Portals to the Self
Retreats for Women Seeking Grounding and Grace
the circle sisters news

Summer 2013

Summer carries the energy of manifestation.  As the sun shines down its warmth it potentiates our dreams into matter.  The word matter is derived from mater, the great mother who in the Greek tradition is the Goddess, Demeter.  Whether you are reading about these amazing women for the first time or whether you remember meeting them during the retreat and eating the tres leches cake they make for us each year, believe us when we tell you, they are the living breathing embodiment of Demeter, divine feminine juicy manifestation energy ... amazing artisans and great cooks as well!

Our women’s retreat has connected with a group of Mayan women who have created a beading cooperative on Isla Mujeres, a small island off the Yucatan cost in Mexico.  For many years, we have been bringing donations of high quality seed beads down to the cooperative when we journey to Isla Mujeres for our women’s retreat, Portals to the Self: A Women’s Circle by the Sea.  We learned that the women support themselves and their children from the beading cooperative sales. They sell their crafts in a storefront up island where you will find them each day creating new pieces of handcrafted beaded jewelry.
We are now selling their beautiful jewelry to family and friends. The purchase of one necklace, handcrafted with traditional Mayan designs, provides the equivalent of four day’s wages for these women and their families.  Most of the women are indigenous and speak Mayan and Spanish. Their children and grandchildren help them with written Spanish.  With this income, the women purchase food, pay for housing and cover the school tuition for their children.  The women are also a social support for each other in their daily lives and have created a safe, caring community.
The Isla women are enormously appreciative of our efforts to help them be self-sufficient economically.  We feel like our circle of women now extends to include these women as well.  All profits (100%) go to the Isla women and they give 10% of their earned income to the cooperative to purchase more supplies.  When we started this collaboration ten years ago, there were 8 women in the beading coop.  There are now over 57 women who are actively beading and selling their jewelry! 
They have started to teach beading classes at one of the hotels on the island and have a full class of 10 students each Sunday.  Also, they have been hired to make sterling silver beaded jewelry for a Mexico City designer and they are being paid a living wage.  Some of their husbands have been able to leave their low paying jobs to start home businesses with the income from their wives. 
As each woman from our retreat returns to her community, a web of wisdom and activism begins to change our world.  When women clarify what they stand for and whom they are willing to stand up for, everything and anything becomes possible.  Our two circles are interwoven - right mindedness in action.  We are all enriched, on this Island of Women.
Thank you to all the amazing women who have circled with us throughout the years that have supported our collaboration with the Isla Women’s Bead Cooperative!

Abrazos,  Ceci & Karen


Invisible Work

Because no one could ever praise me enough,
because I don't mean these poems only
but the unseen
unbelievable effort it takes to live
the life that goes on between them,
I think all the time about invisible work.
About the young mother on Welfare
I interviewed years ago,
who said, "It's hard.
You bring him to the park,
run rings around yourself keeping him safe,
cut hot dogs into bite-sized pieces fro dinner,
and there's no one
to say what a good job you're doing,
how you were patient and loving
for the thousandth time even though you had a headache."
And I, who am used to feeling sorry for myself
because I am lonely,
when all the while,
as the Chippewa poem says, I am being carried
by great winds across the sky,
thought of the invisible work that stitches up the world day and night,
the slow, unglamorous work of healing,
the way worms in the garden
tunnel ceaselessly so the earth can breathe
and bees ransack this world into being,
while owls and poets stalk shadows,
our loneliest labors under the moon.

There are mothers
for everything, and the sea
is a mother too,
whispering and whispering to us
long after we have stopped listening.
I stopped and let myself lean
a moment, against the blue
shoulder of the air. The work
of my heart
is the work of the world's heart.
There is no other art. 

                                 - Alison Luterman

Registration now open for our Isla Retreat in  2014!!

March 15 - 22, 2014

Portals to the Self: A Women's Circle by the Sea
Isla Mujeres, Mexico

We invite women to gather for retreat and replenishment on Isla Mujeres, an island in the tranquil turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean.  This island is sacred to Ixchel, the Mayan Moon Goddess and historically a place for healing rituals among the Mayan people.  We will create a circle of abundance, compassion and support as we weave together our stories and wisdom.  By honoring Ixchel’s tradition, we become midwives of our dreams and visions. Storytelling, yoga, journaling, poetry, guided imagery, and more…will serve as forms to access the blessings and beauty that flow in each of us. Participants will stay at Na Balam, an intimate, boutique hotel on the beach where landscaped trails, tropical gardens and the beauty of the ocean will provide a perfect abode for the retreat.

Please visit our public Facebook page at Portals to the Self for pics of our retreats and more information.  Feel free to email us also!

Seva Foundation
Seva Foundation started as a small group with a big idea, and the idea was this: To be fully human, we must translate our compassion and concern into useful service.  That simple statement conveys something about the nature of compassion that is expressed in most spiritual traditions around the world — that compassion is not just about helping those less fortunate than ourselves, it's about the realization that we are all connected as one human family.  That sense of compassionate service motivates all of Seva's work, as they build programs that support people around the world in their efforts to build healthy communities.
Seva's programs serve people who have been economically, politically, or otherwise marginalized. They change their program approach to relate to the culture and circumstances of each group, reaching out in very different ways, for example, to nomads in Tibet, women in Tanzania, or indigenous Mayans in Guatemala.  Seva embraces an expanded concept of health, recognizing that spiritual and cultural renewal, economic self-sufficiency, and basic civil and human rights are as important to well-being as medical care.  By developing close relationships with local organizations and community leaders, Seva builds trust, mutual respect and cultural understanding.  This organization honors the ability of communities to define their own solutions to the challenges they face.  (Photo by Jon Kaplan)

Copyright © 2013 Isla Women's Retreat, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list | update subscription preferences


Isla Women's Retreat | 2460 Fairmount Blvd. Suite 320 | Cleveland Heights | OH | 44106