You Don't Have To Shut Off To Show Up


When I realized one of our Work Seshes fell on June 20, I wasn’t sure I could be there. I considered asking someone to host it for me. I thought about cancelling it completely. Because June 20 is the anniversary of the day my little sister died, and I wasn’t sure I could be a business owner that day. I thought maybe I needed to just be a human and a sister.

But the day eventually arrived, and I hadn’t hired anyone. I hadn’t cancelled. So I drank a cup of tea and drove myself to Feastly in Venice, still unsure if I’d be able to hold it together.

Haely was the first one who saw it in my eyes. “Oh, honey,” she said. “Are you okay?”

I had thought I was hiding it so well. But my ability to suppress emotions has always been mediocre at best.

Baily wrapped me in a hug, and Kelly rubbed my back. They didn’t know what was wrong yet, but they showed up so completely to hold space for empathy, to hold space for me.

I went to the bathroom to wipe away the tears and mascara and rejoined the group, determined to make it through the event intact. But when it came time for us to go around the circle and share what we’ve been up to, I felt quiet, weak, vulnerable, raw. I was all cracked open. “Today is a hard day for me,” I began. “Some of you may have seen me crying when you came in, so I want to share what’s going on…”

I looked around the room nervously, wondering if it was actually the right time to share myself in that way. But every set of eyes looking back at me was full of nothing but love and care. It felt safe.

“I know this isn’t a support group,” I said.

“It’s not?!” Toni piped up, making all of us laugh.

I shared that it was the anniversary of Aleisha’s death, and I invited everyone, as we went around the circle, to share more of themselves than they have in the past—to be more real and more raw than they normally would.

And then the most beautiful thing happened. Everyone let down their barriers. Women shared feelings of guilt, of worry, of sadness, of excitement, of love, of growth. They held space for each other. They saw each other as humans full of light and struggle in equal measure.

By the time we were done, I felt more connected to that beautiful group of women than I’ve ever felt to a group of people.

Lydia put it best. She said, “We don’t have to shut off to show up.” She’s right. We don’t have to turn off our emotions, our worries, or our struggles in order to show up. We suppress so much. But perhaps we don’t need to. Perhaps we can show up with our mess, be present with our struggles, sit with our chaos. And sit in it together.

I’m so grateful, today and everyday, for the special space that Work Sesh creates. I don’t know how to put it into words. I just know, it’s my favorite thing in the world. Especially today.

To all the women in today’s Work Sesh I just want to say,
Thank you. For holding space for me. For showing up for each other. For sharing part of your heart. I adore you all. x

And in honor of today, I wanted to share this picture.

Chelsea and Aleisha Sonksen

This is me and my sister, Aleisha. My beautiful, sassy, loving, sarcastic little sister who loved Skittles and a ginger boy, just like me. She wanted to be an architect. She liked to draw buildings in her sketchbook. She was a fish in the water. She watched Nick at Night until way past her bedtime. She had turquoise high tops and big, huge headphones. She had a collection of playing cards. She loved beautiful clothes. She made me laugh until tears would stream down my face and my sides would ache. She drove a white convertible. She wrote me a letter in crayon on my seventeenth birthday that said, You can’t be sad. It’s your birthday, and I love you. She is the best person I’ve ever known. I miss her so.

x Chelsea.


SocialChelsea Sonksen