Pippa's blog

Mamas making journals...

It's a bit of a rushed storify this month (I haven't even read it through!) because time is sparse in the first week of school.

But we had a wonderful time at our #somum Make Date on Wednesday, as always, and hopefully we've inspired some mums to take a little bit of regular one or two line mini journalling time for themselves... Read what we got up to below.

It might even change your life like it's changed mine :)

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)

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.

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...

Join us to make mandalas and meet amazing mums

Join us for our next #somum twitter date on Wednesday 14 October from 8.30pm to 10pm UK time (find your timezone equivalent with this link).

Join our next #somum twitter Mamas' Retreat to connect and make nature mandalas

This month, we'd like to inspire you to make a simple Nature Mandala...

Making one can also be such a peaceful thing to do, it's almost a meditation in itself and so it's an activity that we love to do at our Mamas' Retreats.

(They're also a great thing to make with your kids when you're out and about - give them a focus to search out leaves and stones to add, and soothe them with placing these into regular patterns... ;))

Why make a mandala...?

Mandalas remind us of our place in the life cycle, our impact on the world as it continuously turns around us.  

Each is a precious opportunity to celebrate making something imperfect and beautiful out of what we find in front of us in the moment.  To lose ourselves in the flow. 

They're also pretty easy to make, look gorgeous, and flowers apparently make you feel 100% happier all day when you recieve them. Which all sounds good to us!

Make a Nature Mandala with Story of Mum at our #somum Make Date

Need to feel calmer and more relaxed?

The process of making a nature mandala is also a form of creative meditation in itself - one that you can do anywhere with nature to hand, whenever you need a peaceful pause.  

And goodness knows, as mums, that's something we crave quite a lot!

Try it with pebbles, sand, flowers, leaves, acorns, herbs, whatever natural ingredients you can find. Enjoy the beauty of a moment of creativity that reconnects us with life and nature.

Failing that, make one with your leftover vegetables, as one mum did when she left one of our Mamas' Retreats feeling especially inspired ;)

Need to come to terms with yet another change, or ease yourself into letting go a little bit more...?

Making a mandala from nature taps into our own creativity, gently exploring how we feel about change and transformation, and addressing the heart of motherhood: loving and letting go. So we'll be talking about that on twitter at #somum this month...

As well as doing our best to allow our mandalas (and ourselves) to be perfectly imperfect. Here's a blog post I wrote about that very subject this week.

Make a Nature Mandala with Story of Mum at our #somum Make Date

Want to spread some love about?

A nature mandala can also be a wonderful temporary thing to leave behind for someone else to find - or to discover yourself!

Find out more about making a nature mandala and see lots of examples over here.

So bring your bunch of flowers (or just the one, that will work too!) to twitter for our next #somum get-together and join other lovely mamas on 14 October from 8.30pm to 10pm UK time (if you're not in the UK, find your time here).

And if you don't have flowers to hand, don't let that deter you! We'd be delighted to see mandalas made from absolutely anything - lego, socks, pasta, peanuts, or all of the above, we don't mind, just have a go :)

So don't be shy - jump on twitter, add #somum to your tweets, and we'll quickly find you and explain how to join this lovely supportive group of online mamas every month. 

Think of our #somum dates as a free mini creative retreat for any mums that need one. And the truth is, we probably all need one.

What is a #somum Make Date?

Join Story of Mum for our #somum Mamas Retreat on twitterIt'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.

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. 

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

Seven ways to be a perfectly imperfect mother

I am not a perfect mother. It surprises me when people tell me that this is their first impression of me. Because it is so obvious to me, so deep-seated, that I am not.

And I am finally OK with that. Because there are so many gifts to be found in my imperfection. And in yours.

How to be the perfect mother - use your imperfections to teach your kids.

People say it to me quite often - that when they first met me, they thought I had it all sorted. That I was together, prepared, somehow 'better' at motherhood than they were. 

And then they read something I wrote, or hear me tell my story. And they realise that at some point I have felt the same as them. And they start to question their beliefs about the 'perfect mum'.

