8. Growing Singing Childless & Whole 7th sessions

Remember the session dates are always listed on the public page for Growing Singing Childless & Whole so you don’t have to log in here to see those.

Thank you for being there last night and this morning if you could be and sorry you weren’t if you couldn’t. I do love hearing from you if you can’t so that I know not to worry, but I also trust that you’re doing what you need to do in not coming so never feel any obligation to let me know.

We shared our feelings on the seasons and which, if any, is our favourite season. I loved what Elspeth said about working hard to find the merits in every season and am going to take that away with me – thank you Elspeth! I do love those moments of hearing all your speaking voices for a few seconds, I think it’s quite important that that “community” bit of being a sort of community choir don’t get missed given that we’re online.

As warms ups we used Slow Down (my own little mantra) and Val Regan’s Vocal Circuit Training , and sang Make New Friends. We moved on to ensuring we’d introduced all 4 possible parts of You Gotta Start Somewhere by Penny Stone. And lastly (written with the 10 year celebration of Gateway Women in mind) we did the last of the three possible parts of Here We Are. There’s a rough and ready video of me reminding you of all three parts below.

Just a quick reminder of words and tunes where possible:

Here We Are (by Clare) A song to celebrate Jody Day and 10 years of Gateway Women

Here on this link is a little video of me reminding you of all three parts. On verse one (the Jody Day verse) the middle part is alone, on verse two (the “I” verse), the top part joins the middle part, and on verse three (the “we” verse) the low part joins the other two. Then on verse 4 (the male verse) Ian sings in that low part again in his own voice and lastly on verse 5 (the “we” verse again) a low version of the top part comes in – that just involves singing the top part in a lower voice (a different octave if that makes any sense to you – but you don’t have to know that term). That’s the patter of the song in video of it with the Mandala picture in the background all the time.

 Here she wrote, felt alone
 Here she stayed to welcome you
 Here she bloomed where she was planted
 Sharing courage with her peers
  
 Here I am, not alone
 Here I’ll stay to welcome you
 Here I’ll bloom where I am planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here we are, not alone
 Here we’ll stay to welcome you
 Here we’ll bloom where we are planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here he his, not alone
 Here he’ll stay to welcome you
 Here he’ll bloom where he is planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here we are, not alone
 Here we’ll stay to welcome you
 Here we’ll bloom where we are planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here we are 

And click here for a link to it on YouTube then you’ll be able to see all the blurb I wrote about it on YouTube. Thank you for liking it!

Vocal Circuit Training by Val Regan

i wanna be a bass / and I’m a tenor / Alto’s where it’s at / I’m a soprano

You gotta start somewhere by Penny Stone

You gotta start somewhere if you wanna get anywhere x 3
Take a step, take a shuffle, we're all just muddling through just me and you 

A link to a video on YouTube of Penny Stone teaching that song (You gotta start somewhere) and then, at 8 mins 20 secs singing it in full with all the parts. We’ve tried out 3 of the 4 parts now but this week I just reminded you of the first (the kind of tune part).

The Wisdom of Trees by Frances Bernstein

This will be new song for us in 6 parts. So simple, so gorgeous. The words are below. We’ve done only one part so far and DON’T give yourself a hard time if you can’t remember that at all! We’ll be learning more of it bit by bit.

 Follow the ways of the wise old tree
 Borrow the ways of the wise old tree                
 x 2
  
 Stand tall and proud x 4
  
 Be content with your natural beauty x 4
  
 Stay connected to your roots x 4
  
 Stand quite still enjoy the view x 2
  
 Now and then . . go out on a limb x 2
   

Here’s a link to Penny Stone teaching it and singing it on her wonderful website SingLouderThanGuns.

7. Growing Singing Childless & Whole 6th sessions

Remember the session dates are always listed on the public page for Growing Singing Childless & Whole so you don’t have to log in here to see those.

Thank you for being there last night and this morning if you could be and sorry you weren’t if you couldn’t.

We shared tiny little “wins” with each other even if just “coming to singing” was the win because we couldn’t think of anything else!

