It is the time to celebrate my reasons to be cheerful this week.

1. Yesterday I had a day out in London with my 11 year old son.  It was great to have some one on one time with him.  We attended a blogger event and I did not know anyone there although knew their blogs of course.  Although my usual shy self, I don’t think I did too badly in terms of chatting to people.  My son was amazing talking of films, history and social networking.  We bought cheap and cheerful gifts for the other two children so everybody was happy.

2. My son and daughter are doing so well with their swimming every weekend and are now jumping in happily and have forgotten all about armbands.  We have decided that after this series of lessons, we will take them ourselves and join in the fun.

3. I am feeling upbeat about BritMums Live next week.  OK, so I am speaking, but how much damage can I realistically do.  It will be fine and the more I meet bloggers, the more I realise how most people are genuinely warm and wishing you well.  I have new shoes as I ended up not able to walk in my boots yesterday so got some flat shoes.  I have various outfits from the charity shop to try on.  I need a haircut and then I am all set.  If you want to find me for some reason, I will be at the Give As You Live stand at 1.45pm on the Saturday and am trying to work out a way to persuade people to come and say hello and find out more.  All suggestions welcome.

4. I made a decision to not waste any more time on one particular issue.  Sometimes things cannot be resolved and you have to let them go. 

5. I get the sense that Him Indoors is getting very committed to me having a life of my own and doing all he can to facilitate that.  This makes me cheerful as I want new chapters but want him by my side too.

6. I feel we are making use of the land this year both in terms of growing vegetables and by getting out there to play badminton and so on.

I am sure there are lots of things I have forgotten but that goes to show that life is pretty happy right now.

Now pop over to http://mdplife.blogspot.com to meet some very positive bloggers sharing their smiles.

Last September, I was grossly overweight, fed up with my lot in life and hoping to find paid work.

My instincts told me I would only change with the back-up of other women.  I decided to set up a blog hop and was so pleased when other mums came forward and said they wanted to effect changes in their lives too.   Inspired by all things Eighties, I called us the Groovy Mums and we set off with our knapsacks on our virtual backs towards an undefined but a “It’s got to be better than this!” future.

There was a definite first set of mums who got involved and there was lots of accompanying banter and support on Twitter as well as via blog comments.  That has got less probably as we got involved in various tasks towards getting our groove back.

We found that when mums were struggling, some would not post at all and some would in great detail and end up helping others with their sadder posts as well as with their happier ones.

9 months on, I am aware that some participants found that Groovy Mums was not for them or could not find the time to join in.  I am proud to see all the changes that mums have made, both baby steps and huge ones.  I think we have worked out that when we achieve some things, a lot of us still want to move on to new ways of thinking and different activities.  Perhaps there is not a destination after all but rather a fascinating journey.

So where now for Groovy Mums and me?

My life has changed a lot since last year.  I lost a considerable amount of weight so feel better health wise.  I have stones and stones to shift still but I know I can do it now.  Nothing seems hopeless anymore and that is largely down to the impetus of the Groovy Mums.  Thank you.

I have paid work now and can see new opportunities to acquire more at a pace that suits me and my family.

I am a member of the BritMums team and am speaking at BritMums Live in less than two weeks.  There are nerves naturally but my reality is now that I will be fine and contribute well to the event.  My thinking has shifted about what I am capable of.

I am involved in supporting charities and am a proud ambassador for Give As You Live, the organisation that ensures that money goes to charity when you shop online (but you do have to sign up and can do so here http://www.give.as/savingbabieslives ).

So I have changed and I feel ready for a big adventure after BritMums Live.  I am working on the finer details but I feel the time is right for me and look forward to sharing in due course.

I have noticed that less people are linking up when I do Groovy Mums posts and challenges.  On a level, this does not matter but on another if I am going to be busy and the posts are not helpful to folks, I wonder if I should continue with them.

We have had a few Groovy Mums Twitter parties which appeal to a wider audience and seem to assist in linking up mums who can help each other in terms of support, tips and information.  Should we do some more?

