Women Clan asked wāhine worldwide three questions this March during the COVID-19 pandemic: what did your morning look like today? Can you share a story about a female who's had a significant impact on your life? What was the biggest thing you learned in the last year? Here's what you shared.
Emily, Canada/New Zealand
What did your morning look like? I put on a podcast and went for a walk around my neighborhood as soon as I woke up. The sun was shining but a strong southerly was blowing through so it was crisp and there was a bite to the wind. The leaves are starting to change here in the South of NZ, and I could see a light dusting of fresh snow on the mountains. I am very lucky be surrounded by so much natural beauty.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? One of my best friends Maya who lives in Canada is an incredible woman. We haven't caught up in ages but just having her photo as my screen saver reminds me of her strong lady ways... catching a glimpse of her face on my screen always puts a spark of inspiration to be strong in myself. Once she finished her university degree, she rode her bike from Vancouver all the way to Columbia, South America! Mana Wahine!
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? Such a tough question, but I think the ability to accept yourself which then allows you to accept everyone else around you is a huge thing to learn. I find myself gravitating towards people of similar minds, but when I end up around humans that are different to me is when I learn the most about myself. If you want people to accept you for who you are, then you honestly and obviously have to accept others.
Lydia, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? It’s still technically morning now, but I rolled out of bed a couple of hours ago and did a short meditation on the balcony in the sun and then a gentle workout with my boyfriend. I made a smoothie and a tea, tidied a little, had a late brekkie and have now sat down to do some work. Taking it slow and steady today.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? I'm grateful to have many inspirational women in my life, but I've definitely been most impacted by my mum. She's the most selfless and compassionate person I know but is not afraid of standing her ground. She befriends everyone she meets and has taught me to never shy from something that would lift others up. Definitely a lady to aspire to.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? I've been practicing responding, rather than reacting this year. I'm taking my time finding ways to deal with things and keeping myself open with spectrum of ways to find solutions.
Lucy, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? I was woken early by the sound of someone knocking on the door. In actual fact, it was Mynahs banging olives on the roof to soften them up for eating. Then I got up and enjoyed some morning quiet, savouring my toast with a cat on my lap before everyone else in the house started their day. I put on makeup just for fun and because it brings me a sense of “starting my day”, then talked to a friend on the phone before joining a yoga class on Zoom.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? This is a hard one to answer because it’s so hard to choose just one. But I think for most people, it’s their mother who makes the greatest impact on them. My mother is an incredible person. We have definitely had our differences and struggled to understand one another at times. But ultimately she understands me like no one else. She is incredibly supportive and has a great deal of emotional intelligence. Whenever I am stuck and call her (quite possibly through tears), she always has some insight that makes me look at my situation differently and understand my emotional needs better. She has been through a lot of challenges in her life, but that means she has even more to give.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? Last year was a huge learning period for me. Above all I would say I learnt how to love. Last year was the first time I had ever lived with a partner and in some ways I had to learn a whole new way of being within that. I did a lot of growing up and became more disciplined in order to be loving and supportive in a relationship, while also maintaining my individuality. I also learnt more about self love. Having travelled alone the previous year, I realised I was a lot stronger than I had thought. But last year challenged me in a different way, and I found myself in social situations in which I had to stand up for myself and have my own back. We always want to think the best of people, but part of my learning last year was around identifying when people might want to take advantage of me, even just in subtle ways, and how to look after myself in those situations. I think this is a particularly common experience for younger women, as some people can take our age and gender to mean that we are easy to manipulate. Well, I beg to differ.
What did your morning look like? My dad and I took a walk around the island, taking in the break from the rain. Then we came home and made scrambled eggs with bacon and avocado. A perfect morning in my books :)
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? My friend's mom, Suki, has always has and always will be an inspiration to me. Fist off she is the warmest and welcoming human I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Her hard work and dedication towards her writing and family is shown in everything she does. Every time I visit their house I am welcomed with a warm welcome and a hug. Anytime I am struggling with an idea or issue she wants to help and hear about it. She is a strong and wise woman. All my love to her.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? It does not really matter how other people interpret you and their opinions. It’s how you receive them and grow from them.
Megan, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? My morning routine has certainly shifted since being in isolation. Today was a beautifully slow and easy morning. Starting with a cup of coffee, a little stretch and chats with my lovely flattie family.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? My old running coach and dear friend Rochelle is the most fiercely and unapologetically confident woman I know. Alongside being a world-class athlete herself, she is the epitome of a great leader and mentor. She taught me that you can never learn to have grit if you don't put yourself in situations where you need it, and how to truly trust myself and my ability. I owe a lot of my running career to her!
