How can you create sisterhood with the women in your life?

How can you create sisterhood with the women in your life?So last week I began to share the 25 ways I’ve discovered to create sisterhood with the women in your life…and today I finally get to share the rest with you!

25 ways to create sisterhood with the women in your life

14. Reach out, even when you don’t want to – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve learned that a friend was going through a tough time and when I’ve asked why they didn’t call they’ve said “I didn’t want to be a bother” or words to that effect. The most important thing to remember is that your sisters WANT to be there for you…not when you’ve started to get it together, or begun to figure it out. When it’s at it’s worst. When you need the most support. When you can’t make sense of it. When you want to cry / shout / scream. When you feel numb. It’s at those times that it’s hardest to reach out…and it’s at those times that it’s most important to do so. The deepest connections I have with the women in my life are with the ones who are my first call when I’m in a puddle on the floor…and for whom I am the same for them in return.

15. Be there when they reach out – When one of them reaches out a hand to you…be there to take it. Even if you can’t speak at that precise moment, let them know you’re here for them, that you want to speak to them and give them your full attention and arrange a time when you can speak. If you’re there for them when they need you, they want to be there for you when you need them even more.

16. Gently, and with compassion, be prepared to challenge your sisters – Sisters are your mirrors. They are the ones who will show you your reflection, in all it’s full Technicolor glory, and with love they will challenge you to see things that you might not want to, to see things from a different perspective. Be prepared to gently and respectfully challenge their perspectives if it feels right to do so. Not in a “Your wrong!! It’s this way!” kind of approach, but in a “I’m curious, have you considered this point of view?” way. We’re in this to grow together, being able to offer alternative ideas is how we grow.

17. Be open to help in a different way – It’s important to ask for what you want and need…it’s also OK to trust when it shows up in a different form. Sometimes your sisters will do things in a way that in the moment feels uncomfortable, but done with love and compassion can really help. I had a sister who we joked like to go into ‘probe mode’…when I was sharing, sometimes I wasn’t even aware that there was something underneath until she began with the probing questions. At the time, it felt uncomfortable, but I trusted her and knew it was all being done with love….and it always helped me in a way I couldn’t have anticipated.

18. Take down your defences – We’ve got very used to many women in life being our competition, and being ready to defend ourselves should someone say something we feel is an attack. In sisterhood remember that these women are on your side. They are there with you, to support you. There’s no need to have the battlements armed.

19. Trust – Trust. Trust that these women want to be in this with you. Trust that they want the best for you. Trust that they always have your best interests at heart. Trust that they are right there behind you, in your corner. Trust that they are doing the best they can, and that they know that you are too.

20. Say the thing you don’t want to say – I can’t count the number of times I’ve found myself talking to a soul sister, or soul sisters and I’ve heard myself say “I really don’t want to say this…so I know this is what I need to say”. The stuff we try and deny…the stuff we don’t want to share is the stuff that we often NEED to share. Because we have a belief, an idea, a story around it that sharing it can dispel. If you’re open about the fact that it’s difficult for you, it allows your sisters to be even more kind and gentle with you while you’re having the courage to share it.

21. Ask Questions – Be curious about your sisters, ask questions to learn more about them…take an interest. When you want to challenge, do it by asking a question that will get them to consider a different point of view. Ask them what they want. Ask them how you can support them. Ask them questions that will help them go deeper, and understand themselves better.

22. Be prepared to set boundaries if you need them – Sisterhood is about trust…and being able to say “This is my boundary, I’m asking you not to cross it” and trusting that they will respect you for it is incredibly empowering. Now I’m going to put a little caveat in here…be sure when setting boundaries you’re doing it with your best interests in mind and heart…rather than doing it to protect yourself from being ‘too vulnerable’ or going ‘too deep’. You need to feel comfortable in asking for what you need…but also be open to your sisters questioning if it really is what’s best for you, and allow yourself to respond honestly.

23. Be Gentle and compassionate – Be gentle with yourself and with your sisters…sisterhood is a very vulnerable place to be, and being gentle can make it so much easier. Compassion for yourself and your sisters will allow you to open even further, trust even more and deepen the connections between you.

24. Spend time together just being – Spend time with these women just enjoying yourselves and being. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught in a pattern of the ‘deep stuff’ with your sisters…where you’re always dealing with challenges or working through something…and it’s just as important to make regular dates to go out for a meal together, go and pamper yourselves or just have a girly movie night with a bowl of popcorn!

25. Go First – I know I mentioned this in the article about finding the women who will become your soul sisters, but it isn’t something you do once and it’s done…it’s a choice to continue going first. If you go first, and go deep you give them permission to do the same. You create the space, you set the bar, you open up the conversation and therefore allow the connection to go deeper. In doing so you open yourself up to a depth relationship that otherwise wouldn’t have been open to you. You create the depth of relationship you want, by having the courage to share deeply yourself first.

If you really open yourself up to it, sisterhood will change you.

It will connect you to what it means to be a woman in a way you never realised possible.

Your concept of friendship increases in breadth and depth…the possibilities are endless, and you begin to understand that true friendship is limitless.

