There is life after childlessness, despite what the media, your friends, your mother and your inner bitch would have you believe! A meaningful and fulfilling life that makes sense to you because you custom-made
There is life after childlessness, despite what the media, your friends, your mother and your inner bitch would have you believe! A meaningful and fulfilling life that makes sense to you because you custom-made it for yourself.
This Gateway Women Reignite Weekend is for you if you’re:
- A woman who wanted to have children but it didn’t work out for any reason: infertility; didn’t meet a willing or suitable partner; your partner didn’t want (more) children; a chronic illness; a badly timed breakup, etc, etc. There are so many ways this can happen;
- Struggling with relationships with friends and family as ‘the odd one out’ and really missing having a supportive group of women friends to journey through life with;
- Wondering where your mojo went and where the hell to start looking for it!;
- Lonely and confused about your place in society when all you can see around you are mothers and families;
- Knowing that you need to make some changes to your life but feeling too tired, sad & uninspired to know what to try next;
- Worried about growing old without children and grandchildren;
- Furious that you ‘Did all the right things’ and have still ‘ended up’ in this difficult position;
- Ready for a Plan B (C, D or Z!) but are either convinced that you’ll screw it up, or scared that you’ll never find a meaningful alternative to a life centred on motherhood.
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(Scroll down for testimonials, no-cost payment plans and to book)
This Reignite Weekend is led by Yvonne John & Sarah Lawrence, who have both been trained personally by Jody Day, the founder of Gateway Women.
YVONNE JOHN is a licenced Gateway Women workshop facilitator (GWS), a trainee counsellor and the author of the book Dreaming of the Life Unlived: Intimate Stories and Portraits of Women Without Children. She is childless due to unexplained infertility with her ex-husband and is now single. A gifted public speaker and passionate about creating inclusivity for black women and women of colour in the cultural narrative of childlessness, Yvonne has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including BBC Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’. She leads a private subgroup for Women of Colour in Gateway Women’s private online community (the only such support for black and brown childless women we are aware of) and is quoted extensively in the 2020 edition of Jody’s book in the section on ‘Grieving as a Black Woman or Woman of Colour’. She also blogs about her own evolving recovery from childlessness at Finding My Plan B. A graduate of Gateway Women’s 2016’s year-long Plan B Mentorship Programme, Yvonne is also a World Childless Week Ambassador. She works in the medical services industry and is also a talented photographer and singer. You can learn more about Yvonne in her own words in her guest blog for Gateway Women, The Black Woman in the Room, you can email her at email@example.com
SARAH LAWRENCE is a founder of the childless website and community After the Storm, a qualified coach and person-centred counsellor, one-third of the amazing Full Stop Podcast and a licensed Gateway Women workshop facilitator. She is presently training to specialise in trauma, as she understands that many of the aspects of our backstories, not just our childlessness, carry unresolved trauma. She lives in Kent, with her husband and two cats and is passionate about running, yoga (so she can keep running), walking and pretty much anything related to mental health and wellbeing. Sarah is childless as a result of endometriosis and adenomyosis, both of which resulted in many (many!) operations and procedures over a long period of time, and ultimately led to her having a hysterectomy in 2017; she wrote a powerful blog about this for Gateway Women called ‘Childless After Hysterectomy – I am Still a Woman – Hear me Roar! She also hosts a local Gateway Gathering in Kent, currently meeting online during the pandemic. Alongside her co-host for this workshop, Melanie Dagg, she took part in a recent Gateway Women Masterclass webinar to support women around UK Mother’s Day in March 2021 and you can watch a replay of that here and can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the course of this Reignite Weekend you will:
- Unpick the assumptions that the culture has about motherhood (and non-motherhood) and let go of what doesn’t ‘fit’ you;
- Look at where you are holding onto unhelpful ideas and shame about the life choices you’ve made (and the non-choices too) which have led you to ‘ending up’ without the family you hoped for;
- Explore and express unresolved grief about your childlessness – grief which our culture neither acknowledges, understands nor allows (and consequently, neither do we, sometimes);
- Reexamine the dreams and goals you had for your life before you became convinced that having a baby was the only thing that mattered;
- Reignite your passion for your life and start thinking what your ‘Plan B’ might be for a meaningful and fulfilling life without children;
- Meet your new tribe – the wonderful, powerful, wise and funny Nomos (not-mothers). There are more of us than you realise and we’re not the bunch of ‘weeping weirdoes’ you might fear! In fact, we’re a pretty amazing and courageous bunch of women.
