/1526201216

I do hope you enjoyed this episode and would be so grateful if you could subscribe on Itunes and leave a review so that more women can find this podcast. Find more episodes at: www.michellemariemcgrath.com

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