I know from experience how easy it is to project your fears onto other people. To see them as evidence of your belief that everyone is more together than you are. To assume that you are less and others are more.

To believe that your struggles are a sign of weakness, and your failures proof of your inability to be the mother you'd like to be. 

It isn't true.

I am not perfect. And your imperfection does not mean that you are a failure as a mother.

We are both beautifully imperfect. We both struggle. We both question ourselves. We both wonder whether we will ever be the mother we hope to be. That is the journey.

Because life is imperfect. I am a good enough mother.  And setting up our children to expect anything other than imperfection won't help them at all.  Every imperfection that we demonstrate and overcome helps our children to make sense of their own.

Maybe I am a few steps ahead of you today. Perhaps simply because I have been so far behind in the past that I saw that I needed to make a change.

I needed to question the words I said to myself too often in my head. I needed to ask for help.

And so I did - and I learnt that it is OK to be imperfect. 

Because life is imperfect. I am a good enough mother.

And setting up our children to expect anything other than imperfection won't help them at all.

Every imperfection that we demonstrate and overcome helps our children to make sense of their own.

Here are seven things I have learnt so far as I shake off my fear of being a less than perfect mother:

Story of Mum: It is OK to question whether we are doing the right thing.1. It is OK to question whether we are doing the right thing.

It's OK to apologise to our children for making a wrong decision. To show them how to try again. To illustrate how to make choices, to assess right and wrong, to be flexible and change.

To demonstrate how we can make ourselves a better person by exploring and rethinking and starting over... again, and again, and again.


No such thing as a perfect mother, just perfectly imperfect mothering - Story of Mum2. It is OK to cry. Quite a lot.

Because each tear teaches our children how to allow their emotions space to breathe - and how to name their feelings.

Crying isn't a weakness, it's an expression of emotion. It clears a path. It brings people together.

And how we recover from our sadness shows our children how they too can find a way forward when they are sad.


How to be the perfect mother - use your imperfections to teach your kids.

3. It is OK to be angry. To shout.

For all the same reasons that it is OK to cry.

With the added bonus that we can also show our children how to apologise in the heat of the moment.

We can teach them how to manage their anger by showing them how we learn to manage our own.

We can show them how to breathe, to calm down, to express themselves in different ways.


Story of Mum: Mess demonstrates the value of comfort and play over presentation. It creates a home where we accept that being healthy and happy is enough.4. It is OK to have a messy house.

It won't win you any followers on pinterest, but it doesn't make you a failure. 

A messy house might be an illustration of where your priorities lie: a reminder to your children to value family adventures and being outside in nature over time spent ironing, dusting and cleaning.

Mess demonstrates the value of comfort and play over presentation. It creates a home where we accept that being healthy and happy is enough.

Story of Mum: An argument is a precious chance to show our children how to express what we need, how to forgive, and how to make it up to those we love most.

5. It is OK to argue with your partner in front of the children.

It won't make you feel great, and it might be better if you didn't, but it isn't the end of the world - use it as raw material to demonstrate how to love.

An argument is a precious chance to show our children how to express what we need, how to forgive, and how to make it up to those we love most.

As we show our children how we reconcile, how we build a stronger partnership through vulnerability, honesty, empathy and commitment, we teach them the tools they will need to build their own relationships one day.

And it is OK to separate from your partner. It is OK not to have a partner in the first place. All of these things are difficult, and common, and OK. Use them as a way to demonstrate love and compassion and forgiveness. How to move positively and respectfully through difficult times. 

Story of Mum: when we rest, our children learn that it is OK for them to rest, to replenish, to take time to look after themselves. A vital lesson for a well-lived life. And what more do we want for them than that?6. It is OK to take time for yourself

It can sometimes feel impossible to step away from your family. Because they are everything to you.

They need you, they can't cope without you, and it's your duty to be there for them every moment they might need you. The guilt can be overwhelming.

And then there's the 'to do' list that never ends. The worry about what other people will think if you take time out for you. If you let go of all the 'shoulds' and rest instead.

