What happens when you bring a group of parents and young children together on a sunny autumn day, in a beautiful and wild school garden to sew and craft together?
Stories get told. The Soul Sister Story Party was just one event of many over the last few months of Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House’s compassion project. Jacinda, our guide for the day, had the idea stories would flow naturally as we sewed together.
This is an old way, a traditional way for women to gather and share. Some of us know each other well; we’ve been hanging out or crossing paths in our neighbourhood for year. But some of us showed up to meet people- because we are new to the neighbourhood, or considering Garibaldi school for our kids in a year or two.
Jacinda taught us how to make the Soul Sisters, small dolls that she gives to women who offer kindness, compassion and support to her. She’s also sold a few and other women have bought them to honour women who have been soul sisters to them.
When an old friend of mine died a few years ago, I chose a bright golden soul sister to rest with her photo on top of the piano and when I walked by I would smile, or tear up depending on the day. It was soothing to have something to focus on, to remember her by through my year of mourning her.
During the first part of the soul sister party we told each stories of transitions, beginnings and endings. Some of us shared our birth stories. If you gather a group of women with young children together, birth stories get told. They are epic tales of courage and adventure, rivaling any tale of mountain climbing or Arctic trek.
We also talked about moving. Coming to a new neighbourhood, a new city, or a new country is right up there in life stresses with death and divorce. Raising kids without extended family or long-time good friends? It’s tiring just thinking about it. But we all jumped on one simple thing that does help:
It’s the old-fashioned way of supporting your neighbours. Jacinda said “we need the welcome wagon reborn.” Some of us had done version of this on our own and had clear ideas about what would make it easier, “Some support coordinating and maybe access to a big kitchen space…”
For part 2 we gathered inside Garibaldi school and got cozy while the rain fell.
It was grand to finally meet one of our VLN families!
By the end, we all felt grateful for the time together and like this was something that needed to happen regularly. It’s amazing what can happen with local expertise and a common space to gather in. Thank-you to V.P. Carrie Froese and Garibaldi School for hosting us and Frog Hollow for supporting the Soul Sister Story Party!
And a big thank-you to Jacinda for sharing this tradition with us. Here is her story of the inspiration behind her Soul Sisters:
The Linda Link
The red gnome I’m holding was handmade ( with natural fibres) on Quadra island, by a woman named Linda Link.
Linda made thousands of these wooly little guys and girls too. She filled their tiny bags with stones from the beach where she lived. She was like a wizard with her hands, never have I seen someone so nimble-fingered. She and my mother were tight girlfriends, coffee drinkers, could talk for hours.
There was always a gnome of Linda’s hanging around our house. We named an olive green one Olaf. He stood above the kitchen sink. He lives at my Dad’s, thirty years later.
My mother is an artist. When I was a girl she made dolls. Linda commissioned Mom for a doll for her daughter Jennifer. It wasn’t long before Linda was making dolls of her own. Linda was never without her crochet hook or knitting needles. Anytime you’d see her, she’s be working her fingers, magically producing wonderful little creatures. No one else makes gnomes quite like her. Creating these became a viable source of income for her. They were often given as gifts. She made them for the rest of her life, until her death last year.
My mom went to purchase any that she could find when we heard of her passing. And gave me this one.
Linda Link was an inspiration and her ardent creativity still feeds my heart. How fitting that her name means beautiful. Beautiful link.