Put On Your Own Mask Before You Assist Others

If you had no one besides yourself in your life to take care of, worry about, or be responsible for, would you take more trips with your girlfriends? Yeah, me too. Our lives get convoluted, don’t they? You wake up one day and it’s already six months later than the last time you took a really good look at the calendar. Birthdays have passed, quality phone conversations have been missed, and years have gone by in the blink of an eye. 

The hands on the clock turn quickly and managing priorities is not easy. If you’re a mom, wife, sister, aunt, daughter, grandmother, pet owner, significant other, employee, company owner—or really any other role—chances are you don’t make enough time for yourself and your girlfriends. Why is that? 

If you’re anything like me, it may be that you tend to feel guilty, to a degree. I am a caretaker. I’ve been known to say that I am “the caretaker of all things”—and I do mean all things. So when I leave to go on a girls trip, those things suffer. Sometimes suffering can be good (not in a negative way, of course) but I still feel a bit of guilt that I’m not doing my job. But here’s the deal: I’m in a different part of my life now. My kids are grown and out of the house, and Pete is (mostly) self-sufficient (ha!) I realize now how true the statement, “You have to put on your own mask before you assist others” really is. We’ve heard it every time we fly somewhere, and now we need to listen while we’re on the ground. 

How can we possibly be 100% if we don’t take care of ourselves? (Yes, that's a rhetorical question.) To me, it’s like doing 10 things at once, but each only gets 10% of my attention. It would be simpler if I could focus on one thing 100% and give it my best effort. Who are those women who do that? Someone please tell me! I don’t think I have ever been able to give one thing 100%. Not even as a mom. My time is always divided. 

My Girls Trips Evolution 

I used to take an annual weekend away with my friend, Shannon. We had a great time together when we would go on these trips. We picked a few different spots: Dana Point, Sausalito, Santa Barbara. Dining out was always great. Back then, just to sit and not get interrupted was like a slice of heaven. Wow. I felt like a human being again when I was on these trips. 

For those of you with children, I know I am speaking your language. For those of you without kids, here’s what I’m talking about: There comes a time in our lives as mothers where we start to question our intelligence. Many women work all day every day trying so diligently to be a great mom. We get so enveloped in our maternal career that we lose sight of how to speak intelligently to others; we sort of become socially inept for the first few years of our kids’ lives. 

But my trips with Shannon only lasted a few years. Our kids weren’t old enough to stay alone and take care of themselves. Pete was home with Lex and Kole while I was gone, but I just didn’t feel comfortable leaving my family, so my weekends away with Shannon never really stuck as a tradition. 

When Pete and I moved to Connecticut, the kids were older and I went on a couple of trips with some women there. Those trips were fun too, but I always felt like an outsider. The group of them were all friends before I came on the scene. Their longtime friendship created a different bond between them than I had, so I stopped joining them. (Or wait. They may have just stopped inviting me. I don’t really remember!) Thing is, I don’t need to be the center of attraction or be with my lifelong friends to go on a girls weekend, but why spend money, time, and effort being in a place where you feel uncomfortable?

For a long time, I wondered what the big deal was about taking these trips with girlfriends. The trips with Shannon were fun, but quickly faded. The Connecticut group, again, was fun, but didn’t last either. So what the heck? Was I ever going to do any trips like this again? It took years, but I finally found my niche. 

The Trip I was Waiting to Take 

At my 30-year reunion, I reconnected with three of my best friends from high school. After that weekend, we vowed to stay in better touch. Enter: the Marco Polo app. We talked through Marco Polo for about two years after the reunion and one day we decided that we desperately needed a girls weekend. Seeing each other’s faces through Marco Polo made us yearn to be together again. 

I encourage all of my friends to communicate with me through this app. I feel that if you can’t be together face to face, it’s one of the next best ways to connect. I’m not sponsored to say this, but really, give it a try. It’s an awesome way to stay in touch with your girlfriends.

The four of us took that trip to Santa Barbara and were planning another, but then 2020 happened and no one could travel because of the pandemic. But this year we’re fixing that! This year we’re traveling to Lake Tahoe. How fun! We’ve rented a home and are so looking forward to getting there and seeing each other. 

The Lesson. There’s Always a Lesson

It was my own personality that kept me away from those girls all these years. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve taken the opportunity long ago to spend more valuable time with the three of them. I know they feel the same because on our last trip, we all agreed that we needed to get together every single year. 

We found out that we missed large parts of each other’s lives. We could’ve shared lots of happy times, discussed many issues, and celebrated those once-in-a-lifetime events. We could’ve spent those times together. Instead, we either spent them apart or had no knowledge of them happening at all. 

So here’s where I do the proverbial kick myself. I feel horrible that I hadn’t thought earlier to coordinate a girl’s weekend with my besties from high school. I really could’ve made the effort and gotten something together. And yes, I hear you saying, they could have too. And yes, they could have. 

We cannot retrieve the past. We can only be mindful and responsible for the future. But I will tell you this, don’t wait like I did. Make those plans now. Had we planned 20 years ago to start a tradition, some of us would be leading completely different lives today. Girlfriends are important. We offer care and concern. We are supportive no matter the circumstance. Our judgement and opinions are heard as love, and understood as wake up calls. Girlfriends are life changers. They will put your mask on you so you can help them before they help themselves. 

I love that you were with me today. See you next week!



Lisa A.K.A Loopie

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