More details and to book:
- Public Health Issues due to Coronavirus: Should the workshop need to be cancelled for public health reasons, we will refund 100% of your booking fee or, should you prefer, transfer your fee to the rescheduled date. We are unable to refund any travel or accommodation costs, so please make sure any bookings you make are fully refundable.
- Dates: Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th November 2020
- Times: 9.30am – 5pm (both days)
- Cost: GBP £395 (inc. Irish VAT at 23%). All currencies are accepted and converted automatically. Go to the bottom of the page to book.
- Payment Plans: We are happy to discuss extended payment plans, at no extra cost to you, if that makes it possible for you to attend. Please contact Yvonne if you would like to explore this option by emailing her at email@example.com We are sorry but we are unable to offer reduced-price places because of the significant costs involved in offering this weekend including paying Irish VAT at 23%, facilitator training, fees & supervision, indemnity insurances, marketing, management, administration, and many other digital and invisible costs. If you are looking for low-cost support around your childlessness, we recommend that you work through the exercises in Jody’s book (you can do so alongside others in the reading group for her book in the Gateway Women Online Community and also be sure to attend the many free webinars, events and ‘Gateway Gatherings‘ that Gateway Women organizes. Be sure to be on our mailing list to hear about those and/or follow Gateway Women either on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
- Questions: If you have any questions prior to booking (or afterwards) please contact Yvonne directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
To book, please go right to the bottom of this page.
- Lunch & Breaks: Lunch will roughly 1-2pm both days and is not provided but there are plenty of places nearby and you can also take a refreshing walk in Regents Park which is right outside the venue. We’ll also take a morning and afternoon break of 15 mins.
- Where: One Park Crescent, 229 Great Portland Street Marylebone, London W1W 5PN (30 seconds from Great Portland Street tube station). Please note the correct postcode to use to find the front door is W1W 5PN not the one on the website. Click here for a map. When you get to the venue the correct door to use is opposite Pret a Manger and Great Portland Street Tube Station, to the right of “Pizza Express.” It looks like the photo shown here and says “International Students House” above it. The entrance on the Park Crescent-side of the building is closed at weekends.
- Accommodation: The cheapest option is a simple student room at International Students House, which you will be allowed to book as you are attending an event at the “One Park Crescent” Conference Centre which is in the same building. Make sure to ask for a room as far away from the student bar as possible! Contact the conference team here and tell them you attending a Gateway Women weekend. Slightly more expensive, but still very reasonably priced for central London is the Quaker-run B&B The Penn Club, about 15-mins walk away. If you don’t mind a 5-stop London Underground Tube journey to the workshop, the London Central City Road Travelodge (which is based in the ‘City’ Financial District) has very reasonably-priced rooms (around £50) at the weekend. This is when the area is very quiet but ask for an upper floor room facing the Inner Courtyard for maximum quietness. You can also find very affordable and central rooms to stay in on AirBnB
- How Many Women: In order to create an intimate and safe atmosphere, the workshop is restricted to 16 women only.
- Who is the Reignite Weekend for? Women of any age or sexuality, partnered or solo, who wanted to have children and for some reason, it didn’t work out. If you’re keen to move forward and create a meaningful and fulfilling life without children, it’s for you. If you are childfree by choice or still hopeful of creating a biological or adoptive family, this won’t be a good fit for you. Childless stepmothers are very welcome. If you’re not sure if it’s right for you, we’d be happy to discuss that with you before you book – just contact one of the facilitators above by email and/or they’d be happy to arrange a time for a quick chat on the phone.
- What is the cancellation policy? Your fee is non-refundable. However, you can transfer (once only) to a different Reignite Weekend if needed, and if you give us at least 2 week’s notice. Should you decide that you are NOT going to attend (or transfer) please let us know so that we can offer your place to someone else, as there will be a waiting list for places on this weekend. We are unable to refund any travel or accommodation costs, so please make sure any bookings you make are fully refundable.
