"If you can't find it, create it."
For many years, I was craving female connection. Not just girlfriends, but like minded, deeply rooted, soul sisters. I have had my share of wonderful best friends over the years, but as a 30 something year old woman, changing my lifestyle drastically, and moving into a season of transformation and immense strength, I felt I needed more sisterhood.
I had heard Emiliee Saldaya, of FBS, speak about women's circles multiple times on her podcast. And then she had an episode where she talked about how to start a women's circle. After listening to it, I realized how easy, but also foreign it was.
I wanted to reignite the ancient tradition of women gathering together in circle, at our farm, by the garden, in the grass, under the sunshine. Then 2020 hit, and I, like many of you, was pushed forth to say yes to things I had been waiting to do.
I hosted a monthly women's circle for almost 3 years at our farm in Turlock. So, now that I have left Turlock and my beloved monthly women's circle behind, I want to share how I did it, what I learned, and how it easy it is for you to start your own. Scroll down to #6 where I share the basic and simple way I structured our monthly women's circles.
1. THE DESIRE
The strong desire to be a part of a group of women, sharing, not judging or comparing, trusting, committing to honesty, and showing up - has to be there.
You also have to be willing to be the host. You could try and switch off hosting with a few other women, but I think a stable, regular location and host, keeps things easy for everyone.
There will be times when maybe you're not in the mood to host that day, but making a commitment to stick to this is important. You will never say at the end of a women's circle "Ugh that was such a waste of time."
Commit to doing this for at least one year. If after a year, you're over it or it's not working, then you can quit. But, I have a feeling you won't :)
2. THE SPACE
Don't let not having space scare you away from hosting this. If you don't feel comfortable opening up your home, do it in your yard.
If you really have no space at home, pick a park or other public location that is semi-quiet during the time you want to have the circle each month.
If you do host at your home, DO NOT CLEAN YOUR HOUSE. This was something Emilee emphasized and I whole heartily agree! I would purposefully not clean my toilets or pick up any more than usual before a women's circle. I didn't want it to turn into a stressful chore.
Don't feel like you have to prepare food or drinks. I always had tea (iced or hot), but that was because I wanted to. If you don't, then don't do it. An easy way to offer a drink is to just have a box of herbal teas, a jar of honey and some hot water, then the women can make their own cups at their leisure. But alot of times, women would bring their own drink, so you really needn't worry about it.
The *feeling* at your space will be FELT by these women. Women are such highly sentient beings. Take some time before to pray over the space, to clear your head. Come with an open heart and a welcoming vibe.
This one is important, but not as scary as you may think. Women's circles are NOT about moving discussions and dissecting topics and themes and diving into why we feel things. They can be, but that really shouldn't be the objective. Which means, you probably should pick a broad topic, but other than that, the women will share, you don't need to steer discussions or ask questions.
Picking topics sounded overwhelming to me at first, but then I really just started picking anything and everything. Things I thought would be of interest to myself and the women attending, but you can really talk about anything. Here are some of the topics we chose for our monthly women's circles: your relationship with your mother; your relationship with your father; your menarche story; health issues and how you've overcome; your relationship with money; self worth; beauty standards; breaking free from the system; dream life in 10 years; experiences that have changed you as a woman; birth stories; and so many more!
There would be times when I thought no one was going to talk, and then by the end, every single woman had shared!
You have to be willing to hold silent space and wait. It may feel uncomfortable, but it's ok. These women aren't used to having an open floor to just share their thoughts, experiences and feelings. It is new to most of them, as it will be to you, I'm assuming. Give them time. Don't start sharing before a few women have had a chance to.
I created an email list of all the women who had rsvp'ed or who had attended previously, and once a month I would send an email. Usually I would send it the week before our next women's circle. I would include the topic for the next week's discussion and some 'thoughts to mull over." I would also include a list of future meeting dates and times. Always Tuesdays at 10:30am.