Your soul sisters will become your cheerleaders, our safety net, your guides, your teachers, your sages, your mirrors, your soul mates, your family and your sanctuary.

My soul sisters are a vital part of my life and I’m grateful for them every single day.

They make life easier, they make life more enjoyable.

They will hold a special place in your heart that cannot be filled by anyone or anything else, and I wish for you to create these amazing, life altering relationships for yourself.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

Do you know how to create sisterhood with other women?

How do you create sisterhood with other women?The last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about sisterhood and the importance, value and power of really deep, mutually fulfilling relationships with other women.

We began by looking at the difference between acquaintances, friendship and sisterhood and understanding the reasons why sisterhood is so different and so important. Then last week we looked at how you can find the women who could become your soul sisters.

So you know you want to create sisterhood with women in your life, and you’ve found the women with whom you want to develop a deeper connection and relationship…so the next question is, “How do you create sisterhood?”

What does sisterhood look like? How does it grow and develop?

What makes women who are soul sisters different? What to they do differently? What do they say differently? How do they behave differently?

The path to sisterhood is simple…but not always easy.

To create sisterhood with other women means removing any and all masks, letting down your barriers, and opening your heart to another woman with no conditions. Accepting everything you are, being everything you are, showing everything you are and allowing them to be everything they are too.

Oh is that all? No Problem!

The more of the real, whole you that you allow them to see, the deeper the connection will be.

So what does that really mean? What does it look like in your real life, day-to-day interactions?

Well I’ve identified 25 ways to help you to create sisterhood with the women in your life, and today I want to share the first of these with you:

  1. Accept them exactly as they are – Sisterhood is all about finding people who will accept you, love you as you are, and allow you to be everything that you are, and for whom you are prepared to do the same. As I mentioned in last week’s article, the key is being prepared to ‘go first’ – accept them as they are, show them that it’s safe…invite them to do the same for you in return.
  2. Be open and honest – Speak the truth, speak what’s there, share how you’re feeling, be open with what’s going on in your life. Sometimes we can feel a resistance to saying something because we’re worried how someone else might feel, how they might react… Will they not like us? Will they judge us? The thing is that not saying something doesn’t stop it from being there…and it will affect the relationship. Not saying stuff will create blocks and boundaries. Saying it, whatever it is, with kindness and compassion (for yourself and others) and with the intention to deepen your relationship and connection means you can talk it out, hear what each other has to say…and really support each other at a real level.
  3. Allow them to see all of you, even the bits you don’t want to admit to yourself – Have the courage to be vulnerable and allow them to see all of you. As women we have a habit of trying to deny parts of ourselves, making them ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’…without realising that they are all a part of us. When we allow other women to see those parts we get the opportunity for them to say “me too!” or to share the parts that they don’t really want to admit to too.
  4. Really listen – Give your full presence to your sisters…and really listen to what they have to say. Listen to learn more about them, to understand them, to know how to support them…and really hear them. Feeling seen and heard is the basis for creating real connection.
  5. Dive in at the right depth for you…and be prepared to venture into the deep end! – In sisterhood we have the ability to go deep. I mean really deep. In sisterhood there is a safe space that allows us to deal with anything and everything. We have the opportunity to get supported when dealing with the toughest experiences in our lives, we have the opportunity to be really seen and heart…to discover who we really are. That doesn’t mean you have to jump in at the deep end right from the start…but the deeper you’re prepared to go, the deeper the connection you will feel and the more you will all get out of the relationship.
  6. Leave any pretence at the door – We’ve all done the “I’m fine” thing at times, or chosen to ‘focus on the bright side’ rather than face what’s really there. In sisterhood it’s about telling it how it is…as challenging as that can be at times, it means the connection and the conversation is always authentic and real.
  7. Let go of judgements – Of yourself and them. Judgements put barriers between people, and they get in the way of us seeing what is really there. Replace judgement with curiosity and a desire to understand the other person…it will bring you closer and open your mind up to new possibilities and ideas.
  8. Allow them to be where they’re at – Often in our desire to ‘help’ someone out, we seek to move them from where they’re at to a better state. If someone’s upset, we want to cheer them up, make them feel better, when in reality they might need to just feel upset for a bit, so they can process the emotion and then let it go. Just being with them where they are and holding a space for them to be there is incredibly powerful.
  9. Support them in the way they want or need support – When we support others we often do it in ‘our way’ without realising that they might need support in a different way. Learning to support them ‘their’ way will transform your relationship completely.
  10. Ask them what they want and need – How do you support them in the way they want and need? Simple, ask. When someone is in a challenging situation or state, actually just having someone saying “What do you need?”, “What do you want?” or “How can I help?” can be the most comforting thing in the world and gives them permission to ask for what would help them most.
  11. Ask for what you want and need – One of the best ways to ensure that you sisters really do ask for what they want and need, is to show them how by asking for exactly what you want and need yourself. This way you help them to be there for you in the way that will mean the most to you, and you show them that you really want to know what will work for them too.
  12. Allow them to be there for you – As women we tend to go into ‘helper’ mode…we want to be there for everyone else, but we aren’t so good at receiving help ourselves. Sisterhood is a two-way thing…if it isn’t, it doesn’t work. Allow your sisters to help you…allow yourself to receive their support as much as you want them to receive yours.
  13. Celebrate with each other – Sisterhood is as much about celebration as it is about being there when things aren’t going so well. If one of your sisters has reason to celebrate allow yourself to celebrate her successes as much as your own…and she will be only too willing to do the same. Soul sisters are your biggest cheerleaders in life…remember to share your celebrations with them along the way!

