How are you? Can you find five minutes to rest and sit with our monthly love letter to you?
This month's creative activity will apparently make you feel 100% happier all day*, which of course aligns perfectly with Story of Mum's mission to make mums happier - so you won't want to miss that ;)
Speaking of which, we'll also be reminding you why your happiness is so important to us this month...
What are we up to this month?
First of all, we'd like to inspire you to make a simple Nature Mandala...
Gathering together a huge pile of fresh and dried flowers, we made these at our last Sunday Morning Mamas' Retreat, and then again at a lovely virtual Mamas' Retreat last month, and it was wonderful!
It's such a peaceful thing to do, and the results are always beautiful.
Mandalas remind us of our place in the life cycle, our impact on the world as it continuously turns around us. Each nature mandala is a precious opportunity to celebrate 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. A bit like parenting...
(And if you're wondering how we're all doing after last month's newsletter, my daughter is settling in well at school. I'm slowly getting used to this new phase, and living for every moment that she runs and jumps into my arms when I pick her up at the end of the day...)
We made our nature mandalas from fresh and dry flowers, from leaves and herbs, but you could make your own from anything you find around - stones, feathers, conkers - whatever is seasonal or easy to find!
Inspired by our retreat, one lovely mum even made a mandala out of her leftover vegetables when she got home - see if you can spot it in the gallery!
Thanks to the lovely mamas who made the mandalas you see here.
*Why will this month's activity make you so much happier? Well, a reputable gardener friend told me that receiving flowers in the morning will apparently, statistically speaking, make you 100% happier all day, so I reckon this applies to any flowers we give ourselves too.
I definitely feel a lot happier after I've made a flower mandala, and so did all the mums at our retreats. So with statistics like that, it has to be worth giving it a go!
Bring your bunch of flowers 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).
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.
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
We'll make nature mandalas together and talk about being in the flow and letting go... and we'd love to see you and your happy mandalas there.
What else is new?
Next week I graduate from the School for Social Entrepreneurs! I've had a wonderful time over the course of this year there (it's only part-time, I'm not superwoman), making new friends, learning new things, and most important of all, exploring how to build Story of Mum into a social enterprise.
Here I am with my fellow SSE participants having a group hug - and if you can't spot me, that's because I'm comfortably squashed between the two friendly giants on the right :)
Having gone through the programme, our big dream for Story of Mum is gently growing into a beautiful seedling and we hope it will start to bloom soon.
What's the big dream? We want Story of Mum to grow into a social enterprise that can reinvest money it makes into supporting more mums - taking what we do to those who most need it, and supporting other initiatives that can help mothers around the world.
I'm so excited to reveal all of our ideas about how we might be able to do this together over the coming months...! But right now, I just want to remind you why we're here - and why we're so grateful that you are here with us.
As mothers, we have the power to change the world - but we don't often feel that power. Often, we feel just the opposite.
If we're lucky, we still know we have the power to hold our kids in our arms and soothe them when they need us.
But we easily forget that our love - those powerful arms, holding our children - are shaping the future for everyone.
The love we pass on to our children will impact not just on them, but on all they meet as they make their own way in the world - influenced by us, but without us.
And in this way, every day, we play a vital role in shaping the next generation - doing our best to ensure that they're safe and fed, that they grow strong and healthy, and that they learn how to be compassionate, joyful, generous and kind. We demonstrate all of this by trying to become the very best people that we can be.
Despite this immense and love-filled effort, we're rarely made to feel that this contribution is important, or that those around us value what we do.
We know in our hearts that motherhood is hard, exhilarating, life-changing work. Where else can you learn so much about yourself and those you love?
It's a constant learning journey, the ultimate university of life. But there's no training, no how-to manual that could possibly serve every individual's experiences.
There are no regular support groups or personal development career targets to meet. We receive very little support as mothers.
It's us, on our own, doing our best in the moment. Over and over again.
And often, we feel like we're failing.
We fail to see that we're succeeding in so many amazing ways - and that if we just took a little bit of time out to nurture ourselves, to connect with who we are, our stories, and what we deeply need, we would be capable of so much more.
