Woman to woman

“Life is about who is holding your hand and, I think, whose hand you commit to holding.”

I read this this weekend, in between cold swims and garlic lunches. I read this as I was reunited with old friends. 

It’s a question that becomes more piercing with every year that passes. As we slowly find our place, slowly find our tribe, whose hands do we keep on holding? Who are we making time for? Who are we letting in, planning with, travelling to?

It’s a blessing, to have those hands holding yours, to fly and be flown towards. To create moments big or small, to share a lot of our daily routine – and some of the extraordinary. 

Friendships are some of our greatest love stories – and female friendships even more so, perhaps. 

But sometimes, there’s that hint of judgement. You do it, too. The expectations only those who really know each other can have, the comments only those who’ve been there throughout can make. The clumsy biases, the outdated opinions. You’ve walked through the fire together. Nobody needs the ashes.   

Woman to woman, we’re better than that. 

Those hands we want to keep holding, we should take them as they are. They might hurt, they might bleed, they might want different things. And that’s fine. You can show up for each other, you can give and receive, and be radically different women. I’m learning we can. 

Woman to woman

Sami’s song

It’s a sunny morning, and Sami’s song is playing. 

Last week, we watched My Octopus Teacher. 

Last month, I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

Last year, we saw Dune – twice – at the cinema. I cried both times, when they land on Arrakis. 

The Alpinist, too – went back three times. The Dawn Wall – five. Secession – yearly card.

All that beauty, all that art. Nothing else connects us to humanity in that way. Only art, only creative work, provides us with that sense of belonging. 

In nature, I feel complete – but unnecessary. Any time spent in the woods, at sea, on a mountain, shows me the planet would be better off without us. 

But when I listen, read, watch, look at art, I understand our purpose. Not all is lost, if we are still capable of creating these moments, of stirring that deep.

And recreating that effect, making something that matters, that’s… very difficult. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. People do all sorts of things to try and find that missing element, to try and reach people, to tell them a story they won’t forget. 

But I don’t know that there is a formula. I don’t know that there is a missing variable that can be calculated, programmed, or manufactured.

We create from the heart. It can be worked on, it can be edited, it can take feedback. We can create favourable conditions. We can have stimulating conversations. We can have workshops, meetings, calls, briefings, processes.

But in the end, it’s a movement of the soul, and it’s uncontrollable. 

It’s deeply personal, very vulnerable, often uninteresting, and sometimes, by chance, it touches deep, it moves hearts, it tells stories that matter. It’s intrinsically human.  

Sami’s song

The injunction

I’m never quite sure

Should I relax, take a moment for myself

Or work on my dreams, sleep when I’m dead

Isn’t it hard to find the middle ground, the fine line between

Being lazy

And hyperactive

When did just being stop being enough?

Just existing?

Expectations coming at me left and right

Parents hoping for the next steps

Colleagues asking for more, and more

Friends, family, society

Want more presence, more conscience

Are they really coming at me though

These expectations

Or am I putting them on myself

Waking up wondering how to make the most of each day

When I could just breathe and be

Feeling exhaustion, or restlessness

And little of the space in between

It’s only there, in that space

That I can find peace of mind

I should try and explore it

That space, that empty space

That doesn’t have to be filled, doesn’t ask anything

Just breathe and be

The injunction

A little bit of my heart

There is a little bit of my heart in every piece of salty butter I ate

In every dish my mum prepared

Every project my dad made

Every attention she paid

Every rock he turned

Every castle built 

Every hug shared 

With my sisters – my sisters

Every time we refrained from crying

And every time we went for it

Every grain of sand

Olive and laurel trees

Oak leaves, beloved oak leaves

Evening light shining through the branches

Morning coffee, knowing he’d have gone to the bakery already

Late strolls, knowing we’ve found our own little slice of paradise

My heart is full, so full, over flowing

But broken from leaving again

My love for all of you, all of here

Will never stop

No matter where I return home to

I’ll always cry a little when boarding the train

I’ll always leave a little bit of my heart here 

A little bit of my heart

The art of joy

I’m reading word after word of blissful comedy. A vinyl is on, the grey night falling over the city. I look a bit silly, sitting on the sofa and crying of laughter. Silly, or deranged, but the book is too funny. And laughter feels too good. 

I’m running down the hill, feet frozen wet, lungs burning, head spinning. The fresh snow won’t last and I’m an exhausted mess. I launch my arms into the air, looking – yes, silly, or deranged. But the landscape is too beautiful. And movement feels too good. 

I’m taking a nap after lunch, slowly dozing away, every breath a little slower. And as I wake up, it feels so indulgent, so precious, to steal a moment and do nothing with it but sleep. I talk to myself as I return to reality. Yes, silly, or deranged. 

In all these moments, and plenty more, I feel happy, content­. I feel joyful. 

Joy – is on nobody’s lips right now. Really there aren’t that many reasons to feel joy when you look at our planet, even if you curate your newsfeed carefully. It’s not the most joyful of moments, all things considered. Maybe that’s the exact reason why every song, every ray of sun, every sip of wine is a source of greater joy than before. 

Call it what you want – bipolarity, hedonism. Survival? But the good has never been so good.

Joy, at this point, is the gift I didn’t expect. It’s the soothing lotion, the potion preparing me for the world outside. 

The art of joy