Oh hi there ladies. Rachel here. Welcome to the day. Can I get you a coffee? Freshly squeezed juice? Something a little stronger, perhaps? Don’t hold back now, you’re on a retreat for goodness sake.
Image from here.
First things first. The Sisterhood Shindig would not be complete without a certain someone to serve us snacks and refreshments all day long. It was just the done thing, for men to provide women their meals for the period of time they were in the tent. We can’t mess with tradition, can we? That would just be sacrilegious.
Our special helper goes by the name of Mr Corby and he has very kindly agreed to join us on this retreat to fetch us anything we might be requiring. Almond croissants? Ice cream? Sparkling water? A cheeky plate of double cream brie and fancy crackers? He’s onto it, ma’am. You just ding that dinger thing we gave you when you first arrived here and he’ll come a-running.
Image from here.
Look, he often has a microphone in front of his face because he likes to think he’s on stage or something, but honestly, just go with it. The man is very kind and he’s a wonderful cook.
*permission to faint now*
And that glorious bed you’ve just gotten out of?
Image from here.
Mr Corby will be here quick smart to change your sheets (Yep! Crisp fresh sheets EVERY day!) and to spruce up the space with some divine essential-oil infused room spray. You go and dip your feet in that luxurious pool outside your door and some coffee will be on its way.
Now, Day Two is a total relax day. You don’t have to talk to anyone or listen to anyone. You will get a chance to meet all the other wonderful women on this retreat in good time. But for now, you don’t have to wear anything but your pick of one of these dressing gowns.
Image from here.
And you most certainly don’t have to, like, think or anything. Don’t be silly. That’s way too hard, sister. Today you will be moving between these two places.
Image from here.
Image from here.
There’s this quote I love. “We read books to find out who we are.” The woman who wrote it, Ursula K. Le Guin, goes onto say “What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel…is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”
Books provide both an escape and a direct path towards ourselves. This is why they matter. Movies are, of course, just a tired woman’s book, so since you’re on holidays we’ve given you the option of reading books or watching them. Or both, of course. The day and the choice and both these rooms are all yours.
We’ve left out our top picks for you – 5 books and movies which we’ve loved.
- The Red Tent (this goes without saying, right?) by Anita Diamond. Friendship, womanhood, love — it’s a pretty great read.
- Glitter and Glue, by Kelly Corrigan. One of those stories you can’t put down, written so well it’s like you’re having a conversation over your back fence. Explores the ins and outs of our bonds with our mothers, as nourishing or exasperating as they are. This book changed me. So many favourite lines, but this one certainly stands out: “But now I see there’s no such thing as “a” woman, “one” woman. There are dozens inside every one of them. I probably should have figured this out sooner, but what child can see the women inside her mom, what with all the Motherness blocking out everything else?” and this one: “And it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time wasn’t because she was doing so much but because she was feeling so much.”
- Daring Greatly, by Brene’ Brown. Basically this is a must-read for every single human being — the book which will likely save you thousands in therapy bills. On the benefits of vulnerability, of dropping perfectionism, and how the very behaviours we use to gain belonging and love actually work against us, in the end. Favourite bit: “Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and unworthiness dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”
- Carry On Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton. Probably my favourite writer of all time. Laugh-out-loud funny, tears-in-your-eyes moving, deeply insightful — this book is like a best friend who sees the Inside You and makes you feel completely cherished.
- Bloom: Finding Beauty In The Unexpected, by Kelle Hampton. A memoir of a woman whose second child was unexpectedly born with Down syndrome. This book has so much heart, so much inspiration for all of us to live our “one wild and precious life”, as Mary Oliver puts it. Another favourite author of mine, not particularly for her writing style but for the person she is.
- The Bronze Horseman and its sequel, Bridge To Holy Cross by Paullina Simons. If you enjoyed the movie “The Notebook” – i.e. a good old-fashioned love story – you will love this book. Set in Leningrad in the war. But not a boring war read. It’s actually part of a trilogy but the third book is NOTHING on the first two, which is why I’m not including it.
- Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I’m rather hesitant to engage in the whole self-help / life coach craze, but: well, this woman has How To Do Life nailed. The book is actually a selection of agony aunt columns (each 3-4 pages long, so perfect if you’re a tired mum like me) from a real-life blog called Dear Sugar. But it is oh-so-much more than that. This is one agony aunt who not only writes almost exclusively in beautiful, quotable prose (I am re-reading it with a highlighter as we speak) but is just, like, wiser than the Dalai Lama. (Sorry, DL). Anyone who says, “Forgiveness doesn’t sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill.” gets a gold star from me. More of that! More of that!