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? Oh gosh - so much! I learned that you can't run away from your thoughts, not ever. The only way out, is in. I was always very good at bottling things up and trying to tell myself how I should be feeling or thinking at every moment. I have learned to let go and be more kind to myself. To live this way is so freeing and peaceful.
Sarah, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? Snooze in on his shoulder. For the first time in a while I've so openly allowed myself the luxury. Calm yet energized; welcomed feelings that had been dormant since it all changed. Productive, alive, checklists, accomplishments: guilt levels lowered as I dip into some well needed focus on my mahi. Friday excitement bubbled in and over. Enhanced with an additional two cups of coffee to my usual one. Why not, my voice of justification springs into action, an action that is more and more prominent these days. It’s Friday. It's almost the weekend. The sun is shining. This weekly emotional attachment remains even though my environment has not. Keeping some same-sames, and some-sorts of routine is healthy; I am healthy. I am happy. I am here.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? My yoga teacher, Nikki Ralston. She has only been in my life for a year, but what a year it has been. The impact, on my life, immense. 250 hours or yoga teacher training complete. Not just any training, this training was so fulsome on all levels; the container of support & the love Nikki held over, several weekends, given up for us. The knowledge known and shared, the beautiful group of girls brought together, bonded forever. I would not be where I am now; a part time teacher at two yoga studios. Filled with joy every time I teach. Me, a teacher. I still pinch myself. Holding space for others to heal & feed mind, body and soul; such joy, such fulfilment. I am so grateful ad thankful to have been taught by such a wonderful human being.The impact, immense.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? Be kind to yourself and others. Be calm, kind and confident. Be me. Be you.
What did your morning look like? I had my first online class today at 8 a.m. It was a bit weird to join a university class from my bedroom but it worked really well. Afterwards I did my morning workout routine (stretching and a little ab workout).
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? Might be an obvious choice but my mum is incredibly inspiring to me. She moved to a foreign country, when she didn‘t really speak the language and at a time where living abroad was not something everyone did. During this time she also had her first baby (my brother) with her family on the other side of the world. It may not seem like much but I notice how much strength she gained during that time and how much she evolved as a person. Today I am very proud to have such a strong and impressive mum.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? How important mental health is. This past year I really focussed on myself and listened to what my body and mind were telling me. Before that I tended to ignore a lot of warning signs until I crashed completely and had to suffer the repercussions. Now I try to put my wellbeing first - that includes saying ‘no’ more and taking the time you need.
Ashia, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? I’ll be honest I’m not doing great, this whole thing we are going through has bought out anxiety in me that is beyond my control. I’m not an anxious person but this has bought out feelings of helplessness and ‘anticipatory grief’ it’s a thing, apparently you can grieve about the future unknown. It makes you feel less in control than normal. I’m a planner and right now I can’t plan, that makes me nervous.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? I have more than one woman that has significantly impacted my life, my mum and my my amazing three sisters. All so different in so many ways. My mum, the carer, everything’s ok if she makes food for everyone. My twin sister, always the optimist, if I’m stuck or have a dilemma she’ll talk me through it. My next sister, her courage and strength is immeasurable and my youngest sister, a mixture of all the above and an endless need to research everything. I learn so much from each of them.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? To use courage and strength and be the person I would like to be, to do more, to give more, and be happy with me.
Jenny, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? At 8 am I had a zoom coffee catch up with a friend group, most of whom I have known since my teens. (Set up specifically due to Covid). Then I sat outside 5 metres from my son and chatted, as he flew home from London yesterday. He is in quarantine in a camper van on the lawn. I cooked some nourishing food after that for him - he has had a really rough time getting home and has been separated from his partner who had to get off the plane in Australia. I want to make sure he feels supported and connected.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? My mum! She is an extremely caring person and always puts others before herself. I don’t know that I am as caring as her but it certainly has rubbed off on me. Several people in the last week have said that I am very caring. I didn’t feel that I had done anything out of the ordinary but that’s what they said. When I was young my Mum collected signatures in our Main Street against nuclear power, I remember her passion about NZ being nuclear-free. My friend Anna and I also went on an anti- nuclear demonstration with my Mum down Queen St in the early 80’s. That remains a special memory. I think that Mums example has made me a more political person than I would otherwise be. I always vote/act for what will benefit the collective and those less well off in society. A lot of people vote or act for what benefits them personally. I do not understand that stance at all. I think my views and values have been shaped by my mother’s example.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? There are a lot of people susceptible to conspiracy theories and who do not value science, and it scares me! Hope they are in the minority.
