Episode 73

From Doubt to Strength: Finding Authenticity in Women's Circles with Melissa McHugh & Sydney Decker

From Doubt to Strength: Finding Authenticity in Women's Circles with Melissa McHugh & Sydney Decker

In this episode we get curious about:

  • The transformative power of women's circles.
  • Reconnecting with the feminine essence.
  • Embracing self-love and authenticity.
  • Women worldwide standing up for their rights.
  • Overcoming self-doubt and finding support in women's circles

To learn more about my guests:

Website-Melissa McHugh: The Spiritual Tools with Melissa McHugh

Website-Sydney Decker: Inner Element Wellness

Podcast: The Goddess and the Medicine Woman

IG - Melissa McHugh: Instagram (@thespiritualtools)

IG - Sydney Decker: Instagram (@innerelementwellness)

Recommended Books: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant & Daughters of Copper Woman by Anna Cameron

Freebie from Sydney Decker: Attitude of Gratitude: Cultivating a Mindset of Joy (free 5 day mini course)


Audio Engineer: Sam Wittig

Music: Where the Light Is by Lemon Music Studio

Photography & Design: Asha McLaughlin/Tej Art

To learn more about Laurin Wittig and her work: HeartLight Wellness

Copyright 2024 Laurin Wittig

Melissa: [:

I just have to continue to allow myself to show up, just to show up in general, just to tell everybody that you're not going to be perfect. You're never going to be perfect. There's never going to be a moment where you're like, okay, I have to wait before this, this, this, and this occurs to, then I'm going to show up, then I'm going to put myself out there. Then I'm going to allow myself to, . Go to a women's circle, but I have this wrong with me right now, and I'm gonna sound stupid, and I'm going to whatever, fill in the blank, whatever your thing is, is that show up now, show up as yourself, show up truthfully, as truthfully as you can.

u don't. You just have to be [:

And they're going to say, come on and sit down. Yeah. I'm getting emotional. Yeah. Because that's just how I feel.

Laurin: Hello, friends, and =welcome to Curiously Wise. I am Laurin Wittig, your host, and today I have two fabulous women here to talk to us and talk with us. Melissa McHugh and her niece, Sydney Decker, who are the, the amazing duo that Host the, The Goddess and The Medicine Woman podcast, which is where I met them.

I kind of reached out to say, Hey, I'd love to be on your show. And they said, sure, and the next thing we knew we were having a blast. So, I'm, I, we're kind of turning the tables today and I get to interview them. And, , I'm just really happy to have you guys here. You know, how I love being in your energy and in your company.

Melissa: Yeah. [:

Laurin: Cool.

Sydney: I'm excited to be here too. And it's interesting because we're usually the ones that interview. So we're both kind of like, what's going to happen?

Laurin: I know.

I think it's actually easier to be a guest. I've done both quite a lot. And, and usually when you're a guest, you show up and you just. You just talk. You don't have to do all the work. , let's start with just a little bit of background from each of you. And, , Sydney, would you start and just tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

h with myself for some time, [:

And so I then started to realize that actually, you know what? I am the ethereal being of love and light that I was sent here to be. And so I've been in the process of helping myself uncover that truth and helping other people uncover that truth for themselves in my practice and in the podcast. And, , I'm a big cleanse your energy person.

So that's a big thing for me right now. , that's who I am.

Laurin: And she's a very wise person, I just have to say, I am in awe of her wisdom. So Melissa, what about you?

issa McHugh and I utilize, , [:

And I like to combine all those things together to help people, , on their healing journeys. And I just, , started a wellness center with a friend of mine in Vestal, New York. And that's really, , a major part of what I'm doing right now. It is a, a direct primary care, , and, , all of the different, , therapies that go along with alternative, as well as functional medicine.

And we're trying to put that all under one roof right now. And so we can, , help people in that way, , their, , physical and also emotional mental healing journeys at the same time. And I am a co host as well of The Goddess and The Medicine Woman podcast.

Laurin: I've, I've always wanted to ask who's the goddess and who's the medicine woman.

