Three women from the back, with arms around each other

We all crave a sense of belonging.  It is intrinsic to our human nature, our joy, our self-esteem, our health, our well-being, and most of all, to our survival.

This is why it can feel very satisfying when we spend time with family members, hang out with friends, collaborate with co-workers, and take part in groups such as fitness classes, choirs, chess teams, or knitting and scrapbooking clubs, etc.

Of course, sometimes spending time with others can trigger us and make us feel emotions that are far less appealing such as sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, and even loneliness. Why is this?

The main reason is because spending time with others does not automatically guarantee that we will feel that we “belong” – in the truest sense of the word.

Most of us have heard of or have been in circumstances where we’ve been in close proximity with others that we care about and yet still feel an emptiness or lack of connection.

“Belonging” is far more than simply being in the same space at the same time as others or even ‘fitting in’. Having a sense of “Belonging” means that we can be our most authentic self with our genuine thoughts, beliefs, and values, whether we agree with others’ opinions and choices or not and yet still feel accepted as we are.

What interferes with belonging

This type of “Belonging” experience is harder to come by. There are three main reasons for this:

  1. Most people are so focused on themselves, their own issues, responsibilities, and to-do lists, that they do not necessarily have the time or mental space to really get to know those around them.
  2. With fast-paced lives, many people are functioning on ‘auto-pilot’ and are going through the motions instead of having fresh, new, and real interactions. They likely fall into old habits of self-perception which also limits their ability to really see others in the present moment.
  3. Groups of people are like herds of animals. There is a hierarchy and code of conduct that is present, even if it is unspoken. This automatic structure gets imposed before we are consciously aware of it, and it governs our way of thinking about ourselves and others, dictating and limiting our actions and behaviours. However, animals in the wild gather in herds, where avoiding harm and escaping death is far more important than authentic self expression, which then ensures the survival of the species.

To further consider this last main reason and look towards a solution, as humans we have inherited this same mammalian brain structure, so survival is always first and foremost our priority. Yet we also have a neocortex (new brain structure), which gives us the human advantage and puts us at the top of the food chain.

This area of our brain (located just behind the forehead) houses our ‘executive functions’ and is responsible for skills such as:  self-managing, creative thinking, problem solving, self-reflection, delaying gratification, moving us towards our goals, and more.

As homo sapiens, we have the opportunity to pause and reflect and to consider our personal needs, values, and authenticity – rather than simply defaulting into survival patterns.

Belonging to yourself

You may find it interesting that research shows that the opposite to “Belonging” has nothing to do with being excluded; it is actually “Fitting in”!  Are you surprised by this?

While “Fitting in” may temporarily feel alright, and even placate a sense of loneliness, it is not sustainable.

The actual anecdote to loneliness is to cultivate a sense of “Belonging” within our individual selves, because we take that inner comfort, confidence, and connection wherever we go.

Well-known author Brene Brown shared in an interview that she can feel alone, even though she has a wonderful family and a big fan base. She has learned to overcome this by developing a sense of “Belonging” within herself. She is quoted as saying, “I belong everywhere I go, as long as I don’t betray myself.  The minute I become who you want me to be in order to fit in, and to make sure people like me, is the moment I no longer belong anywhere.”

It is an ongoing practise to cultivate a sense of “Belonging” within ourselves. It requires time, energy, curiosity, willingness, and a desire to make ourselves a priority in a very busy and demanding world.

In my experience, being part of a Women’s Wellness Circle is a rare and sacred place where we can all simultaneously feel a close and supportive connection with each other, while also being genuinely encouraged to be ourselves and to listen to our own personal needs, beliefs, values, hearts promptings, and spiritual insights.

When we have a visceral experience of being accepted as we are, like we have when we are in Circle, we are then more capable of offering that same acceptance to others.

Seeing others and being seen ourselves is such a special and unique gift. When it happens, healing takes place, transformation and growth is possible, and we naturally bring more of our personal gifts to the world.

 

Circles of Authentic Connection,

Jill Hewlett

 

Founder & Mentor Women’s Wellness Circles

www.womenswellnesscircles.com

Honouring Our Dreams - Little girl with her shadow as a ballet dancer

As young children we are encouraged to use our imagination.  We play ‘make believe’ with various lifestyles, career paths, and accomplishments and do not worry about the risks involved or how we’ll make it happen. Everyone is happy to entertain our ideas!

As the years pass, we suddenly arrive at an age where we are expected to know our plans for our future. This may start as early as high school when we are constantly being asked, “What are your plans for college or university; what career path are you choosing?”

We start to feel the risks involved as we are being tasked with having an actual plan in place and as the pressure increases to achieve specific goals.

Often, by default, we ‘tweak’ our vision, which then slowly chips away at the life we have imagined. We do this to feel comfortable – not just for ourselves but for the people around us. This is also the beginning of putting the comfort, needs, and expectations of others before our own dreams.

