I recently finished an interesting new collection of essays about women and the importance of building a community of like-minded women around us. The essays, along with some beautifully photographed artwork, are compiled in Nothing but the Truth, so Help me God: 51Women Reveal the Power of Positive Female Connection (2012, Edited by Christine Bronstein and Carol Potts, and published in connection with A Band of Wives).
Most women do really benefit from their relationships with other supportive women. We have much to share and validate with each other, about our experiences as mothers, as wives, in finding time to do creative work, processing feelings about our bodies, aging, caregiving for elderly parents, nurturing ourselves, inspiring each other to go for our dreams, and empowering each other to take action to improve our world. If you have one or two or more women like this in your life, consider yourself blessed. A woman in your life who is generous, loving, and challenges you to ask yourself, "Why not?" can make an incredible difference in the kind of life you create.
Women do not have to be competitive with each other. If both are secure and grounded, women can be a great resource to each other, sharing ideas and providing comfort when needed. Many older women have told me they find friendships with other women only become more essential from mid-life and beyond into our later years. Some friendships endure and go the distance, while others may have a natural ending due to a change in life circumstances, or a break. In Nothing but…, one essayist suggests the average female friendship lasts seven years, so if you have some that are more enduring than that, you can feel doubly blessed.
I enjoyed the essay format of Nothing but..., and hearing the take of so many interesting, insightful, and articulate women about their own relationships with friends, and the impact those friendships have had on their own self-discovery. There are stories in the book of the role close women friends have played in getting through incredible challenge, loss, or transformation. I loved the story of a woman whose friend encourages her to write her book and meet weekly for coffee when their children are in school to read each other's writing that week; they provide encouragement and accountability for each other.
In my own life, I have witnessed the positive power of women supporting other women. In my first few years in private practice 20 years ago, when my children were small, I started and facilitated a community-based support group for working mothers that ran for 7 years, and also helped another mom start a group for stay-at home moms in our city. The power of a group of gentle, like-minded women is amazing. Connecting with other women helps us laugh, get perspective, and share ideas.
Even now, time with my close women friends, my adult daughters who are fabulous women I admire, or my Saturdays with the wonderful women in our book group are precious to me. Most women find their souls are filled in a unique way by time spent with other generous women. Nothing but... is an easy and fun read, and may get you thinking about the role of friendship with other women in your own life. As women, we need each other.