You don’t have to write an essay . . .
Your ‘Final Piece’ is the last part of the Creating Circles course, and you don’t have to write an essay! Of course, you can if you want to, but writing essays isn’t how everyone learns.
Creating Circles combines practice (because you can’t learn to hold circles without holding circles), theory and reflection . . . and you decide on the format of your final piece.
This means you are free to assimilate and express your learning in a way that makes sense to you and your circles, leading to a depth of learning that can be unpredictable and exciting . . . and as unique and individual as you are.
In the past this has included:
- Audio recordings
- . . . and more!
What I really want is for you to get excited about the final peace and about your own circles.
A celebration of ‘Final Pieces’
Zoe founded The Women’s Health Hub and submitted this video as her final piece:
Follow Zoe on Instagram: @postpartum_matters
A spiral of words
The journey to becoming a circle holder is a never ending one. Always growing. Each circle is a lesson for me. Where does my role as facilitator begin and end? The circle evolves in its own way each time. Unknown. The beauty of this can be challenging and scary. The need to control, to ensure all is well, has to be gently surrendered. A letting go. Sitting with my own discomfort enables me to support others to do the same. Learning to be the container is freeing and frightening in equal measure. The circle allows people to be heard and held. Ebb and flow. Connection to ourselves and each other.
A jar of words
My jar of words is an anchor point for all circles I run. I’ll add words as my circles evolve and regularly check in with my jar of words to see whether my circles are still encapsulating my values and what circles mean to me.
The words currently in my jar are revelation, being heard, it’s not about me, no judgement, wisdom, welcome, trust, relinquishing control, challenge, equity, connection, shared knowledge, flow, vulnerability, space, listening, holding, meeting you where you are, fear, safety, discomfort, confidence, flow, joyful, fun, reflection, being held, structure, letting go
Follow Debs on Instagram: @debs_thurlow
For my final project I wanted to explore why sitting in circle feels so natural to me, and why, when I sit in circle, I experience a sensation of ‘this is how it should be’ within my body. My suspicion is that this feeling arises as a result of the format of a circle mimicking the various cycles that we experience internally, physically and in the world around us as we move through life, reconnecting us to something bigger than ourselves.
I attempted to depict this visually, starting in the centre with a format for holding a circle, and moving outwards to bigger and bigger cycles that we experience: life stages, menstrual cycle, seed cycle, water cycle, wheel of the year, solar/seasonal cycle and moon cycle. The fourth ring (possibility, letting go etc) was inspired by a beautiful documentary called ‘we the uncivilised: a life story’ which uses this cycle to examine a more rooted way of living in deeper connection to each other and the world – which feels very relevant to the circles I dream of holding one day!
Normally if I am given a project to do I head down the essay route; I have always enjoyed art privately but have never considered myself a ‘creative person’ per se. But during the circles course I was lucky enough to experience other people’s sessions which involved a lot of creative exploration (art, collage, body movement, free writing and more) and I was surprised at how much it unlocked in me and how safe I felt to share afterwards – testament to Sally and all the wonderful people on the course, their incredible ideas and the safe spaces they created.
Reflections on a journey
September 2021. One year post natal. A mum of two. Struggling. Moved out of our lovely family home in June, stayed with Mum and Dad for three months, moved into the new place in August. What am I doing and where has [Name] gone? Post pandemic. ‘Freedom’ day has passed. And now what? Something for me? What are circles? Are they what I want to be doing? So far I have described what I want to do is ‘you know that bit at the end of a baby class, when you stop shaking a rattle in their face or swinging scarves about?… The bit where you turn to the mum next to you and say ‘Christ, I’m tired, how are you?’ That bit, that’s what I want to hold space for. For those conversations and connections. So you don’t have to smile hopefully across a rainy playground hoping desperately that the other mums will notice you, a safe, calm, compassionate space to come and be held and nurtured and listened to.’ I wanted to create what my second experience of motherhood, my ‘lockdown birth’ had been denied. I wanted to create community and connections. I wanted it for me as well as them.
And so, here I am. I start a course with Sally. And just like that my own healing journey, as well as the journey into existence of The Circle Sessions begins.
I remember snippets of the first online session. I remember finding it hard to feel warmth over zoom. I raised this and felt alone in the responses. I felt isolated as I had not worked over lockdown so I had been excluded from the rest of the world as they all moved online apparently seamlessly. I’d watched Chris navigate zoom and calls and the switch to remote working but I hadn’t been a part of that. I had stepped out of the world for a year and now I was returning and it all felt weird. I felt weird. Sally contacted me after that session to follow up, she was kind and gentle in her words but I felt like I’d got it wrong, I had offended her, I had been rude about it being online. Next session I must be more positive, I must try harder.
The rest of the sessions came and went and with each one I found myself relaxing, like in super slow motion my eyes were gradually opening from a long hibernation. Sticky and wet with sleep (imagined rather than literal – I was chronically sleep deprived at this point) I found myself emerging into the most beautiful world. I had no idea that groups of women like this existed. A far cry from the all girls school I attended, or the ‘I’m a cool girl because I do boy things’ vibe I had perfected over my teens and into my twenties, these were women being women. Supporting each other, caring for people they had never met, being truly interested and invested in each other’s success. It was liberating. I wanted in. I wanted to dive in, to surround myself and submerge myself and never come up for air. This. This was where I needed to be.
I remember about the third/ fourth time we met I asked the others about cold water swimming. A few of the women in the group were keen advocates and I resolved to give it a go. That Monday, filled with trepidation and ‘first day of school’ nerves I drove to Brighton and met another group of women and we went into the sea. Slowly, cautiously, silently. I had found the water. More accurately I had returned to the water. As a child and teen it had a huge place in my life. Since moving to London at 18 I had lost that part of myself. I cried with happiness as I found her again. The healing continues. I was finding myself. I quite liked her it transpired.
Slowly, gently, we moved through the course. I was introduced to concepts and ideas I hadn’t heard of. I was guided through in a completely non-judgemental way. At times I felt awkward, too straight laced, too ‘city-ish’, too southern. And then I stepped back, I listened. These women were kind. They didn’t think those things, I did. I endeavoured to speak to myself more kindly. It felt like a rebirth or perhaps a reincarnation. I was returning to myself, the self that I had lost through years of unhealthy relationships, of trying to be someone and something else. But [Name] was coming back, and I liked her.
As the end of the course neared I turned my thoughts towards what was to come from it. Towards my own circles. The fear had evaporated. It was so obvious to me what I needed to do to create the spaces I had so deeply needed myself, to recreate the feeling of acceptance, of warmth, compassion, love and gentle challenge that I had felt in Sally’s circles. I launched with a mother’s circle on January 1st 2022. Five people came, and that was it. I had a business. It’s a bloody rollercoaster and I am still not making money but my goodness am I (mostly) enjoying this journey!
It is now September 2022. A year since I started this course, started my healing, acknowledged my pain. I hadn’t felt able to write this until now. I now realise I had post natal depression after the birth of my son. I also recognise that I am still in recovery. The heaviness has lifted though. The crushing darkness, the complete exhaustion, the inability to find joy. It is fading. I am pulling back the curtain on the rest of my life. Circles are going to be a big part of it.
Thank you Sally, I can’t tell you how grateful I am but perhaps this gives you an idea.
I am writing this in a café. It is a stream of consciousness and I have tears running down my face. I’m going to stop now, have some breaths and eat some cake. I am not going to re-read this before I send it. I imagine it will be better for being unedited.
Thank you xxxx