- Any other questions please contact email@example.com
Some feedback from women who've taken part in previous Reignite Weekends:
I was determined to get to a Reignite weekend eventually, and finally did. It was MARVELLOUS. The faciliators did an amazing job, creating such a lovely space energetically and emotionally. The exercises were profound, and I found the two days to be so beautifully designed to help move us through the key issues surrounding childlessness. I am so grateful that you were inspired years ago to create GW and these weekends! (Millie, 59, USA)
Having read Jody’s book (which put my pain into words – thank you) and engaged in my own personal therapy prior to the workshop, I was very much taking small steps on my childlessness journey. I have experienced bereavement in my life but had found the grief of childlessness so difficult to communicate with others, because the shame of ‘failing’ as a woman felt too much to expose directly to anyone. I have felt hopeless about life and my future and wondered how I could possibly make sense of the next 40 years, without motherhood. The workshop was hugely supportive in so many ways, deeply confronting in a positive way, and not least because it gave me a community of women that get it! I cannot describe the relief of finally being able to tell my story, and not feel pitied, judged negatively or dismissed. Instead, I was heard, validated, supported, and encouraged. Over the past few months, I have stayed in touch with the group and begun to foster friendships with warm authentic wonderful women who offer compassion at every stumble and celebration at every small achievement. Thank you. (Sarah, 46, UK).
It was such a supportive and brilliant course – so great to meet and share time with other Gateway Women, and it allowed me to challenge myself and see my way forward to my Plan B (Tilly, 48, UK).
I was very daunted (as I’m sure everyone is) about the workshop itself, but adding in the money and the distance it was definitely taking a chance and a risk for me, and it more than paid off. The facilitators were so lovely and welcoming and really helped to create what felt like a very safe, warm and loving environment. They gave us the time we needed to speak and really be heard and responded with such empathy. Being childless is something most of us can’t speak to our nearest and dearest about because nobody “gets it” so it was very refreshing to be in a room where everybody was in the same boat (albeit different circumstances). It was the first time I had ever been amongst a group of women where I didn’t feel alien-like or inferior. I even told the ladies how surreal it was to be there in a room with them knowing we all have this factor of our lives in common (Nicola, 34, Australia).
It was a stimulating weekend. The facilitators were welcoming, empathic & ran the event with care – they are great role models too. I have taken away many positive vibes and ideas (Caroline, 60, UK).
I attended this weekend with some ‘butterflies’ but it’s ended up being one of the best things I could have done. I’m more equipped than before I attended the event for moving on and getting to grips with my plan B. Best thing though was meeting the other Gateway Women and seeing I’m not alone… (Faye, 41)
Anyway, I did want to say a massive thank you to the great facilitators for the workshop and I got a lot out of it (realizing this more as time goes on and I reflect back). I was in touch with them before the weekend and they really did provide loads of much needed reassurance about attending the weekend, which helped to ensure I went and didn’t back out at the last minute! It was really powerful hearing everyone’s’ journey and finally realising that I wasn’t alone in the way I felt about being childless. The first day was really emotional, although I recognise needed to be done in order to let things out, address buried thoughts and understand about the whole grief thing which was very enlightening. I found the second day much more refreshing and helped provide some positivity to work on – I had hoped for a magic solution, but the workshop made me realise it’s just small changes in mindset that can make the biggest difference. We’ve since had 2 Meetups which I’ve found quite liberating really and hopefully can work on establishing some new friendships (Susan, 45, UK).
The weekend definitely exceeded my expectations and the strength I received from being in the company of such strong, yet similarly hurting women, is amazing. The realisation that I’m not alone and have real people to talk to who understand how difficult it is some days to navigate such a strongly biased society which thinks motherhood is the norm is huge. But it has also given me a friendship base of fascinating women that have stories to tell that don’t involve having a child, and opinions on life who I want to spend time with and get to know better. The other thing to mention is that the facilitators were brilliant. We were all so nervous about going and all had reasons not to turn up but did make it through the door and were welcomed with such positivity and calmness. It was a tough weekend having to face up to so many decisions made in the past or thinking about what the future might hold, but to survive and start living again I need to face these things. The weekend has given me a starting point and motivation to start finding my way and a support group to call upon. Thank you for starting this and giving hope back to us all (Simone, 49, UK).
I can’t describe the massively positive effect finding GW and attending a Reignite Weekend has had on my outlook, my life, my relationships, my ability to smile at babies and their mums again! (Kate, 43, UK).
