Why Be Happy When You Could Be Risking It?

by | 15 May 2016

I’ve just finished reading Jeanette Winterson’s moving memoir – Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?  It was given to me by ‘Secret Santa’ at the work Christmas party in 2014. Thanks Santa, I know it’s taken me a year and a half to read it but now was the perfect time.

For the last couple of weeks, practically everyone I’ve met has been subjected to me saying that there’s this amazing passage (on pages 63 to 64) which sums up my life this year….

This is how it goes:

            I have noticed that doing the sensible thing in life is only a good idea when the decision is quite small. For the life-changing things, you must risk it.

            And here is the shock – when you risk it, when you do the right thing, when you arrive at the borders of common sense and cross over into unknown territory, leaving behind you all the familiar smells and lights, then you do not experience great joy and huge energy.

           You are unhappy. Things get worse.

           It is a time of mourning. Loss. Fear. We bullet ourselves through with questions. And then we feel shot and wounded.

            And all the cowards come out and say, ‘See I told you so.’

            In fact, they told you nothing.

Last year, I left my job of ten years. It was my choice, I was excited about leaving, and I had a plan. But it’s actually been one of the toughest times of my life. And if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that in two weeks (actually in less than two weeks), I launch a new festival where my two worlds of the arts and IVF are going to collide. And if you ask me now what’s harder – running a big theatre with a multi-million pound turnover or a start-up festival that’s exploring an issue that for many people is still a taboo and a part of their life they quickly want to forget – then I have to say the latter. But as Jeanette Winterson says so beautifully, for the life-changing things you must risk it. Just be prepared that it’s going to be hard.



  1. kiftsgate

    Beautifully written and a great message! Hope the festival will be a success! Will be thinking of you. xx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Thank you! I feel very blessed that you and others read my life ramblings. Hope all is well with you (unless of course you’re in the middle of risking it). You will hear how the festival goes here, no doubt…Jessica x

  2. Sophie Paine

    Thanks for the reminder of that wonderful book and that passage. My friend calls it ‘trouble at the border’ when every bit of you is saying ‘noooo!’ but a small, excited bit is saying ‘I have to do this so bring it on…’. Taking the long view is such a challenge. Those memories, changed perspectives and new experiences of sharing in women’s lives you’re creating are all worth it. Sophie xx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Oh my, I love that phrase ‘trouble at the border’ absolutely beautiful and so so true and what I feel. Thank you so much for your encouragement, right now I need it more than ever! Jessica x

  3. Mary Caws

    Dear Jess, oh boy does this strike home for me! I’m preparing to jump off the TRSE cliff and hope for a soft landing … more on this as it shapes up. Always great to hear from you, love Mary

    Date: Sun, 15 May 2016 19:01:33 +0000 To: marycaws@hotmail.com

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      oh wow wow wow. I will need to contact you off blog about this. Major news, we must meet! Jessica x

  4. Sheila

    Jessica – you are amazing and the Fertility Fest will be amazing to x Looking forward to it 🙂 xx

  5. thepursuitofmotherhood

    Oh I so hope so. I’m confident about the content, we just need to get lots of people there and I’m really grateful for all the help you’ve given me on that. Thank you! Jessica x

  6. Pamela

    Will be there in spirit! Wish I didn’t live so far away. Your work here is so important. Admire you greatly for following your heart.

  7. thepursuitofmotherhood

    Bless you Pamela. I so wish you could be with us in person and I could be with you in Vancouver. One day, one fine day! Jessica x

  8. Yam

    I have just read your article in the Telegraph 27 May 2016 and want to thank you and wish you luck. 1 in 10,000 women are told as teenagers that children aren’t possible but the silence and dislocation from society is … I can’t even find the words. Really proud of you for bringing arts to start to tell the story and connect those whose life feel like a constant assault.

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Thank you so much for your message and reading the piece. I really appreciate it and constant assault describes the situation so beautifully. xxx

      • Yam

        It is constant assault: the endocrine system governs your hormones and your response to trauma through adrenaline and managing the processing of memory in the brain. If you mess round with the system, you open up a vulnerability.

        Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may occur when the brain is flooded with hormones during a life threatening or emotionally intense situation laying down poorly processed memories. The more we learn about diet, exercise and mental techniques to support our endocrine system, the stronger we are to cope with trauma but also to be fertile. I don’t know about IVF but I am concerned my endocrine system isn’t strong enough to cope with it; never mind pregnancy and postpartum depression. If only more people were taught about it! Like Giuila Ender’s book ‘Gut’ on digestion.

  9. thepursuitofmotherhood

    Thanks so much for your comment. These are all really interesting and important points. Jessica x