The person I most like to be analytical and self deprecating with is my sister, she can take it. She tells me to reframe. Everyone could benefit from a conversation with her. She's who I go to when I need to dissect the hard topics that I wake up obsessing about. I'll ask tons of questions, and she'll sister us through via text or wine or coffee. All useful vices since the Davey sisters are a strong cup of coffee. So come here, if you can relate or need some sistering yourself. There'll be lots of laughter and a whole lot of reframing as we work our way through some of life's big and small stuff. Together. Welcome to our first episode of
Sister On! I like how we said that together! She's Rebecca, and I'm Natalie. And we are sisters. We're going to be here weekly discussing all things sistering,
which does have many configurations. So we are actual sisters, but
there might be a sister in your life in some way, form or fashion that you see as your biggest support. And that's what we're gonna be talking about - ideas of support and unpacking and reframing because that's what's central to our understanding of Sister On! So, here we go, we're probably a little nervous. Are we a little nervous? I mean there's this fancy looking microphone in front of us. And it means things are real, like we're doing this!
Earlier, Nat was saying that I am the one that just makes things happen by, for example, buying this microphone, meaning we would be doing this for real.
It moved from being an idea to like a thing,
even though this is actually very natural. I think having big conversations and chatting is like the most natural thing for us. It's what we do every day. So we thought putting these conversations out in the world might serve other people too.
Yeah, I mean, we are into purpose and care and friendship and love and support, and well, reframing. And that's what today is all about. The idea of reframing, which we use a lot as a term. I use it a lot. But I think that not everybody resonates with that term in the same way. But we think that they can, so why not actually explain what we mean by reframing, as we navigate all of life, the hurdles and hurts and all that. So, for context, I think I use that term a lot as a teacher, because so I teach high schoolers, and college and university folk.
And so I am saying, and I probably have learned that term specifically from you.
Yeah, maybe, though I don't even know if I learned it anywhere. I think I just sort of came up with it as something that I could use to talk with a young person about how they might be able to look at something that's going on for them from a new angle. So I think that that's what reframing for me came out of: 3:38 working with folks who you know, are just navigating heavy stuff in life and then have to sort of figure out how to make that heavier thing feel lighter, or help them to build up strength because of how they carry it.
I like that idea of making something heavier feel lighter. I think I always think of this one poem, that our mother did her PhD on. Not the poem but the Canadian poet Margaret Avison. She has a line about seeing things slant. Am I saying it right? Seeing something different I think
I love that line but I don't think it's Avison.
I'm going to have to find it. I'm going to read who actually wrote it as like a postscript. Tell the truth, but tell it slant. It's totally Avison. No? Oh, you think it's Gerard Manley Hopkins? No?
I know it's a woman, but it's not Avison. At the end in our PostScript, when you put what you find in, you're gonna either rub it in if I'm wrong, or I can rub it in if I'm right. Okay, so
there will be some rubbing in of some intellectual kind!
It's Emily Dickinson, who was also very important to mom as an English Prof. of 40 years.
Oh, really? Dickinson?
Either way. Good to go!
Okay, I might have to be embarrassed here.
Anyways, who ever said it, I don't think they mean lie to yourself. It's like seeing through a different lens. Because there are always different ways to look at something.
Yeah, totally go with that!
Okay, okay. So there's nothing to be learned here for everyone except from you! And you know what? I've accepted that my whole life that you were the one with the wisdom. So how do you think reframing actually plays into
Stop! our sister relationship? How does it play into our relationship? Our particular relationship? I think I very much see you as the the wisdom keeper in some ways, and I think we were going to get to this later a little, you have had a lot of things happen. Yeah, there's been suffering.
Suffering leads to some bitterness, right?
Suffering can lead to a lot of bitterness, or it can lead to some fresh perspective and reframing.
So okay, we could just get right into that - how do you think it plays into our relationship? Is it just you giving me a lot of reframing and counseling, free counseling?
No, I don't know. You know, it's funny in terms of how it plays into our relationship, I definitely think that you are the more extroverted processor, right? So you like will choose to talk things out and through to get yourself to the other side of whatever it is that you're navigating? I think that I have had a proclivity to interiority, right. So I think I definitely have more of an inclination to sort of stay in my head and process out loud in my classrooms, because I'm talking to students. I think teachers can go that road really, without much thought, being the person who tells knowledge and says stuff, but that's not a very vulnerable place to be - to just kind of say a whole bunch of stuff. And so I think that probably my inclination to share and teach has been something that I've had to even reframe because I've had to sort of like, say to myself, okay, I don't always have the right thing to say, or the wise thing to tell a student about how to navigate their way through a hard thing even if they're looking to me for that. So, you know, I think I got better at actually having something to share, when my life started being more painful. Like, isn't that crazy to sort of say that, but really, honestly, I think that I've had more to give truly, to vulnerably give when things started hurting.
