Blogs

Fairy Tale Chocolate Competition

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!

Win chocolate eggs from Fairy Tale Gourmet with Story of Mum

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...

We look forward to hearing your real-life fairy-tales, and eating chocolate together..a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win a Fairytale Gourmet golden egg with Story of Mum

Start your year with joy at our January Mamas' Retreat

Join a Sunday Morning Mamas' Retreat with Story of MumWe'd love you to join us on Sunday 18 January 2015 for a very special Sunday Morning Mamas' Retreat in Penzance, Cornwall. Come start your year with joy! (scroll down to book your tickets below)

I Am Enough: from OCD Beast to embracing my messy life

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".

I Am Enough: Scheenagh Harrington on feeling inadequate and becoming 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.

Three years old

We're officially three years old today!

To celebrate, we're sharing a couple of stories from Story of Mum mamas about what Story of Mum has meant to them.

Story of Mum is three years old! Hear how the project has helped mums grow.

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!)

pippa and penny best, story of mum - credit: 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.”

Kat Pearce

Story of Mum Exhibition, The Exchange

““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."

Pippa Lilley

I'm a mum and a... 

And as for me? Well, Story of Mum has reconnected me to my creativity, and helped me to find a new identity when I felt lost. It has supported me to make sense of the challenging transition from career woman to mother, and to become passionate about giving invisible mothers a voice.

It has boosted my confidence, got me doing things that terrified me but which felt amazing, and reassured me with humour and honesty when I feel like I'm the only mum in the world who messes up. It has helped me to make time to look after myself, and to overcome bad mummy shame at my horrendously messy house.

Projects like Love Mum Body have helped me to dramatically change my relationship with my body. And I have loved the opportunity to spend time and grow a project with my own inspiring mother (especially when I got to do that in New York...!).

Most of all, Story of Mum has connected me to an amazing global tribe of mamas that support me in feeling like I can do anything I dream of.

I hope it does the same for you, and I am so grateful to all of YOU.

Thank you for joining us on this amazing journey these past three years.

 

Come join our next #somum Make Date on Wednesday 9 April from 8.30 - 10pm GMT (find world times here). We have some more fantastic prizes for you! Find out more here.

 

Thanks to Andra Alexander, Ian Kingsnorth Pat Kelman and Chris Webber for the photos above.

Special events at The Exchange

We've got some more great special events coming up for mums at The Exchange in Penzance this month as part of our travelling exhibition - find out more below.

To book to come along for some networking or retreating, contact [email protected]. Places are limited and going fast, so jump in now!

PS everything is FREE because we love you. The forecast for cake is looking good too.

Find out more about our exhibition here.

flyer for events at the Exchange

Sharing our mama identities at BritMums Live

motherhood exhibitionI've just loaded up all the "I'm a mum and a..." photos I took at BritMums Live this weekend, and the gallery is looking amazing. Let the images scroll on by.

We are the same and we are different and we are all unique. 

It's powerful stuff - funny, thought-provoking, heart-breaking and inspiring, and I'm so grateful to all the mothers (and one brave widower) who have taken part so far.

The gallery will continue to grow day by day as "Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves" travels around England in real life, and the world online. Including a wonderful virtual tour - check out some of the posts so far here.

There are well over 200 contributions to "I'm a mum and a..." now and it's fascinating how some words are starting to come up more often than others...  

Us mums are often also dreamers, crafters, poets and artists, dancers, and there's a wonderful groundswell of writers.

There are nanas, daughters, friends, wives, and referees. 

There are some proud me's reclaiming their identities, and others on a journey to find themselves. 

We're addicted to chocolate, tired and crazy. And we're trying our best.

Visit the gallery here.

Read more about my experience of BritMums Live here.

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...!)

mum and an ear wiggler   mum and a survivor    mum and bibs award winner    mum and education reformer

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.

PPS If you sign up for our newsletter you get a free book of mums' reward charts. You deserve them. Just saying...

We're bringing a retreat to your house, mama!

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...

Nurture at Home: a virtual retreat with Story of Mum

...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. 

Nurture at Home: a virtual Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum

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.

Nurture at Home: a virtual Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum

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.

Nurture at Home: a virtual Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum

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.

Nurture at Home: a virtual retreat with Story of MumSmall 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.

Nurture at Home: a virtual retreat with Story of MumYou’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:

Nurture at Home: a virtual retreat with Story of Mum

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. 

Nurture at Home: a virtual retreat with Story of Mum

DIY MAMAS’ RETREAT KIT

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.

And you can use it again and again, whenever you need a mama me-time boost. Find out more and buy yours at  www.storyofmum.com/DIYMamasRetreatKit

if you'd much rather come and see us in person, we would love that too - you can find out about all the different Mamas' Retreats we host at www.mamasretreats.com

If by some lovely miracle, you're able to come and join us in Cornwall in May, don't forget about our day and residential  retreats from 12-14 May. We'd love to see you in person too!

Most importantly, don't just think about doing this wonderful thing for you, contact us as soon as you can and book your very own retreat.

You can download all the information about NURTURE AT HOME in the PDFs below (choose the lo-res version if you want a quick download!).

Win yourself a big fat YES on a chain

The very talented Faye of Stuff Made From Things is giving us one of her beautiful necklaces to give away this month.

