I’m back! I’ve even overreached my intention. I said I’d return in the new year – and it’s still 2017. Just.
I won’t lie (because the truth is important to me), it’s been a difficult couple of months. But I had a lovely Christmas – my mum, my sister, my niece, two great nieces (yes, I’m already a great aunt!) and our two female cats Dotty and Flo. All the men in our lives have either died or deserted. It was a Christmas of Girl Power!
I will be writing my resolutions tomorrow – after a new year’s day swim in the Ladies Pond on Hampstead Heath. I have also taken a total break from exercise for the last couple of months and I need to get back to it because I’m now half way towards my next (final?) HUGE endurance challenge. I’m planning to climb Elbrus this summer (the highest mountain in Europe) and then in Autumn I’ll be back in Nepal for another peak. Of course these are big physical challenges in themselves but they don’t start with an E and end in a T and that’s what I’m working towards.
2018 will also be a big year for me in lots of other ways. On 3 May my second book – 21 Miles: Swimming in search of the meaning of motherhood – will be published. And the following week (8th – 13th May) Fertility Fest –my arts festival dedicated to fertility, infertility and the science of making babies – will be at the Bush Theatre in West London. Next year’s festival will involve 150 artists and fertility experts in a week-long programme of events about making (and sometimes not making) families in the modern world. We’ll be officially launching the festival at the beginning of February but you can sign up to our mailing list now to ensure you’re the first to hear the news when tickets go on sale.
In February I am also starting the pilot of a new (world first?) fertility arts education project called ‘Modern Families’. You may be aware that the UK government is currently consulting on changes to the PSHE curriculum in schools and the introduction of compulsory Sex and Relationship Education. The Modern Families Project – a collaboration between Fertility Fest (involving eight of our artists), the National Theatre, University College London, the University of Cardiff and the British Fertility Society – will be lobbying to ensure the curriculum includes what we’ve not been told about our fertility in the past and how young people can maximize their chances of creating the families they want in the future. I’ll be convening a panel discussion about this at the Southbank’s Women of the World Festival in March. Come and join the debate.
So…2018 is going to be a massive year for me in lots of ways. But one of the reasons I wanted to write today – before 2017 is finally over – is because I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me in so many ways this year. To Gabby Vautier, my Co-Director of Fertility Fest – a wonderful woman who is my reminder that whatever your outcome after struggling to conceive (she has IVF twin girls after four rounds of treatment) it’s so important to value what we share with the people we love and not what separates us. To all the people (now 290 of them) who have supported the publication of my second book – without whom it wouldn’t be happening. And, finally, to those of you who contacted me after my last blog to see if I was OK.
It’s OK. I’m OK. The blog is back!