In my experience, just about all growth is generated from some form of major life change or pain or trauma. Perhaps we struggle with the death of someone close to us. Maybe we encounter a health or emotional crisis. Or perhaps we go through a painful break-up or divorce. These are times in our lives when we are forced to stop, reexamine ourselves and where we are in life, and then decide how to proceed into the future.
If the crises are severe, returning to our previous ways of life is usually not an option. Perhaps that life no longer exists. Or maybe it is simply impossible to practice the habits and patterns that once made sense, because now they are irrelevant.
What if, however, regardless of the pain we are experiencing in any given moment, we choose to step out of our immediate condition and story, take a 30,000-foot view of our lives, and redirect our thoughts and perceptions? And what if, in so doing, we then see these periods not as moments of great failure or devastation, but ultimately as harbingers of something new—something beautiful? What if they might even, quite unexpectedly, birth great hope and joy in our lives?
It is at these critical times that life, the Universe, God offer us the opportunity to get still and clear and be profoundly mindful of how we will LIVE. We can actually choose not only a new perspective with fresh inspirations and influences, but we can also chart our own course with the clarity of mind that we alone are responsible for the lives we will lead starting RIGHT NOW. Our pain, our confusion, our sadness—even if elicited by another—are ultimately no one else’s fault. We are not victims or entitled to anything. Each of us must take a deep dive inward to awaken our true courage and voice and in so doing, chart our own path.
Sistering to Sophia is my response to major changes in my life. Nearly three years ago, I left my marriage, taking my three children, then 5 years old and under, to my parents’ house, where I remained for nearly 2 ½ years. Although I was grateful for the sanctuary of my childhood home, it was a challenging time for me, filled with tension, feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, emotional fatigue, and the stress of realizing I wasn’t living the life I knew I was capable of creating.
Even in my sadness, I was self-aware enough to know that only I had the power to redirect my life. Just as I had realized that the person I had become in my marriage wasn’t my true authentic self, I knew that as long as I lived at home, I would never become the independent, strong, decisive, and creative person I truly am and am meant to be more of in the world.
In an attempt to work through my struggles and find support, I saw a couple of therapists for a while. I would highly recommend therapy. Especially in the early days of recovery, a really good therapist can help you to feel heard, swaddled, and cradled. They can also help to untangle your mental cobweb of stuck, twisted, and confused thoughts.
Over time, though, I discovered that my greatest comfort came from my women friends, nearly all of whom were either going through a divorce, had done so, or had experienced other painful life-changing events. And by the way, by the time we’re in our mid-30s and 40s, who hasn’t been dragged around by life and has the bruises and scars to prove it? With every honest, often emotional conversation, I was not only comforted by my friends’ kindness and gained clarity about my situation, but I found that I was able to be a source of comfort and strength to them as well. Even in my own sadness and pain, my friends afforded me the opportunity of sitting with and holding their suffering. We were all growing and healing together in an unforced, organic way.
As I became stronger, my hunger for knowledge about many things related to personal growth and emotional resiliency intensified. Mindfulness, spirituality, Eastern medicine, homeopathic and functional medicine, and super-clean eating, to name a few topics, consumed me. To feed my ravenous appetite, I not only continued talking to friends, but I sought out other sources of inspiration and clarity as well. Podcasts, You Tube videos, and webinars replaced my trips to the therapist and augmented and informed my nearly daily conversations with women close to me.
I listened and learned while running every morning, often stopping numerous times to make notes on my phone, just to be sure I wouldn’t forget the nourishing gems of wisdom I was taking into my psyche. I reinforced my own tribe of women with a virtual one, filled with the likes of Rob Bell, Elizabeth Gilbert, Marie Forleo, Lewis Howes, Tony Robbins, Rich Roll, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Elizabeth DiAlto, Glennon Doyle Melton, Lisa A. Romano, Terri Cole, Danielle LaPorte, Kisma Orbovich, Nick Hansinger, J.J. Virgin, Andrew Weil, Mark Hyman, and of course Oprah.
The title of this blog, Sistering to Sophia, actually came to me while running one morning. I had been listening to Rob Bell’s podcast series on the wisdom tradition, and his discussion of Sophia, goddess of wisdom, resonated with me profoundly. Then around the same time, Glennon Doyle Melton appeared on Lewis Howes’ podcast and she was talking to him about the word “sistering”—a construction term that describes placing one or two reinforcing support joists alongside a weaker, damaged or undersized beam in order to shore it up, thus strengthening the whole structure. She went on to discuss how it was a beautiful analogy of how women (and men) support and carry each other in life, thus creating strong relationships and social networks.
For me, Sistering to Sophia is meant to be a collective journey to wisdom, an awakening to our true selves, and an emerging to the lives we are divinely inspired to live. Just as strong whales and dolphins, for example, swim beside an injured or sick or member of the pod, supporting them to the surface so they can take life-sustaining breaths, so are we called to support and carry and hold each other, both in our joy and in our suffering. In so doing, we, too, breathe life and strength into one another. We talk and cry and hold one another, all the while saying, “We can do this. We can do hard things. We can find joy and purpose. We are worthy.”
Eastern practices, meditation, Vedanta, epigenetics, and indeed many areas of science are now proving what many spiritual and religious teachers have known for millennia: we are all interconnected, not just physically and emotionally, but literally on a cellular level.
Our genes not only carry information, including trauma and illness, from generations ago, but we now know that they can also actually change, depending on our environments and emotional states. We can change our biology with our thoughts and how we live our lives. How exciting, how inspiring is that?!
I hope you will join me in creating and sharing this blog so that we can all continue to learn from one another and add purpose to and shape each other’s lives. I am not writing because I have all this figured out. I am writing so that I can continue to learn from many sources and then toss these nourishing bits of information into the universe like wildflower seeds scattered on fertile soil. It is my hope that as we all learn together, they will evolve in our spirits and lives like fragrant colorful flowers that take root and burst into brilliant blossoms.
It indeed sounds cliché, but it’s true that everyday we have the opportunity to either commit to a new journey or try our best to continue on a healthy path we’ve already started. This is far from easy. We can be discerning and clear thinking one minute, our intellect (as Kisma and Nick refer to it) fully engaged, and then mired in anger and fear—emotions anchored in the past and future, respectively—the next.
Where should we try to be? In the present, detached from the source of upset, observing the stimulus as well as our agitated thoughts that might be swirling around and around in our brains like a roller coaster with no brakes.
And what’s one of the best ways to get here? Well, I think we each need to find our tribe, our network, our community of fellow travelers, who can help us discern when we are fuzzy, get quiet when our minds are in chaos, and direct us toward or help keep us on our path to wellness.
I am so thankful for my tribe. I hope it continues to grow and that you will be a part of it, too.