Writing for Wellbeing with Words That Heart.
For a long time at MTL we have understood the benefits of using creativity as an outlet for the myriad of emotions that involuntary childlessness brings. Creativity can be key in the exploration of grief, low self-esteem and social isolation.
Meriel Whale, a specialist childless counsellor, and Annie Kirby, an award-winning writer, have partnered to offer writing for wellbeing workshops. Using funding from the Arts Council England, they have applied their own experience and unique skill set to create Words That Heart workshop sessions:
“Both of us have found writing incredibly valuable in helping us heal and come to terms with childlessness. Through Words That Heart we hope to be able to support other childless-not-by-choice people to write, in a safe and supportive environment.”
The workshops, which will be suitable for writers of all levels, are currently being revised to be available online and full details can be found on the website.
‘Marking our Full Stop’ by Berenice Smith, Sarah Lawrence and Michael Hughes
What happens when three individuals with passionate views about their involuntary childlessness come together? In this webinar Michael Hughes, Sarah Lawrence and Berenice Smith explain why they pooled their collective talents to reach out to others. Their successful podcast series, The Full Stop Podcast, is funny, relatable and supports so many from the cnbc community. Hear how their vision became both a reality and gave enhanced meaning to their lives, both collectively and individually. Through sharing they hope to inspire others facing similar childless journeys to transform their ideas and passions into exciting ventures too.
‘How to be Amazingly Happy!’ By Victoria Firth
Join us for this More to Life webinar with a difference. Victoria Firth will be reading an extract from her 2018 Edinburgh Festival Solo Show ‘How to be Amazingly Happy!’ Let Victoria take you on an exploration of the feelings/behaviours that surface when trying to cope with disappointment of losing your expected life pathway of parenthood.Victoria is a Yorkshire based theatre-maker who had created a show about involuntary childlessness based on her own experience. She will be available to answer questions on the feelings explored after the reading has finished.
Visit www.victoriafirth.co.uk for further information.
Coping with Holiday Expectations by Jody Day
Throughout the year we feel pulled by others’ expectations to participate in family and social events but during the holiday season, this can be painfully heightened. In this webinar, Jody Day brings her expertise on how to manage your own (and other people’s) expectations, to realistically assess what you can cope with this year and to begin to find manageable ways to #ReclaimXmas for yourself either this year, or in the years to come.
Jody is a psychotherapist and highly acclaimed author and TEDx speaker well-known for articulating the challenges that childless women (and couples) face in today’s family-focused society. Her celebrated global organisation, Gateway Women, has helped countless women move towards a renewed fulfilment in life. Having worked with thousands of women individually, and many more online, Jody has a wealth of experience to share on navigating the holidays with grace whilst under pressure.
‘Our MTL Self-help Guide’ by Beth Rowbottom
It has been a year since the Finding More to Life Self-help Guide, which was put together by Cardiff University and Fertility Network UK, was first launched on our MTL website. This webinar first explains how this guide has been created to provide support for those who have been unable to achieve the family they desire, by offering an activity-based step-by-step journey towards creating a fulfilling life beyond pain and grief. Beth will then share her findings from a robust study, carried out to understand how people are using the guide and how helpful they find it, with a view to further develop it. This webinar highlights the impact of unmet parenthood goals on mental health as part of our National Fertility Awareness Week.
Beth Rowbottom is a PhD Student at the School of Psychology, Cardiff University. She holds a master’s degree in reproductive science and has worked in a UK fertility clinic and in the policy team at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). These roles developed her passion for patient-centred care and led to her current research. Her PhD project aims to develop a psychological intervention, based on extensive research, to support those who have been unable to achieve the family they desire, whether through infertility or circumstance. She hopes that her research will help individuals who are faced with this challenge and increase awareness about the experience of undesired childlessness and its negative impact on mental health.
MTL/World Childless Week Collaboration – The Importance of Sharing Stories by Lorna Gibb and Kate Kaufmann
Sharing stories about childlessness can be an important step in the healing process, opening the way to an honest exploration of a fulfilled existence without the children once hoped for. In this webinar, a collaboration between More to Life and World Childless Week – the first of many WCW webinars during this event, two authors will share unique perspectives that they have gained through writing about the stories of others living childless lives. Both will give a short presentation before answering and then questions can be submitted anonymously
Lorna Gibb was born in Scotland and is a prize winning author and part time university lecturer. Her latest book Childless Voices, (Granta 2019) combines memoir of her own childlessness and endometriosis with global portraits and stories of men and women around the world.
