My fairy tale life would definitely include chocolate, so I'm very excited that we have appropriately-themed chocolate goodies from Fairy Tale Gourmet to giveaway this month!
You could win yourself one of two delicious artisan chocolate eggs from Fairytale Gourmet - and this Easter, you could crack open your very own Humpty Dumpty or steal a Golden Egg from the friendly giants in your house...!
These are eggs to hide from the kids... SO well that you get to eat them yourself ;)
This month is all about fairy tales - and we'll be sharing our stories in My Life, the Fairy Tale. We would love to hear yours - and one of the ways you can enter the competition is by sharing it with us!
Your own fairy tale might be life-changing or silly, small or huge - you choose. Head over here and complete seven sentences to tell us a fairy-tale from your not-so-fairy-tale life...
Our daily battles may not always feel epic, but the truth is, they are. Most importantly, sharing those stories of how we overcame the scary stuff, (eventually!) reminds others that they can make it through - even if today's quest is simply to tackle the never-ending laundry pile...
You can also enter by tweeting and hanging out on facebook, as you do...
Tale Gourmet are an award-winning company producing hand-crafted and ethical high-end chocolates and desserts, inspired by the literature of fairy tales. Go and explore their website - it's imaginative, original and guaranteed to make you drool...
Do you feel like you're enough? A first guest post from Scheenagh Harrington about the times when she felt the most inadequate, and her journey to the point where she could finally say "I am enough".
Inside my head, there lives what I fondly call my OCD Beast. It makes me straighten pictures, plump cushions, hoover rugs so that the pile stands upright and generally do what I can to make my family neater and tidier. But it can’t prevent the messiness of life.
In a few weeks, my journalist husband’s current freelance contract stops. Brought to an end by a stranger, whose financial needs outweigh ours. When it happens, half our household income will disappear. Naturally, he’s looking everywhere for something to fill the hole, but by rights, I should be a shivering, nervous wreck.
This, however, is the latest in a series of ups and downs my brood and I have endured during the past five years - and I know I am strong, smart, resourceful and woman enough to cope.
I am the sum of all my recent experiences: I am enough.
Five years ago, my husband and I moved, with our daughter, from the UK to France.
Little did I know at the time that a) my husband, who had spent a month here before us, was thoroughly miserable, and b) the job that brought us to this new life would take us to the brink of divorce.
There were other surprises, too. A few months after emigrating, I found out I was pregnant. After having struggled for years to conceive our daughter, this was amazing news. Our little boy arrived hale and hearty, but things around him weren’t so hot.
Problems at work made my husband distant and grey, and I wasn’t sensitive enough to understand what was happening. It took three years of near-constant arguments for me to realise the man I loved was being ground into the dust.
In hindsight, it was an easy decision to quit - the relief was unbelievable. But then came the real rollercoaster. In France, if you are sacked or made redundant, the state will help out financially. If you quit… not so much.
We spent four frantic months applying for every job we could find, set ourselves up as freelance journalists and formed our own little business, and sweated blood trying to make what little money we had go as far as possible.
We were granted access to our town’s food bank, after a pride-swallowing interview with a woman from the council. I didn’t want to ask anyone for help, but I had no choice.
When we were told we could feed our children for 5 euros a week until our unemployment benefit came through - three-and-a-half months later - I was grateful and humbled beyond words.
We downsized from a three-floor, four-bed house with garden and garage to a three-bed apartment, shaved everything we could from our bills and learned to live on very little.
Throughout, we kept talking to each other and to the children, making sure they knew about - even if they didn’t understand - each decision and why it was being made.
They adjusted, as only children can. Last June, I landed a part-time cleaning job and we were given unemployment benefit. Things were finally settling down. I was happy enough.
Then, one Sunday came another sideswipe. For months I’d grumbled absentmindedly about having a cyst or something on my ovary. I’d been gaining weight and getting tired. ‘Joy’, I thought, ‘the menopause’. But that day, hands on my stomach, I felt unmistakable movement.
A test was instantly, insistently positive - I was pregnant at 42! I was devastated - we had no money!
My husband asked what I wanted to do - I knew I was more than a few weeks gone, but I couldn’t consider a termination. It wasn’t possible anyway - it turned out I was five months pregnant with our second boy.
The most difficult year of our lives ended with me staring into the beautiful eyes of our third child. I have never felt so complete.
January 2014 felt like a new chapter, and as regular freelance work started coming our way, I was settled enough to relax after what felt like the longest time…
Now we face a fresh challenge: a likely return to austerity and uncertainty, unless we find something quickly (and we’re looking, pitching and trying like mad); and perhaps needing to rely again the kindness of strangers and the social security system.
