On her way out the door she said, “Mara, honestly this is the weekend that I have been yearning for my entire life. This is the circle of women that I have been searching for forever.”
She said it and I could feel the depth of her words – the depth of what it means to be surrounded by open-hearted, like-minded individuals. I could feel the deep power embedded in these experiences of belonging and restoration. The way that it opens your entire heart up in a way that you hadn’t thought possible before.
I remember the moment when I hit publish on my first blog post back in 2008, sending it out into the Universe accompanied by the prayer that somehow, somewhere, my people could be found.
The women who who feel like they are too much and not enough simultaneously.
The women who have made themselves small and have spent years apologizing for their inherent lack, but are now trying, humbly and imperfectly, to reclaim their power.
The women who laugh inappropriately when they are telling their most shameful secrets, redefining safety minute by minute while tears run down their face.
The women who want to stay up past midnight talking about the change they are seeking, the beauty that they are creating.
I remember the slumber parties during my childhood that filled me to the brim with glee.
The ice cream sundaes. The late-night viewing of Poltergeist. The oracle boards and rounds of light as a feather, stiff as a board. And, I remember when those girls turned on me, casting me out and reminding me in no uncertain terms and for the first time that I would never be good enough no matter how hard I tried.
I remember carrying the sheer delight of those parties in my heart, tarnished by the pain of what I called Truth for many years: no matter how much they seem to love you, they will break your heart. You don’t (really) belong to anyone but yourself. Have fun, but don’t trust anyone, not really.
And, I remember the moment when I found myself, green-eyed with jealousy and with that sick, hot feeling of shame in my stomach, upon looking at a circle of women at a retreat through their social media posts.
I wanted to be them. I wanted to be with them. I wanted them to reach through the internet and invite me to their party. I wanted them to love me.
Sitting with the power of that hurt and the depth of my longing, I made the decision that I would begin by actively calling the circles of women that I was hungry for.
The ones where you can wear your pajamas all day long and no one things you’re sloppy.
The ones where you are taken are of so sweetly (and completely) that all you get to do is dream about what you want to create in your life next.
Cozy beds. Wild art and the reintroduction to trusting your intuition. Crystals. Altars.Delicious, nurturing food. The sacred mundane of daily divination. And as many hugs as you need.
The opportunity to ask yourself: What do I need? What would feel really good? How do I want to live? How much joy can I allow?
The impossible, yet powerfully real, circle of women at your side.
I remember lying in bed the morning after that first retreat in 2009.
I was forever altered by the experience of sitting around the table with women who were ready to show up fully, ready to allow themselves to build lives of truth and joy.
I could feel myself unfurl within the validation that women like this did in fact exist in the world. That I actually wasn’t an outsider. That I could provide myself this experience and I could curate experiences of deep belonging and wild truth for others. That we could find ourselves here – around a fire, around a table, between hands held and hugs received.
That I didn’t have to keep myself on the outside, looking at the women gathering with me as clients. That around that table we became sisters, friends, and wild women who see our beauty reflected back at us each and every place we look. That my flavor of leadership cultivates and nurtures this deep kind of connection, the horizontal attachment of seeing and being seen.
This is my best work and my favorite work, because I love who I am when I am with you. I love who we become together.
I remember the feeling that this type of experience was outside of what was possible from me. I remember not being able to swing the financial investment, sure, but mostly I remember the heaviness of my own resistance to giving myself the permission to take the time. To carve out the space. To stand in my power and declare: I deserve this. I am allowed to have this. I will give this to myself.
I remember the jealousy and the anger and the righteous indignation. And, I remember how those things didn’t do a single thing for me, but make me feel as though I was on the outside, peering in. I remember making the decision to take a risk to experiment with what might be possible when I said yes to my desire instead of no.
altar art by Mandy Steward
Maybe this is the right time for you, maybe it’s not.
Maybe you would rather figure out how to cultivate a circle of women in your local area.
Maybe this gives you permission to take the jump and say yes to an experience led by someone else.
Wherever this permission slip takes you, know this: Circling live with a community of women will challenge and support and change you in ways that you never thought possible. Belonging will transform you. It will deepen your sense of safety, it will bolster your ability to trust in your own inner guidance, and it will break your heart open, again and again.
And, if this is something that you’re called to, I am here waiting for you with arms stretched open.