How to restore your faith in sisterhood

How to restore your faith in sisterhood

Growing up as an only child, I longed for a sister. 

In fact, I so badly wanted a sister, that each Christmas a baby sister was the one gift i’d ask for.

One Christmas (I was around 6 years old) - I found a large, life sized box under the tree and thought (with anticipation and excitement) that maybe my sister was inside. I remember stirring the box a little and heard a little baby cry inside.

During the night, when the house was all quiet, I would lie down under the tree next to the box and imagine what my sister would look like.

Of course, this box did not in fact contain the longed for sister but a life-sized doll that spoke and made crying sounds. I thanked my parents for this present - a representation of their effort to sooth my loneliness as a child, yet I felt hollow inside.

Alas, as I grew up, I stopped pestering my poor parents for a sister. 

While I didn’t have the chance to grow up in sisterhood, the universe answered my prayers by giving me three amazing daughters. I feel incredibly blessed to bear witness to their spirits, their growth, and each of their unique gifts and talents.

Through there eyes and life, and eventually my own, I see now that the circle of sisterhood is real.  

For me, sisterhood is real when we allow ourselves to cultivate compassion and equanimity for each and every woman —even if it’s clear that we don’t see eye to eye, or share the same values with our sisters.  

Sisterhood is real when you choose to say, “Yes, I see YOU. I see you. I hear you. I feel you for who YOU are and I meet you in this moment as you are - today.” 

In our yoga practice, when we place our hands together in anjali mudra and say Namaste, we are meeting the other person in greeting in that halfway point between yourSELF and theirSELF. 

For me this embodies this quality of sisterhood. 

Acceptance. 

You see, somewhere along the way, while growing up, I lost my faith in sisterhood. 

One day, back in 7th grade, I was asked by my teacher to stay in the classroom during lunch period. 

It was a particularly beautiful spring day. The sun was shining brightly outside, and the outdoors were calling to me. My feet were itching to go for a run and to feel the sweat on my skin after a good game of basketball.   

When my teacher requested I stay in for lunch that day, I remember thinking, “Hmmm, ok that’s odd, but sure.”

What basically took place after came as a complete shock. 

Apparently, my teacher had arranged a “class meeting” that day.  

This class meeting was broken down into two sides of the classroom.

On one side sat me and my best friend J, and on the other side was the remaining group of 7th grade girls.  

But first, let me give you some context. You see, I was a complete “tomboy” growing up.

I loved to play sports. For as long back as I could remember, I spent each lunch period playing basketball, tag football, soccer, or any other game that included running with, dribbling or pitching a ball. 

I was such a tomboy that I didn’t learn how to put on makeup or curl my hair until well into my 20s.

Apparently, my female classmates didn’t appreciate my tomboy behavior. 

The first five minutes of this meeting consisted of ways in which we were told that our behavior was unladylike and unacceptable.  

The second part of the meeting was followed by a list of complaints.

My classmates catalogued the ways in which they didn’t appreciate how my friend J and I were taking ALL of the boys’ attention away from them (a sentiment that was completely foreign to me at the time, as all I really loved was the competitive nature of the game and didn’t care which gender I was competing with).

You know that saying that something came out of left field? 

Well, this was one of those moments of my life, and it wasn’t even coming out of left field. It felt like the words were coming from some other time and place.

For a moment, I felt myself suspended, detached—as if this wasn’t really happening to me. 

These are signs of trauma happening. When something is so painful that we step outside of the self in a state of shock and disbelief. We hear that voice inside - “is this really happening to me?” This is trauma.  

Eventually, the conversation turned towards the real nature of the meeting.

We were then faced with questions about how to talk to the boys in our class. We were solicited for advice. 

My answer was, “Just say hello and be yourself. Be nice. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.” 

I had no idea what else to say beyond that. I felt that I had no magical advice or groundbreaking wisdom to share in the art of “how to talk to boys.”

By the end of this lunch meeting J and I were asked to stop hanging out with boys on the basketball court for a few weeks. 

J took it much better than I did. She shrugged it off and felt it was fine to stop playing basketball. I think she really just did it because it was something I loved to do.

I on the other hand was a little less resilient. I felt completely ostracized. While I was told I couldn’t play with the boys, I didn’t quite feel welcome to just start “hanging out” with the girls either. 

So at lunch, J and I drifted apart. She went on to make peace with the girls and I ended up spending lunch period by myself for a while. It was painful. It was bitter. I was stubborn but also very lonely.

From this moment - learned how to keep to myself. To find solace in flying solo.

But here’s the thing. Healing doesn’t happen in a vacuum - and community is the essence in our ability to overcome the most challenging hurdles in life.

This event left a small mark in my life that made it difficult for me to develop easy friendships with women. 

