Thoughts on “Living the Life Unexpected,” Jody Day’s New 2020 Edition

by Brandi Lytle
Thoughts on Living the Life Unexpected, Jody Day's New 2020 Edition, on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog

In October 2019, Jody Day, founder of Gateway Women, contacted me.  She was working on the final touches to the new, revised edition of her book, Living the Life Unexpected: How to find hope, meaning, and a fulfilling future without children.  She wanted to know if I’d write a short endorsement for the book.

Familiar with Jody’s work, I was absolutely honored that she asked!  There was just one problem…  I had never read Jody’s book.  She had included a PDF version of the original 2013 edition, so I started reading.  Not one chapter in, I knew I wanted to not only write an endorsement for Living the Life Unexpected (there are 50 included on the front and back covers of the new edition—wow!), but also a full review here at Not So Mommy…

And though I began this review last October, I knew I’d want to publish it in 2020.  (This worked out perfectly since Jody asked if I’d take place in the blog tour!)  I think this is going to be a big year for we childless!  And I think resources like Jody’s book will help as we continue to move forward, as we continue to redefine…

Thoughts on Living the Life Unexpected . . .

First, this is NOT a sponsored post.  I did receive free PDFs of both old and new editions of “Living the Life Unexpected,” but I was not paid to write this blog post.  I was invited to take part in the Blog Tour, though.  If you purchase a copy of Jody’s book via an Amazon link on my site, I will not receive a small commission from qualifying purchases, as I am an Amazon Associate.  (Info about the blog tour, purchasing Jody’s new edition, and how to win a FREE, signed copy of her new book is at the end of this blog post!)

Now for my thoughts on the NEW edition of Living the Life Unexpected…

The Healing Inventory…

So, let’s talk about Living the Life Unexpected

After some praise (mine is at the end on page 402 of the new edition—exciting!), an introduction, and some suggestions about how to use the book, Jody requests that readers complete a “Plan B: Healing Inventory.”  Though I am several years into accepting my childless life, I looked through the 40 statements and rated myself on a 0-10 scale, as Jody suggests.

What I found interesting about this exercise is, despite that I truly believe I am embracing my childless life, I only scored myself “10” on eleven of the forty statements (or about 28%).  Even more interesting…  I gave myself a “0” on two of them.

Now, one of the zeros, I can explain—our home was FULL of clutter in October 2019 because we were in the midst of a HUGE remodel.  I’m extremely happy to say that now, we are clutter-free and ranking a “10!”

But the other zero…  Well, that’s not likely to change anytime soon.  You see, I don’t hold babies.  I just won’t.  This might change as my nieces and nephews get older, if they have littles of their own.  But right now…  No, thank you.  I do NOT want to hold your baby.

But this does NOT mean that I haven’t accepted being childless.  I just know my limits.  So, I don’t believe it’s necessary to get a “10” on all forty statements to show that you have accepted being childless and are moving forward with Plan B.  (To clarify, Jody never said you had to score a “10” on all of them either.  I just thought it might be helpful to give a bit of insight about my “healing inventory.”)

Our Stories…

After the “Healing Inventory,” Jody gives a brief overview of the book’s structure and talks a bit about terminology.  Then, it’s time for Chapter 1, “The Power of Our Stories.”  Jody often discusses the fact that there are many ways not to be a mother.  In chapter 1, she lists 50 of them.  As I read, I jotted down the numbers that applied to my story.  Though I often give the short answer that we are “childless due to infertility,” my husband and my journey is actually much more complex.  In fact, eleven of the 50 paths to childlessness that Jody mentions apply to my hubby and me.

Only a few pages in, I realized that even if you have accepted (even embraced) a childless life, Living the Life Unexpected allows one to further reflect on her story, her journey, her Plan B…

A Worldwide Community & Reflections…

As I continued to read, I learned that Living the Life Unexpected includes thoughts and feelings from childless women around the world.  Also, each chapter ends with both “Exercises” and “Reflections,” which allow the reader to explore her story in an effort to help find (and/or reflect on) Plan B.  I particularly liked the exercise at the end of Chapter 3, which I believe offers a way to begin figuring out how to “redefine,” which I talk about often here at Not So Mommy…

A Scholarly Discussion…

Living the Life Unexpected is often quite scholarly.  In fact, there were sections where I felt as if I was reading a journal article from my college days!  Statistics from around the world, discussing cultural contexts, women in education and the workforce, as well as “messages and choices,” Jody uses intellectual language to explore deep, intense issues, while sharing honest, thought-provoking insights.  (The new edition has “fully revised and checked statistics, references and links (around 300 of them!),” Jody told me.)