Looking back, I notice that I always had a big imagination and bold ideas. In my early adult life, I was able to tune out doubt and distractions that surrounded my dreams and just go for it.  I was only twenty-four years old when I opened a business with a friend. Then, a year later I took the business over by myself.  While I was faced with multiple challenges, I never gave up; because I stayed true to what I imagined it could look like.

Somewhere along the way, however, my vision shrank until I could no longer see it. In retrospect, I put the needs and expectations of everyone else around me ahead of my own, until I lost myself and was burnt out.  Reluctantly, I walked away from that business and the bigger dreams I had for it.

Now, at thirty-six years of age, I can say it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  However, I would never have thought that allowing myself to imagine a new path and a new dream would be just as hard!

I still have big dreams and ideas but have somehow forgotten how to trust them and myself. Getting in touch with our free-spirited, and imagination-led, inner child again can be easier said than done, especially when so much life has since transpired and so many adult responsibilities have set in.

During a conversation with a very dear friend, I was ‘not so gently’ reminded with some tough love that it’s time to learn how to dream and to do things for myself again. I had fallen into a comfort zone that was stalling my growth.  I need to remind myself that I know what it’s like to follow a big dream, like when I took the risk of opening my own business. That dream connected me with so many wonderful people and experiences. It gave me the opportunity to learn a lot and to contribute to the woman that I am today.

It is time for me to enter a new growth and to trust my imagination again. But where do I begin?

One of the first experiences on my healing and self-reclaiming journey was to attend a Women’s Wellness Circle. A friend and inspiring woman I know was presenting. So, I called my mom and said that we needed to go and support her and have some fun.

Walking to the car after the Circle gathering, I said, “I want to do that someday”.  Like many of my ideas, I could clearly imagine what it would feel like to host my own Circle and bring amazing women together in community spirit.

A few months went by, and I continued to attend Circle. Frequently I would envision hosting my own someday.  However, that vision was put on hold because some big changes came into my life. My husband and I were moving, and we were expecting our first child. On top of that, we had no idea that life for everyone would be put on hold for the next two years.

As with all big changes in life, it takes some time to get settled. Once the two years had passed, I knew I had to finally make the time for me. It was time to trust my dreams and imagination again, even though I had no idea how to get started or what the future would hold.

What I do know from personal experience, however, is that big things do not start big — they start small and grow, just as we do. I recall this from the memories of how my first business developed, and I can see it now in the wonderful growth of my beautiful young daughter.

So, I’m excited to follow my vision and to take the steps in creating a warm, light-filled, and inviting space, a Women’s Wellness Circle, for myself and the women of this community. It will become a space where we can all imagine, inspire, and support each other as we grow into the next steps in our life’s adventures.

To Living Our Dreams,

Danielle Lawson

Women’s Wellness Circle Host, Kingston ON

Dipping a foot in water

We’ve all experienced that feeling of excitement as we look forward to something new. Perhaps it’s a special event, a career change, a new relationship, or a move.

We may feel curious, giddy, nervous, or other emotions such as enthusiasm, excitement, and passion. Maybe a combination of them all!

Currently I am buzzing with the powerful and positive emotion of ‘anticipation’ —like something good is about to happen. I can feel this in my body as butterflies in my stomach, a tingly sensation throughout my body, and a faster-paced breath.

This anticipation relates to a travel adventure that I have been looking forward to since early in 2020! The trip has been cancelled and delayed twice over the past two years, and now it looks like it will finally happen.

It isn’t a regular kind of holiday. It’s a special kind of trip, where I’ll have the opportunity to hit the pause button, to take a deep dive into myself and learn, practice, and develop my Ayurveda skills.

This retreat is being held in Ecuador, in the foothills of the Andes. It is my first trip to South America, so there was lots of planning and preparation. I look forward to all the new experiences that await!

I am travelling solo. This is a big step in my journey of self discovery. I usually ask a friend or my sister to join me on my travels. The last retreat I went to I had a girlfriend join me. There is something about travelling solo I have admired in others, and I anticipate having this experience for myself.

It’s time to unplug from my daily life, work responsibilities, and social activities and take a deep dive into my own rhythms and inner voice.  It is a time to give space for serenity to flourish.

The retreat itself is a wonderful combination of leisure and learning. I’ve been waiting, dreaming, planning, hoping, and trusting that it will happen. Now I’m in full-blown anticipation of finally being there in person.

The accommodations are simple. I’ll be staying in a rustic cabin at an off-grid retreat center surrounded by nature. We have been warned of the patchy cell service. This will be quite an adjustment for visitors who are so accustomed to being attached to their technology.

My sleeping bag is coming with me! This thought and feeling takes me back to childhood and summer camping trips. The symbol of a sleeping bag brings us one step closer to nature. When we abandon some of the everyday comforts that we take for granted and realize how little we need.

