It's always so wonderful to look forward to events and to have some planned fun on the horizon.
Fridays are the best because of the possibilities the weekend brings: the freedom of time, upcoming plans, plans of doing nothing much, spending time with loved ones...it's a weekly gift - even if your "weekend" is a night off or any other non-traditional break (and I do hope you have one!).
This past weekend, the company I work for hosted a staff retreat. And not just for the upper-rank as I've often seen - the entire company! They even flew in folks from an out-of-state office. I am a very lucky girl to have landed in such a workplace and every day I am truly thankful (except on the days the grueling Atlanta traffic melts me - I am more than crabby those days, but overall, life is good).
So on a very overcast, rainy Friday afternoon, we boarded a bus and headed to Callaway Gardens. I've been to Callaway before with my parents, but that was ages ago so I was looking forward to seeing it again and just to get out of my element for a bit. I did, however, miss my guys back home.
(I got updates on this one and he did just fine:
He has four other beds that are bigger sizes/fit him better, but he gravitates to this one at times - when he does, we refer to him as the "Stuffed Mushroom".)
We were greeted at Callaway with Welcome Bags full of treats. And that evening, we had a cocktail reception then seafood buffet dinner:
Just a "small" sampling of the selections: salmon, mashed potatoes, veggies, coconut shrimp, and she-crab soup (not shown, but it was my fave!) and lots of pies to choose from for dessert! IMHO, we had the best/most fun table; all of us laughed so hard we cried. No doubt I work with a lot of characters! It was also awesome to see more reserved folks bust out of their shells - it's so cool to see your co-workers laugh and smile non-stop.
Besides the wonderful food and drink, we had live Blue Grass music:
These guys were the real deal!
I also got beat down by one of my favorite co-workers in a game of Checkers; I cannot remember the last time I played Checkers.
I was Red in case you can't tell...
Happily, the rain cleared a little overnight and Saturday morning I woke up to a bit of color:
Not a shabby Fall view from our balcony - all rooms had small balconies:
We then had a huge buffet to choose from for breakfast and then hit our company presentations. The presentations were engaging and informative and even our CEO wanted to keep things on schedule so we could enjoy more fun.
At noon, we had boxed lunches at the ready and I retreated to my room's balcony to eat - it was the only time the entire weekend I snuck away for a little quiet. As a true introvert, this was progress for me.
Actually, now that I'm in my 40's, I think I am an introvert who sometimes just needs a push and once pushed in the right direction, I go. It is so easy for me to retreat into a book or hide away and give into the social anxiety that has plagued me forever, but I promised myself not to do so and I kept that promise!
I digress - I made the decision before hand to be as engaged as I could for the entire trip.
After lunch, I had this treat awaiting me:
Reflexology at the Callaway Spa!
I was so excited and all of us got pick an activity. We each got to choose from a spa activity (shots above of the lobby - massages, facials, or manis/pedis), horseback riding, zip lining, hiking, golf, an animal safari, canoeing, kayaking, biking, or just doing nothing. It was awesome.
After my spa appointment I went for a walk with my weekend-roomie and got a couple pics of the grounds. It was still overcast, but the rain held off any everyone got to complete their outdoor activities.
Later that evening we reconvened for a plated dinner and partied into the night with a Casino Night! I didn't get any pics because I was having way too much fun! Remember that promise I made?
Against a background of dancing, fun loud music, and laughter, I played Black Jack for the 1st time (meh - I didn't do so well) and then wandered over to the Craps table - had a blast and won about $9,000 in chips (not real money, of course!) - I am no pro, but thanks to a co-worker, I learned the ropes and so enjoyed it! By the end of the night, I was shooting the dice for the game - who knew!
When the casino wrapped up, we exchanged our chips for raffle tickets. I didn't get any of the fun prizes (prizes were given out all weekend) but again, I had so much fun and laughed so much, I already had the prize!
Sunday morning, we had breakfast and got back on the bus. The ride back was also fun and a little sad to see our out-of-state-peeps depart at the airport.
It was such a special weekend; you could see friendships blooming and existing friendships strengthening. And it was a great comfort for me to be surrounded by and be a part of so many crazy-wonderful-smart-creative-full-of-life-did I mention crazy? :-) people.
So for all of that and more - I say Thank You!
This is how we all felt Monday morning: