A deep dive into the first 164 pages of the Big Book is just cover for a raucous girls’ weekend, right? In fact, the Women’s Big Book Retreat (WBBR) lived up to its billing. We covered 164 pages, eleven chapters, twelve steps and many odds and ends. I heard a warning that “this is not an excuse to get out of working the steps with your sponsor.” I set aside my big-book-boredom and unexpectedly found insight on issues that had been nagging at me. I confiscated new slogans. I found a way to identify as a 1%er (long-term sobriety). I got a new makeup tip, plus meals and a bunk bed. All-in-all, $75 was a good investment to attend the WBBR held Sept 8, 9 and 10 at a dusty campground in the Uinta mountains. WBBR is not an AA-sanctioned event; it is one woman’s walk through the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. She shared conventional wisdom as well as new ideas by describing her experience in 28-years of sobriety. I felt right at home when her introduction to the Big Book mirrored what my sponsor had done with me 19 years ago – starting at the oft-ignored publishing dates, preface and table of contents. During her presentations in the spacious lodge, some of the 70-plus attendees busily highlighted and underlined their Big Book. One made jewelry, one meditated in the lotus position, most listened intently while chomping on a treat of some kind. I crocheted a few rows. At times I felt like a student at Miss Pamala’s Finishing School because it was clear I was being schooled by a fine lady. In the next moment she would tell a raw story with such honesty that it made me wince. I was moved by her generosity of spirit and comfort in her own skin. She gave me ideas I had never heard (Chapter 10 “To Employers” offers ideas on sponsorship). Occasionally groups of women would break away for their own meeting, gab-fest or walk in the woods. It was heaven. As with any kind of travel or emotional cleansing, WBBR was not all fun and games. Sleeping rituals were disturbed, bowel movements became irregular and I got cranky at my bunkmates. But I knew from past experience that if I could hold on until Sunday (wait until the miracle happens), there were a couple of surprises in store. I won’t give them away because you really have to be there to feel the impact. The WBBR has been an ongoing event in this region for nearly three decades. A core group of women keep it going and it was clear the behind-the-scenes work for this annual event is massive. At registration, you sign up for two kitchen shifts, and for the most part, everyone bellied-up-to-the-bar to help with the care and feeding of the large group. I saw myself in other women’s stories and patted myself on the back for showing up for my own recovery. I can’t wait until next year. – Lucy H.