I keep going back and forth trying to figure it out.

Melissa: Everybody wants to know that. And what we say is both. Yeah, we are both. Both.

Laurin: That's why I go back and forth. It's like, , it could be either or both.

Sydney: [:

Laurin: Lovely. Lovely. Y'all have some amazing guests on there. I was lucky enough to be one of them, but I've just been really interested in the ones that you've, you've had on. And I want to listen to more. , I highly recommend the podcast. You don't have to listen to my episode on it. Just go check it out. It's awesome. We'll have that in the show notes, of course, too.

, all right. So I wanted to talk to you guys today specifically, because we've sort of been talking about doing this for a while, but on Saturday, which is when we're recording this, that's two days. We co hosted Or we co created, , the Triple Goddess Women's Circle and our inaugural circle was Saturday.

men's circle, because I used [:

, but, and I know both of you have been involved in some women's circles as well. So let's talk about the value that you find in specifically women's circles, because I know I get the question sometimes, why don't you let men time or why don't you do a circle for men. It's the women's circle. That is my passion.

And so I just wanted to kind of hear from you guys what you think, why you think they're so awesome and, and, and why you love being a part of them.

Sydney: Melissa,

ritual of the women's circle [:

You're not the one like putting on the workshop or, , teaching the things. You're not a guru. You're somebody that's sitting in circle. with women who have so much wisdom and knowledge and that we can all learn from one another. So for me, that is the biggest part of the circle. And it just feels like, , tribal.

It feels good. It feels like, I don't know, intense. And it just feels like something that we've done for a very long time. ancestrally. And I just know when, when I sit down in that circle and everyone starts to share and open up that I just feel amazing. I'm like, it's right.

he sense of it feels natural [:

And I think for me, a big piece. of wanting to be in a women's circle is when I first started my healing journey. I read some books like the Red Tent, like about the Red Tent, and I was getting to know my moon cycle, and I read the book, , The Daughters of Copper Woman, which is a really good book to read, , it kind of talks about how the nature, it tells a different creation story, and it talks about, like, how, , woman was made first, actually, and that really sparked some things for me, and Just how the women in that book get together and they save or try to save their tribe It's just so like I'm getting chills right now.

ke about performing for like [:

Being in competition for men. And it's a way that the feminine stays stunted and it stays, , separate from herself. And I believe that when we come together in circles, we get to remember that ancient flow of sacredness and life force. And we all start to realize that there's no reason to be in competition.

what the feminine is really [:

Laurin: Yes. Yeah. That's a piece that I get a lot and, and, and I, I founded my, , I call it the Heartlight Wise Woman Circle when I was going through the last years of my mother's life when life was very difficult for me because she was very difficult and it was cathartic.

To be able to go into that circle. And I was the facilitator and I'd never done it as a women's circle before I'd been in other groups like that, but not women, but I was able to go in and just cry and not apologize for crying. And, and for people just to hold space for me to let that grief flow and then to share their own stories about their difficulties with their mothers or other family members or whatever.

that had these problems for [:

But it was that sharing of the heart energy as much as the wisdom that I found so healing, so very healing.

Sydney: So when you were saying, sorry. Go ahead. I just when you were saying that something that came up because it's like, well, why aren't men invited and something came up in my thoughts that I've shared before, but it's like, , I read this.

So I didn't come up with this myself, but I read this somewhere where it was like a post or something. And it's like, if you get women together. And we're talking and it's all like, you're beautiful and you're wonderful and you're great. And then you insert a man into the conversation. And the man says, , in the post, it said like, her hair is better than your hair.

Now we're [:

And so it's like I think that's why Maybe not men right now as we're starting to get to know who we are as women.

Laurin: Yeah, we need to reconnect at the heart level with who we all were. And like you were saying, Melissa, this feels very, , ancestral to me. I have an anthropology background in college, a cultural anthropology.