I anticipate the feeling of calm. I’m ready to embrace this sacred land and the space that it will provide to allow me to tune inwards and accept myself where I am in my Life journey.

As well, I am deeply anticipating the teachings that will be shared by two indigenous teachers on natural healing practices. I am interested to see what commonalities there are with different indigenous backgrounds. One instructor is coming from Canada from the Cayuga area, and the other instructor is from Ecuador. We will have an interpreter.

Our society is hungry for ways to reconnect to our innate wisdom, to support inner healing and to live in greater harmony with nature. I look forward with anticipation to bringing back my newly acquired knowledge and perspectives. Along with implementing them into my own life, I’ll share it with others and our Women’s Wellness Circle community.

In a way, I am looking at this experience as an extended time in Circle. I will travel and meet others as we share common interests, learn, absorb nature, and then move forward again into our own lives with fond memories and an everlasting connection.

I’m also certain there will be several ‘full circle’ moments that clarify, re-direct, expand, and affirm the path that I am on.

Like our Women’s Wellness Circles, I anticipate being in the company and sharing experiences with other wonderful women. We know from our time in circle how connections can be made, how insights can be shared, and how emotions can be stirred.

This ranges from joy and sadness to anger and passion. This especially happens when we join with others to create the sacred space in which we can be vulnerable and open and when we allow the wellspring of energy and feelings that we have within to surface and flow.

Anticipation sits on the emotional wheel, partnered with feelings such as optimism, vigilance, and joy. What is your experience with emotions like this? Do you have outlets to express how you feel?

As I prepare for my journey to South America, I simultaneously hold joyful anticipation of the time when I will be sitting in person back in New Brunswick, Canada, in the Hampton Women’s Wellness Circle. I anticipate providing a space where all emotions are welcome, and our healing and wellness journeys are prioritized.

Until that time – I anticipate with a full heart.

 

Jennifer Bruder

Women’s Wellness Circle Host

Hampton, New Brunswick

Grandmother and grandson

When I think of the word “Grandmother”, I lapse into a dreamy, nostalgic state when life was simpler.

As a young girl, it didn’t seem to matter what was going on in the world, my grandmother’s face, voice, and soothing presence would calm me. She was a strong and silent woman who imbued a certainty that everything was in order, and her essence is etched in my memory.

During my childhood, my grandmother lived with us for support as my mother battled breast cancer. I loved this beautiful matriarch so very much. Most evenings I made my way to her room and fell asleep snuggled up beside her. Then during the days, I’d often be found outdoors in nature, where I did not have to witness my mom fighting for her life and my father barely holding on.

Being in nature felt really good. I often spent time at an old, abandoned barn near my home. I would sit on big, crumbled rocks that were warmed by the sun. It was a beautiful and comforting place of connection where I felt safe to process my thoughts and concerns.  The voice in my head told me to just breathe and that everything would be okay.

As time and life went on, I didn’t always remember to trust and listen to the calm, quiet voice in my head. Entering adulthood, life got busier and filled with distractions. I stopped listening to the gift of knowing and the connection that I had accessed in my childhood that we carry with us every day of our lives.

Thankfully, as life comes full Circle and becoming a grandmother, I intentionally surround myself with women of like-mind who remind me how to re-connect with that beautiful inner place of knowing and calm – that warm rock and comfort from my childhood.

At this stage of life, I have experienced so much living and have become more rooted and grounded in the essence of life. Now it is my turn to offer to the next generation the calm, strength and knowing that my grandmother did for me

Life cycles are in constant flow. We can experience the grace of transformation as we come full Circle. I am so grateful that I am being given the gift of time to be with my grandson every day, just like my grandmother was there for me.

His heart so pure and sweet. I often catch him staring at me.  As the eyes are windows to the soul, I believe we have a shared mission and lessons we are here to teach each other.

My love for him runs deep, as it did for me with my own grandmother. She is still a constant foothold in my life, even though she left this world over 50 years ago. I believe that the beautiful moments of loving connectedness that I share with my grandson will be remembered as he ages, just as mine are with my grandmother.

To prepare for this role as grandmother and experience this ‘Grand Love’, I went into a quiet space in my heart to feel what this child would need from me, so I could be the best version of grandmother for him

The answer was to be rooted in love and to provide a space of compassion, joy, forgiveness, wonder, and awe. Ultimately, however, my purpose is to help soften some of the rough edges of life and open his beautiful eyes to the magnificence of this world.

There are so many awe-inspiring gifts that await him every day. I hope my grandson steps into the world each day with eyes, mind, and heart wide open.

As children we are so connected with nature and intuition; and as grandmothers we have the opportunity to remind them of that knowing and truth. With age, we realize we can access our inner guidance which has carried us through challenges and turmoil, and we can lean into that deeper knowing. I want to share the gift of remembrance that we have everything we need when we sit in silence and really listen.

