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Spring

Walk

2018

The Selfie 1


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Se TheTheSelfie Because it’s good to put yourself first

Screw up the invite to the baby shower, turn off Call The Midwife and mute the noise about Sunday 11th. There is more to life. Talk your dog for a walk (or volunteer at a rescue shelter or The Cinnamon Trust, binge on Netflix, make a cake for you, batch cook for the freezer, log onto a beautiful gardening site (I love Sarah Raven) and plan your summer garden, plan an adventure, sign up to an online class, paint your bedroom, look in on a childless neighbour, read a great book. Learn a bit about Twitter so you can join us on @ChildlessHour at 8pm GMT.

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The Se

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Worthy Done a great thing and didn’t know about it?

Checked in with a friend or relative online, face to face or by phone Took a picture to share Thanked someone Remembered to do something nice for yourself or someone else Made a charity donation Shared a post online Walked a dog Petted a cat Made someone laugh Signed up to an event Cuddled a person or an animal Admired a building or a view Made a drink or some food for someone Held open a door

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I could continue this list forever. These are examples that I have collected, from social media, of how we make a difference to ourselves and others. If you haven’t done one of these things, go and do one now, you’ll feel better!

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I often think that worth or value, seems to have become distorted into newsworthy gestures of huge importance, a competition over likes or measured in success - academic or personal. The media has created awards for almost everything and yet there are millions of people doing small actions that mean a lot to someone which are unnoticed. Throughout the year we’re reminded of worth in celebrations like Mothers Day and in advertising. Small asides that would, alone be hurtful, but together can severely affect mental health. Soc Sci Med reported that ‘infertile childless women who experienced unintended childlessness are at the greatest risk of psychological distress, compared with subfertile women who have children or those who are childless by choice (intended childlessness), suggesting that continued inability to achieve motherhood undermines a valued identity.’ [2013]. That’s an alarming evaluation but one that I have no doubt is true based on my research for Walk In Our Shoes. When I sat down to write this article I reached out to the community and asked for definitions of worth. Amy, who is childless not by choice due to a severe illness, spoke about how she saw herself as valueless, ‘I have to be at home for regular injections, so I can’t work in an office. When my boyfriend walked out on me after I was ill and it became clear I wasn’t going to recover or be able to have children, I felt I had no value to anyone.’ Amy’s sense of purpose came when she spoke to her employers and they worked with her to reorganise her job so she was able to work at home. In short, her bosses valued her worth enough to find a way to accommodate her illness. ‘If I had not asked them, I think I would have struggled. With a job I can say I have something but knowing what else I am is hard. I am struggling

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with that. Sick, patient are the words I hear most often but my family remind me always that I am a daughter, sister and aunt’.

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Similar stories have appeared on Walk In Our Shoes. Gavin spoke about his anger over his family who placed value on his family with children. He got back in touch and explains that he and his partner are no longer on social media and moved away. ‘We needed to find a new life. We’ve actually moved outside Manchester and both work in the charitable sector. We’re renting a tiny flat and volunteering at arts festivals in the city. I am especially careful about who I make friends with but having a smaller group of mates who try to understand about our journey make me understand I am worth something.’ One quote that I return to often is this one. “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris. Morris refers to the aesthetics. I believe it’s a good rule for life and one that we can apply to people and relationships. My sense of worth is always increased by those who are mindful of my journey, or with whom I share a mutual respect regardless of whether they are parent or not. I’m open about my experiences as it defines me and that determines the ‘useful’ nature of a person and the beauty of our association. It’s reported that 1 in 8 couples suffer with infertility which makes the lack of care over ‘worthy’ alarming. It is more important than ever that we support World Childless Week. This week of coverage brings the opportunity to shout about our worth from the simple actions that mean so much to the bigger roars across social media. Soc Sci Med. 2009 Mar; 68(5): 850–857.. Published online 2008 Dec 26. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.11.012

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Top Tips Slap social media into shape

Consider two Facebook accounts, one for friends who are in your involuntarily childless community, the other for those who you find hard to follow. Create a difficult to remember password for the hard to follow account so you have to think before you view the news-feed (or sign in on an old device you have to charge up first). Use the main account for the friends, groups and news you like to read.

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Se EnidThe Porter Amazing role models from the past

Miss Enid Porter lived in Cambridge from 1933 and began teaching on her arrival. After some time, she took an interest in museum work and became the Curator of the Cambridge and County Folk Museum from 1947 until 1976. She wrote extensively on folklore. Her book ,‘Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore’ is essential reading for anyone who wants to know about the history of the eerie landscape around this famed academic city and learn hidden stories of the town behind the gown. Using her skills as a teacher and a curator, Miss Porter delivered lectures to schools and colleges in the district. Much information for her work was found over tea and cakes at the Women’s Institute, church groups and social events. Her notebooks and the Museum (now the Museum of Cambridge) continues to enchant visitors today.

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Se MyThestory Because it’s good to put yourself first

During a graphic design and typography postgraduate degree I realised the power of social design. By this I mean how design can provide solutions to problems in environments, social situations and communities. Inspired by other artists in the field, I set out to tell real accounts of infertility and involuntary childlessness. After much collaboration, peer reviews and workshops, so Walk In Our Shoes came to be a proper functioning website and I stood up, very nervously, in front of 800 students and told my story. That terror moment lead to a realisation of why privacy matters. It’s fine for me to stand up and talk about my story, but what if you don’t? If you are wishing and yearning to say something but you don’t want the tie of a blog? Desperate to say what you’ve accomplished or explain how you feel, then it’s my hope that Walk In Our Shoes is right for you. Share your story on the completely confidential gallery. Unless you want to, you do not have to give your real name or email. All entries are received via a form that comes straight to my inbox and only I see them. Any time you’d like it removed, just pop me a message and it will be removed.

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Your story Because it’s good to put yourself first

Inspired to share your story? You can write on any theme you wish. You might want to mull on the struggles of loss, explain about you coped or if you didn’t, share your feelings, thank a friend or your significant other for their support, or bust a myth. The Walk In Our Shoes gallery has featured unique stories about dealing with families, best friends, new directions, being childless in later life. And I would love you to be part of our gallery. I recommend a maximum of 500 words but it’s not a rule, it can be more or less, as much as you want to share. Put on your most comfortable or powerful shoes, the ones that bring you happiness, and take a photo with your phone. Or I can use a stock image from a suitable site instead. Pop the details to me via the contact page

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The Se Why? Because it’s good to put yourself first

I read the invitation for contributions. I began to write my story. It is a defining point in my life and my grief in wanting to move on. I read the story over and over again as if it was someone else’s and cried until one day I read it and didn’t try. The whole experience has been very cathartic. Without the project and Berenice’s vision, who knows how long it would have taken me to read my own story. I will forever be grateful.

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The Se Get involved You’ve done a great thing and you want to talk about it?

Walk welcomes your words too. Short stories, flash fiction, photography, art, different hobbies, adventures, why you love where you live, your day in cups of tea or coffee... The list is endless. Click and send on the Walk In Our Shoes website. There is a future, let’s make it brighter together.

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Walk zine march 2018  

A magazine or zine for the childless community. Featuring articles, flash fiction, short stories, art and photography and packed with passio...

Walk zine march 2018  

A magazine or zine for the childless community. Featuring articles, flash fiction, short stories, art and photography and packed with passio...

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