I spent this past weekend in Miami, along with 120 other women, all there for the purpose of researching pleasure.
To be honest, it wasn’t that pleasurable for me, but it was filled with drama and some pretty exciting romantic adventures (not mine) and that were fun to witness.
My relationships with women have always been challenging, probably because my sister and I have always been in conflict, so sharing a hotel room, spending almost all my time in the company of women and also going to South Beach clubs were all challenging experiences for me. And I had a cold. (I’m still trying to figure out why my immune system weakened after the show and after the election.) Perhaps it has to do with my daughter and in that case, I don’t even feel like going into it.
It felt great to go to the new Jet Blue terminal which is very 21st Century, get on a 2 1/2 hour flight and arrive in Florida with the sun shining and a temperature of 80 degrees. (And I loved that Florida went for Obama.) It was fun sitting on a beach with mostly topless women and swimming in a pool. (There was lots of skinny dipping late at night while I was asleep.)
It was fitting to celebrate a really wonderful week in our country’s history – in the company of women of all ages and life experiences. What I love about this four month workshop with Mama Gena (Regina Thomashauer) is that while we call it pleasure research, it’s much more than that. It’s about owning who we are as women, discovering what gives us pleasure, which then spreads our good feelings to the people who are in our lives…AND it’s also about examining and accepting the pain that lives deep inside us.
It’s the light and the dark. The duality of life.
In two weeks, Dr. Christiane Northrup will be speaking at the workshop and she’s the primary reason I signed up. That and the dancing.
I have trouble sleeping. I frequently wake up several times in the night (more often when I hear my daughter moving around – since she is awake most of the night – and then I really can’t fall back to sleep.)
Sometimes I wake up and do some meditation. Last week (that week of economic horrors, which is continuing this week) I read the NY Times all night long, in bed, on my BlackBerry, following the financial markets around the world and reading op-eds. (I realize, of course, that this is not considered a cure for insomnia.)
Occasionally I wake up in a panic and that’s what happened to me the night before last. I woke up with a headache (from slipping in more caffeine during the day) and I couldn’t get back to sleep. And then I couldn’t stop listing all the things in my life that I feel I’ve failed at, or everything that’s gone wrong with the world, or whatever. It was just a very very bad night. On nights like that I think “what is actually so great about life?” I can’t even remember simple things like French Toast, or a walk in Central Park, or Paris. I’m just in it – “it” being the blues, the hopelessness. Really, what I need to do is have a good cry, but I have a hard time crying. So the feelings get bottled up, clogged, and the headache continues and it’s a struggle to get myself to do anything.
There are many things to be upset about: my daughter not knowing what to do with her life, the work I’ve found in the past few years, real estate, seems to be “shifting” (as one of the heads of a big NYC real estate company describes it.) The economy is in the toilet ($700 billion dollar bailout?) Friends are dealing with life threatening illnesses, Steve has to have two eye surgeries in the next month and Lucy (our beagle) has another ear surgery next week. Probably the most important election that we’ve had in a long time is coming up in 46 or so days and who knows how it’s going to turn out? SARAH PALIN. The war continues, costing a billion dollars a day (is that possible – see Thomas Friedman’s NY Times column today), the cost of everything is skyrocketing, Javier Bardem is never going to ask me out, and I feel old, frumpy and tired.
So yesterday morning, before I sat for my mediation, I did some reading and one of the books I picked up was Regena Thomashauer’s book “Mama Gene’s School of Womanly Arts.” (This is part of my homework for the course I’m taking.) I read this:
“Treat a woman like a Goddess, she rises to the occasion. That’s a tip that will take men far in the world of women. Worship her, and she will give you the best she’s got.”
It’s been a long, long time since anyone treated me like a Goddess.
I am a Goddess. (I really am, I really am…if I say it enough times, perhaps I will believe it.) We are all Goddesses and Gods. We don’t all know it (unless we’re Donald Trump.) How do we live a life that allows us to feel fulfilled, to know that whatever journey we are on is the one we need to be on, and to feel whatever feelings come up (no matter how painful) and to know that they will pass.
This course for women is based on the idea of seeking pleasure in your daily life and doing what makes you happy. I’m not quite sure what that is anymore, but I think it’s a worthwhile pursuit, to figure it out. I looked at the inside jacket of the book and Regena Thomashauer (“Sister Gena”) had written this: “Sister Goddess Robin – Welcome to Fall Mastery! I am looking forward to meeting you. Yes! To all of your dreams and desires! Love, Mama Gena.” And for some reason that made me cry.
As the day progressed and my headache eventually went away, I felt better. And last night, I decided to take no chances. I took an Ambien.
“The sky and the sun are always there – it’s the storms and the clouds that move through.” (Pema Chodron – “When Things Fall Apart.”)
The Dow fell over 400 points today and I am not hysterical. I’ve been worrying about the stock market for years and always felt that we were headed for some serious shit – and here it is and I’m just watching it and not hyperventilating. I don’t know why. For some reason, I felt happy today. It’s odd how certain days you can feel like Chicken Little, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” and other days, even under really difficult circumstances, you can feel okay.
I think it’s because I had a day of connecting with different people all along the way. I got a phone call from a lovely young woman who is going to grad school and we had a nice chat about Brooklyn and her life here. I rode my bike to Park Slope and went to a meeting and heard a really brilliant speaker and then talked to another young woman who is looking for a job. I worked for a few hours and met some of my colleagues at an apartment and they said what everyone is saying, the market is very slow. And then I took a long walk in my neighborhood and met Zoe and we sat together in Fort Greene Park.
Oh – the best part of the day was hearing from my writing partner about a project we are working on and he had a brilliant idea – that really started my day off well. I made an appointment to go to a school on Friday and do some research on a subject we are interested in.
I signed up to take a workshop called “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts” – which I thought was kind of crazy, but then I found out that Dr. Christiane Northrup, the Maine gynecologist, is speaking there and she highly recommends it. I respect her – so I signed up. Pretty soon you may see me wearing high heels and a little cleavage. (Which would shock me.) And I will be going to Miami Beach for a weekend with the course – and that sounds like fun. And fun is something I don’t have much of in my life and I think that has to change.
(I often don’t know what to do for fun. When I was a kid I loved riding my bike…still do, dancing, singing, going to movies, reading, swimming, hiking, being with friends. Zoe and I used to have fun when she was younger – we’d go on adventures together. We don’t do that so much anymore.)
Okay, financially things look bleak. I have no idea where we’re headed and I can’t do anything about it. My mother says when her family went through the Depression they didn’t suffer too much because her father was a baker and he always brought home bread for their family and all their neighbors.
The election looks terrifying. In one poll today Obama finally has a slight lead. Maybe the fact that the economy is in such disastrous shape and McCain actually said that “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” will show people just how ill-informed he is. And that the policies of the Republicans have gotten us into this mess. Donald Trump just announced that he is supporting McCain. I can’t stand Donald Trump.
Maybe the timing of all of this is good. Maybe the 9% of undecided voters (in the CNN poll today) will decide that four more years of Republicans in office is more than any of us can afford.