sister Tag

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Dear Vicki: This may seem like a petty issue, but my sister is driving me crazy. We run a successful restaurant together – I’m the business manager and she’s the chef – but she just can’t get things done quickly. She’s a fantastic cook, and very creative in how she has decorated the place, but she takes forever planning menus, deciding on new china or wallpaper, or even leaving at night when we close the restaurant. We live near each other so travel together, and at night she must run back into the building at least three times to check if she started soaking this or turned off that. I love the restaurant and my sister, but she’s driving me nuts. It’s clear she’s an Earth, and I’m a Wood, which means that I’m on her Controlling Cycle, right? So why is she the one controlling me, and what can I do about it? Signed Not Really in Charge: Dear Not Really: This is an interesting challenge for you. Yes, you and your sister do relate on the Controlling Cycle where it is your Wood that controls her Earth. But while you’re the manager of the restaurant, which is very important, people usually come to a restaurant to enjoy the food and ambiance, which is your sister’s bailiwick. Your normal Wood desire to charge forward on everything will, by necessity, be restrained by the fact that she is the guiding light for the important parts of the restaurant, at least the parts that matter to your patrons. In this way, she can, and probably does, control your behavior. And it’s no surprise you don’t like it. Woods really don’t like to be controlled. The good news for you is that this joint venture with your sister is successful – clearly you’re doing a lot right. Even more good news is that you and your sister have found professions that suit each of you well. Earths usually love cooking and Woods are usually excellent managers. The bad news is that you are unhappy and frustrated. So let’s look at that in a way that will make sense to you. Woods are logical, forward-thinking people who establish a goal and then run toward it full steam ahead. Stopping isn’t an option and detours are tolerated only when necessary. Moving forward becomes its own goal for a Wood. So when your sister suggests you paint the interior of the restaurant a lovely shade of yellow (a good Earth color that stimulates the energy of the spleen and can improve digestion and metabolism) and you agree, you want to get it done. However, before acting she will want to ponder the possible shades of yellow and determine not only what will go best with the rest of the décor, but also what décor will need to change to support the new wall color. For you that means, BAM! You’ve hit a brick wall and aren’t moving forward. Never a pleasant feeling for a Wood. You mention that...

(Dear Readers: This is another popular post from three years ago. With so much hot weather lately, I suspect thoughts of December are welcome!)  Dear Vicki: The holidays are approaching and I recently had a very frustrating conversation with my sister, who I am pretty sure is a Metal. We are both married with children and have always had Christmas dinner together since we were children. This year, my family has the opportunity to go to Hawaii for Christmas to stay in a friend’s timeshare for free. We live in a cold climate and this would be fantastic for my family. However, my sister is very upset at me for even considering doing something different for Christmas than we have done for years, which I think is quite unreasonable on her part and is making me angry. What should I do? Signed, Hoping for Hawaii Dear Hoping for Hawaii, First let me say I think it’s amazing that you’ve managed to spend every Christmas dinner with your sister since you were children. What about your  respective spouses’ families? Have they never had Christmas dinner with you? My Wood fairness hopes that it’s just a matter of everyone living in the same town so that holiday time is equally shared with both sets of relatives. But that’s not the problem you wrote in about, so let’s talk about your dilemma. I do believe you are correct in your assessment – your sister definitely sounds like a Metal. Traditions are very important to Metals, and for good reason. They have the ability to look back across the cycles and see what has worked and what hasn’t. And to a Metal, if something is working, why would anyone in their right mind want to change it? You don’t mention what your element is, but the fact that you think she is “quite unreasonable” and is “making you angry” suggests that you are probably a Wood. Since Metal and Wood relate via the Controlling Cycle (metal chops wood), her insistence on following traditions likely feels stifling to your sense of excitement in planning something different. The good news is that this doesn’t need to be a stand off, nor does your family need to give up what sounds like a wonderful holiday vacation. In addition to their devotion to protocol, Metals are exceedingly reasonable people who are usually quite willing to listen to an alternative approach if it’s presented rationally. Emotional drama and angst about something turns off Metals because it’s too fiery and threatening to them (fire melts metal). And dear Wood, a Metal will often turn a deaf ear to angry, emotional explosions because they are just too messy and out of control for a meticulous Metal. So for good results, try to mind your Wood. I suggest you have a quiet lunch with your sister (a wise Wood might even select her favorite restaurant) and explain in a calm, logical way how much this opportunity means to your family. Offer to participate in a traditional family...

