It's time to create a life that feels good again because sometimes...
- You’re terrified that you’re just going to ‘exist’ rather than ‘live’ the rest of your life…
- You sometimes feel like a failure as a woman for not becoming a mother and are scared that you’re not really capable of having a ‘Plan B’, whatever the heck that is!
- Your work bores you to tears these days but it feels like it’s all you’ve got so you hang on in there even whilst dying inside each time you have to deal with yet another office pregnancy…
- you’re struggling to give a damn about your health, fitness and wardrobe any more and feel older than your years…
- You hate being the ‘odd one out’ around your friends and siblings: either feeling angry when you’re not included in ‘family-friendly’ stuff, or distressed and freakish when you are…
- You’re furious that you ‘did all the right things’ that your mother, school and society said you ‘should’ and look where it got you?!
- You’re exhausted and uninspired about your life and feel that your thwarted dreams of motherhood have left you a hollowed-out husk without an ounce of energy or imagination left…
- And at the back of your mind, sometimes you worry about becoming one of those friendless old women who dies alone and is eaten by her cats…
If this sounds like you some days, then 2020 is definitely the year to join Gateway Women's unique, ground-breaking, life-changing Plan B Mentorship Programme and change the record!
Perhaps you’ve wanted to change aspects of your life before and have found it very hard and are thinking that this won’t work either? Maybe you feel that surviving childlessness is quite enough to deal with on a daily basis in a world gone motherhood-mad and that the idea of ‘thriving’ or ‘having a Plan B’ all seems like a bit too much to consider?
That’s why this programme is so special as it understands where you’re starting from and very gently guides you, month by month, towards a new way of inhabiting your life as a childless woman. Created by Jody Day, author of the best-selling Living the Life Unexpected, psychotherapist and founder of Gateway Women, and refined over several years of working with groups, it’s based on her experience of recreating her life after the heartbreak and identity loss of childlessness and that of the thousands of women she’s worked with.
I feel very differently now to the way I felt at the beginning of the course. Back then I was full of grief, regret and feelings of failure, now the feelings of failure have largely gone and I have a much more positive identity as a childless woman with the rest of my life ahead of me. I’ve found that by gradually changing the way I see myself just about everything else in my life has also shifted; my way of being at work, my relationships with friends and family, my ability to care for myself and have a positive outlook for the future. I see myself now as one of many women who’ve had one aspect of their life not go to plan, rather than an isolated failure and I no longer identify with the sad, middle-aged lonely woman stereotype that I was haunted by before. This has meant that I don’t presume other people see me that way and even if they do, I don’t care! It’s hard to explain how it happens exactly but being with other women in the same situation and getting close to them is very helpful in itself. (Jill, 43)
One of the major concerns many of us have about finding our Plan B is that we have no idea what it might be – and that’s absolutely fine (and perfectly normal!) Because, you see, Plan B isn’t really a ‘thing’, it’s just a shorthand way of describing getting from where you are now to a place where you feel at peace, fulfilled, purposeful and excited about your life and future again. (It’s just shorter to write!) Doing so isn’t a straightforward path for any of us, but there are definitely things that can help, and that’s what this programme is for. It works, and here’s your chance to find out why.
Jody created this programme based on her own experience of recovering from childlessness and creating Gateway Women. It builds on her work with thousands of other women over the last nine years and is the absolute creme-de-la-creme way of engaging with this work. The London Bee Plan B Mentorship Programme combines work on a deep internal level with practical external strategies to create a very powerful learning experience. Change isn’t easy and refocusing your life after the heartbreak of childlessness has its own challenges as you may have lost faith in our very ability to chart your life course or know what you want anymore… This course doesn’t expect you to be turning up feeling at your best and full of beans but if previous cohorts are anything to go by, you’ll be a lot closer to feeling like that by the end!
YOUR BEEHIVE LEADER: LAUREN DE VERE is a licensed Gateway Women workshop facilitator (GWS) and lives with her cat, Mr Marvo, in Greater London. A solicitor by training, Lauren has undertaken in-depth personal development to heal from the wounds of a difficult childhood including attending and then facilitating The Essence Process. She’s been active both at a local level hosting Gateway Women Meetups in Chorleywood, as well as attending Gateway Women’s 2017 year long Plan B Mentorship Programme before becoming Gateway Women’s lead facilitator in London in 2018/19 and now leading the London Bee. Do watch the short video above where Lauren chats with Jody about how she found herself involuntarily childless, her experience of taking part herself in the London Bee in 2017 and why she’s excited to share this programme with you in 2020! You can also contact Lauren directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
The London Bee in a Nutshell
- The London Bee – £195 GBP per month for 12 months.
- 12 women only for an intimate, supportive and creative atmosphere.