Yet deep down, we know that at some point, our children will need to survive without us. There's a way we can ease them into this: taking time out for ourselves gives them a gentle space to practice.

Even more importantly, when we rest, our children learn that it is OK for them to rest, to replenish, to take time to look after themselves. A vital lesson for a well-lived life. And what more do we want for them than that?

It is OK to be yourself - perfectly imperfect parenting: Story of Mum7. It is OK to be yourself

It is OK to be yourself:  your imperfect, messy, weepy, shouty, weak and confused self.

It is OK to have flaws, huge failures, and to make mistakes. It is OK to stop pretending to be something that you are not.

It is OK to cry, to shout, to argue, to question, and to get stuck. Get up, shake it off, take a breath, start again. It is OK. 


The lessons your imperfections teach your children may be different to the seven I share above. But your lessons will be just as valuable.

We are all imperfect mothers. Imperfection is inevitable. And it is also an opportunity.

We can't stop being imperfect. But we can control how we react to our imperfections. And how we teach our children to respond to theirs. 

Will we allow our imperfections to define us? Or will we demonstrate striving to be better, in spite of the things that aren't quite as we hoped? Will we strive not to judge and dismiss, but instead to accept and improve? 

Finding the positive in our imperfect moments is rarely easy. But every time we fail at this, and we try again - we are teaching our kids that they can recover from failure and try to be better too.

How to be the perfect mother - use your imperfections to teach your kids how to cope with theirs

Can we allow them to be imperfect, just as we are?

When they behave imperfectly, just like us, can we simply breathe, explain, and try taking the photo again?

And in the moments when we can't quite manage that, can we just try once more?

There is no such thing as the perfect mother.

Or the perfect child.

But perhaps there is a kind of perfection in the way we choose to respond to our imperfections, and theirs - honestly, hopefully, and with a desire to be braver, bolder, and better.

As we get up and try again...

You are perfectly imperfect, mama. We all are.

Which imperfections are you able to embrace? We'd love to hear below.

And if we can help you to start making peace with your perfect imperfections, we'd love you to get in touch or join our community for perfectly imperfect mums.

Magazine mama - behind the scenes at Good Housekeeping

So what's it really like to be featured in Good Housekeeping magazine? To be interviewed about your personal story, transformed into a more glamourous version of yourself, your photo taken by a professional photographer in a beautiful location? How does it really feel to see yourself and read your story in a magazine?

Pippa Best of Story of Mum being made over for Good Housekeeping Magazine

My previous run-ins with the national press had made me a little nervous about putting myself out there again. Being featured in the Daily Mail for the #mykidsdressedme campaign for Comic Relief - and mistakenly reading the comments - provided one of the most intense moments of shame that I've felt in my mothering life, and it took me some time to recover - but that's a story for another day...

It meant that when I was approached by Good Housekeeping via the National Lottery (who funded our exhibition), I had to pause and think whether I was ready to be in the public domain in that way again.

I knew it could be a wonderful way to share what we're doing at Story of Mum with more mums who might need our support, and Good Housekeeping have a fantastic reputation. But as for the idea of heading up to London for a special day of being made over and having photos taken, yikes that sounded scary... 

On the one hand, I loved the idea of a day of pampering, the kind of make-over I'd always hoped to receive from Jackie Magazine as a kid...

On the other, I don't tend to read many glossy magazines because for a long time, they made me feel less rather than more. 

 I'm very aware that my proud baby-bearing body is not magazine-shaped. And I've let my hair streak with natural grey. It's not magazine-coloured either.

Start of a make-over for Story of Mum

Away from a magazine world, I see my own beauty. But right slap bang in the middle of magazine world, would my confidence hold?

And yet I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience something I'd never done before, and yes it might be awful, but it might not be, and it might even have a really positive outcome.

And although those sort of situations are scary, I pretty much always tend to walk towards them...

