For millennia, women have come together to learn from each other, share stories, raise babies, gather and cook food, be creative and support each other. Since the World Wars, millions of women have taken their place in the workforce but a world organised for men is not a world that is conducive for creating resilient, happy women.
Over the past 100 years, women have become more separated and competitive, rather than cooperative and supportive. And unfortunately, many women are just plain tough on each other. In my own life, I’ve been torn down by women who offered opinions on how I parent and how I live my life. Women can be tougher on each other than any man could ever be on us. Because we are all so scared of failing – failing to be a good mother, especially – it’s easy to become competitive and critical about everything from breastfeeding to how long your toddler should sleep with you to when you should let your child watch an M-rated movie or read The Hunger Games. Even if we don’t receive outright criticism, every woman has felt the impact of the judging look. You know, the one the woman in the grocery story queue gives you when your toddler is having a major meltdown? Or the look everyone on the plane gives you when your baby won’t stop crying on a 12-hour flight?? Or the look the teacher gives you when you are called in because your child won’t stop biting his classmates?
Added to this is the fact that most women now work (many full-time), are the primary caregivers to children and ageing parents, and balance the needs of their husbands who are often less than equal partners in housework and caregiving.
The result is that loads of women are burning out and wondering if this is all there is in life. We spend our time giving to others (husbands, children, parents, bosses, co-workers) and forget to take time out for ourselves. Over time, we begin to doubt ourselves and doubt our own intrinsic value.
This weekend eleven women joined me on the south coast of NSW at my very first Believing in Me retreat from Friday night to Sunday afternoon to build a tribe, believe in ourselves and remember that we are here on this planet to have fun and support each other.
I designed the Believing in Me retreat to help women rediscover their passion for life and remind them of their innate worthiness and beauty. It brought together women who wanted to re-engage with themselves and believe in themselves once more.
We focused on five key health areas for women: mental, emotional, physical, financial and spiritual health. The retreat provided time for women to reconnect with their female intuition and learn tools to help them live their biggest, brightest, truest lives going forward.
I loved providing workshops, meditation, time for creative pursuits (journaling, painting, playing music, etc) – but most importantly, the weekend was about sharing stories and supporting each other.
It was definitely a weekend of pleasure. No kids, no husbands, no boyfriends, no demands. Just time out from our busy schedules for each of us to re-connect with ourselves and other like-minded women.
On Saturday afternoon, we dedicated a couple of hours to pleasure pursuits. It was great to see how everyone used their time differently. Some walked on the beach, some kayaked, some read books, some worked in the garden, some had a bath in the outdoor bath and communed with nature, some wrote in journals, some relaxed in a hammock, some slept.
How often do we allow ourselves time to slow down enough to allow pleasure into our lives? The answer is all too infrequently. For the twelve of us, this weekend was about giving ourselves permission to take that time, and then following through. And in truth, a small amount of pleasure each day is what we all need to thrive and live happy, healthy lives.
The women left the weekend re-invigorated and able to better face their day-to-day life. They each know there are others like them out there who are willing to be a tribe – willing to believe in them, even if they have trouble believing in themselves right now. We are willing to hold a non-judgemental space for each other when needed.
It was an incredible and humbling experience for me to lead these women on a journey of self-discovery and learn as much from them as they learned from me. I am grateful to each and every one of my tribal sister goddesses who were part of the journey and can’t wait for the next retreat to keep building our tribe!