But do you know what? I’m strong, resourceful, clever and imaginative enough to take this setback, too.
I am happy. I am enough.
Inspired by this post? Join us in this month's activity: I AM ENOUGH.
To celebrate, we're sharing a couple of stories from Story of Mum mamas about what Story of Mum has meant to them.
We are so proud of reaching three years with you all. And of those brave mamas who are sharing their stories here with us today. Thank you.
We'll also be sharing fabulous old posts, and giving away a DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit on twitter (share this post and cc @storyofmum on twitter to enter), and another one on facebook, so look out for the tweets and posts for more info...!
You can also enter to win one by commenting below and sharing your thoughts on Story of Mum...
That's 3 fabulous chances to win today!
Last but not least, we're celebrating by sharing the picture of us where we look most pretty, (thanks Pat Kelman!)
“I discovered Story of Mum at a time when I was very low and feeling totally isolated. I suffered badly with PND (post natal depression) and had no support other than my husband.
I felt worthless as a woman, a wife and a mother. Connecting with other Mums online through creative activities and discussion helped me realise that I wasn't the only one struggling and feeling like I was failing.
This was the turning point for me as I was no longer alone but part of a friendly, supportive, loving online community. These wonderful ladies are now amongst my closest friends, several of whom I have had the great pleasure to meet.
I highly recommend every aspect of Story of Mum to women everywhere, to help you feel whole again.”
““When, in September 2013, I attended my first Story of Mum event - the Mums’ Make Date at The Exchange, Penzance - I had only recently relocated to Cornwall from the West Midlands. My daughter had started at her first school in Penzance the previous week, and I knew no-one! I was feeling quite isolated, and having had severe Postnatal Depression after my daughter’s birth, I knew it was not good for me to feel this disconnection. The Story of Mum flyer had come home in my daughter’s schoolbag, and I promised myself I would summon up the courage to go along. My goodness how glad I am that I did!
At the end of that evening the feedback form asked how I was feeling about motherhood… my answer was clear - “Much better than before I came out”.
That evening, just a brief but eye-opening couple of hours - was the start of a revitalizing journey for me. Story of Mum, its honest and open approach to motherhood, and all its various madcap, thought-provoking, soul-searching, celebratory activities, has made such a difference in my life as a mum.
It has helped me to feel “normal” - like I’m not the only one struggling with (whatever this week’s “issue” is) being a parent! The shared stories - at the exhibition, on the website, on the twitter “Make Dates” - have reassured me, uplifted me, comforted me, inspired me, helped me to laugh at myself, and allowed me to cry – in empathy, in joy, and yes in sadness.
At times Story of Mum has simply kept me sane! It has given me more confidence in my abilities as a mum, and helped me to find a balance between being a mum - and being “me”. I have even felt able (with lots of lovely guilt-free “permission” and encouragement from Story of Mum), to attend a Mamas’ Retreat… 6 months ago I couldn’t have imagined myself ever doing that.
It has been wonderful to meet, spend precious time with, and share thoughts, ideas, angst, and laughter with such a diverse group of women, face-to-face, and online at the monthly “Mamas Make Dates”. I have never before been amongst such a group of supportive, non-judgmental mums with not a clique in sight! I have connected with lots of truly fabulous women, and made friends that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Not only has this benefitted me, but also my daughter because of the mums and children that she has connected with, and the happier person that I am. Truly, Story of Mum is a warm, welcoming and nurturing community which I am immensely glad to feel part of."
You can add your own picture at any time by visiting the gallery and clicking on 'join in' (if it still says 'join us' you'll need to register with story of mum first - which doesn't take very long, and means you get to hang out with us some more which can only be a good thing...!)
PS If you're visiting from BritMums Live! and want to find your own photo to see how absolutely beautiful you look (because, yes, you all did), you can scroll through the gallery or visit the BritMums page here that lists all of the pictures I took there.
Some days, it's hard to remember what you love most about being a mother. But in those darker moments, it can make all the difference to pause and remind yourself of all that is beautiful about mothering...
What do you love most about being a mother...? Here are some of the things on my list:
The feel of my daughter's warm flushed cheeks on mine.
My son's bare feet clambering against tree bark, just a little bit higher than he's climbed before.
Watching them snuffle, stretch and turn in their sleep.
Catching them holding hands as they walk ahead of me.
Listening to them play together when they don't know I'm there.
And the laughter. Oh the laughter.
The love that swells when my husband arrives home after working away to their delighted squeals as they race to the door. Watching him hugging them tight, play-fighting in a way I can't, doing 'the probes', and smiling over at me with the joy of seeing them again.
