It never fails to amaze me that, for the greater part, women are incredibly warm, kind and generous to strangers in ways they are often unable to be towards themselves. I don’t exclude men, but just don’t know them in the same way. My career has been widely varied but from nursing on a gynaecological ward, practising pregnancy massage, coordinating volunteers with Girlguiding UK and now running workshops at the barn, but much of it has involved working with women specifically.
I have observed that while we all experience self doubt, lack of confidence and imposter syndrome when it comes to ourselves this rarely applies to our belief of others. We are excellent at recognising their strengths and quick to praise the skills, knowledge and personalities of women in our circles and far beyond. I have experienced this myself many times in many ways around the world over the years, but it is my recent trip to Greece and the events that take place at the barn that I’m thinking about now.
Watching a group of eight women here last weekend sharing a day of interiors, styling and Instagram with Justine of Harp Cottage prompted me to write this post. Seeing them all arrive, enthusiastically begin to get to know one another, discover shared interests and quickly compliment and encourage one another generated a warmth in the room. There is great strength to be found from being amongst a group of like minded people; having our own beliefs, interests and desires mirrored is both affirming and strengthening.
During the workshops I have hosted this year I have met women who are self-employed, women who are employed, women seeking new skills, new experiences and new friendships. Women who need guidance from others and women who will one day offer this themselves. Their backgrounds have been wide and varied – married, single, some with children some without, those who have had careers in a corporate world, in healthcare, in education and the voluntary sector, and those (like me) who have dabbled in it all.
The majority of these women have attended these workshops on their own which I know from experience can take a great deal of courage and energy. Investing time and money in ourselves is something many of us find extremely difficult to justify, considering it selfish and not strictly necessary. Arriving alone somewhere new can be intimidating and nerve inducing to all but the most invincible amongst us (although I think even they sometimes have to remind themselves that we are all human).
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sisterhood as ‘the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences, or concerns’
The lovely feedback I have received and the conversations I witness and take part in at the barn prove to me that women leave here having acquired knowledge and/or skills, a certain positivity and verve to move on with, and connections with women they may otherwise never have met. Perhaps this qualifies as a sisterhood of sorts? I’m not sure I even like the word particularly, but solidarity is good. It could happen anywhere, but I hope that the environment and atmosphere I have created, and the way I seek to nourish both minds and bodies firmly contribute to something substantive. It most certainly leaves me feeling a tingle of satisfaction and pleasure at the end of the day.
‘The Simpson Sisters’ was a name I chose very simply because it was my maiden name, I have three sisters and I thought it had a nice ring to it. In no way did I anticipate that my desire to work for myself would lead to what I now envisage; I imagine telling stories in the future of all the wonderful friendships and collaborations formed at Oak Tree Barn. I love the idea of keeping in touch with those who spend time here and following their futures, watching to see how they might have benefitted from the experience they shared with others and the things they learnt. Let’s see. As the lovely Kim Klassen says ‘write as if…..’ and it will be!