Don't Let Actual Distance Create Emotional Distance
If you're the Big-City Gal and she's the Suburban Mom, you can both find common ground using technology, even if she lives 3,000 miles away. It only takes a minute to comment on her Facebook photos of Junior's science project or Skype in while she's making dinner to see what's cooking. My sisters and I use technology all the time. I count on my big sister Liz to text me from the Red Carpet Room at JFK about celebrity sightings while I'm standing on the sidelines of soccer practice. Small but frequent connections can sustain a relationship even when you can't see each other as often as you would like.
Be Grown-up Sisters, Not the Sisters You Were Growing Up
One of the most surprising benefits of working with my four sisters is discovering that, as the youngest in the family, I idolized my older sisters, but only in the broadest terms because of a six-year age gap. My sisters weren't my peers growing up; they were glamorous characters in my life. Julie was the class president in high school. Liz was good in English and "the responsible one." Sheila was a fashion risk taker with her bell-bottoms and her Laura Ashley corduroy cape. Monica was "the funny Dolan" with great hair. Had I not had the opportunity to work with my sisters so closely, my impression of my sisters might have stopped evolving in 1976.
But they've learned quite a few skills since they were, say, 15. Julie's leadership skills morphed into an academic deanship. She was my role model as a working mother trying to juggle it all. Liz took those English skills and her work ethic and became a top marketing executive at a Fortune 500 company. Sheila may still be fashionable, but she's also a gifted teacher with several advanced degrees. And Monica has used that humor while caring for thousands of sick patients in her 30 years as nurse.
I feel certain that my big sisters would say that somewhere after my braces-and-pigtails days, I grew up too. When we wrote a book together, I was the "head sister," managing the entire editorial process from my home office with toddlers underfoot. While my sisters may not have appreciated being bossed around by the baby, they did appreciate how I got the job done.