Number 13 seems to be the perfect place to pause, being how relevant the number 13 is for us women (if you have any concerns about 13 being unlucky…I know how you feel, I used to be the same….but pop over here to find out how powerful the number 13 is for us ladies!)

So I’ll leave you with a couple of questions to consider…how do you create sisterhood? What are your thoughts on the first 13 ways to create sisterhood? Do you have any questions about sisterhood? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please drop me an email Claire@feminine1st.com and let me know what you think.

I’d like to invite you to have a play with these this week, try some of them on and see how they feel…and be sure to pop back next week to see the rest of the 25 ways you can create sisterhood with other women.

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

How do you find the women who will become your soul sisters?

How do you find the women who will become YOUR soul sisters?So last week I shared an article about the importance of sisterhood for women like us, and how to understand the difference between acquaintances, friendship and sisterhood.

Understanding the importance, value and power of these kinds of relationships with other women is something that has dramatically changed my life.

But understanding that you want these kinds of relationships with other women doesn’t mean that they’re magically going to appear.

Or…does it?

Are you looking for women like this?

Well, being honest, knowing that these are the kinds of relationships you want with other women will mean that you become more aware of the people that you’re meeting, more aware of the people around you and more aware of the kind of women you want to spend time with.

This awareness is the first step towards creating these kinds of relationships with other women.

It’s like when you go shopping for something. If you know what you’re looking for (and what you’re not looking for) it’s a little bit easier to find. You head straight to the store or department that has the kind of thing you’re looking for, and when you get there it’s often easy for you to notice the things that fit what you’re looking for, and for you to rule out those that don’t.

Likewise if you’re looking to create deep relationships with other women, there are some places where you’re more likely to connect with women of a similar mind and heart than others.

Where do you find these kinds of women?

For example if you’re wanting to connect with others who understand and embrace what it means to be a woman, are curious about femininity and what it might mean to them and creating connections with like-hearted women, then looking for those kinds of connections with highly driven ‘ball-busting’ corporate women at a high-powered business networking event might not be the ideal starting point.

On the other hand, in online or local communities for women to connect, share and grow together (like the Feminine 1st Facebook Group for example) you may find other women who are looking for the same sorts of connections as you are.

How do you find the women who will become YOUR soul sisters?

When it comes to meeting and connecting with the women who will become your soul sisters, there are a few pieces of advice that I can offer from my own personal experience:

  • Find women who you resonate with – My soul sisters are the women who ‘get me’, the ones who just seem to be on the same wavelength…the ones who I can say the most seemingly nonsensical things, and who still understand me. They are women who are in a similar space in their lives, who can relate to where I’m at, my experiences, my life…the ups and the downs! We take similar approaches to our lives, businesses and relationships and we have similar values.
  • Embrace Diversity – Although it helps to connect with women who are similar to you, there’s already one of you, you don’t need another! Appreciate and value the differences between you and the women in your life…it’s these differences that can allow you to help each other grow, to offer different perspectives, to shed light on areas that to you were covered in shadow and to bring a richness to each of your lives that fills it with vivid colours and textures.
  • Don’t expect them to be perfect – We are all human, and we all come with the full range of qualities, traits, imperfections and idiosyncrasies that that brings. Your soul sisters are no different. Sisterhood is not about perfection…it’s about being real, authentic, all of you. Your soul sisters will trigger you, drive you crazy at times and do things that you’d rather they didn’t….as you will do for them. Sisterhood is about loving and accepting them in everything that they are, no exceptions.
  • Find women with courage – Sisterhood is challenging at times. You want your sisters to have the courage to be vulnerable with you, to trust you, who will choose acceptance over judgement, who will challenge you (even when it’s hard), who will reflect back to you the things you can’t see for yourself and who will help you to grow, learn and understand what it is to be a woman.
  • Go first – One of the hardest and scariest things in sisterhood is going first. We often want to wait for the other person to show that it’s safe by paving the way, opening up first and showing how it’s done. If you really want to create these kinds of relationships, then be prepared to go first…by doing so you will invite women in who otherwise might not have had the courage to take that first step, and in doing so you open yourself up to having an amazing, deep relationship that otherwise wouldn’t have been realised.
  • Follow your intuition – When looking to connect with other like-minded and like-hearted women, your intuition can be a phenomenal guide. Listen to your instincts, what does your gut tell you? If you feel drawn to someone, or you feel like you want to get to know someone better, follow that feeling…in my experience it always guides us in the right direction. One of the women who is closest to me in life is only in my life because I followed my intuition. We were at an event, and I kept noticing her from a distance, but the opportunity never presented itself for us to actually meet. I couldn’t explain it, but I had this really strong feeling that she and I needed to connect, so after a while of us ‘missing’ each other, I made a beeline for her and introduced myself. We chatted for a couple of minutes, swapped details, and went on our way. As we lived over 5,000 miles apart the opportunity for a deep friendship to develop seemed unlikely. We connected via the usual social media means and dipped in and out of each other’s lives from time to time over the coming months. About 6 months after we first met we spoke on Skype for a couple of hourse, and then 18 months later I went and stayed with her for three weeks on a trip to the US. Today she is one of my dearest friends and closest soul sisters…nothing a measly 5,000 can get in the way of…and we would never have connected if I hadn’t followed my intuition.
  • Be the woman you want to find – If you want to create sisterhood, the first and by far the most important step is being the kind of woman yourself who you want to create a sisterhood with. As you know, life is a mirror, it reflects back what you are, or what you need to know…so if you want to create beautiful, deep, mutually supportive and fulfilling relationships with incredible, open, genuine, vulnerable women…you first need to be this yourself. If you want someone who will accept you without judgement, be the woman who does that for others. If you want someone who will be vulnerable and let you in, be the woman who shows her vulnerability to others. If you want someone who shows compassion, be the woman who shows compassion.

