© 2014 jen

The Importance of a Girlfriend Getaway – a.k.a. Gigglefest 2014

Sometimes when I mention getting together with “The Ladies,” my friends will roll their eyes and say, “Which ladies, Jen? I can’t keep up with your lady friends.”

This is understandable. I have a few different groups of women friends that I love to spend time with.

I am actually a HUGE believer in women spending time in groups with other women, and I love to get away with women friends for vacations when I can.

There seems to be this weird thing where no one bats an eye when women who are young and single vacation together, but people worry about the family dynamic when a woman vacations with her friends on occasion, rather than always vacationing with her family.

One of the ladies in this group even had a family member ask her if everything was all right in her marriage after seeing pictures of us all vacationing together, sans husbands.

Let me just say, no marriages were harmed on this vacation and instead, fond feelings for life, ourselves and each other were the result. If anything, we have more to bring to our marriages (for those of us who are married, which is about half of this group).

Why Vacationing With Other Women Is So Important

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As a species we are all becoming more and more solitary. Many of us work in cubicles and interact socially through social media and text messages, so we miss out on human interaction regularly. It’s so easy to become disconnected from others and even from yourself. 

In a tribal culture, we’d all be raising our kids and each others’ in huts and bleeding together monthly. This is where we come from. If we don’t create situations in our lives where we are with other women for  days at a time, we really never get the full connectedness of being human, and, more specifically, being female.

Signs That You Need A Vacation With Your Girlfriends

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1. You want a vacation where you can focus on yourself and not the needs of others
Here’s the thing that no one really says. When you have kids and they are still small, and you take them on vacation, you, as the mom (and probably the dad too) really don’t get a vacation. In some ways it can be harder to get a break on vacation with your family than it is when you are at home with all of your routines and supports. This is why vacationing with girlfriends is really important.

I decided to cook for everyone on my girlfriend getaway weekend, because I like to cook and have health issues that are so dependent on eating well. (This is what happened to me last year when I didn’t eat all that well.) What was surprising is that even though we didn’t plan it this way, there was almost always someone helping me cook, and I didn’t have to ask for the help. As soon as one lady was whipped out from my cooking marathon another one showed up and said, “What can I do?” It’s so nice to go away with other women, because we are the ones so often taking care of people and things. When we go away together we can really take care of ourselves and each other.

2. Stress reduction and giggling like you’re a kid again

Sometimes I think my friends and I should name our vacations Gigglefest, because that’s pretty much what is happening the entire time. I think the last time I laughed that much and that hard was last year (Gigglefest 2013). Everyone should have their own gigglefest with their girlfriends. It’s so good for your health and stress levels. Read about the positive effects of laughter here.

3. To connect and witness your friend’s lives and vice versa

I shared many fun and silly moments with my friends on this vacation, but the moments in between the funny times, when one of us was sharing a hurt from a childhood experience, really moved me.

I shared a story with my friends about never really wanting or needing a dad growing up. I had no reference for what having a dad felt like, so I didn’t miss it at all until I was married with a kid of my own. My husband is such a good father and one day when I was observing my son and husband it hit me like a ton of bricks how much I had missed out on my whole life. I was paradoxically happy for my son and heartbroken for myself.

As I told this story, I looked over and my friend Molly was crying too. She was really witnessing and feeling my belated loss, like it was her own. There was something about her feeling the pain too that made me feel a little lighter after carrying around this truth in my life. We all shared little pains from our past and then reminded ourselves that it could have been worse. Sharing and perspective are just two of the wonderful gifts from this trip.

4. You don’t know how funny, sexy and normal your quirky body is 

For me, this moment happened in the hot tub with my girlfriends, while we were skinny dipping. My very large boobs were acting as a floatation device and it was hilarious to me. I kept saying, “I can’t drown! I’m unsinkable!” It was one of the first times in my life that I felt really glad to have this HUGE chest of mine.  They have an entirely new use in my life. Who knew boobs were a survival tool?

Another observation I had was that one friend who wore a bikini all weekend has an appendectomy scar, and you know what? She looked even sexier with the scar, because it’s real. Because she made it through surgery and survived it and she has the courage to show it off.

My hat is off to all the hot, scarred, bikini wearers of the world. I really believe that after spending the weekend with other women I have a greater appreciation for my body and other women’s bodies too.

5. Vacations with groups of girlfriends can be very affordable

Some of the least expensive vacations I’ve ever taken have been with girlfriends. You can share beds, pull out beds from couches, turn the couches into beds. It’s not about luxury living when you ‘re vacationing with girlfriends. Here is a post I wrote a few years ago about the same group of women and how much we spent on our Palm Springs vacation. If you’re up for a fun, affordable vacation, a girlfriend getaway is where it’s at.

After reading this over, do you need a girlfriend getaway? If so, call or email one of your girlfriends today and start planning your own vacation. Hopefully it will work out and you’ll get your own Gigglefest, but the truth is that there are studies that show planning a vacation increases your happiness levels. So really, you have nothing to lose here.

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Bon Voyage! And while you’re gone, I’ll be off shopping for a bikini. I have only owned one in my whole life, and that was when I was 12 years old. I felt very uncomfortable in it, but it’s because I had so much judgement for myself and my body back then. After this getaway weekend, I’m inspired and I’m ready to brave a bikini, because I have a new model for what a bikini-ready body looks like. Here’s a hint: all bodies can wear a bikini, but some minds won’t allow it.

My mind, however, is wide open to the AWESOME that is getting away with girlfriends and having real and meaningful connections.
               

This is a video I made of all of the photos from our Palm Springs vacation. I took all of these photos except the one of all of us in front of the orange doors at The Parker. Sometimes I was behind the camera and sometimes I had a remote control in my hand, so I could take pictures and be in a few shots too.

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