I just returned from my annual retreat that I have with a group of girlfriends. I look forward to this every year. This was the seventh time for me, and the eighth time it’s been held. Time sure flies by!
I’ve been asked “why” and I’ve even asked myself, “why? Do I really deserve such an extravagance?” The real question should be: “Why doesn’t everyone do this?”
Past cultures and generations have had these kinds of things: groups of women or men getting together for a common “kinship” and “retreat” of sorts. Cave men went on hunts – no women allowed. Many native cultures had different “huts” and such where the women were sequestered during their menstruation – close-knit groups of women tend to menstruate at the same time, it’s been proven. Pioneer women gathered around a quilt frame doing nothing but quilting. The Flintstones men had “bowling nights”!
So, why not do this today? I think that everyone should do it, in some way or another.
For me, this retreat means so much to me because:
- Complete “girl time” – we laugh and laugh and tell all kinds of stories. We get to hang out in our pajamas or whatever we want and no one makes any judgement of what we look like. We eat and drink whatever we want (often saying “these calories don’t count” – because they don’t) We get to be like we were when we were little girls at a sleepover. No worries, no cares.
- A feeling that I am not alone – sometimes the hustle and bustle of our lives and all those that depend on us bare down on us and we feel isolated and alone. There is little time to get advice or reassurance that stuff we’re going through is “normal”. On our weekend retreat, we don’t feel like that. We are “kindred spirits”. There are others around us that are going through the exact same phases of their lives; the same struggles, the same worries, asking the same questions. We are assured that everything will be ok, because we are not alone.
- We can pursue our passions, our creativity without interruption, without cries for dinner or demands of our time. We get to focus on our projects. I truly believe that every woman is a beautiful creative being – these retreats give us a chance to be that person. No one is judging, no one is criticizing. We are free to create whatever our heart desires. It is not often we get to do that. As we are free to do that, our minds open up to all the possibilities in our lives! A group of women in a room creating can solve any problem thrown at them. It is amazing to witness! It’s always such a positive atmosphere. There is no room for negativity because we just cannot be complaining while we are in this creative frame of mind!
- We get to see each other change as life changes us. Again, we don’t feel alone in this. All of us have children that are growing up so fast. All of us are aging ourselves, but refusing to grow old! It is an inspiration to be among these women. For them, time may go by, but they choose to seize each day before it passes. I think the weekend helps us do that. It makes us thankful for the gifts we’ve been given.
Other cultures and our ancestors did this too. They understood that men and women are different and sometimes need to just be with other men and women. Humans don’t function well alone. We prefer a community and family. Life is hard and there are so many different paths that we can take. Having that community of “kindred spirits” helps us make those decisions or struggle down that road.
Women gathered around the quilt frame to hear the stories, give advice and ease the burdens of their struggles. Men went on hunts to provide for their families but also bond with other men so that they did not feel alone and helpless. They were stronger as a group.
So why does our society expect us to be in isolation? Why do they ask us why we go on our little “retreat”. People in our society have become more isolated from each other than has ever been before. We feel alone and helpless. This is why I think we have so much trouble in our world.
I think that if everyone had the chance to be part of a community group or a retreat or a bowling night or whatever that everyone would be better off. They would be better mothers, better fathers, better bosses, better spouses. It is not a bad thing to want to be with “kindred spirits”! It is a great thing. It is an important thing – for the survival of our species, in my opinion! No one should be alone.
This One’s For the Girls – You’re beautiful the way you are!