It would all feel easier, and more joyful - and those insurmountable challenges would become more manageable.
We would stay calm when we want to be calm, clear-thinking when we need to act, and brave in the moments that test our love to its core.
We need to be nurtured because we are the heart of our families - and if we feel strong and happy, our families feel strong and happy.
The happier we are as families, the more we are able to support our communities.
And as our communities grow stronger, the more we can come together to create a kinder, fairer, happier world. And we need that. So much. For ourselves. For our children. And for everyone's children.
We understand the importance of this deeply and instinctively as mothers.
And yet we're mostly so over-stretched and under-supported that we don't have the energy to see beyond the immediate life crises we have to tackle each day. We barely have the energy to see ourselves. And we forget how much we matter at the heart of all of this.
We forget that we need to look after ourselves so that we can gently become the pivots on which a kinder warmer world can turn. Through our mothering, and through the many other ways in which we contribute to the world.
We forget that already, every loving action we take, every single day, is having a positive impact on the world.
We want to ensure that you don't forget how important that is. How important you are.
We hope that Story of Mum is a precious space in which to see yourself again, to be reminded to nurture yourself, and start to hear yourself think - a rare opportunity to connect with your incredible intuition (which funnily enough is kind of the same as that how-to motherhood manual we've been dreaming of...).
Because we want mothers, we want you, to feel happier, more resilient, creative, valued and vital. Because you are.
All of our creative activities, the encouragement and inspiration we share in our newsletters, on twitter, facebook, pinterest and instagram; our Mamas' Retreats, and our one to one sessions stem from our desire to hold this precious space where YOU can be nurtured.
A space where you can reconnect with your own needs, away from all the other calls on your attention and time. A space that you will leave again, feeling rested, revitalised, and reminded of your strengths.
Because we deeply believe that you matter, and that all the love and energy that you give, all the secret weeping and getting-up-smiling-from-failures, the sleepless nights, and the deep breaths that get you through, are worth everything.
We believe that together we can change the world for the better with our huge mama hearts. And we know that you already are - please see it, believe it, and nurture yourself. Thank you for all that you do.
What happened last month?
We had a really lovely Mamas' Retreat, and we made mini journals on twitter. I've been busily filling in my mini "rest", "joy" and "big dreams" journals - and it continues to make a huge difference to how I feel and how I see my day.
Our virtual retreats have been working wonderfully so far too! If you're one of those mums who have been wondering what on earth a virtual retreat is, you're not alone - it sounds like such an unlikely idea! Somehow we think that we need to be in a spa, or by the sea miles away from everyone to truly retreat...
But it turns out that it really is possible to retreat in your own home, or a friend's home, and for it to feel like a true escape full of deep nurturing, connection and joy. Via the magic of the postal service, email, the internet and skype, groups of mums can come together to try creative activities, yoga, guided meditations, and revitalising one to one sessions that remind you of everything we talk about above.
All you have to do is bring some mums together and we'll organise the rest. Find out more about how to book your own over here.
And if it still sounds too unlikely, here's some lovely feedback from mums at our most recent Nurture at Home retreat:
"I truly enjoyed our special time at our virtual retreat, it really allowed me to take stock , relax and catch up with lovely friends - and having my sessions with Pippa really helped me to reassess things.” Lisa
"The virtual Mamas' Retreat was such a fantastic way to spend time with friends, it was perfectly paced with plenty of time to chat and catch-up. There was no pressure and it was a very supportive environment. At the end we all had a real sense of achievement at having created something beautiful and also lots to think about. We have all been inspired since completing the retreat, we feel energised and reassured that we're doing a good job. I would recommend it to anyone!" Claire
Thank you so much for being here with us on this journey to remind mums how valued and valuable you are.
Please share what we're doing with the mums that you love - forward this email, tell them about the website or the #somum twitter retreats - and most importantly of all, tell them that you love and appreciate them.
We are all making a difference. Every single day. Every breath. Every tear. Every time we reach out and hold our children close.
With love, love and more love,
Pippa and Penny
PS A virtual retreat awaits you over here...