Let’s Shine!

P1

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

 (For months, now, I’ve been utterly fascinated by Aminatou Sow’s and Ann Friedman’s “Shine Theory”.)

P2

Some of the most rewarding, nurturing and enduring communities are those formed by women.  Universally, circles of friendship form the lion’s share of those communities and are, for many women, fountainheads in their lives.

Interconnectedness within female communities is intrinsic; we understand that our individual strength is symbiotic with that of our community.  Part of the woman code is that together we’re better – when we care for even one other woman, we are really caring for womankind.  Two of the most powerful feminine values are solidarity and support – helping each other is where female communities truly excel.

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

P3

“When you’ve worked hard, and done well,
and walked through that doorway of opportunity,
you do not slam it shut behind you.
You reach back.”
[M. Obama]

Survey data repeatedly tells us that women, not men, are most critical of other women and that women who support each other are more successful and are more content with every aspect of their lives.  We need to learn from that paradigm and amplify each other at every possible opportunity.  It’s trite, but each of us needs to be the change.  We must practice collaboration, partnership and generosity – sharing ideas, tips and experiences.  And most especially, listening; with curiosity, empathy and – as Mary Oliver said, conviviality.  Those are the ways we’ll raise each other to the heights we’re meant to attain, how we’ll inspire one another and be the filaments illuminating each other’s lives.  Who wouldn’t want to be in that community?

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

P4

“Shine Theory is a practice of mutual investment with the simple premise that I don’t shine if you don’t shine. It describes a commitment to collaborating with rather than competing against other people—especially other women.”
[Ann Friedman*]

P5

I can attest to the value and impact of the Shine Theory.  I have been the beneficiary of advice, mentoring, guidance, coaching and endless encouragement from three established, professional female wildlife photographers.  Their company is one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever been given.  In a male-dominated creative niche, these women have, most unselfishly, with no benefit whatsoever to themselves, taken me under their wings with seemingly no worries that I might copy their ideas or poach their clients.  They’ve taught me that I don’t have to go it alone, that I don’t need to be afraid of difficult decisions – that they are always there, happy to have me bounce ideas off them, happy to provide advice and fortitude.

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

P6

The ethic of amplifying each other is the efficacy of community.  It is how each woman in the community gains strength and confidence.  Don’t we owe each other that much?  Or, as the divine Ms. Albright so famously (and repeatedly) said:

“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
[Madeleine Albright]

P7

Far beyond the advantages of networking, friendships between women are some of the most important relationships in their lives.  A bedrock of support, friendship circles with other gals offer a safe environment for sharing our wins and losses, our hopes, dreams and darkest fears.  We know that they will be heard and that we will not be diminished in any way by that sharing.  Only loved.

P8

“Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you,
are built of a thousand small kindnesses…
swapped back and forth and over again.”
[M. Obama]

Though we do so love to celebrate each other’s successes and triumphs (many glasses bottles of wine consumed in the process), women shine brightest when one of their own is facing adversity, by lending a loving, tender hand. We sustain and buoy each other through life’s most devastating, tragic and trying situations – sexual abuse, career failures, domestic violence, broken relationships, financial woes and so, so much more.  We are the friend who is not scared off by the mysteries of mental health problems but who sits silently, comfortably with us through times of depression with the inherent anguish, confusion and anxiety.  When death, bereavement and grief invade our lives,  when we are robbed of a loved one, it is our female friends who stay close by, offering comfort and hugs and shoulders to cry on (and hankies) – any measure of assuagement that is needed. When we are faced with the C word, that most overwhelming and annihilating of diagnoses, it is our female cronies who are brave enough to share the burden of our helplessness.  Even then, even when there is no cure, even when thoughts of healing are futile, it is our gal pals who steadfastly bring the positive, the happy, the optimistic, the joy into our lives – for as long as they possibly can.

Women instinctively know exactly when to step up and how to be precisely what is most-needed in times of adversity.  We just know!

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

P9

Though most of us profess to prefer face-to-face association, an entirely new source of female community emerged with the creation of social media.  For some women, phone/tablet technology is their only connection to some of their relatives and special friends – folk living hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away.  I am the same; Instagram and Facebook are the platforms that support my long-distance relationships and make it feel as if that span simply did not exist.  They allow me to participate in joyous, rambunctious, silly and tender conversations – with special friends in Australia, Mexico and British Columbia, plus a host of cousins in the UK. I can now carry these dear souls with me wherever I go – they’re always as close as a simple click.  Despite the distances and the length of time we’re apart, we share a patchwork of current conversations – some frivolous, some meaningful, and some utter nonsense but special, each and every one.  Anne Shirley said it best:

“True friends are always together in spirit.”
[L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables]

Best advice:  Find your circle, your pack, your squad; be good to those women, amplify them and allow yourself to be magnified by them.  In their company, do not be shy about expressing your vulnerabilities and be compassionate when they share their own.  Aim to shine together!

I don’t shine if you don’t shine.*

‘Til next time, y’all…

P10

*Please, please click Shine Theory to read more.  Ann Friedman is a magazine editor, journalist, podcaster, and pie chart artist. She writes about gender, politics, and social issues.  I encourage you to visit her website:  https://www.annfriedman.com

22 thoughts on “Let’s Shine!