My grandson was born during the time of Covid, when distancing between people even family was common, masks were worn, and consoling with friendly smiles were often hidden.

This is an opportunity to teach my grandson that the world isn’t always as it seems. We are not alone and divided. We are truly connected, and there are so many amazing people who love unconditionally.

As a grandmother, who once was a young girl who found so much comfort in nature and wisdom in silence, I want to remind him to listen closely to his heart, the birds, the wind, the sun, the moon.  I want him to run barefoot in the grass, to hug a tree, and to sit on rocks warmed by the sun. I want him to trust his intuition, to treat people as he would like to be treated, and to lose himself in what makes him come alive.

Most of all, I want to thank him for his love and patience and for giving me this opportunity to be his grandmother.

Debbie Armstrong

www.facebook.com/WWCbarrieinnisfil/

Woman hugging a tree

Living in reciprocity is something that has spoken to my heart and spirit, for many years. Currently, it feels more important than ever on our planet to consider its value and application.

Let’s set the groundwork…

  • Reciprocity: mutual dependence, action, or influence.
  • Synonyms:  interchange, mutual understanding, mutuality, congruence, connectedness, interdependence, complementarity, exchange, and universality.
  • Opposite: Competition, only one side benefits.

For context, I would like to focus on living in reciprocity with our home, Momma Earth – also known as Pachamama, Gaia and Mother Nature. After all, it makes sense that to have right relationship with our home, it would behoove us to look after it.

To start with, let’s take one step back to see that our own bodies are also connected to the Earth.  Did you know that our human structures are made up of all the elements of the Earth? This means that by looking after our bodies, we will also be more tuned into the best ways to look after the Earth.

In the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson, “The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth…”

All that we require to live a long and healthy life comes from Nature: our food, air, water, fire, building materials, clothing, etc.  By not appreciating or understanding this, we make choices that negatively impact nature and compromise our very existence.

Taking a quote from Deborah Brodey’s blog post on this topic, she opens by saying: “Reciprocity is an ancient teaching that is Universal to all Indigenous, original and Earth loving peoples around the world and is key to preserving life and living in alignment and right relationship with the Earth, and all our relatives.  It fosters right action born out of love, gratitude, and respect, as we naturally own our individual and collective responsibility as children of our beloved Earth.”

For many years we have been living in an unbalanced and unsustainable way and that trend has been extremely heightened over the past 50 years.  We are getting wake up calls in many forms from extreme climate shifts to the pollution of air, soil and water, and to the rising disease in animals and humans.

I feel that the past couple of years has provided so much fodder for growth and coming back to what is most important in life. This, in turn, will provide new inspiration to make the changes necessary to transform the downhill spiral and devastation into learning lessons and new choices.

In my own coaching practice, I have experienced huge shifts in the clients with whom I work, seeing them change careers, make geographical moves, re-evaluate who they spend time with, and how they treat their bodies.

I, too, have made significant shifts in many areas of my life. It all started with my body giving me messages that I had to pay attention to. Our bodies will always win; we can choose to ignore the messages for a while.  However, the persistence of our own internal wisdom to be in balance and to survive will eventually be so loud that we will not be able to ignore it anymore.

Many of us have realized how critical it is to spend more time in nature – to detach from technology, to move our bodies, and to listen and observe the rhythm of nature and take in her beauty. There is a calmness that seeps into our cells; our breath deepens and our nervous systems tune down a notch.

The other important aspect of coming into alignment with our own nature has been connecting with like-minded individuals and community. This connection fuels our whole being, allowing both a relaxation and a new level of inspiration.

When we walk a different path from the mainstream, we can sometimes feel alone, different, and unsafe.  Finding our community of like-minded people helps to know there are others on the same wave length.

Women’s Wellness Circles are a constant source of this inspiration, nurturance and connection for me and for the women who attend each month.  Whether it is once a year, a couple of times a year, or every month, Circle provides all who attend an opportunity to know and honor themselves more deeply.

Through learning about natural cycles, essential oils, plant medicine, animals, intuition, creativity, movement, and so much more, we further develop our appreciation for the wisdom of Mother Nature and simultaneously our own nature, too.

I believe this is a brilliant foundation for living with reciprocity.  In learning, sharing, exchanging, playing, relaxing, and co-creating in community, we experience the ripple effect that our presence brings into our world for all those whom we touch, be it human, animal, plant, or element.

I am forever grateful for the presence of Women’s Wellness Circles in my life. They have been a source of living in reciprocity and a reminder to be in right relations.

May we all find this source of inspiration and connection in our lives.

In Gratitude,

Karen Armstrong

 

WWC Host, Newmarket/EG
Reiki Master, Biophoton Light Therapist & Enneagram Coach
www.in-side-out.com

Self Esteem

When we reflect on our lives, we may notice that on days that we feel better about ourselves, happier and more fulfilled, we are also able to offer a greater degree of care, support, and generosity to others.

