Have you ever dared to dream of totally letting go and embracing the unknown?
Scary, huh? I know, and I know mainly because five years ago I did more than just dream it.
It was right after ten magical years of owning my French home and garden store - Maison Rêve. I'd decided it was time to close its doors and move it online. I wanted to be more present with my two young children both under the age of five. It was a tough decision because I loved my customers and being creative ever day.
But that little voice inside was speaking. Telling me to make space for the next stage in my creative growth.
Of course, that voice was swiftly followed by a flood of doubt:
What would my new creativity look like? What if I leave something fulfilling for the unknown and it never comes?
I would never know if I didn't try, and I'd never let that stop me before, so I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and pushed through the doubt. I also went straight to a firm favorite of mine, something that had helped me time and again when facing uncertainty - it was time to create a Vision Board.
Have you ever created a Vision Board? It's really not that hard, and actually kind of fun (as well as therapeutic during times of change). You just gather up a whole bunch of magazines and printed material, then cut and clip all the things that catch your eye and speak to your soul (kind of like that little voice). Then you paste all your favorites on a white board - voila! A collage of instant insights into what's important to you, plus instant inspiration on where you might want to head next.
So where was I going next?
Well, one image on the Vision Board was of books by a windowsill. I fell in love with it immediately. My mind was craving reading again, especially stories that expanded my soul and creativity. Secretly, I hoped reading might also focus my circling mind. Off to find me some good reading!
First stop, a used book store (yes, they still exist, in fact, there's probably one right near you).
The first book to find me there - virtually leaping right off the shelf into my hands, was: Healing the Soul of America by Marianne Williamson. It spoke to a curiosity growing inside me, "Why had our American culture and political establishment gotten to where it is today and where is it heading?" Being connected to a higher purpose than my own personal growth would also be critical to igniting my passion.
Next, I made up a fun, new ritual. When the kids were in school I'd treat myself each week to strolling a bookstore to see where my curiosity led. No set purpose, just free time to explore.
And boy was I rewarded - almost every book that caught my attention seemed a perfect match. I'd read them like a girl thirsty for water, then talk endlessly about what I was learning to my sympathetic husband (who nodded every so often to show me he was still listening).
I knew I was acting a tad obsessive, but what would you expect? My life was evolving - real time. I just had to let it out, to talk and talk about these ideas, these thoughts at a deeper and deeper level. I needed to share the struggles I was having in applying the change to everyday life. Bless him, he was helping, but I needed more - I needed female perspectives.
Where would it come from?
Fast forward to the very next Saturday. I am at a child's birthday party, and Rebecca, another mother, casually asked what I was up to now that I closed my store.
"Reading!" I almost screamed.
Reading so much I'm fit to burst. Barely taking a breath, stories started pouring out of me - what I'd learned, how inspired I was, how it was all affecting my life. Rebecca listened but you could see she was fit to burst too, "Wow, me too, I'm feeling the same way." she finally blurted out. "Please, please, please email me the list of those books you're reading. I wish more women were reading and talking about these kind of things like what we're doing right now."
Light bulb! We were on to something here - but why just wish it? I knew from conversations with hundreds of women who frequented my store that so many of us were yearning for deeper joy and meaning, but were all on treadmills of our own making that didn't allow for time or space to discuss real challenges. We were all getting stuck, numbing or closeting our feelings, and living each day yearning for the unknown.
Time to be brave! Back at home, my fingers flew across the keyboard. Within minutes an email was crafted. I quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and higher callings.
The email went out to 8 women I know who would expand and grow and flourish with me - it was the first ever invitation to be part of a White Space Circle.
In essence, as you've probably guessed by now, White Space Circles are about coming together, making time, and actively creating "white space" in your life - space to be inspired (and inspire), space to just be, and breath, and expand beyond any limits.
As a designer, I would always start decorating a client's home (or my store window) by stripping things back to their essence, therefore eliminating potentially unnecessary objects so a room, a home, that store window could breathe. Finally I would have it: the white space. Only then could I call up my creativity. Now I needed this white space in my life to hear my voice again and ignite my creativity, so I could literally leap back into my life!
