BD does the island

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Think “energy of women.” I did not come up with this phrase. My agent did when, yesterday, I was telling her about spending last week on a tiny island with seven other women. The island in question is part of the Thousand Islands archipelago in the St. Lawrence River in Canada. At the tippy top of its thirteen-ish acres sits a beautiful house, replete with en-suite bathrooms, a dishwasher, and full Internet connection. So we weren’t exactly roughing it.

But I had never done anything like this before. I knew one of the other women. That’s it. Since she is an adored friend, and the others were all adored friends of hers, I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Right?

Let me tell you. The closer we got to departure, the greater my doubts. Six days stuck on a self-contained island with strangers? It took a leap of faith on my part not to chicken out at the last minute.

I am so, so glad I didn’t. It was an amazing week – amazing and refreshing and energizing. I can’t remember when I’ve had so many interesting discussions, such good food (all organic, much picked from the island garden by our own little hands), laughed as much, or had such sheer fun. I can’t remember when I felt such appreciation for the intellect, the inclusiveness, the pure joy of life that women possess.

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Mind you, this was not a male-bashing adventure (though I do confess there were itty-bitty passing moments when there was a wee tiny smidgeon of that). But no. This was all about women at their most positive, the product of each our own very different histories, now come together uninhibited and unburdened by our daily lives. And these women all do have lives. We all had to wangle our way to taking this week off from those lives.

Talk about inclusiveness? From the very first, I felt like a sister. Talk about fun? Playing tennis, swimming, kayaking to other islands, walking the paths of our own island, touring the river for four hours in an elegant old wooden boat – and then, on our one rainy day, taking turns doing a jigsaw puzzle spread on a huge double-wide desk?

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I brought books. I brought crossword puzzles. Prior to leaving home, I was seriously wondering what I would do with these women on this island all this time. I hadn’t known that when I woke up early and went downstairs for tea and the online newspaper that there would always be someone else on the porch, and that we would talk for an hour about anything and everything. I hadn’t known that women from such different places could find so much in common, or be so interested in each others’ lives, or could so open-mindedly and rationally disagree. I hadn’t realized that, regardless of age, when strong, confident women gather, their energy is both infectious and boundless.

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Heading for the island, we carried eight bottles of wine. We left the island with six of those unopened. The energy during those candle-lit evenings came not from wine, but from us. There were times when our laughter was so raucous that I thought the neighbors would yell – until I realized there were no neighbors. That’s one of the good things about isolated little islands.

The last time I experienced anything close to this was childhood summers at camp. Eight weeks with girls who arrived as strangers and left only after endless hugs, many tears, and long “train letters” that were written on toilet paper to be read during painful trips home? None of us last week wrote letters on toilet paper. Nor did we cry. But the bonding was the same. And the memories? Thank you, ladies. You’ve given me those.

We joked about my getting a book out of the week. No. Way. Some memories are too precious to share. You notice I haven’t mentioned names here, not of the island nor members of our group.  Nor have I posted any picture that is remotely personal — certainly not the one of play money stuck, well, stuck places — how funny was that, ladies?  I’m not saying that some thoughts from the week won’t appear in a future book. How could that not happen, when I pull from my life when I create a book, and this was such a defining experience for me? But rest assured, dear friends, that your secrets are safe, as I know mine are.

So. You readers. Have you ever felt the energy of women? Modern lives are busy. Much as we communicate on Facebook and the like, we are often physically apart. The days of bonding over the back yard clothes line are gone. How do we recapture that sense of camaraderie and support?

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6 Comments

  1. Avatar Mary on September 18, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Without my “sisters in life”, this life would be hard indeed. Although I have no true sisters, I do have, and have had my whole life, women in my life who are so important to me that I consider them my “sisters in life”. Men are great, but a woman needs other women in her life to help her experience the joys and weather the sorrows that everyone has in life. I was thrilled to read your blog, and totally agree with you about the “energy of women”!!

  2. Avatar Paula on September 18, 2015 at 10:48 am

    When I was younger and before my husband became ill, I used to participate in different writing and/or spiritual retreats for women in different parts of the country. The feminine energy was magical and I loved these times.

  3. Avatar Melissa on September 18, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Barbara, that sounds like an amazing experience! I happen to live on an island in the Thousand Islands year round, and I think it’s a magical place! I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit here.

  4. Avatar Cecelia on September 18, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you for this beautiful blog. It made me remember my Girl Scout Camps Days and the one friend who always chose the same dates as I did. For 6 years, we had 2 beautiful weeks in the summer even though we never communicated during the school year. Then a year later we met at an outing. From there we became best friends for another 18 years. She moved and I was never able to get in touch with her again. Memories and my other best friends who acted as if they were my sisters have helped make me who I am. Here’s to you, Sharon S., Martha C., Connie G., and Ann B.!

  5. Avatar Mary Lou Miller on September 18, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Wonderful adventure!! I was raised on a ranch that was away from civilization and I’ve always enjoyed the peaceandquiet of isolation. I alsothinktbere is much more likelihood personal interaction with a smaller group.

  6. Avatar Teresa on December 15, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    What a wonderful time! I was smiling the whole time I was reading! I am part of a group of 5 women that I have been friends with for about 15 yrs. We all have a ‘medical condition’ that brought us together in the first place, we live all over the United States and Canada, stay in contact on-line, we range in age from 30 to 60. We try and get together every few yrs, and when we do, it’s like we’ve never been apart. We have a special bond, a special friendship and it’s awesome.

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