Win a YES necklace made by Stuff Made From Things with Story of Mum

It's only my favourite and most inspiring piece of jewellery, that I wear almost every day, and is hand-made by an uber-talented and lovely mama in Cornwall, so that no two pieces are ever exactly alike... it's a one of a kind, mama, just like you.

 This photo is actually of my very own necklace, as Faye is locked away in her studio making the next one, just for us... 

The winner will receive one very very similar... and I'll post a photo here as soon as I have one!

There are all sorts of lovely ways you can enter:

If you're already a member of our Story of Mum community you get 3 free entries, just click on the rafflecopter link below and enter your username.

If you haven't joined us yet, just register now (it's free and quick), and you'll get them too!

Win a YES necklace from Stuff Made With Things via Story of Mum

You can 3 more entries for joining our #somum chat on twitter this month on Wednesday 8 April from 8.30pm to 10pm.

We'll be tweeting about saying yes, and no, and maybe... but mostly YES.

And encouraging each other to doodle our very own YES VESTS in a classic 80s stylie.

Best of all, if you join in our activity this month, and design yourself a YES VEST over here, that'll get you a whopping 5 entries.

In fact you can get 5 entries for every YES VEST you share...

There are all sorts of other easy ways to enter: like visiting faye on facebook, following her on twitter, and tweeting about the giveaway...

Yes, you can try them all!

Will you have a go? Yes yes YES! 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yes to Yes Vests and Yes Days for Mamas!

Somehow I've managed to speed-storify tonight's lovely #somum Make Date (free mini creative retreats for mamas on twitter...) and here it is!

Making Yes Vests at Story of Mum's #somum Make Date

We talked about what we say yes to, what we'd like to say yes to less, and what we would like to say yes to more.

We imagined our children's dream Yes Days, and pictured our very own: what would we do with a whole day to say yes to our every need? What would you do?

And naturally, we doodled our big fat yes's on vests...

We asked the questions we would ask if we knew the answer would be yes.

And we planned one step we could take tomorrow to bring our day a little bit of mama yes day magic. 

(And of course I reminded everyone about our very special Mamas' Retreats in May, in case they'd like to say yes to that too ;)

Read some of the highlights of our lovely chat, and see lots of gorgeous yes vest doodles below.

There's still lots of time to think about your big fat YES, doodle your own YES VEST, and share it in the gallery.

And you can enter our fabulous competition to win a very special yes necklace of your own over here...

OH YES INDEEDY!

Making Yes Vests at #somum tomorrow!

Say YES to joining our next #somum Make Date on Wednesday 8 April from 8.30 to 10pm UK time, mama (find world times over here).

Make a YES VEST with Story of Mum at #somum on twitter: Weds 8 April 8.30 - 10pm

This month's activity - and this month's Make Date - is all about the joy of saying Yes.

We'll be doodling our own YES VESTS, inspired by a number of Yes-related delights:

-- my favourite necklace made by Stuff Made From Things  (you could win one by joining #somum this month - find out more over here and below...)

-- a lovely free e-course run by Liz Lamoreux called Yes to this Moment

-- my Yes Day with my kids last week - when I said yes to anything they wanted to do (with some restrictions due to budget, distance from home, and things that might make their hacking coughs worse), and we did all of the things on my Yes Vest, and more... 

-- my teenage years growing up in the 80s when people wore T-shirts that started FRANKIE SAYS, and RELAX, and posed looking moody. Feel free to do that too.

Ready to make your own?

Doodle a picture of your very own YES VEST: spell out a big bold black and white YES to the things you want more of in your life. 

Is there anything that makes you do an actual real fist-pump or that thing when you jump in the air and click your heels together at the side…? What brings you joy?

Stick it on your vest…

Share it with us in the gallery, or on Wednesday at #somum!

For more big fat yes inspiration, read this month's lovely newsletter over here.

Win yourself my favourite necklace ever! 

Win a YES necklace from Stuff Made From Things with Story of Mum

No, not my very own one. But yes, the amazing Faye from Stuff Made From Things is giving us one of her beautiful hand-made necklaces to give away this month.

You get extra entries just for being lovely Story of Mum mamas, so head over here to have a chance of winning it for your very self.

Each piece she makes is different, but it will look quite a lot like my one on the right...

You can get 3 free entries for sharing your tweet from #somum over herePlus, the more Yes Vests you share in our gallery, the more entries you'll get :)

We can't wait to see you and have a big fat yes-fest tomorrow! Oh YES!

Never joined us for a #somum Make Date before? Read all about it below...

What is a #somum Make Date?

It's a chance for mums to get together on twitter and tweet while we attempt to do something creative - like doodlingtaking a photowriting poetrymaking stuff or even squidging plasticine.

We give ourselves some creative me-time and connect with other lovely mums. We do it every second Wednesday of the month and we would love you to join us. New friends are always very welcome.

You don't have to be a clever crafter, an artist or wordsmith. We're all about having a go regardless of talent or experience. Most of all, it's about getting together and having fun.

Just add #somum to your tweets so that we can find you, and search for #somum to see what everyone else is tweeting. 

If you just want to chat, that's completely fine. If you just want to make something and lurk and never tell us you're there, that's fine too. We're just happy you're making time for you. 

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