What do you want to do right now?
It’s a simple question. No need to overthink it. No need to consult anybody. If you could drop everything and do something… anything… right now… what would it be?
I’ll lay odds you haven’t asked yourself that question in a long time. That’s a problem. Losing sight of your own needs and preferences doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slippery slope. Ignore yourself long enough and pretty soon you’ve morphed into someone you no longer recognize.
Women spend a lot of time trying to make other people happy and feeling really guilty when they fall short. We agree with people when we don’t really agree. We go along with things to avoid conflict. We focus so hard on our roles as employees, daughters, mothers, neighbors, bosses that we run the risk of forgetting the person we really are. That’s why, from time to time, I look to my friends to help me remember.
Getting away from the daily grind with my best girlfriends is, for me, the best kind of medicine. Where you go doesn’t matter nearly as much as who gets invited to the party. I learned a long time ago to spike the judge-y ones and the women who need to prove that they’re better than everybody else. Best to bypass people you’re trying to impress (that’s another issue for another day) and consider bagging that friend who needs to be the center of attention at all times.
You’re looking for friends who, like Billy Joel, love you just the way you are. The ones who are willing to go day-drinking in a sketchy bar so you can reclaim your long-lost title as the Queen of Darts. The ones who don’t care that you haven’t lost the baby weight. People who are on your side and truly wish you well. Women who are proud of your career and who don’t look down on the fact that you’re dating a rodeo clown.
Bring people with whom you can be your truest self. I prefer happy chicks who are all in.
My first girlfriends-only trip happened the year I turned 40, to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico called Secrets Capri. I was a stay-at-home mom—sleep deprived, overweight and in serious need of fun. We were all in the same boat. We slept in our beds, on pool-side chaises, on the beach. We read fashion magazines, ate ceviche, swam in the ocean, told each other we were acing this thing called motherhood and that we looked better than ever. Then we squeezed into sundresses, went dancing at the resort club, drank way too much. Detox to retox. It was perfection.
Since then, I’ve gone away with my girlfriends to destinations near and far, expensive and budget-friendly. We ate our way through Italy, watched stars walk the red carpet at the Oscars and focused on our breath at a yoga retreat in Tulum. Generous friends have lent me places in Playa Del Carmen, Paris and Manhattan. When a friend had limited time, we went to the Woodloch Spa in the Poconos.
It’s not always about non-stop fun. I have gone away with friends recovering from cancer, surviving painful divorces, battling addiction and launching businesses. My friends held me up when my son was diagnosed with autism, when my brother died and when I started a new job I was only marginally sure I could manage.
When I’m feeling unsure of myself—even now, years later—the support I received on those trips from the people who know me best continues to sustain me. I slog through meetings and recall how it felt to sleep until noon and be accountable to no one. I fold laundry and remember that I am more than the service roles I play for others. After all, I’ve got people waiting in the wings who think chips, salsa and a margarita are excellent choices for breakfast.