As warms ups we used Val Regan’s Vocal Circuit Training , and sang Make New Friends. We moved on to Two More Minutes by Penny Stone with all the harmony parts. And with the 10 year celebration of Gateway Women in mind we did another part of Here We Are. As well as reminding you of the tune we also added an upper part to that so now you have two to choose from.

On Sunday night we spoke a little about the growing support for childless not by choice men and Rachel’s husband, Andy, had been involved in a podcast with Katy Seppi of Chasing Creation on that very day. It’s not clear to me whether you can listen to that without having a ticket to the Childless Collective Summit but I’m trying to find out and will let you know.

And I’m completely delighted to share this poster, from Angela, about a singing retreat she is running in Wales in July. Angela usually comes along on the Sunday evening session so you may not have met her. She is lovely! and runs face-to-face choirs just as I do when that’s possible. I just love the idea that you might go along to a REAL LIFE singing event with her. Any more questions for her just get in touch directly using the details on the poster here.

Just a quick reminder of words and tunes where possible:

Here We Are (by Clare) A song to celebrate Jody Day and 10 years of Gateway Women

 Here she wrote, felt alone
 Here she stayed to welcome you
 Here she bloomed where she was planted
 Sharing courage with her peers
  
 Here I am, not alone
 Here I’ll stay to welcome you
 Here I’ll bloom where I am planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here we are, not alone
 Here we’ll stay to welcome you
 Here we’ll bloom where we are planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here he his, not alone
 Here he’ll stay to welcome you
 Here he’ll bloom where he is planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here we are, not alone
 Here we’ll stay to welcome you
 Here we’ll bloom where we are planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here we are 

And click here for a link to it on YouTube then you’ll be able to see all the blurb I wrote about it on YouTube. Thank you for liking it!

Make New Friends (I don’t know where this song comes from, sorry)

Make new friends 
And keep the old
One is silver 
And the other gold

Vocal Circuit Training by Val Regan

i wanna be a bass / and I’m a tenor / Alto’s where it’s at / I’m a soprano

You gotta start somewhere by Penny Stone

You gotta start somewhere if you wanna get anywhere x 3
Take a step, take a shuffle, we're all just muddling through just me and you 

A link to a video on YouTube of Penny Stone teaching that song (You gotta start somewhere) and then, at 8 mins 20 secs singing it in full with all the parts. We’ve tried out 3 of the 4 parts now but this week I just reminded you of the first (the kind of tune part).

Two More Minutes by Penny Stone – a lovely little song celebrating the returning of the light

Two more minutes of sunlight e-ve-ry day
Two more minutes of sunlight
That's the way this world grows a little brighter
That's the way-ay-ay

Here’s a link to Penny Stone teaching it and singing it on her wonderful website SingLouderThanGuns.

6. Growing Singing Childless & Whole 5th sessions

This was like the beginning of a “term” if you like – the first of a series of 6 sessions before I take a break for a few weeks and (hopefully) take my campervan around the UK a bit to see this and that and just be away from it all. Remember the session dates are always listed on the public page for Growing Singing Childless & Whole so you don’t have to log in here to see those.

Thank you for being there last night and this morning if you could be and sorry you weren’t if you couldn’t. There’s never any pressure to send apologies and it’s lovely to hear from you in any case. I love getting your messages telling me why you can’t come and I hope your internet arrives very soon Lu, and hope your shop opening is going beautifully today Laura Jo.

We spoke a little about the 10 year anniversary of Gateway Women and I taught one part of a new song to celebrate that anniversary. I’ve shared the video of it below – if you look at YouTube then all the blurb about the song is below the video. I was really struck by Wendy’s courage in sharing her own story 15 or so years ago to the Guardian (a UK national newspaper) about the experience of being a step-grandmother having never been a Mum. I really feel like even tiny little steps in the direction of being more visible as people who happen not to have kids when that wasn’t our choice are powerful – even the tiniest steps.

We also spoke a little about experimenting with adding your voices the recordings we’re singing along with. This would be a bit techno but I’m hoping we can hold each other’s hands through the process and get much more of a group sound onto the recordings we’re singing along with – maybe just one or two of them at least! You’ll hear more about this as I learn how it’s done and how to make it as simple as possible.