Since the weekend, I found I was able to explain my feelings in a different way to my husband, and he was full of questions and very interested and enthusiastic about what the Gateway Women community is doing for women and the impact it can have for a social change. He then told me that what I’d learned and experienced at the Reignite Weekend had enabled him to better understand my childlessness, something that had been quite a mystery to him for many years – that our pain is not just about our deep feelings of grief (which really is quite enough!!!) but also about all the other stuff from society that gets loaded on top of it that we have to deal with. This realisation has proved to be so precious to me – and to my husband! Let me also say that the faciliators were also unbelievably kind, gentle, intelligent, brilliant and wonderful (Hilda, 45, Germany).
It was amazing to realise I wasn’t alone, other women shared the pain, anguish, fear that I did, each with their unique story and each wanting their life to move on, but not sure how or where. I took the plunge and signed up for the workshop not knowing what to expect, or if it “was my sort of thing” – and it was the best thing I could have done (Kristian, 42, UK).
I got more out of the Reignite Weekend than I could have hoped for. It was emotionally challenging at times but equally inspirational. To fully share my story with other women who not only understood, but listened and empathised as I did with their stories was really special. To realise it’s not just me that’s scared of everything, that it’s not just me who feels so lost and isolated was incredibly comforting. Cathy naturally created a safe, calm space with a welcoming energy where I think we all felt able to share, quite openly, our thoughts and feelings. The range of activities and the pace of the weekend was perfect. Plenty of time to reflect and I loved getting to be creative on the Sunday and realised how much I’d missed that in my life. It was a lot of money for me to spend as I’ve been out of work but definitely worth every penny and the progress I’ve made personally in just a week feels miraculous. Loving being part of our tribe and feeling excited about my future again (Jill, 34, UK).
A warm and heartfelt thank you to the facilitators for giving so fully of yourselves in facilitating our weekend. Your engagement and encouragement prior to the course was much appreciated alongside your warm welcome on arrival which encompassed a sense of already being known in part and thus genuinely accepted. This I believe contributed to the precious gelling of the group overall. It did feel like a shared and bonded experience even though our stories were unique and your compassion for each of us was very evident. The content of the weekend was both interesting and creative – many thanks to Jody for her inspiration and commitment to bring this to us – and seemed to touch us all at different points on the way. The exercises were well explained by both of you and everyone contributed making it a dynamic process. You were both sensitive and positive at the same time and I sense you facilitated a great deal of trust within the group because of who you both are. This secure base gave us the courage to explore our grief and consider ways to embrace Plan B both individually and collectively. With appreciation (Melissa, 55, UK).
After getting to a very low point I thought I’d try the workshop. It was a great weekend. Just having the chance to think and explore my feelings with likeminded people was so helpful (Leila, 39, UK).
The weekend was a moving, enlightening and powerful experience. I was so moved by the stories of all the other women. There was lots of crying and lots of laughing too. I feel an amazing (almost miraculous) connection with them which is alive and well on our post-workshop WhatsApp group… The weekend has helped me to embrace my grief in a way which I hadn’t allowed myself to before, and has given me lots of strategies to work through it. The weekend has also released a massive creative block which I didn’t even realise was there. Writing and drawing about my experiences seem to already be part of my ‘Plan B’. I am also thinking a lot about self-care and putting it into practice as much as possible – not a habit that I have been very good at previously. The faciliators were wonderful – they structured the days very skilfully and listened beautifully to everyone – holding everyone’s stories, emotions and reactions in such a supportive way. Being part of this sisterhood feels amazing. Thank you. (Carla, 42, UK)
The course was excellent; well structured, clear and relevant and which helped me to understand the trauma I’ve been struggling though after finding out that we can’t have children. I met some amazing women on the course whose stories of facing difficulties with so much dignity and courage will stay with me. Thank you for giving me hope (Janet, 47, UK).
I wanted to let you know that I thought both the facilitators were absolutely fantastic. I honestly couldn’t have wished for better facilitators for the weekend. Both had exactly the right balance of empathy, listening skills and (importantly for me) humour. They made us all feel very safe and able to share as much or as little of our stories as we felt comfortable sharing and they created a very open, warm environment for us to operate in (Sabina, 46, UK).
I have been stuck in grief for a long time that hasn’t been shifting. [The weekend] helped me to understand exactly what I was feeling and why. Home now – I feel lighter, more positive and more gentle inside than I have felt for ages (Becky, 52, UK).
november 13 (Saturday) - 14 (Sunday)