I never was a great guru and never had all the answers.  I was just a fat mum stuck in a small village who wanted to feel like herself again.  Groovy Mums was as much about helping myself as reaching out to others.

So although I feel quite clear about where I should go next and what I should do, my question is where next for Groovy Mums?

Should it be allowed to die a natural death?

Should it continue in the same way?

Should it change radically?

Should I share the load more as some mums seem keen to help out in some way?

I would love to know what people think whether they join in with Groovy Mums or not.  I am also not going to make any major decisions on the future of Groovy Mums until after BritMums Live because sometimes I too need to take time out to reflect and to ease up on myself.

Over to you …

I am looking back at the journeys where my life suddenly changed quite radically.

1. From Romford Road to Epping Forest

I was born on the Romford Road but very quickly, my mother decided she did not want me in her life.  I was taken to a convent in Epping Forest.  So you could say I became a convent girl at a very early age.    As a child, very occasionally we would travel through Epping Forest and I would get the strangest feeling.  It was only in my forties that I discovered that once it was home.

2. From Epping Forest to Dewsbury

I was fostered at the age of 11 months and by the people who would eventually become my adoptive parents.  They were older than the norm so it was felt they would make a good fit with a child who was also that bit older.   So unusually, I was adopted outside of the local area and found myself as a Yorkshire lass.  Mum and Dad took me home on Bonfire Night so I have two birthdays like the Queen.  Mum said it was so exciting taking their first daughter home and how it felt like all the fireworks were marking a new chapter for all of us.

3.  From Dewbury to Cambridge – Stage 1

This is the first life-changing journey that I remember.  My Dad drove me to my interview for entrance to Cambridge University.  It was my very first interview for anything and very daunting.  I remember babbling all the way down about war poetry and all the things I would say depending on what questions I was asked.  I will never forget walking through the arch and seeing college for the first time.

4. From Dewsbury to Cambridge – Stage 2

It was a glorious day as we set off to get me settled in at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University.   My parents wanted to make it a lovely day so we stopped for a picnic on the way down.  Dad had bought a copy of the good university guide to reassure me that Cambridge really was good enough for me lol.  We arrived and the magic began and continued for 3 lovely years.

5.  From Cambridge to Dewsbury

I don’t think I had ever quite believed Cambridge would end.  I remember travelling home and it felt like my whole world had ended.  Goodbye to wonderful friends, lovely architecture and parties most nights of the week.   I remember feeling bleak and also wondering how on earth I was going to tell my parents that actually I had decided I did not want to be a lawyer after all.

6. From Dewsbury to Carlisle

It took me a long time to work out what to do next.  I ended up getting a job in an  advice agency in Carlisle.  This was the journey with Mum and Dad where I had to face the rather uncomfy fact that , like it or not, I was an adult and had better start making my way in the world.  I remember thinking what a beautiful county I was moving to and Mum saying about a zillion times that I would be OK and it would all be amazing.  I was in Carlisle for 3 years and apart from meeting the man who would hurt me most in the world, it was a good time.

7. From Dewsbury to Exeter and Back Again

My Dad drove me down to collect my things after I was told by my then partner that he had moved a girl in whilst I was away for the weekend.  I remember Dad saying that if I let said fella con me again, it would be the end of my relationship with Mum and Dad.  Of course, when someone decides they don’t want you and you still think you love them, things are not simple.  I remember feeling sad and tearful all the way down.  We collected my things and headed North so that at the age of 29 I could start all over again.

8. Back to Convent Girl

My college friends decided to start to repair my broken heart.  We went on a sunny weekend to Wales where one of them had surprised us all by becoming a nun in an enclosed order.  I remember meeting up with my friends at Birmingham New Street and suddenly feeling like me and realising that when you are part of a couple, some of that gets lost somewhere.  We laughed, we had fun and one of my friends remembers me talking on and on about the man who is now my husband.