This is because we can only love and outwardly appreciate the degree to which we have nurtured those same feelings and qualities within and towards ourselves.

In other words, we can’t give what we don’t have; we can’t pour from an empty cup.

Most women I know, however, continue to give and give, even when their own wells are running low. This shows up frequently in parenting, caregiving, educational and leadership roles.

Tending to others, especially the young or vulnerable, is immensely rewarding.  It is a selfless and humbling endeavour. Often, we are on call many hours per day, and we need to handle a whole host of situations and issues that we may not even feel adequately equipped for.  Nonetheless, we need to pull through as effectively as possible, as the well-being of others is at stake.

‘Talk about learning how to fly …on the way down …when we’ve never used our wings before …and don’t even know if they work!

What does this sound like?  Life, of course.

There is no manual to follow that can provide us with the do’s and don’ts to apply to our life journey. We may share similarities with others (universal strategies such as healthy eating, exercise, personal hygiene, and social activity), but ultimately our own experiences and individual lessons are unique and one-of-a-kind.

This is why, in order to fully embrace and be as prepared as possible for this wild and wonderful life experience, one of the most fundamental qualities to embody is self esteem.

We may not always feel confident or even capable of handling everything that comes along.  However, having a noteworthy level of self esteem can support us and get us to the other side of all sorts of learning curves and challenges.

What is Self-esteem?  

Self-esteem pertains to how you feel about your self concept and your overall opinion of yourself, such as your abilities and limitations.

When you have healthy self-esteem, you feel good about yourself and see yourself as deserving the respect of others. With low self-esteem, you put little value on your opinions and ideas.

Our early development of self-worth is greatly impacted by the attitudes and behaviours of our parents and caretakers. This later shifts as our social interactions move outside of the home and become more greatly influenced by peers and society. In many ways, self-esteem is a measure of your real or imagined history of acceptance and rejection.

Since, self-esteem is primarily based on our perception, it can be highly influenced. This means it can change, strengthen, or even weaken.

Types of Self-esteem

There are three categories of self esteem:

  1. Low Self-esteem: This group sees themselves as below average. They do not believe in themselves, trust in their abilities, or place value on themselves. Low self-esteem can affect many aspects of one’s life, such as leading to addictions, depression, anxiety, and poor relationships.
  2. Inflated Self-esteem: This group tends to view themselves as better than other people and are always ready to underestimate others. This prevents them from forming meaningful, healthy and mutually supportive relationships. They always want to be ahead, and most times do not mind hurting people to achieve the success they desire, thinking that will bring them happiness. They do not have the ability to listen to others, and they constantly blame others and undervalue them. They also adopt a hostile attitude and behavior toward others. They brag to hide their incompetence and have a great fear of rejection and failure.
  3. High Self-esteem: This group tends to love and accept themselves. They trust in their abilities and have the confidence to believe that whatever challenge might come their way, they will be able to handle and even surpass it. They enjoy and embrace learning new things and accept new challenges. They are not searching for approval or hiding from the possible judgements of others.  As well, they are open to corrective input. People who have high self-esteem have positive feelings and are more pleasant to be around.

Why Is Self-esteem Important?

Self-esteem is crucial, because it is a determinant of success or failure. It influences a person’s life choices and motivation. It can help you navigate through life with a more positive attitude and outlook.  Whereas, low self esteem may hold you back from achieving your goals and hinder you from maximizing your potential, as you have the perception that you are not good enough or don’t have what it takes to succeed.

A wonderful way to augment your self esteem is dedicating time and energy to your own self care. This builds personal autonomy, trust, and self-reliance.

By joining a Women’s Wellness Circles, you can experience a monthly commitment of investing in yourself, and your self-esteem will flourish, too.

To Your Self-esteem,

Jill Hewlett

Founder & Mentor Women’s Wellness Circles

www.womenswellnesscircles.com

Heart coming out of an open book

How comfortable are you with apologising to someone if you hurt their feelings or did something that upset them, whether you intended to or not?

How comfortable are you with receiving an apology or even asking for one if someone has hurt you by their words or actions?

These are important questions to ask. Your answers will determine the amount of healing and growth you bring to yourself, others, and the world around you.

Recently I read the book, The Five Languages of Apology, co-written by the same well-known author of The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman.

Although I’m generally comfortable with giving and receiving apologies, it’s not a topic in which I had become well-versed. Not many people have because it’s not taught in school and our parents didn’t know much about it either. Yet, it’s such an important life skill.

In fact, I now believe that if we want to nurture close and trusting relationships and to improve our local and global communities, then it’s an essential life skill.

Is saying ‘sorry’ enough?

Over the past number of months, I had someone important in my life repeat an issue that they knew was bothering me. While they did say they were sorry, it didn’t feel sincere to me.

