I have to admit when my friend Christy invited me to her birthday getaway weekend in Puerto Rico with a mutual friend and TEN women I had never met, I was a little concerned. First, I'm an introverted extrovert and value some good time to myself along with hanging with people. I was a little worried that my four day trip to paradise might end up like some weird episode of the Bachelor with 12 different personalities/wants/needs/etc fighting to be in charge. I mean, this is a group of bad ass women- superstars in their chosen careers, incredible moms, multitasking ninja warriors, just all-around bad asses. No other descriptor is adequate. Often with this subset of extraordinary women comes a strange vibe, a jockey for being the center of attention, a mass of insecurities that boil to the top and rear their ugly heads in the form of passive aggressive yuck. There was no " bless her heart", no middle school cattiness, no negativity at all. Magic happens in that environment; the magic of women supporting each other, helping each other, listening, talking, laughing, and accepting each other for just who that individual is in that moment.
I am truly grateful to have many wonderful friends. Sometimes I feel like my life is too full for any more people; the life of a salesperson is so full of PEOPLE. This trip proved that silly theory wrong. There is always space for more love, joy, compassion, wonder and awe. I feel like I've been given an amazing gift. I'm a keen observer of people and rely far more on my intuition than on any other resource when sizing up a situation or event or person. My intuition immediately screamed - wow. These women are real. These women are extraordinary. I'm excited about my next four days! My intuition (as usual - if I allow myself to listen to it) did not betray me. As the weekend unfolded and I had great group experiences and a little one on one with most of them, I was able to see our similarities and differences and find joy in all of it. I was able to see the love of children and husbands and friends and family in each of their eyes. I saw the vulnerability when stories of divorce and troubled children and FUCKING CANCER in young beautiful vibrant women were shared. I saw the angst and strength surrounding these women working their asses off for equality in what is mostly still a man's world in making career choices. I saw questions of - am I doing the right thing? Setting the right priorities? Am I handling my dysfunctional family members appropriately? Responding to the boss appropriately? Setting a good example? Living my life to its fullest potential? Walking the tightrope of "doing it all" without falling on my face?And through all of this....grace. Grace in understanding we each have our own path. Grace in realizing there are so many ways to live a life. There is no wrong decision. Only learnings. We each have trials and tribulations and health crises and family crises. But through it all, we have each other. One of the girls brought me a plate of breakfast the other morning; without me asking, without me having to say anything. Women are just so damn good at serving other people and it felt so good when I realized someone was taking care of ME! The thing about women - they have enough love inside that they can give more of themselves than they ever thought possible. Real women are so damn strong that the fictional character of Wonder Woman looks like a weakling.
As the " senior" member of this crowd, I saw myself in so many life stages and found myself more than anything wishing that everyone can realize the importance of the NOW. The importance of wiping those snotty noses and poopy butts, saying yes to yet another game of Legos or cars , but at the same time setting aside time to be that amazing WOMAN that you are - funny and kind and full of laughter and wisdom - and worthy of a few days away to recharge. I want each of these beautiful (inside AND out) women to keep on saying YES to things that will bring her joy. Like this trip. The work and juggling it took to get 12 women with jobs and kids and husbands and debt and an insanely full calendar to actually make this journey is staggering in its enormity. I'm pretty sure I speak for all of us when I say it was worth every second of it.
Gratitude is a repeated theme in my posts, and my eyes literally well up with tears when I think of the level of gratitude I have for the ability to travel to a beautiful place and spend time with beautiful souls. I learned so much from each person on this journey ( more than just how to do a body shot or drink my weight in tequila although these ARE important skills).
For Christy, Kristen, Kristina, Rebecca, Rebecca, Melissa, Jen, Jen, April, Kim, and Mia - thank you for sharing your lives and hearts with me. I can't wait until the next trip!
And for Kristina - can't wait to see you post surgery and cancer free and healthy and pain free and those beautiful eyes shining with radiant joy! You are a marvel.
