This article was originally published on Better After 50.
What makes for a great friends retreat? Most of the best stuff is never planned but who has time for spontaneity. I mean how can you fit that into a schedule locked down with work and family plans and staying in touch with friends. And trust me, I'm not complaining, I love my work, adore seeing my friends and planning nights out at restaurants, dinner parties, and movie nights. But a 24-hour unplanned getaway with a girlfriend feels downright decadent. And there's almost something not right about that -- but that's the reality.
So, when my business partner/girlfriend Ronna and I decided we were clearing our schedules for the full week to work on our upcoming "She Did It" event (we were on the final week's countdown) -- we casually said we should go away, hole up, and work. We talked about heading up to her condo in the mountains of New Hampshire but couldn't figure out how to get out of town. We had too many loose ends. By Wednesday morning, we checked in and decided -- todays the day. Let's do it. We're working anyway. Let's get out of here. Amazingly, we were on the road by 2 p.m., with doggy Jazz and our laptops.
You gotta love the cyber world. You can work from anywhere, and where we were heading we had the essentials: internet, heat, wine, and free lodging.
When I think of what takes girlfriend time so far afield from family time, husband/wife time, parent/child time, this is what sings for me. It's about flow, spontaneity, no planning, easy on the expectations, long on the humor, void of judgement, and comfort across topics - girlfriend time. It means fun, and fun is a sweet 3 letter word for ease, joy, and happiness.
So what's so great about going away for 24 hours with a girlfriend, just one good girlfriend? I guess I'd have to look at what really was happening for those 24 hours.
- Car Travel: A willing driver.
- Packing: No makeup allowed. No fashion requirements - jeans, sweats and work out clothes
- No saying, "Wow does my hair look?"
- Eggs For Dinner
- 2 Bathrooms - One per person
- Your Own Bedroom
- Netflix and a willingness to watch a "House of Cards" episode again (with no spoiler alert).
- No one's playing hostess: i.e. Keurig coffee -- make it yourself.
- Appreciation vs. Expectation of Luxury Accoutrements i.e.. A Nespresso frother.
- Just A Spoonful of Sugar: A tin of jelly beans for late night movies.
- No Judgement: Snoring on the couch, farting without fear. Bring a dog, blame the dog.
- No guilt: Taking a phone call from a friend or kid is OK.
- Plenty of safe talk -- sex talk, mother talk, kids talk, all non-censored talk.Nothing is off limits.
- Aligned food neuroses: eggs, avocado and turkey are enough. The rest we'll figure out.
- Affordable and comfortable accommodations: It helps if it's her house or yours, there's a good bed, a strong Internet connection, good heat if you're heading north, good air conditioning if heading south.
- Joint Project Focus: Having a joint focus makes for a non-challenging schedule - especially if the focus is work, work, and work you both love.
- Alarm Free Sleep: Sleep until you wake up.
- Aligned Exercise Activities: Competency equivalency matters i.e we took a cross-country ski for lunch break for an hour, just for fun. No one whined. Easy start, easy finish. Delightful.
- No Planning For Anything Talk: No talk about when you are leaving, what you are doing, or what's next. All day long, just keep working and hanging.
- 5 p.m.: Pour a glass of wine. Drink a bit and then ask, "Should we go home?"
- Laugh. No, we're not going home. More wine. What's for dinner?
- Don't feel like going out? Got peanut butter? Got more Netflix? Got an understanding husband? Yup. OK one more night.
- Wake up early. More skiing and homeward bound.
Not me -- I'd do it again in a heartbeat.