Every year a group of women who met in college fly from all over the U.S. to, as Whitley Gilbert said, “Relax, relate, release!”

And I’m so fortunate to be counted among this tribe. Three years ago, we went to Bermuda, then it was Belize, and last year was Turks. I didn’t go to Turks because we had recently moved to Portland and it just wasn’t a good time for my family.

But this year, it was awn! Wild dogs couldn’t keep me away. In the weeks leading up to vacation, the group, which we call “The Friends,” were chomping at the bit to leave. Some girls were already packed a month before the trip. Not me, I finished packing as the taxi pulled into my driveway. (No lie.)

Dinner at The Beach House restaurant.

Dinner at The Beach House restaurant.

That’s the thing about us. We’re all so different, but we compliment each other perfectly. Some of us are hard-charging, uber-organized Type As, while others are more go-with-the-flow and whimsical. Many of us fall somewhere in between. We’ve got business executives, doctors, lawyers, members of the military, stay-at-home moms, single moms, not-yet-moms, married, single-and-fabulous, obviously we run the gamut.

Straight kickin' it at the Oistins fish fry.

Straight kickin’ it at the Oistins fish fry.

One of our core values is friendship. We value our group for its fantasticality and each other for who we are. One of the girl’s signature line is that “My friends are my family.” And I can say that I deeply love these girls and I feel they love me too. They’re the ones who don’t care that you do the ugly cry, will jump on stage with you to shake it even if though they’re the shy type, or they retrieve you from drinking with a group of thugs at a fish fry. (Don’t ask.)

In Turks, The Friends started a tradition where toward the end of each vacation we set two to three goals for ourselves to achieve by the time the next #girlztrip rolls around. To keep each other accountable, a group text messaging thread (is that what you call it?) was created.

What started out as positive, reinforcement and tips for better living, transformed into sharing the ups and downs of our daily lives. That in turn, brought us closer together.

When we met this year, most of us had achieved many of our goals of losing weight, getting promotions at work or advanced certifications and then we set new ones. I’m already excited for next year’s trip so we can see how far each of us has come.

It’s great that The Friends push each other to be better, smarter and happier. For me the best part of the trip was getting back in touch with myself. Connecting with these girls who know me so well brought me closer to me. I know that sounds strange, but it was really needed as I still feel like such an outsider in Portland. It’s getting better, but slowly.

At least I know that on the hard days, my besties are only a text away.

Dinner at Zen, which had the best sushi I've ever eaten. Ever.

Dinner at Zen, which had the best sushi I’ve ever eaten. Ever.



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