Why Story Circles?

TIME TO REGISTER! Some circles start next week!

Dear Friends,

The two most common questions I’m asked about my offerings are: What are the Story Circles? and Aren’t they just another class? Workshops and individual sessions are understandable —- But a story circle? Do you sit around and tell stories?

Well, no. But in a different sense, yes: when a few people get together around around topics worth talking about, stories about peoples’ lives tend to get told. These are the kinds of stories I make space for, create a container to hold, and invite reflection on in the circles I call together. Small groups that afford a relaxed, yet meaningful series of discussions on a particular topic that also offer self-reflection and respectful dialogue are rare in these times. It also seems to be something that many people long for — especially when there’s no gimmick involved (I’m not trying to sell you a $2000 program or involve you in a multi-marketing business), when personal disclosure is absolutely not obligatory, though allowed and often invited, and when we live lives that are filled with superficial obligation and a disappearing sense of civil discussion. Many of us long to meet eye to eye over a warm drink and talk about things close our hearts. Experimenting with a new skill or two in creative expression is also a delight, especially when there’s no pressure to perform and inexperience is welcomed.

I’ve had 40-plus years of passion around asking what makes life worth living, what brings joy, how we can explore the depth dimensions of life. I studied theology for 8 years plus earned a master’s in education, taught from pre-school to university, in informal groups for children and adults, and mentored individuals in self-education. I’ve worked in public organizations and in advocacy, and helped women and men heal from trauma, especially sexual violence, through six years as head of a Sexual Assault Center and more years as a counsellor, and studied in person with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes for more than a decade (Jungian psychotherapist and author of best-selling Women Who Run with the Wolves). I’ve also seen many of my ambitious hopes dissolved by chronic pain and several long-term health struggles, and know those middle of the night questions far too intimately.

One of the things that makes life worth living for me is making authentic connections with others when exploring together “deep and real” questions. I encourage myself and others to explore the ways that humans throughout the centuries have tended to reach those depth dimensions in life: through creativity, through informal yet expressive words of poetry and life stories, through dreams, reading, and reflection. These kinds of conversations don’t tend to “just happen”, so I use the skills I’ve developed in facilitation and education to provide a container and simple structure to allow these kinds of conversations to unfold. My experience as a counsellor allows me to hold that balance between authentic discussion and too-much too-fast disclosure, so that everyone feels respect, containment, and their own sovereignty.

Every fall I offer several opportunities for that kind of conversation to unfold in various Story Circles which meet once per month from September to June. We meet in my home studio, so the size of each group is limited to 8 maximum. This year the various topics include Poetry, Dreamwork, Life Stories (memoir), and Interspiritual Explorations. (I also offer individual sessions, in person or online.)

If this kind of conversation pulls to you, please check out my brochure https://catcharissage.com/2019/08/14/2019-2020-offerings/, or contact me at catcharissage@gmail.com. What a great new exploration to begin on this New Moon as the fall new school year begins!

With much love and many blessings,


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