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Photo of a ceremonial pot with smoke

We have a choice in living each day.  We can have the perspective and belief that nothing is a miracle or that everything is a miracle.

‘Having long chosen the latter, this perspective is part of who I am (though being human, I can get derailed sometimes). I believe I was born with a little pixie dust in my heart, because little things can get me quite excited.  I love to spread joy, because it roots that feeling deeper into my experience and lifts me up – a bit of a win-win for sure.

So where does “ceremony” come into this?  And what is the difference between “ceremony” and “celebration”?  Let’s look at the dictionary definitions first.

Ceremony: a formal act or set of formal acts established by custom or authority as proper to a special occasion such as wedding, religious rite, etc.

Celebration: to keep, observe, commemorate, or means to notice or to honour a day, an occasion, or deed.

These definitions are very closely related; so, I’d like to share how I experience the difference between these two wonderful acts in life.

With ceremony, I am bringing an “intention” first and foremost. “Intention” is the focus that I honour and uphold, as I proceed into the ceremony with my whole being.

This adds a different awareness and presence to the act or event and allows space for divine guidance to enter. There is a heightened sense of presence when I am more aware of both my inner guidance and how the environment shows up to support us. In essence, it creates space for magic and mystery to be present. For example, my girlfriend was sharing a story about her father who had passed; and just then, a blue jay landed on a tree branch right beside us and started squawking. Her father’s favourite bird was a blue jay.  What a special gift!

For me, ceremony carries a message of deep gratitude and honour. Over the past couple of years, slowing down has allowed me to become more present and intentional in how I live each day. One of the activities that has had a huge shift for me is walking in nature. I have always enjoyed doing this. However, unless I was away on holidays, the daily walks with my dog were sometimes just an item to check off my list of to-dos for the day.

In 2020, my daily walks morphed into a true act of ceremony. There were weeks that my girlfriend and I would stop in special places and hold space. We sometimes offered prayers to the land, our community, our families, or we sang and danced. Almost always we offered tobacco, dried flowers, crystals, or seeds to the land and our ancestors. During these times we were very present to the animals and birds showing up at specific moments of our conversation, and we knew they were bringing their message and medicine. The gratitude that this brought to our hearts was palpable, and we would be in awe with the miracles that presented themselves.

In early 2023, I completed my list of “Intention Words” which capture my vision and focus for the year ahead. This is another area where I bring ceremony into my life. I set aside sacred space for myself, light a candle, get my crystals, pour myself a cup of tea and then choose one or more of my oracle/tarot card decks to pull messages from.  Then I place them around me, settle into a meditation, and allow these meaningful words to bubble up to the surface. Once they are clear, I proceed to journal and record my thoughts which provide inspiration and a guiding light for the year ahead. It’s become a lovely ceremony to bring forth these annual “Intentions”.

I have added this ceremonial practice to many areas of my life: in my healing and coaching practice, as I prepare for clients, as I set up my space, as I sign the Reiki certificates for my students, or even when writing a special card.

This also shows up in a big way at our Women’s Wellness Circles. The time I spend setting up our space and welcoming everyone and right through to the closing of the Circle is special and held with intention. I am filled with huge gratitude for every unique, precious month’s gathering. It’s almost like adding another layer of love and gratitude into each action. There is a feeling of fulfilment that has accompanied these shifts.

Of course, I love to celebrate, too. To me, celebration means acknowledging the great things in life whether they be big or small – to express our joy around life milestones and just because.

It’s almost like the presence and intention of Ceremony has brought even more awareness to all that I have to celebrate. Just like life, everything is interwoven into the experience.

I encourage you to welcome more ceremony into your life, and just watch and enjoy as the miracles show up!

 

Circles of Ceremony & Celebration,

Karen Armstrong

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

Jill in the water with a horse, face to face

“Never compare your insides with someone else’s outsides.” 

I don’t know where I first heard this quote, but it was long before social media began and long after I had become the steward of my soul’s journey.

The first time I read it, it literally stopped me in my tracks.  Since then, I return to it often, especially when I find myself caught in a place of personal judgment or comparison thinking.

Isn’t it interesting how easy it can be to be influenced by external appearances and to not realize there is more going on than meets the eye?

I am powerfully reminded of this every time a public figure commits suicide, such as Robin Williams, Naomi Judd, and Stephen Twitch Boss, just to name a few. It’s so shocking when we realize that amidst their fame and success, they had struggles, too.

We can never assume that someone’s outside reality reflects what is truly going on inside of them. However, as humans we rely heavily on our visual senses. In the busyness of life, we forget to look closer and go deeper. Thus, we get caught up in, and sometimes lost in, images and facades.

As well, in order to fit in, most humans become highly adept at pretending, conforming, and hiding flaws. Unfortunately, by hiding our full selves, it minimizes our gifts and talents and keeps us distracted from living our most authentic path.