And, , and I [:

Or you would come together to butcher the hog together because it took everybody to do that job. It took the men and the women in that case, but the women would be doing, you know, making the sausages or whatever. , they would have their own place and the conversations that would go on during that work was where they bonded and where they shared and where the grandmothers could help the new moms and the kids were all looked after.

ere, they held down the home [:

And that was just biology as much as anything. And so it's built into our DNA, I believe. To come together in these kinds of ways. We don't do it around work anymore. So we have to create that circle, you know, it's not as organic as it used to be, but we can consciously create that circle to bring back that sense of community and support and laughter.

I don't laugh as much as I do with a bunch of a room full of women as I, if there's other people around, you know?

Melissa: Yeah, and it's, I think that disconnect that we've all, , come to know so well, , we're all in our little houses and you know, like we, we spoke to another woman the other day who was, , doing circles for mothers, and she's talking about how disconnected mothers are from one another.

ng care of all the kids, the [:

And like you said, we have to now consciously because we have been taken away from that. For whatever reasons and whatever happened, , in the past, we found ourselves here now. So now we can come together now and say, Hey, it just doesn't feel right anymore. You know, we thought maybe this was the way to be, , for the longest time and okay.

And we tried it and it's not working. We need to be together. We need to come together to support one another. In this life and it just feels good and it feels right and there's nothing wrong with going back into the past and finding what did work correctly and still moving forward. I mean, this is great.

, only people that are in my [:

Laurin: Yeah, yeah. It's, it's , opened up the world to us, a lot of us.

Yeah. The other thing that I was going to just add to, , when we were talking about bringing men into the circle, I used to work in, at the International Monetary Fund for years before my kids came along or as they were coming along. And it was very multicultural, but the team that I was on was very American.

So, , it was a familiar culture to me there. But time and again, you would see that when there was a man in the room, especially if he was not an American man, but that was, I think the culture of the place. , the women would get quiet. The women would get quiet. , the man would, would lead the meeting and the women would get quiet.

ry common thing for women to [:

Melissa: to take care of a cat that I love that though, about thinking about that and that whole man aspect, knowing though, that moving forward.

That we want to start to integrate them back into place, but we, like you said, we need to get right with ourselves first. We need to do the internal work and get right, , on an individual level and then start to reconnect with one another. It's not like we're reconnecting with these women's circles and it's like, no men allowed.

You know what I mean? It's not, that's not the mindset, at least that I know that we're having.

Laurin: Yeah. I mean, yeah. There's a boundary there that this is for women, but it's not like. The same thing as saying no men allowed.

Melissa: Yeah. No men ever. And we're going to take over the world and you're going to, , bow down to us.

No. Didn't work either. No. [:

Yes right now. We're working on the healing part. It seems like

Laurin: yeah, I agree with that I agree with that. I know that Lord knows every woman I know is going through a lot of healing work and and I Know there are a lot of men now that are also doing the same thing, , which is lovely. And I've also had to separate the idea of Men in the circle with us versus the patriarchy being in the circle with us, because there is a difference there.

, it's not, it's not the men [:

Patriarchal structure is what we're really working to disassemble.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It's that system that we find ourselves in that just, it doesn't work for us. No. , it just hasn't worked for us for a very long time. So in order to move past that, we have to recognize the difference between the patriarchy and then the divine masculine.

Yes. , , the healing that needs to happen in between that, but that's the whole thing consciously. We just have to kind of say, okay, where are you coming from? You know, where are you coming from? Are you still in the belief system that women have their place and that they're only good for a few things?

hat I mean? Like within that [:

Laurin: one of the other things I find advantages, I find about the women's circle or powers. I think it's what I, you know, the power of it for me is that in my experience leading, it was being the facilitator of circle.

I would watch people come in because we were in person and they would have, you know, this is going on. I've got this health problem. My kid's having a trouble. It's, , it's whatever they bring the day with them. And the only thing I ever guaranteed about that circle was that everybody would leave feeling better.

And I was never made a liar.

Melissa: You say, Oh, that's big words. You know what I mean? Like, yeah. Say that to me that I'm going to feel better. Yeah.

Laurin: But you're going to feel better. And I, again and again, I had people tell me that, but you would tell you could tell the difference in the energy at the beginning.


