By Amanda Fenton
“Tell me a little more about what you hope for from the practicum?”
This is a question that pops up during our phone calls with the people who have applied to attend The Circle Way practicum happening on Whidbey Island, Washington this August.
One of the common themes in the answer to this question is the hope to leave the practicum with the confidence to host circles in their work, community, or family.
This story, from recent Circle Way workshop participant Emily Gillies of North Portal, Saskatchewan, Canada, is an inspiring example of leaving with the confidence to try circle.
Since arriving home, circle has been on my mind and heart and I continually find myself dreaming and planning new places where I can start incorporating my new hosting skills. Here are a few small success stories from today:
The first opportunity was at baseball practice with my 8 to 10 year-olds who lost both their first games this week, by some very large margins. I was intentional about starting with a circle check-in and warm up, rather than the usual chaos of just catching with a partner and then randomly jumping into the field. During the practice, my co-coach's wife commented on the fact that I'd started practice by hosting this circle conversation and she appreciated how I'd invited all the kids to share a reflection of the first two games. She followed this up with a lovely compliment to say, “That's why you're amazing. Steven would never think to do that with the team," and she could tell it was meaningful for team building and morale, just as important as tips on how to throw a good pitch (Steven's much appreciated specialty). We stayed out on the hot, windy field for 2 hours, and I closed with circle again. It felt very right to honour their hard work by meeting face-to-face, sitting on the gravel at the pitcher's mound, and having everyone share words into the centre.
The second opportunity was in response to a situation that had unfolded on the drive home where my 9 year-old son was purposefully rude and disruptive, leaving his little brother in tears and myself frustrated and disappointed. My attempts at explaining the error of his ways and prompting him to apologize were having no impact. Rather than a parent-led-lecture, I suggested showing him this new circle conversation method that I learned while I was gone this week, as I sensed he would respond better to the safe space that circle offers in which to reflect and be honest. To my joy he immediately agreed and enthusiastically found all the items I asked for to create our centre. My younger son was invited but chose to go to bed instead, so it was a circle of two, and I was impressed with the impact. I was grateful for the opportunity to use my hosting knowledge in explaining the elements and "setting the table" as Waldy, one of our workshop participants had expressed it, and I was intentional about vocalizing and practicing to reinforce my learning from this week.
As you will likely not be surprised to hear, our circle time together resulted in the most meaningful conversation I've had with my son in the past year at least. He was thoughtful and genuine in sharing his words, and respectful and attentive in listening. With very minimal invitation, he expressed remorse for his earlier actions and offered a sincere apology. I've rarely seen him so contrite and willing to admit his faults, and I acknowledge the power of The Circle Way in bringing this much-needed humility to the surface. In our time together we shared a wonderful connection that resonated deeply, and his checkout response was that he was feeling "solemnness and like a weight had been lifted off of him." A very heartfelt and serious response from a young boy!
Emily concludes, “I thank you again for bringing this tool into my life, and I rejoice that I realize the importance of connecting via circle. Know that with these positive and meaningful experiences today I am empowered to create more circle conversations in my life as soon as I can.”
Join us August 17th to 22nd for The Circle Way Practicum on Whidbey Island (near Seattle and Vancouver). Leave with confidence, leave emboldened to create circles where you work, live, play, parent, and lead.