Join Me In A ReTreat! (Capitalization Intentional)

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I’m always looking for a way to have a little time to myself. And one of the truly bizarre truths of being a working mom is that business trips = time to myself. I’ve been at the BlogHer offices in California all this week. First of all, it’s truly great to see co-workers who are mostly just voices on the telephone or words in my email. But second? I got up yesterday and the day before and this morning and exercised for 45 minutes! And watched the morning news! And had two cups of coffee while noodling around on the internet, uninterrupted!


It’s been so long since I’ve taken a business trip, I forgot how rejuvenating they can be! (And I’m saying this despite the fact that I had a blinding headache from dehydration until 5am the first day, and that I had no dinner one night because the hotel didn’t have a restaurant and I didn’t want to eat at the Wendy’s next door.) I literally couldn’t wait to get up at 5:45am today to have another workout. It’s crazy what passes for thrills when you’re a working mom.

So this recent reminder of the strange joys and challenges of my station in life is making me all the happier that I am speaking at an intimate retreat for working moms in just a few weeks. The event is called “ReTreat Yourself.” (Isn’t that genius? Who doesn’t think she deserves a treat?) And my topic is a favorite: “Balance is Bull$#&*” That’s not to say that I don’t think women can find their own personal equilibrium—it’s that I believe the very word “balance” has too many implications that are impossible to attain, so I think we should all agree to walk away from the idea of equilibrium in these busy, crazy times.

What I do think we can and should reach for is this: A sense of having made choices that please us, a knowledge that the power to change our choices is always at our hands (even if those changes aren’t easy), and an acceptance of the simple truth that life in America right now is fraught and frenetic—and not something we have done to ourselves.

I’m still working on my “speech” (I don’t really give speeches: I gather my many thoughts and insights I’ve gathered over the years and collect them into a shiny collage), so I’d love to know: What is hard for you about being a working mom? Or about being a working woman? (Life is just as busy, I know, for those of you without kids.) What are the questions you ask yourself when you’re lying in bed at night, wondering if you’re doing “the right things?” I’d love to think about your questions, and add them to mine, and use them all to stir up a really meaningful and interesting conversation with those 50 women who are ReTreating themselves in Virginia.

I promise to come back and share whatever I learn. And I will also come back with a better word than “balance” as the goal for which we should all be reaching. Maybe if we can change the language around what we expect out of life, we can all feel better without changing a thing in our full, dynamic, passionate, crazy lives.


(And P.S. I’m also speaking here: at Smart Start Divorce Expo in NYC on April 1. Read about it on my other blog, Falling Apart In One Piece.)

About stacy

I am a writer, author, mother, former magazine editor (last at Redbook), optimist, and, above all, a searcher. I'm still searching for whom I'm really meant to be, after a series of very jarring losses. Since then I've been trying to figure out what's next. Or, in other words, how to fill in the blanks.
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8 Responses to Join Me In A ReTreat! (Capitalization Intentional)

  1. teamgloria says:

    Smiling at the thought of you on the Other Coast!!

  2. Lindsey says:

    I could not agree with you more on the balance issue. I often say that I think it’s an overrated term, laden with pressure and expectations. I also think that “balance” is something you achieve over the long arc of a life, rather than in a given week or year. I like what you say about feeling good about our choices, in aggregate, and I think a realistic awareness and heartfelt acceptance of the tradeoffs that are part of the deal is required. This retreat sounds amazing; wish I could join you! xox

  3. This post reminded me of how I changed the way I thought about balance, starting last summer. I wrote this in August:
    However, I was talking about making changes in my life, not just changing terminology. But looking at it this way, it has helped to change the way I think; helped me not to get down on myself when we are busier than we would like to be.
    Now I’m going to start thinking about it again. Thanks.

  4. I meant to say that I think of it as an assymetrical balance, in art terms. – Asymmetrical balance is more complex and difficult to envisage. It involves placement of objects in a way that will allow objects of varying visual weight to balance one another around a fulcrum point.

  5. The question that rolls through my head from time to time as a corporate working mom: Are we doing this right? Is this the best way it can be done?

    I wonder that about the state we live in (so expensive we have to work so hard to maintain middle class living standards)

    I wonder it about not living close (like in the same neighborhood) as my sister and beloved nephews who could be growing up alongside their cousin, my daughter, and we could all have so much more love and support on a daily basis.

    I wonder it in my relationship sometimes (as I think all marrieds do)

    I wonder it especially in my career. Yes I can do it! Yes I am advancing! Yes my ladder is up against the wall of a big company/tall building. Is it the right one?

    I wonder it about all the parts of me I want to develop and be and experience.

    • stacy says:

      Yes, yes. And let’s remember the other side of the word “wonder”, that it means a being gently amazed. I think of wondering as being a way of staying awake in our lives; we just must be careful not to let it turn into anxiety. These two years of questioning my life, and rebuilding it, and trying not to make decisions from fear, have been such a great teacher. A brutal, isolating teacher at times, but…. my sense of security in the world–if not quite yet my stability–is slowing returning. And I am so grateful.

  6. Rita Arens says:

    I wonder how to project to my daughter it’s always worth it when she sees me cry over writerly rejection.

  7. pamela says:

    I love what you write here and your ReTreat. Wonderful!

    I also wanted to comment on the amazing comment you left on Lindsey’s blog about weight and fear and patience. It just blew me away and I relate to everything you wrote. LOVED your book and am so grateful that you are writing and sharing all of this. Thank you!!

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