- Monthly live one-day Saturday workshops with Lauren de Vere in central London starting Saturday 1st February 2020 (all dates below).
- Monthly live group video call with Jody Day, Founder of Gateway Women to discuss that month’s topic and a chance to ask her follow-up questions either live or afterwards in your private London Bee online forum.
- A private online forum (not on Facebook) just for The London Bee group, with access to as much online mentoring from Lauren as you need, and support, friendship and solidarity from your ‘Bee’ group.
- A 30-min private check-in with Lauren each month in-between live workshop sessions to keep you on track (phone, Zoom, Skype or Facetime)
- ‘Beekeepers’ – each month you’ll have a chance to work between sessions with different women in the group as you support each other to reach your goals; this isn’t about trying to do it alone any more.
- ‘Bee Socials’ – facilitated private social meetups between sessions.
- Full access to the 36 individual ‘Online Bee’ course videos and materials so that you can revisit the workshop topics we’ll cover any time you wish.
- To apply to join the London Bee programme, click here to contact Lauren for an application form and to arrange a time for your free, absolutely no-obligation pre-enrollment chat! We want to make sure that you feel confident that this is the right programme for you at the right time.
Completing the Plan B programme has taken me on an internal journey which has helped me realise and accept that there is still a life to be lived and enjoyed after childlessness. At the start of the course I might have said that a mindset change was a ‘only’ a small-scale change, and I was expecting much bigger external changes to happen as a result of the programme, (new job, living in India, caring for orphans etc!) And yet, what the course has shown me is that feeling more content within myself, finding fulfilling new friendships and being more open to enjoying life in general IS a huge change! A change which is bringing much more joy and vibrancy into my life, and not one that I would now dismiss as ‘only’ a small change! (Sophia, 51)
During your one-year London Bee adventure you will:
- Explore your strengths, passions and life experience to create a map of Plan B possibilities
- Brainstorm a variety of Plan B’s for you using individual inquiry, group wisdom and led strategic-thinking techniques
- Create your first Plan B Project and set clear, achievable and measurable goals
- Develop new compassionate and effective strategies for supporting yourself when you get ‘stuck’ (we all do, it’s not just you!)
- Draw on the combined skills, knowledge and experience of the entire group as you support each other emotionally & practically to develop and implement your Plan B Projects
- Enjoy the company of a unique group of women who may well become your friends for life. There isn’t another group like this in the world. What are you waiting for?!
As well as our individual Plan B 'Projects', each month we additionally focus on a different aspect of life that may have been impacted by our childlessness such as:
- rebuilding our relationship and trust in ourselves
- identity confusion – what kind of woman am I if I’m not a mother?
- learning to forgive our bodies (and ourselves)
- creative, safe, supportive and effective techniques to move through our grief
- how our relationship with both food and money can reveal and heal so much
- understanding and upgrading our ‘inner bitch’ to become a supportive ‘inner mother’
- how to deal with the negative stereotypes of ‘childless women’
- reassessing what we want from the rest of our working life
- dealing with fears around ageing without children
- what we really want from our current (or future) relationship
- coping with mothers and others
- understanding purpose and legacy
- rebuilding our friendship group
- and much, much more!
The London Bee in more detail:
- Session Dates – each day is 9.30am-5pm
Session 1: Saturday 1st February 2020 – The Power of Owning Our Stories
Session 2: Saturday 7th March 2020 – Meet Your Gremlins
Session 3: Saturday 4th April 2020 – Self Compassion
Session 4: Saturday 2nd May 2020 – Social Identity
Session 5: Saturday 6th June 2020 – Letting Go & Moving On
Session 6: Saturday 4th July 2020 – Understanding Our Relationships
Session 7: Saturday 1st August 2020 – Value & Self-Worth
Session 8: Saturday 5th September 2020 – Befriending Your Body
Session 9: Saturday 3rd October 2020 – The Meaning Map & Your Plan B
Session 10: Saturday 7th November 2020 – Creating a New Kind of Elderhood
Session 11: Saturday 5th December 2020 – Holiday Remix
Session 12: Saturday 9th January 2021 – Endings & New Beginnings
What happens if you can’t make one of the dates? See below.
- Lunch & Breaks: Lunch will be roughly 1-2pm and there are plenty of places nearby to eat and Regent’s Park is just opposite the venue. We’ll also take a morning and afternoon break of 15 mins.
- Where: Park Crescent Conference Centre, International Students House, 229 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5PN (1-min from Great Portland Street tube station, 4-mins Regents Park, 7-mins Warren Street)
- Accommodation: As you are attending an event at Park Crescent Conference Centre you are able to book a room at International Students House, where the conference centre is situated (normally only open to students). It’s very simple student-style B&B accommodation. Another affordable option is the Quaker run B&B The Penn Club, about 15-mins walk away. You might also find that you get to know someone on the course who lives in London and you can stay over with them, or we can put you in touch with a London-based GW who’d be happy to host you. Lauren can give you more details when you apply to join the programme.