What did your morning look like? Homemade blueberry waffles and stretching (and a little baileys in my coffee not going to hide it)
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? Oh my gosh too many to choose from! As cliche as it sounds, my sister still blows my mind and as I get older I keep learning new things about her. Mostly though, she runs her own company from home, she’s taught me more than my parents about wild herbs and mushrooms and other little flora on Vancouver island, and she is the worlds calmest person in a crisis
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? This year has been a huge growing experience for me, but I think the biggest one I’ve learned is to pause, think, react in that order. You’ll get a lot further that way.
Amber, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? The morning felt optimistic for the first time in a couple of days. Perhaps it was the sunlight cascading it’s beautiful rays across my duvet, or my hormonal cycle coming back into a steady orbit after taking a real dive in the valleys of menstruation station. One thing was for certain - in the midst of the unsettled climate, my ritualistic practices received a standing ovation from my heart and my head. I woke, washed my face with cold water, and proceeded to meditate seated comfortably on my knit covered cushion under the guidance of the great Deepak Chopra. He spoke of hope; something deeply needed to sow the cloths of separation back together again.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? Lori Howells is a fierce Arian woman with a heart of gold. I am so blessed to have her as my mother. Nothing feels more healing than her hugs, and nothing inspires me more than her will to care and make change for those less fortunate. She is a social worker, a humble warrior and has advocated fairness and justice for people with disabilities, people experiencing addiction, mental illness and homelessness. She has always taught me through her actions. To be kind, to be compassionate and to stand up for what you truly believe in.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? Non-attachment. This was a year of fortuitous notions and escalating highs. So many events, retreats and travels were on the agenda - it felt like all the fruit was coming into sweet ripening. And then, just like that, Covid came and cut down all the fruit trees. Navigating an unprecedented event like Covid is unsettling and emotionally disruptive. Even with the self-care practices that I keep; the Yoga, the meditation, the nature walks; nothing prevented the tears from coming and the deep hurt I felt from having lost a great part of my identity. I felt this huge attachment to my role as a Yoga teacher who tangibly holds space for the people ... just slip away. It slipped so far away that I had to meet myself in the silent darkness, where laid bare on the floor was my heart and my soul begging for me to pick them up and love them. In that space, I felt vulnerable, hurt and confused. I needed to. I needed to feel it all. So I could then leave those shadows in the dark, cradle and pick my heart and soul back up and frolic back into the cascading rays of where we belong. It is in the darkness where we meet our true vulnerabilities and learn to detach from expectation. It is in the darkness where we have the ability to look toward the light and remind ourselves of our true purpose, our true priorities and our true selves. Look to the light.
Kels, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? A long long lie in followed by a stretch and coffee on my balcony in the sunshine. Brunch out here in the sun too with my kindle in hand and morning quickly turned into afternoon. Making the most of the time I can spend out here before the weather turns and I’m cooped up in our tiny apartment
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? My four best friends from childhood have grown up into wildly different and incredibly inspiring women. They’re four of the most grounded, intelligent, curious and kind people I know and cause me to look at the world in a more holistic and thoughtful way.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? 4 months of backpacking gave me the beautiful lesson “if you can, you must.” This can be applied to anything, and rings more true than ever in our current situation.
Anna, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? Up early, shower, coffee and off to work.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? My mum. My mum is one of 6 kids but early on in her 30’s she lost her youngest sister to suicide...later on in life her older brother also took his own life. I’ve watched my mum deal with the loss of two siblings, her dad and then her mum. She is the epitome of strength and someone I look up to as a woman...not just because she is my mother but because she is so strong and kind and caring.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? To love yourself and to let yourself heal at your own pace. That asking for help is okay and to admit that you aren’t 100% yourself doesn’t mean you are less of a person.
Sally, Germany, living in Canada
What did your morning look like? I slept in, stayed in bed for a while. Then I had some breakfast, yogurt and grapes. Checked on my plant babies and my sourdough starter and had a shower.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? You, Nicole. I met you on my first day in a strange country and you gave me the support I needed. You are one of the most free minded people I've met and you made me realize that I can do a lot of different things with my life and that even the craziest idea, which is staying in Canada to live here, can work out and that I am capable of creating my own future. So yeah, you are one of the reasons why I'm still in Canada. Something I never even dreamed about happening. I admire your strength and confidence about so many things. Thank you!
