There is really not much that I can think of that can hold your head above water like your sisterhood (or brotherhood) does when life throws you punches, scrapes, and heart break. There is also no other community that can stretch you to be your best self, either.
When I’m really honest with myself, I admit that I used to take “sisterhood” for granted. I often had a proud attitude, thinking, “I can do it myself and I don’t need anyone to help me.”
The past 2 years have taught me profound lessons about the power of sisterhood, and I am so deeply in awe of the women that I have in my sisterhood. I never imagined it could be like this, and I know that this is just the beginning. Sisterhood includes your tribe. In my tribe, one of those sisters happens to be blood and she also happens to be one of my heroes.
Today, I’ve given the blog over to her. She is not only my sister but also my friend, client, and teacher. Her name is Sara, and she is a new mom to Emma, pictured below with myself and my son, Manny. Sara has been an incredible kindergarten teacher for 13 years.
She also lost over 30 lbs prior to her baby, and then lost all of her baby weight, too. She took part in the 18-Day Love Yourself Naked® Challenge years ago. This is her story.
Crossroads… we come to them so frequently in life, and there are so many factors affecting which path we will choose to take. I was at a crossroads with my own body and also with my career. A wise colleague sat me down and changed my direction. She told me that (career-wise) I was part of a TEAM. I didn’t have to solve all of my professional challenges on my own; I had back-up; I had support. She said that by asking for the help and the input of others, I would actually be a better professional. When I related those words to my own body and health goals, it made sense.
I had sought help to fulfill my professional goals. Now it was my time to seek assistance for my health goals. When it came to my negative body image and general lack of good health, who would I ask for help???? In my own words: I felt humiliated to admit that I had lost control of my body.
To allow another person to help me fix something that I had abused (to help fix ME) seemed unreasonable.
Who could I go to and trust with my most precious possession? Who could I allow myself to be so vulnerable around? Who would be on my team?
I’m not sure when it came to me, but the one person who by no means seemed likely on my list of possible teammates was the one who would help me. My YOUNGER sister would be the one to help me be healthy. The sister who I had always viewed as TINY, THIN, SKINNY, and effortlessly BEAUTIFUL, who didn’t need to lose weight, would be my teammate. Most importantly, she was the one person who I NEVER would have imagined listening to years before. My little sister (literally) was an individual who had been slender her whole life; and did so by eating chips, drinking cola, and smoking. What did she know, right???
For my whole life, I only ever wanted to be thin; I didn’t care how I got there.
I was mad that I couldn’t eat chips and just be slender like my sister (the cigarettes and pop never interested me). I loved veggies, I ate “healthy” (so I thought), drank gallons of water, and did every cabbage soup/grapefruit/tuna-fish/herbal diet there was, to lose weight. I was angry! I even enrolled in a boot camp to punish my body/mind into losing the fat. I did lose weight. Then I gained it right back. How could a person who has never been 20+ pounds overweight help me?
My sister, too, had come to a crossroads. Though younger, she had come to her crossroads first and had been learning a lot along the way. She could show me the right path because she had also needed to make changes to improve her health. My sister could be on my team because she was a woman who had much to share. Yes, she might have always been thin… but had she learned, more importantly, how to be HEALTHY in her body.
So, after 30+ birthday wishes gone bad, I made a promise to myself.
I had wasted far too many years “wishing” to be something I was not. I would pray for strength, I would ask for help. I did not have to be alone in my journey of being healthy. When I finally put my pride aside, I not only asked for her help, but I also truly listened to her speak her truth. I found that she knew a great deal, actually! She WAS thin… but in her past she was definitely not healthy.
My sister and I had a lot more in common than simply being related.
Our conversations helped transform my way of thinking about what I wanted for myself and my body. I needed to slow down, reevaluate, and really take care of ME. I realized that it was my mind that had to transform. I needed to think about positive life/health changes instead of just “weight loss” in order for me to make progress. Being slim was NOT more important than being healthy.
On this journey of becoming healthy (which I now know to be a lifelong journey), I came to understand that in the past, I was not really listening to my body. I listened, and I stopped thinking about fast, quick, easy, immediate/drastic results and basically stopped thinking in terms of “weight loss.” Taking the fastest path would never get me to the ultimate destination: a HAPPY, HEALTHY ME. I started thinking about good health and feeling physically and mentally healthy. I also gathered that asking for help actually felt “safe.”
Once my thought processes began to change, I noticed that my body began to transform.
It’s astounding what we can learn from our sisters (biological, adopted, friends). We always have something to learn or to gain by simply taking the time to hear their truth.
PRESENT DAY: Now that I have a daughter, I realize, even more, the importance of slowing down to balance taking care of myself and my baby girl. I honestly believe that the path I was on previously had led me to two, heartbreaking miscarriages. This new path, with the help of my sister, led me to the greatest blessing I could ever have… my daughter.
It isn’t all about me anymore. I have a greater goal. I will choose to be healthy because the gift of her life was entrusted to me, and I am charged with teaching her all I have learned in life, so far. Since my actions will speak volumes to her, I am even more driven to be a good example.
Becoming a mom changed me and forced me to look at myself in a completely different way. I was blessed with the opportunity to experience pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. Motherhood has given me the gift of learning not only what amazing feats my body can accomplish, but has also given me an important opportunity to listen deeply to my body, respect its limitations, and treat it with love. I am also reminded to ask continually for help when needed, because I am surrounded by many “sisters.”
A FINAL NOTE: MY SISTER
She is truly the best gift my parents could ever have given me, though I surely didn’t realize it or believe it at a young age! I have learned to appreciate truly what it means to have a sister, and I’d be lost without her. It most certainly wasn’t evident to me all at once… it was more like constant reminders throughout my life that finally linked in my brain and heart.
I suppose it is the knowledge that I have someone who will always be connected to me, unlike any other relationship I’ll ever have. Sisters share memories and thoughts that no one else can possibly understand. (Click to tweet!) I have come to treasure them.
What’s even more amazing is that now that we are grown and both have our own children, I feel I can relate to her on an even deeper level. We both share something more: that we are part of the universal sisterhood of those who have experienced the miracle of birth, or having a child of their own. We now can also share our “sisterhood” and a special bond with my daughter.
It’s remarkable that the bond of motherhood transcends blood relations to connect all women on earth into this sisterhood. The very moment I carried my beautiful baby in public I was made aware of this fact. Maya Angelou wrote, “Sister, open your heart, fling your hopes high, and set your dreams aloft. I am here to hold your hand.” (Click to tweet!) I consider myself fortunate to have not only my true sister to hold my hand, but many others (who I call “friend”) in this life.
P.S. I’ve spent years creating the very program that was Sara’s catalyst for her lifelong journey to health and happiness. The 18-Day Love Yourself Naked® Challenge is more than a cleanse – it’s a sisterhood and a brotherhood. Your health and happiness don’t need to wait. Learn more here.
Tell me in the comments: what are your closest sister and brotherhoods? What’s one of the most important things that you’ve learned from them?
Your homework: thank a brother or sister today, biological or symbolic, and give them some appreciation. We all know they deserve it.