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Saturday, March 7, 2009

For A Weekend, I Am Rich

I am sitting alone at home at the moment, wistfully remembering last weekend and our annual retreat to Pacific Shores Resort and the AquaTerre Spa. We have been doing this for five years now, and every year I look forward to it more and more.

I wouldn't have thought of myself as a "spa" type a few years back. The spa, it seemed to me, was for rich people. Well, er, okay. It still is. But putting the cost aside, I always thought that the kind of people who went to spas were stinking rich snobs who would treat the experience like another ho hum day on the massage table.

If it was ever that way, it isn't anymore. The kind of women we see when we are up there are just like us, some younger, most middle-aged and older, who are escaping their daily routines for just a little while to indulge themselves in a delicious Swedish massage or pedicure, sit back in the lounge and turn their brains off while they sip on green tea and listen to that New Agey spa music that's always piped in.

Whether you're a working mother (or just working, or just a mother for that matter), a middle-aged woman like me in the sandwich years dealing with elderly parents and young adult children, or just someone trying a spa experience out for the first time, there is nothing that beats it. In the lounge where you wait before or between treatments, everyone is quietly smiling...there is a sense of peace and tranquility and to hell with everything and everyone else! This is ME time.

I travel up with the same four women every winter. We have known each other, some of us, for more than 20 years and most of us met through work and continued the friendship as we moved on to other jobs. We have seen each other through many life events; weddings, children, loss, hard times and wonderful times. And this one weekend we share once a year together is our chance to be away from all distractions and simply spend time on ourselves and each other. We usually each bring something for dinner for the first night. And lots of wine, of course!

This year, we stayed in a really nice, large unit where we each had our own beds, and one lucky person got the private room with the king-size bed and the soaker tub and fireplace. Next year by default, it's mine! I am going to have a party in there.

On Saturday morning we all rose to a light breakfast and got ready for our wonderful spa treatments. I had a Swedish massage for the first time. I've had massages before, but not Swedish...what distinguishes it is longer, connected strokes and a more gentle touch. I've had deep tissue massage before that left me feeling exhausted for days afterwards...not really something I would consider stress-relieving! But I loved the Swedish massage and would definitely do it again.

I have to admit, though, that I spent most of that hour telling myself to stop thinking and just enjoy the process...how annoying to suddenly find yourself worried about that ugly spot on your back, or having a ticklish foot attack. What is that music? Maybe I should consider producing some spa music. Are those energy-saving lightbulbs? Stop thinking Irene!

Before I knew it, the hour was up and I was back in the lounge with my green tea. Then a few moments later I was called in for my pedicure. There's something else I never used to do...I used to think that nail polish on toes was only for prima donnas. But now I'm right in the swing of choosing a new colour (this year it was a lovely rosey pink called Carpe Diem) and settling in while they rub and scrub and clip, polish and paint. With a Margarita in my hand, of course.

In the evening, well after a dinner that included a number of glasses of wine, we threw on our bathing suits, grabbed our white spa robes and took a little cup of blackberry port with us to the outdoor hot tub. That is where we were headed to in the picture above. Don't we look happy? And then before we knew it, it was Sunday morning, time to pack up and head home. How on earth did it go so quickly?

And now here I am a week later, already thinking about what kind of treatment I'm going to have next year and what I might make for dinner and how much fun we're going to have. Will it be a facial this time? Or maybe the Fiesta Margarita or the Hot Chocolate Kiss? Yum.

Every year for a weekend, I am rich.

IJ (oh yes, and a footnote to my pals...what happens at the spa, stays at the spa :-)