Starla Daniels wears the phrase, "It's all good," on her sleeve. Well, technically, it's tattooed on the back of her neck, but the meaning is the same. She takes one day at a time as a chance to dive deeper into the purpose of life, and inspires other women to do the same.
In 2008, Starla was laid off from her job at a major Cleveland company where she spent sixteen years of her life. It was a blow, to be sure, but before she panicked, she put her life in perspective and took the opportunity to start her own business.
"I was so fat and comfortable in my big cushy marketing manager's chair. Then the bottom fell out. What do you do? You start your own business," Starla says.
She moved to Grand Rapids to be closer to her daughter because, well, why not, she asks. Grand Rapids held happy memories for her visiting her daughter and experiencing the museums and culture of the city. She packed up a U-Haul and got an office job while she laid the groundwork for her business–Circle of Sisters. Bringing the company to fruition was more profound than a list of goals and a means to accomplish them for Starla. What she was realizing was that she was at a crossroads, and that finally she was ready to accept the true path her career and life would take.
Circle of Sisters embraces a belief in spiritual awakening and really tapping into each person's role on Earth. On one-day and weekend retreats, Starla encourages women to gather and "experience the freedom to explore your spiritual awakening and to relax your mind, body, and soul in an environment of positive affirmation and safety while learning from and growing along with your sisters."
"My workshops are based on spirituality and helping women find the silence, solitude and stillness they need in their lives in order to hear what their soul's purpose is," she says.
The circle represents continuity and and equality to Starla, and in naming her business after it, she draws on the historical and natural presence of the shape as well as all it represents for women. In nature, Starla says, we see the circle in many forms–the planet, a bird's nest, a fire ring. Starla recreates this shape on her retreats during group discussions when everyone is seated in a circle. No one is above another during this time, but rather individuals are an an even plane and able to share and learn from each other, something so essential, especially for women.
"It's not easy being a woman. We're the ultimate care giver taking care of everybody–our spouse, kids, parents, the boss, and the stuff of our own lives–jobs and errands. If there are other women out there who have figured out a way to solve an issue or to just find an easier way to get it all done, I think it's important to talk to each other and share those ideas. When women come together in a group and are talking about spiritual things, it's inspiring. You don't find that inspiration everywhere."
Starla encourages communication post-retreat to help loved ones understand and journey with those who have begun a spiritual awakening. Although sharing one's inmost thoughts and feelings can be intimidating, it is in communicating that others can see the work being done within.
"Waking up is very exciting actually," Starla says.
Starla would like to expand her retreats to include couples and teens as well as open up her own retreat center. For now she hopes to continue collaborating with other West Michigan businesses and retreat centers to offer her retreats to women and give community members a place to discover, share, and awaken.
Written by: Erika Fifelski is West Michigan Woman magazine's editorial coordinator. She was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys gardening, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses.