Paper dolls holding hands circling the globe

In 2008, soon after I moved to Holland Landing, Ontario from England, I attended a networking event with the intention of meeting new people and getting connected with the community.

At that event, something wonderful and unexpected happened:  I had the pleasure of learning about the Women’s Wellness Circles through Karen Armstrong, who is the host of the Newmarket/East Gwillimbury location. Immediately, I started attending Circle, and Karen has been a dear friend since.

What I noticed right away was the friendly, peaceful, and welcoming energy of Circle. I felt like I had found a safe and accepting space to have conversations that went beyond the weather and everyday life. Instead, I could discuss natural ways of thinking and healing that are important values of mine. As I continued to take part each month, I started to see familiar faces and make new friends, many of which I still keep in touch with today.

Another special aspect of Circle that stood out to me was the varied and interesting speakers. Often the topic of the gathering focused on and taught us something that I really needed to hear, as it shed light on something I was feeling or experiencing in my own busy family life.

When I moved back to England last summer, I chose to move to a new town so I could make a fresh start for my daughter and me. While I was looking at homes to rent, I happened to see a road sign for ‘The Self Centre’, which is a yoga and health services sanctuary. The name of it spoke to me, and I felt an inner calling to go in and see what it was all about.

As I chatted with The Self Centre’s team, I learned that they had been thinking of hosting a Circle-type gathering. However, they didn’t have the resources to dedicate to it, so their vision had been sitting on the back-burner. Serendipitously, it was the day after their planning meeting for 2023, that I had strolled in the door.

When they heard about my wonderful experiences of attending and presenting at one of the Women’s Wellness Circle locations in Canada, they became quite excited. They were open for me to host a Circle in their centre if I knew how to do it. While I had an idea of the basics, I knew that to host a Women’s Wellness Circle, I would need to take the official training. So, I approached Jill Hewlett, the founder, with the exciting possibility of expanding Circle internationally! Of course, she was extremely delighted by the idea; so, we set up the host training sessions right away. Everything lined up so smoothly and seamlessly that I knew that divine timing was at play!

My first Circle took place in November. I treated it as a ‘pre-launch’ to our official start in January. This was to spread the word and cultivate interest. Eight amazing women attended. While it was new for them, as hosting was for me, it came together magically. We all loved it! In fact, for the first time since I’d moved back to England in July, I felt like I was at home. This is what the sacred and beautiful space of being in Circle with other women provides us.

Now it’s months later, and some of those same women have been to every gathering since it began. The Circles are always fully booked each month with regulars and new faces, and everyone is always warmly welcomed.

The speakers that have come to share with us and to learn from have been inspiring and interesting. For example, we’ve had:

  • A Kirtan song facilitator who led us through uplifting spiritual chants
  • A yoga teacher who made us all break into a sweat while standing still
  • A practitioner who taught us sound healing and had us practising on each other
  • A presenter who led us through the cyclical phases of a woman’s life

Some of the Circle participants had never been to anything like this before, but they arrive curious and receptive and leave with inspiration, resources, and new connections. Extra magic happens when you see women have ‘ah-ha’ moments as their perspective shifts and new insights are formed. This can be highly transformative!

It’s also a joy to hear the women talk about what the evening has meant to them, how supported they feel, and how it’s helped them to discover a solution to something they were stuck on or concerned about.

Of course, laughter exists in Circle, too. The English sense of humour, which I grew up with, is always a great starting point to meeting new people and making friends quickly. Plus, people are quite interested in the experience I had while in Canada that I’m more than happy to share.

Circle has been a truly integral part of starting my new life in this community. Even people who have resided here their whole lives come to the group and make new friends. It is a place that allows for growth, connection, and expansion at a time when it is needed more than ever.


To Circling the World,
Lindsay de Swart

WWC Host, Bury St. Edmunds, England

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