Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Unplugging and Recharging

Once a year, I spend a weekend in a small, non-air-conditioned cottage in the woods of central Wisconsin with no cell phone service, no cable television and no internet. If you know anything about me, you know that, normally, this would be my definition of hell. On the contrary. This is my annual Girls’ Weekend and although I do admit that I find it challenging to do without some of life’s amenities, I prefer to think of this as my life...unplugged.

As I explained last year, this is the time when seven women gather to reconnect and perhaps be thought of as individuals. Yes, more than anything, I treasure Girls’ Weekend because for three days, we’re not thought of as moms, wives, employees, partners, cooks, housekeepers or unpaid chauffeurs. For three days, we are just women with hopes, dreams, goals, aspirations and talents that are perhaps overlooked in our daily lives. During Girls’ Weekend, we build each other up, break down false pretenses and remember what it was like to worry only about ourselves – a luxury that is rare in our day-to-day routines.

To our families, Girls’ Weekend has become somewhat of a myth of epic proportions. We return home feeling very relaxed, but with very few stories. And, as anyone knows, the less information, the more imaginations tend to wander. I will admit that in our first years, we would get a bit wild, but we’ve mellowed in old age and now seem to relish the tranquility of silence and long, deep conversations that we’re denied on a daily basis.

Throughout the weekend, as we sip cocktails and float awkwardly in our inner tubes, we enjoy belly laughs and inside jokes and tales of misadventures in the carpool lane, the boardroom and the grocery store aisles. (Honestly, it would bore our children to tears.) We laugh at each other’s absent-minded mistakes and share stories and language that we would find wholly inappropriate in our own homes. For 72 hours, we let our guards down and don’t put them back up until we climb into our cars on Sunday afternoon.

The highlight of our weekend is when we all gingerly step into a small speedboat, motor into the center of the lake and set goals. Yes, I said set goals. I know it sounds very nerdy and I have no clue why it started, but we protect that tradition more than any other during Girls’ Weekend. As the unofficial “goalkeeper,” it’s my job to bring our goals from past years, allowing us to giggle about the many that we’ve never achieved. But more important than achieving the goals is the idea that, as grown women, we should even have goals. At some point during our busy lives, we tend to forget that as productive as we are, it’s important that we set our sights on something beyond our daily existence.

I can’t speak for the others, but I know that when I return home, I’m very glad to be back in my own home with all of my creature comforts. I’m so grateful to return to my life with its many imperfections and daily challenges. And yet, I’m also so grateful to know that year after year, I get to return to Girls’ Weekend to unplug and, ironically, recharge.

*Above is our annual Girls' Weekend group photo. That's me on the far left.


At 11:41 AM , Anonymous Mo said...

I was just talking with my husband last night about how I'd like to set up an annual girls' trip. You've inspired me to get moving on it and make it happen.

Girlfriends are the BEST!

At 2:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thou shalt not be jealous...thou shalt not be heck...I am jealous!!! You are so fortunate to know a group of women with whom you can "unplug" with!!!

At 3:02 PM , Blogger kenju said...

Karen, that is wonderful. My friends and I have talked about doing that, but we have never actually taken the plunge. I wish we would.

At 6:23 PM , Blogger Star said...

Sounds wonderful. I honestly can't think of a group of friends I want to to be sequestered with like that. It would be fun with my daughters. It sounds reaffirming.

At 6:52 AM , Anonymous Janet ( said...

How nice that the weekend is organized, has a goal and a tradition! I get together with a group of friends each year as well, and for a couple years it was in upstate NY in a similar style, no tv, no the middle of the woods. Very nice!

Hi, Michele sent me :)

At 7:48 AM , Blogger Marie said...

That sounds fantastic! I could leave right now & do that!! Really, a slice of heaven.

At 6:27 PM , Anonymous Maryanne said...

I want a girls' weekend like that! It sounds so wonderful and I am very happy for you and your friends. I think as women with hectic lives, we should disconnect ourselves sometimes and just let our souls recharge on their own. The fact that this can happen in the presence of those we love and can enjoy peace with seems to make it even better. What a tremendous gift you've enjoyed. I'm happy you had such a good time. Thanks for sharing, I think I need to call my sisters and plan a weekend for us like this. Maryanne

At 8:07 PM , Blogger Marisa said...

Love the picture! Just the kind of picture that popped in to my mind when I thought girls' weekend. I hope my friends and I get together like that when we have families of our own. We did it once and it was great!

At 7:13 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

I love the ethos of this annual ritual. Whoever we are, we need to get off the merry go round on occasion so that we can take stock, look back, look ahead, and put it all in perspective.

Where would we be without rituals like this? How else would we be able to keep our eyes on the big picture as we deal with the minutae of everyday life?

As with so much of your writing, Karen, I come away from this entry with my head brimming with deep thoughts. Thanks! And welcome home.

At 8:39 AM , Blogger panthergirl said...

I started crying when I read this. My sister does a similar thing with her group of friends (the "FATSOs". They met at church, so it stands for Friends Acquired Through Spiritual Organization." LOL. They even have an official mascot, the pig, and have pig EVERYTHING.).

But I'm crying because I long for this kind of support and relaxation. My friends, mostly individuals who don't know each other, are scattered everywhere. The closest thing to this is a tennis camp weekend I do with 3 women, only one of whom is a CLOSE friend.)

So, it's all about me. ;) But I'm so happy for you, and my sister, and any other women who have this kind of kinship with other women. You are very lucky.


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