Mother, Nurture & Wild
Offerings from the heart to meet you exactly where you are
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Take a moment for yourself this Imbolc, Mama. Imbolc is a cross-quarter festival, marking the midpoint between the Solstice and the Equinox.  It’s a threshold time.  A time between time.  And in this way Imbolc can remind us...
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I wonder if you ever find yourself searching for your sense of self.  Feeling around for where your edges are. As mothers we are often the centre of our family's universe, needed for so much, integral to all of it. But when you go to look for your Self in the midst of it all, it's hard to discern the essence of you from everything else. It's as though you've been swallowed up by your role.

Loss of sense of self in motherhood is something that’s so often present for women I coach with.

It's no wonder...

~ When the process of matrescence – a word that describes the multi-layered journey of becoming a mother – sees so much change take place within us.  Not only in our body, our hormones, our emotions, our home, our day-to-day lives.  But also, along the way, becoming a mother literally re-wires our brain.

~ When it’s generally still the case (in heteronormative relationships) that women carry the heavier load and are expected to do the most adapting around their family.

~ When societal conditioning would have us mothers running to keep up, second guessing ourselves, self doubting and forever over-giving.

~ When there’s barely a moment to go to the loo let alone tend to the things that make you feel you.

If you don’t have the sense of self that you used to, here’s what I want you to know…

(and what many of my clients have found)

You're still in there

You are. Maybe under some layers and the edges of where you end and they begin are blurred but you ARE in there and you are WONDROUS even if you don’t feel it.

It's ok to grieve

It’s ok to grieve what you’re missing in yourself. Sometimes the grieving opens up space to reconnect with buried parts of you.  Sometimes experiencing the emotions around that give rise to a tiny shift that makes a difference.

It's a process

Re-connecting with your Self is a process.  Begin with noticing your needs that are met or are going un-met.  Notice your emotions.  Notice the daily promises to yourself you keep and those you find harder to keep.

It can be bumpy

Not everyone benefits from you regaining your sense of self if you’ve been over-giving for some time, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong for needing to.  You are never wrong for needing to feel like you.

You're not alone

You are not alone in this. If I could show you all the mamas who’ve shared with me, in different ways, the sense that they’ve lost their edges you would see just how NOT ALONE you are.

(I won’t show you of course because confidentiality is everything in my work, but if I could... you’d see a big and beautiful group of women who also never thought they’d lose their sense of self and yet still somehow did).

It's not bad or wrong

It’s not. Changing, evolving, losing and re-finding are all part of being a growing human.  Matrescence and the ever-changing seasons of motherhood are ripe with growth periods in which we re-form who we are.  It makes complete sense that at various points we need to go on a journey to meet ourselves again.

It's not impossible

It may feel hard but it isn’t impossible – overwhelm, self doubt, mum guilt, shame might have you believing you’re a lost cause but you are absolutely not.

You're in there

You are.  Even if under a few layers. I know you don’t know how to unearth yourself yet, but there will be a way. And those layers you’re under make for rich compost.

You are worth unearthing, lovely one x

*

If you’d like to come on a supportive journey with me to find what’s been missing, I’d love to chat with you. I have 1:1 spaces available to begin in July and Sept and we can reserve one of those for you.

Contact me here or book in a virtual cuppa here to find out more.

This is an article I wrote for the Winter 2020 magazine produced by Robin and Rose as part of their nature subscription box. This thread of inspiration continues to enchant me and I have a lot more I could add to this now so maybe there's a part two in the offing.

When I sit in the woods, dwarfed by towering giants, I’m reminded we have a lot to learn from our tree-friends.  We’ve long known the benefits of a mood-lifting leaf canopy, of arms snaked round a trunk for a restoring tree-hug, but what goes on underground - where the human eye can’t see – is where the real learning for us lies.

When I moved the Mother Wild Retreat from a meadow in Kent, where I used to live, to a beautiful Herefordshire woodland, I knew instinctively there was a lot we could take from our surroundings.  The wood itself has magic in the air, but it was when I was researching that I learned about the magic below ground.

Diving into an earthy rabbit hole of new information, I learned that trees within a woodland are all connected by a thread-like fungus called mycelium.  A mycorrhizal network used to pass nutrients and information between themselves, to nourish and support each other.

Professor Suzanna Simard from the University of British Columbia identified that woodlands have ‘mother trees’.  These larger, older trees – like the elders of the tribe – act as central hubs for these vast mycorrhizal networks.  Trees of all species will be connected to the mother trees and to each other on this way and this network will reach across the entire woodland.  Trees use it to pass water, carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients and minerals to those who need it.  Nourishment on demand.

We know from recent studies that trees actually communicate their needs with each other.  Sending out distress signals through the network and asking for what they need.  The trees around them, along with the larger mother trees who have access to deeper water and greater stores of nutrients, respond; sending over exactly what’s needed.

To a woman who runs retreats for Mothers to come rest their tired bones, re-fill themselves and seek out what they need to feel more whole, this new information about the awesomeness of a community of trees was like poetry.  That we were to gather under the branches of trees who have all of this self-nurture stuff nailed, learning how to tend to and nourish ourselves a little better while underneath our feet this process naturally unfolded – well, suddenly retreating to the woods took on a whole new level of beauty.

We live in a culture where rest and self-nurture are not valued.  Where nourishing our minds, bodies and souls is often labelled indulgent or selfish.  Whether we’re parents or not, we’re often over-stretched, overwhelmed and depleted.  Our bodies and minds send out distress signals that we don’t hear or recognise, above the noise all around us.  We have tons of networks but not one with the express purpose of hearing our needs and fulfilling them before we miss a beat.

When my groups of tired Mums arrive for our weekend retreat, I invite them to live like the trees that surround us for the few days they’re here in the woods.  To imagine their roots could spread deep into the earth and intertwine with the miles and miles of mycorrhizal network beneath us.  What would their body ask for?  Their heart?  If they could plug in and ask for all they needed and have it delivered by the surrounding tribe without hesitance, judgement or it meaning anything, what would they ask for?  What are all the things that would nourish, strengthen and support them right now?

Some of this – rest, sunlight, time, space, quiet, movement, wonder, support, nourishing food – they will find here at the retreat.  In my experience, nobody gets into a hammock underneath the tree canopy and comes out quite the same.  Some of the whispers of the body and heart are taken away as intentions.  Promises to themselves.  To seek what they need, more of the time.  And like the trees, to never question their right to do that.

Lisa Mabberley runs Mother, Nurture & Wild and hosts retreats in the wild, in and around beautiful Herefordshire.  Lisa is coach who works with Mums on themes of self-nurture, carving out space and finding our lost parts - find out more here

Photo credit: Hannah at Pip & Wolf Photography

© 2022 Lisa Mabberley
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