The superpower they've given me - of being able to kiss away pain. To make them feel safe by simply holding them in my arms and stroking their hair away from their eyes.
The way they show me the world, one slow walk at a time. Teach me to appreciate nature, repetition (oh yes...), and so many simple pleasures that I used to miss.
The way they inspire me to chase them when I thought I just wanted to sit down.
The way they show me my resilience and strength - teach me to recover well from my failures so that they understand it can be done - love my body in the way I want them to love theirs - and follow my deepest dreams and hopes so that they will see that theirs are possible too.
The way they inspire me to change the world that they will grow into, for the better.
This post was inspired by a prompt from Sacred Beginnings, and first appeared on our facebook feed. It had so many lovely comments, that I decided to share it here too <3
We would love to know some of the things that YOU love about being a mother - let us know just one of them (or more!) below.
Join us on twitter from 8.30 - 10pm UK time (find world times here) on 20 May to make Encouragement Cards together, talk every-day bravery, and give each other a great big courage boost...
Yes, it's time for our #somum Make Date - think of it as a mini creative retreat with new and old mama friends!
Be brave and come along - maybe you could even jump in and join us for the first time - all mamas (and even dads) are welcome!
As mothers, we do incredible brave things every single day - and yet we rarely acknowledge the bravery it takes to be a mother.
To be loving and imperfect. To keep learning from our mistakes as we go along.
Trying our best; making public fools of ourselves; getting out of bed when all we want to do is cry and sleep; being vulnerable and asking for help when we need it; supporting our friends, partners, family; letting our kids grow up and away - and stepping back to watch them make their own mistakes.
That's courage. And it can be exhausting.
Pushing through those fears over and over again without acknowledgement takes huge daily effort - an effort that can sometimes feel thankless.
So this month we're returning to one of our favourite activities from 2013: Encouragement Cards.
Think of another mama you admire - someone who's finding it tough, and still doing their best.
Someone who probably doesn't realise that you see their courage, or know you respect it. And most importantly of all, that you understand how hard it is.
Well, this #somum Make Date is on the THIRD Wednesday of the month, (normally it's on the the SECOND Wendesday...) and that's because we were busy hosting some live Mamas' Retreats in Cornwall last week (come and join us for some face to face encouragement next time if you can!).
This week I had the most amazing time hosting individual Mamas' Retreats at a stunning venue in Prussia Cove, Cornwall.
I've tried to capture a little flavour for those of you that couldn't make it, to inspire you to take some time out for you today. Scroll on down for your very own 5 minute mamas' retreat, complete with birdsong and sea swell...
Ahhhh sunshine in May. This time of year is often the most heavenly time to visit Cornwall - there are less tourists around after Easter, prices haven't yet been hiked up, and the weather can be amazing.
You have the beaches and cliffs to yourself.
Our Prussia Cove location could not have been more stunning - this cove is where we got married ten years ago. A heart-swelling view of the sea, green cliffs and rolling hills, dotted with sheep, sweet-smelling yellow gorse and bright white daisies, the coastline of the Lizard stretching out beyond.
Waving tamarisk branches gently frame the smooth grey rocks below, perfect to laze on or swim off into the sea (needless to say, we didn't attempt that, the water is still pretty cold without a wetsuit, but I have several lovely friends who swam off those very rocks at the weekend in bikinis and loved it...)
Herring-gulls, gannets, kestrels (we even saw a rare Cornish chough) swoop by - while robins, swallows, and numerous curious small birds delight us with their song. As evening falls, bats begin to flit across the sky, dark shadows against the deep blue sea sparkling orange into the far distance.
We're alone, but not completely. A few rustic cottages sit in the valley below, their chimneys starting to smoke softly as the night draws in.
It was enough just to sit and look.
How often do we do that?
Breathing in the view, we could feel the weight of the world starting to shift from our shoulders - and slowly, a gentle awareness that we were part of something bigger, beautiful and precious, took it's place.
We sat and talked about life and motherhood, our hopes and dreams, over steaming cups of tea.
Our one to one sessions took these talks deeper, drawing on all I've learnt recently on my Mama Bliss Coaching course(and if you're interested in finding out more about that training programme, tell Kathy I sent you, I have loved it).
We held cool heart-stones and smoothed out crunchy leaves, dipped paintbrushes in guache and drew them gently across canvas. We wrote, stretched, and sat. We meditated, rested, watched the sea.
We sat in the sun to delight in eating mindfully together. Our dear friend and food genius, Kate, had cooked up some delicious health-giving soup and treats for us to share.