Life is a paradigm of duality:

  • Inside and outside
  • Yin and yang
  • Light and darkness

We can’t have one without the other; each exists by the very nature of the other. And interestingly, one’s level of joy is typically equal and opposite to the level of one’s suffering.  This goes hand in hand with the fact that we can’t experience ‘wins’ without having any ‘losses’ along the way.

Ask a top athlete, Nobel prize winner, or millionaire if they had any challenges, setbacks, or self doubt along the way. They will say they had plenty!

What if instead of deflecting and projecting onto others, we spent more time reflecting on and introspecting our own internal lives?

My years of working closely with horses has taught me that they are masters at ignoring what humans are showing on the outside and simply responding to what’s going on inside. To find a true connection with a horse, your outward actions and image need to match your inside reality. Congruency is equal to authenticity, and they can sense it.

This horse wisdom has encouraged me to keep developing the freedom, confidence, and transparency to reflect on the outside the truth of who I am inwardly at any given moment.

The better I become at doing that, the healthier I feel, the easier my life gets, and the deeper my connections with other humans and horses grow.

If I have learned anything over my half century plus years on Earth, it is that we all need connection: a safe, reliable, and congruent place where we can sit with our own thoughts and listen to the stories and wisdom of those who have walked a similar path and come out the other side.

Sometimes it takes a while for people to ‘warm up’ and to expose what’s really going on for them. Once we feel safe, and find the courage to share our own struggles, we’ll be amazed by the impact our story can have on someone else. Even a brief, off-the-cuff remark can make a profound difference.

Whether that circle of trust is with our family of origin or a chosen family that we have sought out, among a herd of horses, or in a room full of strangers coming together for a common interest, we all need to find belonging.  This was a motivating factor behind my hosting a Women’s Wellness Circle on my horse farm in the London, Ontario, area.

I was motivated to write about this topic thanks to a young woman who started attending our Circle this past summer.  She always showed up with a smile on her face, eager to participate, and so grateful for each event.  Then I came to learn that she struggles with paralyzing anxiety and lacks any support or resources.  This makes her life very challenging.  I had no clue.  She hid it well.

Finally, she came to a point where she could reach out to me and speak her truth.  I am so grateful. I was able to connect her with resources to ease her burden a bit and hopefully impact a positive shift in her life’s trajectory.

It’s okay if you are struggling.  It’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to hold it all inside until you find your safe place to share.  Just keep showing up, trying, reaching out, even if you never say a word.  No matter what’s going on in your life, I see you.  And when you’re ready, bring your inside, out.

 

Circles of Authenticity,

Tricia Rudy

 

Women’s Wellness Circle Host, London ON area

Certified FEEL Facilitator

www.harmonywithhorses.ca

Statue of Gandhi

Years ago, when I was living and travelling throughout India for six months, I ate incredible food, saw amazing sites, and met wonderful locals and fellow travellers.

The highlight of it all was the memorable experiences of being invited to take part in various special events, including local festivals, a traditional Hindu wedding, a lecture with his Holiness, the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya, and a series of Spiritual Teachings offered through the Gandhi Memorial Museum in Madurai, South India.

If you have been to India before or have celebrated a holiday or special event with eastern Indians, you know this is a culture that takes festivity to a whole new level! Their lively music, bedazzled garments, tasty and spicy foods, and intricate, finely planned rituals are truly something to experience.

As I travelled from north to south, and east to west, I continued to grow fonder of this country which many refer to as the ‘Heart Chakra of Mother Earth’. I enjoyed the warmth and colour of their inspired architecture, the beautiful landscape, the spiritual energy, and its kind and curious people.

An extra special memory of my travels includes visiting Kanyakumari at the most southern tip of India. This is where the three bodies of water merge: the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal. According to many, it is one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights and an ideal place to observe the breathtaking array of colours with sunrise and sunset.

Kanyakumari is also home to one of Mahatma Gandhi’s most important memorials. After he was assassinated in 1948 in New Delhi, his remains were cremated and sent to different regions of India. Before being placed in the sea, a portion of his ashes were put on display in Kanyakumari.

Gandhi Ji is referred to as Mahatma which means “Highly Respected Person” or “Great Soul.” The spirit of Gandhi Ji is truly woven throughout the fabric of India.

GANDHIAN SOCIETY

I was especially honoured to have the unique and special opportunity to attend a gathering hosted by the Gandhian Society in Madurai. The organization was honouring one of their esteemed members who had recently passed away and who happened to be a fellow Canadian.

During the ceremony, I was invited to share a prayer that I had learned years prior. It is officially called Gandhi’s Prayer for Peace.  However, for many years I have referred to it as The Gandhi Prayer.

I’d like to share it with you, along with the hand gestures that I learned as well.