Right. Then we would go home to our families. Yeah. And we would bring that energy into our homes. And so it has that ripple effect. And I think, I think that the channel that we had in our, , Triple Goddess Circle last week or two days ago. , I, I don't. I channeled it and I don't really remember what I channel, but I think it was a lot about the ripple effect of both healing and, and bringing this energy out into the world at this new vibration.

And that's why I want to go [:

Laurin: Yeah. I have to listen to it for the first time.

Melissa: Yeah, exactly. And I know that's another,

Laurin: Oh, that was weird. You're not seeing this in video. Sydney just came back and we got this very odd image.

Melissa: Very strange. I think it was her knee,

Sydney: but it was. No, it wasn't my knee, it was, I put out my fall decorations and you were seeing the underside of the thing that I put my pumpkins on. Oh, okay. But what happened was my cat spilled everything.

Oh no. So my coffee and my water and on to my computer.

Laurin: Oh no.

Sydney: That's awesome.

Laurin: Well, we just continued.

I could hear you guys. Good. [:

Laurin: Life happens.

Melissa: Especially when you have cats. There's no doubt about it. Yeah.

Sydney: Oh, she knows she's in trouble. Yep. I mean there's nothing I can do. I could just cleaned it up, but yeah.

Yeah. She's staying away from me now. That's yeah. I'll just have to kind of double check on that. That's the one thing underneath wise, but yes. So I did. I liked the conversation that you guys were having about when the masculine comes into the room, women tend to stop talking and how we're just as much a part of, they're just as much as part of the toxicity of the masculine patriarchy that was formed and how it's.

Not necessarily about coming back together to, for women to rule over the men, but it's more of a unison. And so, yeah, I agree with all those things.

ng time with the technology, [:

The energy was really interesting. in that, in that group. And, I just wanted to hear sort of what your, , favorite part of it was, or what you found the most, , helped you to shift more. Cause I know I've got, because it's a circle and we're all in there together, I was getting all the same healing work that we were bringing out for the other participants.

, so what did you really love about that circle? Maybe that was different than other circles you've been in.

Sydney: So I. Really loved one. , I mean, we did the virtual one when we were did ours and during COVID and everything, but I just really loved that it was people from different places.

as really cool. And. As most [:

My wealth is way more internal than it was before we gathered.

Laurin: Yeah, [:

Melissa: yeah. And I really, I found the difference in that circle to me, and I think a really profound difference was the amount of allowance that we went into it with, , as there's three of us. So it was beautiful that we had the three different energies come in, three different points of view, three different gifts that we have was so beautiful for me to be able to not only be.

like this really cool thing [:

It was like all of these different kind of aspects, bringing ourselves into it. And it just felt really cool to me. You know, all of that, just looking at it and all of these different, , points of view as a part of, , the three of us, and then as a part of the whole, and as, as a part of the, , , the healing.

aspect of it too. And I just really loved the way that it flowed and the way that we came at this. It just seemed a little bit different to me than the normal circles that I've seen.

Laurin: Yeah, I agree. Working with you guys instead of being, , the sole facilitator, , it, it created, it was more creative.

e created the container, but [:

And then we did the healing work, but we, we only had a loose sort of idea of what we were going to do in those spaces and we let it sort of organically unfold. And it was, it was really beautiful. And easy. That was the part that I really loved it. Just like you said, it just flowed. Everybody was there, , because they wanted to be there and they brought their best energy with them.

I was, , I was surprised by the difficulties of the, the couple of ladies that are retired. We were talking about, , I think, I think you were the first one to bring it up, Sydney, that for you, wealth was freedom. You know that that was something that that I had never thought of before. And you're so right about that.

talking about how, once you [:

And she had been the one that was, I felt was really sad about it. So, , that was very meaningful to me to see that, that phase of life, because I'm not there yet, but I'm getting close. And my husband and I have all kinds of plans for what we want to do. So there, then there's that balance of, okay, if we give up the paycheck, where does the wealth come from?

ain, I'm so trained to money [:

What other kinds of wealth that I have, and we, , that we can aspire to. And so I really, I really loved seeing those different perspectives and those different stages of life, , that we, cause we had, I think Sydney, you were probably the youngest one there. , and then we had a couple of, at least one lady who I know is in her mid seventies or so.