(Kate told me later that she had sent love and positivity through our orange and almond cake as she baked it - and you could definitely taste the goodness...)
The Mamas' Retreat was heaven as it happened.
And it was powerful beyond that - with impacts that rippled far beyond the day itself.
"Thanks so much again for yesterday, I feel so refreshed! I woke up feeling really good this morning. It was an incredible day and you are a very special lady!"
What a lovely email to receive the next day! I'd love to do the same for you one day.
These kind words had the added benefit of reminding me that I needed to take some time for me too.
Yes, I need Mamas' Retreats too. I need nurturing. We all do.
And so I headed back to The Haven on my own.
Blissful quiet. Copious amounts of tea, waves and beautiful swooping birds to watch. The skies were greyer, but the joy just as bright.
It was the precious rejuvenation that I needed too.
That time to myself. To pause and be reminded of who I am, and what I most need.
I nurtured myself so that I can be the mother I most want to be to my children, the wife I want to be to my husband, and the woman I deeply want to be in the world.
And I hope that this post about our retreats inspires you to take a little of that time for you today.
Because I know of so many mothers who wanted to join us this week, but couldn’t – due to last-minute illness, work commitments, the distance, the cost - all of these things get in the way of taking time out for us.
And perhaps the biggest block of all is the one that won't allow us to recognise that we deserve and need this time for ourselves.
And that it's OK to stop.
It really is.
You don't have to join a Mamas' Retreat to look after yourself - but you do need to look after yourself.
Embedded in a culture of busy-ness and constant activity, a to-do list that can never be done, it's hard to believe that taking time out for ourselves is 'productive' enough to justify - to ourselves as much as anyone else.
I've struggled so much with this idea too.
In fact, that's what started me on this journey to Story of Mum, to Mamas' Retreats, to creating a space for mothers to pause, connect and create.
I craved a space where we could rekindle our identities, have our hopes held, release some of the stress and guilt we feel, and coax our deeper dreams into being.
And I'm doing all this for myself as I do it for you.
I know how hard it is. And how vital.
And how I wish I could have held so many more of you in this space this week.
So, especially for those of you who wished that you could join us at Prussia Cove but couldn't, for whatever reason - I recorded a 5 minute mamas' meditation there, complete with birdsong and the sound of the sea crashing on the cliffs below...
I hope you can allow yourself this five minute gift.
Putting a meditation on you tube is something that I've never done before, and I have felt pretty nervous about sharing it...
ButI so deeply want this joy and space for you too - even if it's just five quiet minutes of your day. And so I pushed through that awkward feeling of "who am I to share a meditation?" and here it is.
So find somewhere quiet to sit and listen. Take a pause from all the doing. Breathe.
And most importantly, remember that you are enough.
I really hope that it will feel almost like you really were there with us, for five minutes anyway.
Let me know if it works...
Our location was stunning, yes. But the most stunning changes can happen in the most pedestrian of places.
In the quiet.
It doesn't really matter where you are.
It only matters that you pause and believe that you are worth some time. Because that can deeply transform how you feel, how you parent, and how you pursue what you most hope for.
Take a break to reflect and create and connect, with us:
If you'd like to find out more about our Mamas' Retreats, head over here.
If you'd like to host your own retreat for your mama friends, you might like our fabulous DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit, a digital kit that contains everything you need to host your own - invitations, a hostess guide, printable treats, videos, inspiration and more...
For all those mamas who've been wishing they could join us in Cornwall for some precious mama me-time, but for whom the journey to our beautiful coastline is a step too far...
...we've created a retreat just for you: NURTURE AT HOME.
Yes, you can join us in your own home (by the magic of online communication…) for a very special one-to-one or small group retreat day, hosted lovingly by us, for you.
All you need to do is create a space in your house where you can peacefully indulge in seven hours of undisturbed mama me-time, and we’ll shape a rare and rejuvenating day of nurturing, just for you (or for you and a small group of friends).
If your home isn’t usually a calm space, enlist a tidy friend and borrow their peaceful room, or treat yourself and hire a room just for you…
You’ll need access to a computer and an internet connection to skype and view films, space to stretch out for some gentle yoga if you’d like to, a lovely treat-filled lunch, and some simple creative supplies.
Blissful anticipation is half the pleasure of a retreat. So before you start, we’ll send you some tips on how to create that special retreat space for your day.
We’ll also send you a simple questionnaire to complete in advance so that we can shape the day around your needs.
Individual virtual retreat format:
You’ll start by taking 30 minutes to stretch out and follow a simple yoga video designed to bring you into your body.
At 10am, we’ll begin our time together with a 60 minute one-to-one skype session, exploring what you would like to shift or reconnect to in your life right now.