So if you want to create these kinds of relationships with other women in your life, these are the ways for you to find the sort of women that you really want to connect with at a deep level.

But when you’ve found these women, then what?

How do you create sisterhood? What does it look like?

Well, that is where the magic happens…so come back next week, when I will be sharing with you how to create these kinds of relationships with the women in your life, and what sisterhood really means, what it really looks like…and how it can change your life.

In the meantime though remember, be the kind of woman who you want to have these kinds of relationship with. Once you begin doing that, you’ll be surprised what shows up…

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

Do you know how important sisterhood is to women like us?

Do you know how important sisterhood is to women like us?When someone sends something onto me, I always take the time to look at it…after all, there’s a reason they’ve sent it my way.

When more than one person sends me the same thing in the space of only a few hours I really sit up and pay attention.

The power of a circle of women sisterhood

A few days ago I received this image via a number of different sources, which told me a few things:

  • It was something that was important
  • It was relevant to me
  • It was something I was supposed to share

I shared the image via the Feminine 1st Facebook group, and this morning I noticed that it was the most popular item I’ve shared recently…this image was resonating with people…and I understood why.

When an image, quote or video like this resonates with people there are normally two reasons:

  • Either they have what is being referred to in the message, realise how important and powerful it is and want to both acknowledge it for themselves, and let other people know how great it is.
  • OR they recognise something in what is being shared that is missing in their life…something they want, something they need…something that on a deep level they crave.
  • Most of the women I know, or meet in life fall into one of these categories when it comes to the relationships they have with other women.

Unfortunately, a lot of the women I meet fall into the second group.

Are you one of the women who is missing this in her life?

So many women recognise and understand that there is something missing in their lives, but they can’t quite put their finger on it.

Something isn’t quite right, something is lacking…but they’re not sure what.

Sometimes it can be hard to know what you need and want, if you’ve never experienced it. It’s like someone asking you to tell them something you’ve forgotten…you know that there’s something, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

…and it is something that is so fundamental to the feminine that I can’t really put into words how important it is.

Deep connection with other women.

In this world of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram we are connected to more people than ever before…but many of these connections are nothing more than words on a screen.

The connections and relationships exist just under the surface…based on status shares, tweets, comments and ‘likes’.

We have more ‘friends’ than ever before…but we are missing the depth of connection that has the power to really support us, change us and help us to grow.

When it comes to connections of this nature between women, we tend to label them all as ‘friends’.

What so many women don’t understand is that there is so much more available to us…if we have the courage to create it.

What types of relationships do you have with the women in your life?

Most connections start as acquaintances, with a sense of familiarity that goes beyond that of strangers, but doesn’t quite put them into the category of friends. They are the people with whom you tend to make polite small talk or a chat when your paths cross through mutual friends or interests, but not people with whom you feel a real trust or friendship with…yet.

Once the connection deepens…we tend to enter the realm of ‘friendship’. A deeper bond has been created, there is a trust, a desire to support each other, to spend time together, to chat, to enjoy fun times with. There’s a reciprocity present in most friendships…we expect to give and receive in roughly equal measure, and if the scales tip in one direction or another for too long we feel uneasy. We are there for them, and in return they are there for us. We laugh together, we cry together, we share in each others lives.

What more could you want?

If you need to ask this question then you’ve not experienced the next level of female connection: Sisterhood.

Sisterhood is where everything opens up (whether you want it to or not!)

When you choose sisterhood, you choose to accept everything that a person is, everything that they’re not, everything they have been and everything they will be, unreservedly, without judgment, exactly as they are.

Sisterhood expands everything you have in friendship, beyond boundaries that you didn’t even know existed.

Does this mean that sisterhood doesn’t have any problems / arguments / challenges / issues?

Not at all!

It means that you don’t give the polite answer, or the one that you think the other person wants. You tell is as it is, gently, and with compassion… you share your truth, openly and honestly….and you work through it together.

Sisterhood is raw. Sisterhood is vulnerable. Sisterhood takes courage to create.