As well as learning the tune of Here We Are, we sang Slow Down as a warm up on Sunday and Be Still and Know by Joachim Meikle this morning. We also had a go at both We Hold You In Our Circle and Bloom Where You’re Planted

Just a quick reminder of words and tunes where possible:

Here We Are (by Clare) A song to celebrate Jody Day and 10 years of Gateway Women

 Here she wrote, felt alone
 Here she stayed to welcome you
 Here she bloomed where she was planted
 Sharing courage with her peers
  
 Here I am, not alone
 Here I’ll stay to welcome you
 Here I’ll bloom where I am planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here we are, not alone
 Here we’ll stay to welcome you
 Here we’ll bloom where we are planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here he his, not alone
 Here he’ll stay to welcome you
 Here he’ll bloom where he is planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here we are, not alone
 Here we’ll stay to welcome you
 Here we’ll bloom where we are planted
 Sharing courage with our peers
  
 Here we are 

And click here for a link to it on YouTube then you’ll be able to see all the blurb I wrote about it on YouTube. Thank you for liking it!

Slow Down (by Clare) – a really quick warm up song to remind me of a mantra of my own

Slow down, lower your standards and when you are in doubt, sing
Slow down, lower your standards and when you are in doubt, sing (then rises up a note to sing again)

Be Still and Know by Joachim Meikle

Be still and know that day and night
Be still and know that dark and light 
Are one holy circle

And here’s a link to my teaching video of that one.

Bloom Where You’re Planted (by Ros Thomas)

Bloom where you're planted
Flourish in that land
Hear, hear how your heart sings
And shine just where you stand,
(Shine where you . . .) 

Hold you in our circle by Emily Roblyn

We hold you in our circle
Hold you in our love
Hold you in our circle
Hold you in our love

And click here to see my teaching video of that one

5. Growing Singing Childless & Whole 4th sessions

Break coming up! Don’t forget that we don’t have a session on 4th or 5th April so will be back the week after.

Thank you for being there last night and this morning if you could be and sorry you weren’t if you couldn’t.

Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts on the value of having childless/free connections. It felt like there was general consensus that having a few precious friends who happen not to have children and grandchildren can be really supportive and valuable. Between us all we’re members of various support and friendship groups and if you’re not already then you might want to think about joining one:

Laura Jo spoke about the Non-Mum Network set up by Samantha Walsh which welcomes any women who happen not to have children whether they chose that or not. I love what she says in their introduction – “you’ve heard about Mumnsnet, well this is Mumsnot”. It’s Facebook based to start you off but has local meetings once you get into it.

Wendy spoke about More To Life of which she’s been a member for a lovely long time and within which she’s made great friends. This came out of the Infertility Network originally and welcomes new members for whom fertility issues have meant they’ve been unable to have the children they wanted.

Several of us are members of Gateway Women set up by Jody Day which aims to support, inspire and connect childless women globally. They run a couple of really well regarded courses helping women to “bloom where they’re planted” as we might put it in this singing group (referring to that Ros Thomas song we’ve sung). There is loads of support and information on the free bit of the website and then a whole lot more within the online community.

We sang Slow Down by me as a warm up and Be Still and Know by Joachim Meikle. We also had a go at Two More Minutes by Penny Stone. I’ve popped a link to Penny’s learning video below. Lastly, we continued learning (or revised rather quickly!) a gorgeous new song by Kate Thomas called Ubuntu. Kate writes, in her songbook, “Ubuntu is a word in the Nguni language from South Africa and its meaning encompasses a philosophy some have described as a form of African humanism – an idea of what it means to be human and how we should behave towards others, and sometimes defined as “I am because we are”.

Just a quick reminder of words and tunes where possible:

Ubuntu (by Kate Thomas)

Ubuntu, I am because we are
Ubuntu, I am because we are
There is no way in earth or heaven we can make it on our own
Ubuntu, I am because we are
Ubuntu, I am because we are

Slow Down (by Clare Elleray) – a really quick warm up song to remind me of a mantra of my own

Slow down, lower your standards and when you are in doubt, sing
Slow down, lower your standards and when you are in doubt, sing (then rises up a note to sing again)

Two More Minutes by Penny Stone – a lovely little song celebrating the returning of the light

Two more minutes of sunlight e-ve-ry day
Two more minutes of sunlight
That's the way this world grows a little brighter
That's the way-ay-ay

Here’s a link to Penny Stone teaching it and singing it on her wonderful website SingLouderThanGuns.

