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Here is your complete guide to putting together a low-demand, high-reward time of refreshment, encouragement, and fun with the women you are closest to. It’s all here, from selecting your getaway girlfriends to planning your activities. From making ...
Here is your complete guide to putting together a low-demand, high-reward time of refreshment, encouragement, and fun with the women you are closest to. It’s all here, from selecting your getaway girlfriends to planning your activities. From making time for your getaway to deciding where to go and what you’ll eat. From arranging the logistics to overcoming your girlfriends’ protests. The mother-daughter team of Elizabeth Butterfield and Kathleen Laing cover every detail necessary to plan the adventure that will change your life.
There's No Time Like Now to Get Started
Whatever you can dream you can do-begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic. Begin it now!
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Welcome, girlfriend! We're thrilled to have you join us in the adventure that has enriched the lives of women from every walk of life, from every region of the country, of all ages, and from all backgrounds. These women have young children, grown children, and no children. They're single, married, or somewhere in between. They go to an office every day, they're in school, they work full-time at home. They represent women in all of our rich diversity, but they have one crucial thing in common: They gain incredible strength, wisdom, and encouragement from one another.
The women who gather for these special getaways do bold, adventurous things together. They open their lives to one another, they care for one another, and they forge bonds that all women want, but too few ever know. We're glad you're here, because we know you're this type of woman.
But before we plunge in, we want you to make yourselfcomfortable. Find a cozy spot, pour yourself a cup of your favorite drink, and put your feet up. Let's spend a few moments together, and we'll tell you a little bit about ourselves and this can't-miss adventure broadly known as the Girlfriends' Getaway. It's an experience that will change your life. We know, because it has changed our lives. And every year it changes us again.
We are mother (Kathleen) and daughter (Elizabeth). But we're much more than that. We're also sisters and girlfriends. Confused? Hang in there. As we take you on this journey, you'll see what we mean. Stay with us because we have lots of surprises for you in this adventure, and we don't want you to miss any of them.
More than a decade ago, Kathleen and her mother and four sisters gathered for their first getaway. What began as a chance to reconnect, relax, and have some fun far away from family and work responsibilities turned into an annual event. Four years later Elizabeth and her cousin were invited to join in the adventure, and new traditions were formed. Since then the rest of the young women have also been included in the circle, boosting the number to thirteen.
Because our own adventure began with the five sisters, we call it our annual Sisters Weekend getaway. Another group calls theirs Laugh In, and a small band of women in Minnesota ride motorcycles on their adventure and call themselves The Hardly Angels. But no matter what you call your getaway or your group, the benefits are just as sweet. Would you believe us if we told you that enjoying a Girlfriends' Getaway on a regular basis could help you live longer? Or that it could enhance every area of your life-body, mind, and soul? We're telling you the honest truth.
It's just the girls here, so we can talk. When was the last time you took some time-even a brief moment-just for yourself? Think back to that time, no matter how long ago it was. Now, how did it make you feel? Did it feel really good, or did you feel a little guilty? Remember, we're being honest.
Now, recall another memory: the last time you laughed so hard that you doubled over and your sides hurt. When you were a kid, the experience of side-splitting laughter was a fairly common occurrence. It felt good to laugh, and it still does. But when was the last time you experienced such hilarity?
Here's what we're getting at. As a woman, you have a lot of people who depend on you. You spend most of your time meeting their needs but not much time meeting your own. Every now and then, you need to take some time off. You need to do something special for yourself. You need to gather with close friends. You need to relax and have fun, even laugh your head off. These things came naturally when you were a girl. They were great stress relievers back then, when life wasn't even all that stressful. How much more do you need these benefits today?
According to recent health statistics, women experience more fatigue than men, and it's no wonder. We work eighty-five hours per week between home and career. Almost 13 percent of us are divorced; 25 percent of us never even married. More than 17 percent of women are single moms, 29.9 percent of whom support their children on a poverty-level income. Overall, more women than men are likely to be poor. Even college-educated women, on average, earn fifteen thousand dollars per year less than their male counterparts.
But while our pay scale still lags behind, our incidence of certain health problems is beginning to climb to the level formerly associated with men. In short, our overall health is deteriorating. We now rival men in the rate of heart disease, and the life span advantage we've enjoyed is declining. We could go on, but you get the point: The all-consuming pressures of relationships, career, and other responsibilities are taking their toll. We're being swept under by the current of daily life, but who's handing us a life vest? It appears that once again the solution is up to us.