While Jody talks a lot about “societal norms” and breaking non-truths, I found it interesting that she utilizes the phrase “having a family” in its most traditional sense.  Personally, I believe we need to break the non-truth that you must have kids to “have a family.”  In my opinion, there are many ways to have a family, and I think we childless should be the first to help broaden the definition of this term.  (I actually wrote a blog about this.  You can read it here.)

Taboo Subjects, Triggers, & Grief…

Despite her traditional use of the term “family,” Jody does not shy away from talking about non-traditional, and even taboo, subjects.  Being childless and single, ageing without children, and disenfranchised grief are just a few of the topics covered in Living the Life Unexpected.

Because such topics are discussed, there are triggers throughout the book.  Triggers are not automatically bad, however.  (Read more of my thoughts about triggers here.)  Like Jody says, “Grief is good.”  (I encourage you to read the book to figure out what she means by that!)

Living the Life Unexpected talks about many different types of grief, including grieving as a single person, grieving as a couple, complicated grief, grandchildren grief, and more.  (Truly, there is a TON about grief in Jody’s new edition.)

Childlessness After…

Back to “taboo” subjects…  Jody talks in some detail about childlessness after abortion.  If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t excited about reading these pages.  As a woman who has been ridiculed about my childlessness, being told to “accept my infertility like an adult,” by someone who had an abortion, this topic triggers me to my core.  But I kept reading…

Tears sprang to my eyes, my heart softened a bit, and my anger turned towards empathy.  Jody gave me a different perspective.  And I thank her for that.  If she wasn’t willing to bravely share her truth about this difficult subject, I would not have been able to view it in a different light…

More Taboo Subjects…

Other “taboo” subjects…

Jody talks candidly about the “do you have kids” question, about how one’s own family responds to childlessness, how society and the work environment react to childless women, etc.  Her insights made me feel less alone, having many “me too” moments as I read…

This made me think of Kate Kaufmann’s book, Do You Have Kids? Life When the Answer is No, as well as my series, Not So Helpful: Things You Shouldn’t Say to the Childless.  (You can read my thoughts on Kate’s book here and my Not So Helpful Series here.)

More on Grief…

Jody gives some phenomenal information and insight about grief.  So, it might sound odd that my least favorite section of the book is the “Stages of Grief.”  I suppose this is for two reasons…

One, grief is not linear.  Though Jody does discuss this, I worry that listing five “stages” in sequential order leads us into a false sense that we move through these steps one by one until we are “over” our grief.  And this is simply not true.

Two, I really did not care for the section on “bargaining,” the “third stage” of grief.  I believe this is because several of the behaviors that Jody listed as “bargaining,” (a stage in which you have not fully accepted your childlessness) are things that I, and other childless women I know, do.  And these are women that I know for certain are far along on their journeys, accepting their childlessness, and finding their Plan Bs.

I suppose I mention this to say that we each have our own unique perspective and path through grief.  When looking for resources to help you through your childless grief, remember that no one—not Jody Day, not me, not anyone—knows you and your journey more than yourself.  Read, research, reach out…  But most of all—listen to your heart and do what you need to do in order to heal and move forward with what is…

Compelling, Unapologetic Language…

My favorite thing about Living the Life Unexpected…  The compelling, unapologetic language that Jody uses.  She challenges societal “norms,” shows how to change stereotypes such as “crazy cat lady” (or “crazy dog lady,” in my case) into positive, powerful roles, and demonstrates throughout the book how important the words we use really are.  Though I do not agree with every assertion Jody makes, her insights made me think, ponder, consider…

To name something is a powerful thing.  It creates a reality.  It owns it.”  -Jody Day, author of “Living the Life Unexpected”

*I wrote a blog about the power of words.  You can read it here.

*I also wrote a blog about embracing my role as a “Crazy Dog Lady.”  You can read it here.

