Today I get to share with you one of my favorite things in the world — the story of an incredible woman that I got to meet because of the School of Womanly Arts. I have a special fondness for the women who hate me at first sight. I can see her passion and longing right through her fury. Her story is always so wonderfully dramatic.
This week I have the pleasure of sharing with you a story from “L”, a Mastery graduate from last year. I hope you are as inspired by her story as I have been. I love hearing her challenges and her triumphs. I think they are all ones we can relate to.
Take it away, L…
Before Mastery, I was stuck, isolated and lonely.
I had recently moved across the country on a whim, after living in LA for 12 years. My daughter had just started college and was living away from home for the first time. My business partner of 10 years was telling me I was worthless and was stealing money from me — and I let her, because I kept thinking I deserved it. My health had taken a nose dive. I was in a long-distance relationship, and it wasn’t working.
I signed up for Mastery because a friend of mine insisted I do it. I remember getting together with her after she graduated, and noticing the shifts in her immediately — she looked so radiant and feminine and powerful. I thought, “Whatever she’s got, I want some of it.” I trusted her, and said YES to Mastery, without reading anything about it.
On that first day of class, I sat in the back of the room making snarky comments, thinking the whole thing was hokey, and somewhat crass — I felt nothing. I texted that friend who sent me, saying “What the hell did you get me into?!”
I was envious of the women in the room who were having an experience. The women who took the microphone and talked about their lives, their resistance, their desire to break through, the women who just seemed ready to transform. I was filled with jealousy of those women, but masked it as disdain. Those women that came back from lunch the first day telling tales of flirtatious strangers and doting waiters, I was pretty sure they were plants. And Mama Gena, seriously, the pink sparkly outfits? She was too much!
I thought that first day that this probably wasn’t for me. I thought I’m probably not the kind of person that has a breakthrough from this stuff. I thought I might not need this. I thought I already knew what gave me pleasure – someone else’s accolades, male attention, being seen — the problem was, I thought, I just didn’t have enough of those outside pleasurable things in my life. I thought, I thought, I thought. I’m a really good thinker. But I didn’t listen to rule number one – do what Mama says!
Despite that, I came back on Sunday. I remembered that my friend who sent me to Mastery loves me. I thought, “I’m not gonna sit on the back of the bus and make fun of people. I’m gonna be present.” So I moved to the front of the room. I shifted my own experience. I started reaching out to other women who were shy and fearful but open.
And then something happened – I cried. I’m not even sure when or why, I don’t recall it being anything particularly triggering for me. What I do remember is that something in me opened up — a deep longing to stop the voice that had lived in my head for almost 47 years, telling me that it is too late for me.
That voice said that Love, Success, Recognition, Creativity, Beauty, Money — really anything I deeply desired — was just not in the cards for me. That’s the same voice that told me I would never be young and in love. The same voice that told me nobody publishes their first novel at 47, so why bother writing? The same voice that woke me at 3 a.m. with a litany of mistakes and embarrassments. The same voice that looked in the mirror and saw only flaws. The same voice that said that I was cursed and could never get un-cursed, and that’s why I experienced cancer and infidelity and infertility and divorce and financial insecurity . . . and the list continued.
Well, by the end of Weekend 1, I realized that I was ready for that voice to shut the f*ck up!
After that first weekend, my long-distance guy, called me on the way home. At this point, our relationship was really stressful. We had such a great conversation that night, and I remember thinking, “I conjured that.” I started tracking where I was making things in my life happen. Each week and month I kept reaching out and bringing into my life what I saw in the Mastery room. It was a bit difficult at first. But it kept getting better and better.
I write today to tell you that at every step, I experienced resistance. I stand here to tell you that none of it came easily. And yet, I stand here to tell you that when I felt small and ashamed, I practiced the tools. When I felt excited and proud, I practiced the tools. When I was confused, I practiced the tools. When I had nothing to say, I lifted up the women around me and held space for them in their tragedies. I got clear that my envy of other women was not my greatest downfall, but a gateway to my desires. I understood that my worst days were part of what made me a complete woman, a goddess. And when I couldn’t connect to the tools right away, I looked around the room and found other women struggling and I connected to them. And when I couldn’t do that, women in the room found me and held my hand and took me there.
And here’s the great thing: Even as I struggled with resistance, trying to integrate the tools into my life, I had incredible success. I brought in new clients, I fell in love with the man in my life, I made new realizations, I connected with amazing women, I connected more deeply to myself and my gifts. Unpleasant things happened, too. But for the first time I can remember, Mastery taught me to dwell on the positive and move on quickly from the negative.
The Buddhists say that when people push your buttons you must recognize that they may very well be enlightened beings, because if you were the Buddha trying to get people to find happiness in this lifetime, you wouldn’t sit back and passively wait, you would get right in their face! Well, I’m here to tell you that Mama Gena is an enlightened being because she will get straight to your triggers and help you get clear with them as to who is in charge, even if she has to get you there through your tears, anger or resistance!
This is not The Secret, this is not a self-help 10 steps and, poof, like magic, all will be right. This is not about wishing your way into happiness. This is fun and crazy and invigorating and it’s frightening and challenging and it’s work.
At its core, The School of Womanly Arts is about reminding us that we are all connected, we all share in our fears, in our anger, in our shame, in our tragedy, in our beauty, in our triumphs, in our divinity and in our desires. I saw that the women surrounding me were extraordinary in their resilience, their generosity, their beauty – and it made me think that I might just be, too.
Now, one year after Mastery, so much is different.
- I ended my toxic business relationship, and I’m now finally doing work I love. I’m teaching writing classes, leading retreats and coaching. Making these changes was terrifying, but I had women who stood for me in finding my desires and following them. I would call them, terrified, and one of my friends would say, “Here are all the reasons you are great and can do this.”
- My relationship is going great. Chris and I are still together and still doing the long-distance thing. And it is so good. We decided to never go more than a few weeks without seeing each other. Every day we are more open to each other.
- I bought a house! This is something I’d always wanted to do, and I did it without using all of my savings like I feared.
- I reconnected with what I love: writing.
- My relationship with my body has shifted as well. I’m actually more comfortable with it, and staying in it, and seeing myself as right. I’m not as much in my head. I focus on what my body is experiencing rather than my mind. I’m so much more grounded.
Things in my life have just fallen into place since Mastery. And when things get rocky, I know I’m okay.
This year, I’m enrolled as a Big Sister Goddess in Mastery 2014, which means I get to support all of the women doing the program for the first time. I’m so excited to play bigger in this way, and step into a leadership position. What a pleasure it is to be helping to create the container and community for this work to come through.
I implore each and every one of you to love yourself, just as you are today. Love yourself as if you were the most beloved friend, partner, child. As Mama Gena says: “Love yourself as if your life depended upon it, because it truly does.” (Click to tweet!)
— SG L
I am so deeply honored to lead the Mastery program, and I’m counting the hours until we begin this weekend. It is my playground, my highest calling, my deepest passion and the culmination of my life’s work. It is my greatest pleasure and my greatest honor to lead women through this modern day rite of passage.
My mission is to initiate women. To hold open the portal that allows a woman to reclaim her divinity. To reconsecrate her altar. I live to see a woman find that internal switch, turn on her light, and then I get to stand back and witness as she lights up her whole world — unleashing her brilliance everywhere she places her attention. I am so honored to see all the amazing results that follow.
As always, thank you so much for your amazing enthusiasm and support, for being part of this movement, and for contributing in ways I both know about, and don’t.