Interesting. So in some ways you could be like, as a teacher, you were forced into this role, but sometimes you would feel like you're kind of just like, pulling stuff out but now, after having lived and had more true suffering, you have real things to say.
Yeah. I mean, I don't think I walk around going I'm so grateful for that pain. Yay for my divorce! I mean, like that was, you know, really hard. I'm the first person in our larger group of friends from our twenties and when we were young growing up, whose marriage dissolved. And that was really, really painful. And I lost friends in the midst of that process and all of those associated hurts. But I can tell you that when I've navigated talking about relationships with my students, and I've brought up the notion of divorce, I've had a lot of nodding heads. So that means a lot of my students have navigated that specific hurt in their lives as kids. So now, all of a sudden, I had something to offer in terms of a vulnerable position of, well, here it is, and, and I've come out on the other side different.
Which is interesting, though, because maybe not everyone is able to integrate or reframe as adeptly so that's kudos to you. Maybe we should say what have been our biggest moments of reframing. So you've sort of alluded to needing to reframe your divorce. That's been maybe the fundamental thing you have needed to reframe,
You know, no, I wouldn't say that. I think I had written down for myself, when I was sort of contemplating thoughts for this conversation that divorce was a big one. But I would actually say that getting sick was the big thing. That was like the ultimate experience of life change. That was like, what, nine years ago, right? 9 or 10 years ago, when all of a sudden, I had a really, really bad fever. And we had no idea where this fever had come from. And I was in a new relationship with my now husband. He saw that I didn't feel good and said maybe I'll change the sheets so that you don't feel so sweaty in bed. But as he started to change the sheets, I couldn't stand up. And we looked down at my leg, and my leg was like double the size of what a leg should be. And we went straight to the doctor who sent us straight to the emerg where everything just kind of went crazy. I remember the emergency doctor sort of talking to himself, but saying out loud, "we might have to cut it off." And the it he was talking about was my leg. But the fever rash thing had gone up into my hip, so I'm thinking where would you even cut it off from? I mean, it was like, you can't literally cut off half my body! It was so crazy. And they could not figure it out. Where did it even come from or what it was? I think retrospectively, they understood later that all of these specialists were like dealing with the outcome of something instead of dealing with the root cause because, by the time I was hospitablized it was just now about saving the leg and giving medicine to save the leg. But to understand why the leg had gotten to that place was impossible to see because they had to see through all of the the craziness. That was the first time I went on a leave from work. I'd been teachings since I was 21. So now, having never had time off, all of a sudden I couldn't go back to work. When I asked the doctor, "Can I go back? When can I go back to work?" he said, "You're not understanding how serious this is." I almost died because I had gone septic, and I ended up with a picc line, direct to my heart for a while. It was so much craziness converging at once: I'm in a new relationship, it was an amazing thing to observe how this human who had not signed up for this, (no one does) could take such deep care of me in the midst of that. So that was definitely part of I think my reframing of what relationships meant. And that was amazing. But that positive component didn't like make everything good, right? I mean, the end result was now me having to deal with this mystery of what was going on with my body. My body didn't feel like mine. I was used to being able to go to the gym all the time and do all these things so easily. And now I couldn't. It took three years before they could even really figure out that it had been a blood clot that had gotten infected. And that's just what they think. Even a decade later, it's not truly been determined to be a truth. That's just their educated medical guess. And so I think reframing came from me saying I have to be okay with not knowing things. The mystery of this whole experience is that I can still walk, I can still exercise (albeit differently than before), I can still do all sorts of things, but life looks different. My foot is always going to be swollen. I'm always going to have to wear these crazy compression socks. My son who's seven, only knows me as ever wearing two totally separate socks. I think it's kind of hilarious that when he puts on his socks in the morning he always wears two separate socks because that's how he sees mommy gettig dressed: 15:38 one compression sock and whatever other sock I'm going to wear, right? Which is just kind of funny. But I mean, all these things have worked together for some good and that can sound so cheesy, but it isn't. I mean, it really truly has been a way to reframe life's ongoingness. This doesn't go away. I'll deal with this forever. But I'm still a teacher, and I'm a better teacher. I'm still a mother, and I'm a good mom. I'm definitely a better wife. I'm hopefully a better sister for having hurt.
