In a new self-care inspired series, sponsored by Ford, ESSENCE pays tribute to all of the many ways you love yourself, and your friends, through intentional actions that further your joy.
The key to a balanced life is to always practice self-care. Although it’s a simple concept, in theory, it’s something Black women often overlook. And because we are often leaders in all the spaces we exist in, life can often pull us away from our tribe for one reason or another. So every now and then you need to escape — from the kids, the career grind, and sometimes even your spouse – for someone quality time with your girlfriends to slow down and just be.
And what’s a better form of self-care than hitting the open road with a bunch of your closest girlfriends? For this group of friends and Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters, it’s not only an annual tradition but a necessity. In fact, research shows that catching up with girlfriends can lead to living longer by increasing one’s overall health and well-being. So it’s safe to say that girlfriends are good for the soul.
For author and writer Joi-Marie McKenzie, and her three friends: Ashlee Tuck, Vashtie Jasmine McKenzie and Tia Salmon, they would soon realize how healing this experience would become each year.
“I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday by doing something different — some of my friends threw lavish parties, others took tropical vacations,” shares McKenzie. “But I asked my friends, “Why not take a road trip through the southwest?” They looked at me like I had grown three heads! But after driving from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, to Antelope Canyon through Utah and back to Las Vegas, everyone left the trip feeling renewed and refreshed.”
Each year, focusing less on parties, and more on the sisterhood, for this group of girls, their annual self-care vacation is about slowing down and nurturing themselves physically and mentally in order to actually feel rested at the end.
And for those wondering if spending endless hours on end, can make you and your girlfriends drive each other crazy? It’s quite the opposite. McKenzie explained, “Anytime you spend more than five hours in a car with someone, you get to know them pretty well.”
“And we have these unique experiences that have bound us for life; like the time a Native American man from the Navajo Nation — the first I had ever met — suggested this amazing roadside Mexican restaurant; or the time we hiked in the Grand Canyon and treated ourselves to ice cream afterwards; or the time we ate at a restaurant off the Pacific Coast Highway that sat above the fog,” she continued. “Those are memories that I’ll cherish forever and I’ll remember who was there with me.”
What started out as a simple birthday celebration continued on throughout the years, and across the United States. “The first year, we hit the road for Las Vegas to Grand Canyon to Antelope Canyon back to Las Vegas and it was so much fun we decided to do it again the following year; this time driving from San Francisco all along the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles, and so on each year,” McKenzie shared.
And there’s still much more open road for these girls to experience. We can’t wait to see where the journey takes them next.