In fact, it rooted me in my tomboy ways well into high school.

And over the years, I developed very few, close and meaningful relationships with women. 

I realized as time went by, how much this distrust had carried over for far too long.

And how this distrust took me further away from trusting in my own femininity . 

Thankfully in 2018 I attended an event that changed my life and rocked my world.

WHC Circle.jpg

I had heard about the Women’s Healing Conference—a day-long retreat held at Hidden Villa Farm in the beautiful Los Altos Hills for a while but never had the chance to attend. Until this event I had never in my life immersed myself amongst so many women. 

Surrounded by so many women from so many walks of like created a dramatic change.

During the opening ceremony at the conference, I felt a shift begin to happen. I felt the ice around my heart begin to melt.

Slowly, slowly, as we wove through song and movement, my heart SOFTENED. I felt it EXPAND with love. I felt an immense sense of relief. 

Tears of joy, mingled with sorrow, flowed from my eyes. Joy for the love I felt amongst our sisters, and sorrow for how I allowed one event in my life to color my female friendships for too long.  

After the Women’s Healing Conference, I slowly began to immerse myself in spending more time in sisterhood. I began to recognize my patterns of protecting and diminishing myself—staying hidden, on defense, afraid of judgement.

It was time for a change and it was up to ME to change my own narrative.

The by-product of living within this paradigm—where women feel they must compete for attention—has only hurt us deeply. 

It’s time for these wounds to heal. 

In the words of writer and professor Roxane Gray’s list of tips for having successful female relationships - I invite you to "abandon the cultural myth that all female friendships must be bitchy toxic or competitive. This myth is like heels and purses - pretty but designed to SLOW women down."

Women's circles have been in existence since antiquity.

Women have been lifting each other up over the long course of human history through ritual and sacred ceremony; gathering around the fire to share stories and life lessons from one generation to the next.

We've been doing this for many years and must continue this practice. These circles keep the fire of sisterhood aflame.

It’s only through the major shift from our matriarchal to patriarchal society that these circles have waned.

In some cultures, these gatherings took on a darker, sinister meaning and women who continued to convene in this matter where labeled as witches.

When women gather we connect to each others' vitality, and uplift one another as we transform the deep soul wounds that have plagued us and keep us in dis-ease. 

I believe this work is vital in overcoming the old paradigms that continue to endanger our health and our well being. Especially in our current political climate where our very lives are endangered by the natural choices we should be able to make with our own bodies.

These circles reconnect us back to our common humanity. I encourage not only our sisters, but our brothers to gather too.

These circles remind us that we are not alone. 

If you are ready for community and keeping this flame alive, I invite you to find a local circle near you. 

If there isn’t one, and you're craving a catalyst for change, I invite you create one of your own.

It can be based on any ritual that brings you and your community together in the quest towards vibrancy, listening, acceptance, and healing. 

To begin your own circle, here are a few suggestions: 

  • A book lover’s circle where you can meet and discuss inspiring, uplifting literature. Goddess stories abound. 

  • A nature lover’s circle to reconnect to the cyclical rhythm of nature, Mother Earth and her resplendent beauty. 

  • A Sangria Club circle, founded by my friend Kristen Ohiaeri, where moms can meet, kick up their feet, relax with sangria, and share the joys and challenges of mom life. 

Find something that you love and share it with your sisters. The openings these circles create are profound. 

For even more support on how to create your own circle of sacred sisterhood - check out chapter 8 in Dr. Tererai Trent's book The Awakened Woman. 

With any healing practice new openings will bring up emotions and energies that may be unfamiliar to you. Community is the backbone and the structure to a support system that will allow you to feel nurtured, to be seen, to thrive in your healing, and to move through the incredible fire of transformation. 

It may take some time to find the right balance for you. Be patient, take your time. 

It is my hope that you find the clarity, the healing, and the compassion your spirit is seeking today. 

Know that you are not alone.  

With all my love, 

Charina 

PS - Here are some upcoming circles worth checking out! 

If you’re in the Bay Area, I invite you to join the next Women’s Healing Conference full moon circle happening this Sunday, May 19 from 7-9 pm at Hidden Villa. This will be the last full moon this season before a break for the summer and re-commence in the fall. Send an email: Katherine Glasa to participate. 

Lastly, if you’re looking for a special get away retreat to soak in nature, ritual, and women’s healing practices, I invite you to join Love Yoga Light at the upcoming retreat in the gorgeous and verdant Olympic Park June 19-23. This retreat is nearly sold out. Please contact info@loveyogalight.com for information.  

PPS - Not able to join us for the retreat? Don’t worry, drop us a line and let us know when you’d like to be notified of upcoming local events.