Dear Vicki: I’m writing because my good friend Jessie has recently started complaining a lot about her sister. The sister has a new job and according to Jessie, she never calls her anymore, won’t do her share at family gatherings, seems snobby, etc. I know her sister and she’s a kind and very logical person, so suspect this isn’t true. I also know that Jessie lost her job a few years ago and while she’s told me she loves the free time, I’m wondering if Jessie is jealous of her sister’s new job. I’m pretty sure Jessie is a Wood (she managed a big box store), and I have no idea what her sister is. Maybe a Metal? Her new job is with a financial firm. Is there a specific element that gets jealous? And how can I help Jessie? Signed, The Sounding Board Dear Sounding Board: First, Jessie is very lucky to have you in her life. We all need people to listen to us and I think what’s happening for Jessie is that she’s processing how she feels about the fact that she doesn’t have a job anymore and now her sister does. This is sure to cause Jessie to re-live the loss of her own job and probably re-evaluate whether the free time has been the great opportunity she thinks it is. And if Jessie is a Wood, this won’t be a pleasant experience for her because Woods don’t like looking back; life is all about the future and moving forward for them. As Jessie ponders her sister’s new job, she is likely to see it as an indication that her sister is successfully moving forward while she is not. Personal accomplishment matters a great deal to Woods and in our culture accomplishment is usually tied to our occupation. This is especially true for Woods. Further, if Jessie’s sister is a Metal, it will make the whole dynamic even more unpleasant for Jessie because Metal relates to Wood on the Controlling Cycle. Even without words, Jessie will feel a subtle sense of being controlled by her sister because that’s what Metal does to Wood. Because anything that causes a Wood to feel held back or stuck is viewed as a problem, this could be the dynamic prompting Jessie’s inaccurate criticism of her sister. We’ve all had times when we feel unhappy and projecting the blame onto something other than ourselves, be that another person, a situation, a lost opportunity, etc. This is likely what Jessie is going through, but you can help her by listening to her as she comes to grips with her feelings. Also, it will help if you can point out what she’s accomplished since losing her job. Has she done volunteer work? Improved her home? Read a series of great books? As a Wood, Jessie won’t have been content sitting around, so if you can remind her of all the positive things she’s done since leaving the work force, that will help a great deal. Jessie probably has lots...