Sisterhood is perfectly imperfect.

At times, it’s messy; it is not always easy to be that open, that vulnerable and that real with another person. They will show up and reflect everything that you love about yourself…as well as all the stuff you’d really rather wasn’t there.

But it is also one of the most fulfilling types of relationship you can ever experience.

Experiencing sisterhood first-hand has changed my life.

Would you like to have this kind of relationship with the women in your life?

I have thousands of friends on Facebook, a huge number of friends in my phone…and I can count the number of ‘soul sisters’ I have on my hands.

A short while ago I was speaking to one of my ‘soul sisters’ about how to describe our relationship, what it is at its essence.

Her response described it perfectly: “Unconditional Love”.

The thing is, when you strip all the pretense away, when you allow yourself to be completely and totally seen by another woman something powerful happens. When you share all your hopes, dreams, fears, worries and celebrations…when you share all of you.

When you remove every piece of protection, just being there with nothing more than your heart in your hand, and you connect with another woman who is doing the same thing, you create a real, beautiful, genuine, deep connection that is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Through sisterhood we get to explore and understand what it really means to be women. We get to grow together and understand our femininity at a deeper, more visceral level.

If you have these kinds of connections with other women in your life, cherish them. Take time to nurture them, to develop them and to enjoy them.

…and if you haven’t experienced these kinds of connections yet (the key word here being ‘yet’)…then look out for next week’s article because I will be sharing with you how to find your ‘soul sisters’, and how to create this beautiful dynamic of sisterhood with them.

In the meantime, if you’d like to dip your toes in the water…then why not come and join us in the Feminine 1st Facebook Group? It’s a great place to start…

Every single woman deserves connections like this in her life…including you.

If you haven’t found them yet, there’s an incredible world of connection just waiting for you to discover it…

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

Do you know the 6 friends every woman needs in times of crisis?

The 6 friends every woman needs in a crisisWe’ve all had those times.

The ones where everything seems to hit all at once.

Where just as you begin to catch your breath and find your feet, the next wave hits you, then the next, then the next, then the next.

Well the last month or two have been a bit like that for me…there have been a plethora of events and situations that have hit one after the other.

I’m sure sometime soon I’ll share more about what’s been happening, but to give you an idea included in this time period has been major surgery for my Mum, my Grandmother spending two weeks (and still counting at time of writing) in hospital and one of my dearest friends going in for yet another surgery which has not been a smooth as we would have hoped.

So over the last couple of months there have been highs, there have been a lot of lows, there have been intense emotions and there have been moments of numbness.

It’s at times like this that you need support.

Do you allow your friends to support you?

I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times that I’ve been running around trying to help everyone else out and I’ve committed the cardinal sin of losing focus on my own self-care.

(Side note…this lack of self-care has now been addressed and a much more calm and peaceful Claire has emerged…balance is being restored gradually…)

But in addition to self-care times like this are the times that you need good friends.

…in fact, it’s not just good friends you need, it’s great friends.

Amazing friends.

Wonderful friends.

Friends who know you, your heart and soul so well that they instinctively give you exactly what you need.

So what are the 6 types of friend every woman needs in times of crisis?

…and over this slightly challenging period of time that I’ve been experiencing I’ve identified the 6 types of friend that every woman needs to help get her through, and today I want to share them with you:

  1. The Venting Friend – When things aren’t exactly going the way that you’d like them to it’s great to have a friend with whom you can just vent. Even those of us who have been treading the path of personal development for some time now aren’t immune to the feelings of frustration and general annoyance that sometimes bubble up to the surface. Now I’m not suggesting for a second that this is where you want to live, but I also believe that it’s not health to deny or distract yourself from these feelings when they do appear. Emotions serve a reason, the only way to release them is to allow yourself to feel them so that you can then let them go. So it’s great to have a friend with whom you don’t need to be aware, or conscious, or reasonable…someone you can have a good rant to and get it all out of your system.
  2. The Love Bug – When things are a bit crappy you can end up feeling a little low and there’s nothing better than having a friend who makes you feel nothing but pure unconditional love. Someone with whom you can totally be yourself, who you know accepts you totally exactly as you are, who listens without judgment, and whose energy lifts you up when it feels like nothing short of a fork lift will do. These friends are like rays of sunshine, making you feel warm and enveloped, reminding you that you’re never alone and that there’s always someone there walking by your side.
  3. The Question Master – When you’re struggling a bit sometimes the last thing you need is someone telling you what to do. But one of the best types of friend knows this, and rather than telling you the answers, asks you the questions that will help you come to them yourself. The best thing about this friend is that they normally don’t have the answers themselves…and they know they don’t…but they help you to find them through simply being present and listening when you speak and then asking the questions that help you pick through the muddle that your mind is in….and show the clear blue skies on the other side.
  4. The Mirror – Every woman needs a mirror she can rely on…and I’m not speaking about the glass kind. The mirror friend is the one who listens patiently while you speak, holds space for whatever you’re feeling and sharing, and then simply reflects back to you when it’s helpful. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own ‘stuff’ that having someone who can see it clearly to reflect it back to us can make all the difference. They have the emotional distance from what you’re experiencing to be able to see things that sometimes our haze of emotions can obscure.
  5. The Jester – Sometimes when all is a little bit rubbish, it’s good to have someone who can just make you smile, make you laugh, remind you that in spite of all the clouds around, there is a little sunshine too. Someone who can be there to lighten the mood, to lift your spirits and to make you realise that everything will be alright…eventually 🙂
  6. The Friend Who Knows – These friends are the best. They are a little bit spooky, in the best possible way. These are the people who just KNOW when you need them. Maybe you don’t speak very often, maybe you’ve been out of touch for a while, but for some reason at the time that you need them most, they’re just there. They send you a message, pop a photo on your facebook wall, or call out of the blue saying “You kept popping into my head and I just wanted to check that everything was OK?” They know you, they sense when things aren’t quite right, and they’re right there just when you need them.