My vision was that these White Space Circles would not only expand our individual consciousness but also the collective consciousness of women. By doing this we would create powerful circles filled with compassionate energy necessary to solve many of our personal, community, and even national and global issues.
"Think of a pebble dropped in a pond, think of the ever-expanding circles - that was the inspiration."
It had to be about the individual soul but also a higher collective soul. Together we would select books that enlightened our mind, bodies and spirits. Then simply meet every two months to discuss. It's not revolutionary (but it may lead to a revolution), it's just about committing to make it happen, and then seeking out this compassion on a regular basis.
Now, remember at this point I was out on a limb a little here. The invitation had gone out, but would anyone respond, was it just me, or was I on to something?
Well, within hours I had my answer. Emails pinged back and piled high...
"Oh, my goodness Yasmine. This is exactly what I need right now!"
"Are you inside my mind? The words I am reading are the same as the ones in my head."
"Your email woke something up in me. I am ready to finally grow my creativity but need to talk to other women to get away away from the daily grind of emails, texts...the dishwasher...the freaking laundry...so I can see clearly what I want in life!"
Four years later, our White Space Circle is more powerful than ever. We've expanded to 14 women, and read a new book every other month. There is a special selection criteria. It revolves around books that inspire us to live in the present moment and be more joyful, creative and compassionate. It's important that we balance books about self growth with ones that inspire us to give back to the world. We take turns hosting. The Circle Hostess gathers book recommendations and gets to make the final selection.
We keep it simple with tea and healthy treats, although we have been known to break out a nice wine! It's become an intimate space to be REAL and focus on what matters.
Laughter, tears, compassion live within each Circle. There is always at least one (if not many) "belly-aching pee moments". Where we are all laughing so loud our sides hurt and we're afraid we might actually pee! Nothing shared leaves the space and if you can't attend, you never feel judged or excluded.
We leave the night filled with inspiration, bold courage and practical ways to express our real selves. The next day, emails flow sharing gratitude, inspiration and practical tips.
Now, there is a reason I am sharing this story with you today. It's because that little voice inside is speaking again.
It's telling me that our country needs more White Space Circles to help expand a larger soul, our American soul. Our first Circle is ready to ripple out and empower more women. I truly believe these circles can harness that fierce feminine energy within all women to enlighten us and collectively become a guiding light for our country to follow a more compassionate path forward to unite our nation.
Is your little voice speaking too?
Could you see yourself as a White Space Circle leader?
Our country, our world, needs more of you. It doesn't require much time. Or cost anything. All you need is a strong belief in the vision and a desire to manifest more compassion in our world. The rewards are pretty potent.
Email me and I will get you started. I'll provide you with the White Space Circle Guide that includes more of the criteria I spoke of, and tips to getting a Circle started and keeping the momentum growing. All our Circles will intersect by sharing book selections (often reading the same titles), the top "belling-aching pee moments", practical ways to evolve, and online discussions (maybe one day meeting in person at events!)
Now if you want to be part of a Circle, just not the leader, email me too. Every circle needs more ripples.
Below are a selection of the books we've read over the years just to get your thoughts started, followed by testimonials.
Join me, join us. This may be one of the most meaningful things you will ever be part of.
Leap Into Your Life,
"Being in this circle has not only exposed me to so many mind opening books but has connected me to a group of women that are deep and authentic. I feel like the learnings that come from this circle have a positive impact on my work with clients as well as help to guide me with my friends and family. I am very grateful to have White Space in my life."
"Our circle gives me something to look forward to, knowing that I'll be wrapped in a soothing blanket of mutual understanding. Our books stretch my mind, our discussions stretch my heart, and our gatherings stretch my soul. I'm eternally grateful to be part of our circle."
"To me, it is precious. It isn't a lightweight chitchat - and there is nothing wrong with those! It is something I look forward to that I know will soothe my mind and spirit. It's not even as much about the books, as the time with close friends who I've grown to trust and love and am so grateful to grow old with together! I can't imagine reading books like this now without having our circle to share our fears and wisdom and hopefulness and strategies. In short - it's like discovering chocolate and knowing I can have t now for the rest of my life!"