Warning: This blog post is going to be incredibly dull (if you like photos)! That’s because I’m a luddite and cannot figure out how to do the thing I used to do in order to get photos from my phone onto this platform (it takes uploading, downloading and uploading again, which somehow now converts a .jpg to something called an .HEIC which opens up a Zoom call) . . . I’m so perplexed and annoyed I could cry, but instead I’m just going to publish a dull-looking, hopefully somewhat engaging post.
The last time I wrote a blog post was almost a year ago, and in it I covered the logistics of my practice reopening after the initial COVID shutdown in early 2020. I thought I’d write again fairly soon, revisiting the weighty topics of wellness through a pandemic, BLM/police reform, the toxic election, homeschooling my boys and lots more. I was wrong. What I found in the past year was not the ease with words which I once enjoyed, nor the joy in nature, the pleasure in simple things or a vast improvement in my outlook on life. I did not find new love, new friends or new interests.
What I did find was sisterhood.
COVID took its toll on this country in more than just the deaths and the long term deleterious physical and mental health issues associated with it. It really did a number on relationships. Marriages/partnerships, friendships, professional dynamics – not many were spared the intense “WTF?” looks, feelings and discussions the pandemic provoked. Many relationships were strengthened, with a renewed sense of purpose, connection and gratitude. Others were not. I’m incredibly grateful to say that with no exceptions, my female friendships are stronger and deeper now than ever, and I am certain that without them, I wouldn’t have survived this past year.
I have one biological sister, two wonderful sisters-in-law, a mom and a handful of cousins and nieces, all of whom I, in this piece, place in the category of “sisters”
I orbit within a couple galaxies of incredible women, and consider myself lucky to be an honorary member of a few others. These women include yoga teachers, school teachers, home schoolers, special educators, visiting nurses, nurse managers, nurse practitioners, care givers, operations directors, massage therapists, builders, painters, gardeners, legislators, designers, social workers, para- educators, paralegals, students, administrators, retail managers, general managers, project managers, farm managers, household managers, operations directors, artists, mothers, lovers, daughters . . . and sisters. For the past year+ I have watched in awe as these women have shown up, day after really hard day for their families, their communities, their jobs and for me.
We’ve sent texts checking in – sometimes a funny meme was all we could muster, but it was better than nothing. We’ve held zoom birthday parties and ladies’ nights. We’ve circulated uplifting messages and silly stories. When possible, we’ve gone for walks, swims, paddles, skis and mountain bike rides. We’ve shared music, poetry, recipes and photo updates. We’ve cried to each other, laughed together and earnestly discussed the upside of the pandemic; elastic waistbands for days.
These sisters have been kind to me. They haven’t commented on the awkwardness of my pandemic-induced hair-grow-out situation. They supported my decision to homeschool my boys, in spite of my utter lack of experience with or aptitude for teaching. Anyone. Anything. I was homeless for a bit last summer – not the living-under-a-bridge kind of homeless – the kind where you have to ask friends and family if you can stay with them for an indeterminate length of time while you try to figure out a long-term, suitable and sustainable living situation for you and your kids. It really sucked, but these sisters were there for me. They helped me move 4 times in as many months, clean my new spaces, procure things I needed and gathered to bless my permanent home (which I LOVE). Once, when I accidently hit and killed a deer, my two girlfriends convinced me that I most certainly did NOT need to call a man to come harvest that doe – that we could get the tag, load her up and gut her ourselves. It’s amazing what three women, one buck knife, a little vodka, a little whiskey and a couple joints can accomplish. I just cooked the last of that bad-day-turned-empowerment-session last week. Sometimes when I am feeling down about myself I look around at the incredible women who love me and I realize that I must be ok.
These sisters have forgiven me. I’ve been a mess at times. Completely aloof, disengaged or absent at others. I’m rarely mean, but I can be negative, a little too serious and pretty darn blunt. I can be critical of their male partners (my perennial question: “is any man truly worthy of my sister?”). I forget birthdays, don’t return calls and sometimes I don’t laugh at their jokes, even though they’re funny. Not because I don’t care, but because sometimes my heart has been so wrecked by this messed up world and my own questionable life choices, my body so worn down by long-standing health challenges, that I can’t think outside my own little bubble. But so far, no one (that I know of) has fired me or kicked me out of their circle. I am pretty relieved by this because I need these sisters.
Since becoming a mother I have operated with at least some sense of overwhelm, which has mostly increased with each of the past 13 years. I am lucky that homeschooling has gone as well as it has, and that my practice has thrived since reopening, and that I have a home with a yard and a garden, and that I still have people who love and want to hang out with me. However, I have also come to realize that I can’t completely balance all of these things and allow my body the rest it needs while working as much as I do. A while back I cut my hours to work better with my life. This did help, but then my schedule started filling up and people who really needed healing massage weren’t able to find workable times for weeks. If there’s one thing I really don’t like it’s knowing someone needs me, and being unable to help them.
Enter another sister. My friend and fellow massage therapist Amanda Gilman-Stienstra called me a few months ago and said she was thinking about coming back to VT for the summer. When she confirmed her plans a few weeks later, I proposed that she come work in my office a bit while she was here. This way even if I couldn’t be there for each of my clients, I could know they’d be in good . . .wait for it . . . hands (commence eye rolling). She said yes!
Amanda is an amazing therapist and wonderful person, and I’m so glad she’s going to be available to my clients this summer! When she’s not taking in the green mountains, Amanda resides in Sedona, AZ, where she is a yoga teacher and a massage therapist, operating her own practice called Red Rock Healing Massage. If you would like to learn more about Amanda, check her out here.
Can I get a high five for sisters!? Needless to say, I couldn’t have done. . . . can’t do it without them.