, and so in fact, more than that. At least two. So, , so it was a really nice, , span of people. And we had some people who look like they were probably, , could have kids. I don't know if they did or not. But, you know, so we had a really in a group that was what eight people. We had this really nice, , variety of life experience.

And that's another thing that I find so wonderful about Women's Circles.

way or another have a common [:

Melissa: Yeah, and they were willing to learn from someone younger too.

That was the other part that I thought was beautiful. Is that everybody was just looking to people as human beings. Not as like, Oh, well, how, what would she know she hasn't, , toiled out in the world for 40 years, you know, so there was none of that. It was just like, Oh, what are they saying? What do they have to say?

Oh, wow. That's just so great. What they said, you know, no one had that, that strangeness that sometimes women get about. Age. And, , you can't speak on that because you're not old enough. Yeah.

Laurin: Right. Yeah. No, I think, I think everybody brought their wisdom with them, , and wisdom is ageless, , so, , and, and especially these days I'm finding.

hey are. Yeah. And I am just [:

We all have our own experience and all experience is valid and, and we all learn from it. , every experience is for us. So, , okay, I'm gonna learn from this experience, but it might actually apply to your experience, even if you're two generations older or two generations younger than me, it doesn't matter.

, and I think that's also something that we've lost as, as women, as a collective, that kind of intergenerational sharing that, , is trusted. , I know I didn't trust my mom, so I didn't, I didn't receive much wisdom from her in terms of like my kids and that kind of thing, because I didn't trust it. But you get in these groups and the energy is so strong and the beauty of the, just the, the women's energy.

I don't know, I don't even know how to explain it. But it's just, it's magical. And I felt every bit of that on Saturday.

Sydney: So for me what [:

And so there's that reflection that we all kind of are picking up subconsciously of like, they don't know they don't trust themselves. They don't feel safe and they had to abandon. They're feminine a long time ago. And so while we may feel so connected, we're seeing women who in order to survive in this world had to lay down that femininity.

ruction than we do creation. [:

That's why we all feel so good is because we're coming together and giving each other permission to Like you said when you first started this, co create life. And it doesn't have to be a human being life, just life. And, like, I just, when I think of our circle on Saturday, I can literally see, like, because we were at that [00:35:00] desert, like, it's growing, like, there's trees and flowers, it's like growing.

Laurin: Yeah. Yeah. , Sydney led us, the last thing we did, she led us in a, a guided meditation and she, one of the first places, I guess the first place you took us to was the desert of lack. Yeah. And that hit me so strongly because that's what we're living in. We're living in a desert of lack and to, to bring life into it.

can happen, the faster that [:

Yeah. And I'm always brought back when I talk about these things to the women's March back in what was it? 2016. I wasn't there. My son was, he was on his first date with his now fiance, , but I was watching it on television and I could just feel the joy of those thousands of women that came together to stand up for the divine feminine.

For women everywhere and just the joy that they brought to that moment. There was no violence. There was singing. There was dancing. There was funny signs. They had the great pink hat sign, , it was just Women being women the way they do things and it was just so joyful and I imagine all women around the globe Coming together in community like that and it just lights me up.

Sydney: Yeah every [:

I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. One, because that soul was so brave. Yes. To bring such a light to that area. And I cried and cried and cried. And because I said, and I could feel it, I even now, like my goosebumps. Me too. If, if a woman over there is standing up, we already won. It's just a matter of time. And because that has been, that's where it started.

ike, over there. And they're [:

And for me. I will never I'm so glad I was alive for that moment, because I, and I think more women circles are going to come up because of that because I feel the wave, it's coming from the building, the root of where it all started when they cut our tree down basically, and It's just so profound for me.

It's like women are out there just doing this.

