Sometimes I really notice the lack of joy in my life. There are phases of life, I guess, when there is more or less joy. That ebb & flow is surely a natural rhythm. Somehow, the experience of fertility investigation and treatment, can be rather joyless. So much focus is placed on the ‘right’ lifestyle choices, sticking to the regime can be a bit of a joy, passion and fun killer. Does this resonate for anyone else? As we inch closer to Christmas, are you wondering how you’ll prepare your body for treatment and still enjoy all the festive season offers?

Yesterday I met a friend for a cuppa in a local, very funky cafe. I had been working all weekend. I had the misfortune of getting a flat tyre very late the previous night and didn’t get to bed until 2am (waaaay past my bedtime) I was exhausted. I still wanted to meet her, I knew that sitting with her, listening to her news and sharing mine would be just the tonic I needed, even if forming sentences was a challenge.

I got out of bed late, didn’t meditate as I usually do, just hopped in the shower and walked to meet her. I ordered a latté and gluten free chocolate cake with cream. For breakfast. I never do that. I gave up coffee entirely for the month of November and had decided to continue for December. What was going on?

A voice in my head said, “This does not constitute breakfast! Where are your healthy fats and quality protein? Cake is not breakfast.”

2 hours and delightful chats later, I proceeded to a beautiful little cafe that has just opened up around the corner from my house and ordered my second latté of the day. I then spent the afternoon on a mission to replace a tyre, stock up the fridge and clean the house and ate a slice of Christmas cake for lunch. Soon I felt a bit ill – nauseous, grouchy and light headed. Perhaps I had gone too far with the intention to mostly eat cake all day? I felt the need for some joy, some decadence, some fun. Maybe I had to go a bit overboard on indulgence to realise that joy must be a non-negotiable. Maybe if I experienced joy every day, I wouldn’t need an injection of sugar and caffeine to feel alive.

Today, I will mostly be eating cake

I had a truly uplifting chat with two beautiful women recently, Kristl Yuen and Rachel Schipull of Joy Patrol. We chatted about my need for joy, particularly while I’m on this journey. I realised that the things that bring me the most joy have moved way down the list of priorities. I need to schedule them in, otherwise I’ll end up sad and boring. Honestly, it could happen! Scheduling time for joy sounds like a joy killer in itself, but perhaps that’s necessary until joy becomes commonplace again.

I began to wonder, what are the things that bring me the most joy?

Laughing with my husband. He is the funniest person I know and he can always make me laugh, no matter what.

Being in the wildness of Ireland’s great outdoors, in the wind and rain, invigorated and washed clean.

Singing my heart out – it makes me feel so GOOD!

Dancing, my personal preference is on my own, boogieing around my house. I’m not a performer, but perhaps 2016 will be the year for dance lessons?

Swimming in the ocean, even in December. I might be numb around the edges, but I laugh and laugh and laugh.

Eating salt and vinegar crisps, I will never give them up!

dancing with grandad 2011 R laughing in Sweden Ruth at heavenly gates

I’m learning that if I want to sustain this healthy lifestyle and feel strong and ready for all that motherhood may bring, I have to sustain the joy. I have to allow some devilment in, some rule breaking and most importantly laughter. Ticking all the boxes and living the perfectly pure life at the expense of joy and fun is bound to end in misery and certainly for me, a degree of internal rebellion (that which leads to cake for breakfast and lunch). In fact, laughter may be more powerful than we realise. A fertility clinic in Israel conducted a study with their IVF patients, looking at the effects of comedy and laughter on success rates. In the trial, a professional medical clown visited patients during the half-hour after embryo transfer.

Those women who experienced the clown’s humour had an increased chance of pregnancy of 36%, compared to 20% for those women whose embryo-transfer was comedy free.

So, even though laughter might seem superficial or non-essential to life, maybe it is in fact, vital?! I’m certainly going to give it a try. As we move closer to Christmas and the decadence that often comes with it, I will not only forgive but encourage some pleasure, some joy…maybe even more cake!

How do you feel about joy? Is there enough in your life? What is it that brings you joy? Share in the comments below, I’d love to read them and share in your joy.

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