Kate Kaufmann who lives in Portland, Oregon realised her childless life would never be the same when she ceased fertility treatment, quit her corporate job and relocated to a rural community to raise sheep. Since 2012 Kate has talked intimately with hundreds of women who don’t have children about how their lives differ from societal norms and expectations. Her book Do you have kids? Life when the answer is no, a practical guide to what life without children can entail, shares the ongoing impact not having children has had on their lives.
World Childless Week starts on September 16th. More information can be found at www.worldchildlessweek.net
World Childless Week by Stephanie Phillips
Stephanie Phillips grew up surrounded by family and expected to be a mum herself one day. Circumstances meant her dream didn’t come true when the reality of childlessness hit at the age of thirty nine. For several years she hid her grief and buried her emotions until coming across an online support group. Amongst strangers she found friends and started to unlock the grief she held inside.
As time went by she had an idea to create a week specifically for the childless not by choice and shared her thoughts quietly with several childless friends. Their enthusiasm spurred her on and on the 31st July 2017 she announced the first World Childless Week would take place that September.
Stephanie is passionate about helping people find support quicker and raising awareness of the childless community. In this webinar she will share some of her story alongside the daily topics for this year’s World Childless Week, the additional events taking place and how you can get involved.
‘Happily Ever After: Challenging the Fairytale Narrative’ by Shannon Vandermark
Originally a native of Detroit, Michigan, Shannon has had a long career as a TV producer, starting off in LA then moving to London in 2006 to be with Robin, her English boyfriend at the time, husband now. After experiencing years of infertility as well as pregnancy loss, Shannon started a local support group for women who were childless not by choice.
Following a positive reception of her support group, Shannon soon realised the wider childless not by choice community deserved something more. In June of 2018, Shannon launched The Happily Ever After (Without Children!) podcast. This show features interviews with men and women who for whatever reason have ended up without children of their own and have found happiness alongside the grief.
In this webinar, Shannon will discuss the journey to find her happy ever after and how creating the podcast has offered a surprising amount of healing to herself as well as her audience. She will also express the need to change narratives that have been driving many of us up until now. Narratives sparked by questions such as ‘Are you seeing someone special?’ or ‘When are you two trying the knot!?’ or the ghastly ‘Do you have children?’ Shannon will take these narratives and turn them on their heads; offering strategies to be more sensitive in conversations and to help field difficult questions from others.
‘It’s Good To Talk’ by Rod Silvers
Former market stallholder and stand-up comic Rod Silvers has written plays and sketches for the Edinburgh Fringe, BBC Radio and is soon to publish his first novel. Last year he finished a run of his comedy play Terry and Jude exploring the lives of 2 single, older, childless men. The story was inspired by his 2011 film England Expects; following one man’s journey of IVF, which he also wrote and Co-Produced. As an actor he has appeared in TV and films such as Agent Cody Banks 2, The Infidel and Namastay 2. He recently played Bottom in A Midsummer Nights Dream for the Infinite Jest Theatre Company and has not long arrived back from Sri Lanka after filming The Good Karma Hospital for ITV.
This webinar is good for both men and women to hear as it will explore the general communication and processing difficulties that men may face. Rod will give a narrative about childlessness from the male perspective and how he dealt with the consequences. He feels passionately that men are often over-looked and that society needs to change the way it responds to childless men as a modern life issue. Rod will share salient points from his own past experiences, where this has left him and how he faces the future.
‘Gaining Fresh Perspectives’ by Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a 1:1 personal development coach who uses her own experience of childlessness and fertility issues to empower others to reach acceptance in their childless lives. Her strong background in corporate HR, (from her previous working life), in conjunction with her coaching toolkit, now provides a solid understanding and methodology of the thinking required when creating new realities.
In this webinar, Sarah aims to provide practical steps that can be used to move closer towards creating bespoke and rewarding life pathways. When applied, these steps can help to overcome the seemingly insurmountable disappointment that comes with facing the future without children. Join us to hear about the effective steps that can create such positive change.
