My husband and I lived in Seattle for the past 22 years. We’d often take small weekend trips to Whidbey Island, Washington, specifically, Langley. It was our respite away to recharge from work and escape the chaos of a busy city. It’s a magical and wonderful transition as you come off the ferry and onto the island. The large trees form a circle around you. The calm waters soothe you. The incredible beauty captivates you. It’s a piece of heaven on earth. Here, your frazzled nervous system takes a deep breath and says “ahhhhh.”  It’s the beginning place for healing. Then you discover a beautiful jewel glimmering on the corner as you drive into Langley: a building surrounded by lush plants next to an open grass field with towering trees and piercing calls of bald eagles—and “oh my, the view!” This is Healing Circles, Langley. A place where deep healing transforms lives.

Starting in 2010, I decided to sell my last business and take a year-long sabbatical. I was burned out and tired. That year was supposed to be full of rest and relaxation, a period to reconnect with my inner being and discover what was next in my life.

The universe had slightly different plans. Instead, what happened was a series of challenging life events! It included a collapsed driveway at our home, which is located on a steep slope in Seattle, then a series of serious health issues for my husband that brought us close to his death. It included back surgery for me in 2015 and the death of two dear grandparents (that I was very close to) in February and November that same year. In 2016, my beloved brother and only sibling died. He had experienced a disability for almost 30 years, having been disabled at the age of 24. Challenging life events included my father’s dementia and eventual death in 2017, organizing and sorting my parents’ home to sell, and helping my husband through a difficult transition and sale of his business.

After all this, we decided we should buy a place in Langley. A set of new condos had come up for sale that was very near Healing Circles. Shortly after we closed on the condo, we went back to Colorado to check on my mother. She promptly announced that she was ready to move and wanted to move to Langley and into our new condo. We quickly realized she had too many things to fit into our small condo. So, we rented her a place to stay until she could sort through things in her own time. We moved her “lock, stock and barrel” in 2018.

This year, my husband and I decided to sell out of Seattle and move full-time to Langley as well. Knowing that Mom would eventually move to the Langley condo, we bought another home and decided to modify both the home and condo to make them fully accessible so we can all “age in place.” After everything we learned in our prior life experiences, we are committed to “conscious aging” and know we’ve found the perfect environment to support our intentions. This is a place where we can all grow old together—consciously, lovingly, and in community.

We had been told about Healing Circles by several of our friends on the island. Once we were somewhat settled, we reached out to Healing Circles. We attended some of the grieving circles. Bill and I provided a community discussion on advocacy and planning for serious health issues and death. We quickly connected with Diana and Kelly Lindsay and a few others. It was easy with the open-armed approach they take. It’s like walking into someone’s door and getting a big hug along with a, “Welcome, we’re so happy to see you.” It immediately feels like home, family, and true connection. My one-year sabbatical turned into a nine-year crash course on stress management, living, dying, transitions, impermanence, gratitude, and grace. I have found part of my “what’s next.” I now volunteer at Healing Circles and am honored to have been invited to play a role in the steering council. My first task—writing this blog post! I’m grateful to be a small part of something so huge.

I’m a firm believer that, as we heal ourselves, we can “heal” the world. That’s what healing circles are about. Heal yourself through community and ultimately, the world shifts.

Mahatma Gandhi stated it best: “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – but in being able to remake ourselves.”