“Commit to being an over-achiever in the fun department” – Mama Gena
Recently a friend, Diana, came to me for support because she’s going through a rough time in her life. Everything from the approaching end of her marriage, a job where she’s underpaid and overworked and those sandwich years where the kids are leaving (or not) home and her mom’s bad health. I could sense she needed to find some kind of pleasure in her life and how to take care of herself first. I decided to share with her something that helped me through my dark days and gave me reasons to shift my own perspectives. I gave her the book “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts: Using the Power of Pleasure to Have Your Way with the World.”
I had written this quote on my kitchen wall (before the remodel) to remind me of a goal I have to incorporate more fun in my life. Another quote showcases how Mama Gena impacted my transformation “Desires give us access to a life of endless adventures.”
The “Desires” List
The first time I went to a Mama Gena “Experience” weekend a few years ago, I had no idea who she was or even that she had written books. A really good friend had “discovered” her and wanted to come down from New England to NYC for the event. Sue stayed at my house and we went in together. The event was held in an auditorium, holding maybe 500 women. During that first day, Mama Gena created a safe place where the women there felt comfortable sharing their deepest, darkest feelings. At one point, she had us write out a list of our desires. Fortunately she gave examples. Fortunate…because I was stumped. This felt like the first time anyone had ever asked me what I wanted, what I desired, what in life truly gave me pleasure. While this may not be literally true, the way Mama Gena presented it really hit a nerve. Sitting next to my long-time friend, I felt dozens of feelings, and almost didn’t want to share with her out of shame. I mostly remember crying as I wrote the list.
Who is this Mama Gena?
Mama Gena, aka Regina Thomashauer, is one of the bigger self-help gurus for women. Her point of distinction is an emphasis on female empowerment, backed by research from the years when Goddesses ruled (vs. the patriarchy that took over 5,000 years ago). Her theme is to have women rediscover their inner knowing (aka ‘intuition,’ ‘heart,’ ‘higher power,’ ‘chi,’ ‘life force,’ ‘inner light’) through pleasure. Mama Gena offers several programs. One is an online course called the Pleasure Bootcamp. She’s done many interviews and TEDx talks over the past 20 years in business. Her big ticket courses are about 3 months long with several weekend get-togethers and online calls in between. Mama Gena has written four books, with her latest having been launched in September of 2016.
Excerpt from Pussy: A Reclamation p. 43
This paragraph summarizes the power behind Mama Gena’s method:
“Pleasure shifts your chemistry. In the presence of something pleasurable, the brain releases four “feel good” chemicals: endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. These overpower the “feel bad” chemical, cortisol. When this happens, it shifts the balance of power inside of you. When a woman feels truly good inside, her confidence skyrockets and her sense of shame vaporizes, making way for her to live more powerfully than she could have imagined. Women have lived in fear, anger, and shame for so long, it’s difficult to imagine another way. Pleasure slingshots a woman into a new paradigm.”
Find what pleases you, and do more of that. Lights you up. Puts in in your flow. Game day mind-set. What she preaches may not be new, but as a culture it’s not always been taught to women. I know this concept helped fuel my decision to find what I found fun, by taking myself on adventures. To start with baby steps of taking a different path home from the office. To the next Wednesday when I took myself to a restaurant I had found from the earlier Wednesday adventure. The mere exploring, the learning of new things…that pleased me, that lit me up. Hundreds of adventures later, exploring and learning still gives me pleasure.
Pink Party anyone?
One of the most powerful tools she brings is the community of women who are free to support and uplift one another. She has her own names for the methods to encourage this support, a special lingo. The energy of a group of women who become chosen sisters is intense. (Mama Gena calls women Sister Goddesses). For me, I grew up without a sister. I didn’t realize what I had been missing. Granted, I’ve learned enough along the way that biological sisters are not always your best pals. So I like the concept of chosen sisters, the ones you are close with by choice, not birth.
In the Fall of 2015 I was feeling dispirited, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I wasn’t enjoying my job. I had been to my second Burning Man event, and the shiny penny lost its gild. Life sometimes felt overwhelming. As things go, I received an email from Mama Gena touting “The Immersion” in Miami in early November. Actually several emails. I finally told my Adventure Partner how this was something I wish I could attend, but didn’t have the money. I put it out to the Universe, not expecting any answer. The Universe answered, or rather my Partner did. He bought my plane tickets. Soon after I was off on a Mama Gena Adventure!
