• Catherine Hansen

A gift worth opening

When was the last time YOU had a completely unscheduled day? The beginning of each Empowered Women’s Circle is like a gift – we never know what is inside. This week our theme was "Dolce Far Niete" (the sweetness of doing nothing) and our challenge was to carve out some time to just 'be' and then return to Circle to share the insights. When women come together open to curiosity, receptive to new perspectives and listening for greatness, what emerges in that space is nothing short of magical. I’m a ‘let’s-whiteboard-the day’ kinda gal - so the homework of doing nothing is completely outside my comfort zone. But I made it happen and spent an entire afternoon in the spaciousness of life itself. As I crested the hurdles of my inner critic and sunk into the solitude, I found peace, calm and serenity. I found a part of myself that I didn’t even know I had lost. But, in Circle this week, we realized that not everyone has such a blissful response to the emptiness and it’s just as important to make space for other things to surface too. In our open and vulnerable sharing, it became obvious that the space sometimes becomes flooded with heaviness, loneliness or sadness. Any number of "negative" emotions can rise up into the void. One woman likened it to yoga - the pose truly begins when you want it to end. Being with yourself, like the discomfort of a workout or the burning of a pigeon pose, may be uncomfortable but it’s worth it in the long run. You can avoid the pain by skipping over it, finishing early or not even ‘going there’ but then you never receive the benefits. You never get the tissue release. You keep the pain buried inside to fester until, one day, it’s too much and it starts to surface in areas of life you’d least expect. Physical pain. Relationship breakdown. Professional burnout. So many of us have experienced these pain points.


The thing is, by the time this buried pain expresses itself, you can’t always draw connection to the original insult or trauma. It just seems like bad luck or aging or ‘­­just the way it is’. The good thing is, with loving support and self-compassion, you don’t have to connect all the dots but you DO have to acknowledge the pain. Just as you must lance a boil for the healing to start, you must also dig out those pent up emotions. It’s not comfortable or easy but it allows the oxygen in so the recovery can begin. If, when you enter the stillness of your soul, you feel discomfort you must listen to your fears, feel your sadness, hear your heart. Choose to lay on your back, watch the clouds and ask what hurts. Going straight into the discomfort is uncomfortable but avoidance is much more costly. In opening up to our pleasure and our pain with equal curiosity, we can liberate those parts of us that, in our loneliest moments, we would otherwise push away. In the safe, sacred space our Circle and within the loving arms of our tribe, we finally allow ourselves to see and be seen. To listen and be heard. To feel weakness in order to become strong. In Circle, we get to know ourselves differently through the eyes of other women. We open up to our spirit through cautious questions, gentle encouragement and outstretched arms that encircle our collective soul. Our spirit has been yearning for this place for an eternity and, once located, finally feels "home". This week’s Circle deepened my belief and strengthened my resolve that EWC is THE place for women to gain insight, fresh perspective, renewed energy and loving support on the bumpy ride of life. When something that seems as ‘simple’ as doing nothing opens the door to conversation and deeper practices that have the potential to reshape who we are, that’s a precious gift that I’m excited to open week after week; Circle after Circle; EWC season after EWC season. Enjoy the precious gift that life presents and thank you for being our Circle.