It's such a big story because the thing that you experience on a day to day basis now is that you're you have one leg that's always hurting.
Yeah, it's never not on my mind as it's always slightly swollen often.
Now you wear clothes differently, right?
I used to be like the queen of heels. I'd had amazing shoes. And now I've like whittled it down to like four pairs and some days they don't even work.
I always remember that you loved to wear shorts.
I did. I used to love wearing shorts and pencil skirts.
I always feel that for you. Like, in some ways, your daily life out in the world has changed. You can't just throw on sandals.
Now luckily, I'm tall. So I feel really good in pants. I can really pull off a long flowy pant. But it's been hard...thank you for acknowledging that. It's been a shift.
I mean you don't complain about things at all, which I find astonishing. I feel like you're describing this big story but the day to day is something is entirely different. The big experience or the big story, and I have my own big story, is one thing but it's the day to day result of that story that people don't see, you know what I mean? That's what you have to live. You could get victimey about it pretty fast if you wanted to. And I think that for me the fact that you don't is where I see this true wisdom, or something really deep there, that you really have managed to not go there in your head. When you look in your closet, I mean do you just say "Nope, I'm not going to go to those thoughts of self-pity" or have you actually trained yourself to be a certain way about things?
You know, I think the closet has been a part of my process of reframing because there are a number of dresses, for example, that I still have in my closet that I can't wear the same way...but once I discovered that you could get not just compression socks but compression tights my fashion situation chagned! That's why the winter is my favorite ti e! I can wear these really hot itchy tights with less it h because the cold helps hem be more bearable. And with t em I can wear some of my awesom dresses. I'll step out of my ouse like "This is my season Someone take a picture of me ecause I look really good right now!" as I step in some school uilding having crunched through the snow to get there! Anyways, I think that that the closet ha been a symbol for how I have f und a way to reframe my wardr be frustrations. I've made th t old wardrobe new right? I mea , like when you talked about Dic inson's telling it slant, I thin that's been one of the ways I've navigated my closet. Refra ing it has been me finding a wa to make it mine again with t ese crazy tights.
And I guess you're more used to it now. I remember that we went to Mexico a few years ago we we're still getting used to your leg issues in new climates. I was like wanting to lie down and just lay out in the Mexico sun. And you would be like, I gotta move. I got to I can't stay here. I'm too hot. My leg is swelling up. You didn't really know what was happening.
If we were to do that holiday again I think I'd be a different person because I now just know what's coming. So we should try it again. Post pandemic, we should try a hot holiday. And I would just accept that if I can keep my leg up and high, and take lots of walks, we can make it work! You'll find me marching back and forth across the resort and while I'm doing laps, you can lay out!
You do need a lot of movement to keep the blood flowing. Sometimes I think about how while you were having that big moment in your life, I was having a big moment. Violet, my youngest daughter, we found out in the first ultrasound that she had a serious heart defect. She was going to need open heart surgery at six months. So I feel like I went into kind of a daze and was super self absorbed and inward just trying to cope with that. And I think it was, well when was it in relation to your illness? It was kind of around the same time because Violet is now eight. So in around there, your recovery was when I was also navigating that. And that's an interesting one for me, because I don't know how successfully I have reframed that whole reality. That's still one I do some therapy to talk about. Recently, with a new therapist, it came up again, and I was realizing that I that I still have a lot of grief over it or can brings up a lot of fear like, for example, if she has a rash. It must be a combination of both of our stories because I'll get up in the middle of the night and take a flashlight to examine the rash spread on her. So I think there's just still a lot of emotion for me there. But does that mean I haven't reframed? Or is the reframing just daily?
Well, the word I was using was "ongoing" right? So I think that there is something that is like a daily practice for sure. But don't you think it also means that that's both of these types of massive life traumas or hurdles have made us need each other more? I mean, we could have been, like so many siblings, and it's totally what happens in some family relationships where they are really tight when they're young, and then they grew up and go in different directions. Whereas we grew up really tight. I had a few years of like, like, I made you get out of that moving car once when I was really mad but even with all that teenage fighting, now on the other side of that, I feel like we've kind of come to the last decade of really needing each other.
