The Great Love that is Sisterhood
On a day when we may feel swamped with Valentine’s Day and how it makes a commodity of romantic love, I am shifting my focus- to consider one of the great loves of our lives: SISTERHOOD.
I was a bit of a tomboy growing up. I wanted to show the boys that I was just as tough as them, which resulted in many skateboard accidents and violent showdowns on the handball court, brandishing Ripper Skippers to protect my dominion. I never felt very comfortable being a girly girl and gravitated towards being one of the boys. Whilst this gave me a unique sense of belonging and camaraderie, it also meant that I never got to flex my sisterhood muscles until much later in life.
Often, we push things away and convince ourselves that we didn’t need them anyway. But that knee-jerk reaction is borne from fear. A fear of rejection. A fear of not being good enough. A fear of being found out as an imposter. As we confront these uncomfortable sensations, we start to unravel what lies beneath.
Embracing our Yin nature
The Chinese have the concept of Yin and Yang. I, like many of us, was more drawn to my Yang side- its quality is outward-facing, active, masculine, impulsive, loud and focused on achievement. It’s in the doing that we have been conditioned to think we should be measured against. I was more confused by my Yin side, so I immediately rejected it. Those qualities being inward-facing, passive, feminine, nurturing, measured, quiet and focused on feeling, left me wondering WTF. And the thing was I, like many of us, wasn’t encouraged to explore this side; to see the richness and meaning of embracing our feminine qualities.
This is one of the reasons I teach Yin and Restorative yoga. I want to guide people towards connecting with their Yin side. To nurture their inner goddess, through a passive yoga practice and self-care rituals. Yoga is so much more than the poses on a mat (more on that in another post). The way we interact with the world around us is how we bring yoga into our daily lives.
We will all have our own interpretation of the term sisterhood (some including Travelling Pants, though at my age, it’s probably more accurate to say Travelling Spanx). I think there are four characteristics of authentic sisterhood which are universal.
1. Your sisters lift you up.
Too often we hear of women judging the sh!t out of other women. What is up with that?! Don’t you think using our collective girl power to slay the patriarchy is enough, already? I’m not expecting for all of us to just rise up, hold hands and start singing kumbaya by the fire but we all have hopes, fears, doubts and dreams. Your sisters want to see you soar. We are stronger together, amiriiite?!
2. Your sisters inspire you.
We should want to learn from each other and to see that we all have gifts to share with our sisters. A sister kicking goals in her career deserves a high-five. A sister who stands up for her convictions is to be celebrated. A sister fighting mental illness is a warrior. A sister becoming a mother is awe inspiring. Mother nature herself is incredible. Being able to fold a fitted sheet is lit AF.
3. Your sisters reciprocate.
Everything is cyclic (time, seasons, hormones, fashion). It is all about balance. Sisterhood isn’t a one-way street. You should be there for your sisters, as much as they are there for you. But if you find there is a sisterhood dynamic which leaves you feeling drained and unappreciated, then it is time to re-evaluate. If it is all about them and never about you, have the courage to walk away. That type of behaviour has no place in true sisterhood. Not all sisterhoods are meant to last forever but they ALL teach us something. Ask yourself if you are truly showing up for your sisters in every way possible.
4. Your sisters are present.
Modern life has made us multi-taskers with a desire for instant gratification. Even if we aren’t on our phones when we are at a sisterhood gathering, we are in our heads thinking of the next thing on our to-do list. Stop. Breathe. Repeat. 70% of our communication is non-verbal. Be fully present when you are engaging in quality sisterhood time. Use all your senses to take in the experience. Train your sixth sense to read into what she isn’t saying. We are all terrible at asking for help. Create a safe space for your sister so she can.
So, take the time to make today GALentine’s Day (thanks to our ultimate sister, Leslie Knope for the inspiration) and let your sisters know you love them and have their back. Maybe share this post to let them know they embody what it means to be a TRUE sister.
Fist bump to all my gorgeous sisters (spanx or no spanx).
PS- leave a comment below about your experiences with authentic (or not so authentic) sisterhood!