And so there I was, sat on a train from Penzance to London, feeling all emotional after saying goodbye to the kids and the husband, and panicking about an email I'd just received. It suggested that I bring along my favourite jeans (I hardly ever wear jeans), one of my "Autumn leather jackets" (??) and changes of white and black underwear. What on earth had I let myself in for...?

Luckily, the lovely lady at Good Housekeeping who I immediately emailed to say I had none of those things said not to worry, they would have plenty of clothes there...

And breathe...

After being collected by my very own car from the station (oh the glamour!!) I was put up in a hotel for the night, where I got to see my mum for dinner, and she loaned me a white bra, which was a nice moment ;)

Pippa Best of Story of Mum having a make-over with Good Housekeeping

The next morning, having been unable to eat anything for breakfast (even though it was all completely free and looked very fancy) because I felt so sick with nerves at what lay ahead, I was picked up by another car and whisked to the shoot venue. I chatted noisily to the taxi driver in an attempt to pretend to myself that I was feeling fine and confident.

We arrived at a beautiful converted home and studio at the end of a short cobbled street - the shoot venue. Unfortunately, I was early. Very early. And nobody setting up showed even the slightest bit of interest in my arrival.

So I just had to breathe in some confidence and smile, trying to hold on to recent words from my own mum - that I was beautiful already, no matter what.

I told myself calmly that it wasn't such a different world to the film shoots I know from my old career, I just wasn't used to being on this side of the camera. I got myself some much-needed coffee and worked out where the loo was, in case of emergency (and my usual need to go to the loo every half an hour or so since having kids...). I focused on just staying present in the moment, ignoring all the doubts rushing into my head.

Soon the rest of the team arrived: all smiles.  I met the very nice pregnant writer who had interviewed me over the phone a few weeks before. The interview had taken over an hour, but my story would be compressed into just a few paragaphs. I wondered how she would tell it. I met another lovely woman who was also being made-over and we shared our stories.

Pippa Best, Story of Mum, being made over for Good Housekeeping

The kind make-up lady put me at ease as we chatted about our kids, and up I stepped into the studio space. As if preparing for over an hour of hair and make-up was a regular occurence for me...!

My long hair was carefully curled and sprayed into place. I was painted and puffed and prettified into the most amazing creature.

I had extra single eyelashes added individually, make-up on my legs to hide my Cornish sandal tan-lines, and all manner of potions and lotions carefully applied to my face. My nails were buffed and painted. I genuinely had no idea there were even that many different sorts of cosmetics in existence. It was a whole new world.

 I was ushered into a side room with a long rail of outfits, and shoes of every shape and size (sadly most of them too narrow for my feet, and no doubt impossible to walk in, but they looked beautiful), all kinds of jewellery, and a smiling wardrobe lady ready to transform me.

I'd packed my favourite Seasalt dress, thinking I might wear it out to dinner with my mum the night before, and luckily I was able to wear that - as everything else on the rail felt like someone else, not me. I wanted to hold on to the normal me, still rooted somewhere within this newly buffed version of myself.

Last but not least, the wardrobe lady presented me with some raspberry heels that I couldn't walk in... But that didn't matter, as I didn't need to walk. I could squeeze my wonky wide feet in, and be photographed against some blinds, so all I had to do was get hoisted into the heels with the help of my able hair and make-up team - and balance precariously. A slightly less glamourous moment...

Getting made over for Good Housekeeping

And then it was time for some of the most bizarre minutes of my life so far...

My gorgeously curled hair was fluffed and re-fluffed, necklaces were swapped and assessed - each new necklace naturally requiring additional hair-fluffing.

And as I stood in various positions next to a chair with three pillows on it, I was observed intensely by five very fashionable people, each with a tiny frown on their foreheads and their hands on their chins (I so wish I had been able to take a photo of that...!).

 The photographer instructed me to keep shifting my weight from leg to leg (which was easy, as I needed the loo again by then obviously...) and smile.

It took quite a long time for everyone to decide which pillows needed to go where, whether two pillows were better than three, and whether it would be better if I stood on the right or the left, leaned backwards, or sat (definitely not, the frowns all intensified rather quickly at that point). 