4. Growing Singing Childless & Whole 3rd sessions

Thank you for being there last night and this morning if you could be and sorry you weren’t if you couldn’t.

I’m getting such a kick out of these sessions and, as I said in the midst of each, it really feels like we’ve all already been a precious little part of each others’ healing from the grief of childlessness and part of each others’ growth and I love that already!

Thanks for sharing some of your top tips for recovery. I wish I’d written them all down and will try to remember a few: learn the value of self-kindness, recognise the little things that make a difference and nurture those, do the grief work, make connections with others who get you, read Jody Day’s book as a good starting point, build up your resilience to demands made of you and know when to say “no”. There were definitely others! Maybe you’ll want to add others in the comments below this blog?

For those of you for whom endometriosis has been an issue, Lu is going to share to me a link to her partner’s video made on the subject and I’ll link that here. There are trigger warnings that come with it as it describes child loss, chronic pain description and language that might offend. It’s now at the bottom of this blog post. Thanks again Lu and I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through any of that yourself.

We sang Slow Down by me as a warm up and Ain’t Got No Worries by Victoria Hopkins. We started learning a gorgeous new song by Kate Thomas called Ubuntu. Kate writes, in her songbook, “Ubuntu is a word in the Nguni language from South Africa and its meaning encompasses a philosophy some have described as a form of African humanism – an idea of what it means to be human and how we should behave towards others, and sometimes defined as “I am because we are”. We also reconnected with We Hold You In Our Circle by Emily Roblyn and You Gotta Start Somewhere by Penny Stone and we connected over so much! in the moments of chat.

Just a quick reminder of words and tunes where possible:

Ubuntu (by Kate Thomas)

Thank you to Lu for pointing out that Choose Love is a shop where you can buy things of basic need to refugees. There’s a link to it here. I had thought that Sheffield City Council had started that poster campaign! and wished out loud that I lived in a city where my own city council would do the same. Sorry for that misinformation – but I do still wish that!

Ubuntu, I am because we are
Ubuntu, I am because we are
There is no way in earth or heaven we can make it on our own
Ubuntu, I am because we are
Ubuntu, I am because we are

We Hold You In Our Circle (by Emily Roblyn)

The tune for this is linked to in Blog Post 2

We hold you in our circle
Hold you in our love
Hold you in our circle
Hold you in our love

You Gotta Start Somewhere (by Penny Stone)

The tune for this is linked to in Blog Post 2. We started learning an upper part as well as the “tune” part which we’d had a go at the previous week.

You gotta start somewhere if you wanna get anywhere  x 3
Take a step, take a shuffle, we're all just muddling through just me and you

Slow Down (by Clare Elleray) – a really quick warm up song to remind me of a mantra of my own

Slow down, lower your standards and when you are in doubt, sing
Slow down, lower your standards and when you are in doubt, sing (then rises up a note to sing again)
Lu’s husband’s film ‘The Endo Me’

3. Growing Singing Childless & Whole 2nd sessions

Thank you for being there last night and this morning if you could be and sorry you weren’t if you couldn’t.

I thoroughly enjoyed both sessions so thank you very much for joining me.

We sang Be Still and Know as a warm up, Bloom Where You’re Planted, We Hold You In Our Circle and You Gotta Start Somewhere and we connected over so much! It was a delight to have new women with us too.

If we continue to add to the sum total of positive things we’re filling our lives with . . . . .and ways we’re connecting with other women who “get” us . . . then who knows where we might end up? At the same time, we all know it’s vital to not ignore or stuff away the grief of our childlessness too, so do take gentle care of yourself in those moments we all know come when we have to do the necessary grief work, as Jody Day calls it.

Just a quick reminder of words and tunes where possible:

Be Still and Know by Joachim Meikle (there’s a little video below)

Be Still and Know by Joachim Meikle
Be still and know that day and night
Be still and know that dark and light
Are one
Holy circle

We Hold You In Our Circle (by Emily Roblyn)

The tune for this is linked to in Blog Post 2

We hold you in our circle
Hold you in our love
Hold you in our circle
Hold you in our love

Bloom Where You’re Planted (by Ros Thomas)

I’ll put up a recording for this another week

Bloom where you're planted
Flourish in that land
Hear, hear how your heart sings
And shine just where you stand,
Shine where you . . . 

