We may not have dressed quite as formally as the Empress Eugenie and her friends in the painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, but we all sure gave ourselves the royal treatment at our women's retreat last weekend.
In the end, seven of us gathered at Orveas Bay Beach House for a couple of days of good company, relaxation, gourmet-inspired meals and plenty of tea and coffee. (One boyfriend asked one of the girls why she was going to a place called Ovaries Bay. He's funny like that, but he wasn't far off.) Quite unanimously, we have all declared the retreat a magnificent success.
The weekend was about sharing. Space. Food. And most of all, stories. Most of the narratives that we shared were similiar to what other groups of women would share in such a setting. We are really just your average ordinarily amazing women. Perhaps the most unique thing about us is that, combined, we share 75 years of twelve step recovery. Still, none of us consider ourself "recovered." Nor do we describe ourselves as sick, or defective, or deficient human beings. I don't think that I would be wrong if I said that all of us were absolutely grateful to be where we were that weekend, not just at Orveas Bay, but where we are in our lives.
Overall, we are a group of generally positive women, each just doing our best to live our best lives. A couple of us are recovering from overwork (including motherwork) and burnout. A couple more are actively working on workaholic tendencies in order not to become like a couple of us. Still, like so many women, most of us continuously struggle to balance our work lives against everything else including relationships, exercise, recovery, hobbies or other passions. At least one of us was seriously sleep-deprived upon arrival (darned toddlers, anyway). We are all at various stages in romantic relationships, from long-time married (me) to newly blossoming love and a couple of women thoughtfully pondering the possibility of remaining single for a spell longer. Not unhappily, I should add. Each of us had the opportunity to contemplate our issues with sugar and wheat, and one of us (not me) actually has the discipline to have given both up. She's our self-care hero, at present.
The pace for the weekend was set at slow to slightly slower. Most of us read, several of us meditated throughout the weekend, a few others strolled. One of us strummed a guitar. I for one climbed an outrageous trail, an activity that I swear nearly killed me, although the two women who were in front of me did fine. (Next time I am going to leave the beautiful beach rocks...on the beach). We made regular trips to the hot tub, one of us swung in a hammock on the porch even though it drizzled rain. We read some more, wrote steps, and a couple of us knit.The spirit of womanly cooperation was captured beautifully on multiple occasions. Two massive meals came together, were served, and cleaned up, effortlessly. We came up with the fairest and most practical sleeping arrangements that we could manage, and smiled when the youngest of us admitted that she had the hardest bed, but with her tongue in her cheek proudly stated that as the youngest she could handle it. One of us (not me) sat patiently for nearly two hours helping another sort through a tangled ball of yarn. When it was time to pack up on Sunday morning, everybody came together to get tidied up. Again, effortlessly.
When we gave each other hugs before we climbed into our cars for the drive back to town, it seemed clear to each of us that we had shared something special. We all got to know one another, just a little better, and in so doing, came to know ourselves a little better too.
We are already looking forward to doing it again.
Your friends will know you better in the first minute they meet you than your acquaintances will know you in a thousand years.