Lifestyle Wellness

Living Intentionally: Sisterhood

How Do You Affirm Other Women?

By Renee Trudeau

I once spoke at a girls’ empowerment conference to a group of 500 ten to thirteen-year-olds. As I was waiting to go on stage, I overheard a small group of young girls talking about their day. One of them was on fire after learning about civil engineering, and she was excitedly sharing her career dreams with her peers. Then, I observed her bright face slowly shift from open excitement and joy, to embarrassment and withdrawal, as the other girls subtly expressed their discomfort at seeing their friend owning her power.

And, just yesterday, a successful author and dear friend poured out her heart to me, sharing through tears how a long-time mentor was suddenly threatened by her success and was now “shutting her out,” and challenging her very right to be seen and heard.

This is so not ok. Not on any level. Not ever. And it needs to end once and for all.

As a young girl, I don’t recall being around women who modeled true sisterhood for me. But, when I was in my late twenties, I took a communications/leadership course with a wise woman who ended up being a life-long mentor. She modeled some beautiful ways to “be,” but more importantly, she challenged me to stop playing small and held an oceanic space for me to blossom into the fullest expression of who I am.

Slowly, over the years, I learned to do this. Not alone, but with many incredible women by my side.

Today, as a wife, mother, leader, business owner, mentor and community activist, moving in the world with the support of my sisters, is the only way I know how to be.

One fall I led a week-long self-renewal retreat for women at the Omega Institute in upstate New York and heard—as I always do at our retreats—“I was so amazed at how comfortable I felt in this group, how quickly we dropped into real, heartfelt conversation, how healing it was to have dialogue with such depth and how powerful it was to be with other women and to feel so supported.” I also heard, “I have never experienced anything like this; I didn’t even know being with other women in this way was possible!”

I took these powerful words to heart. For many, this is a new way of being with other women. It’s a courageous path that requires us to practice extreme self-care and fully show up.

On the last day of that retreat, a fellow retreat leader who had been on campus all week, commented to me how brave I was to have invited other powerful guest teachers to share the spotlight with me. I looked at her with wonder, not fully understanding what she meant. Then, as her words sank in, I responded, “It was my joy. When I help my sisters shine, we all shine.”
Shine on, sisters. Shine on.

What does sisterhood mean to me? It’s a way of being with other women—both young and old—where I:
• Hold the highest and best for them and see them as their “future selves”—especially when they’re going through a rough time.
• Encourage vulnerability and authenticity in our relationship and communication; I’m a “get real or go home” woman.
• Practice self-forgiveness and have the humility and courage to initiate tough but necessary conversations when appropriate.
• Encourage my sisters to “come as you are,” and show up in our relationship warts and all!
• Derive joy and exhilaration from sharing my sisters’ wisdom/gifts with others and delight in seeing them shine big and bright!
• State my needs and ask them on a regular basis, “How can I support you?”— and really mean it!
• Freely share my successes and do not feel like I need to shrink or dim my presence.
• Enjoy reciprocity—giving and receiving in equal measure and serving my sisters in a way that “feeds me rather than drains me.”
• Invite in and model a level of intimacy—with a chosen few—that allows me to share the deepest parts of myself.
• Am willing to lovingly acknowledge what’s not being said or seen—even at the cost of having someone not like me.

Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally recognized self-care author/speaker and retreat facilitator. Based in Brevard, she leads Wild Souls Authentic Movement, women’s circles/retreats. Join her April 26-28 for Awakening Your Wild Soul at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Learn more at

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