You Gotta Start Somewhere (by Penny Stone)

The tune for this is linked to in Blog Post 2. We started learning an upper part as well as the “tune” part which we’d had a go at the previous week.

You gotta start somewhere if you wanna get anywhere  x 3
Take a step, take a shuffle, we're all just muddling through just me and you

2. Growing Singing Childless & Whole 1st sessions

We’ve started! I’m so thrilled.

And how apt to start it all off around International Women’s Day. I love that! I feel so strongly now that there really is no such thing a “a mother” and “a childless woman” – we’re all women – some of whom have dependent children and some dependent animals and some dependent parents or others and some jobs they love or hate and some hobbies they want to focus on and etc etc etc – we’re all women. And that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes we need to hang out with a bunch of women that “get” us.

It feels simultaneously like this launch has been a long time coming and like it’s been a whirlwind of speedy progress. And it’s started. Step one – or first shuffle! I loved the evidence from you (in just these 2 Sunday/Monday sessions) of what this kind of group singing can offer:

  • the chance to connect our lovely smiling faces (there were no tears this week, but they’re welcome too)
  • some songs to carry with us (running, living, shuffling through our lives)
  • adding to the positives we’re filling our lives with step by step
  • feeling part of a little community group of women

What have I missed? There’ll be others in that list for sure!

I have many ideas about how the group might grow and develop and no great clarity, but for now it’s started. Thank you very VERY much for being with me.

Love to you!

Songs in the first session:

Be Still and Know by Joachim Meikle

Be still and know that day and night
Be still and know that dark and light 
Are one holy circle

You gotta start somewhere by Penny Stone

You gotta start somewhere if you wanna get anywhere x 3
Take a step, take a shuffle, we're all just muddling through just me and you 

A link to a video on YouTube of Penny Stone teaching that song (You gotta start somewhere) and then, at 8 mins 20 secs singing it in full with all the parts. We just did the first part in the sessions this week.

Hold you in our circle by Emily Roblyn

We hold you in our circle
Hold you in our love
Hold you in our circle
Hold you in our love

And the here’s my teaching video of that one

1. Growing Singing Childless & Whole Welcome!

You are so welcome!

If you’re anything like me it may take a moment (or 7) to get used to this website and how to navigate around it.

  1. There’s a GSC&W Members’ Page where, below the title, are listed any Blog Posts I’ve written (really just test posts so far).
  2. When you click on one of the Blog Posts you can see the full post and at the bottom you are able to comment on it, if you want to. A few test comments would be good for me as I get used to doing this! So please feel free to comment if just to say “hello”.
  3. When you’re reading a Blog Post you can also navigate to the other posts by just clicking on the links to the other ones below the first, if that makes sense. There’s a little bit of text that says “Test Post 1” or whatever.

This is all new to me too and developing organically! For now, I’m really looking forward to getting back to the singing bit and leaving the technicalities aside for a while. See you on a Zoom singing soon I hope.

Clare x

Childless & Whole Test Post 3

A yukky technical one with me trying to see what difference it makes having different settings when I’m recording a video. Don’t bother watching!

A link to a video on YouTube.

And the same video, embedded.

Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla just seeing what happens if I write more and how it looks when there’s more text underneath the video. If any of you are reading this nonsense, then THANKS for having a go. I will get faster at this as I get used to it and see whether any of it is worth publishing even privately to just you all!

Childless & Whole Test Post 2

In total we’ve had 11 sessions of Growing Singing Childless & Whole (though before giving the project that name, we just called them all “experimental”) and each one has been just lovely to host. Thank you!

We had 8 sessions while “experimenting” after the launch in World Childless Week in September 2020 and another on the eve of Christmas eve and the latest 2 were on January 24th/25th.

The plan is to have them weekly in blocks of a few at a time so do look at the dates carefully to know which ones to put in your diary.

A link to a video on YouTube.

And the same video, embedded.