I’ve taken on the delightful task of co-hosting a women’s leadership learning circle that meets every second Tuesday in a rural community in our province. Yesterday’s circle focused on conflict resolution and difficult conversations.
We started the evening making collages that represented the things that we want to breathe out (release/stop doing) and breathe in (receive/embrace/learn) in relation to conflict in our lives. From there we moved into personal assessments of how we each respond to conflict. We talked about how each conflict is shaped by our level of commitment to the relationship and to the agenda at stake, and how we choose our conflict styles accordingly. The sharing in the circle was, as always, personal and intimate. There were stories of conflict in our workplaces, conflict in our marriages and family relationships, and conflict within ourselves.
At the end of the workshop, we asked the women to share what they had breathed in (received) and what they had been able to breathe out (release) throughout the course of the workshop. As they shared, we passed around a talking piece – the courage stone that was a gift from my friend Jo-Anne.
When the stone had completed the circle and returned to me, I said “it is always a pleasure to hold this stone after it has been in the hands of each of you in the circle. As it passes around the circle, it picks up energy from each of you, and that energy changes the rock. The colour becomes richer, and by the time it gets back to me, it is much warmer than it was when I first pulled it out of my bag. You have each given a piece of your energy to this circle and to this stone.”
Women’s circles are always the same. We bring little bits of courage, little bits of fear, little pieces of our stories, and little bits of our love. We pour it all into the container of the circle, we hold the edge for each other, and our offerings lend each of us a little bit more energy and courage than we put in.
It’s like a soup for which we each brought an ingredient. You may have only brought the carrots, but once the soup is done, once we’ve each had a chance to add our ingredients, we each have enough for a nourishing meal.
As we pass our stories around the circle, our courage grows and we all leave changed by the time we spent together.