And for a moment, I felt like I was a proper model - although sadly one who had never had any lessons about what you should do in front of a camera.

Story of Mum has a makeover for Good Housekeeping

So I just grinned, and guessed, and felt a bit foolish. Mostly I enjoyed how bizarre and funny and brilliant it all was to be having this experience as part of my life.

...while also wondering if the discussion about the pillows was actually code for discussing in which position I looked the most ridiculous.

It may well have been - but luckily I'll never know.

I especially appreciated the compliments I received on my hair - and the surprise at the fact that I hadn't highlighted it, my hair did it all by itself :)

As it turns out, the final photo is lovely.

I don't quite look like me, but I look beautiful.

And the smile is mine.

As for my story?

I've just collected my copy of the magazine and I am still shaking. It's a strangely naked feeling to see your vulnerability in print. I had to go to the park and sit quietly for a while on the way home. And buy myself some chocolate. 

 The words are beautiful. My story is in there.

And so is Loz's story. Which feels a little uncomfortable, because so much of her story isn't mine to share - it belongs to her husband and her sons - and I want to respect that.  The loss of Loz is part of my life, but it is not my story, it is hers, and theirs.

I'm glad though that Loz is remembered and honoured. She was an amazing friend, whose energy and honesty and wisdom were a big part of the inspiration to create Story of Mum. 

 Plus, I suspect she would have thought it was pretty funny that she too is now featured in Good Housekeeping. She was not a typical Good Housekeeping reader. Neither she nor I were ever what you would call good house-keepers... But we were both always good home-keepers. And a happy home carries much more weight in my world than a tidy house.

Taking off the make-up at the end of the day

As for how the piece reflects my own motherhood struggles, I'm much more comfortable with my own vulnerability than I used to be. So I'm not ashamed of sharing how hard I have found motherhood at times. Loz shared her vulnerability with me, and it helped me immensely to face my own. 

 I know how powerful it can be when we admit our fears and failings to others. When we admit our struggles to feel like a good mother - our struggles to feel beautiful - our struggles to feel like we are enough.

Sharing those gloss-free stories with each other creates a precious space where we can all be reminded that perfect mothering is impossible - and that trying our best, and failing, and getting up again every day is more than enough.

We are beautiful when we try. When we fail, when we're scared. When we cry, and when we smile. We're beautiful with the make-up, and even more beautiful without it.

Take that risk. Share your story. And know that whatever it is, you are more than enough. You are beautiful just as you are. Here, right now. 

 The more we take risks, and allow ourselves to be honest and vulnerable with each other - whether that's sharing our story of how we got here - admitting to a friend that we are struggling today, and we need some help -  or being prepared to stand in front of a magazine camera in borrowed underwear and unfamiliar clothes - the more we get out of this magical gift of life.

 Life is precious, and beautiful. And so are you.


Have you read the article in Good Housekeeping this month? We'd love to hear your thoughts, and your stories, in the comments below. Share your story with us.

To celebrate all that you do, and encourage you to take time yourself, we have some special offers for Good Housekeeping readers over at www.storyofmum.com/GHwelcome.

And welcome to Story of Mum if you haven't joined us before!

Join our next Mamas' Retreat on 29 November

Today's Mamas' Retreat was as much a retreat for me as it was for all the mamas there. Inspired and rejuvenated, we can't wait for the next one, so we're making tickets available already - scroll to the bottom of this post to get yours.

UPDATE: This event is sold out.

To be added to our waiting list, please email [email protected]. And sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear about our next retreats!

Join a Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum and Leif Olsen: 29 November 2015

September is the start of our shift from summer to autumn, from 'holidays' to a changed routine, and so our theme this session was change and constancy - creating, transforming, and letting go - while being reminded of what stays constant throughout.

It felt especially pertinent to me as this week has brought up so many different emotions - joy, loss and more (you can read about that over here). Our lovely morning today helped me to honour all of those feelings, to rest, and be nurtured, in a warm and supportive environment.

