27 January, 2020

No Kidding 2020 Project: Day 2 - Feel

Growing up in the New Zealand countryside, feelings were an indulgence, complaining or self-pity was frowned upon, and conflict was to be avoided. Emotions were discouraged. But when I lost my first pregnancy, the feelings were too big to ignore. Luckily, I was given advice to simply roll with your feelings. Feel what you feel. This allowed me to grieve. It allowed me to be angry. It allowed me to fear.

Feeling these emotions, recognising them and naming them, helped me figure out what was going on in my head. It helped me grieve, but most importantly, it helped me heal. Rolling with the emotions didn’t mean I was letting them control me. I wasn’t forcing myself to feel one thing or another. I learnt to let the emotions come when they came, and then – eventually – I learnt to let them go too. And that’s a really good feeling!

It’s okay to feel. Our feelings aren’t who we are, and they aren’t a judgement on whether we deserved or didn’t deserve what happened to us. They are simply feelings, emotions that help us figure out who we are, who and what is important to us, and in due course, they help us learn about what future we want too.

It doesn’t mean this is easy. After my first ectopic pregnancy, I was struck a year later by my second, and felt equally strong emotions then. As the lovely Sarahg (who guest-posted here, and is one of my life heroes) said to me, there is no free pass the second time around. I’d been through it once, but still had to go through it again. I still had to feel the feelings, but could roll with them easier this time. Even though the urgency and intensity were stronger the second time around, that recognition at least made it more familiar. Then, when my efforts to have children were halted, the feelings came back all over again. Along with one or two others. By now, I knew I couldn't ignore the feelings, even though I wished I could. But in facing them, eventually I healed.

These lessons (and others learned from infertility, loss and childlessness) have helped me through other bad times since then, including the losses of my parents. Remembering to feel is a good reminder to me that I've been through this before, and that I am and will be okay. It’s important to feel what I feel. And now, I think it’s even more important to learn from those feelings.

21 January, 2020

No Kidding 2020 Project: Day 1 - Show Up

In the words of Adriene, who inspired this project, the simple act of showing up means you are half-way there. Showing up in No Kidding terms means you recognise your infertility journey is over, or might be over soon. That’s why you’re here. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to be ready to move on. You don't even have to acknowledge it out loud. But you're here. You're reading. So just note that fact, and note how you’re feeling about it. Honestly. Without kidding yourself. That’s your reality at the moment. 

By showing up, you’re acknowledging that the quest to build a family is ending (or maybe it never began), and that a new journey is about to begin. By showing up – here, or on other blogs/websites /Instagram/social media pages or simply to yourself – you are trying to find others who might ease the way. You’re saying you want to be okay – even if right now you don’t believe it is possible. Well, be proud of yourself. Because showing up is halfway to healing. It’s rejecting the denials and the “never give up” exhortations that we see elsewhere, and that work for some, but never for others. It is moving forward into a new life.

And for those of us who have been around for a while, showing up regularly is still important for us too. Or it is for me at least. Not only does it help me to help others, but I know that I need to acknowledge my life honestly, my flaws and my virtues. Doing this will, I hope, help me continue to grow and understand and accept the totality of a No Kidding life. The downs and the ups. And that way, I am sure, lies peace.

Mali's No Kidding 2020 Project

I am an intermittent yogi. With troublesome knees and back, I don’t always get to do yoga, and sometimes, when I’m struggling with figuring out what hurts and what doesn’t, I can go a long time without doing yoga. But it is something I enjoy, something I get some peace from, and something that makes me feel stronger and taller and more alive. I don’t go to classes – I would be far too embarrassed* – so I follow Yoga with Adriene# on Youtube, and do my yoga at home in peace and quiet, with birds singing outside.

That’s not what this post is about though, so bear with me. For the last few years, I have enjoyed taking up Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga programmes, even though it always (ALWAYS) takes me longer than 30 days to do it. She works gradually through routines, but has a word or phrase for each day, one that reminds you why you are doing the programme, what you want to get from it, and how to get there. I started her January challenge the other day, and as I sat on my mat, feeling my neck and back lengthen and my brows unfurrow, I thought about why I was there. Or rather, the fact that I was there at all, on the mat with her. Along with thousands of people all around the world.

And it reminded me of my efforts here on No Kidding in NZ too. I thought about healing, and how it really happens one day at a time, like her yoga journeys. I thought about how lonely it can be, and how it helps to know others are doing it, or have done it, and are cheering us on. I thought about the things that help us every day. Sometimes all is needed is a simple word or phrase reminder. Adriene does that for yoga. Maybe I can do a similar thing (on a smaller scale) for those of us who are Not Kidding. A spark of inspiration before even the first downward dog!

So this is going to be my blogging project for this month/year. It was time for something new. It will apply a slightly different way of thinking about healing from disappointment, and living our No Kidding lives. I’ll have at least 20 posts to match the year, maybe more. I’m going to try to make it relevant for both people who are new to this journey into a childless-not-by-choice life, and those who are here and living a No Kidding life already.

I’m not quite sure how it’s going to work out. Unlike Adriene, I haven’t planned this project in advance. I’m going to see how it goes, and – in her famous words – find what feels good, and go with the flow! I hope you’ll join me. My first post will go up in a few hours. Don't miss it!

