Have you ever noticed that men go off on outings that are generally sports-related. Golf. Fishing. Hunting. Professional sports. Men seem to be comfortable doing something together without talking. They like to be in each other's company doing something.
Women that I know are different. They love retreats with other women where something special happens. That "something" is generally bundled under "bonding."
For example, my daughter is going away for a weekend with her mother, a couple of cousins, and an aunt or two. They meet halfway between where they live and stay at a hotel. Not the Ritz, just a hotel with clean beds and maybe room service. Last year, they planned to strip an outlet mall of everything. And I mean everything. Instead, they ever left the hotel. They ended up having a pajama party and talking and talking. They shared wine and memories. They had so much fun that they're doing it again in a couple of weeks. Mind you, the older generation is approaching 70 and the younger generation have all passed 40. But, they have a great relationship and can't wait to see each other.
I love writers' retreats, kind of like a gigantic writing-nerd weekend. Several writers get together in a house at the beach or in the mountains for the soul purpose of producing part of a book or a series of poems or a short story or a play. During the day, we write. Those of us who prefer writing in silence can take our laptops outdoors or stay inside. Those who need stimulation take their laptops out to a local coffee shop, a Starbucks, or a diner. We meet again late in the afternoon over cocktails or wine and share how our day went. Sometimes we read our drafts. Sometimes we savor the words in private, hoping they sustain frequent edits. At the end, we are closer as women, closer as writers, and closer as people. We leave refreshed and recharged.
My cousin prefers silent retreats, She's gone on several in various countries and states. She finds the lack of chatter, the quiet of her own thoughts, and disconnecting from all electronic media restorative. I want to go on a silent retreat. I know some of you spluttered coffee all over your desk. Betsy? Silent? No flippin' way. Yes, flippin' way. I spent some time in a Buddhist convent in my youth and cherish the silence of being in the moment. I may live life out loud, but I also live it inside my head, in the quiet of the night, in the moment.
What retreats turn you on? Care to share ideas?
Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery. She has a new short story, "Midnight in the Church of the Holy Grape," in 50 Shades of Cabernet. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and on NPR.