Right. I wonder if it's some of those really big events that caused our return?
I think so. And the need to reframe them has required each other's support and conversation. I think that that speaks to the the way that lots of people in the world need someone to talk to whether that's a counselor or a sister.
Yeah, someone to keep you up, keeping buoyed.
Yeah, like energy to do another day.
I'm sure both of those things will come up in other episodes. I am thinking now of more daily reframes, less heavy than open heart surgery (which the doctors did very well by the way. They did brilliantly!)
Yes. So that's much gratitude for that.
But I also think as an artist you help me reframe on a more regular basis, just navigating the rejections and the ups and downs of the artist's life - there are so many! I was reading someone's Twitter, an actor who was saying she was on her 100th audition. She was like there's one unicorn in these 100 audition as she landed one single part of 100. That's insane!
I can't get my head around that. I mean, I guess I can with academia. It's crazy, right? I mean, to try and get a job. I mean, even just to try to land a course to teach.
Well, in academia you're just not going to get a job right? You're not gonna get a tenured job realistically, it's just a "no" except for the odd one who's willing to move acrossthe country or whatever. But I feel like in the arts, it's more like the thought that you might get it...there's something more masochistic about it because you're trying for the dangling carrot.
huh? Yeah, like myacademic carrot is gold.
Yeah. So it's just not actually going to happen.
Whereas your carrot is orange so it is possible...
Or you feel like it's possible. So I'll put on that dumb outfit again or whatever for the next audition. So, with that in mind, what is the difference between reframing and trying to fix something for the other person? We've had some talks about this - recognizing that you can't fix it. Like is it's delicate, right. How do you see that? Because sometimes we can't fix things for the other. I think a hard thing for me with your leg is that I can't fix that for you. And I don't know, how do you speak to that? I mean, you couldn't fix the heart thing.
I know. We just go through the hard thing.
Whether reframing a really deep hurt, or even a more regular every day challenge, I think that at some level reframing opens up some space for hope or like the potential for hope, as opposed to looking at it from the angle of a completely closed door. There are those cliches like when a door closes, a window opens or whatever. And even though I find that type of cliche sort of affronting to my artistic sensibilities, at the same time I do believe that there is some value in finding a way towards those feelings of hope. Ha! Does that mean my reframing is just a big cliche? Oh, gosh. But anyways I do think there is some potential hope that I am always striving towards.
Okay, so say that again. You're saying that it's not fixing something for someone, it's just being there with them and having, maybe, hope for them?
Yeah. And maybe the eyes to see the potential hope with them and for them as opposed to not seeing it at all.
Okay, so then my question is do you think reframing has to have words? Like do you have to be speaking? LIke how do you feel about just intentions?
Oh, gosh, I don't know. That's really interesting. I do think that words are pretty important to me. I mean, as an English teacher, I definitely find lots of power in words, but there is the risk of words taking over.
Yeah. Silence and just sitting in hope, for someone or anticipation.
That's beautiful. And you know what? My husband has definitely said that to me at different points. He's not a big sharer so when all of a sudden he shares and I just listen, he's actually said "Thanks for just listening." So perhaps I was reframing in that moment for him in a way that he could accept, as opposed to trying to say too many words, which is perhaps just me processing, but not useful to him in that space. So yeah, silence is definitely a part of the reframing process. It's not as natural for me though and it's something I have to keep working on.
Yeah. I've experienced that with my husband Simon. We've had to talk about that, because he definitely likes to jump to offering words like problem solving, and sometimes his words...well maybe I like your words more. So it's easier with you. But his intention for me and belief in me is
all positive. But he's a scientist, and I'm an English teacher. So there's going to be two different types of words coming out of our mouths.
He's very pragmatic. Scientific. Yeah. Which doesn't always work. So silence is better. Maybe I appreci te your specific brand of refr ming best! I was even thinking bout how dad's good at reframing He's a minister and I would
He never dismisses the hurt. say, obviously, (or maybe tha 's not obvious at all), but h 's very good at seeing the large picture of something.
Yeah, he doesn't dismiss it, but he's very much pointing us to look beyond or out.
Yeah, that there's more to life than whatever your small hurt is, which may not feel small in the moment.
Yeah. So in certain moods he's exactly who I want. But sometimes I think he can only handle the smallness so much. Like if I need to say something too many times, like "why did this happen to me?" I think that about the fourth or fifth time he might be done. That's not even a question he asks. Do you think that's true?