One Final Thought…

In Living the Life Unexpected, Jody discusses childlessness due to medical infertility, social infertility, becoming childless by circumstance, and other routes to involuntary childlessness.  Thus, no matter the path that brought you to living a childless life, Living the Life Unexpected is an excellent resource to add to your collection as you continue to heal, continue to discover your Plan B…

Want to receive a FREE copy of Living the Life Unexpected?!?!Cover of Jody Day's New 2020 Edition of "Living the Life Unexpected," on Not So Mommy..., a childless blog

Jody has kindly offered to give a FREE, signed copy of the new edition of her book to a Not So Mommy… community member!  Yay!

How do you enter the drawing for Jody’s FREE, signed book?!  Well, just comment on this blog post no later than Sunday, 22 March 2020.  (Yup.  It’s that simple.  And you don’t have to live in the US!  This contest is open to our entire global community!)  On Monday the 23rd, I’ll draw a winner at random and contact the lucky person via email.

Good luck, fabulous ones!  And happy commenting!

For the Not So Mommy… Comments Policy, just click here…

*Note: “Living the Life Unexpected” does contain some cuss words.  They are not used often, nor in a vulgar way.  But they are scattered (sparsely) throughout the book. 

Want to check out more blogs on the Living the Life Unexpected tour?!

25 chances to win a FREE copy of Jody Day's new edition, "Living the Life Unexpected"For links to 24 more blogs that talk about Jody’s new edition (and more chances to win a FREE copy of her new book), just click here!

Want to pre-order Living the Life Unexpected?!

  • If you live in the UK, click here.
  • For those in the rest of the world, click here.

*If you’d like to preview Jody’s book, download a free sampler here.

Ready to discover your Plan B?


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Lynn B December 28, 2023 - 2:36 am

I am looking forward to reading her book. I have dealt with this for over 30 years and had no idea there were many of us out there. I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was a teenager and am now 63. When my hubby and I were married in 1983 we were planning on starting a family, forward to 1994 I had to have a total hysterectomy and there went our chances of a family. We have struggled and cried together now 40 years of marriage. We love each other more now than ever.

Brandi Lytle December 29, 2023 - 1:29 pm

Lynn, despite the circumstances that brought you here, I am grateful you found Not So Mommy… There truly is a vibrant, loving, supportive childless not by choice community. Please, check out the resources pages here at Not So Mommy… There are tons of ways to connect, plus I’ve written several reviews on books for & by childless women. I hope you enjoy Jody’s book! And I hope to see you around the Not So Mommy… community more. HUGS!

Lindsay March 22, 2020 - 11:23 pm

Sounds like a book worth taking a look at!

Melanie March 22, 2020 - 1:38 am

Still kind of flailing, but I’m working on it.

Brandi Lytle March 22, 2020 - 12:17 pm

And that is all we can do–try… Hugs

Hayley Miller March 21, 2020 - 4:09 pm

I’ve only read one book about the childless-not-by-choice life and it was mostly focused on grieving and letting go. It was very helpful and necessary at the time, but I am looking forward to reading this book so that I can get help finding a more positive perspective on my childless future. Thank you for all you do!

Brandi Lytle March 22, 2020 - 12:18 pm

It is my humble honor. I am so grateful that you are at the point of trying to embrace the bright sides of childlessness. Hugs!

J March 21, 2020 - 10:14 am

I’m good with my plan B, and enjoy reading your blogs. TBH I have been putting off reading Jody’s book, but I think I should read it this year…

Brandi Lytle March 22, 2020 - 12:19 pm

Thank you so much for following along with my journey, reading, and commenting. Your support means more than I can express in words! I understand needing to wait to read books on childlessness until you are ready. I’m grateful that you are feeling strong enough to read it this year. Sending you hugs…

Jayme March 21, 2020 - 9:38 am

I actually have a book about being childless not by choice coming out this year and one of the focuses is on the grieving process. I would love to read Jody’s book.

Brandi Lytle March 21, 2020 - 9:44 am

That is awesome about your book release, Jayme! I’d love to hear more about it. Feel free to email me with more details. 🙂

Anneka March 21, 2020 - 9:32 am

Truth be told I have been putting off reading this book. I can’t explain why. Fear, possibly. However reading your thoughts on this has me interested in reading the book for myself. Thank you for this platform & place of support! X

Brandi Lytle March 21, 2020 - 9:45 am

This makes my heart happy, Anneka! I understand putting off reading such books. When I was to review Kate Kaufmann’s book, it took me a moment to get started. I’ve learned we must validate our feelings and give ourselves the time we need… Hugs to you!

