This year marks my tenth year blogging. I started this site as a way to share about scrapbooking projects and our life in Nashville with family around the country. It evolved to be so much more and has been one of my greatest joys and blessings.
The most tremendous blessing has been the friendships that have bloomed. Many of my closest friendships have come out of blogging.
After years of talking about it, ten of us gathered in Destin this past weekend. Coming from as far as Boston and Seattle, we flew to the beach to finally get time together. Newman-Dailey provided our accommodations in Blue Heaven, an incredible home just blocks from the beach.
The goals of the weekend were simple — time in community. The weekend was incredibly rich in that regard. Because we are all bloggers, we wanted to create a mini conference of sorts for ourselves. We each have different giftings and knew that the weekend would provide the space to learn a lot.
I spearheaded the planning for the weekend. While I have certainly been on girls trips before, this was my first time leading.
Without a doubt, I can say that this weekend was more valuable than a large conference from both a learning and relationship perspective. The small group allowed for us to go deep, hear from everyone and have very specific conversations.
I think so many women could benefit from gathering together for a small retreat.
Here’s how we did it and how to make the most of it:
Determine your location: With us coming from literally one end of the country to the other, we wanted somewhere sort of central. After having such a positive experience in Destin (on the Florida gulf coast) with my family in October, I suggested going there. It was a perfect destination this time of year. The weather was beautiful (high 60s, low 70s), its the off-season which made things more affordable and traffic minimal and the beach is always a good idea!
Rent a house: One of the reasons our experience was so positive was that we were in a home, not a hotel. Newman-Dailey provided a home for us to stay in and it was perfect. A home offered lots of common area for us to gather, plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms (perfect for a lot of women!) and a great kitchen. Having a full kitchen also allowed for us to prepare breakfast and lunch at home, which saved tons of money.
Create a private Facebook group for the trip: Having a Facebook group allowed us to have multiple planning conversations about the trip and keep everything in one place. We also used it to upload documents for contact information, trip itineraries, etc. During the trip when someone would mention a cool website, tool, etc. we would post it in the group. We also uploaded photos to the group to make it easy for sharing. It was incredibly simple and useful.
Prepare an agenda/itinerary: One of the goals of the weekend was to share blogging best practices, tips, etc. so we prepared an agenda ahead of time. This helped to ensure that the weekend didn’t end with everyone leaving with unmet goals. We created our agenda in the Facebook group, then commented, tweaked, etc. I think even if you aren’t doing a “think tank” like we did, this is helpful. What are the places you want to go? What reservations do you have? etc.
Come prepared: If you have established goals for the weekend, come prepared. Write goals, look at your analytics, jot down questions you have, etc. You will only get out of the trip what you put into it.
Make time to breathe: While we had an agenda and established goals, we also took time to enjoy the beach, have great meals and just chill. It is also important to recognize what you need personally. At night, I went to bed earlier than the rest of the group, knowing that I needed time to read, unwind and get good sleep. (I read Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale and LOVED it.)
Be generous: One of the reasons our weekend was so awesome was because everyone was so generous with their knowledge. There was no comparison, all celebration. Generosity went beyond sharing knowledge though. Some women ran to Starbucks every morning to pick up coffee, others handled clean up in the kitchen, others put together snacks. This kindness made for a truly lovely time together.
Take photos: Obviously, take lots of photos! These getaways are precious and the photos will be treasured memories for years to come.
Enjoy local food: While one of the big perks of having a house was being able to eat in, be sure to take time to enjoy local food. We went to Brotula’s one night and they provided our group with an incredible meal. One of the things I love about Brotula’s is that the fish is fresh from the Gulf and the beef, chicken and vegetables are all local, farm to table. Some of the fish meals came with a QR code that you could literally see a photo of the fisherman who caught your fish! Incredible.
Practice gratitude: Take time to be thankful — for friendship, for the space, for the beauty of the world around you. Journal, write thank yous, pray.
Have you ever taken a girls weekend away? Was it for business, pleasure or both? What tips would you add?