Make Time for the Girls
A woman once said she didn’t need to attend a women’s retreat because she didn’t have to retreat from her family to feel fulfilled. I agree with her and I don’t.
Call it what you want—a retreat, ladies’ night out, time out for women, a girls’ weekend. Pick the shared activity–shopping, scrap booking, cooking or eating, exercising, discussing and even gossiping.
In reality, whatever we’re doing, we women like to talk and listen, to connect and feel that peer perspective that clicks. It’s all about together time to build relationships with trusted women.
I’ve been overdue for that. And thanks to some wonderful people who made it possible for me to take my first trip in years by myself, I stopped the clock on normal time and traveled to the east coast for a week of girl time with two of my sisters and my good college friend who introduced me to my husband.
Schedule Your Own Unstructured Time (Is it unstructured if it’s planned?)
My neighbor often asks if I ever take time to do something for myself. Yes, I do that all the time. I get up early to exercise. I take time to ponder and pray. I eat healthy and have date night with my husband. I make time to develop my talents. I spend lots of time doing things for myself.
But here’s the catch. I don’t relax doing any of it. I’m always checking the clock and keeping on schedule at the same time that I’m counting my progress on any of a number of tasks. I’m always on whether it’s on my clock, my employer’s or my family’s.
Girl time is the unstructured play time that we insist our children have but never save for ourselves. It’s nearly impossible for the keeper of the structure to let it all go unless we go away from it. I can only turn off when I put it on the calendar, appoint a competent structure-keeper to take my place and leave my surroundings.
Pack Light and You Won’t Have to Check All Your Comparisons (Just discover and refresh your old ways.)
Match the nearly universal change of perspective we find in new surroundings with the equally common trait of women–comparing themselves to others—and the trip can be ruined before you even get past the, “Wow, you look great!”
I heard this while I was on my trip:
“We spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.” Deiter F. Uchtdorf
Coming together with sisters or friends brings new ideas to the routines of our life—meals, parenting, activities, clothes. I can either go home feeling less than I am and full of envy, or I can bring home new recipes, trends, topics to discuss and love to give. Girl time isn’t about one-upping each other. Let go of that, relax and be honest with each other and yourself.
Find Out Why Time at Home Makes You Happy (And then return happy!)
On the last night of my trip, I felt like a homesick college freshman after a week of venturing out on my own. I cradled my cell phone and confessed to Paul, “I miss you and want to come home.”
“Good, that means you’re ready to come home,” he said. Translation = I stayed the right amount of time, but I longed for more a normal me alongside all those personalities that make my family what it is.
While I wouldn’t like to say that I have to leave my family to love them better, stepping out of my day-to-day relationships showed me the kindness my college friend gave her teenage children and challenged me to bring that quality back to mine. The best part of time away is the hugs and kisses at the homecoming. They simply mean more than when you left.
I didn’t have to travel a 1000 miles to learn all these things and be reminded to act on them, but it helps. It is also gives priority to these relationships with women I love at a time when my immediate family is all-encompassing.
So, I will schedule another trip, but in the interim, a monthly visit with a friend, lunch out, or even just a phone call can bring the same benefits of girl time—something we all need, no matter what kind of woman we think we are.