Ok. Sisters. This is it. A brand new year. Inhale. Exhale.
A lot of us are returning to the pace of everyday this week. The twinkle of the holidays are beginning to fade. We’re being handed a brand new slate upon which to build our everyday lives.
It’s exciting isn’t it, a fresh year? For all of two days anyway, until we hit the ordinary, stuck in witching hours, grocery lines and meetings we don’t want to be in, and we scramble like madwomen to hold onto that spark we had before. But still. STILL. We shall TRY. Let us TRY to find more glitter in our everyday. To laugh at the disappointments. To understand that REAL LIFE WINS and let go of the pictures in our heads of how things are supposed to go. Real life is still pretty bloody beautiful. May we don different glasses, sisters. That’s what heaven is, after all, so says our Anne Lamott.
Some orders of business:
Sisters. This year, this tent of ours is growing. We are taking more virtual retreats. We are opening this space up for more community, for more voices. We are starting Fuel Yourself Friday. We are building Survival Guides for each other because Life Is Hard and no sister should have to learn how to bake or pick her perfect shade of lippy or survive witching hour alone. Goodness, no. The roads we walk are long and windy and one must never be without snacks and/or refreshments A.K.A secret places to hide where they know us there.
Of course, I have not organized any of these great things just yet, but that’s okay because I read a lot of stuff, you guys, and according to heaps of wise people, one of the greatest characteristics of success is showing up before you’re ready. Apparently, everybody does it. Especially those big, great, wonderful, high-flying, achieving-stuff types. WHICH WE ARE, OF COURSE. Show up first, figure out second. Apparently hardly anyone knows what they’re doing. It’s really the best way.
Do you know what a joist is? It’s a length of timber or steel supporting part of the structure of a building. Kind of like a beam. They’re usually in the floor or ceiling. They reinforce. They give support and strength. Over time, though, they can get cracked, or sag, or go weak, which means the whole structure they’re supporting goes weak, too. Do you know what carpenters use to fix them? To strengthen them? They use a sister joist. They say, “We need to sister the ceiling joists”, which means they add another length of timber – a sister joist – to the side of the current joist – the weak joist – and sometimes even two new joists on either side of the current joist.
Do you see what is happening here? Do you see that cracking and sagging and going weak is an inevitable part of life? Do you see that instead of throwing these bits away – of rejecting the faulty parts – we grab a sister and stick her to our side? Do you see then, that this sistering strengthens the entire structure? That it holds up the entire world? Do you see that carpenters say ‘sister’ like it’s a verb?
Listen. I know it’s important to be alone. I know it’s important to have secret hiding spots. Places we can check out for a bit and nobody disturbs us in our imaginary worlds. I have several. I guard them with my life. But here’s the thing: We need to walk this Good And Hard Life together. Women are joists by nature. We strengthen structures. We hold everything in place. But she who thinks she can hold up ceilings on her own is a little disillusioned. I should know. I was this woman for years. We need sister joists, period. And the more sisters in this tent with us refueling, the more sisters capable of throwing glitter on the world, nurturing it, elevating it, joisting it.
If this tent is your happy little secret, firstly, I’m honoured and very glad. Secondly, I’m asking you to share it. Tell your friend, your mum, your sister, your neighbour. Invite them to do Life with us. We have tea (it’s pretend) and Lindt balls (also pretend). We’re going on a week-long virtual retreat soon, although Mr Worthington (remember him?) is being replaced by another very capable candidate because the whole Lara Bingle thing kinda killed it for us. Anyway, the point is that it’s our feeling of isolation and aloneness in the world that is the most lethal to our spirits. We sag and crack under the weight of the ceiling we’re holding up, and then what? People’s minds do terrible things when the belief that we are different and separate overrules the belief that we are more alike than we think, and that connection and solidarity is the greatest force on earth. We might FEEL alone when we’re elbow-deep in nappies and tantrums, in marriage tension and overwhelm, in self-doubt and jealousy and bad self-talk and quiet rage, and we might be alone, yes, but we are Alone Together. There is a difference and it makes all the difference.
There’s this old African proverb I love: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.
Walking together takes longer, always, because people are flawed and slow and complicated and messy and hard work. God knows they are hard work. But we will forever go further when we break down our walls, build a village, embrace each other’s humanness and ride this gig together, one Tim Tam at a time.
Grab all the women you know. Invite them inside.
Let’s walk together. And by walk, I mean nap.
The last drops of our sun-soaked-holiday-Christmas haze, packed tightly like a time capsule with all I want to preserve. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find our Small Happies. Other times they flit about in abundance. Holidays are the latter.
“Once upon a time there were two sisters. One of them was really, really strong, and one of them wasn’t.’ You looked at me. ‘Your turn.’
I rolled my eyes. ‘The strong sister went outside into the rain and realized the reason she was strong was because she was made out of iron, but it was raining and she rusted. The end.’
No, because the sister who wasn’t strong went outside into the rain when it was raining, and hugged her really tight until the sun came out again.”
– Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care