Which was pretty much exactly what I needed. 

Perhaps the most wonderful and transformative part was the opportunity, along with Leif, to support and nurture the lovely mothers who joined us. 

Thank you to all the women at the retreat today for your company, wisdom, bravery, and the chance to share your beautiful creations in these photos. 

We are all at different stages of parenthood, all struggling in some way as everyone does, and doing our best. And we all came together to acknowledge the challenges, the joys, and our shared need for this space of our own.

Today, the studio basked in sun, and the room was filled with the delicious smell of lavender, rosemary, flowers... and chocolate cake!

Join a Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum and Leif Olsen

Leif settled us into the retreat, and into our bodies, with some wonderful nurturing yoga.

Together, we focused on the breath, and gentle movement, letting go of all the busy thoughts and worries filling our heads.

We went from the yoga straight into free writing - writing whatever came into our heads, a stream-of-consciousness that no one ever need read again - but which slowly helps us to connect to our inner voice.

It was quiet, and it was also a day full of listening and laughter.

We rested, and we chatted with friends, new and old.

We ate delicious smoky sweet potato and lentil soup. Along with a very yummy chocolate and chick-pea gluten free cake served with creme fraiche. Oh my!

We made nature mandalas from fresh and dry flowers, from leaves and herbs - celebrating making something beautiful out of what we find in front of us in the moment, losing ourselves in the flow, and then letting it all go - knowing we will make something beautiful again soon.

We painted heart stones (with my very special new stone-writing pens!) - a take-away reminder of what stays constant and what matters most to us. 

It is a very precious time, this space for us.

This moment, where we remember that we matter too.

Where we connect with our inner voices and are reminded of our bravery, strength, and community.

It feels so very special to be surrounded by women ready to support each other, who understand the diverse challenges of motherhood, and who are taking the courageous step of a little time out.

Quite simply, it's magic.

Join a Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum and Leif Olsen

We'd love you to join us next time - on 29 November at Garbo House, Penzance.

The November retreat will be our last Mamas' Retreat of the year.

We'll take some time to reflect on the year so far; to pause and remember all that we've learnt and lost and won and treasured.

We'll nurture ourselves and gather the strength we need to rush into the busy-ness of December and all the excitement that brings.

We have a limited number of early bird tickets available - first come first served. So jump in and scroll down to book below if you would like to join us.

If you've never joined us before, that decision to buy yourself a ticket might feel a little scary at first. But jump on in. You desrve this. There's nothing to be frightened of. You're more than up to the task of spending time in a room full of lovely supportive women, with yourself.

It's time created for you - and you can choose what you'd like to do. As much or as little as you like.

Join a Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum and Leif Olsen

So if you don't want to try a yoga stretch, you don't have to. If you don't want to talk about anything personal, you don't have to.

If you truly want to spend the whole morning dozing on the sofa in the corner, you're more than welcome to do exactly that.

Still need to be persuaded...?This is about making time for you to do whatever feels good in the moment. Because you deserve and need it.

Why join us?

Because you'll finally take that time out you really need to reconnect with you, in the company of a lovely group of mums.

There's something about the energy of our Mamas' Retreats that is very special - these mornings always attract a group of warm brave thoughtful kind women - there is always laughter, and always a sense that we are here to support each other - with whatever we want to share, or not share.

Do and say as much or as little as you want - it's your retreat. There's no pressure to push yourself out of your comfort zone - we're just delighted that you're here, with us, making time for you.

Join a Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum and Leif Olsen

Each retreat brings a new and simple creative activity to inspire you (no skills required, glitter optional of course...), and some energising nurturing yoga with Leif (who just happens to be the best yoga teacher in the world...). 

You can chat to new friends over a delicious lunch, or enjoy the view from the balcony of the sea stretching endlessly away.

It's soul nurturing for mamas...

It's time for us.

It's time out. To breathe. To stretch.

To make. To be heard.  

You'll leave feeling supported, inspired, and ready to face whatever comes your way when you venture back into the big bold exhausting world of motherhood...!