9. The Journey to Motherhood

When I went into my labour with my first child, I got into our car and within minutes it broke down.  It was the middle of the night and we lived in the countryside so it was hours before a taxi turned up for us.  I remember the driver was playing Beatles music and told me to scream along as much as I wanted.  I took the poor bloke at his world.  This definitely qualifies as the noisiest journey of my life and the one with the best prize at the end of it.

10. BritMums Live

I am going to BritMums Live this year having missed out last time round.  I have a feeling it is going to change my life in ways I cannot imagine yet.  It feels significant.  So right from the moment I set off, I am going to savour every moment.  Time away from family responsibilities, time to maybe discover how to let my hair down and time to travel to the next chapter.

 

As part of my promotion of diverse charities throughout June 2012, here is a guest post from Scrapstores UK.

Let’s start an epidemic and make creativity is contagious

There is an exciting epidemic sweeping across Britain and its called Scrapstore syndrome. Closely related to make-do-and-mend-alitis the symptoms are known to be highly contagious on account of the enormous amount of fun people have when they are exposed to scrap.
The source of the syndrome can be traced back to 90 specific scrapstore locations across the UK.  First documented in the United States and Australia in the 1970’s; a rogue strain was brought to the UK by backpackers who had been exposed to the phenomenon on their travels.


The first known UK outbreak occurred in Hackney; London where it is still flourishing. The idea quickly spread and continues to grow thanks to a dedicated band of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure this highly infectious idea reaches up to 74,000 community groups so that millions of people are able to enjoy scraptasticly fun activities.
The outbreak is being transmitted by word of mouth, press and social media. People involved in arts, crafts and play are particularly susceptible to being entranced by the shiny textures and bright colours.

Be warned; the known effects are:

  • Excessive smiling, laughing and wellbeing
  • Talking and sharing of ideas and projects
  • Making friends and enjoying yourself
  • A compulsion to experiment and be creative
  • Sensory overload from the variety of scrap
  • Withdrawal when unable to visit the scrapstore

 

There is no known cure however those affected are encouraged to talk about their experiences and upload photos of their creations when under the influence of Scrapstore syndrome to the scrapstoresUK website and Facebook page.

An alternative treatment is to simply give in completely and become a Volunteer in a scrapstore.

How do scrapstores work?

A scrapstore receives clean, dry and non-toxic materials from local industry and/or businesses that would otherwise be disposed of either in land fill or incineration. Most scrapstores have a membership scheme where you pay an annual subscription and a nominal charge for materials, some are funded to be able to offer  resources free to ‘paid up’ members.  
Who uses scrapstores?

Children’s centres, Early years settings, Registered Childminders, Out-of-school clubs, Activity Clubs, Scouts, Brownies, Cadets, Respite Carers, Arts and Crafts Clubs, Mainstream and Specialist Educators, Home Educators, Art and Design Student Groups, Family Support Groups, Day and Residential Care Centres, Adult Further Education Settings, Families, Artists, Schools and Pre-Schools.

Every scrapstore, no matter the size, is independent, run by a small but committed group of staff, many or all of which are often volunteers. ScrapstoresUK is the national charity created by the scrapstore community to support and represent them, to be a common voice with the media and national businesses and to be a facilitator to share the knowledge spread out across the scrapstore community.  ScrapstoresUK has a board of Trustees, the majority of whom run scrapstores.

If you have not yet been affected by Scrapstore Syndrome please visit www.scrapstoresuk.org website to find your nearest scrapstore or to donate to our charity so we can help more scrapstores.

 Main scrapstoresUK helpline:           0844 997 8000     

Website: www.scrapstoresuk.org    

Email: info@scrapstoresuk.org   

Twitter: @scrapstoresUK  
Head Office Address: Unit 14, Gilsea Park, Mona Close, Swansea Enterprise Park, Swansea. SA6 8RJ
scrapstoresUK registered charity number: 1126044 company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, number: 07864468.