When labels hurt

I feel I always start posts by saying this is painful or difficult! Much of our journeys are littered with difficult situations, painful treatment, hard decisions and loss. The loss is what binds anyone who falls under the banner of childless. To the outside world that term might seem relatively simple. Within our community, it can be fraught with misunderstandings and argument and I find myself witness to disagreements. 

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A superhero mission this Mother's Day.

At the time of writing, it has been seven hours since the first post to Morrisons and no reply. The social team, who are available 8am to 11pm, are more interested in comments on their cauliflowers. So me, Mr Walk In Our Shoes, has been on a super hero mission....

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Walk In Our Shoes, World Childless Week and a new look blog page!

The Walk In Our Shoes website has been so helpful this past week but for an entirely different reason to the ones you'd expect!

I've been working with Steph Phillips on World Childless Week. As you may remember, I wrote lots of posts and interviewed a number of Walk In Our Shoes supporters for the first World Childless Week last year and I was proud to support Steph on this venture....

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Clem's Garden

I met Vicky through the Walking Forward Inspiration Network and I was moved to find out more about the project she has created called Clem's Garden. Here she explains the story behind the garden.

"It's an obvious question and one we get asked a lot. Clem is the Christmas baby me and Dunc never got to meet. (S)he took a wrong turning and grew outside the womb... the flower that just rooted in the wrong place.

1 in 5 people over the age of 50 are childless - what a huge pool of care, creativity and experience that represents.  More often than not, people find themselves without families of their own because of the lotteries of life and biology rather than because of any active decision they made not to have kids. 

Everybody's story is different - people lose their children, families become estranged, or the opportunity to become a mum or dad just doesn't come along.

Childlessness is one of those subjects that just doesn't get talked about - it's personal, it's hard to know what to say, it's easier to gloss over.  And life moves on.....but we know through our own experiences that when the world is full of families, there are times when not having a family of your own isn’t easy; and it can be lonely, however strong and resourceful you are.

So we decided to create something.

We’re creating an alternative place for all that care, knowledge and talent to go to really good use. 

An alternative place to find a role and be part of a team. 

A place to share skills and experience.

A place to help shape our community with kindness.

Clem's Garden stretches to about an acre and sits in the grounds of a beautiful Arts and Crafts building called Briarcourt in Lindley.

Kirklees Council used to own the site and landscaped the garden so that it could be used by people with different levels of physical ability who attended their day centre.  There's a car park, outdoor loos, and two great polytunnels, as well as step-free access throughout.

When we 'adopted' Briarcourt after losing Clem, the garden had been left to go completely wild for a number of years, but the potential for it to be put to a shared use again was obvious.

With the help of many wonderful individuals and businesses who support our vision for Clem's Garden, we've been working to tame and transform the site into a proper commercial flower-growing plot.

As well as clearing loads of brambles and sedge, we've re-skinned the tattered polytunnels, built composting boxes, and are currently constructing raised beds, which are being filled with 200 tonnes of topsoil and compost!  One day, we hope to build a really fabulous potting shed too."

To get involved please follow Clem's Garden online or, if you're in the area, pop in and lend a hand. 

Childless Hour

Childless Hour has a new page on Walk In Our Shoes! If you'd love to join a weekly chat with those who simply 'get it', where you can share those life challenges that others may not understand and get some support in handling them, then please do join us. We love new faces and you don't have to be a Twitter expert to take part, in fact we think #childlesshour is a great place to learn as we're so friendly! We have weekly themes and also lots of time for general, freestyle chat to share our concerns and high-five those successes too.

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A look back

In between watching the Muppets Christmas Carol and having a sob at the Snowman and The Snow Dog, I put together a small video and though I'd share it here with you.

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Happy post Christmas!

It was only as I posted about my Christmas in the closed community of Gateway Women that I realised how I have started to take ownership of Christmas. We've once again spent the week by the seaside, this hasn't always worked for me but I did a few things that helped and I wanted to share them here.

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Robert's Christmas

Do you remember Robert?  His story was one of the most popular that I have published and I had a lot of lovely email and comments on social media. I took Molly, my dog, to meet Robert a few weeks ago and we chatted about the impact of his piece and how he was keeping. He wanted to share more about his latest plans.

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Wishing you a peaceful Christmas

I send thanks and love wherever you are for your support this year. If you've read a post, talked to me on Twitter on @ChildlessHour (which is running on Boxing Day if you'd like to join us) or Facebook, joined the Walking Forward Inspiration Network then you've made a difference to me. Thank you! 

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Boden: Wear it like a mum.

Boden have a campaign going at the moment. It's called 'Wear It Like a Mum'. The messaging is '...as in on your own terms, in your way, how YOU like. Your style, and how you wear it, is something to be championed - because being a mum is title to be proud of.'  Ouch! 

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Happy healthy entrepreneur

I am still around! It's been a very busy week with lots of really nice comments coming in following the Cambridge Digital Awards and helping World Childless Week with the 2018 branding and The Childless Not By Choice magazine with design advice. I've also set up an exhibition related to my postgraduate degree and ran a book launch! Thankfully life is a bit quieter now and I'm busy back to printmaking and going to life drawing sessions which I am loving so much. Now cast your mind back to the lighter days of September. I spoke with a very inspiring business owner, Sarah Swanton during this month. She's the #happyhealthyentrepreneur

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