Dear Vicki: I’m having trouble with my brother, Sam. We’re both adults – he’s a successful attorney and I’m a nurse – but he’s acting like a spoiled child. Last month was our parents’ 40th wedding anniversary and at my suggestion, their children (me, Sam, and our two brothers) all chipped in to send them on a cruise. The night before they left, we had dinner together and I brought a small “bon voyage” gift for Mom and Dad. Well, Sam didn’t like that. He accused me of trying to make him look bad, currying favor with our parents, and several other less choice motives, which really hurt my feelings. Of course, I was just trying to honor our parents, but Sam refuses to believe me. I’ve reached out to him, but this time he won’t return my calls. He’s divorced, so I can’t ask his wife for help now, either. It breaks my heart to have this rift with him. Why is he like this, and what can I do? Signed: Sad Sister Dear Sad Sister: It was very thoughtful of you and your siblings to send your parents on a cruise for their anniversary. I hope they had a fantastic time. I’m sorry about the problems with Sam, but your comment that “this time” he won’t return your calls suggests it isn’t the first time you two have had an issue like this. Unfortunately, it’s not surprising. While you don’t mention what elements you are, it’s likely that you’re an Earth. The fact that the cruise was your idea, your thoughtfulness in bringing a bon voyage gift, and your heartbreak at a “rift” with a sibling all suggest you live life through a filter where personal connections are very important. Helping people also matters a lot to Earths, and few of us on the planet help people more than nurses do. Sam, on the other hand, is clearly not an Earth. Lawyers usually have a great deal of Wood or Metal, depending on whether they’re corporate or trial attorneys. Success matters to both, but Woods will usually personalize the success more than Metals. The anger that Sam is expressing also suggests that he’s more Wood than Metal. Metals like to be honored, of course, but Woods want to look good in front of people. As a Wood, if stressed or out of balance, Sam could easily have construed your sweet departure gift as an attempt to make him look bad, something Woods can’t stand. The idea that you would “curry favor” at his expense carries a sense of competition, which is also much more of a button-pusher for Woods than Metals. A Metal usually knows his own worth and can detach from the challenge. But out of balance Woods will often rise to anything they perceive as bait in order to prove themselves. Your Earth and Sam’s Wood relate to each other on the Controlling Cycle. When balanced, the Control relationship between Earth and Wood is usually more gentle and supportive than other...

Dear Vicki: I’m writing because I recently made a terrible mistake that has created quite a rupture in my family. I’m a Fire and have a terrible time keeping secrets. Last Christmas, after a great deal of spiked eggnog, my sister Lisa confided to me that she’d had an affair several years ago when she and her husband were having a rocky time. They have since put things back together and are expecting their first child this fall. Lisa never told him and was wondering if she should admit to it now and ask forgiveness so they could start their family on a clean slate. But now I’m the one who needs forgiveness! At a family gathering last month, I’d had a bit too much champagne and let it slip to our mother about the affair. Mum confronted Lisa and now they are both very upset. It’s been weeks and neither has forgiven me. Mum is an Earth and Lisa is a Water, although she’s a lot like Mum, so maybe she has a secondary Earth? What can I do to gain forgiveness from these two? And which element forgives the easiest? Signed: Big Mouth Dear Big Mouth: Well, you’ve gotten yourself into quite a pickle, haven’t you? Yes, Fires have notoriously poor boundaries at times, but that’s little comfort when you have betrayed the trust of someone close to you. It’s especially bad to betray the trust of a Water because trust sits in Water. So, is there anything you can do to obtain forgiveness? Yes. But to help you out here, I’m going to answer your second question first: Which element forgives the easiest? The short answer is that each of the Five Elements can forgive. But how easily they forgive will depend on what they’re being asked to forgive. Each element has different priorities and goals in life, so it will matter whether the forgiveness being asked for involves something that is really important to that element. The closer the infraction strikes to the core of the element’s identity, the harder it will be to receive easy forgiveness. Let’s take a look at what will be easy and hard for each element to forgive. Waters value trust, optimism, and belonging to something bigger than themselves. If someone does something to disrupt this, Waters usually won’t easily forgive (or forget) the betrayal. Since close connections aren’t especially important to them, rather than create a scene, it’s less effort for them to float away from the betrayer. However, if someone asks forgiveness from the Water for interrupting a meeting, messing up a favorite joke, breaking Aunt Martha’s vase, or getting an order all wrong, as long as they believe it wasn’t intentional, it will usually be no big deal for the Water to forgive and forget. Unlike the other four elements, these things just aren’t important to Waters. Woods value personal identity and accomplishments. If someone does something to undercut their ability to achieve success, Woods usually have a hard time forgiving and...

“I’m writing about my older sister. There’s only three years between us and we used to be really close. But ever since she married Frank earlier this year, she doesn’t seem to have time for me. We still live in the same town, but now she’s “too busy” to go shopping or even meet for coffee. What can I do to get her back? I feel like I’ve lost her.”...