The Power of Circle By Jean Hartmann, Non Profit Strategist w/OD Orientation

My circle experience: I came into the circle without any preconceived notion of what a circle is, or what it means. I remember marveling at the countless numbers of colorful cards surrounding an orchid in full bloom at the circle’s center; and placing the gigantic rice bowl of blue and white porcelain, containing a decade of Chinese fortunes that I have accumulated to share with the other women in attendance. This was the women’s retreat. I had come with the intention of sharing my good fortunes with others; not knowing that in so wishing, I had made an offering to the circle.

Circles are gatherings of spiritual tidings dating back to the Paleolithic times (Mijares, 2012). Although interrupted by periods of patriarchal dominance, the circles tradition has continued through tribal and modern societies to give space for feminine energy, egalitarian relating, evolving consciousness, and a mystical quality of life beyond religious beliefs and practices (p. 6). For me, the circle that I experienced was nurturing of womanhood. Our circle facilitated learning with one another in recognition of thoughts of self-harm, and enabled feeling anew the awareness of being aware as we let go of our hurts.

Circles complete the cycle of renewal (GTW global matrix). Circles give rise to a collective purpose, as birthing life forms that enact vitality, hope, and perseverance. Circles can call forth our sufferings and hold in sacred silence, the unexpressed pains and suppressed doubts that otherwise fill the voids of our hearts. Circles can cleanse our souls of dark shadows and replenish our bodies with kindness and self-worth. Circles can elicit shared moments of truth and reveal our vulnerable selves with compassion. Circles embrace us as we are—completely and unconditionally.

Share your circle experiences and help extend the circles influence …

Entering a new life era

Published by Sheila Babnis on behalf of Jean Hartmann

Just a week before attending the Your Life by Design Retreat in Delray Beach, Florida, I hit a peak―and it wasn’t a performance peak―it was the peak of my breaking point.


In 2017, I took on caregiving to mom who has memory loss, and depression without the knowledge of it. While I was healing from back-to-back surgery on my left eye and left thumb; mom had lost 20% of her body weight and given-in to aging. For four intense months, I was fighting to keep myself going, and at the same time, fighting to sustain her body in order to revive her spirits.

It’s now two weeks since the Retreat, and the connection with the mother-daughter in every woman remains strong and is an ever-present source of strength for me. I am not alone in this journey. Whatever I will be confronting, I now have a community of caring and wise women around me to comfort and guide me ever so gently.

Join ‘us’ in the circles of soulful sharing, reflective discovery, and emotive transformation―with each shedding of suppressed tears, come the letting go of conditioned fears―and emergent life’s wonders. We are complete as we are. I am again the butterfly flitting amidst the a field of love.

THANK you to our nurturing guides: Cindy and Sheila!!!


Designers of Life

I wanted to share the note Mary Corrigan had sent to the YLBD participants.  It is the supreme example of someone who has courage, passion and commit to continue to design and evolve the life today.

To the Sisterhood of Life Designers -

I hope that this finds you well and enjoying some summer delights. It’s been a bleak June here on the coast which has encouraged me to spend more time exploring the sunny parts of the Bay Area. I have high hopes for July.

I am writing today to share some changes in my life.

I have never believed more deeply in the importance of this work as my own life continues to change and grow. With my father now in hospice, family has become a higher priority and time a very precious resource. From my past experience of moving through change and transformation, I’ve learned I must follow my heart — even when (perhaps especially when) the outcome has not yet been revealed. My heart is calling me to create space and solitude for the emergence of what’s next.

I will not be teaching future Your Life By Design programs with Sheila and Cindy. This is important work and necessary work that I fully support. It’s just not mine to teach at this time. The beauty is Sheila and Cindy are both gifted, highly capable and brilliant guides with loads of passion to continue the work.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to create this program together with Sheila and Cindy, while learning more about true collaboration. They have been wise, generous and open partners. I’ve learned to ask for and allow help in ways I had never imagined which has been a great gift to me. I’m deeply grateful to them both for all they have brought to this work and to me.

