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Nine years ago this wintery time of year, my mom, sister and sister-in-law threw a baby shower for me and my baby girl-to-be, Lily. It was my favorite baby shower ever! Delicious food, champagne cocktails & mocktails, and a room full of lovely women. My sister planned an extra special surprise for the shower and asked everyone invited to bring a pretty bead that had meaning to them.

During the shower each lady spoke about their precious bead and why they were giving it to me. After the shower, my sister strung the beads together and made a beautiful necklace for me to have when I gave birth. 

This sacred ritual, traditionally performed by the Navajo, is called a Blessingway, and it’s used to celebrate the mom-to-be. I didn’t exactly wear the necklace during Lily’s birth, you know, labor and all, but I had it with me at the hospital, this gorgeous sparkly symbol full of love, full of strength from women I cherished. 

That necklace felt like it was full to bursting with positive energy. The bold green malachite for protection, my favorite, rose quartz, believed to be a stone of the heart and feminine energy, and the unique beads my cousins sent all the way across the country, are a few of the gems I remember.

Sometimes, after Lily was born I would pull this necklace out and try to recall the story behind each bead, each one a gift of strength and love to me. I would rub the stones between my fingers and remind myself that I had a gang full of women supporting me, if I needed it.

I did. I needed it, as a new mom, as a daughter, as a sister, as a wife, as a woman I needed the love and support. I still do. Don’t all women need love and support from the sisterhood?

A few years later one of the ladies who was at my shower was diagnosed with breast cancer. At one point in my life I had worked for this woman and her sister, quickly becoming friends with them and their families. When Greg and I got married she and her sister catered our wedding. And when my mom died of cancer she stood with me and cried.

When this friend of mine was diagnosed—my own mom’s recent death from cancer, so fresh a wound in my heart—I found myself at a loss for words, at a loss for ways to comfort and support her. Hugging her and offering whatever she needed didn’t seem enough for the roles she’d played in my life. 

After talking with my sister about this woman and her diagnosis, we decided to give her my Blessingway necklace. The red coral she once gave me as a sign of courage now returned to her in the face of her own battle. It was my way of giving her a circle of love and strength from an amazing group of women.

I believe there is a powerful energy behind the support and kindness we women show each other. During times of struggle, but also during everyday interactions. The way we speak to one another, the way we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. Even when we disagree, we can support one another. And it feels so good to support one another.

The women in my life who have held me up and inspire me are woven into my foundation, my strength. In fact, I keep meeting women like this, women I’m honored to consider as role models.

When I encounter or read about women tearing each other down makes me want to scream, “We don’t have time for that ladies!”

I think, no matter your religion, no matter your political viewpoint, no matter your sexual orientation, no matter your race, simply put, no matter any of our differences, women need all the love and support we can get, and especially from other women. 

Imagine the power behind lifting our sisters up instead of tearing them down. Don’t we have enough hills to climb, battles to wage, without fighting against a sisterhood that would rather be cruel and condescending than kind and courageous?

We absolutely have enough battles. Equal pay, sexual harassment, the stigma of the “weaker” sex, paying the bills every month, the laundry piling up on the dining room table, finding a psychiatrist for our teenager suffering from depression, figuring out how in the heck we are going to pay for the ridiculously expensive medicine that’s keeping our child alive. Do I need to go on?

We have so much, so much amazingness to give each other. This year I vowed to myself and to a couple of superstar women, whom I can’t wait to begin working with, that I was going to do whatever I could in my life to champion women. I don’t see it as a battle, I see it as a great privilege. 

Imagine what could happen if we, women, simply supported other women, showered each other with love, were kind to even those we might not agree with. Imagine if we made it our goal every day. Imagine that energy and support like a Blessingway necklace, a dynamic circle of beauty and love around us all, this sisterhood that I am proud to be a part of.

Sara Ohlin

Puget Sound based writer, Sara Ohlin is a mom, wannabe photographer, obsessive reader, ridiculous foodie, and the author of the upcoming contemporary romance novels, Handling the Rancher and Salvaging Love. You can find her essays at Anderbo.com, Feminine Collective, Mothers Always Write, Her View from Home, and in anthologies such as Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak about Healthcare in America, and Take Care: Tales, Tips, & Love from Women Caregivers. Find her at www.saraohlin.com

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