I don't know. Asking those questions haven't been my way necessarily. But I would say he's totally patient.
Well, my point here is that I feel like you will meet me all the times I need to look at something very specifically to analyze empathetically. So is that what you you've got? An enduring patience, which might be a particular part of your reframing? Maybe it's just for me, but I feel like you would do that with all your friends. You would sit and and you would meet them again and again.
You know what? I hope so. I do think that being a teacher is key, because I've worked with 18 year olds for so long. And all of them, even though they've got their own very specific stories and hurts, there's like a theme that runs through a lot of their hurts. Stuff that is attached to their very specific age group. And so if you got too tired of listening to such stories you'd need to leave teaching - to sustain a 20 year career you've got to find people's stories interesting enough to find their individuality in them. So I think that probably that means coming back to the same hurts again and again, to listen with authentic interest, which I certainly try to do. But I mean, I have to say that I recognize that I'm not great at being super vulnerable and sharing my biggest moments of hurt. I remember that when I was leading up to my divorce, you said to me at the time that I was kind of getting my ducks in a row and only then was I going to announce this thing that was happening to me. But until you said that I don't think I knew that truth about myself. But later, I was like, Wow, she really knows me. I think I was just clocking it all in my head. But that style of being made me really alone. Like that was a really lonely time. So I would say that your brand, if we're naming brands, of reframing for me is one that is curated very gently. Like there's a gentle wisdom that you share, because you know, I can only handle so much. In terms of the truth bombs. I think I can steel myself for them but definitely, the gentleness of the words that you choose to share with me is important. So everybody be gentle. With me, if you ever run into me out there in the world, I'm softer than I seem.
Yeah, we all are. It's also interesting to think about where we learn to reframe. So I was thinking about dad, for sure. His reframing comes from seeing the bigger picture and seeing God, of course, as the real reason for living. But there are people who learn about reframing from therapists. I've been listening to Brene Brown a lot. She's that sociologist who talks about vulnerability and the importance of it. And she's been doing this podcast series with her sisters, interestingly. She always refers to research, and says according to the research that reframing happens by being grateful. So the the happiest people reframe to be more joyful, right, and if you don't reframe possibly, you're going to be sad. So another place to learn about reframing is from therapists but I was also thinking about you: 38:40 number one, you don't listen to Bernie Brown. I know that for a fact! There was a paragraph I posted in my newsletter about watching the show "In Treatment" which is about therapists. talking to clients. And I was thinking, you know, who will not watch this? She will skim right over that part of my newsletter because you're like, just frankly, I've been there! So how did you learn to reframe so well when you don't look to therapists? I don't think you feel like better than a therapist.
They're just not...well what? Really open up that brain of yours for me.
Yeah, I find this a really interesting observation. I mean I did do work with three, maybe four therapists seriously. There was one who was like a complete write off because the first thing out of this guy's mouth was you know, trying to blame my parents for everything. And at 20, I wasn't ready to blame my parents for everything. Maybe now I could give a little more credence to that line of thought because every kid should be able to have that freedom. But at the time I wasn't there. As for the other three, this is gonna sound like I'm anti therapy but I'm not. I think that there are lots of wonderful, wonderful experiences that lots of people have with their therapists. But when you've been burned by one of your therapists, and when you thought that the relationship was one thing, like really close, and then all of a sudden, they go kind of weird. Now you're faced with their humanity. And even though it's cool to be human, I don't want my therapist to be human - I want my therapist to be my therapist! And so having to kind of navigate and negotiate some of those truths for myself, just made me over time, recognize that some people are going to get a lot out of therapy but maybe not me. Maybe at some point, again, I'll have to return, right? I mean that's okay, if that's where my head goes and if that's what I need, then I will totally be open to that. But in the last decade, I would say that my therapy has emerged from a lot of reading, specifically philosophy. My PhDs in education, but it was like educational philosophy that was really driving what I was learning from different big thinkers who've done a lot of the work for me. I've been able to glean from them nuggets of wisdom that I've been able to apply to myself. I have had various students say to me over time "Ms. Davey, how do you make that link? How did you jump from that to that?" Whether it's a blessing or a curse, because some people don't make the jump with me, but I can see links. So I think making links between philosophical thoughts, and healing your soul and healing my leg and my soul, have perhaps been very useful parts of my reframing process. So this was not an anti-therapist rant at all!