4. FINDING THE WOMEN
Put it out there that you're hosting a women's circle and the women will find you. The women that show up and like it will keep coming back, and the ones that didn't care for it won't come back. And it's all perfectly fine. Some women don't find value in it or don’t feel comfortable, maybe they're not ready for this kind of experience.
It does help to have a group of people you can share this with, so the word can spread. Using the internet, whether that is email, social media, or a website you may already have- will help get the info out there. You can also post flyers at local coffee shops, yoga shops, restaurants, wherever you think women might be that could use this! You can also just invite women you see out and about. Women that seem like the type of woman you want to be friends with (Emilie again suggested this). I love it.
I made soooo many good friends by starting up a women's circle 3 years ago. Many women came regularly, some came every now and then when they were able, some only came once- all of them were important, and I can almost remember every single name and face. It was blessedly beautiful.
5. SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
Kids: this is up to you and what your space can hold. Nurslings & babes in arms should always be welcome in my opinion. I said older children could only come if they were ok playing independently, because we had a play area away from the women that our boys would play in. Eventually, I had our nanny watch our kids and other kids that would come, but requested that the women pay her if their kids were in her care. It's not your job to provide free childcare. Some women would have their older kids sit with them and color or play quietly.
Setting guidelines: it's important to be up front about expectations from the beginning. Nothing crazy or intense, but let everyone there know that whatever is shared in the circle is private; no questioning or advice giving, unless it is asked of; no cross talk; and just learn to be a good listener when you're not speaking.
6. AN EXAMPLE OF HOW OUR WOMEN'S CIRCLE WOULD UNFOLD....
I would set out blankets on the grass by the garden, bring out a tray with tea bags, honey, cups, and hot water (or iced tea).
I would try and be ready before any women arrived so I could have a few moments to myself to decompress from the busyness of the morning and pray over the space and time for the women who would come. I would turn on relaxing music.
Women arrive, are greeted, chit-chat, kids go off to kids area.
We always scheduled it for 10:30am and I would start no later than 10:45am. These women are busy and time is precious!
Welcome, go around circle and introduce ourselves, sometimes add in a fun piece of info.
Go over guidelines for circle: talking stick or ball; no cross-talk - when someone is sharing no one else talks or asks questions; privacy- nothing leaves the circle.
Take a moment to close our eyes, center ourselves, say a prayer to yourself, take some deep breaths, prepare our hearts to listen and share.
Sometimes after this I would read an excerpt that I found and liked or play a special song.
I would re-read the topic for the day and any questions or thoughts I had come up with to get their minds turning.
Then I would say, "Ok we're going to open up the circle for sharing. I'll play some music and whoever is ready to go first, go ahead when you're ready." Then we would just sit and enjoy the silence, the birds, the breeze. Sometimes it would take a few minutes, sometimes a woman would be ready right away. I tried to always wait as long as possible if I wanted to share. That way my thoughts and feelings wouldn't drive anyone else's.
I would always set a timer for 15 minutes before noon, which is when the circle ended. This way I could say "ok we have about 15 minutes left, if anyone hasn't shared and wants to, go ahead." Sometimes if everyone had shared, we would talk about some common themes that came up, or the conversation would naturally go there. But this was AFTER everyone who wanted to, had shared.
I would always make sure to end the meeting on time. I wanted to respect these women's schedules.
We would end by closing our eyes, taking deep breaths again, and sending love out to all the women in the circle.
Then I would say thank you and any notes about next meetings or anything. Women would sometimes stay and chit chat, let the kids play a bit longer, etc. A lot of other women made connections and friendships through these women's circles as well.
And that was it! Simple, beautiful, soooo fulfilling. Every single time I would go back to our house refreshed and soul-fed.
That's all I have to share about women's circles. I hope you found this helpful. You can adapt it and tailer it to your location, your schedule, and your abilities. If this article was helpful or if you have questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you! Send me an email.