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Let’s have Sisterhood take over the world – boys, girls, and all.

Let’s talk about Sisterhood. It’s a much bigger concept than simply having female siblings. I believe that Sisterhood, big S, encompassing millions of diverse humans, is what today has been about.

I’m aware that there was a big, braggadocious, depressing, basically unthinkable event going on yesterday. It was my day off. I studiously avoided all exposure to it. Instead, I’ve been ruminating on more worthy things.

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Image via The Master Shift

In November, I weighed in about the political situation and how it must be combatted with courtesy and civilized conversation  and critical thinking and especially LOVE. I felt the need yesterday to focus on that. Love is what we use to fend off and neutralize hate. Love is what we’re here for. But what does that look like on a grievously upsetting day?

Sisterhood popped up as a theme as early as breakfast. One of my wonderful, gifted American cousins – who happens to be an only child – had written a beautiful Facebook post that included these wise words:

Sisterhood shines brilliantly when we lift each other up, giving tough love when our sisters aren’t reaching their full potential… and celebrating each other’s successes from a place of abundance and admiration instead of envy. 

Sisterhood is about collectively raising and empowering the young girls in our lives. 

Sisterhood is sharing in the flawed, exhausting, pressure-filled, body-centric, mysterious, perfectly imperfect experience of being a woman. Sometimes we are violated, silenced, overlooked, or underestimated. Too often, we are our own worst enemies. 

Sisterhood is turning into our mothers, taking care of our mothers, and becoming mothers. 

Sisterhood is coming together in the hundreds of thousands, all over the world, to be heard.

This prompted me to re-read one of my favourite Momastery posts, in which the carpentry term “sistering” is explained. It’s kinda perfect. It’s all about getting close, locking in, being there and supporting where support is most needed.

It occurred to me that Sisterhood, in its greatest sense, is not just for women. It can embrace the people of all genders who sister each other.

Yes, I know that brotherhood is a thing, and a good thing in many ways. I firmly believe boys need more bonding experiences. Brotherhood connotes standing united together, leaving no one behind, knowing who’s got your back, and no doubt much more. It also connotes frat parties, army platoons, and street gangs.

Sisterhood, on the other hand, has gentleness. It is strong and fierce, and gentle. It can get angry and still be kind. It is brimful of compassion. Sisterhood is open; it confides; it listens; it feels deeply. It is not afraid to be vulnerable, nor to give tough love, nor to speak its heart.

It has been my privilege in life to know many men who understand and participate in this kind of Sisterhood – including several who are related to me. One of them had his 30th birthday yesterday, which made all of us who know and love him feel comforted on that date.

{Thank you for being amazing, Sistermen – the world needs you more than ever.}

And today is another birthday, that of a faraway sister-of-my-heart whom I rarely see, but with whom I can always fall into step when we meet.

I have many Sisters, Canadian and American, who have been marching today in various places, including Washington. It has made me really happy to check in with them and see Sisterhood governing. Wise words spoken – incisive wit – reverent listening – peaceful gathering – pink pussy hats – acknowledgement of privilege – generosity – joyful solidarity. Humans supporting humans in our imperfectly human way.

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Image via cbc.ca, Julia Pagel

Last night, I was fortunate to be in the audience at the Guelph Lecture On Being Canadian, presented by Jeannette Armstrong, Okanagan knowledge-keeper, professor, researcher, writer, protector. She spoke of the importance of listening to and understanding the exact opposite of your own perspective, in order to achieve balance. She spoke of coming together to heal the world. The unity in the room was palpable. Sisterhood.

It seems to me that in these past two days, that balance of opposites is exactly what the world has seen.

To all Sisters: we know there are tough times ahead. We know that to provide the balance for what is coming, we will have to use extra measures of patience, warmth, empathy, and understanding – for each other just as much as for those on the other side of the scales. We need to think hard, check ourselves, and use the most love that we can muster.

We are meant for this challenge. We’ve got this.

 

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Celebrating the Beth Day Ever!

I’d like to tell you about my baby sister. It was her birthday last Friday, but for some reasons (namely, busy Labour Day weekend and then going back to work, ack) this birthday post is very, very late.

Mini-Di shared a room with Mini-Beth (3 years her/my junior) for about 8 years. I have lots of memories of filling our room with My Little Pony villages, drawing and colouring at our wall-length desk, making forts with our corner bunk beds, “talking” to each other using our own made-up sign language, and listening to our audio tapes of The Rescuers and Sleeping Beauty while grooming our stuffed animals.

I also have plenty of memories of bickering, coming to standoffs while cleaning our room, vowing NEVER TO SPEAK TO HER AGAIN, EVER until 37 minutes later when I had to succumb because you really can’t go that long without talking to someone you live with who also if you’re honest is actually one of your very best friends.

