I am in a reflective space as I write this month’s blog on the countdown to our Empower One, International Women’s Day event.

Excitement is mounting as we embark on a completely new experience this year that is going to take us on an international adventure. Yes, you heard me correctly! We will be ‘traveling’ in real time, from Canada to the Caribbean, then to Colombia and more… without leaving the comfort of our own homes.

Normally this special annual event that is led by the Women’s Wellness Circle hosts, is held in person. Women attend from nearby communities and surrounding regions.

Last year our special Empower One event was held in downtown Toronto, just before the world ‘shut down’ due to the C-19 virus. We have an abundance of memories of this ‘magnified’ Circle experience:  laughing, sharing, dancing, and celebrating together in a three-dimensional space.

Never did we think that we would need to plan things quite differently and move our event online! Of course, with the rise in technology and online learning and work roles, it is not a surprise.  However, the idea that a year later we would still not be able to gather in person was initially quite frustrating and a letdown.

Based on the number of people complaining about ‘Zoom fatigue’ and the overuse of technology, we could easily have decided to skip this year’s event; but that did not feel right.

More than ever, with the stay-at-home orders, repetitive routines, and lack of variety and social stimulation, we need genuine opportunities to connect with one another, to do something novel and to have fun. So, what was the solution?

Thankfully, I had had the opportunity to attend an online ‘Virtual Vacation’ weeks prior to our creating the event, and it was an amazing experience that left a positive impression on me. This international excursion was created by Tracy Turberfield, an inspired local travel agent whose business was greatly impacted by the C-19 lockdown regulations. Courageously she chose to be adaptive and resilient, and pivoted her business focus online, innovating fun virtual travel offerings.

When I contacted her about incorporating an experience like this into our Empower One event, she jumped at the idea. We brainstormed and landed on tropical St. Lucia in the Caribbean as our first destination point.

This wonderful collaboration inspired me to investigate other international possibilities with wellness colleagues who live on other continents and in different time zones. Before I knew it, I had Colombia, South America, and Hawaii on the itinerary as well!

Plus, we would complete our international tour on Canadian soil looping back to the west coast of Canada on Vancouver Island to visit with Saskia de Quaasteniet who is our first Women’s Wellness Circle host to expand our reach nationally by offering these monthly gatherings outside the province of Ontario.

Plus, Tracy’s friend created a special clip of Steel Pan music dedicated to our Empower One participants, and we had singer and songwriter team Joan Marshall and Deidrey Francois who provided their latest singles titled, ‘Hey, That’s Life’ and ‘Luminosity’, which we danced to.

The cherry on top was a sweet video of my dear friend, Geraldine Bettini who is a nutritionist in the south of France, and her daughter.  They would lead us through making a healthy and creative sweet treat.

As you can tell, our event schedule is overflowing with fun, culture, and enjoyment from beginning to end!

So, while each of us will be at home on our own devices, we have the gift of being able to connect in real time to beautiful local and far-away places.

As a person who loves to travel, has been to many countries and cities worldwide, and has countless photos to show for it, the stay-at-home orders have been starting to catch up with me. I was longing to pack my suitcase and change my environment! Maybe you can relate?

At the heart of my motivation to do something different and to create a unique and memorable experience for our participants was also my own longing for this as well.

As well, each year a portion of the event proceeds goes to a local charity of choice. The first two years we donated to Girls Inc.  Last year we picked the Red Door Shelter. This year we are donating to a local woman who attended our Women’s Wellness Circles many years ago when they first began, and who is currently dealing with a tremendous health crisis.

There are so many good things that happen when people unite, and our monthly gatherings are an ongoing example of that. The bonus is that with a growing number of hosts across the country, we can team up to offer even more opportunities on a larger scale such as Empower One and really make a difference individually and collectively.

I have my virtual boarding pass ready – I cannot wait to set sail on this year’s online adventure!

Circles of Connection,

Jill Hewlett

Founder & Mentor of the Women’s Wellness Circle

www.jillhewlett.com

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