I really wanted to move beyond the issue, because I knew the other person had good intentions. However, each time the situation repeated itself, it just added to my feelings of being disrespected and uncared for.

Little by little, a small situation that could have been easily resolved, resulted in a significant fracture in our rapport.

To be fair, I had not yet read the Languages of Apology book, and while I knew something was chipping away at the integrity of our connection, I didn’t realize how much I needed an apology that spoke my ‘apology language.’

If I had of realized this sooner, I would have been better able to articulate my needs. Instead, I was hoping for the best, while the issue continued to grow, and the other person didn’t have a chance to do their part to remedy the situation.

Making excuses for ourselves and others

Like most people, I didn’t know that there is an actual ‘art and science’ to an effective apology. I was simply expecting the other person to deliver, so the issue could be resolved.

This is fantasy thinking.  When we do this, we drop the ball when it comes to our part in co-creating a healthy and successful rapport with another person.

Not to mention, when a person speaks our ‘apology language’, and when we speak theirs, it means we understand each other’s needs and what matters to each other.

With this mutual awareness, behaviours naturally improve, and the relationship grows in leaps and bounds!

Easier said than done…

I think it’s typical to not ask for an apology when we:

  • Know a person’s intentions are good.
  • Are aware that everyone makes mistakes.
  • Think the other person won’t understand why we are upset.
  • Are concerned they can’t handle our hurt or disappointment.
  • Feel that they should offer a proper apology without being asked.
  • It is an issue that has been repeated many times

Regardless of the reason(s), if we don’t tell them what we need, we don’t give them a chance to learn more about us and apologize effectively.

Becoming better equipped

Reading the Languages of Apology, I am now equipped with the awareness of how important it is to give and receive effective apologies. We can’t simply think that saying ‘I’m sorry’ is going to be enough.

Another amazing outcome of giving a proper apology is that it shows we care about the other person and the health and state of the relationship. That, in and of itself, has the power to create positive changes and to build more confidence and trust between people.

My daughter and I have been putting the Language of Apology principles into practise, and it’s taken our close relationship to a whole new level of understanding and connection. There was an action that I was repeating that was bothering her, but I didn’t think it was a big deal. It wasn’t until I applied this new learning and spoke her ‘apology language’ that I truly understood her needs and could make an effective change to this particular behaviour.

According to Gary Chapman

“If you are around someone enough, you will eventually offend them by how you speak or behave. There are no exceptions to this reality. Being able to sincerely apologize is the best way to deal with these offenses. Unresolved offenses often lead to fractures and sometimes the ending of relationships.”

This is sad.  Most people have good intentions and want their relationships to be a success.

Thankfully, there is an answer, read The Five Languages of Apology which makes this learning curve easy to navigate, and to apply. Then, you can lead by example.

Circles of Awareness & Connection,

Jill 

 

Founder & Mentor, Women’s Wellness Circles

www.womenswellnesscircles.com

A circle of horses around a water trough with a tree in the centre

This month’s blog is an interview with one of our wonderful Women’s Wellness Circles’ hosts, Tricia Rudy, who is hosting just outside of London, Ontario.

1) How did you find out about Women’s Wellness Circles?

I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook timeline about an upcoming Women’s Wellness Circle in my area. The event and guest speaker sounded interesting, so I thought I would check it out. I had been missing community gatherings, which took me out of my regular circle of family, work colleagues, and friends.  I felt it would be a great way to meet new people, learn new things, and stretch my imagination.

2) What was your first and subsequent experiences like, as an attendee?

The Women’s Wellness Circle I attended was in Uxbridge; and while it was small, they were a loyal group of women. As well, new people would join in each month. I always found the speakers interesting and the women warm and friendly.  I also enjoyed the social time at the end and being part of clean up, too. Perhaps this was an early indication that I was meant to host Circle myself?

3) What motivated you to want to host your own Circle?

Eventually I moved three hours away from my previous farm. When I found out there was no Women’s Wellness Circle near my new address, I decided to take the training to become a host. I thought it would be a good way to meet new people, make friends, and offer my farm as a ‘COVID safe’ way for women to get out of the house and take a break from their daily routines.

4) What has been your experience so far, hosting Circle?

So far, I’ve only hosted in-person Circles as I am able to do that due to the fact that we have an “outdoor” setting in the riding arena. Each month our gatherings grow in numbers, and most who come once have come back. They comment on how nice it is to get out and to spend time around the horses and with people outside of their “bubble”.  We even did a Campfire Circle in December. Ten of us bundled up and braved the cold to drink hot cider around the fire and talk about miracles. It was so special!

5) What’s it like finding guest speakers?

Finding guest speakers to come to our group has been easy. They have a range of expertise to share and a keen willingness to help me grow Circle.  Many of the women initially attended, because they were friends of one of the speakers. However, they keep returning because they enjoy it so much.

