One of my favourite discussions this week was about what we don't want to change about ourselves in 2017.
In January, I always feel I need an antidote to all the adverts and magazine campaigns that say we need to focus on all the things that are 'wrong' with us.
That make us feel like we aren't enough.
So this month's newsletter is my antidote to you.
You are enough.
You are beautiful.
You are defined by so much more than your physical dimensions.
You are not other people's opinions of you.
You are not the mistakes you have made.
You are not the names you call yourself when you are down.
Even on the days when all is lost, you are a force of love.
You have made a difference to others in ways you have never noticed, and may never know.
You have felt so deeply, overcome challenges, large and small, made magic happen.
In the face of gales, you have risen up again.
Again and again and again.
You deserve resilient joy and brave magic, faithful hope and ready love. This year and beyond.
If the new year brings renewed vitality to start moving forward, setting goals and making positive healthy changes, go with it.
Your striving and learning and adapting to change is one of the things that makes you so amazing.
And setting positive intentions can be an incredible motivator.
But making those goals achievable is often the hardest part (more about that in a future message...) so notice what feels truly possible for you right now. If a change is needed, what small change could you make?
And remember that being mean to ourselves about how we just aren't good enough rarely works long term. Plus, it feels horrible.
You don't need to do that.
If I've learnt anything from Kristin Neff's work on self compassion, and from parenting my two children, it's that you can motivate with love.
With a soft voice.
With appreciation for all the good that exists within you.
With acceptance of imperfection.
With a soft hand held as you walk towards more helpful choices.
Throughout 2016, the small change I've chosen to make is to practice trying to speak to myself as I would speak to my child, on a good day, when my patience and tantrum resilience is high. (Not all days are born equal, sadly..!.) Doing that feels pretty weird at first.
I still have days when I push myself to do too much. Or look in the mirror, hold the folds of my tummy or catch sight of the uneven shape of my thighs and grimace.
But when I notice I'm doing that, I catch myself, set myself straight again. And I look for the beauty in me.
I acknowledge the pain of feeling that way about myself, and I remind myself that so many other people feel that too.
That in fact, it connects us.
I picture the miracles my tummy has brought into the world.
I hear the sound of my 5 year old's delighted 'I love your squidgy' as she kneads me, and I try to appreciate my skin's soothing softness.
And then I turn my attention to something that I can love more easily - my eyes, my striping grey hair, the strength in my legs.
I think of the things that I love to do that make me feel stronger and healthier - yoga, dancing, eating well. And I congratulate myself for looking after me, and remind myself to keep on doing that.
The more I practice talking kindly to myself, guiding myself gently forward, the more natural it feels. It isn't easy, but it's worth the effort.
Because now I have more energy for taking action and making a loving difference in the world. I'm not wasting all that energy criticising myself.
I'm still moving forward.
Without a stick.
And I'm constantly reminding myself of all the things I don't want to change about myself.
So many of the mamas in the discussion I mentioned above said that they were happy with themselves, just as they are.
While still more were able to identify the things that they did well, beautifully describing how they want to continue to be in the world - in spite of challenges, and other people's opinions.
What don't you want to change about yourself in 2017?
Maybe it's the immense love you have for your kids, how you've supported your friends this year, the way you always smile at the silliest of jokes, your twinkly eyes, your soft hands... There are so many things about you that are already special.
Take a moment to remind yourself of what they are. And write those things down.
If you're not into Facebook, you could email me to let me know your answers.
Because there is magic in writing it down. Somehow it sits in your brain a little deeper.
And because I would love to hear from you.
Here are just a few of the responses that so inspired me this week:
"I think this is the first time in my life I can honestly say I don't want to change anything about myself, just want to keep up the good habits I've learned in the last year or so, particularly acceptance, of myself, my limitations, and of things I can't control. If I can help this feeling spread to others I will be a very happy bunny indeed!" Giselle
"I don't want to change my ever deepening awareness and commitment to love and compassion in real, practical ways while also meeting whatever raw emotions arise, just as they are, without trying to hide, fade, dampen or fix them. I don't want to change me as I'm coming to know myself to be, at all really." Amy
"I don't want to change the passion i have towards my life and the people i love ....that passion always gives the strength to keep going" Tamara
"I don't want to stop talking to people in London the way you do in Ireland/smaller communities - making eye contact, chatting in lines, ....even if every third person thinks you are insane!!" Nicola
I can't include all the beautiful responses here, so head to Mamas' Everyday Retreat to read more.
And the small change I do want to make in 2017?
More time spent celebrating what I don't want to change about me. Along with more gentle self compassion as I stretch into my vulnerability, and strive to be braver, and bigger and brighter in the world.
If you still feel that you need to change everything about yourself in order to be worthy of love and belonging, start small.
Start with the fact that you got up this morning. That you faced the day, however messily. You faced it. You made time for yourself to sit and read this reminder of the beauty within you. And we are sending you love, for who you are right now, Pippip.
More encouragement to take care of yourself well:
Because it's the perfect package of support to create a realistic compassionate mama-supporting plan for 2017 (naturally!), we're making our limited edition Enough: A Self Care Package available until the end of January.
It includes our Mini Self Care Coaching Package (our self care questionnaire, a 30 minute one to one session, a guided meditation, and a follow up love and accountability email), our Five A Day e-course, a stainless steel “enough” cuff, body butter and balms skincare set, and Mama Me-Time Voucher. It costs £79 (value: £118.50)
We'll also be revisiting our popular Five A Day and Mamas' Mini Sofa Retreat ecourses in February.
(We're timing that to pop up just as you need another reminder to stay connected to what you really need and want this year, hopefully! So look out for more info on these soon...)
Here are some dates for your diary:
Wednesday 18 January - #somum Party in Mamas' Everyday Retreat, 8.30pm - 10pm.
Sunday 22 January - Sunday Morning Mamas' Retreat (sold out)
Monday 6 to 10 February - Five A Day (group programme)
Monday 27 February to Friday 3 March - Mamas Mini Sofa Retreat (including our live virtual retreat party on 3 March!)
Sunday 12 March - Sunday Morning Mamas' Retreat (tickets available end of January)
Some time between 20 and 24 March - only a brief unicorn glimpse of an idea right now - a possible day/residential retreat, as yet unconfirmed, so...
A quick question?
We might be able to access our favourite venue for some residential and day retreats in Prussia Cove, Cornwall between 20 and 24 March...
Do you think you might be interested in joining us there during that week? If so, please let me know in this group poll or with a quick reply to this email as soon as you can, as that will affect whether it happens!
(To give you an idea of how lovely that might be, this is what we did in the same beautiful venue last year...)
A last thought
Striving to do our best and climb the mountain ahead, step by realistic step, is a vital, challenging and exhilarating part of our lives.
And so is pausing to look back and celebrate how far we have already come.
Stop for a minute. Have a nice picnic.
Look for the beauty in you. Because you are already so very beautiful.
Much love, wise and joyful antidotes, and reminders that your needs matter,
Pippa and Penny
PS Remember - if you'd like support to put taking care of your needs at the heart of how you step into 2017, you can sign up for Enough: A Self Care Package in January xx