GANDHI’S PRAYER FOR PEACE

I offer you peace  (hands in prayer position)
I offer you love  (hands over heart)
I offer you friendship  (hands held out, palms up)
I see your beauty  (one hand held above eye brows looking outward)
I hear your needs  (hand cupped behind ear, listening)
I feel your feelings  (both hands in front of body with fists clenched)
My wisdom flows from the highest Source  (raise arms upwards over head)
I salute that Source in you  (hands in prayer position with forward bow)
Let us work together  (one hand shakes the other)
For unity and peace  (hands in prayer position)

Instructions:

  • Start by noticing how you are feeling towards yourself and others.
  • Incorporating hand gestures is optional. If you do want to incorporate them, you’ll notice that one gesture flows into the next. You can use the ones I shared or make up your own.
  • You can recite this prayer on your own and simply imagine the person or people to whom you are saying it.
  • Sit or stand with another person or group, face to face, and look into each other’s eyes as you each recite the prayer to each other, with or without hand gestures. If you say the poem slowly and intentionally, you will find that others typically catch on easily. You can repeat it several times so everyone gets to look at one another, and the prayer becomes more familiar.
  • We are often in conflict within ourselves. One part of us may be at odds with another part of ourselves. Read the prayer allowing the parts of you in conflict to speak to each other.
  • Once you have gone through the process, notice how you are feeling and take note of what has changed.

Many people report feeling better afterwards, but there is no specific outcome that is meant to be achieved. Each time your experience may be different; that is okay. With practise, however, you will become more familiar with the prayer; and the words will take on more meaning. If you do incorporate hand gestures, those will become second nature; and the whole experience will continue to feel more natural and embodied.

While there is tremendous power in incorporating daily prayers and rituals into our own lives, there is also great benefit in sharing in these heartfelt practises and good intentions with others.

By reciting poems such as this, that engage others, and by joining in our Women’s Wellness Circles, you are investing in your growth and evolution and that of the collective consciousness as well.

Circles of Connection,

Jill

Founder & Mentor Women’s Wellness Circles
www.womenswellnesscircles.com

Begin Again- moutains and blue sky

I am sitting in a new spot, in a windowsill that looks out towards the street. Across from me is a parking lot with a little green sign with vine-like leaves growing on it, as if to symbolically represent new growth. The sign reads “Ancient Oak Yoga and Ayurveda”. My dream of starting my own business in the health and wellness field is beginning to manifest.

This has me reflecting on the concept of “beginning again”, which inspires me. In every moment, at every turn, and at every age, we have an opportunity to start something new and to change or release the mould we may feel stuck in.

Isn’t it interesting? On one particular day our goals may seem out of reach. We feel frustrated and ready to give up.  Then the next day we find ourselves playing out different scenarios in our mind and formulating ideas and strategies on how we could make it happen.

As long as we are willing to be curious and to “begin again”, then we can move in the direction of our dreams. For me, this involves regularly returning to the question, “How can I spend my days in the service of healing?”. When I feel unsure, or don’t have the answers, I remind myself to begin again by reframing my thoughts, by being open to new approaches, and by having patience.

This past year was full of many new beginnings as I moved from Ontario to the East Coast and started to recreate my life in Hampton, New Brunswick. While the picture was not initially clear as to how I could fulfill my purpose of being in service, I kept believing that someday it would be.

After a year of settling into this wonderful new community, I embarked on the travel experience of a lifetime and recently returned from an amazing trip and Ayurveda retreat in Ecuador. It was a great opportunity to experience a new environment, culture, landscapes, sunsets, and night skies. The learnings that I acquired are allowing me to see my life more openly from a fresh perspective – more new beginnings!

One of the Ayurveda sessions was called, “In My Own Room”, which asked participants to go within to find tools to support themselves. There were four quadrants that we discussed: Body, Mind, Space and Purpose. Purpose spoke to me the most, and I had to re-examine mine.

Having time to sit and to dig into these questions was so valuable. I was seeing again with fresh eyes what I know is true for me – my greatest desire is to help and to engage others in reconnecting with their purpose. This is one of the reasons I was drawn to hosting a monthly Women’s Wellness Circle: to provide a space similar to this retreat, where we can ask questions, learn from one another, and listen to our inner voice.

A special highlight from my trip in Ecuador was climbing Mount Chimborazo, which is one of the highest mountains in the county. Although we didn’t reach the summit, I was able to climb to the first Refugio, which is approximately 16,000 feet above sea level. It was the most exhilarating experience I have ever had – hands down!

Each step in this high altitude was a “begin again” moment for me, as I saw the world from a new vantage point. We were encouraged to listen to our bodies, to walk slowly and steadily, and to stop and take deep breaths. Being so present in such a unique and spectacular environment was an experience like I have never had before – and a big accomplishment. As I was walking down the mountain, I kept thinking to myself – “I can’t believe I am doing this!”.