This is a precious space for you to be heard and to hear yourself – taking time out to reflect and dream big dreams, in a supportive playful Story of Mum style…
Our first skype session together will inspire some simple creative activities that you can do alone, designed to help you explore some of these ideas in a fun and insightful way.
Then delight in some creative play… Grab a blanket, light a scented candle, make yourself your hot drink of choice, and wallow in having some precious time to get creative and think about you.
Choose yourself a special lunch and take some time out to sit and enjoy it.
After your first skype session, Pippa will create a simple guided meditation just for you - and at 1.30pm, we will skype again to share this.
This second session will lead into another creative activity to deepen your understanding of your story, and begin to explore how you might make any changes to how you’re nourishing yourself these days.
You’ll have another hour to think and play... before we come back together for a final 60 minute one-to-one session at 3pm. Here, we’ll discuss what has come up for you during the day, and draw up a simple plan together that will help you make some simple shifts, taking the nurturing experience of the retreat home into your daily life.
One last creative activity, some breathing, and you’ll head back into the world feeling rejuvenated, inspired and confident again.
One lovely advantage of a virtual retreat is that we’ll be able to record the audio of our sessions together so that you can keep these, and be reminded of this time together any time you want.
You’ll also have a recording of your guided meditation, and open access to the yoga video so that you can follow either of these again, maybe even starting to bring them into your daily routine if you’d like to.
And it’s not all virtual – because we’ll send you a special little treat in the post after our time together to remind you of just how amazing you are ;)
Give yourself this gift, mama.
Small group virtual retreat format:
If you’d like a more communal virtual retreat, you could choose to share the experience with one or two friends. For a small group retreat, you’ll need two rooms: a private and a shared space. You could relax together at home, or hire yourself a beach-side or country venue, maybe even choosing to extend your retreat overnight…
The small group virtual retreat will also run from 9.30am to 4.30pm. Each of you will have individual one-to-one sessions by skype throughout the day, and your own tailor-made creative activity programmes. You can choose to do your creative activities together, or alone – whatever suits you best.
You’ll have the chance to follow a short yoga session together in the morning (so you’d need enough room for that!).
And to reconnect over a laughter-filled lunch, sharing your experiences so far with each other and benefiting from each other’s mama wisdom.
After your final sessions with us, why not celebrate the end of your retreat with a special afternoon tea together? Maybe even some bubbles…
We’ll send you each audio recordings of your individual sessions and your personal guided meditations, and you can all have access to the yoga session online.
We’ll also send you each a special little something in the post after our time together ;)
You can read lots of lovely testimonials from Mamas who have enjoyed our retreats over here and in the PDFs below. Here are just a couple:
‘The Mamas’ Retreat gave me the opportunity to be me!It also gave me a rare chance to be creative, and to get in touch with both my mind and my body though gentle yoga.I was able to take a step aside from my normal daily routine and reflect on what I achieve each day as a juggling mum. I left the day feeling stronger and more appreciated.It was a very beautiful and liberating experience and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to any mum.” Miranda
"The retreat was fabulous -- the yoga was absolutely transformative and set the right tone for the whole morning. I felt like a new woman and was ready to have fun, be creative, and enjoy myself.Getting a chance to sit down, without kids, to talk and learn and be creative was rejuvenating and made me feel excited about my life again." Ginny
Virtual Day Retreat: NURTURE AT HOME prices:
A special introductory offer is available if you book before 7 May 2015:
Individual: Introductory offer: £85 £115 (including three one-to-one sessions of 60, 30 and 60 minutes)
Group of two: Introductory offer: £75 £90 per person (including three one-to-one sessions per participant: as sessions of 60, 15 and 45 minutes)
Group of three: Introductory offer: £65 £75 per person (including three one-to-one sessions per participant: as sessions of 45, 15 and 30 minutes)
NOTE: If these times don't work for you, or you are based outside Europe, we’d still love to support you, just get in touch and we’ll structure a programme that can work with your time-zone too.
I can't wait, how can i book?
Email Pippa at [email protected] to book your place, and we'll send you all the details straight away. We can't wait to bring you all the nurturing and support of our Mamas' Retreats.
As an alternative, you could use our DIY Mamas’ Retreat Kit to host your very own four hour Mamas’ Retreat for your mama friends.
For the bargain price of £35, this digital kit has everything you need to be the Mamas’ Retreat hostess with the mostest!
Your kit includes a hostess guide, a selection of fun and insightful creative activities, a listening tutorial, a gentle home yoga video, some gorgeous printables, lots of lovely mama inspiration and more.