Women’s Travel Network: The Real Deal with Heather Resnick
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling? Where do you live?
I live in the City of Vaughan, which jokingly we used to say “The City above Toronto!” (Ontario, Canada) Sort of a competition thing!
This past January I fulfilled my New Year’s Eve resolution and began a Meetup group called Menoclawsal Mavens. It means Menopause with Claws! I wanted the name to make people laugh, which it does in spades! It is based on a hilarious and true poem I wrote called Meno”claws” Pause Poem, in 2009. Having suffered through instantaneous menopause for the past 14 years because of chemotherapy, I thought that other women must be going through the same thing and would want to be part of a support, learning and having fun group. I organize speakers and over the next few months we will be all about partying and having fun. You can find out more about it on our site and Facebook group.
This past January I fulfilled my New Year’s Eve resolution and began a Meetup group called Menoclawsal Mavens. It means Menopause with Claws!
I also volunteer for a charity event coming up November 9, called The Joy of Aging – “What your mother never told you” A Special Morning for Women Who Have It All (and want to keep it!) This year’s hot topic is “Igniting the Spark in Your Relationship.” The proceeds are going towards an new MRI machine for our local hospital Mackenzie Health. I wanted to be part of this because it is a good cause and I want to meet the women who attend to entice them to join my group. Last year’s topic was menopause, which is what inspired me to start my group. I obtain sponsors, try to get the word out with the media and tell women I meet about the event. I will be organizing the volunteers and creating displays for the silent auction.
As a life-long learner, I am always attending lectures, workshops and networking groups. I am having a ball connecting with new woman and expanding my knowledge and self-growth.
When I am motivated, I work on my novel I wrote many years ago that I am trying to rewrite called Ms. Humpty Dumpty, about a woman who keeps falling off the wall and is finding it harder and harder to pick up the pieces! I want to sell it on-line. Now that I made this North American utterance, I will have to be bound to my commitment!
During my sleepless nights, because I am so hot (I only wish in the way you might interpret it) my mind clatters with a world of possibilities that I can create. Hopefully one day, some of those thoughts will become a reality!
When was the first time you heard about Women’s Travel Network and what made you decide to go on trip? How many have you been to so far?
(My comments with quotation marks around them were written by me for an online coaching magazine called TimeFinders, after our first Italy trip. They were my exact feelings at the time.)
In 2004, I turned 50! I had two bouts of cancer, one in the breast and two years later a metastasis in my lymph nodes under my arm, on the same side as my breast cancer. Chemotherapy, during the second cancer was brutal. I thought I was going to die from the treatment. When I survived, I decided that I had to thrive. It had always been a wish to travel. I missed the opportunity when I was younger and then married with small children, the timing was hard to work out except when our kids were in camp and even then it was limited. My husband could not travel in 2004. I told him that “time waits for no one,” and it was my time to travel.
I longed to go to Greece. I belonged to a networking group and asked around if they knew any small travel groups. I was connected to Debbie Ross. She said she had just started the Women’s Travel Network (we would be her first women’s group). She wasn’t going to Greece, but Italy – Florence, Tuscany and Rome on a wine and cooking tour with about 10 women.
“Sign me up,” I said without hesitation. It mattered little to me that I did not know Debbie or the rest of the group.
My husband could not travel in 2004. I told him that “time waits for no one,” and it was my time to travel.
“When I told other women I was going on a women’s only trip to Italy, the response from them was, ‘That is fabulous. It will be such a hoot because you can relax and have fun doing what women like to do best – shopping, gabbing and enjoying each other’s company without male influences.’ But when they asked, ‘Are you going with friends?’ and I said ‘No’ they thought I was taking a chance I wouldn’t get along with the others–especially my roommate–and it could ruin my trip. I trusted that Debbie would make sure our personalities melded. ‘Besides, I am quite able to compromise on a trip.’ I wasn’t going to spend for single supplement, when we are only going to be sleeping in the room. ‘Even if my partner snores,’ I said, ‘I don’t sleep much anyway. Every couple of hours I wake up in a puddle. It’s this menopause thing!'”
Debbie held a meet and great for us prior to the trip, but my roommate was from Ottawa and could not attend. My joke is that I met her the first night I slept with her!
“My conviction of Debbie’s ability proved true to my belief. I have never had so much fun with a group of women in my whole life. We all settled into a comfort zone with each other instantaneously. The fact that ten women of varying ages, backgrounds and personalities could get along so well, seemed astounding.
In retrospect though, we were all able to follow basic tenets in being amicable:
Humour (we made fun of ourselves and viewed our experiences with the eyes of comedians), Compromise, Compassion, Sharing, Flexibility, Child-like wonder at the sites we encountered and the knowledge we gleaned, and Latitude (mutual respect for each other’s space).
We have been on five European trips – Italy 2004, France 2006, Greece 2008, Ireland 2011, Portugal 2012, Italy 2014.
Would you share a few highlights from your trips with Pink Pangea readers?