I LOVE the work we’ve done in our programs helping women to design lives of meaning and create that reality in the world. You all continue to inspire me with your courage, creativity and compassion in staking a claim for yourselves to live the lives you envision.

I’m proud of what we’ve created together. I’m proud of each of you. I will be cheering you on from the front row.

With love, honor and respect for who you are and all you contribute to the world. With bountiful blessingsand big love - Mary

Purpose: Creating Beauty In The World

When I received my invitation to Your Life by Design from Sheila, Mary and Cindy, I was beginning a major transition and feeling stuck. I could not wait to experience Your Life by Design and join the Community to open up to new ideas and begin my process. Your Life By Design did not disappoint and when I had the opportunity to join the next session of Know What You Want, I was one of the first to register. 

Your Life By Design is a combination of serious work, connection and fun. One of the first things I noticed was the openness of the leaders to share their personal experiences. Knowing that my process was similar to theirs helped me to trust and open to my process. Looking forward to the next meeting of the community.

Discovering my purpose has always been challenging. I have always done what is necessary to meet my commitments. Through the Your Life By Design process I was able to finally realize that it is to create beauty.

The connection part of the process did not end when we finished our time at Mercy Center. The monthly Community Connection calls help me continue my process and increase the bond that was formed in the face-to-face meeting. 

Loved the Labyrinth that Mary led.

I feel the connections formed by Sheila, Mary and Cindy are life long ones that I can count on for support and feedback.

Thank you everyone! 


Mary Ellen

Work is a chance for us to serve by Cindy Miller

More people are seeking work that is meaningful.  Work that helps us earn a living and yet does so much more.  Taps our strengths.  Connects us to others.  Gives us the opportunity to do good in the world, for the world.  Yet finding our meaningful work seems illusive.  Why is it so much easier for others to find meaningful work than it is for us to find it ourselves?


Take 5 minutes and 12 seconds to watch this thought-provoking short animation from Brain Pickings based on the School of Life work by Roman Krznaric.  It explains why this quest is hard, and what we can do about it.


We have internal wisdom about our meaningful work.  Tap in and take action.  The world needs us.


These times, they are uncertain by Mary Corrigan

It’s a popular phrase – “these times of uncertainty.” Implicit in this phrase, at least for me, has been an unconscious belief/wish/hope/expectation that at some point the times will become more certain. When I look around at my life and the world from the vantage point of my sixth decade, I realize I’ve been engaged in magical thinking in waiting for the arrival of this illusive moment.

There are times when we feel like we are on more of an even keel than others. We enjoy the harmony and want it to continue. As is often said, whether you’re feeling happy or miserable, don’t get attached. It will change. There is a wish for things to settle down, settle in and be predictable. At least so we can catch our breath.

It’s not news to anyone in the modern world that we are living in the midst of phenomenal and accelerated social, cultural, political, and technological change. The more connected we are virtually, the more accelerated it feels. The systems we built to get us to the present aren’t going to work for the future that’s coming. The new is unfolding, as it always does, though we can’t see it yet. The birth process can be a painful one and is not for the faint of heart. It’s even more painful when the old systems (which include us – our mindsets and expectations) attempt to control a natural process that cannot be controlled.

This uncertainty brings both excitement and stress into our personal lives. Lately, the pressure feels amplified. We see it around us in the stress of others and feel it in ourselves. Tempers are short. Patience is tested. Outlooks can seem gloomy.

It’s been quite a year for blame, criticism and manufactured fear. It’s also been a very challenging year for lots of people with so much loss and letting go.

So how do we keep our spirits alive and not become paralyzed in order to live generatively and generously? How do we keep ourselves engaged when it’s easier to check out and go shopping, binge watch the latest series, and/or lose ourselves in social media? (To name a few of my go-to’s.) A temporary and false sense of relief followed by a crash similar to a junk food binge. (I’m not saying we don’t need a diversion from time to time. It’s when we become addicted and immobilized that it presents problems.)

Connect. Care. Contribute. 