I booked an Airbnb room with another attendee. Going on faith that she would be a decent roommate. It was a two and a half day event. There was a “Pink Party” the first night, where people were encouraged to wear pink, a symbol of bringing out your feminine. Since I had been to Burning Man, I re-discovered a passion for creating outfits. So for the Pink Party I followed this passion by putting together an ensemble that was enjoyable to wear around the other fun women. The first day Mama Gena had given out pink feather boas. Many women wore that as their pink. A new friend wore hers as a hat.
It rained hard that weekend. The yoga on the beach and other fun activities were cancelled. Other activities popped up with a natural segue to women connecting, sharing their businesses, and stories. In the seminars Mama Gena wove her magic, leading the room through “all 99keys” of emotions. It was draining and cathartic. In the end, I received what I had desired. To get through feelings I had been avoiding. Like many of my adventures, I learned so much and also had fun. I made some dear friends, with whom I still stay in contact even though we all live in different parts of the country. Sisters. Or in Mama Gena lingo, Sister Goddesses.
The Debate Over Pussy
A year later, in September of 2016, I went to the book launch of “Pussy: A Reclamation.” It was a fun event. She had her friends, Marie Forleo and Kris Carr. Both these women have become well known in their version of self-help categories. Marie runs an internationally known online business school and Kris is a wellness activist and author of Crazy, Sexy Cancer. It was a fun evening, filled with women cheering Regina on and sharing their own, brave stories. Although her mantra is basically about women “owning” or “taking back” the word “pussy,” she admitted that (after talking with thousands of women), that by saying this word gives women a jolt of excitement partly because it still feels naughty!
Less than a month later, the word ‘pussy’ made international news when a video of a United States Presidential candidate was caught on tape stating that’s where he liked to grab women. The timeliness of Mama Gena’s efforts to shift the power of the word and take the ugliness and shame out of the word, and how quickly the word hit mainstream, is uncanny.
Mama Gena gives me a piece of my own advice
This past Fall I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue (or chronic stress syndrome for those who are using WebMD to search this illness.) Part of the recovery involves extreme self care, as being tired can sometimes lead to bouts of sadness. While in this state, I saw that Mama Gena was having her weekend-long events in New York again. Since she had helped me in the past, I considered my attending these events part of my “toolbox” for self-care.
During one of her Facebook Live calls before the event, I had posted a question about my Adrenal Fatigue. Mama Gena’s answer floored me. It was if she gave me the same advice I would have given a friend. Self-care isn’t selfish. Shift how you look at being slowed down. Go with it instead of resisting it. In my head I heard “Your Adrenal Fatigue is an Adventure. Face whatever is making you weary, and find a way to make it fun.” Hearing my own advice in someone else’s words made me laugh.
So, following Mama Gena’s and my own advice, I re-committed to being an over-achiever in the fun department. I realized that I needed to make self-care fun, so that I would commit fully to it. I’ve been learning meditation (and attempting daily) with the guidance of a Sister Goddess friend I met in Miami. Connecting with my far-away friend on video chat this way is fun! Connecting with other women who have differing knowledge of Adrenal Fatigue has led me to adventures in exploring adaptogens (special herbs) as well as new foods to add to my diet (emphasis on what I can have versus the negative of what I am no longer supposed to eat). I’ve started exploring essential oils to the doctor-recommended epsom salt baths…oooh, the luxury. By shifting my mindset, I am much more appreciative of the gift of time I have to take care of myself in ways I never had before.
My friend Diana is still reading the book, and starting her own self-awareness journey. It may or may not be influenced by Mama Gena’s methods. Her programs really turn some women on, and doesn’t appeal to others – and both are okay options. I do know I became more self-aware, and writing my list of desires now comes easily (as I follow them in adventures from learning to cook new foods to creating colorful outfits to even jumping out of planes with my chosen sisters!).
And that’s what it’s all about – connect with your true self and shift perspectives, one adventure at a time. Or as Mama Gena says in her book “Your pussy will choose the perfect adventure for you.”
How do you feel about your own self-awareness journey? Has there been at least one that shifted your perspective? Does the word ‘Pussy’ still ‘grab’ you? (Sorry! haha, couldn’t resist). It still is a controversial word! Do you have any questions about Mama Gena that I could answer for you? Let me know in the comments below!