Laurin: Yeah. One by one and in small groups and, and then bigger groups. And yeah, it's, it's definitely happening. It's one of those things you don't hear about on the news, , but you can feel it. And it's, , it's been life changing for me to be a part of a women's circle.

Sydney: ,

Yeah, it is life changing. Yeah. Because you actually finally feel like you Like belong.

Laurin: Yeah. [:

So that helped us set that plate, that space. But that's my experience of women's circles is that. You come into it with trust.

Melissa: Yeah, women want to trust one another. Yeah, we do. We want to trust one another. It's that we've been, you know, so many times in the past because we were told we were supposed to not trust one another.

And then we were set up to not trust one another and the man was involved. So we had to fight for the man. And if you could steal him, yay, good for you. You know, all of these different things that we went through, , growing up and everything and that, , Now, man, but we, I want to trust women.

hey have my backs and I want [:

In our lives, because it's maybe coming through from the past and ancestrally and DNA and all of that different things and just the way the system's set up as well. But that deep longing to sit in a circle with women, , I think we all have that.

Laurin: Yeah. I think so too. I think it's one of those instincts that we have.

e lately that you'd like to, [:

Sydney: So I think. For me, what I've been understanding is, and we kind of just talked a little bit about this on our, we recorded our podcast this morning. , I had this realization, like, as we're talking about women's circles, , it's very interesting. I had this realization. Where I've dropped deeper into my beingness beyond even being a woman.

really just start to uncover [:

We're trying to get clearer on how that looks. But for me, like. I've just been, what did I say to you while I was walking in the park? I want someone who wants a Sydney. You know, I don't want someone who just wants a woman or just a friend or whatever. I want, because I want Sydney and I'm, I want my love and I want to share that.

unrelated to that, , and so.[:

But what's happened for me in the last, even the woman circle helped a lot actually, um, is I've just been showing up and giving myself love and not trying to label myself as anything particular. And it's helped so much and it's helped me to be more authentic and actually want to show up to groups like that because I don't feel like I have to be anyone.

I just am bringing myself and my own. Love and that's been freeing and that's where my wealth is coming from.

Laurin: That's amazing. Thank you for sharing that Melissa you got anything you want to share?

e like, okay, I have to wait [:

If you can't show up truthfully, just show up anyway because the women in these circles are there to support you no matter where you are in your journey. You don't have to be this, , spiritual being on a spiritual journey doing all the spiritual things. You don't. You just have to be a woman to be invited into the circle and you start where you're at and the women are going to open up their arms.

h. Because that's just how I [:

Laurin: And that's exactly been my experience. And I have grown so much by just showing up, just showing up. And that makes such a huge difference. I, the very first circle I was part of was not a women's circle.

It was for, , adult children of alcoholics. But I was, it was in college and I showed up for three or four weeks before I could even speak, but I kept showing up and it changed not only my life, but my family's life. Everybody in my family was impacted because I showed up. And so it feels very much like that for the circle last, , on Saturday for me, we showed up, , we showed up and everybody just showed up and what magic happened.

ng. Now I'm getting a little [:

All right. I want to thank you for being here with me today and for, and for co creating this amazing container of the Triple Goddess Women's Circle. , if you're listening, we are planning on doing more, so you might want to get on one of our mailing lists for that. , I will have, y'all have mentioned several different things here, books and things.

And I'm going to have all that in the, , in the show notes as well as a link to their podcasts and their websites. So go check them out. They are both amazing healers. I was able to, it's on Saturday to experience both of you doing your thing. And I was so. Impressed and, and just full of respect. You guys brought so much.

, I don't know, magic to what you did, , for us on Saturday. And I know that just being in conversation with you so much, y'all are magical beings. We were even talking before we got on here that Sydney occasionally will glow.

he just glows. It's amazing. [:

About the Podcast

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Laurin Wittig

Laurin Wittig is a Holistic Light Worker here to help others on their ascension journey. She is an intuitive energy healer, spirituality mentor, founder of HeartLight Wellness, host of the Curiously Wise: Practical Spirituality in Action podcast, and channel of The Circle of Light.