Isolation is a dangerous neighborhood. Our public discourse has become more and more positional; breeding suspicion, distrust and even hatred between us. The answer is not to go to our corners and shore up our positions. It is to connect.

  • Connect: to yourself, one another, what and who you love, your gifts and talents, what gives you energy. Connecting to a higher power that is greater than us can be very comforting. Spending time in nature is a powerful way to connect to the great mystery. Meditate to connect within.
  • Participate in groups. If you don’t have one, join one. Find a cause that’s important to you and get involved. If it’s a group of people not like you, who don’t share the same world view, even better. Listen for the common ground. It’s there. If you can’t find it at first, listen harder.
  • Nurture your community. If you don’t have one, find one. Change happens when loose, informal groups of people come together around things they care about. The small group is the vehicle for change.
  • If you qualify for any category of 12-step work, they are a great place to work on yourself in the company of others who are different than you yet share a common goal.
  • Play more. It’s healthy and is a great way to connect.


In times of stress it’s important to increase our vigilance around care – for ourselves, loved ones, communities, and the planet we share. Giving ourselves time to integrate conflicting feelings, resting, taking breaks from the onslaught to reflect will sustain us.

  • Be kind. Do it for no other reason than it feels good. Open doors, let people go in front of you in line, merge into your lane, give generous compliments. Kindness creates openings and spaciousness between us. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
  • I like Anne Lamott’s practice of flirting with elders. Listen for their wisdom. They’ve seen it all (albeit in different incarnations) and don’t find a lot of people to listen to them.
  • Bring people together to talk, cook, learn something new together. Start with what you have in common and care about. Follow wherever it leads.


Action relieves anxiety. Offer what you can. Service takes us out of ourselves and benefits the greater good. Share your gifts and talents in any way that means something to you. Help is needed everywhere.

  • Volunteer for a cause you believe in. You know, the one you keep thinking about but don’t get around to calling. This time of year is rich with opportunities.
  • Make art. Whatever your medium, even if you don’t think you have one, art is a powerful vehicle to integrate feelings and experiences.
  • Create beauty. In your home, office, for others who don’t have the capacity or resources.
  • Plant a garden. Make sure to include some spring flowers. It’s the best metaphor for hope.

Stewardship is essential by Sheila Babnis

I have frequently heard leaders and managers refer to quote the "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" in their hallway conversations and meetings when things are not going the way they think they should be going.  I wonder why?

Why is it that so few leaders set, instill and evolve the culture (and behaviors required) of their organizations as needed and over time?   I believe today we need new cultures driven by evolving behaviors such as open mindsets, courage, risk-taking, learning from failure, partnering in new ways, working not only for the bottom line but for social impact in the world at the same time, and more.

Cultures and do determine the outcomes of the company.  So it must be done with thoughtfulness and care.  Cared for in the same way as we care for our company P & Ls, our portfolios,  our products and services and use of new and evolving technologies.

The first email in my in box today was from Ayelet Baron.  Ayelet is a Futurist, Speaker and Author who is striving to engage the world in a conversation around bringing back business common sense in a 21st century approach.  

As you start your day today, reflect these questions: What type of an organization do you work for? How are you actively leading and stewarding your organization? What type of company do you want to build?  Start a conversation on this topic.

Take a moment to read this short perspective by Seth Godin. 

From Seth Godin today: The front row culture

"The group files into the theater, buzzing. People hustle to get to the front row, sitting side by side, no empty seats. The event starts on time, the excitement is palpable.

The other group wanders in. The front row is empty and stays that way. There are two or even three empty seats between each individual. The room is sort of dead.

In both cases, the CEO or the guest speaker is going to address the group for an hour. But the two groups couldn't be more different.

The first organization sees possibility, the second sees risk and threat. The first group is eager to explore a new future, the second group misses the distant past.

The truth is this: it's possible to hire for, train for and lead a front-row organization. And if you merely let entropy take over, you're going to end up with the second, lesser, failing organization instead.

Worth saying this as clearly as possible: The culture, the choice of front row or back row, is a choice. It's the result of investment and effort.

Where would you rather work?"