December 24, 2010

A Message From Down Under

An unexpected email from a Purple Woman in Australia was the best gift I could have received this Christmas. It convinces me that just posting a new article once or twice a year is not enough effort to keep the content and value of this 2-year intensive blog project alive. My big task for the new year is to take steps to preserve it, so that it will continue to provide a measured, balance perspective on what it is to be a Purple Woman. It is empowering to be self-defined.

She has given me permission to share this letter to herself.

Madeline's Story: A Letter to Myself

Today is the beginning of a new outlook on life. This weekend we made the decision to not continue on the IVF path. Not next year. Not ever.

For me it is also a conscious decision not to continue on the ‘infertility’ path.  That may sound strange, because technically we will remain, by definition, ‘infertile’.  But today, and every day from now on, this is not how we define ourselves.

Spending our emotional energy, our time and our money trying to bring ‘something’ into our life implies that there is something missing.  And that is what has kept us on the IVF roller coaster and turned both of us – I guess me especially – into anxious and (if I’m being honest with myself) at times unhappy people. What I have come to realise this week is that there is nothing missing.

We have a loving, fun, deeply committed relationship and we have a choice to make.  So many of our choices have been made for us that I almost forgot the one we can still make – we can choose not to define ourselves by what we don’t have.  We can choose to get off the emotional rollercoaster that is ivf. We can choose to embrace a different life. Not a lesser life, but a different one…maybe even a fuller one.

Yesterday I read that ‘There is only so much time in a day, a week, a lifetime, and if we don't raise children, perhaps we "raise" something else.’  Something about this blog excerpt resonated with me because, deep down, I know that I have something significant to contribute to this world. And I know that we both can make a mark, as individuals or as a couple.  And that mark isn’t going to be children. But it will be something just as meaningful.  We might change the life of people less fortunate than us.  We might find a way to bring light into dark times that other people suffer through. And through doing this we will probably learn, in a deeper way than we now recognise, that we are so very lucky to be two healthy, bright, driven people.

Apart from leaving a mark on this world, there are smaller – but significant – ways that we can embrace our life and be happy that we have made this choice.  We will have a freedom that other people cannot.  We can have dinner at 9pm on a Tuesday night over candlelight and a bottle of wine. We can nurture our love in a selfish, indulgent way.  We can come home at midnight after a night out with friends… no babysitter, no guilt. I can pursue a fulfilling career without the guilt of having to divide my energies and time.  I can continue singing and musical theatre and the joy that brings without feeling overcommitted.  We can go on extravagant or adventurous holidays every year. Every year. No putting it off. No having to find ‘child friendly’ hotels.  No waiting until school holidays.  We can explore other cultures and learn new things. We can take a whole year off work if we want to and travel the world (well, maybe later when we can afford it). We can go for long walks holding each other’s hands, ending up at a cocktail bar on the river if that’s what we feel like. We can enjoy the simple things in life…good food, good wine, expensive restaurants, lazy Sunday afternoon wines.

We don’t need anybody else in our lives to be fulfilled. There are many things that can ‘complete’ someone and there are many expressions of our love for each other.  In the past, I was so sad that our beautiful love would never be reflected in a child. What I am focused on now is nurturing and protecting that love and having fun with it.   There are other things that our love will be weaved into.  We might volunteer overseas together… we might give something back in a way that others can’t.  Importantly, we can move forward without resentment of other people’s fortune. Because we are going to be fortunate in other ways. We are going to feel fulfilled and satisfied and free. We are going to make a difference. We are going to focus our energies on our marriage, on our own identities and passions, and on our friends – some that we have, some that we will meet.

Most importantly, we will feel whole and happy because we have a deep love that we can spend every day investing our time and energy into and nothing will compromise that.

[Editor's note: This Purple Woman's name has been changed to protect her privacy. 
Special thanks to Flickr member Wim Mulder for sharing his photo via Creative commons. CC]

For more information about the choice to be childfree, read through the archived posts on this blog (hint: you will find them sorted by topic in the sidebar), or visit Laura Scott's "Childless by Choice Project". Laura is an author and filmmaker and a former contributing editor of this blog.

June 17, 2010

Purple Women Love Opera

I and my Purple girlfriend shared accommodations, gas expense, and driving duty driving to L.A. to attend the Opera Conference last week.

I didn't reflect upon the fact that not only were we both childfree, but so was our hostess, as well as the other lady friend we connected with while we were down there. The long drive home up I-5 gives one ample time for pondering such things.

My CF status is neither forward, nor hidden, it simply is a fact. It has taken years to get to that place emotionally and mentally. Two years of reading every book I could find on the subject, and blogging about it on this site, helped me get there. It is a good place to be. I no longer actively seek friends who are Purple like me, I gravitate towards them naturally. I have friends on both sides of the fence. I simply have more in common with those who are not parents with kids at home.

Being involved with my local opera company, on a volunteer basis, brings me into close association with a lot of retired folks whose children are grown. I have been told they have daughters my age. Age is something else I do not think about when making friends. This has served me well all my life.

There is only so much time in a day, a week, a lifetime, and if we don't raise children, perhaps we "raise" something else. It could be any cause, group, or a business. It opens up a world of possibilities, or as we like to say at Livermore Valley Opera, "opera-tunities".

June 06, 2010

Purple Again

People used to ask me why "purple" women? It's a long story. Unless you for some unknown reason hate that color, the term when used to modify the word "woman" is relatively neutral, and begs definition. I propose that it was open to definition.

The short answer is "I like to be self-defined, so I created my own label." Too often women without children, either by choice or by accepting their circumstance, struggle with society's labels for them. Childless or childfree, or child-free like smoke-free and ozone-free?

When I began this blog, three years ago, I was living out of the country, connected only by phone and the Internet with loved ones and friends. My husband were uprooted and living in Toronto, Canada for two years while he completed his work assignment abroad. Our relationship was in a little Petrie dish of life. It was interesting to see what would grow, including some wonderful friendships. We, as a couple really had to put some thought and effort into making those connections. I established this blog in the relative comfort of that big, world class city that makes it all too easy to be anonymous.

I have to admit, as we transitioned back home, to a small, suburban town with rural roots in Northern California, I was not too keen on being so out of the closet as a Purple Woman. It was my husband's home town after all, and as small as the one I grew up in. "Better to blend in" was my thinking. In reality, that has never been possible for me, almost everywhere I've been. I have instead embraced "not fitting in" as a personal motto.

I have evolved so much in the last five years. This blog was a big part of that emotional journey. And that's just the middle part of my story. Stay tuned!

May 01, 2010


Many moons since my last post, but since I feel strongly that this topic and the content of this blog, a two year journey taken by not just me but in concert with more than a dozen other guest contributors, is very, very relevant.

I have been exploring the capabilities and the whys and wherefores of social networking, and have been inspired by their viral capabilities to network to individuals and organizations in the last year. When I saw that they added Networked Blogs as a new feature, I immediately began experimenting with my current professional blog, one that I created to help promote and fosters support for our local opera company.

In order to get the feed "pulled" (no I don't really know what all these tech terms mean), I have to have posts within the last 30 days. So, I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

This blog represents a significant accomplishment, technically, semi-professionally, and personally. Not an easy topic to discuss with level heads and opposing viewpoints.

I am damn proud of this blog.