Last fall I took a long overdue girls’ trip to San Antonio with my girlfriends of 30+ years. There were 6 of us and between us we have 19 children, a fact my friend Leslie took great pleasure in telling every Uber driver we encountered that weekend. A few of my friends have literally been in childbearing mode for the past decade. Needless to say, when I pitched the idea for a girls’ getaway every single one yelled an emphatic “I’M IN!!!” I kid you not, less than 24 hours later we had picked our destination, booked flights and rented an Airbnb, which is saying a lot for my friends who have 4, 5 and 6 kids. I mean, they literally had to assemble an entire team of staff to cover their job as a mom for this trip.
October finally rolled around and the whole gang reunited in sunny San Antonio. A few of us hadn’t seen each other in over 10 years and it’s not like we have time to catch up over the phone. After high school we went to separate colleges, moved to different cities, started families, chased careers, and so on and so forth. You know the story. But I kid you not, when we hooked up for that glorious weekend together, none of that mattered.
While San Antonio has plenty of sightseeing to do, we literally did none of it. We spent a whole day lounging at a fancy rooftop pool with a cooler of beer we had snuck in (because we are classy like that) and otherwise hung out at our Airbnb, snacking and catching up for hours on the couch. We listened to our favorite throwbacks, tried on each other’s clothes, swapped shoes, and primped in front of the mirror to get ready for our nights out. We danced at a few dive bars to our old-school rap jams from the 90’s and even got cut off at a restaurant. We could not have been more proud of ourselves. We crammed into Uber rides and laughed so hard our faces hurt. We could have been in any city in the world and our weekend would have looked the same.
I arrived back in Portland late Sunday night and hit the road running Monday morning. I was exhausted and behind on so many things, but I was elated. That weekend left me so high with endorphins for the next two weeks that I was able to take things in stride and at times I would find myself smiling or laughing out loud. How could a quick trip with girlfriends make me feel so happy? I knew there must be something on a deeper level to explain this, so I did a little digging about the power of women friendships, and my instincts were right.
When women friends get together not only do we have a damn good time, but our bodies actually produce the hormones oxytocin and estrogen. This explains why a good girlfriend sesh leaves you feeling like your cup has been refilled. Activist and actress Jane Fonda says “friendship between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep. We go under, even if we haven’t seen each other for years. There are hormones that are released from women to other women that are healthy and do away with the stress hormones. It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be. We have to just hang together and help each other.” Amen, sister.
Women are also natural, empathetic beings. We are the pillars of our families and the glue that holds it all together. We love and support not only our immediate family, but also our extended family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. We intuitively know when a loved one is in need of help, like when a friend calls and you can hear it in her voice that she needs to talk. Kristen Fuller, MD wrote an article in Psychology Today in which she says “girlfriends have a distinctive way of reading emotions and intuitively recognizing what needs to be done then acting on it. We understand each other, we validate each other, we give marriage and breakup advice to each other, we share some of the deepest darkest secrets with each other, we share the honest truth with each other, we share intimate family details with each other, we share beauty products with each other, we tell each other when we have food in our teeth or when our shirt is on backward, and we share lasting memories with each other.” While we women take great pride in being the ‘glue’ it can also be extremely draining if we don’t make sure to show ourselves the same level of care we show others.
The takeaway from all this is super simple. Do everything you can to maintain and nurture your women friendships. It is these friendships with women that will sustain you through life’s ups and downs. On our girls’ trip I can’t tell you how many countless strangers stopped to ask us who was getting married, as if a group of giddy, grown women only get together when a bachelorette party is happening. So despite our busy careers, families and responsibilities, we need to place great importance on our friendships, because not only are they good for our souls, but they benefit our health too, like a prescription that needs to be refilled. So phone a friend and set up a coffee date, happy hour or a quick getaway and make new memories with old friends.
Editor's Note: these are not actual photos of Lauren's girls trip...they are just stock photos, but c'mon, look how much fun they're having! You know you want to be having that much fun too, go call your bestie.