For more information visit www.sarahellislifefitness.co.uk
‘Through the Ups and Downs’ by Brandi Lytle and Nicci Fletcher
Brandi Lytle and Nicci Fletcher’s strong friendship is bound by their mutual understanding of each other’s involuntary childlessness and the challenges this brings. They support each other through personal ups and downs, whilst offering wider support and understanding to others in the childless community; Brandi writes the weekly blog ‘Not So Mommy…’ and Nicci creates the ‘Childless Not By Choice Magazine’ and ‘Canbace Life’ website in her capacity as a qualified life coach.
In this webinar, Nicci and Brandi will share their fertility stories, respective recent struggles and the all-important coping strategies they have used to get back up when their childless status has brought a deeper intensity to their downs. The warmth of their friendship will be evident as they share their recent lows, which are redolent of the everyday challenges that so many others encounter alongside childlessness. Nicci and Brandi will also offer support by demonstrating a simple technique that can be used to anchor an action to a positive emotion. This can avert the destructive impact of everyday triggers which so often send emotional wellbeing into a downward spiral.
There’s More to Life Than Children by Jessica Hepburn and Gabby Vautier
Watch this webinar here
This April the Barbican will become an arts festival dedicated to fertility, infertility, reproductive science and modern families. Fertility Fest 2019 will include a whole day to support those considering or living a life without children featuring artists and experts in performance and discussion. This unique event in the fertility calendar has been described as walking into a huge hug where everyone around you understands and cares.
Since co-founding this event, Jessica Hepburn and Gabby Vautier have witnessed their initial vision grow to the month long Fest, the third and longest yet. Jessica is already well known to the More to Life community. She is a passionate campaigner for fertility education and author of two books which chronicle how she coped with different stages of her own struggle. Both her and Gabby, a theatre producer, have pooled their professional background, experience and connections in the arts to make this a very special event.
Join us for this webinar as they share how their personal fertility issues have shaped their productive partnership. They will share their hopes for the day and explain why the ‘More To Life Than Children’ event on Saturday 27th April deserves such prominence. They will also encourage open questions and describe the musicians, actors and experts that will feature.
For more information visit www.fertilityfest.com
Walk In Our Shoes by Berenice Smith
Watch this webinar here
Berenice is a creative designer who runs a design agency. She founded the website www.walkinourshoes.net whilst studying and practicing design for social change during a Masters degree in Graphic Design and Typography. Berenice speaks about her own story of childlessness at networking and business events and academic workshops. She shares the background to Walk In Our Shoes to wider demographics to enable those within and outside childlessness not by choice to learn about stories from real people.Berenice is a proud World Childless Week Champion and designer of the WCW logo and website.
In this More to Life Webinar, Berenice will explain how storytelling and creative practice has helped her, and continues to provide her with support through her childlessness. She will explain how Walk In Our Shoes has impacted on those who wrote for the site and people who have read the stories. She’ll also explain how you can get involved and some ideas on how to develop a creative practice of your own. Bring pen, paper and curiosity and a nice pair of shoes!
Me and the MAWFIA: Men Ageing Without Family: Invisible and Alienated by Robin Hadley
Robin Hadley is an Independent Researcher who specialises on male childlessness and ageing and is passionate about raising awareness of the impact of male involuntary childlessness. His counselling and own experience led him to self-fund his MA and MSc on the desire for fatherhood and the levels of desire for parenthood in childless people and parents. His PhD examined the impact of involuntarily childlessness on the lives of older men. He is also a founder member of the campaign group Ageing Without Children. Recently he collaborated on a research project with Dr John Barry (University College London) and Cloe Newby (Male Psychology Network) on the impact of early years’ experience and childlessness in later life.
In this webinar, Robin will talk about his own experience of ‘male broodiness’ and also draw on his research on ‘male involuntary childlessness.’ Robin will explore the different factors that impact on childlessness and address why men find it difficult to talk about their emotions.
Find out more about Robin at http://www.robinhadley.co.uk/
Scroll down for recordings of 2018 Webinars
Writing for Wellbeing by Deborah Sloan
Deborah is a fertility counsellor, creative writing facilitator and childlessness blogger at www.withoutissue.live. She runs support groups and creative writing workshops for people living with fertility issues, those who are living with dementia and adults who are in recovery from addiction. She believes that creative techniques can be powerful tools in the process of self-discovery and in the healing from the effects of loss and grief. In her ‘Write to Create’ workshops she employs playful, thought-provoking techniques and activities that lead participants towards the catharsis of self-expression and the mutual support found in the sharing of their writing.