But don't just take our word for it, here's some feedback from our recent Sunday Morning Mamas' Retreat attendees:

"I loved how genuinely happy everyone was to be there, the quiet, yoga without a baby crawling on or underneath me, the food, being listened to and heard for 5 minutes was amazing!"

Join a Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum and Leif Olsen

"It is rare, very rare, as a mum to find time for oneself, to give yourself the time and space, and permission, to open up, be honest and allow some magic to happen.

The mama's retreats led by Pippa and Leif provide a nurturing, safe, fun and creative environment for you to reconnect with you."

"A chance to relax, reflect and breathe away from the stress of juggling a busy job with a long commute and my family (and the guilt that as a consequence I'm a bit rubbish at both!)"

"The Mamas Retreat was an escape from motherhood for a couple of hours - a chance to reflect on the joy it brings, and a chance to give myself the space I needed to be myself. To acknowledge that when times are tough as a mum you are not alone."

"I left feeling rewarded with a relaxed state of mind and joyful, with the pleasurable experience of new friendships."

"It's so easy to say we don't have time to do relaxing things but it's more about prioritising some time for yourself without feeling guilty, and you will most definitely feel the benefits from a morning at the retreat."

"The mamas' retreat gave me a chance to connect with other mums, share hopes and fears and feel much more positive about taking care of myself and my family. I have found it hard to meet people since moving to the area and the mamas' retreat was one of the most welcoming and supportive groups I've been to."

Join a Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum and Leif Olsen"A friendly, creative space to have a good stretch, relax and share thoughts and ideas with other like-minded women."

"Loved sharing stories, and having time and respected space to say whatever is on your mind. I love that it is a place for creativity - encourages blooming!"

"It made me realise that I'm doing ok considering all that had actually occurred during the year. Also pure, uninterrupted yoga - such a joy and a real treat. I felt a million dollars afterwards!"

We'd love to see you there!

Tell me more!

No special skills or equipment required. You don’t need to be ‘creative’, or to have done yoga before. We'll provide the yoga mats, creative stimulation and the relaxation. You just need to bring yourself. 

We have a different theme and focus each retreat, and you're welcome to join us as often as you like. 

How many mamas will be there? Places are limited, so it won’t be a scarily big group – just a lovely comminity of mamas coming together to nurture ourselves and support each other. 

Join a Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum

We have some mums who come to almost every retreat, and others who come just once. Either is fine with us - it's always a warm and welcoming crowd, so don't be frightened of your first time.

Where? At Leif’s studio, Garbo House, Bread Street, Penzance

What about food? We’ll provide tea and a simple lunch. Cake is pretty much guaranteed...!

Let us know as soon as possible if you have any special dietary requirements when you book your ticket, and we’ll do our best to meet your needs!

When?  9.30 – 1.30, Sunday 29 November 2015

How much does it cost? £25 plus £4.50 for lunch (total: £29.50) 

A limited number of early bird tickets were available at a slightly reduced price and these have all now been sold.

Join a Mamas' Retreat with Story of Mum and Leif Olsen

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to buy your ticket.

NOTE: If you'd really like to come, but can't afford it, please do get in touch - we want as many mums as possible to have this experience and will do our best to make it happen at a price you can afford.

For terms and conditions, head over here.

Visit the Half Day Retreats page to find out more and hear from some MORE lovely mamas. They share a little bit more about what we do on a half day retreat, and why they love to come. 

When was the last time you did something to nurture YOU?

Don't miss out on this time for you - choose and buy your ticket by clicking on 'add to cart' 

UPDATE: This event is sold out.

To be added to our waiting list, please email [email protected]. And sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear about our next retreats!

... and if you can't make this one, how about letting us host a retreat for you, in the comfort of your own home (or somewhere tidier...)? You can find out more about our virtual retreat programme over here.

If you can't make this date and would love an in-person retreat of your own, get in touch with Pippa at [email protected], and we'll pull out all the stops to arrange something special just for you.

You can find out more about all the other retreats we offer over here.

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