The beauty of these 6 types of friends is that they’re not mutually exclusive, but they also can be. You can have 6 different people who fill each of the 6 roles, or you can have one person who covers them all.

So how do you find friends like this?

I’m lucky…I have a number of friends who cover more than one of these types, and some who cover them all.

Most importantly I have a core of very close people, my soul family, who know me, love me and accept me, completely unconditionally, exactly as I am. I wish for you to find and cultivate friendships like these in your life.

…and how do you find friends like this? It’s simple. You be a friend like this.

It doesn’t mean that everyone you meet will instantly become this kind of friend, but it does mean that when you meet the ones who could…you’ll create an instantaneous, deep and mutually fulfilling connection…the likes of which you can’t imagine until you’ve experienced it firsthand.

Oh, and the last thing to mention? Having these types of friends is great. But they can only do their thang if you reach out and let them.

So being this kind of friend is important. Equally important is allowing these amazing people to be this kind of friend to you.

Reach out.

Call them.

Let them know you need their support.

…and then allow yourself to receive, and show your gratitude when you do.

Friends like this are worth their weight in gold….and I’m lucky enough to have my very own personal goldrush. I hope you are too…

…and today I’m dedicating this article to the phenomenal friends in my life. I love each and every one of your deeply, from the bottom of my heart.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

What does being vulnerable actually mean? How do you do it?

Being vulnerableSo last week we looked at being vulnerable and what’s so great about it…after all given that it’s scary, risky and rather uncomfortable at times, it’s worth knowing why it’s worth all the bother. 

…and as we now know, being vulnerable is a gift that we give ourselves…it can make us feel more relaxed, learn to accept ourselves more, prevent us from losing lots of energy and most importantly create real, honest, genuine connections with the people around us.

The question I have been asked a lot recently is “What does being vulnerable look like?” and “How do I do it?”

The first thing to say is that it’s OK to be a little anxious when it comes to being vulnerable.  Allowing ourselves to be fully seen by another person can be scary if we’re used to showing the world one of the many masks that we wear to try and protect ourselves from getting hurt.

But as we know, the things in life that are worth having are worth taking a little risk for…the reason that they’re a little scary is because they matter, and the pay off for following through is oh so worth it.

So what does being vulnerable look like?

Put simply being vulnerable is a practice.

It’s not something you do once and then your work is done.

As great as it would be to be able to say, “I was vulnerable last April 5th…so that’s me done!” it doesn’t quite work like that.

Being vulnerable is a choice you make every day.

In fact, being vulnerable is a choice you make every single moment.

Every time you open your mouth, or choose not to, you take a choice over whether or not to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is about sharing your truth, your heart, your soul, your reality, your experience, your needs, your wants, your desires, your fears, your questions, your (perceived) failings, your curiosities, your thoughts, your concerns, your shame, your worries, the words your inner voice whispers to you, the words your inner critic shouts in your ear, your ideas, your hopes, your dreams, yourself….exactly as you are, without the filters.

Without the ‘I shouldn’t say this’, ‘I shouldn’t think this’, ‘I shouldn’t do this’, ’I shouldn’t be this’ filters.  The ones that make us hide, edit or distort what we share to make it more ‘acceptable’.

It’s about saying what’s real for you, openly, honestly, truthfully.

But being vulnerable is scary…is this really a good idea?

To be vulnerable takes courage.  To allow yourself to be truly seen takes a lot of courage.  It’s important to remember that courage is not the absence of fear, it’s simply the decision that something else is more important.  This is one of those situations…knowing it’s a little scary, but that the benefits make it so worth it.

I once heard someone ask the question, “But what happens if you share the real you, and the other person walks away?”  Well, if that happens (which in my experience is rare), the reason is often that they don’t have the courage to be as open with you in return.  It means that you get to practice and learn how to be vulnerable so that when the right people are around you’ll be able to connect with them so much quicker and easier, you’ll know what being vulnerable looks like for you.  It’s like doing your stretches at home so that at yoga class you’re able to easily touch your toes.  It’s about cultivating your practice of being vulnerable, and understanding how to be gently true to yourself without being influenced by other people.

How to practice your ‘being vulnerable’ practice

Because we don’t practice being vulnerable, we don’t know how to do it, so in order to get comfortable with being vulnerable we need to practice our ‘being vulnerable’ practice.

