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

Winter 2014 Newsletter

Greetings on a beautiful, snowy day in Cleveland!  It is early on in our new year, and the earth here is covered in a soft, silent snow.  I have had the enormous gift this holiday season of days filled with silence.  I took some time off and my wonderful tribe cooperated to help me create some peaceful time alone with very little talking or external distraction.  A deep blessing from them to me.
I have been thinking a lot about a book I read years ago, called, The Day the Voices Stopped.  It is a powerful story of a man, now deceased, who developed schizophrenia at age sixteen, and ended up criss-crossing the US for twenty years, from one psychiatric hospital to another, homeless, hallucinating, with a tremendous spirit and a wish to be well.  He returned to NYC, where he had started his journey, just in time to meet a compassionate social worker and the advent of new medications which helped him tremendously.  There is a moment in the story, where he wakes up in the morning, after the medications began to work, and he doesn't hear any noise.  He thinks the world may have ended.  He rushes to the window and sees traffic on the street and it looks like a regular day, but for him it is the first day, since he began to hallucinate, that his internal voices are silent.  He is frantic and disoriented but in that moment begins to understand what it is like not to have that noise, that torment.  I remember weeping as I read that paragraph and it has resonated for me ever since.
Winter is the season associated with silence.  And while I am one of the incredibly lucky souls that does not have schizophrenia, I do often have noises and thoughts running in my head a lot of the time.  It seems to me that we conscientiously, continuously, create sounds and stories to distract ourselves from simply being in silence.  And of course there really is nothing simple about being in silence is there?  It is a profound spiritual practice.  I think as much as we yearn for and need time in silence and stillness, we are afraid of that psychic/spiritual/emotional territory as well.
The gift of silence restores us to ourselves and replenishes our being.  It allows us to renew and restore our intentions and focus.  Silence also loves her sister, dream time and invites our dreams and visions to emerge, in whatever form they inhabit, to incubate in our vast, personal and collective consciousness until it is time for them to be born in the spring. 
It is an irony to me that often, while the low heavy horizons of the mighty grey great lakes feel heavy on my shoulders, and I feel like I am trudging in the tundra,  the great silent spaciousness of winter is there for the asking as well as the heaviness.  When I am respectful, when I slow down, I am able to enter into the magical mystery of silence. I am restored and enter dream time effortlessly.
The wisdom in my family is do not interrupt Mom, when she is in her quiet space - it is like poking a hibernating bear with a stick.  Never a good idea!  So here’s to giving ourselves permission to hibernate, to nest, and to spend some time in silence and dream time.  Let's retreat from the often relentless demands of our noisy, insistent, intrusive schedules and hunker down into our own soulful wisdom and dreams.  It is our birthright as humans ... sons and daughters of the earth, to honor the season of winter. Let us gather our courage and allow ourselves to be brave enough to allow time in stillness.  We can call on an abiding faith that while being in silence may initially feel disorienting or even frightening, in fact, some time being silent will actually allow us to restore our selves and allow our dreams to incubate and emerge.
Here is a prayer for winter, that a wonderful friend and artist shared on winter solstice.

Abrazos, Ceci & Karen


Winter Prayer

May the winds of winter stir our hearts.
May the icicles of winter crystallize our dreams.
May the snows of winter quiet our fears.
In the winter of winter
May we find our spring.

                                                -Cynthia Gale
                                                             All Matters Gallery



The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice -
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do -
determined to save
the only life you could save. 
                                   - Mary Oliver


Register Now!  Isla Women's Retreat in  2014

March 15 - 22, 2014

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

Space is limited
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 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 website for pictures of our retreats and more informationOur Facebook page is Portals to the Self.   Feel free to email us also!


Café Femenino
The Café Femenino Foundation is a non-profit organization formed to bring hope and aid to women and families in the poorest and least accessible areas of Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic. The Foundation is currently working to extend aid to indigent women coffee producers in other developing countries throughout the world.  This non-profit works through a network of coffee-grower cooperatives based in each country to improve the overall quality of life for entire communities and to support a sustainable economic system by funding grant requests generated in-country by groups of women coffee-producers who operate small organic farms.

The mission is to work within existing socio-economic structures in each country to foster positive change to benefit the entire community. Café Femenino supports the efforts and enhancing the status of women coffee growers by recognizing their contributions within their communities and integrating women coffee farmers into social, political and occupational organizations.

Please visit Café Femenino's website for find out more information.


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