“Behind every successful woman, is a tribe of other successful women that have her back.” Unknown
Recently I returned from the 14th girls’ weekend I have taken with a group of women who I have known for 18 years. This year, to celebrate our 40th birthdays, we pulled out all the stops and headed to Scottsdale, Arizona for three days of talking, lounging, eating, drinking, laughing, and trouble making.
As usual, I returned refreshed, recharged, refocused, rejuvenated, and possibly in need of a partial liver transplant.
I am a huge advocate of any woman seeking an annual girls’ weekend. It does me so much good that I have considered trying to write it off as a business expense. Like exercise, I no longer see this trip as a luxury but instead as a mandatory component of my personal wellness regime. I am convinced that the healing powers of three short days just might offer a full year’s protection from burnout, madness, and aggressive haircuts pursued in an effort to stave off monotony.
Of course I know that my ideas are certainly not for everyone. I am reminded of this each December when attempting to execute my vision for exterior holiday décor. However, for those already onboard or looking to plan their first escape, I have come up with a few justifications that might help secure your existing annual getaways or perhaps propel you into starting your own tradition.
Unless you break your glasses doing the worm, or front teeth falling off the bar, a girls’ weekend can actually save you money. Although this year’s venture was costly, most of our gatherings have been held at a home or borrowed cottage. Entertainment usually consists of each other, wine, home-cooked meals, and a lot of chips. For many years our squealing conversations were interrupted by the hee-haw of a breast pump or discipline from the pregnant and sober. “Now might be a good time to switch to coffee.”
Jointly we have saved money on therapy, bad purchases, and divorce lawyers. Each year I depart with an internal glow bright enough to stave off the need for costly beauty products.
These getaways can also be highly educational. A creative space to plan, set goals, and receive all the encouragement needed to go forward. This trip I learned that letting the extroverts choose the hotel can result in a gyrating pool scene, complete with DJ. I also discovered that if you joke about “surprising your husband and his mistress” while requesting a replacement room key, two security guards will escort you upstairs.
My best reason for making a girls’ weekend mandatory is based on the theory that these girls are my family, and that one should always make the time to go home. We first met as lost, wild children in the early weeks of law school. I had made great friends in undergrad but had never needed an additional family. Weekends with my parents were regular and I was able to maintain a high average even when there was pot routinely being smoked in my room as I typed.
I met Allyson on day one as we stood in front of the orientation board doubled over with imposter syndrome. “I feel like I got in by mistake,” she said. “I have no business being here,” I replied. We moved closer together and soon added more. By October Erin, Eva, Corie, and Christina had completed our tribe.
Collectively and silently a decision was made not to compete. It was as if we knew that six brains and hearts working together might accomplish more and they did. Together we still feel like one person.
The timing was ideal as we were reaching above our heads in every way. Jobs could become careers, boyfriends could turn to husbands, and mistakes came with a much bigger bill. It no longer seemed fair to ask my parents to manage the many complicated components of my nearly grown self.
Together we celebrated each other’s accomplishments and milestones with gifts, dinners out, homemade cakes, and late night airport pick-ups.
And like a home, there were expectations and forced accountability on topics such as nutrition. “You can’t eat pizza pockets for breakfast every day.” and “Do not take another sip of that margarita until you have used the payphone in the basement to end it with him!”
Fashion advice flowed freely, “Those running shorts are actually underwear,” and “Did you ever consider that the reason that dress was $19.99 was because the lining is sold separately.” Healthcare was prioritized: “Your shy bowel is ridiculous and you are the only person who has ever bought laxatives in Mexico. They literally dusted the box!”
Boyfriends knew that their behavior would be moderated by a tribunal of five and a curfew was enforced: “Do not let him come over to watch E.R. on a second date you hussy. This could be your future husband!” Turns out he was…
During these years I grew stronger in the safety of always having a place to fall. I could push back and then run home crying to those who would wipe tears, pick up the pieces, take on the bullies, and join my battles. Plus it was always handy to have friends who would retrieve whatever was stuck, examine the possibly infected thing and still watch Dateline with you on a Sunday night.
