On Sisterhood and how to overcome difficult times

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women-friendsWho have not gone through a difficult period in life? All of us I would say. And each one of us has probably developed strategies to overcome these moments, altogether with the emotions and feelings that accompany them, moving forward in the path of life stronger and brighter. Some of us are specialists in this amazing capacity that is resilience:

The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.*

Today I would like to honour one of the most important factors that make resilience possible for many of us: Love and Connection. My subjective life experience has always taught me that Love and Connection (in all its shapes and sources) is the most important factor that needs to be present in my life to make it possible for me to feel happiness, gratitude and to overcome life challenges. Research on resilience also confirms that Love is actually the most essencial factor in shaping a person’s resilience:

A combination of factors contributes to resilience. Many studies show that the primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. Relationships that create love and trust, provide role models and offer encouragement and reassurance help bolster a person’s resilience.*

And my life experience has also taught me that amongst Loving relationships, friends, and mostly women friends, have a special role to play. And why is that? Why do I strongly invite all women to develop and nurture authentic relationships with other women?

What I have experienced is that true sisterhood works as a strong source of awareness against male domination and can provide the tools to fight it and overcome potential damaging relations.

Very often women get trapped in romantic relationships with dominant men (or women), or violent or unloving relationships, that hinder their development. In a society that so obviously value and encourage couplehood people tend to believe that this kind of bond should be the source of all joy and fulfilment. Therefore it is difficult to realise that fulfilment and love can and should come from different people and types of relationships. On the other hand it is hard to accept when a relationship is not working and act upon this realisation, either to improve the situation or to break up and move forward.

In this context, to nurture loving relationships with other women friends functions as a protective factor against unhealthy relations with men (or women). Real care and respect for each other wellbeing and self-development is the key to make it work, as certainly no one who feel true love for another person would let her (him) be trapped in dysfunctional (violent, unloving, destructive) relationships without at least trying to raise her (his) awareness about it.**

In professional contexts women are very frequently affected by sexism, in a direct or indirect way. For instance they may be misunderstood and their skills seen as lack of confidence, they may feel insecure to address certain discussions or even to apply to a promotion, or even be used in a tokenistic way. In this scenario, I am convinced it is relevant that our women friends have a certain degree of gender awareness and tools of analysis of reality from a gender perspective, as it is not immediately obvious what the dynamics are under the surface.

Despite all I am convinced that Love is the main and primary ingredient that needs to be present. Under these conditions close spiritual alliances between women can be much more empowering and supportive than other types of relations and therefore work as real loving bonds that enhance self-development and, ultimately, happiness.

* Definition from American Psychological Association

** The definition of Love I make reference to is the one from M. Scott Peck (The Less Travelled Road): The will to expand the self with the goal to nurture its own and other’s spiritual development.

On the way to personal leadership

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hand-eye-coordination

I have been looking forward to (re)start to write this blog since several weeks now. Despite that I could not find the motivation, or better, the time and availability to reconnect to what matters the most to me: women’s empowerment, spiritual and self-development, and education.

It seem though that the time as come, and as usually the energy has been unlocked by doing the things I love, meeting wonderful people-belonging to a community of authentic people, feeling connected and accepted, and sharing a higher purpose in life with other people. These are, in my experience, four main ingredients that create and give the necessary energy to live the life we envision for ourselves.

I am realising that to live the life I envision/desire for myself I have first of all to know how it looks like, what is part of it, who, when… Seems quite obvious I know, but very often we don’t take the time to discover and design the life we dream for ourselves, other times we are blocked by fear or lack of confidence, or by other circumstances. Taking responsibility, disciplining ourselves, postponing gratification and, above all, loving ourselves*, are essential ingredients that may help us in this process of personal leadership towards our purpose.

At the same time, bearing in mind some of the advices of Tara Mohr can also be useful. She calls our attention for the obstacles women put to ourselves in the way to self-fulfilment in personal and professional life. Never good enough, never yet prepared, never confident enough… Why?! Yes, we know why, we know we still live in a society that in subtle (or less subtle) ways undervalue women and what it means in our cultural context to be feminine. It is up to us to recognise our own value, to be proud of our own ways of doing things and living, our values and strengths, so that we can take real leadership in transforming our lives and the world!

* M. Scott Peck (1978). The Road Less Travelled.

Imagine the possibilities: A critical view on new Barbie ad

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barbieI came across this add last week and while seeing it I could not avoid to smile and laugh. It is indeed a ‘cute’ add. Despite that there are a couple or more things I believe it is important to reflect upon before giving Barbie as a gift with the conviction it will give our girls the possibility to imagine everything they can become.

The first point is that this commercial is still and totally targeted at girls. They do not only express it verbally, but just in case someone missed it they use the pink colour and they show all these little girls with this very childish voice. I don’t know a girl this age that uses this kind of child like tone. The main problem is that this ad is not only using gender stereotypes but also reinforcing them. Read the rest of this entry

How can Muslim fashion transform lives?

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hijabI found this article today in the morning while exploring around daily news in one of my favourite online news page. “Sweden’s ‘hijabista’: Selling Muslim fashion” is an article talking about Iman Aldebe, a woman and fashion designer who has manage to bring ‘Muslim fashion’ into European markets.

Despite the second headline of the article classifies her contribution as a ‘modest fashion revolution’, I have to say that her work is actually of a true revolutionary and her contribution is far from being modest. Read the rest of this entry

On the Politics of Hair

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hairIn a light and powerful tone Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie guides the reader throughout pages of a capturing romance that is at the same time a window into the ‘games’ of race, migration, gender and (in)equality in contemporary world.

Americanah is more than just another novel. As the author creates several layers of depth and meaning the reader enlarges her/his understanding of complex realities that are too often subject of academic discourses or either a matter of the third sector players.

The subject of hair, and specifically black women’s hair, is a storyline strongly linked to the politics of identity, discrimination and power. As Ifemelu, the main female character is advised to smooth her hair before attending a job interview, as otherwise she might not get the job, Chimamanda draws attention to the fact that appearance and specifically hair looking is still a reason for discrimination and judgments on people’s capacities and values. Read the rest of this entry