Defining who we were as a group laid the foundation for our amazing often hilarious adventures. On the second day, of our first trip in Florence, riding in our private minivan, one of the women said, “We are the Babes.” I added “on the bus.” That was it – it was perfect. We became The Babes on The Bus! Debbie travels with many groups of women, but we are the only Babes on The Bus!
One of those hilarious moments, deep healing laughter that flowed from the depths of our souls, and the one that resonates with me the most was Florence, the first trip. A few of us (maybe five) were walking through market stalls where the infamous statue of David, minus the head was displayed on aprons. Laughing, I said “We should buy them for our cooking class tomorrow.” Three of us did, the others did not saying they “would never wear that!”
For me Ireland was a desperately needed respite from a very tragic year – my mother dying of heart disease, to which she succumbed just two months to my travelling, my third cancer and treatments, having to put down my daughter’s rabbit that also had cancer and my brother-in-law and mother in-law’s diagnosis of cancer.
Back at our hotel, I told my roommate that we should buy the aprons for everyone anyway. She agreed. We went back for the purchase. We decided it would be a surprise for the others and we would present them when they got off the bus in Tuscany, where we were having our cooking class. On the bus, my roommate and I were trying to contain our giggling, so no one would catch on. We descended from our minivan (we had a gorgeous driver – eye candy and fantasy for us 40+ers) and distributed the aprons to our unsuspecting ‘sisters.’ Our laughter peeled out through the fertile valley. We put on our aprons and “[W]ith some adjustments, aprons flapping in the warm breeze, we aligned for the photograph” in front of our blue bus and our red-faced driver, to take the now infamous photograph you see here.
Ireland by consensus seems to be one of our best trips. The key was again the gut splitting laughter, until we couldn’t breathe. For me Ireland was a desperately needed respite from a very tragic year – my mother dying of heart disease, to which she succumbed just two months to my travelling, my third cancer and treatments, having to put down my daughter’s rabbit that also had cancer and my brother-in-law and mother in-law’s diagnosis of cancer. I wasn’t sure I was even going to go but my dear Babes encouraged me that it would be the best thing and it was.
We had many funny moments in Ireland, but Kissing the Blarney Stone was one highlight. It is supposed to give you the gift of the gab or “eloquence of tongue.” Our bus driver, a self-deprecating, hilarious man, who would regale us with tales, sing songs and made our BABES ON THE BUS SIGN for his bus, which attracted great attention when we arrived at our destinations where other buses were, told us that we were “already gifted in that department.” He made the problems of the world evaporate.
Standing in a field awash with the brilliant yellow sunflowers in France was an extraordinary experience. The flowers stood like soldiers at attention, facing the sun one way and then the opposite on our return trip.
What do you wish you knew before you went on your first trip?
That pork played such a major role in Italian cooking! I am the only Jewish person in the group. I don’t eat pork, but it was EVERYWHERE including our cooking class! I was dubbed, ‘Ms. Piggy.’
Would you share a bit about some of the relationships you’ve made with the other women you’ve met on the trips?
“The memories will forever be etched in my mind, [I still have to download photos to my computer from some past trips] the myriad humourous and exultant moments of that trip. Friendships were made to last a lifetime. Our interests were captured by the history, nature, culture, food and wine and of course the allure of shopping.”
I don’t know what life will bring and I don’t want regrets about what I could have, would have or should have done.
Because we had such a grand time, we agreed that we would travel every two years. This past May we celebrated 10 years of travel together. We revisited the place where the magic all began – glorious Italy. We never got to spend much time in Florence the first time, so we spent more days there and then settled in Sorrento for a week and explored the exquisite Amalfi coast.
We don’t see each other frequently in between trips and we often don’t even speak with each other because life gets in the way, but we do try to have at least one reunion in the non-travel year. There is no pause in our connection. All of us aren’t always able to be there in the physical sense for each other, but we are always there emotionally through the joy and pain of children’s weddings, birth of grandchildren, retirement, cancer, deaths of parents, spouses…
Many women in the community have an itch to participate in a trips like the ones you’ve embarked on. Do you have any advice for readers who are thinking about it, but haven’t had the courage to do so yet?
Life is too precarious, precious to not allow yourself to enjoy all the riches and rewards the world has to offer, not to mention the camaraderie. If it is about money, save it up in a special account. The health benefits are worth the price. If it is about time, make it a priority. A t-shirt that I got from a Gilda’s House (famed, deceased comedian Gilda Radner’s cancer support community) event years ago, says it perfectly, ‘Tomorrow Starts Today”. So you have to take that leap of faith.
What’s next on your travel list?
The Babes are discussing going to Spain in 2016. My son will be getting married then, so it may be my first missed trip. It is the majority that rules on where we will travel. As much as I love travelling with my Babes, in my quest to grow and having turned 60 this year it is important that I expand my wings and travel to places that are on my ‘Bucket List.’ I don’t know what life will bring and I don’t want regrets about what I could have, would have or should have done.
Women’s Travel Network: The Real Deal with Heather Resnick