So here are a few suggestions for how you might like to start your practice of being vulnerable.

  1. Start with you – In order to be open and honest about who you are with everyone else, it’s important to first be able to do this with yourself.  Begin a ‘vulnerability journal’ that you write in every morning or every evening (or both if you like), sharing in it your truth about what is going on in your life, your thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, concerns, worries…anything and everything that comes to mind.  This is a great practice for two reasons; Firstly, you’ll get in touch with what is real for you, which makes sharing it with others so much easier, and secondly when you write out these thoughts and feelings they lose some of their charge, and the things that seemed impossible, will instead just seem a little challenging.
  2. Share the layers that are right for you – If you’ve seen the movie “Shrek” then you’ll know that he quite eloquently describes Ogres as being like onions (if you’ve not seen it, I highly recommend checking it out) …they have layers.  Well, this is true for women too.  We have layers.  …and sharing the outer layers is a little easier when you get started with the practice of being vulnerable than sharing the deeper inner layers.  So share the layers that you feel comfortable with…possibly starting with something that is a little nearer the surface before going all in and sharing something that’s closer to your heart.  Go with your instincts and share what feels right for you.
  3. Know that you are enough – Part of the reason that it can be scary being vulnerable is that we are afraid that when we show all of ourselves that it won’t be enough.  Well, I’m here to let you in on a little secret.  You are enough.  You were born enough.  You are enough exactly as you are now.  …and in order to make the practice of being vulnerable a little easier, it helps to remind yourself regularly of that truth.  So every morning while you are cultivating your practice of being vulnerable, take 2 minutes to look yourself in the eye in your mirror and remind yourself with a smile on your face “I am enough”.
  4. Find a safe space to practice your practice – It’s so important when you first start practicing being vulnerable that you do so in a space that feels safe for you, and with people who you feel that you can trust to be vulnerable with.  If you would like to try being vulnerable in a safe space with others who are doing the same then come and join the conversation in the Feminine 1st Facebook group here…there are over 1200 amazing women in the group who help and support each other through our respective journeys in femininity and relationships…it’s a great place to begin to share some of your vulnerable layers as there are other women sharing theirs. If you have friends or family who feel safe being vulnerable with then I highly recommend giving it a go with them too.
  5. Share with others when you resonate with their vulnerability – When someone, anyone, is being vulnerable the words they most want to hear are “Me too”.  So if you see someone else being vulnerable and you resonate with what they’re saying, simply say to them, “I understand, me too”.  It will mean more than you know, and will encourage others to do the same for you.
  6. Recognise you are not alone – Being vulnerable is scary…I know, I practice it daily.  So in order to help inspire you to share your vulnerabilities I thought I would share with you here some of my most vulnerable posts.  The ones that were hard to write, the ones that had a piece of my heart and soul in them, and the ones that more often than not actually inspired the biggest response from the people who read them.  So here are some of my most vulnerable moments…I hope they inspire you to share some of yours:

I will simply leave you with a reminder that by being vulnerable you are showing that you, like me and everyone else on the planet, is perfectly imperfect…and you are giving others permission to accept and love that in themselves too.

So share your vulnerability, and share this article with someone you know who would like to know how to be a little more vulnerable, and let’s help each other to get to know and show the people who are hidden deep inside.

Stay Fabulous,

Claire xx

When was the last time that you reached out..?

Reach outReaching out, especially when we’re going through challenges can be one of the hardest things to do. Our energy might be low and we can be afraid that if we reach out that we won’t get the response that we want or need.

Stepping forward and saying ‘I’m not OK’ takes real courage.

But when you do this, something magical happens.

People realise that you’re human. People relate to you. People connect with you.

It’s amazing how many people there are out there who want to help and support you if you’ll only let them.

As you know, I’ve had a pretty challenging couple of months…and in the process of dealing with what’s been happening, I’ve been very open and honest about the situation. I haven’t hidden away from it, or put a brave face on to cover it…I’ve shared it…with my friends, with the world, with you.

The beautiful thing about sharing so openly and showing your vulnerability is that people respond.

The wonderful thing about reaching out is that people see the courage it takes…and they reach back to you.

Over the last few weeks I have felt incredibly blessed by the number of people who have reached out to me to share their stories, their support and their love. I have received messages from complete strangers, from dear friends and from people who I haven’t spoken to in person for literally years (some of them for around a decade!).

I am so grateful to each and every one of the people who has taken the time to reach out to me, even if it was just to say hello or how are you doing.

It’s also incredible the number of people out there feeling alone and wanting help. By opening up to them, you give them permission to open up to you in return.

I was speaking with a girlfriend a couple of weeks ago about the situation that I was experiencing, and when I’d finished talking she shared some challenges that she had been facing. I’d had no idea she had been going through such a tough time, and it was only when I opened up to her that she felt able to open up in return.

When I asked her why she hadn’t rung me to tell me what was going on, the response was simple “I didn’t want to be a bother”.

To hear that was heartbreaking, because I know a ten minute conversation would have probably made her feel a lot better, a lot less alone in her situation and would have made me feel good that I was able to be there for her.