In this More to Life Webinar, Deborah will describe how both keeping a journal and reading and writing poetry helped, and continues to help, her through the grief of childlessness. She will give an overview of some of the material and creative writing techniques she uses in the “Write to Create’ support workshops she runs for people who are navigating feelings of loss and grief associated with their childlessness. She will invite you to take part in one or two non-obligatory activities, should you wish to get first-hand experience. You do not need any prior experience of poetry, writing or creative pursuits. All you need to bring to the Webinar is a pen and some paper (optional), your curiosity and a willingness to engage with a little of your innate playfulness and creativity.
Find out more about Deborah at www.withoutissue.live
Adjusting To Your Unmet Desire For Children: Lessons from Psychological Research by Sofia Gameiro
Sofia Gameiro is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology, Cardiff University. She has degrees in Mathematics – Computer Science and Clinical Psychology and a PhD in Health Psychology. Sofia has been conducting research on the psychosocial aspects of infertility for over ten years.
Her mission is to promote patient wellbeing and quality of life through and after fertility treatment and to ensure that infertility psychosocial care is evidence-based. She coordinated the development of the European (ESHRE) Guidelines for Routine Psychosocial Care in Infertility and Assisted Reproduction.
In this webinar – Sofia will be presenting the results of multiple research studies conducted with more than 10,000 people, focusing on how women and men adjust in the aftermath of infertility treatment or, more generally, when they realize they will not be able to have the children they wish to have. She will describe people’s experience of confronting this painful life event and reflecting on the things that help them better adjust to the situation and overcome it with a renewed sense of hope towards the future.
Can You Find Joy Beyond Childlessness? By Lesley Pyne
Lesley Pyne has been supporting childless women for many years. She is a passionate supporter of More to Life and a former Trustee for Fertility Network UK. In her recently published book, ‘Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories To Guide You To A Fulfilling Life,’ she drew on her experience as a trained NLP Master Practitioner and coach.
Lesley believes passionately that it is possible to have a fulfilling life as a childless woman. She is childless herself following 6 unsuccessful IVF treatments and has lost both parents yet is determined to make the most of the gifts that life brings. In this webinar Lesley will explore how it is possible to find joy beyond childlessness. She will examine the ways you might be holding yourself back and teach you how to change them. She’ll talk through how reading the stories of other women inspired her on her journey and the key things she learned about herself along the way. She will share some techniques she found most useful and will invite you to take part in one or two non-obligatory activities. All you need is a pen and paper and a willingness to be open to the possibility of change.
Find out more about Lesley at www.LesleyPyne.co.uk
Does Motherhood Make you Happy by Jessica Hepburn
Jessica Hepburn has become one of the UK’s leading patient voices on fertility and infertility. Having been through eleven rounds of unsuccessful IVF she is the author of two books The Pursuit of Motherhood and 21 Miles: swimming in search of the meaning of motherhood. She is also Director of Fertility Fest, the world’s first arts festival dedicated to fertility, infertility, modern families and the science of making babies.
In this webinar – Jessica will be exploring the central question of her new book – does motherhood actually make you happy? She’ll be talking about the quest she went on to find out whether she needed to find some way of becoming mother or whether she could have a fulfilling life without children. And she’ll be disclosing some of the wisdom she learnt from the 21 famous women she met for the book and what she has now concluded is the key to life fulfilment – including how maybe it’s possible to still be a mother if you’re childless.
For out more about Jessica at www.jessicahepburn.com
Childless Not By Choice Magazine by Nicci Fletcher
Nicci Fletcher wrote her first book when she was five. She’s a qualified life coach, mentor and business analysis trainer. In December 2017 she and her husband started the world’s first magazine for the Childless Not By Choice community.
In August 2018 it will be one year since Nicci’s world changed dramatically. She had been really struggling with lack of self-confidence and self-worth feeling that her “mojo” had fled to the moon years ago, perhaps never to be seen again. Everything changed when she discovered that she could not only write about her infertility story, she could share that story via video too. As she ditched the painful CNBC security blanket, and started to find a purpose in life, Nicci offered to help Stephanie Phillips with the enormous task of coordinating World Childless Week. By the middle of the week Nicci knew that it was going to be a huge success. She began to think of ways in which the support and sense of community developing during World Childless Week could be extended throughout the year. Two months later the first issue of The Childless Not By Choice Magazine was published.