- How much: £195 per month, payable in advance either monthly, quarterly or as a total course cost (which gives you 1-month free).
- What if I can’t make some of the sessions?: If you have to miss a session, you’ll receive a 1-hour catch-up call with Lauren in-person/phone/Skype/Zoom etc to keep you up to speed with the programme and both your own and the group’s process.
- How Many Women: Maximum of 12 women for an intimate and supportive atmosphere
- Who is the Plan B Mentorship Programme for? Women of any age who wanted to have children and for some reason, it didn’t work out. It is not suitable for you if you are childfree by choice, are still hopeful of having (or adopting) children or are in some way trying to conceive. Childless stepmothers welcome.
- How do I book? Email email@example.com and she will send you an application and arrange a time for your free, absolutely no-obligation pre-enrollment chat! We want to make sure that you feel confident that this is the right programme for you at the right time.
- Ask us anything! Email Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jody at email@example.com and ask us anything!
Testimonials from past 'Bees' from the Plan B Mentorship Programme
- It’s hard to describe the warmth, caring and support of a group of women who were strangers a year ago. We have together created a crucible in which some strange and wonderful alchemy has occurred and we have forever changed ourselves and each other. I started the programme buried deep in grief about my childless state. I am now looking forward to a future of possibility with the knowledge that these women will continue to be part of my life, for the rest of my life.
- At the beginning of the programme, I was completely unable to dream about what my future as a childless woman would be like. I was putting a huge amount of pressure on myself to come up with the one thing that would be “my thing”, the “thing” that would define me now that I had accepted I would not be a mother. I was paralysed, unable to decide what to do in case of failure – failure could not be an option, I had already failed at the one thing I’d really wanted. However, during the course, I learnt that it’s okay to try at something and not continue with it, in fact, it’s okay to try lots of things! I no longer feel I have to find just “one thing” – I don’t want to find just “one thing” anymore! I am now able to dream about the future; in fact, I can’t stop thinking about all the things I want to do. Working with the women in the group has been so rewarding, we have laughed and cried together and I know we will continue to support each other. I am ready to be me again, to dream and turn some of those into reality, and to live my Plan B.
- I feel very differently now to the way I felt at the beginning of the course. Back then I was full of grief, regret and feelings of failure, now the feelings of failure have largely gone and I have a much more positive identity as a childless woman with the rest of my life ahead of me. I’ve found that by gradually changing the way I see myself just about everything else in my life has also shifted; my way of being at work, my relationships with friends and family, my ability to care for myself and have a positive outlook for the future. I see myself now as one of many women who’ve had one aspect of their life not go to plan, rather than an isolated failure and I no longer identify with the sad, middle-aged lonely woman stereotype that I was haunted by before. This has meant that I don’t presume other people see me that way and even if they do, I don’t care! It’s hard to explain how it happens exactly but being with other women in the same situation and getting close to them is very helpful in itself.
- This time last year I made a New Year’s resolution – to do something actively about dealing with being a childless woman. I stumbled across this website (probably just like you). Gateway Women, Jody Day and her Plan B concept and course have changed my life. It’s a tough old journey but my life is so much better, clearer and brighter than it was. There are two important parts to this: one is the quality of the courses that Gateway Women runs – they are supportive, safe, reflective and they really care about the women on them; the other part is the friendships and bonds made with the other women on the course. Meeting these women and forging friendships with them has had a great influence on me. I would be lost without them now. These courses are life-changing and really made me realise that there is more to life than I thought. It’s a hard thing to realise but the support is there to help you. Do it. Book a course. It’s money well spent. And for me, a resolution achieved!
- The course was excellent and the monthly sessions were all different engaging, informative and full of fun exercises and homework sessions that took me out of my comfort zone but at the same time helped me to learn to ‘think’ and ‘be’ differently and also be more relaxed and accepting of my childless circumstance. Over the course of the Plan B mentorship program, I met 12 wonderful women who walked the journey with me and have now become very dear to my heart. I learnt that I was not alone and that many of the fears or worries I had were valid and that I was not ‘strange’ for having them. I learnt about self-compassion and the power of my self-talk. Meeting every month was very important and the ‘check-in’ sessions helped me open up about issues I may have bottled up in a harmful way, were it not for the opportunity of allowing myself to be open, honest and sometimes vulnerable, knowing for sure that all I would get back was acceptance care and support. I did not ‘tick off’ everything on my pre Plan B questionnaire, but the depth of the inner shift in me regarding accepting my childless circumstance and looking to the future with hope is the most important change I achieved. I wish it would go on forever! I honestly feel I could attend the course again! The ‘togetherness’ of the group was very supportive and is missed very much by me. We now have a private online forum where I continue to (I hope) give and definitely receive support from a group of women I now consider my sisters.