- How Now Brown Frau, by Merridy Eastman (a light, funny, and very poignant read about a former Playschool presenter getting a handle on life as an expat in Munich. It’s like someone lived my life before me and wrote it all down.)
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – a peep into the world of Afghanistan and the Taliban’s rising through the eyes of an innocent young boy. Absolute page-turner. Read first, then see the movie (also good).
- Committed: A Love Story by Elizabeth Gilbert – so insightful without being preachy. Waay better than Eat, Pray, Love (which I hated).
- Frozen – Look, I know the Frozen movement has run its course, but it was one of the best, most refreshing things to have come out of 2014. A modern-day fairytale where an act of true love occurs between two strong female characters (prince schmince), cementing the importance of friendship and sisterhood. This movie puts to rest the typical damsel-in-distress storylines and love-at-first-sight-happily-ever-after garbage that was previously fed to our little girls. (Favourite lines: “You got engaged to someone you just met THAT DAY?”, and “We’re not sayin’ you can change him, ‘Cause people don’t really change. We’re only saying that love’s a force that’s powerful and strange. People make bad choices if they’re mad, or scared, or stressed. Throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best. True love brings out the best!). I also loved the message it sent that personal power comes from exposing our vulnerabilities – expressing our secrets. “Conceal don’t feel” is not the path that a happy ending does make and although we all want to hide parts of ourselves because we think they might hurt people – or make us unloveable – the best outcome, always, is showing people who we truly are. What a great message to send our children. Besides, the #dadsoffrozen movement took off at our place, and there’s nothing sweeter than watching Joel try to learn the lyrics to Let It Go so he can sing them with his daughter.
- Avatar – the modern-day Pocahontas, a story-line I’m a sucker for. I’ve watched this movie so many times I couldn’t count. Also: Sam Worthington! (pre-Lara Bingle!)
- Good Will Hunting – just the sweetest. Robin Williams and Matt Damon at their best.
- Slumdog Millionaire – the book was better (Q and A), but the movie was still great. Those who have a soft-spot for India will especially love this movie. I loved the message it presented which showed that education and knowledge is borne not so much in a classroom, but in a rich and diverse life. Besides, nothing beats a good underdog story.
- Little Women – (The book was better but the movie still good.) The story follows the lives of four sisters detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. It’s a story of romance and quest. It’s a story of family drama that validates virtue over wealth. But most engagingly, it’s a story about escaping a confined life by women who knew its gender constraints only too well. Within Little Women, you can find the first vision of an “All-American girl” — with her multiple aspects embodied within each of the March sisters.
Movies? Can we talk TV series too, Rach? I don’t have the stamina for movies anymore! TV series is where it’s at in my household.
- Breaking Bad, Seasons 1-5 (most of you probably know it, but the plot revolves around a prudish boring chemistry teacher who gets a cancer diagnosis and decides to make some inheritance money for his family by cooking crystal meth. It sounds far-fetched and kind of full-on but trust me, the characters are so complex and relatable…this show hooks everyone, not just the John Grisham and CSI: Miami fans).
- True Detective, Season 1 (Matthew McCoughnahey and Woody Harrelson star in (and were the executive producers) of this very clever show about two police detectives trying to solve a murder. It jumps between future and past but in a easy-to-follow way. This is edge-of-your-seat stuff. We watched the last 5 episodes in 48 hours.
- Grand Designs, Seasons 1-14 (A fantastic series showcasing various home-building projects from idea to finished product. I would recommend the UK version rather than the Aussie one, though, because: Kevin McCloud. My older man so-metro-he-could-be-gay-but-apparently-has-a-wife-and-kids crush.)
Okay, now listen. We know that you know that we know that this Shindig is, you know, made-up, (earmuffs!) but even still. There is something exciting happening in Real Life today. What is it? What is it? Well, leave a comment and tell us either your favourite book or your favourite place to read and one commenter will be chosen at random to have me send them one of MY favourite books, Glitter and Glue, by Kelly Corrigan. The winner will be announced when the Shindig recommences tomorrow morning!
Enjoy your day sweet ladies, and thanks for being here with us.
Now go ding that dinger of yours and have Mr Corby make you some pancakes. He’s waiting patiently in the kitchen for you.
Image from here.