By Liza Chitwood
It was the summer of 2021. I was residing in Lebanon, working alongside Syrian refugee women to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of war. I and some local friends had started an art center, providing a safe environment for women, encouraging them to share their stories with each other. Alongside emotional support, we trained them with creative skills and provided jobs in creating art for sale.
I experienced the power of sisterhood—women standing together in grief and rising together in new opportunities and hope.
I sat with them as they created beautiful things and then I hand delivered their art to women on the other side of the world, watching it light up their eyes and stir their own longing for hope. I experienced the power of sisterhood—women standing together in grief and rising together in new opportunities and hope.
Into this beautiful and hard season, walked the man of my dreams.
Into this beautiful and hard season, walked the man of my dreams. He had also worked overseas for a number of years, understood the beauty of it, understood me and a whirlwind romance followed. By the summer of 2022, I was planning a wedding.
We chose a picturesque location against the backdrop of Idaho mountains and the whirlwind of preparations began. There are the obligatory wedding planning duties; obsessing over the guest list, trying to budget as wisely as possible and playing fortune teller with the weather.
But the part of planning that brought so much joy was choosing bridesmaids—the women who had stood by me in grief and rejoiced with me in new opportunities and hoped with me in hard seasons, realizing again how much power there is in sisterhood. I called each one to invite them to stand with me on my wedding day, reflecting the importance of our friendship, past and future.
I held my jewelry budget and considered how to meaningfully thank my friends.
I held my jewelry budget and considered how to meaningfully thank my friends. I could think of no better way to spend it than on a wider reality, a global sisterhood that declares we are all in this together and every woman deserves opportunity and it takes all of us to create this kind of regenerative community.
I love that the bracelets are quality enough for my friends to wear them over and over—reminiscent of our own bond, but also of the importance of standing together with our sisters from around the world.
This is why I chose to buy gold bracelets from Starfish Project as gifts for my attendants. They were a beautiful compliment to our outdoor fall (too cold but no rain) wedding. And I love that the bracelets are quality enough for my friends to wear them over and over—reminiscent of our own bond, but also of the importance of standing together with our sisters from around the world. We need each other and at the end of the day, we only truly rise when we rise together.
Liza Chitwood founded Art of Hoping, an art collaborative that provides sustainable jobs and safe places for at-risk women, while living in Lebanon among Syrian refugees. She is a natural story-teller and is drawn to people of diverse backgrounds. Liza hales from the Midwest, lives in Idaho with her husband Matt where they enjoy fry sauce on their potatoes and hot springs on the weekends.
Learning the Art of Hoping among artists and dreamers in the Middle East.
Instagram - @artofhoping
Website - artofhoping.com
Photography by: Oscar Diaz - @oscarmphotos