This Saturday, January 21st, more than a million women and men from around the US and the world will be gathering in Washington, D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington and participating in Sister Marches around the globe (click here to find a Sister March near you). My good friend journalist/activist Annie Hartnett in Austin has been interviewing women–and men–from across the US over the past few months, asking, “Why are you marching?” Annie shared with me on a greenbelt hike today that she’s poured hundreds of hours into this project–a labor of love-because she feels compelled to amplify diverse voices, to share important stories that need to be heard and to use her voice to help others (read some of the amazing stories from the Why Are You Marching? project here).
It got me thinking: Why am I marching?
I’m marching for many reasons. But at the top of my list is I want to help unify women. To amplify the message that when we lift each other up and stand for and celebrate one another’s work, causes and victories–we all win.
I recently led a women’s retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and one of the evaluations from the weekend continues to haunt me. It was from a Harvard-trained physician who shared, “Driving home from your self-renewal retreat, I couldn’t stop crying. I realized I had never in my life been with other women in such a beautiful, supportive way as was modeled throughout this past weekend. I always thought other women were my competitors–I honestly didn’t know this way of connecting was possible. Now I see there’s a sisterhood that I’ve been missing out on my entire life.”
Growing up, I don’t specifically recall being around women who modeled this for me. But in my late twenties I took a communications/leadership course with a woman who ended up being a life-long mentor to me. She challenged me to stop playing small and held an oceanic space for me to blossom into the fullest expression of who I am. And slowly, I learned to do this, not alone, but with many incredible women by my side.
Today, as a wife, mother, business owner, mentor and community activist, moving in the world with the support of my sisters, is the only way I know how to be.
What does sisterhood mean to me? It’s a way of being with other women—both young and old— where I:
-Hold the highest and best for them and see them as their “future selves”—especially when they’re going through a rough time
-Encourage vulnerability and authenticity in our relationship and communication (I’m a “get real or go home,” kind of woman!)
-Practice forgiveness–with myself and others– and have the humility and courage to initiate tough, but necessary conversations when appropriate
-Accept them exactly where they are right now and mean it when I say, “come as you are”
-Allow my sisters and myself to show up in our relationship “warts and all,” and fully exhale (unbuttoning the top button of my jeans helps here!)
-Derive joy and exhilaration from sharing my sisters’ wisdom/gifts with others and delight in seeing them shine big and bright
-State my needs AND ask them on a regular basis, “How can I support you?” and really mean it!
-Freely share my successes and don’t feel I need to shrink or dim my presence when I’m with them
-Enjoy reciprocity—giving and receiving in equal measure and serving my sisters in a way that “feeds me rather than drains me”
-Invite in a level of intimacy—with a chosen few—that allows me to share the deepest parts of myself
-Am willing to lovingly acknowledge what’s not being said or seen—even at the cost of having someone not like me
-See their innate worthiness and remind them that “their ordinary self is enough” (thanks Carol)
As I sat with the doctor’s powerful reflection, I took her words them to heart. For many, this IS a new way of being with other women. It’s a courageous path that requires us to deeply listen to our hearts AND show up fully willing to be seen and heard.
I’m marching because I believe we’re all in this together. And when I help a sister shine, we all shine.
Shine on sisters. Shine on.
Sisterhood~Your Journey (grab a notebook and pen and reflect on the following):
-What does sisterhood mean to me? Who in my life models this for me?
-Do I have women in my life that provide a soft place to fall and allow me to show up “warts and all?”
-What would it feel like to interact with other women in a more vulnerable, authentic way?
-What do I perceive as barriers to experiencing a deeper sisterhood in my own life?
TAKE ACTION: Craving authentic sisterhood and want to find or create your tribe? Learn more about our global sisterhood of RTA-Certified Facilitators and empower/support women in your community! More here on how to become a RTA-Certified Facilitator (we’re offering $100 off training through 1/31) or locate Personal Renewal Groups in your area.
P.S. Are you self-employed and live in Austin, TX? Beginning Jan. 27 and throughout 2017, I’ll be offering high-level, monthly drop-in mastermind workshops for creative, soulful, entrepreneurial women who have owned their own business for 7 years or more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a bit about yourself to request an invitation to UNLEASHED: Mastermind Workshops for Enlightened Entrepreneurs.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance speaker/coach and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering custom self-renewal workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual career coaching her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 14 year-old son. More on her background here.