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She’s the cute one, with the dress and the curly hair. I’m the one with the giant feet and delusions of fashionableness.

It’s been a long time since we’ve lived together (and there’s very little bickering these days). My annoying, precocious, fun little sister has grown into an extraordinary, brilliant (and still fun) woman, and is still one of my best friends.

She is the kind of person who makes and brings people soup when they’re sick – and it’s the best damn soup you’ve ever tasted. She is principled, passionate, disciplined, smart, creative, with an unparalleled ability to work hard. Her laugh is contagious. She has a penchant for jokes that are dumb, but funny. She is well-known for falling asleep during movies, even really exciting ones. Also for being gorgeous. She’s one of those girls that basically all the guys she knows (and undoubtedly some girls too) have been in love with at one time or another. Even at that age where you’re supposed to awkward and pimply, she was a knockout. {Sigh.}

She is also brimming with love, herself. Lucky are those of us who receive it. For those she loves, she has been known to:

  • write amazing rhyming poems full of exuberant imagery, silliness, and profundity,
  • make checkered birthday cake from scratch,
  • hand-cut impossibly cool paper doll chains,
  • give excellent massages and/or pedicures,
  • cook and bring delicious picnics,
  • create personalized works of art, and/or
  • make desserts that can be legitimately lit on fire.

Those are just a few of the things. She’s one seriously creative chica, to the point that she solves problems with sheer artistic innovation. For example, one day I’d brought a two-year-old E to her house for the day, and for some unknown reason we had NOT BROUGHT ANY CARS for my car-obsessed son to play with. How many people do you know who could have whipped up something as wicked-awesome (or SICK, as the kids would say) as this?? Auntie Beth can do it.

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I know. COME ON, right??

And then there was that time – wait, it was just last week! – when we were having a fiesta for the birthday in question, so of course Beth and her main man (sometimes referred to as Uncle D) created a piñata that looked like THIS:

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So, you see what I mean. This gal is SOMETHING ELSE – that is to say, something else AWESOME.

Dear Berty, I’m sorry this “birthday” post is almost a week late. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you ferociously; I do. And I know my kids love you too. You’re amazing. I hope this year is full of fulfilled potential and stimulating challenges and uncontrollable laughter and dreams coming true… and lots of visits with us. xoxox

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Happy Day, Auntie Em!

Today is the birthday of my elder sister Emily, a.k.a. Auntie Em. It is also the day she officially completed and bade adieu to her Major Research Project, finishing her Masters in Language, Culture, and Teaching.

Emi is a special gal. She is full of love and complicated thoughts and stress and nostalgia and joy and sorrow. She is beautiful and smart. She is generously thoughtful, the kind of person who makes a homemade card to say thank you for something… and then the card is so lovely you want to thank her back. She is an ardent knitter, reader, walker, cycler, and conversationer. She also loves her nephews and niece with a fervour and investment that rival those of a parent.

Happy birthday, sweet sister! And congratulations!!

I know this course was a tough row to hoe, especially the big-ass paper. And that, despite your passion for the topic of ESL teaching and cultural differences in classrooms, the research was not as fulfilling as you’d imagined. Still, I hope you will look back and remember the good parts – your better profs, the interesting conversations with fellow students, and time spent reading the literature you found most fascinating.

Also. I have something else to say. I just want you to know that, although I know it’s temporary, and although sometimes sharing a kitchen can get dicey (ha! get it?), and although you may be, on some level, “waiting for your real life to begin”, it has been many kinds of awesome sharing a household with you.

I’m glad you were there for when we brought our babies home, and for the time when we didn’t.

I’m glad we’ve been able to have so many fun family meals and games, in between all the social gallivanting you do. 🙂

I hope E will be able to remember being ensconced in pillows in your room, having dance parties and leafy nests and eyeshadow, playing with flashlights and balls of yarn and annoying Japanese alarm clocks. Thank you for taking jillions of photos and footage of him being his little self, and for taking an active role in his education, literary and musical and innumerable otherwise.

I know I will look back on this time as a golden era, a cozy time when my babies were babies, when we learned all about parenting them together, when we watched in wonder as they did the amazing things they do. I wish every mom were lucky enough to have a sister on the premises – not just for company or for another set of eyes and hands, but also for a fresh wellspring of patience when a mama is at her wits’ end. I’m so grateful for the times you’ve appeared magically when things aren’t going well, swooped in and kept your cool in the face of a maddening toddler/preschooler.

I hope you know we love you a lot. I hope you have loved this golden era too. And I hope your dreams come true – preferably this year. Well, as soon as is convenient, anyway.

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Mini-Di, Mini-Beth, and Mini-Em (long before they were Aunties).

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