Kelly Nester March 21, 2020 - 9:31 am

It comes up when I least expect it. I get this feeling and panic like what is my life going to look like?? It feels empty right now. Thank you for this post. It helps to read about others like me. Hugs

Brandi Lytle March 21, 2020 - 9:46 am

Sending you hugs, Kelly. You might also like to read my blog post, “The Fears of a Childless Woman.” It talks about that panic. I remember it, too…

Kelly Nester March 22, 2020 - 6:02 pm

Thank you! It was a great suggestion. I will go through that door. Best, Kelly

Jamie March 21, 2020 - 9:14 am

Thank you for all you do. I’m still struggling with feeling so alone in my journey and finding ways to cope. It’s difficult when everyone else wants to continue to give hope that motherhood still might be a possibility, including my husband and mother, when deep down, after 10 years and the circumstances that I’m in, I know it’s just not possible. Thank you for the strength support you give to your community.

Brandi Lytle March 21, 2020 - 9:48 am

Jamie, my heart aches for you. I know that “in-between” place is so difficult, especially when others aren’t ready to let go. I’m so sorry you are struggling. Despite the circumstances, I am glad you are here. I’m always ready to lend a listening ear. Please, feel free to email if you ever need or want to “talk.” Sending you hugs…

Amber Fagerson March 21, 2020 - 8:00 am

I cannot wait to read (and process) this book. I just turned 40 and my husband has basically given up on us having kids and going through fertility treatments again. Thank you SO much for your review and sharing your thoughts with us!

Brandi Lytle March 21, 2020 - 9:57 am

It is my absolute humble pleasure. THANK YOU for taking the time to read my blog! Your support means so much. Hugs…

Emma Manser March 21, 2020 - 7:17 am

Would love to win a copy, I’m stuck inbetween unsuccessful fertility treatment, (health problems meaning we had to stop treatment) and childless not by choice. I feel I need to try and move forwards towards the CNBC and accept it, but finding it difficult. Thank you xx

Brandi Lytle March 21, 2020 - 9:59 am

Emma, that “in-between” space is so hard. I’m grateful you are here, looking for resources to help as you try to accept what is… Sending you loads of hugs!

Sherry March 19, 2020 - 10:51 am

Interesting read. I admire you for opening your heart and mind to new thoughts and ideas even if you don’t agree.

Brandi Lytle March 19, 2020 - 1:12 pm

Thank you. Though I must say that I do agree with a large part of what Jody says in her book. I just felt it important to share my full perspective, including the few points of which I have a different opinion.

Heather March 18, 2020 - 3:59 pm

Still discovering my plan B..

Brandi Lytle March 18, 2020 - 4:36 pm

It is a process for sure, Heather. So glad you are in the drawing to win a free copy of Jody’s book, as I think it is a valuable resource to help us discover our new plan… Hugs!

Kerry March 21, 2020 - 8:09 am

I am very new on this journey. Some days I’m excited about the concept of not having children because there are so many dreams my husband and I have that (unfortunately) won’t come true if we did have children. But then there are days when I see my sister with my nieces and know I’d give up everything to experience what she has. I have been thinking about getting this book for months, but it scares me a bit to confront “my demons.” Your take on the book definitely gave me the courage to finally give this book a shot. Thank you!

Brandi Lytle March 21, 2020 - 9:57 am

Kerry, I am so grateful that my review has helped you decide to read Jody’s book. It has some wonderful insight that I definitely think will help as you continue to let go and move forward. Sending you so many hugs!

Nini March 21, 2020 - 7:41 am

I’ve never marked up a book like I did with hers. I’ve been in therapy for a year and being treated for non-combat PTSD and complicated grief. I thought I was dealing with my childlessness well until a major incident hit me like a brick in the face and my life spiraled downward. I’m still processing the struggle between my head and heart and massive amounts of bitterness and regret I carry with me. Finding my Plan B hasn’t been as easy as I hoped, but once you’re all out of viable options there’s no other choice. Grief is not linear and it changes over time, just like we do. I’m changing daily and trying to find out who I am and what’s next for me at 49. This wasn’t the life I had hoped for and I’m coming to terms with that fact. I wish I had Jody’s book 25 years ago.


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