We have got into this habit of dealing with everything on our own and putting a ‘brave face’ on things…that has lead us to pulling back from the people around us when we need them most.

So the next time that you find yourself going through a challenge, I invite you to use the four “Rs”:

  • Reach out – Reach out to the people around you and let them know that you’re having a bit of a challenge. A good rule of thumb here is to think of the people who are close to you who you would want to reach out to you if they were having a hard time. Chances are, those are exactly the people who want you to reach out to them when you are.
  • Receive – Reaching out is only half the story! When you reach out to the people who you know will want to support you, allow yourself to open up and receive from them. Whether it’s a hug, a kind word, a cup of tea (or cocktail!) or a piece of advice…allow yourself to receive.
  • Respond – When someone has been there for you…be sure to respond to let them know how much it is appreciated. Acknowledge what they’ve done for you, tell them what it has meant to you and say thank you. It might seem like a little thing…but it means a lot.
  • Reciprocate – When someone has been there for you when you need them, be sure to let them know that you want to be there for them in return. It might not be right there and then (like it was with me and my girlfriend) but at some point in the future they will need someone too…let them know that you want to be that person for them, in the way that they’ve been for you.

When we reach out, we create strong bonds that will be there for a long time to come.

We can enjoy the good times together and give each other a helping hand when things get a little bumpy along the way…which makes life a little easier for us all.

So use the four Rs…and remember to reach out!

Stay Fabulous,

Claire x

The 10 friends every girl needs…

FriendsFriends are awesome.

My life is blessed because of the great friends that I have in it….I’m lucky enough to have some truly amazing friends spread across the globe.

When I was much younger though, I had some challenges with my friendships. I am a very giving person, and I often found myself feeling like I was doing all of the giving and I wasn’t necessarily receiving as much in return.

In fact, many years ago my best friend said something to me that really stuck a chord.

“You’re a really hard person to be friends with”

Bam!

I felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer.

I couldn’t understand…I always thought I was a good friend…my friendships were one of the most important things in my life. There was almost nothing I wouldn’t do for my friends (within reason!)

So why was it so hard to be my friend?!

She continued, ”Well you give so much to your friends, you expect the same from them in return”.

Interesting…it gave me something to think about.

What was ridiculous was that for a long time I expected to be able to get all of my friendship needs met by just one or two people.

The thing with friends is that they are like any kind of close relationship…if you rely on one person to give you everything that you need it puts a lot of pressure on that person and the relationship. More importantly as our needs can be quite diverse, expecting one or two people to meet them all is a bit unrealistic!

So, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 types of friend that every girl should have in her life…how many do you have?

  1. The Shoulder to Cry on – For when it all falls apart and you don’t want anything more than someone to talk to, to cry on, to give you a hug, eat ice cream with you and allow you to be as emotional as you need to be.
  2. The Butt-Kicker – For when you need a little tough-love, someone who will give you a gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) encouragement to do something you know you either want or need to do.
  3. The Totally Honest Friend – Someone who will be completely and totally honest with you. You might have people around you who will tell you what they think you want to hear, because they want you to be happy…but there are times when complete honesty is actually what you need!
  4. The Pure Fun Friend – Someone to cut loose with and just have fun!! There may not be much depth to this friendship, but that’s ok…you have other people for that…this friend is just about being able to enjoy yourself with a great friend, because you can.
  5. The Male Friend – Men can be something of a mystery to us ladies, and having someone who can translate for you can really help. It’s also good to have someone around who can balance the scales a bit if you’ve been hurt and are going through the well-trodden “All men suck” phase, and remind you that they’re not all bad… 🙂
  6. The Love and Hugs Friend – Someone who you know will always be there to give you a hug and some friend-love, any time, just because you need it.
  7. The Gay Friend – Every girl should have a gay friend in their life…and I don’t just mean a male one. They are loads of fun and they often bring a unique viewpoint to the table on relationship advice. If you have a male gay friend they are also great at rebuilding your confidence and faith in the male species after a breakup and make excellent shopping buddies!
  8. The Free Spirit – It’s great to have someone in your life who is a bit of a free-spirit. Someone to inspire you, to remind you to dream and not to take everything so seriously.
  9. The Wise Friend – A friend who can give sage advice is invaluable. This is often someone who has been there and done that (and owns an entire wardrobe of t-shirts) and who is only too happy to share their experiences and wisdom.
  10. The Friend who allows you to be a Friend to them – Probably one of the most important friends you can have is the one who allows you to give back to them. Not all people do this, some prefer to keep things on the surface…but when you find someone who you can give and receive from, that’s when the connection becomes that much deeper.

It’s possible that you may have friends who fulfill more than one of these descriptions…for example, you may have a love and hugs friend who’s also a free spirit….or the gay friend who’s also the fun friend….but just don’t expect people to fulfill more than one role.

Love them for who they are and what they bring to your life, and get your other friendship needs met by the other people around you.

..and if you find one friend who can be all of these things…I’d be seriously concerned about a case of multiple personality disorder!! 😉

Most importantly, give without expectation…and you’ll be surprised how much you’ll get in return.

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x