- This time last year I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself, how I saw my future panning out or even if I wanted to live at all. After years of miscarriages and failed IVF cycles I was at the lowest I’ve ever been. I was in a bad way. I read about Gateway Women in The Guardian, joined its online community and have never looked back. I signed up for the Plan B programme after completing a Reignite Weekend, which allowed me to tell my story and talk about my grief openly for the first time – it was truly liberating. The best thing about any of the Gateway Women courses is meeting up with a bunch of women who totally get how you feel and think. They are a safe haven for you to express yourself and your deepest, darkest thoughts and fears and there is always at least one other woman in the room nodding and understanding your words & feelings, if not everyone. And amazingly there is a lot of laughter on the courses, not just the expected tears – it is a huge relief to find each other. […] The Plan B process moved me away from the past and the huge rut I was stuck in and slowly revealed a future for me. The course is excellent at helping you to unravel your feelings, it makes you do the work, which isn’t always easy but it will get you there. To be able to move on correctly you have to find the answers yourself and this course gave everyone so many lightbulb moments we could have lit up a football stadium, it was that dazzling! It was amazing to both watch and participate. […] I haven’t come away with a definite Plan B, although some people have. Mine is still a work in progress and evolving (as am I) but the seeds are sown and they have good deep roots now. The future isn’t scaring me; it’s exciting me. Early on in the course, we were reintroduced to the idea of play and creativity and, as stumped as I was by this at first (hey lady, I’m depressed over here, I don’t play…) this has brought about the biggest change for me and is where my Plan B lies. […] I have met the best bunch of people on this course and I know we’ll remain friends and continue to support each other for a long time. (Naomi, 44)
- Before starting this programme I felt I was existing rather than living. I felt alone and isolated, and set adrift from my mother friends. I was concerned that I was not ready for a Plan B as it felt disloyal to my long-held dream of becoming a mother. The programme is not just once a month, it is every single day, any time you want to post, and replies full of empathy and understanding are never far away. […] I was hesitant about signing up but I can honestly say it has been the best decision I have made in my adult life and has undoubtedly been life-changing for me. I have healed so much in this last year, have felt a huge shift in my feelings about being childless, and a whole new social life has opened up for me. (Bonnie, 47)
- Completing the Plan B programme has taken me on an internal journey which has helped me realise and accept that there is still a life to be lived and enjoyed after childlessness. At the start of the course I might have said that a mindset change was a ‘only’ a small-scale change, and I was expecting much bigger external changes to happen as a result of the programme, (new job, living in India, caring for orphans etc!) And yet, what the course has shown me is that feeling more content within myself, finding fulfilling new friendships and being more open to enjoying life in general IS a huge change! A change which is bringing much more joy and vibrancy into my life, and not one that I would now dismiss as ‘only’ a small change! (Sophia, 51)
- I’d been in the same job for years and felt bored, stuck and under-appreciated, but I’d stayed there for the maternity benefits as I was going through treatment to become a solo mother and so really needed them. But of course, I never got to use them! But moving on felt so hard and infertility had really smashed my confidence. With the support of the Bees I moved jobs for the first time in a decade into something more high profile which I’d always wanted to try, and as a parting shot for my old organisation, entered and won a prestigious national competition on its behalf! (Jan, 43)
- I joined the course absolutely ashamed and silenced by my unexplained infertility in my marriage, as I’d had two abortions in my twenties which left me believing I didn’t deserve to be part of the group. I was unable to talk about my infertility to my family or friends and felt like I was dying inside. Over the course of the programme, I’ve felt able to open up completely, so much so that I’ve written and published a book of photography and stories about childless women, gave a public talk on International Women’s Day and have been interviewed for a newspaper! You can’t stop me from talking about both my experience of coming out of shame and silence and the importance of Gateway Women’s Plan B course now! (Yvonne, 45)
- Learning to speak up for myself in my family of origin has been a huge change for me, particularly around my mother. For too long I believed the shaming messages she shared with me and others about my singleness and childlessness and I simply don’t any more! (Amanda, 52)
- When I started the course, I had estranged myself from my family for several years as I simply couldn’t bear to be around children anymore. Me not being a part of my family was agony for my parents, and my guilt was horrendous. During the Plan B course, I gradually found a way, bit by bit, to heal the rift with my family and I’m now visiting everyone again, including going to a family wedding. This may not sound like much to others, but this has been huge for me, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of the Bees, every step of the way. (Sam, 42)