I also had the honour of taking part in an Andean spiritual healing ceremony. The idea behind this particular ceremony is to cleanse the spirit with chanting, herbs, and ritual. Afterwards, each participant is invited to sit facing the circle and while making eye contact with the others to be seen as a “new” person. The ceremony gives us the opportunity to “begin again”, cleansed and free.

Upon my return, I brought this new energy with me. I started the process of yet another new beginning: to find the space where I will offer my Ayurveda therapies, and host a Hampton, New Brunswick, Women’s Wellness Circle.

This was my intention a year ago, and now the time is right. Life is cyclical with constant new beginnings, middles, and ends. This is what moves us forward to new creation. Similarly, in Circle we are given the space to honour our past, present, and future self, so that we, too, can become all of which we are capable.

What is that idea you have been sitting on; what change do you want to make; what part of the cycle are you in? Perhaps now is the time that you, too, are being called to “begin again”.

 

To New Beginnings,

Jennifer Bruder

 

Ayurvedic Practitioner & Women’s Wellness Circle Host
Hampton, New Brunswick

Connection - image of coloured ropes woven and connected in a circle

Over the years I have heard from many women in my life that real connections are hard to find, be it with friends, family, a life partner, our career, purpose, or ourselves.

In our linearly driven world, in which people are doing their best to move from point A to point B, we are subtly encouraged to put our head down, power through our daily life tasks and hope to arrive at the finish line. Whether that be the end of the day, the end of a task, or the end of a project, “done” is often the goal and, of course, the faster the better!

This powering through may get it “done”.  However, it can leave us feeling unsatisfied, unnourished, and saddened to realize that we are more disconnected to ourselves, our families, and the world around us than ever before.

For years, this ‘linear-finish-line’ driven reality was my experience, too.  It led me to wonder – if I am disconnected from myself and my family, then what am I connected to? Surely, I must be connected to something… It was an important and unsettling question to ask.

Eventually, I had the awareness and readiness to take inventory, and here is what I found: Consistent Connection isn’t hard to find. As it turned out, I was consistently connected to many things.  But I needed to ask myself, “Is what I am connected to serving me anymore?”

Outdated connections are no longer fulfilling, and they are why we so often feel ‘disconnected’ in our lives.

For me that looked like issues such as:

  • Ingesting distractions like unhealthy food and marijuana
  • Getting caught in drama and other people’s stories
  • Overly focusing on the needs of others (my boss, my family, etc.)
  • Not honoring my boundaries and trying to people please
  • Repeating stuck emotions like guilt and shame

As humans we are wired for Connection. We are so intelligent, and our survival is so dependent on it, that our minds will lead us to take actions based on the fastest route to find connections. Yet, that does not guarantee a healthy and meaningful rapport with others, and it can often lead us to co-dependency.

As well, when we are tired, lonely, and running out of steam because we’ve been operating at our maximum capacity for too long, is it any wonder that we consume whatever is placed in front of us, hoping that it might give us some temporary relief, some form of sustenance? Of course not! It’s how many of us have survived.

However, if you are reading this, I’d venture to say that you are starting to become aware of your old patterns and that you are realizing they aren’t serving you anymore. This is great news! This is when you can start to make an empowering shift and to prioritize connections that make you thrive.

This is the path many of us are on now, and we are in good company. It’s time to release the old and to align to meaningful thoughts, actions, and connections that support our wellbeing.

For the past six years now, I have had the honor of being a Women’s Wellness Circle host. As I often say, Circle is the gift that keeps on giving as it is a space where true connections are felt.  Its positive effects carry forward with us and ripple out into our everyday lives.

Month after month of hosting and attending Circle, I saw that whether I was connecting with others, connecting with a piece of music, connecting to the knowledge being presented, or connecting with a type of dance being modeled and offered… all of it was offering a connection back to me.

It was then that I realized that I am never truly alone! Life is my reflection and my place of true Connection. All other avenues ultimately bring back to a connection with myself which, without realizing it, was what I was truly looking for anyway!

Perhaps that is what you seek, too? If so, my sisters, you can count on the fact that Women’s Circles are based on an ancient tradition of being and connecting with others in community.

There is a reason Women’s Circles continue over the course of time. We sit in a circle where there is no end and there is no beginning… where I can see my reflection in you, and you can see your reflection in me. We show up as we are, and we are met with acceptance and love. It provides a genuine space of co-created connection.

Each circle offers something different, yet consistent. We begin and end in the same way, and in between we learn something new and are invited to explore. A different group may be there each time, but we have a consistent thread that weaves us all together.

Consistent Connection is the essence of Circle.

We are right here waiting for you.

Amanda Perrone

 

Moon Mother and Oshawa Women’s Wellness Circle Host

Offering Moon Teachings and Ceremonies, Circles, and Drum Journeys

www.risewithamanda.com

 

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