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? That growing up can really suck, that it's a whole long process and every direction you take changes the way you develop. I even changed without really noticing until my family told me. And it's a good thing. Coming to Canada changed me and my way of looking at life. And it still does all the time
Lisa, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? I was actually asleep for most of it. I didn't get out of bed until about 11.30 when I made my way to the kitchen to make breakfast (brunch?). Far different from my usual Monday morning which involves getting up at 5.30am to teach yoga!
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? My reiki healer Kelly. I went for my first ever session with her about 5 years ago and it was such a foreign concept to me at the time I had really little faith. That one hour with her however, was one of the most intense experience of my life. I don't want to exaggerate but it was like she purified my soul and released some heavy and dark energy that I was carrying. It completely changed me as a person. I still keep in touch with her to this day, one of the most kind-hearted, generous and inspirational humans I know.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? This last year has really taught me a lot about surrender and trust. Sometimes, even in moments of complete uncertainty you must let go of your expectations, your desires and trying to control what life throws your way, and you must simply trust. Trust that everything happens for a reason, it happens at the right time or if it doesn't happen then it's because there is something better in store.
Hayley, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? A jog down to the beach for sunrise. Practicing gratitude as my body is hugged by the warmth of the sun. A yoga stretch, connecting to the Earth below. Followed by a hot cacao and mushroom elixir to open the heart and boost the immunity.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? My beautiful mother. The most kindest, forgiving and selfless woman I know. She is forever providing me with perspective, reminding me that it is so import to follow your truth and make any decision to be made on the basis of whatever is best for you. I am grateful for her grounding energy.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? I have learnt to be unapologetically me and to encourage all of the beautiful souls around me to also embrace who they are. We are our most happiest, kindest, loving selves when we accept and embrace our own truth and the truth of others.
Laura, New Zealand
What did your morning look like? This morning I woke up, went for a run around the quieter than usual neighborhood and then went and sat at my desk and started to work from home.
Can you share a story about a woman who’s had an impact on your life? As cliche as it is my Grandmother has always been my biggest inspiration, she is my biggest encourager to always pursue my dreams and has been my number one supporter since day one. With a rocky relationship with my mother and the only close relative living in New Zealand she is always supportive and never judgmental.
My Grandmother was born just before World War II in London and was evacuated to the country side for the duration of the war. While she doesn't remember much of the war itself she remembers clearly growing up in the aftermath. Post war London wasn't an easy place the scars of the war were very much present. It included growing up on ration books, without many male role models and walking past sites where bombs had landed during the blitz which hadn't yet been rebuilt. She was a surprise baby and the youngest of four by ten years, she came from a reasonably wealthy family for the time but her Mother was busy working and she recalls being left alone often with very little boundaries set for her.
By the time she was 21 she had four children, her older sisters and mother had moved to New Zealand when she was 18 and so she was left with four young children with very little support. By the time she was 23 she made the decision to leave a bad situation and make a tough decision to take two of her four children and move to New Zealand in the middle of the night for a better life.
I imagine the early years in New Zealand can't have been easy, but it got easier and she made a good career for her self in hospital administration at Wellington Hospital. She met my Grandfather and they have been married for coming up 40 years next month. Sitting around a dinner table now with my Grandmother and three of her four children you wouldn't have known how difficult the past had been, I'm not sure how things were patched up in the middle, no one talks about it much.
Now retired and living in Whangarei my Grandmother is 75, she is the president of her Probis group, a keen knitter and lover of her small blind, deaf Shitzu. Last year she and I took a girls trip to Singapore which was an amazing trip with memories to last forever - I mean how many people say they've drunk Ginslings rooftop in Singapore with their Nan? The reason she is my biggest inspiration is the amount of resilience she has shown through her life and a reminder that things do get better. This last year has been an incredibly challenging year personally and she calls my once a day to check I'm okay. It's the small things but sometimes Grandmothers really do make everything better.
What's the biggest thing you’ve learned in the past year? How resilient I am and how resilient women are in general. Looking back on events you go through you often think wow how on earth did I get through that? But at the time you keep on going because that's the only option you have, until it's over and you can reflect on how far you've come and how much you've grown. That's what the last eleven months have been for me.