This past weekend I did something I’ve been dreaming about for years. I went to a lake cottage with five other women for the entire weekend- Friday to Sunday. I didn’t plan it. At a moms’ night out a month or so ago one of the moms commented about one of the women’s retreats she had been on. I’d heard of people doing this but she’d been on more than one?! It seemed so lavish and, indeed, gluttonous. And yet it felt entirely necessary. Before the resistance of my responsibilities and the unlikely possibility of my getting time away could creep in, I asked for more. “How do you do that?” I asked so simply. “I plan them,” she said. “And I go on them.” Like every other thing in my life, it could be that simple. Dream it. Plan it. Do it. There was a collective excitement and before I knew it, a family friend of hers had graciously lent us their guest cottage for the price of the (very minimal) cleaning fee. We were on.
I almost couldn’t give it too much thought leading up. What is it about indulging ourselves and feeding our needs that feels like we’re taking away from our loved ones? I approached my husband in a whole new way. I needed this and that’s what I told him. He was super supportive and we worked on the logistics of the weekend so that he could do the things he needed with kiddos in tow or cared for. I’m the cook so that was the main concern. We worked out meal logistics easily. Even the kids took it in stride. Was it that I wasn’t asking? I felt deserving and therefore I was. Just like the planning, the carrying out could be easy for everyone.
Six women who knew each other in varying ways, at various depths, or not at all. We all unschool our children who range in age from 11 months (he came, too!) to 21 and we all love to ask the big questions and dig deep(er). Going into this, I thought Friday night to Sunday sounded like a lifetime. What would we do with all that time? We played Apples to Apples (which was a great ice breaker), took turns cooking absolutely delicious and decadent healthful meals, walked, appreciated art, listened to music, and sipped alcohol, coffee, and teas. But mostly we talked. And talked. We challenged ourselves and each other but it didn’t feel overly uncomfortable or like work. We were asking the questions and relating our tales and supporting each other’s experience in a way that encouraged thought and expansion.
And I came away with a new beloved tool – art journaling. The hours slipped away on Saturday afternoon and into the evening as we meditated, laughed, and worked intensely on our first art journaling piece coached along by our women’s retreat goddess and planner. I peeled down through my art fear – layering color, texture, text, paint, pencil, and emotion. This was not about creating a piece to display but rather about the process itself. And yet, it is the first piece I have felt comfortable sharing. It is a piece of me and every time I look at it, the same wave of meditation and focus as I experienced during its creation washes over me.
Yay! This is such a valuable experience. Some of my fondest memories over the years revolve around my intimate communion with like minded mothering friends. I used to organize such weekends myself and can totally relate to the rejuvenating effects of shared meals, group projects, laughter, tears and conversation… lots of it. The rejuvenation is so necessary! I remember feeling newly alive in my marriage as a result and super ready for a whole new round of kid activities, full of vim and vigor. CONNECTION. We want it! Plan it, do it, revel in it, benefit from it. Your whole family will too.
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