Sistermoon | A Reflection on Sisterhood
SISTERHOOD – an interview and photo story with Lulu + Troian by Taren Maroun of WILDFOLK+ CO.
TAREN: Introduce yourself. Not your job, but you, as a human. What is important to you? What speaks to you? Who are you deep inside?
LULU: My name is Lulu Brud Zsebe. I live in Los Angeles, but the wild is always calling me into its vastly large and quiet folds. I am a lunatic, moon medicine is my jam. I am a lover of story-telling + rituals + sacred spaces + a fierce protector of Mother Earth. Sustainable architecture + living, vintage clothes + textiles, chunky turquoise + old jewelry, hats, burning hearths + incense turn me on. The desert is my (re)ligion-charger-calibrator + tone-maker. I love deeply profound human connection and the wild woman. I try to dance in the balance of life–not holding things too tightly in one direction or another…at least this is my new mission. Going lightly.
TROIAN: Hi, My name is Troian Bellisario and I am a dancer, a lover, a dreamer and a stubborn little brat who likes to be a know it all. Seriously, I’ll admit that. I love knowledge. I think education, experience, and travel are incredibly important because they lead to the most important thing of all, Empathy. Empathy is love. Not only understanding what another person may be experiencing, but having empathy for them or their situation is, I believe, the most important part of life. It’s why I’m an actor. It’s why I want to inhabit other people’s lives and stories; it’s why I want to tell my own. So that is who I am inside: a lover, an empath and a Story Teller.
TAREN: Let’s talk about sisterhood. What does that word mean to you?
LULU: When I was little my mom was my best friend. I grew up with two blood sisters, and I married into a beautiful family where I received two more sisters. So sisterhood is all I’ve ever known. It feels like expansive freedom to me. It is a safe place to be held and loved through tears and fits and messy breakdowns, but also simultaneously a place where you are challenged to grow and stand on your own two feet, grounded in the power of yourself. There is safety in sisterhood.
TROIAN: Sisterhood to me is the bond between women. It can be the bond between two sisters, best friends, or two women who have never met, but share an understanding that we are in this together.
TAREN: Why do you feel the bond between women is so important?
TROIAN: Joseph Campbell wrote about the “Hero’s Journey” for men. It’s how he described all the great myths, legends, and rites of passage across the globe. Men must, at a certain age, go out and prove their worth to their community in order to have a place in it. Women, he wrote, have never had to do this, because we have always known our power. I’m not saying all a woman is or all a woman’s purpose is, is to give birth. But being that we can create life, inside us, without going on some long treasure hunt or talking to a sphinx, or claiming a foreign country, we have a very different path in life than men do. And just like I will never understand what it is like for a man, no man will ever understand what it is like to be a woman. We have to support one another through these very different paths through the world. The bond between women, to me, fundamentally boils down to that. We have different means of communication, different expectations, and different ways of interacting with the world than males do. And as I said earlier, I think the most valuable quality in life is empathy. So at a very basic level, the bond between women begins there: I see you, I feel you, you are not alone, I know what you mean.
LULU: Women are fierce and strong–pulling courage from deep within the wells of earth. But they are also beautiful and sexy and soft and can be sensitive to the subtleties of the whispering winds. They are pretty incredible creatures. They can grow life within their own bodies + sync to the cycles of other women around them + shed layers and grow anew every month. Our subtle bodies are communicating with one another and the moon even when we (consciously) aren’t. THAT’S PRETTY AMAZING. I think that if we spend more time holding each other up, instead of tearing each other down, we can heal this place.
TAREN: If sisterhood is the classification of two or more women who are bonded together, what does it mean to be a sister as an individual in light of “sisterhood”? What do you feel your role is as a one piece of a whole?
LULU: I think the formation of chosen sisters and sisterhood comes from two things–a common bond of interests AND an attraction to qualities in that person that you feel lacking in yourself. The deepest of friendships challenge us to be better + bigger + stronger… to show up for the world in a different way, to stretch and bend and grow, whilst still honoring the true nature of who we are as individuals. In my relationship I think the trick is honoring my own power and strength that I bring to the table, whilst being open to learning + growing from the mirrors that surround. We all walk our own paths on this earth, and while it is easy to get tripped up in jealousy and comparisons it is dishonoring to ourselves.
TROIAN: See my above answer. ; ) Yeah, I would say I feel a great sense of belonging and pride in being a woman. I do feel as though I am in a sisterhood(s) on many levels. A sisterhood with my best friend, Lulu. A sisterhood at my work with the actors on my show. A sisterhood with women in Nigeria and Pakistan who deserve to be educated and are not being given the same opportunities as men in their country. A sisterhood with women who believe that we have the right to decide what to do with our bodies and our lives.
TAREN: How does one identify a soul sister? Is it something that is built? Or is ‘sister’ something that is inherent in relation to you?
TROIAN: Soul Sisters are grown. I loved Lulu from the moment I met her, but there were many years when we were much more distant. Distant because we lived a country apart from one another. And distant because, for whatever reason, we were great friends, best friends, but we were yet to be the lock and key we are today. I could trust Lu with anything; I would go to her with anything. Maybe that just comes with time, but I definitely think we grew into women that were soulmates.
