Women Helping Women

After reading my post about my parents, would it surprise you to know I’ve been conflicted most of my life with regards to other women?

Would it surprise you to know I have three sisters, but have been unable to form strong bonds with them because their kind of support includes many bits of advice on how to change me, rather than accept me as I am?  I’d been bullied by my oldest sister, told I needed an exorcism by my religious zealot second oldest sister, and been sent hate email by my youngest sister.

I’ve had success at work with women friends, but little by little, after I left the job to raise my daughters, over 8 years, the connections have been lost.

I tried to replace them with mothering groups, both secular and Christian.  Would you believe that attachment parenting is too radical for many modern women?   You get the evil eye when you tell them you don’t believe in spanking and you breastfed your youngest for three whole years.

I’ve tried female Bible study groups.  I got a stern lecture from the minister’s wife about the evils of Buddhist practice, even though Eastern mindfulness practice is medically supported in Western psychiatry, thanks to the scholarly, yet friendly, work of Dr. Daniel Siegel in The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.

I’ve spent the last 10 years searching for female role models and had come up drastically short.

I have two female friends right now, and one of them is my therapist.  I have about two more sessions with her before I have to stop seeing her.  At the last session, it hit me how much I’m going to miss her.   The other one is my dental hygienist, who I really see only once in a blue moon.  But her joy is infectious.  Remind me to make a date with her soon.

Anyway, this post is a call out to my female sisters across the globe.

I’d like to build a list of resources that nurture and support women.  Would you be able to help me out?

I found a great potential site called Amazing Women Rock.  I haven’t fully perused it yet, but it seems like an interesting one.

Since I can’t find a great role model in real life to emulate, I’d like to cobble together my idea of a nurturing, supportive, strong woman.  I’d like your help.

What famous woman has influenced you the most in your life and what have you learned from her?

Do you know of any websites that promote feminine values of nurturing, creativity, gentleness, peace, and mindful awareness?

I think I’d like to post about them too in the coming months.

Thanks so much.


About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in Creativity, Friendship, Love, Mindfulness, Motherhood, Seeking the sacred, spirituality, Women, Women helping women. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Women Helping Women

  1. kathylashley says:

    Our lives have very similar patterns when it comes to relationships with women. I also recently wrote something about women and friendships. It’s been a struggle. A few months ago I read Sor Juanna Ines de la Cruz, “Reply to Sor Filotea de la Cruz”. Sor Juanna or Sister Juanna lived in the 15th century when women were not allowed to have any type of formal education. It’s a short read and well worth it. I was inspired in the way she reached her heart’s desire (to learn) while keeping a positive attitude. She made me understand that if you want something bad enough just go for it! Thanks for such a heart felt post.

  2. Thank you so much. I hope I can find it at my library.

    I have found that its time to investigate women of various backgrounds and seek out a more positive female influence on my life. I’ve made a great many mistakes in my lifetime, and some of them have been with women, but it’s promising to know that other women struggle as I do while we try to make our way in this rapidly changing, very complex world. I want to make it a little easier for my daughters.

    Wow, I just read this about her on this post


    “Sor Juana was born in Mexico while Mexico was part of the New Spain and administered by a Viceroy loyal to the King of Spain. Though widely read and admired in Spain, Sor Juana is regarded as the mother of Mexican literature and one of the pioneers who wrote on behalf of women’s intellectual rights. Sor Juana was a largely self-taught intellectual who entered the convent in her mid teens and spent the rest of her life as a nun of the order of St. Jerome. While in the convent, Sor Juana wrote both theological and secular poems, plays and treatises, the latter simultaneously provoking both admiration and censure from the Catholic church.”

    Thanks so much. Now I’m really curious about her.

  3. Tineke Brinks says:

    Julia Cameron, Patti Digh (Life is a Verb, 3x3x365, Vertribe course (really good)), Joan Anderson

    (I know these are men but have been very helpful for me: Don Miguel Ruiz, The four agreements and Mastery of Love) and Sam Keen, To a Dancing God)

    I have the same issues to find ‘like minded people’. Aren’t we lucky to have the internet.

    There is so much negativity (emotion, guilt, anger) around motherhood, womanhood and standing up for you own choices. I have a 11 year old daughter and two sons (18 and 17). I have a masters degree and worked until my first son was born. Then the whole world changed. Being a child of the 70’s (I am 52) I felt I could do it all. Have the career and the children. I also felt I had to do it all because that is what was fought for. But I think we forgot one very important thing. The right to choose and to be OK with that. For me it did not work, career and children. I wanted to raise my children myself. For me to do both was doing nothing ‘right’ and I felt the children were at the bottom of the list. Staying at home, working or both is OK as long as you feel OK. We as women judge too much and with that we lost ourselves and become our own worst enemies. There is no right or wrong in how you live your life. We have to accept what works for you does not have to work for me and that is OK.
    Dialogue and communication but more important being an example for my children so that they can go into the world knowing that they are strong enough to face the issues and so they can follow their own path is my ‘job’. I am ‘working’ every day to be the change I want to see. (it does not feel like work, I love being a mother, a writer, an artist).

    It is also EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to raise nurturing, caring, strong, supportive, respectful sons so that our daughters can be supportive and can have a supporting partner (if they decide to have a male partner).