And when I see the girls who raised me through my 20s each year nobody ever really changes. Maybe that is a good lesson about people in general. I do worry, as I travel each fall, that this will be the year we will have drifted. But it never happens. Like clockwork, we drop our bags, admire each other, exhale, and the beautiful cycle repeats.
When my husband and I really want to reconnect and relax, we book the grandparents and take off to a meeting of the American Urological Association, held each year in a major U.S. city. While there, he indulges in hours of lectures on the latest advances in urological care while I roam our destination solo and delight in the temporary status of being Mom Uninterrupted.
According to the AUA website, “Urology is a surgical specialty which deals with diseases of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs.”
Physicians belonging to the Rod Squad or Stream Team, testify that describing their professional designation at parties can ignite chuckles. That is until the reveler accidentally pees their pants.
This year’s meeting was held at the San Diego Convention Center, right on the water. The AUA estimates that 16,000 attendees were present from all over the world.
Blissfully strolling past hoards of physicians wearing tags with their name and country printed in bold, ignited a need to cash in on the wealth of cutting edge medical information literally at my fingertips.
I decided to stop shopping for politically charged souvenirs, get out my notebook and start asking randomly chosen urologists for the best piece of urological advice they had ever received.
Due to the abundance, access and biological anatomy of this information, I titled this project Low Hanging Fruit. My husband recoiled at the entire idea and banned me from approaching other doctors in his presence. I of course completely disregarded his wishes and took great joy at mouthing “Low Hanging Fruit” at him immediately prior to cornering participants in an elevator, at a bar or in the handbag section of Nordstrom.
I was pleasantly surprised at how many physicians agreed to chat and share their favorite tip with me and now with you!
“It is very important to drink at least two litres of water every day.”
“Keep your bowels regular to avoid an overactive bladder and urinary retention. Constipation can also cause recurrent urinary tract infections in both kids and adults.”
“Eat a diet high in zinc to maximize prostate health. Include foods such as tomatoes, milk and pumpkin seeds. Bed-wetting is seventy percent hereditary so physicians need a good family history. Avoid giving liquids to children with bed-wetting issues in the evening and wake the child up for one last trip to the bathroom before you go to bed.”
“Always complete the blood and urine tests prescribed by your family doctor. Failure to do so is a guaranteed one way trip to the urologist!”
“Quit smoking. It is a direct cause of both kidney and bladder cancer.”
“Hi my name is Chloe Girvan and I am a writer from Canada. My husband is attending this conference and I am writing an article on the best urology tips from around the world. I was wondering if you would like to provide one?” Look of complete disgust and then, “We do not want anything from you and your husband!” I realized afterwards that the language barrier led this gentleman to believe that I was propositioning him and to be truthful, the rejection still stings.
“I wish there was a greater focus on toilet training education with more emphasis on structured teaching about bladder and bowel function. It is really important to monitor a child’s voiding habits in the first few years and to watch for constipation. Children need to learn how to sit on the toilet properly with foot support if needed. Routine trips to the washroom can really help to avoid accidents.
Parents also need to know that a child’s inability to control their bladder may stem from an immaturity of the neurological response needed for them to voluntarily control their voiding. Babies empty their bladders using a spontaneous uncontrollable reflex. As the brain matures, a child becomes able to control the reflex and therefore ‘hold it’. Sometimes this control develops later and the child is blamed for faultless accidents.
Somehow toilet training has become competitive amongst parents and they feel at fault if their child is late to train. Parents need to know that all bladders are different and systems mature at different rates. We need to provide parents and children with the proper information and support their individual needs.”
“See your doctor on a regular basis. Certain forms of cancer, if caught early on, can be treated with less invasive treatment options.”
“To improve and correct urinary incontinence do Kegel exercises well and often! They truly do work but be evaluated by a physician first to ensure that you know how to do them properly.”
“Never ignore erectile dysfunction as it can be a symptom of underlying cardiovascular disease.”
“Take care of your prostate by getting your first PSA screening at the age of forty. This will provide a baseline reading which can be useful for determining the need and frequency for future screenings.”
“Sign your donor card.”