canyon ranchWhen my daughter Carrie was little, I could make her feel better by preparing a tuna fish sandwich just how she liked it…chopped fine with celery on white toast without the crust, cut into four triangles. Last month, beyond exhausted after coming off a 26-day-straight work schedule, she required a more sophisticated rescue plan…a spur of the moment escape to the most nurturing place I could think of within driving distance…Canyon Ranch.

Although as she once put it, we love each other “illegal amounts,” this was the first time just the two of us were going away together. A one-time stand up comedian, Carrie is a decisive, powerful celebrity publicist, with thousands of followers on social media. She travels first class, has enviable taste in fashion and décor, and has negotiated the travails of her life with courage and grace. I got married at twenty, work mostly from home and have never gone out for dinner by myself.  I am loathe to complicate my life with Facebook and such, not understanding how I’d find the time when it takes me till Thursday to get to the Style section of the Sunday Times. Bound though we are by history and blood, we are two very different women. And I wondered how many eye rolls I was bound to provoke.

We decided to carefully schedule each day of our stay ahead of time, incorporating the exercise classes, lectures and pampering we’d want to squeeze into an ideal visit. Looking through the offerings I felt like I did walking into my high school reunion…overcome with so much stimuli demanding my immediate attention, I stood frozen in the doorway.

Restorative was the name of the game… healing circles and meditation and early morning stretches. We agreed we both overdose on cardio and could use the break. And a little hoogie moogie was in order…some astrology and tarot card reading. Carrie checked off our choices with authority…80-minute facials and massages, she insisted, not the 50-minute sessions I’d highlighted. Did I need 80 minutes, I thought, convinced I’d be too restless to just lie there. Need was not the point, she explained, decadent, well-deserved pleasure was.

Fifteen minutes after leaving home our shoulders lost contact with our ears. We rode with the top down, wending our way through beautiful fall foliage, accompanied by Carrie’s carefully curated music. When we arrived and she saw that she got 138 new emails during our trip, I cringed. She vowed not to check her laptop again until after dinner. An hour later we stood tall in a barre class, promptly trashing our resolution not take any class that would challenge us to work hard. We had our charts read and were impressed with their accuracy and buoyed by their optimistic projections.  And as if life weren’t good enough, there was a café where you could have as many cappuccinos and lattes and smoothies as you could swallow from morning to night. Ah…

It turns out we both believe that cardio saves the people around us from suffering the nasty fallout from the stress we sweat away. So much for healing circles. We thought we should want to unwind and relax in dark rooms with quiet music… but this time away was a shouldless time. Instead we wandered from kick-boxing to facials to abs class to spin. Carrie announced with pride, “I don’t have anything with time on me. No watch. No phone. Nothing.” When I saw her smile, I thought of the first time my grand daughter tasted a cupcake…she kept taking tiny nibbles, announcing after each one, “I’m not done yet…” willing it to last and last. That afternoon I so understood how she felt.

Only a daughter can hilariously but lovingly ask her mom, “Would you be mad if I got the vegetarian bean chili for dinner?” Her father should be so considerate. Only a mother and daughter would take a million selfies in a post facial/massage bathrobe until satisfied with the one each of us thought the other looked best. Only a mother and daughter could share the tightest, longest hug, full of gratitude, after walking around the labyrinth, only to collapse in laughter a minute later at the thought of my husband, if he were there to join us, saying “How do you get out of this thing?”

We rode home in comfortable silence wearing new caps with a message we vowed would be our new mantra… “At the end of the day, only two questions matter. Have you found joy today? Have you given joy today?”

So if you have an adult daughter, find the time to run away from home together, sans husbands and small children and careers and whatever responsibilities make Mondays so difficult. Focus on pleasure without distraction, without judgment, without goals. Because time doesn’t just march on…it sprints.

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