LULU: “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They are in each other all along.”-Rumi. I think the same rules apply to soul sisters, too. We are born into this world with blood family, which I feel, on some subconscious level we agree to before coming into this life. Be it karma, or for the lessons that they we must move through together. That’s your blood family. You can’t escape them, they’re literally encoded into your DNA. And then there’s your soul family, your tribe. And if you are lucky, you get to meet them. They are the family that you choose. I think you recognize them right away. It doesn’t mean it all comes easily, but there is definitely (for me at least) immediate soul recognition. It takes as much love and attention and nourishment, as that of your own blood family, to nurture those relationships. There is power in knowing that you are actively choosing them as family every day.
TAREN: Tell me about someone you identify as a sister. When did you know? How does that bond manifest itself today?
TROIAN: Oops. I keep answering questions before you ask! Lulu and I met when we were 15. At this point in our lives we have known each other for exactly as long as we have not known each other. When we first met we were fast friends, best friends, and then we carried on a long distance friendship for many years after that. But I grew up with brothers. I always felt more comfortable being with the guys, and so I have always been a little slow to trust when it comes to my female friends. Nothing against them, it’s just not my first language if that makes sense. I had more of a, “I will wrestle you into submission and then fart on your head to win this argument” childhood rather than a “can you braid my hair and give me advice about life.” But when Lu and I bonded, for real, for good, it was effortless. It was like our soul connection had always been there, and it had been, I just think I hadn’t given it the true value that I do now. And I do. Her friendship is like gold to me.
LULU: I met one of my soul sisters at summer camp when we were 15. She was (IS) this hysterical, smart, witty and funky girl from the big city of Los Angeles, and I wanted so desperately to be like her. She had the craziest sense of style and didn’t care who was watching or what they might think. She always just went with the gut and said and did what she felt. She challenged my beliefs and made me question the things I had accepted as truth. I think when my soul first saw hers it stirred and awoke to its true nature. Fate had put us in the same dorm at summer camp at YALE. We were born on the same day on a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse–her at 9:02 am and me at 9:09 pm. We have so many similarities and are also sometimes the exact opposites. My birth name is Lauren but after a week of camp she walked over to me and said, “Nope, you’re not Lauren, you’re Lulu.” She was right. She saw me. And from that moment on, I was Lulu. Fifteen years later, the things that I first loved about her are still the things I love about her. We have lived on the other side of the country from one another, lived in the same city as one another, been roommates, I’ve moved into her old apartment and lived just over a hill from each other. We have experienced a lot of life “firsts,”: mourned lost love, danced until sunrise, and cooked countless meals together. She stood beside me on my wedding day as I married the love of my life. We have had sleepovers for 15 years, and though she is engaged and lives with her partner and I am married and live with mine, any chance we can get to fall asleep in the same room mumbling until sleep takes over makes my heart sing. Sleepovers don’t happen enough as adults, but man, they are good for the soul. I can’t hide from her…she sees straight through my bullshit and is never afraid to call it as she sees. She is the most patient + kind + beautiful woman that I am so fortunate to have recognized so long ago. It would seem to the world that she may have things “easy”, but she works harder than anyone I know and somehow finds all of the hours in the day to do everything that needs to get done and still pick up the phone just to say “I love you. How are you doing?”
TAREN: Do you think there are things that can have a negative affect on a sisterhood? (time, distance, significant others, etc?) And what about positive? What do you find creates a deeper sense of connection between you and yours?
LULU: Life is going to ebb and flow; you will have times of coming together and times when you feel further apart. One may fall into a significant relationship and disappear for a moment. I know that I did for a bit when I met my husband. Relationships are work, but it’s THE work. I mean, what else are we here for if not human connection? Troian and I used to send letters and care packages across the country to each other. Now, with the way technology works, you can connect from seemingly anywhere if you make it a priority. I think the more authentic and honest you are in a partnership, the better it is to sync up and the deeper your friendships can go. Also, cooking food with friends + dancing it out + lots of laughter. That’s my kind of medicine.
TROIAN: Yeah. I’m sure distance can affect a friendship, like it affects any relationship. When you aren’t always caught up on each other’s every little thing there is a barrier. A barrier that needs to be crossed or addressed. That doesn’t really scare me (after six years of a long distance relationship) it’s just something I’ve come to accept and learned to incorporate in my life. Because the truth of it is, anything can create a deeper connection. Time apart, distance, significant others. They can all have a negative effect, too, if you allow them to, or they can bring you closer together. You just have to acknowledge them and then make them positives. If you focus on missing someone you forget to see how sweet it is to miss them, to remember what you love about them and then tell them when you see them again. If your soul sister falls in love you could see her S.O. as someone who is taking time and energy away from you and her, or you can see how now you get to be friends with a totally different side of her, the side that is in love, or lust, or pain, or whatever, and you get to support her no matter what. Everything in life can be a positive or a negative. It just takes time and perspective.
photographer/interviewer: Taren Maroun | www.tarenmaroun.com @tearintaren
makeup: Rebecca Wachtel | @rebeccawmakeup
photo assistant : Nora Menken | @noralilygram
Special thanks to our clothing collaborators: jeans by Foxhole + tshirts by Electric West + boots by PS Kaufman + dresses by Christy Dawn + jewels by Ax + Apple and Calamity Pass Trading