I’m back from my annual trip to the beach. Every summer, five women friends and I escape together to unwind for a weekend at a friend’s beach house. The trip is an amazing three days of catching up, slowing down, and most of all, laughing.
My friend Cathy is a laughter wellness instructor and she told me recently that 10 minutes of laughter has the same benefits as 30 minutes on a rowing machine and that 15 minutes of laughter a day can help you lose four pounds a year. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather laugh than row or diet. I’m happy to report that our one weekend in June covered two months of aerobic workouts and offset all the calories we noshed, savored or imbibed.
A lot of things have changed since our little group formed 12 years ago, the long-term effects of gravity among them. Dolly Parton put it this way in the movie Steel Magnolias: “Time marches on and sooner or later you realize, most of it is marching across your face.”
But as women often do, we’ve learned to celebrate the changes our life journeys bring and welcome the freedom that comes to women of a certain age. It’s a powerful leap forward to learn to care more about what we think of ourselves than we do about the opinions other people hold of us. It’s also great to know that as the years roll by, you learn to lighten up and let go. That means enjoying some perks of a beach vacation you never saw coming in your 20s. Here are just 10 of them.
#1. The hell with fashion trends. You can finally buy a comfortable swim suit that feels great and has the right coverage no matter how you turn, reach or bend. Love it for the fact that it won’t require constant adjustments and know nothing will ever slide down, ride up or fall out.
#2. Sunbathe with impunity. No one will be looking at you and if they are, it doesn’t matter and you don’t care.
#3. Nap luxuriously and forget the constant vigils. As you lie down, you won’t give a thought to whether the maple butter blondie your ate last night is going to appear evenly distributed across both thighs. You can relax completely and turn off your radar. When a dozen little voices start chirping “Mommy! Look what I can do!” you don’t need to squint, scan and identify the one calling to you.
#4. You no longer have to pretend you enjoy cavorting in the broiling sun to play volleyball, fly a kite, toss a football or otherwise expend any energy that might whip up some perspiration. These are all cruel tricks invented by beach guys to show off their pecs or evaluate the jiggle of beach babes. You are past the point of selling anything so you don’t need to advertise
#5. When you say the maid will do something, you mean the actual maid in your hotel room, not some sarcastic euphemism for you as mom or wife.
#6. You can enjoy watching young families sculpting sand tarts and building sand bakeries knowing there won’t be any grit in your britches at the end of the day. You can relive all your happy memories of beach trips with your own kids without having to clean up anything when you get home.
#7. It’s finally okay to make your own shade by wearing a hat, no matter how dopey.
#8. Your beach accessories are limited to a chair, a book and a towel. You no longer have to drag along a U-Haul filled with sand buckets, shovels, inflatable giraffes and all the items necessary for every kid contingency including Band-Aids, Pampers and a parachute.
#9. It’s expected that you will go bottoms-up when the big wave rolls in so crash with style and roll with it.
#10: When you tell your significant other that you want to feel the earth move while you’re on vacation, he will know you simply want to stand in the surf — and nothing more.
Enjoy your beach vacation. If you’re over 50, flash those senior discount cards. Take full advantage of your status; you’ve earned it.