  4. Wow! Thanks so much, Tineke!

    Julia Cameron is great. I just got her Letters to a Young Artist and read How Not to Create Art (Or Anything for That Matter). I have her Basic tools pdf (found on her website). Patti Digh’s website looks great and so does Joan’s (wow, she ran away from home and spent a year living by the sea? i made two premature attempts to get away from home before I finally actually did, so I’m really curious to read her memoir).

    Some time ago, I came across Don Miguel Ruiz, but then didn’t chase down that rabbit. I think it might be time to revisit his work. And Sam Keen??? OMG – wow! The philosopher in me just found a new…oh, sweet goodness…I know why that name sounds familiar!!!! I have one of his books…In the Absence of God: Dwelling in the Presence of the Sacred. My spiritual path has been a crazy one – I was born and raised Catholic, but have had enough difficult experiences with Catholicism and Catholics that I sought fellowship in different denominations with similar results that left me very, very disillusioned with Christians.

    For 2.5 years I was a working mother out of necessity. My husband was laid off (for the first time) when I was 8 months pregnant with daughter number 1. Since I worked in a university hospital genetics laboratory, I was making decent money so I stayed. The hardest thing I had to do was leave my baby at home. I cried every morning for 3-4 days before work and after talking to my husband who was caring for our daughter and she was fine without me, I had to reign in my tears and do what needed to be done. And it killed my breastfeeding attempts by 6 months :(. But 20 months later, when daughter number two came (and husband had found employment), I just could not keep up the work-mother routine. I was splintered. I’d fall asleep singing songs to my children. I couldn’t wake up in the mornings so I was frequently a few minutes late for work (and it was an hour and a half commute!) and my boss was NOT understanding (even though she was a mother herself) and I was killing myself trying to do it all. When daughter number 2 was 6 months old, I’d had enough. By 7 months of age, I had to stop nursing too (finding a private place to pump 2x a day was next to impossible) I gave my boss 3 months to allow her to find and me to train my replacement (I was a laboratory supervisor).

    There was a mixed bag of responses when I decided to quit. My mother and grandfather were disappointed and unapproving. My boss was worried for me (rightly so, it was a difficult transition for me), but younger female employees in one of our associate labs were supportive. My husband of course was totally on board, since we rarely saw each other.

    And…the additional upside was when my littlest one nurse for 3 years! That was such a great joy to me.

    There IS a lot of negativity around motherhood, but there’s also a lot of negativity and insecurity about simply being a woman. I think that the pressures to do it all and look sexy while doing it have hurt us tremendously. Remember those horrible Enjoli commercials “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget your a man” The tagline? The 8 hour perfume for the 24 hour woman? When the heck does she take care of herself????

    Don’t get me wrong…I was this woman – I worked, I came home to cuddle with my children, and made sure to give some good lovin’ to my husband…but at a great emotional cost to myself.

    I had read Sylvia Ann Hewitt’s Creating A Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children…but it’s now renamed Creating a Life: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Having a Baby and a Career. America has one of the worst (if not THE worst) policies for family leave. American women wanted equality to men, and they forgot to think about families, but women in other countries wanted support for families as part of their women’s movements. Consequently, a place like Sweden has up to 18 months of parental leave, to be shared between mother AND father.

    And I do agree that it’s SO important for parents to raise nurturing, caring, strong, supportive, respectful sons. And what parents SAY to their children is important, but how the parents treat each other is going to be the model the kids have for their own relationships. It’s tough to be a role model when there’s just so many variables involved and husband’s been laid off again! But he’s also working towards his massage therapy certification.

    You know, I just saw last night’s episode of Touch (Keifer Southerland’s new series) and they had a same sex relationship. Two really beautiful Asian women wanted to have a baby together, and my daughters were really perplexed by that. They couldn’t quite wrap their heads around the concept. But…as delicately as I could (for an 8 and a 10 year old), I tried to explain that it’s okay that two women have a caring relationship together and want to have a baby together. I tend to follow their lead and not over-explain things….but I will if they persist in their questions. I promised them I’d tell them all they wanted to know when they were a little older. They were content with that.

    But, when my 7 year old came to me in tears the other night that she was afraid of getting pregnant, I had to explain in a little more detail how it was not possible for her to get pregnant 1) at her age and 2) by herself. No, I’m not entirely sure what gave her the worry in the first place. I wasn’t uncomfortable with the questions she asked, but I did not want to overwhelm her with details. I did tell her there was a reason why girls and boys have different body parts and they have to do with making babies. We had a brief explanation about puberty and the changes it makes in boys and girls. They already know about menstruation and why girls have one from the early discovery they made about mine (we have one bathroom so there is hardly any privacy here). And I want to be the first one to talk to them about love and sex…so, I made it a point to talk about their bodies and the future changes they will bring. Obviously, this is an on-going conversation…as the need to revisit things in more detail arises…I will.

    Interestingly enough, she was afraid of getting married, but when I told her there was no rule that she HAD TO get married, she then cried fresh tears and could barely get out the words ” But I might be lonely”. That’s when I told her not to worry, she could get a roommate. Problem solved – for now anyway. 😀

  5. Oh, yeah, and I was wondering…what was your master’s degree in and what did you do for work? I’m glad you are an artist now, even if you didn’t start out that way.

    I cannot believe how transformative creating art is. It’s been remarkable for my growth and happiness.

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