6) Why do you think this type of gathering is useful/needed in communities?

We live in a world where people venture away from the community they grew up in for many reasons, and they leave family and friends behind.  We’ve forgotten how important it is not only for women but for society to build strong connections within a community. We all need the support and sharing of knowledge and the experiences of others, and we all need to know that we are not alone.  This has been especially true during the last two years dealing with the pandemic, during which the loneliness, stress and anxiety levels have grown exponentially.  Humans need connection.

Women’s Wellness Circles offer a space to connect in a way that is non-partisan, non-religious, non-denominational, culturally diverse and welcoming to women of all ages, experiences, and backgrounds. When we take part in this type of community connection, we become stronger than the sum of our parts!

7) Anything else you’d like to add…

Since I moved to this farm in June of 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, I have been humbled by the incredible women who have found their way down my laneway. They share my dream of building a sanctuary, filled with compassion, acceptance, empathy, abundance, and support for any weary traveller who needs a place to relax, to recharge and to be inspired. Getting to hang out with my incredible horses is an added bonus! Women’s Wellness Circle is an integral piece of this bigger picture. It is a perfect example of the many blessings received when we are in the presence of, and service of, others.

I spoke to Jill Hewlett, founder and mentor of the Women’s Wellness Circles.  She agreed that the way the world is evolving, it is important to ensure Circle can be available to all. So, my next month’s gathering is going to be the first ever hybrid WWC.

Our speaker will be here on the farm, along with anyone else who wishes to attend in person. Simultaneously, women will be able to join via ZOOM from the comfort of their own homes, if they prefer.  We will have a dedicated monitor watching the ZOOM meeting to make sure everyone has a chance to participate and feel connected to the Circle, whether they are attending in person or remotely. Can’t wait for another unique and memorable Circle experience.

I’m grateful to be part of this expanding journey that is connecting us all!

Tricia Rudy

Certified FEEL Facilitator

www.harmonywithhorses.ca

Me First! - Image of woman with arms in the air and confetti falling

Humans have a natural inclination to want to be first for things.

Among many positive perks, it provides an enjoyable dose of serotonin – that happy neurochemical that gets activated when we feel capable and proud.

As a child, having ‘first pick’ as to whom will be on your team for a sport, or to be the fist to pick a cookie off a platter, or to be the person to make the decision during gym class as to what game everyone will play… all of these examples give you an incredible sense of pleasure and power.

As well, receiving the top grade in a class, getting the highest mark on a test, or winning the gold medal in a race are significant accomplishments many people dream of and strive for.  These types of ‘firsts’ are important, because they make the people feel so good.

Not to mention, certain ‘firsts’ can be powerful and memorable, like your ‘first kiss’, ‘first date’ and ‘first love.’

There are times, of course, that being first isn’t necessarily favourable. For example, if you don’t like to public speak and you are chosen as the first in a group to deliver your presentation, then that may be incredibly nerve wracking and something you’d rather avoid.

In some cases, it’s probably even better to not be first and instead to wait and see how things go. This is true especially when it comes to a new product or service that’s been introduced to the marketplace that could have potential kinks or adverse side effects which need to be learned about and corrected before delivering it to the masses.

While people in general seem to be naturally wired to strive for ‘firsts’, it’s very interesting and intriguing that there is a particular area in life where many people avoid it. Can you guess what I’m referring to?

It’s the realm of ‘Putting Yourself First.’

When it comes to knowing and acting upon what is important to oneself, such as values, beliefs, and needs, many people fall short. They either avoid, ignore, or simply do not understand these essential parts of themselves.

For some reason, these ‘inner-driven-firsts’ that begin and end with oneself seem to be a trickier area for a lot of people to prioritize, especially for women.

Personally, I think this is the most important type of ‘first’. Thus, it is a big part of what makes our Women’s Wellness Circles so essential and valuable.

In each gathering, women have the opportunity to prioritize themselves first. It is a precious time to become familiar with and to better understand their own needs and preferences, as they are temporarily away from the distractions of other daily life responsibilities. Simultaneously, women in Circle learn useful strategies to better honour, nurture and care for themselves.

My own life path is an ongoing journey of these very concepts! In fact, it’s the main reason why I started the first Women’s Wellness Circle seventeen years ago, which has since grown to multiple locations across Canada. Clearly, others have a need for this as well.

Of course, there really is no end to this learning curve, because as humans we are constantly growing and changing. This is why it’s so important that we have spaces and places where we feel welcomed and encouraged to tune into ourselves on a regular basis.

This is true especially when there are so many ways we can avoid investing into this crucial self-exploration. Here are some common culprits:

  • Keeping busy
  • Gossiping
  • Going from one relationship to the next
  • Overly focusing on the needs of others
  • Believing that we never have enough time

The great news is that once we take a break from the tendency to focus outwards first, and we begin to focus inwardly, we become better acquainted with the most important person in our lives… ourselves!

