Monday, March 28, 2011

Hosting Your Own Retreat

 My sister Kate is a master organizer and planner, so here she is with our final retreat installment to share a few of the ins and outs of our annual getaway, and how to host one yourself.  Here we go!

When I talk with my friends about Sister’s Retreat, they always want to come. But when I suggest that they start their own tradition, they tend to shy away. Why? Here are the usual obstacles, as well as road maps around them.

I don’t have sisters. A good friend of mine, an only child, has carved out a biannual (that means twice a year, right?) Girl’s Weekend with four friends. Our oldest sister, Noel, has been attending the same Scrapbook Retreat with the same core of friends for fifteen years. If you don’t have “that kind of friends,” do yourself a favor and go make some. Today.

I don’t like my sisters. We get that. We do. Our first few retreats were a little rocky. One tradition that helped us change directions was taking turns saying our favorite traits of one another. Another event that helped was Noel saying, “I’m not the same person I was when we last lived together. I’m no longer the mom.” That helped the rest of us to re-see her, to enjoy who she is now. Building up fun memories and following those up with frequent phone calls between retreats helps us to be current, to keep from slipping back into inaccurate stereotypes about one another.

Breakfast at Charity's, 2003

It’s too expensive. Not necessarily. If the hostess can kick her family out (to go stay with grandparents, an uncle, friends), you have lodging. When everyone contributes a dish or two, food isn’t a big financial burden. You can always paint each others’ toenails instead of springing for pedis. And talk is, after all, cheap.

My husband would never go for it/ I don’t have anyone to watch the kids. Then you are married to a poop. Our husbands were not crazy about the idea, initially, either. Who would cook? Who would clean? Who would entertain the kids? Gradually, though, they learned that they could get away with Arctic Circle every night we were gone. They could have tickle wars without a referee saying, “Isn’t that a little rough, honey?” They benefited from their wife’s well-fed souls upon return. For those with uncooperative exes, our hearts go out. To you we say, you need a support network anyway. If you have one, they are happy to help. Grandparents, brothers, friends, out-laws (your ex’s family), even a trusted college student, can be recruited. These people love you, and are uplifted by your happiness. Give them an opportunity to serve you.

I’m just not creative. Creativity is not the gold standard of Sister’s Retreats. Go to the movies together. Do the standbys. If you long for an out-of-the-box experience, brainstorm with your eccentric friends. Do some online research. But remember that the activities should be restorative to you and your sisters – no one else’s ideas will fit you better than your own. Just pay attention to what you desire, and then make THAT happen.

In the end, it usually doesn’t come as an invitation to a ready-made event. It is the product of pulling out the planner, making phone calls, and just doing it.

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