My birthday gift to myself since turning 40 five years ago has been to invite treasured girlfriends for a weekend away. Think of the people who are most life giving, most inspiring, most dear, most missed and I dare you to invite them on a trip!
If you plan it….they will come!
Who doesn’t need a break from our hectic lives as wives, mothers and professionals!
Here is what I’ve learned to incorporate into these gatherings to make them monumental, unforgettable and inspirational!
1. Invite a Group of with Commonalities & Cohesiveness: Maybe your girlfriend getaway is a ‘reunion’ where your group already has bonds together from past experiences. I have a need to reconnect with old friends, those from my past that I’ve served alongside and who’ve shared a pivotal period of life with me. They are spread across the country and most don’t live close so it is precious time to spend time with them. Think of friends who you immediately reconnect with like you’ve never been apart. I invite like-minded women, often women who’s lives and faith inspire me and those whom I long to spend time with and learn from. I know they’ll enjoy each other, as well. Think of common relational or life-experience threads that will unite the group. Avoid the narcissistic drama queens who dominate without emotional awareness and demand the spotlight shamelessly.
2. Be Intentional About Fostering Meaningful Conversations: Women are energized and inspired from thoughtful and emotional connections. From Appreciative Inquiry, I’ve learned the power of ‘…..positive questions’ and the rich, meaningful conversations that inspire us to become better people as we learn from one another. Have some questions prepared and infuse them into dinner conversations, as the chairs are circled up at the beach, lounging over coffee in the morning. Go around and give each person time to share. This prevents one person from monopolizing the time and allows everyone a chance to reflect and respond. A few of my favorites are:
· What was your most satisfying experience from this past year? What are you most grateful for or proud of?
· How are you fostering gratitude…spiritual growth… being present in the moment…more time with your spouse/beloved/children….self-care…into your life?
· What do you want more of?
· What has inspired you recently?
· Depending on the phase of life of the group…young children, teen years or empty nest… what is currently most challenging, most rewarding?
3. Keep the Schedule ‘Loose’: One of the best refreshers of a girlfriend getaway is to have a break from the busy-ness of life. Several days that are free from rushing, shuttling, working, cooking and cleaning can be revolutionary and can create space for new ideas, creativity, rest and refreshment. Be flexible and have a general plan for the time, but don’t follow a strict schedule. Some of the best connections, laughs and talks often happen just in ‘hanging out’ so leave room for this.
4. Reconnect With Your ‘True Self’: I find that being with old friends helps me remember who I am, who I’ve been and who I’ve set out to become. These friends know me at my core and there have been difficult times when I’ve lost touch with the real me. Rich times with true friends remind you of your strengths, what’s best about you, memories that help you remember yourself and provide life-giving, sometimes life-saving encouragement. I leave the getaway with my ‘bucket filled’, feeling loved, ready to embrace my life again back home. Have you lost yourself? Has your current situation, challenge or difficulty produced a different, foreign you? Girlfriends can bring you back and inspire a new course or perspective, perhaps inspire new courage.
5. Enjoy a Break From Your ‘Fishbowl’: A lonely leadership position or a stressful, demanding job, or a difficult relationship definitely requires some off-duty time to recharge and refocus priorities in the company of encouraging friends. One of my dear friends is a pastor’s wife and relishes a break from who she’s expected to be in this role back home. Maybe a break from your husband and kids can bring new appreciation and love for your life together. A swim in the ocean after living in a fishbowl can be life-changing and perspective-altering.
Great food and wine is a must! Nothing like the sun, surf and the sounds of the beach or the beauty of nature to awaken the soul! Give yourself the gift of time with girlfriends, away from our hectic lives. You’ll be a better wife, mother, coworker, leader and friend after a time away like this!
I’d love to hear comments from outstanding girlfriend getaway experiences out there!