Then, when we return to our daily life activities, careers, and relationships, we are in better alignment.  We feel recharged, and we have more to give.

Plus, we can more clearly see reality and can know what needs more of our attention, what we need to let go of, what can be improved, and what we can simply accept as it is.

If there are unhealthy behaviours, incompatibility, or dysfunction, we can quickly and easily recognize it and attend to it, without staying stuck in denial, getting into messy dramas, or wasting our precious time.

Putting ourselves first, indeed saves us time and energy! It is certainly not selfish. Rather it’s self-loving, and others benefit, too.

In most cases our lives are not usually in a desperate situation. We simply need to be more present, and that can only happen when we feel nurtured, understood, and connected… with ourselves first.

‘Wishing you a wonderful new year of personal growth, self-exploration and putting yourself first – in the most loving, kind, and supportive way.

 

Circles of Gratitude,

Jill

 

Founder & Mentor of Women’s Wellness Circles

www.womenswellnesscircles.com

Lovely scenery seen through a circular tube

It’s not possible to know the ripple that will occur from a “Yes”.

How can we anticipate what will come when we take that first step? Truly we can’t.

It’s not until we walk the path that upon which we can reflect and see all that has occurred and rippled out, can we know the result. And even then, there are always more ripples yet to be seen!

Sometimes in life, saying ‘yes’ can be challenging for that very reason! It leads us to all the uncertainty and potential ‘what ifs…’  However, inevitably it is in the steps we take that we make progress. Truly, a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ determines where we go, and making decisions is how we grow.

When I first became a Women’s Wellness Circle host in 2015, I knew in my heart-of-hearts that it was exactly what I needed to do and where I needed to be. However, what I never could have seen then was just how far and wide Circle would end up carrying me.

I hosted my last in-person Oshawa Women’s Wellness Circle in March of 2020. My dear friend, Lorree, was presenting alongside me. We didn’t know it at the time, but we would move into our first lockdown just two days later.

Recently looking back at the theme and description of that Circle, I got shivers!

Here is what it said:

“We have heard that our life purpose is about the journey along the way, and all we receive from the experiences, not the destination. Our soul is here for adventure, it’s going to attract a wide variety of experiences we are meant to fully feel and move through along our path to awaken our consciousness. We are here to journey through life collectively and individually with all of our senses.”

In Circle that evening, we worked through and accepted the concept that we are here to experience life fully, and in our own unique way.  There is no need to compare, because it will look different for us all. That is more that OK; it’s the way!

Little did we know how important and powerful that gathering would be to assist in preparing us for what was about to come… a global crisis that affected everyone both similarly and in vastly different ways.

Once the world shifted, many of my Women’s Wellness Circle host sisters had a similar approach and continued to host their Circles online. They have been thriving with this approach since.

There are so many positives to shifting to online Circle and to not pausing until in-person could meet again.  One is a seamless continued connection.  As well, there can be an unlimited geographical reach for participants to join, and here is the ability to invite wonderful presenters from distant regions, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to share their wisdom.

Personally, I tried hosting Circle online; and even though there were many positives, it just didn’t work for me. So, I made a very challenging personal decision to put Circle on hold and wait and see.

While I honored my intuition, and my unique path; by saying YES to what I was feeling, there were still many ‘ifs’ around that decision, such as:

  • What if I lose my connection to the community?
  • What if I lose my connection to my sisters?
  • What if I lose touch with all the great teachers?

To give me a more well-rounded perspective, I took time to reflect and notice the ongoing ripples Circle had left in my life and the lives of the hundreds of women who had attended consistently over the previous five years.

We learned lesson after lesson about honoring ourselves, trusting in our ability to make decisions, and feeling through the fear so we could move forward with confidence and inner clarity. I was being called to implement and role-model this learning in my life, and as a Circle host as well.

Exactly one year after my last Circle in March 2020, I had the opportunity to move my business to “Souls Path,” a gorgeous 60-acre property in Blackstock, ON.

Being zoned as a recreational space, they had options which allowed for in-person Circle again! I was now able to recommence Circle in the way my heart knew was most aligned and true to me.

The added bonus was that many other likeminded holistic women are working here as well.  This has led to a new and expanded pool of teachers and talent to offer our attendees.  In addition, excellent local practitioners have also been coming to enjoy the space!

I’m so thankful I listened to my inner voice and trusted that the energy and ripples of all my Circle lessons would carry me forward, even when I chose to pause.  As a result, indeed they did.

I’ve been carried forward all the way to a new expansive, nature-filled space, a vibrant and conscious community, and an opportunity for me to return to Circle, in a Full Circle way.

To Trusting and Honouring Your Journey,

 

Amanda Perrone

Moon Mother, WWC Host Blackstock
https://risewithamanda.com