  1. I love this quote, Pamela “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” This is the first time I have heard it and it says a great deal in few words. I extra love the quote from M. Obama “….a thousand small kindnesses….”

    This is a beautifully written, thought-provoking post! You have a gift with words. Your photos are always stunning!

    I am still new to the blogosphere so my advice is from a newbie:) As with all advice, take it with a grain of salt:) The concept that continues to be in my radar the last couple of months is “sharing.” I continue to read about “sharing” in books and in blogs. Are you familiar with any of the sharing/links that happen?

    One example is “sizzlingtowardssixty” site and on it “Midlife share the love link party”. You can look it up and once a week bloggers place a story on it to share to more readers. I put one of my stories on it a few months ago. I would need to reread the parameters for sharing. A lot of quality bloggers and interesting stories are shared there. You may have heard of this site before. Also, to note, I think this site originates in Australia, so time zone differences may apply to you.

    Just a suggestion, Pamela. A lengthy comment for you. Yet I do believe your words would be appreciated by many others:)

    • Hello again Erica. Thank you so very much for the advice (tip) – I’ve signed up to receive notifications about the Wednesday parties. In all honesty, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to submit my writing to a group like that but I’d sure love to do so. I always appreciate all advice/suggestions/critiques in good humour and in the interest of improving my writing – after all, it’s all in the spirit of “If I don’t shine you don’t shine.” xx

      • Hi Pamela, I just checked Sue’s Sizzlin site since I received a few emails this morning about the Midlife share the party site. She just went away on a special holiday so she may have preset the site for the next few weeks. This last Wednesday was #81. Another site called “Cresting the Hill” is Leanne and Sue and Leanne work together setting up this weekly “Midlife share the love party.” You can check out the type of content and the comments if you want. I have found them to be very supportive and nice people. We will continue to enjoy the process of writing and photography:)

      • Hi Pamela – our MLSTL party will still run every Wednesday while Sue is away – and it’s a wonderfully supportive group. No critiquing involved – just lots of posititivity and sunshine. We’d love to have you join each week. I’m working my way through all the linked posts and hope to see you there x

    • Hi Erica. I did it! I was so, so nervous but sometimes you just have to do things that make you nervous, right? So, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I had some lovely comments on my post but the best part, by far, was “meeting” so many gifted writers and being able to read their stories. Bliss. I shall never be able to thank you enough! Heaps of love from me to you! xxxx

      • Hi Pamela, I am glad you shared your amazing post! You are right, it is a great way to meet other writers. I find I am always learning something new, inspired and entertained. There are supportive women and men ‘out there.’ It is nice to catch that wave and be part of it🙂

    • Hiya Natalie. Thank you for your kind words. This is my first visit and share at #MLSTL and I’m enjoying reading everyone’s writing so very much. I fear I’ve a lot to learn and improve with my own writing! It’s a journey though, yes? Thanks again! xx

  2. Jo says:

    Great post. As someone who is still working in a corporate environment, my experience is that women are more critical of other women. I’ve met way too many who are on the upward climb and believe that there’s no room for anyone else up there so actively kick that door shut. I love Michelle Obama’s words. One of the best things about blogging is the ability to find your supportive tribe – sometimes on the other side of the world. I’m glad Erica recommended you link up. Visiting from #MLSTL

  3. Just wanted to also say that this post was so true. I’m not a big fan of large groups of women getting together (I always feel a bit lost in the crowd) I tend to stick to one-to-one catch ups with my friends over coffee. Online is a whole different matter – so many fabulous women in my Midlife “tribe” and Erica you are one of my favourites! I intend to shine and encourage others to shine – those in this wonderful second half of life, and those who are coming up behind me.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Good morning Leanne. Ohmigosh, this group is splendid. I feel very honoured to be a part of it and to have access to these amazing writers. I know exactly what you mean about not being a fan of large groups (me neither). I think a woman can have a large friendship circle without having to meet with them en masse. Actually, many of the gals in my circle have never met. xxxx

    • Thank you, Leanne, you made me tear up a bit😊I agree with your above comment “intend to shine and encourage others to shine.” I am glad Pamela shared her post and pictures. I knew her words and the stunning photos would be appreciated by other like minded spirits:)

  4. Hi Pamela! Visiting via #MLSTL. While I was moved by much of the elements in your post, the thing that struck me most was the paradigm between ” women, not men, are most critical of other women and women who support each other are more successful and are more content with every aspect of their lives.” For so many years I was the critical one. Learning to be non-judgmental is still a huge learning curve for me, especially in-the-moment. My default, conditioned response is to judge. Continued reminders like your post are so helpful – encouraging me to continue the learning curve. Continue to seek out supportive women and show support to them as well. So happy to meet you via MSLTL!

    • Good morning Pat. Thank you, most especially for your candour. Judgment is a default response for many folk and a chosen response for many others. I have (and I’m sure you have too) been subjected to venom from Internet trolls, most of whom are women, not men. It’s like their nastiness is sport to them. Lovely to meet you!

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