World Childless Week by Stephanie Phillips
Stephanie Phillips is passionate about raising awareness for the childless not by choice and created World Childless Week in September in 2017 after realising there was no global week recognising the community. Steph lives in Worcestershire with her husband and is presently writing a self-help book about being childless not by choice after researching the thoughts and emotions of over two-hundred women.
During the webinar Steph will talk about setting up WCW in 2017 and about the events for WCW 2018 – hopefully you will get involved too.
Find out information about World Childless Week.
Cancer and Infertility by Emily Hodge
Emily is an Ex NHS health psychology specialist and coach. She supports people to move forward from cancer and lead gentle lives. A cancer survivor with her own infertility story she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in understanding the complexities of these two life traumas.
This webinar Coping with both cancer and fertility. It will be an opportunity to discuss managing emotions – anger, guilt, jealousy and overwhelm – and to look at strategies to move forward with compassion, calm and focus.
Find out more about Emily at www.coachingemily.com
Living a Peaceful Life by Rosalind Bubb
Rosalind is an experienced therapist who has had 12 miscarriages and no children. In spite of this, she is in the unusual position of being very happy, peaceful and well, and she now supports anybody who has experienced miscarriage or childlessness, to help them to feel happier and more peaceful too.
It’s not commonly known about, but there are ways to change the way you feel, no matter how you reached the point that you’re at in your life now, and in this webinar Rosalind will be talking about the two techniques which she uses with the people she supports.
Join Rosalind to discover her 6 Step Plan for being happy and peaceful after childlessness. And learn more about EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques, commonly known as “tapping”) and TAT (Tapas Acupressure Technique) and how you can use them for yourself, to change the way you feel.
Living Your Life to the Full by Russell Davis
Russell is a performance and mind coach, helping people find clarity of mind which leads to greater wellbeing, bigger results and clearer purpose. Russell has personal experience of infertility and helps people find flow in their life.
As we head into Spring Russell will be looking at ways to refind your passion for life. How do you find your mojo for life when you’ve lost it? How do you get clarity on what you want in life when you can’t have the thing to you want? When I got my fertility result and it seemed all was lost, there wasn’t any chance of us having a child and that triggered a personal journey of becoming aware of and letting go of my own limiting beliefs and victim mentality. I realised I wasn’t happy in life. I had no idea what I really wanted to create with my life. I now live a life I love, doing what I love and feel a purpose. I help others do the same.
Find out more about Russell at www.russell-davis.co.uk
Planning for Ageing Without Children by Kirsty Woodard
Kirsty has over 23 years working with and for older people, from managing healthy living centres for older people to working with Age Concern England (now Age UK) on social care policy and service development models.
In 2014 Kirsty founded Ageing With Children (AWOC), dedicated to campaigning for older people without children through choice, circumstance, infertility, bereavement, estrangement, distance. There are already 1 million people over 65 in the UK who have never been parents but they are almost entirely ignored in debates and discussions on ageing. Ageing without Children campaigns for recognition of the issues affecting people ageing without children and offers advice and support on how to plan for a later life through children through its online group and local groups. Kirsty is married and childless.
The webinar will help people consider how to plan for a positive later life without the support of children and/or other family.
Find out more about Kirsty at www.awoc.org
Grief by Jody Day
Jody Day is the founder of Gateway Women. Since founding the global friendship and support network for childless women she has authored books, hosted TEDx talks and is a trainee integrative psychotherapist. Jody takes great pleasure in helping childless women get their groove back via Reignite Weekend workshops, online communities and Meetups around the world. She is childless.
In this webinar, Jody will talk about how the grief of childlessness is not recognized, understood or supported by our culture and how this can lead to painful problems in our day-to-day lives: at work, in our family of origin, around other people’s children, in our friendships, with our partner (if we have one) and in our internal world. Having supported thousands of women as they’ve worked through their own experience of coming to terms with childlessness, Jody will share what she’s learned along the way, as well as some practical tools and suggestions about what can help.
Find out more about Jody and Gateway Women at www.gateway-women.com