Perhaps you don't want to hear that. After you've put in your weekly eighty-five hours, the thought of taking time for yourself is beyond ridiculous. No, it's not. It's necessary. As women, we take care of everyone else, why not ourselves? Self-care is a health requirement, not a selfish indulgence, and it's not reserved for the wealthy.
Dr. Michelle Battistini, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Health for Women Center, identified what we should already know: "A lot of [health] complaints that women are bringing to me have some basis in the fact that they are just trying to do too much in too little time." In fact, when a group of doctors was asked what one thing women should do for their health, the answer was "take time for yourself." By neglecting our own needs, we're making ourselves sick.
The good news is that we have discovered a health regimen that you're going to love. It doesn't involve getting up before sunrise for a daily three-mile jog. It doesn't require giving up chocolate in favor of fresh fruit and raw vegetables. And it doesn't even cost a lot of money. The health plan we recommend is as simple as spending time with other people you love, the women who are closest to you.
A Girlfriends' Getaway is a time to invest in yourself and in the lives of other women. It involves older women mentoring younger women and younger women enriching the lives of older women. It involves mothers and daughters and cousins and friends, high-school classmates, former college roommates, and friends from church, clubs, the office, or the neighborhood. It's about women of all ages and all walks of life coming together to enjoy one another, to relax, to be themselves, and to be renewed. It's an experience full of love and laughter and personal care that de-stresses, energizes, renews, and refreshes-if you do it right.
With a little advance planning, a Girlfriends' Getaway is as easy to pull off as a silk ribbon on a beautifully wrapped package. We promise to help you find the time to immerse yourself in the adventure that you and the special women in your life need.
Picture a Getaway
Imagine yourself and a few of your closest friends and sisters, or even a combination of both, enjoying some time away. What does it look like? Are you lying on a sunny beach watching the waves roll in or sitting in front of a crackling fire in a cozy cabin in the woods? Do you prefer the elegance of a high-rise hotel in the city or the pampering amenities of a health spa in a resort area? Or maybe it's a simple pajama party in the living room that pops into your mind.
Keep imagining the scene. Once you all get together, what happens? Do you hear laughter, quiet conversation, or singing? Are you playing games, hiking, watching a movie? The experience is yours to create. Girlfriends' Getaways can take as many different forms as there are women. It's not about where you are, how much money you spend, or even how long you're together. It's about your desire to invest in one another.
Come with us as we take a look at different groups of women who enjoy their own getaway adventures. They are women just like you, and they have discovered the joy of supportive sistering.
bumps and bruises
What to Expect
As you start to imagine your own Girlfriends' Getaway, be careful about your expectations. If there's anything we've learned from getting together with a diverse group, it's to go with the flow. You can make all the plans you want, but when it comes down to your actual getaway, the goal should always be to enjoy your time and not get bogged down by big plans and expectations.
You can't schedule the perfect experience, so don't even try. You just have to let it unfold. We mention this early in the book because it's probably the top deterrent to a positive getaway experience. So remember to keep an open mind and be flexible. Sometimes the best aspect of the adventure isn't planned by anyone-it just happens!
The Birth of a Tradition
She was the last of the women to be picked up. She'd been pacing the driveway for some time, her eyes searching for their car, her bags lined up on the sidewalk like soldiers waiting for their orders. The energy had been mounting all morning, and now she was so excited she could hardly stand still. She'd played this scene over and over in her mind: the six of them talking, laughing, sharing together-without children, husbands, responsibilities of any kind. No demands, just fun!
She glanced at her watch again. If they didn't get here soon, she'd make a call to track them down. Just then, the sound of a car caught her ear. She began to jump up and down, unable to control her delight as she heard the squeals and calls of the other women. The car screeched to a stop, and four doors flew open. She was engulfed in hugs, kisses, and chatter-all the while being propelled toward the car.
Then a single voice rose above the noise. "You have got to be kidding. We will never get all that stuff in here!" Each head swiveled from the platoon of bags lined up on the pavement to the tiny space reserved for this last rider. Never underestimate determined women, however. With bags piled high, totes under toes, groceries on laps, knees drawn up to chins, and every square inch of space occupied, they headed off to start their adventure.
