Friday, May 23, 2008

Grrls, Grrls, Grrls

Did I get your attention with that title? I bet I did. Just like I unknowingly got the attention of my co-panelist at the conference last weekend by being an unschooler. It's humbling to offend people with your very existence. But that's another story for another time.

I recently had the opportunity to retreat with my favorite grrrl friends again. Actually, it's not so much that I had the opportunity, it's that I made the opportunity. We learned several years ago that if we want some grrrl bonding time, we have to take it. And take it again. And keep taking it. And eventually, our husbands who wonder "but what do you DO the whole time?" grow to expect rather than dread it, and our kids who wonder "you're going again?" grow accustomed to occasional breaks too. It helps that I've coached them on how best to utilize the time I'm away; namely, by road-tripping it to St. Louis, eating lots of junk food straight from the bags, and burping and passing gas and being loud and obnoxious for long periods of time. I figure they can get it out of their systems while I'm not around and then we're all more likely to cohabitate easily until the need for grrrl-time builds up in me again and the need for willy-nilly off-gassing builds up in them again. (No pun intended.)

Enough about farts. On our retreats, it's all grrrl stuff! And by that I don't mean nail polish and facials; nah, we're more about homemade rituals, long walks, art projects, and laughing until our sides ache. We mix the irreverent in with the sacred and it makes for a mighty fine swirl. This time, our main projects were love stories and prayer flags. Throughout the day on Saturday we took turns telling our marriage stories. That was fascinating, and added many more layers to our already-deep connections and understanding. Nothing like telling your marriage story (or two ;-) to paint the 'big picture' in much deeper shades of color. We brought our photos and we stared at our young, expectant faces, and we laughed and groaned and, in my case, turned a deep shade of red more than once.

The prayer flags came next. I'd seen prayer flags on etsy and had an "Aha!" moment, so we all brought fabric and embellishments and got busy. We each made 11 copies of our flag and traded them when finished. Many of our grrrls were absent for this part so we left extra string to add their flags later. I've never been much of a crafter but I have found such joy in creating art with these women.

I love this picture of Joan. It captures her raw beauty. And look, she's doing fabric art! I know, honey, I know, but you did good. You did reeeeeal good. It's over now.

There's a rotating exhibit at Sinsinawa where we retreat and this time it was "Women Who Make Our Clothes" by Janet Essley. It was a humbling and lovely exhibit with paintings of women and placards explaining who they are and under what horrid conditions they toil. Along the walls were fabric dolls and we were invited to clip the tags from our clothing, pin them on, and then mark on a world map where our clothing had been made. It was quite a powerful exhibit.
Could Diane & Laura be any more lovely? And they're even lovelier on the inside.

As usual, our altar was absolutely perfect. The altar is one of the things I tend to forget about until I arrive, only occasionally remembering a special something to add. But the other grrrls have it covered, as you can see. It was just so lovely.

And there's always the labyrinth... our marriage stories and prayer flags took a long time so we walked the grounds less than usual, but the labyrinth is always one of my favorite things to do. I've been ruminating on how to build one in my yard for some time now - any suggestions on getting donated materials? - and I just can't get enough of this outdoor labyrinth.

I am so very blessed to have these amazing grrrls in my life!


Not June Cleaver said...

The labyrinth! I want one too. What a wonderful way to meditate. We are lucky to have many in this area. We have a small homeschool group that gets together for the solstice/equinox to celebrate and we do a labyrinth as part of it. Truly in witnessing these events it is for the parents more than the kids. The kids have fun with it, no doubt, but the significance is lost on them.

I'm glad you had a nice trip! I dream of a solo trip, but I'd like a solo week at home alone better!

debra said...

I'm so glad you had this time for y-o-u! I think that we get so engaged in our lives with our families that we sometimes forget to take time for us.

denise said...

That sounds so wonderful! I miss having friends and talking and all that good stuff. The altar is so lovely, and labyrinths...Ah. I love them! That would be awesome to have one in your yard. There just be many creative ways to create them...with flowers or mowing or something - although the stone is always so nice.

Sounds like such an awesome time! And the prayer flags are such a good idea - I have been wanting to do something like that for my gazebo for the summer. Now I think I'm motivated to try it! :)

denise said...

There 'just' be. Yeah. There MUST be. MUST proof my own comments before hitting submit. Whew!

Anonymous said...

What good ideas for things to do with grrrl-friends; I love the "marriage story" idea -- it could also lead to "baby stories."

So glad I came upon your blog.

Maria said...

THis is SO great! I'm so glad you got together with the sounds incredibly refreshing. Your friends look beautiful on the outside and sound like they are even more beautiful on the inside (does that sounds like an ad for food, or what?!)

After your last post on blogging, sounds like you needed this!

duff said...

Love labyrinths too. Hope you do build one in your yard! Glad you take time to reconnect with the grrrls. Very important stuff. Here's hoping June brings you hot weather too!

K. said...

And here I was feeling guilty about seeing Amy Steinberg without you. (Did I mention? She was divine.)

Seriously, this is such a lovely thing to do, and I'm glad you got a chance to do it. After the blog post that came before this one, I was feeling a little panicky that those of us who love you through blog-land might have to lose you in favor of those "real life" types. Glad to see you finding a balance, because the internet would be such an empty place without you.

And who else would I tell that I saw Amy Steinberg last weekend? She was amazing - did I say?

Colleen said...

What a fabulous weekend. I could use one of those but all my grrlfriends seem to live really far away. :( I don't know how we'd work it out--you've inspired me to try though.
I loved Amy Steinberg last weekend too K! I'd never seen her before. I especially love that she brought the kids from the opening band up on stage with her.