Spiritual getaways are about stepping (or hiking, kayaking or even leaping your way) out of your comfort zone. In a way, all Outdoor Book Club trips are about this. But if you're really looking for a way to reach your best self, to learn and practice your higher values (and then take those values back to your every day life), here's a list of book ideas that would make great girlfriend getaway trips (or else I can plan it for you):
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
As women, it's really hard for us to embrace our imperfections in a world that requires us to be perfect at beauty, sex, motherhood, careers, cooking, exercise and decorating our kids birthday parties. Brown teaches us how to let go of that need to be perfect all the time, and just embrace our best selves. I think the subtitle says it all: "Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are."
Here's one of my favorite quotes from The Gifts of Imperfection:
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”
Discussing the themes and lessons of this book with your women friends might be just the thing you need to jumpstart your life. Be sure to check out Brown's TEDtalk on the power of vulnerability, one of the most popular TEDtalks of all time, for a sneak peek of her message.
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
This is a book I turn to again and again. Years ago I highlighted some of my favorite passages in it, and whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed by managing all the details of my life, this book reminds me that I am not my problems. Here's just a sample:
“Give up defining yourself - to yourself or to others. You won't die. You will come to life. And don't be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it's their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don't be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
(Hell, I'm going to go pick it up again right now.) It was one of those books that changed the world when Oprah featured it in her spirituality workshop several years ago. Millions tuned in, and millions still turn to Tolle (including his other book, The Power of Now) to find peace and to center themselves. This would be an amazing book to read while on an outdoor retreat with several other women.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
This book touched millions of lives, inspiring women to own their pasts and do something amazing with their present. Strayed's cut-to-the-core writing style paired with humor and the classic tale of the heroine's journey make this an excellent read for a woodsy or backpacking retreat with just the girls. Here's a quote from the book to inspire you:
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
This classic nonfiction book has been an invaluable guide as many women pass through the gates of middle age and beyond, making it the perfect book to discuss with your oldest and dearest friends. Lindbergh's writing is full of grace, clarity and lyrical language. She offers sage advice on aging, love (and marriage) as well as peace, solitude and the meaning of contentment. Here's one of my favorite quotes:
“Don't wish me happiness
I don't expect to be happy all the time...
It's gotten beyond that somehow.
Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.
I will need them all.”
Yes. Yes I will. Another great book for the outdoors, this one read on the shores of a body of water. If you're not near an ocean, a lake or river will do just fine.
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
And why not just throw a fiction book (and a damn fine one at that) in the mix? Not typically considered a "spiritual" book, there are plenty of quotes from this bestseller by John Green that are great for reflecting on the fleeting nature of life and love. My favorites include:
“As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
And then there's this one:
“I'm in love with you," he said quietly.
"Augustus," I said.
"I am," he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
And my all-time favorite:
“The world is not a wish-granting factory.”
*SIGH* This is a book that feels amazing when you read it. A lot of my friends said they cried when they read it, so discussing it around a campfire makes a lot of sense.
Finding the right location
In addition to finding the right book, you're going to have to find the right place -- Vegas, Cancun and other hotspot girlfriend getaways just aren't going to cut it when you're trying to get more in touch with the present and your higher, more spiritual self (not to mention read). For my money, no place in the world can compete with Northern Michigan, especially in the summer and fall — and ABC's morning show apparently agrees. But even if you have to escape to your backyard bonfire to get right with yourself, a spiritual retreat doesn't need to be anywhere exotic. Wherever your favorite books and your favorite people end up gathered together will do just fine.
What are your favorite spirituality books (or books that offer spiritual guidance that you return to) or locations?
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Jill Hinton Wolfe