Did you guess where that story came from? Yes, it's a description of Kathleen's mother and sisters anxiously heading off on their very first Sisters Weekend. Kathleen says,
The space we shared was ordinary by most standards, a simple hotel room. What made it extraordinary was that we shared it. We managed to eat, sleep, shower, dress, and beautify ourselves while having longed-for conversations that were way overdue. We were free to be lighthearted, even crazy and silly, without having to be mom, wife, boss, or coworker. We didn't have to fulfill any role that demanded something of us.
We were thrilled to be together, but our weekend didn't just happen. In fact, we faced so many obstacles in planning that first getaway that it almost didn't happen. It meant leaving small children, taking time off from work, facing financial challenges, and for one of us, finding care for a disabled husband. But through commitment, determination, and careful planning, we all managed to free up the time, save up the money, make the necessary arrangements, and be there for one another.
In that little hotel room we began to appreciate one another in a new way. We discovered things about ourselves as sisters and friends that had never been revealed before or had been buried under years of adult responsibility. We fell in love again with our own family. It was intoxicating and freeing. Our lives took on whole new dimensions. We returned home different people, more joyful and confident, ready to invest ourselves in others with new vigor and a deepened commitment. We carried with us the positive energy we had gained from our concentrated time together.
It's not unique to us, this longing and need to spend meaningful time together, to connect and catch up with one another in a special time and place. Let's take a peek at another group of women who have found a unique way to celebrate one another.
A Celebration of Life
Eyes sparkle and roll with laughter as the women open the album, pull out the carefully preserved photo, and pass it around the table. "Unbelievable!" one of them says. "Whose idea was it to take this crazy picture?" Each year they admire this photograph, an image of the five of them showing off what they consider their best feature-the fabulous legs they inherited. They reminisce about the day the photo was taken. They had just come in from the beach and wanted to take one more photo of their annual gathering. At first, they stood in the traditional lineup pose they naturally fell into. That's when the youngest prompted, "C'mon, let's not be so boring! I have an idea." Now, years later, they stare again at the result and laugh at what they see-no bodies, no smiling faces, just a row of ten beautiful bare legs lined up like the Rockettes ready to start their kicks. The picture is sassy and lively, and it reveals something about these women. It shows they have a robust sense of humor and plenty of zest for life.
The women in this leggy photo, now laughing over the picture at their ocean-side retreat, are not showgirls. In fact, they're all grandmothers. But when they get together, they feel like teenagers. Each year they leave their Midwest farmland homes behind for this precious time in the Florida sunshine. It has grown into an unvarying tradition. They tell stories of "the old days," and they devote generous amounts of time to acting silly. For one weekend a year, they aren't respectable grandmothers; they're a small band of carefree adventurers who come together to affirm one another, to share their love, and to enjoy life.
The highlight of their annual gathering is the combined celebration of their birthdays, which they use to joyfully affirm their bond. Wearing colorful party hats and with arms linked, they encircle their cake, brilliant with candles. Swaying back and forth, their happy faces shining in the glow of birthday light, they serenade one another with favorite songs of celebration and merriment. "To life!" they cheer, and the party begins.
Did you ever wonder why celebrities always look so good in photos? It's because they know how to pose. To help you capture the very best girlfriend photos for your getaway album, we'll let you in on a few of their secrets. You might feel silly trying some of these, but trust us, they work!
• Don't look at the camera straight on. Instead, tilt your head just a bit. You'll look more interesting-even a little exotic!
• Here's a modeling tip! Stand or sit slightly below the level of the camera. This limits your number of chins to just one.
• Turn a little to the side and lean ever so slightly forward. It makes you look thinner. Really!
• Take your pictures outside if possible-photos always look better in nature. But keep the subjects up close and watch that trees and branches don't "sprout" from someone's head. A great time for outdoor photos is right before sunset.
• If you want the entire group to get into the picture, use a tripod. You can buy tiny foldable ones that you can perch on any surface.
• Use a flash, even outside, to fill in the light.
• Avoid the standard "lineup." Instead, arrange everyone in a natural pose.
• Smile, smile, smile. You're having fun, so why not show it?
Excerpted from GIRLFRIENDS' GETAWAY by KATHLEEN LAING & ELIZABETH BUTTERFIELD Copyright © 2002 by Kathleen Laing and Elizabeth Butterfield
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.