* Please don’t try to convince me to do a class! I know they’re there. Right now, they’re not for me.

# If you haven’t heard of Yoga with Adriene, I encourage you to look up her website, her youtube channel, and read about her. There’s something about her that makes inviting her into your home on a regular basis feel right. And if you like dogs, her dog joins almost every video.

13 January, 2020

The Results Are In: To Instagram No Kidding or Not

As you'll recall, I conducted a small survey of readers and their preferences regarding blogging or Instagram. Here are the results:

As I suspected, almost all of you prefer to read posts here on the blog. I was never going to stop the blog, and with 91% of you and perhaps didn't make my thoughts on that clear enough, so I'm sorry if I worried you.

91 % of you said they'd prefer to read the blog, and of those who follow Instagram, still 87.5% said they'd prefer an Instagram page to have links directly back to the blog.

That's an overwhelming endorsement of keeping the blog. However, there was a small interest from some who preferred Instagram, and some who pointed out the visual side of it, which might be fun to work with.

No Kidding in NZ here on the blog will always be the primary venue for my No Kidding thoughts. But I think I might give it a go on Instagram AS WELL. Mostly I'll just link my posts there, or post some of my photos and brief thoughts, so there is no need for any of you to go out and get Instagran accounts! So I'll start it on a trial basis, and see how it goes.

You can find me at @nokiddinginnz, though I will keep my personal account (at travellingmali) for my personal and travel photos.

Meanwhile, it will be business as usual here. And I have had some ideas for blogging this year that I'm a little bit excited by. Watch this space!

06 January, 2020

2019: Looking Back on the Blog

Another year and I'm still here, even though 2019 wasn't my best blogging year. It's worth looking back though, as survival is a feat in itself! And worth celebrating. Remember that!

Over 2019, I wrote sixty posts, which I'm quite pleased about, as it averages one a week, with a few more thrown in. Sixty times last year, I thought about writing about not having children, I thought about the positives and negatives of my situation, and I thought about what you might want or need to hear about. Sixty times I reminded myself to be honest. I might not have always had words of wisdom (I hope I had some), and sometimes (like yesterday), I might skim past the topics, but even in that fact, I hope I'm showing that I am not defined by my No Kidding status. Instead, I'm just living my No Kidding life.

I kicked off the year with good intentions for blogging in 2019. I'm not sure I met many (any?) of these "blogging resolutions", but that's okay. There's always this year!

January and February saw me write my five-post menopause series, which you can find here.  It's funny, because just a year later, it feels like something I wrote a long time ago, and something I went through in the dim and distant past. I'm still on HRT, and I still overheat, but the horror memories are fading, thank goodness.

A lot of my writings have been focused on my efforts to see things from both sides. Two in particular are:

Issues from all sides
How infertility affects our world views
Stories we tell ourselves

I've written more about ageing when you don't have children, sometimes specifically, sometimes in thinking about the need to build a community, and quite often about what legacy we leave when we don't leave children. Perhaps that's natural when for the last years I've been surrounded by elderly parents and in-laws, with only one left still hanging in there. Ironically, having written about Recipes as Legacy, I was hunting for my mother-in-law's zucchini chutney recipe recently, and can't find it in her recipe books, despite finding at least one carefully copied recipe I gave her which I know she never made. It is very frustrating, as it is one of only a few recipes of hers I actually wanted, and I can't find it!

I started last year with some optimism because of a potentially changed situation, but due to someone else's misfortune, that didn't continue. It's a situation I'm not happy about, but have to remind myself - Pain Olympics style - that perspective is everything. Perhaps because of this though, and perhaps unconsciously, I wrote a couple of posts about suppressing ourselves, our wishes, our realities.

Suppressing our personalities
Celebrations vs Grief

But on the other hand, I did talk about occasions when I spoke out. These small instances, when I (figuratively) stamp my foot and refuse to let my situation be ignored, help me to remind myself, and the world, that I'm here, and that I (and all of us who are Not Kidding) count.

Speaking out revisited
Don't render me invisible

As usual, I got a lot of inspiration from other readers and writers on this topic, both from their posts, and comments. My posts are often sparked by ideas when I read a post, whether I agree with it, want to take it a bit further, or on a different tangent, or when I vehemently disagree. I think it helps me a lot when I try to figure out why those I disagree with take that attitude. Understanding, even if I still disagree, helps. So I thank you all for thinking and writing and discussing and inspiring me. Please continue to do it!

Finally, I conducted a To Instagram or Not survey. I'm monitoring the results, but will close it in the next week, so if you haven't commented, or filled it in, please do so here. It'll only take you about one minute! It's a question of whether to add Instagram to the No Kidding online presence, not to replace this space here, which was a concern of many.

Here's to another year of blogging, of thinking, of growing, and of trying to continue to be able to say, I'm Not Kidding.

This is an annual nod to Mel, who used to run the Crème de la Crème, where we would list our favourite post of the year. It always provided inspiring reading. So even though it doesn’t happen officially now, I hope that you too will list your favourite posts from your own blogs, on your blogs, for us to enjoy again (or for the first time). 

PS: And Mel has reminded me that this week is blog delurking week. So do leave a quick hello in the comments (I'm okay with anonymous comments if you're really shy) or send a quick email. I'd love to start the year knowing who is here reading.