Much love and peace on your journeys home and in the upcoming weeks. If you're ever having an overwhelmed moment ... Think about the laughter. Think about LaFactoria, think about guava mimosas and all you can eat breakfast buffets and palm trees and ocean breezes. Most important thought - CHEESE BALLS with coconut butter. And Sangria. And Mojitos. And Martinis. And love and friendship. If that doesn't make you smile, you can call me and I will remind you of a few unpublishable giggle worthy moments.
A few compliments for each of you (not enough compliments in this world)....
Christy - you are beautiful and smart and kind and funny and just say shit LIKE IT IS. And you have very cool friends. And a heart of gold under all of that.
Kristen - you are a wide open ball of love and a badass simultaneously - not an easy combo to balance. Plus you packed extra for me. I wore more of your clothes than my own. Thank you.
Kristina - you are brave and strong and open and joyful and a force of nature and a design Goddess and just pure authenticity. You are a healing warrior and a true blessing to everyone you meet. YOU will save another woman from pain and anguish by sharing your experience. Your children (including Hadi and his mother) are blessed beyond BELIEF to have your kind generous heart taking care of them. AND you are so funny I could pee my pants from laughter.
Rebecca B - funny. funny. funny. Be careful with the beads. Amazing mom. Amazing friend. Obvious huge heart AND brain and an authenticity that is palpable. Plus you have red hair. That says it all. Love me a redhead.
Rebecca F. - seriously I wanted to hate you because you are young and thin and blonde and perfect but damn I just couldn't because you are smart and funny and kind and that one eyebrow thing leaves me in stitches. You just seem to get it and I love how you love your babies and your husband and I wish I had been as smart as you at 35.
Melissa - your strength and smarts and care taking capabilities ooze from your pores. Your 6th grade vulnerable little bad haircut self made me want to hug the you of then and applaud the you of now. You are gorgeous and strong and will climb any hurdle life puts in front of you.
Jen R. your obvious ability to parent that daughter of yours alone in a firm yet loving way is commendable. Your success as a single mother doing it all while holding down a high responsibility job and still having that beautiful sparkling laugh through it all shows your true resilient life affirming spirit. One of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen.
Jen S. Can I please have your figure? ( not the faux pregnant post 24 cheese ball one, but that regular work your ass off one) ? The strength you had through your own health issues and your daughter's near death experience show your depth of character and resilience. I loved getting to know you.
April - I loved seeing the dollar bill story reenacted for our benefit. You've come a long way baby. I have been that freaked out - " where am I and what am I doing? " person I know you felt in that moment and I love that strength of character in you. You are so smart and your kids and husband are so lucky to have you to take care if then to a level those of us who work outside the home always fall short of. Your math skills are killer and you made me feel beautiful when you curled my hair!
Kim - your heart is huge for your son. He is lucky to have you as his wonderful mom who loves and cares for him enough to meet him right where he is. This is all while juggling a high stress career and doing it so well. Your openness and vulnerability will serve you well in every aspect of your life, even if it doesn't always come easy. Did I mention you are hot? I wish for you love and and strong shoulder to lean on when you - oh person of great strength - really need it.
Mia - I totally see why Christy loves you- you are so helpful and kind and full of great people/therapy wisdom. And you haven't aged a bit since college! I need to understand how you have accomplished this. (!) Are you one of those Rodan and Fields junkies or are you like Rebecca and shine brilliantly without even washing your face? Your sly humor crept up on me a couple of times and I loved it!
I see in each of you a little bit of me and I'm reminded how connected we all are - and that's what love is. That connection, that spirit of sharing and caring and acceptance. All I know is I couldn't have asked for a better group. I look forward to many future adventures. When I look at the photos from the trip, I see utter beauty. When I look at your hearts with my super intuitive uber sensitive X-ray vision I see a depth and grace and love for life and a passion for family and friends and life. Christy thank you for sharing your people. You are now my people and I've never felt more gratitude.
Carry on my beautiful twelve pack....when you least expect it, some Cookielove will arrive on your doorstep.