Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts
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She’s 92 years of fierce.

There are so many ways for a woman to ‘go for it’. From bold and blazing balls of public fire, like Hillary Clinton or Beyoncé, to quieter but equally powerful ways, like my mama.

Many of you know my mom because she has not missed a class weekend in over 12 years.
She is the Bubbe, or the Global Grandma, for the countless women who have been through the School – always there to give a hug, a push, a hand to hold, or a shoulder to cry on.

But I have not talked much about her life. Or how incredible she is outside the room.

My mom is 92 years of fierce.
She is a case study in how to rock being a woman.
How to age gracefully.
How to seize the day.
How to not whine.
How to stay strong and sexy despite obstacles.
How to dance as if your life depended on it.
How to flirt as if your life depended on it.

Are you ready?
Grab a cup of tea and be inspired.

My father passed over 10 years ago.
After a few years of recovery from that loss (they had been married for over 50 years), she decided that it was time to find someone.

This is not easy for anyone, but especially not easy for a woman in her 8th decade. Especially if she wanted someone who could drive at night.  🙂

There was a man in her building who she had known for 25 years. His name is Ted. My mom was close with his granddaughter, and when she ended up in a challenging circumstance, my mom remained close and connected to her. Ted lost his wife, and about a year after her death, my mom noticed him in a new way.

She also noticed that all the widows and divorcees in her building were surrounding Ted like a school of sharks smelling blood in the water. They would leave little packages of homemade cookies at his door. Or cook dinners for him. But my mom had a card that no other widow had dared to play: She flirted with him.

One day, she ran into him twice. And as they laughed about that, she said, “If we run into each other one more time, you are going to have to take me to dinner.” The third time was the charm. They went to dinner. And according to Ted, once he hugged her, that was it. He knew she was his woman.

A year later, they were engaged. In the 5 years they have been together, they have travelled to Vietnam, Thailand, Florida, various cruises, and as I write this, they are in Cuba.

It sounds pretty rosy, right?
And it is.
But each of them has had to rise above the effects of aging.
Ted has short-term memory loss. And ongoing issues with COPD.
Rather than complain about that, my mother uses his condition as a chance to improve and exercise her memory skills, because now she has to think for two.

Even though Bebe has been told by dozens of doctors that she needs a hip replacement, she refuses to go under the knife and instead takes care of her body by swimming every day and doing a series of physical therapy exercises.

She is in an age group where she loses lifelong friends regularly. But rather than sitting at home and feeling sorry for herself, she reaches out and makes new ones.

And she would never ever miss a Mastery session.
Why?
Because she loves to give back. She loves to contribute to others. She loves to be part of the joys and challenges of a good, sweet, hard life.

She claims that she never would have ever won Ted’s heart if she had not had the support of the tools and arts she learned at The School of Womanly Arts. But, I know this about her: she was flirting long before I was born. It’s in her DNA, just like it is with every woman. It just gave her the courage to use what she’s got and get what she wanted.

My mom is amazing in other ways. In addition to a relentless urge to give back, she has a relentless urge to grow. She takes classes in meditation so she can explore and expand her inner life. She is a talented sculptress and her home is filled with art that she created. She grows a significant crop of herbs and tomato plants on her terrace. She lives across the street from the Philadelphia Art Museum and is there almost every week. And now, years after she retired from her work at Hedwig House, where she helped rehabilitate people with mental health challenges, she still keeps in touch with many of her former patients.

And maybe most importantly – whenever she has the chance, she dances.
Seriously.
She is an incredible dancer. She knows swing, salsa, folk dancing.
And if there is ever any opportunity for her to twirl, she takes it.

Women are amazing.
No matter what our age, we all have a relentless urge to grow, to ascend, to take everyone in our world higher.

It is such an important legacy for women to not only live, but model for one another.

In the comments below, I want to hear what this story inspires in you:

  • In what ways do you insist on ascending, no matter the circumstances?
  • What aspects of your life would you like to take higher, if you could?
  • If you could design your life any way you wanted, what would you be doing differently?
  • What actions or activities connect you to your divinity?

I hope my mama has inspired you a bit today. She inspires me every day.

All my love,

p.s. This past weekend—the kick off of Mastery—absolutely took my breath away. I witnessed the most glorious pas de nearly 500 women, reclaiming their power and unwrapping their radiance – not with fear and trepidation, but with the enthusiasm of a gang of preschoolers let loose on Christmas morning. What a privilege it is to serve this community. Here’s a few pics . . .

Mastery 2017 Weekend 1 Collage

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34 Comments / Leave a Comment

34 comments… add one

  • Honey April 2, 2017, 11:50 am

    Mama Gena It is way too early in the morning for me to be crying! I probably do not tell her enough but my own mother is my inspiration of what a real woman is. My “father” told her to get an abortion when she was pregnant with me or he wouldn’t be in my life at all. (I will let you figure out the end of that story.) Regardless of the difficulties of being a single black mother, she never backed down and never gave up. Now in her fifties, she is a happily married and runs a successful company. We women can do anything that we set our minds to; thank you for sharing Gena!

    -Honey

  • Laurie Stone March 27, 2017, 2:16 pm

    Your Mom sounds amazing. What a role model and weren’t you lucky to have her. I hope she continues to love, grow, and prosper.

  • hannah March 27, 2017, 1:23 pm

    This story reminds me that it’s never too late and that it’s often our minds that can hold us back. Life isn’t a cakewalk and it shouldn’t be all the time, we all have to grow. But, we can choose to meet life with vigor, grace, and pleasure. We can choose to dance. And I am so grateful for women who show us this is the way to be!

  • Katya March 24, 2017, 12:02 pm

    Thank you, Mama Gena, for this post. It was truly inspiring in a difficult time.
    Your mom reminds me of the qualities I want to cultivate in myself and maintain when I am in my later years, as well.
    I insist on ascending by doing my best in my career, every day, no matter what. I would like to travel the world, teaching – which is what I do – and connecting with amazing souls everywhere. I want to learn Portuguese and African dance and hip-hop and I want to make and record plenty of my own music. I want to inspire folks the way your mama does, and I’ve already sacrificed much of what I thought were the most important things in the world to me, in order to make that dream real.
    In what ways do you insist on ascending, no matter the circumstances? I want my daughter to see clearly that you can make of this life anything you dream, and that giving back is an essential part of that.
    Along with all of this, I want to learn to love my partner as best I can. I want to learn how to let the divine light and love shine through me, onto him. Divine partnership is part of my path here, and I want to do it skillfully, gracefully and well.
    Actions that connect me to my divinity are: teaching, writing, singing, dancing, walking in nature, making love, crying, offering a hug, slowing down, and listening to silence.
    Thanks again, Much Love Everybody.

  • Donna Dweik March 24, 2017, 9:41 am

    The story of your Mom reminds me, once again, how important it is to breathe, smile and keep ascending through loss and pain!

    Thank you for sharing!! My heart is inspired!!

    Donna

  • Val March 24, 2017, 6:03 am

    OMG your mom is inspiring!!! She’s incredible and I’m so happy to hear you bragging about her. My mom was also an amazing woman, I miss her a lot. She was a gifted artist, singer, dancer, so smart she completed the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle every week . I want to remember to appreciate her everyday. Mothers are the first goddesses!!!! Thank you for reminding me.

  • LJ March 23, 2017, 5:32 pm

    No wonder you’re fabulous! The apple don’t fall far from the tree.

  • Terri March 23, 2017, 1:27 pm

    Absolutely love this blog… Thank-you so much. I loved having your momma’s presence with us during Mastery. Not much more to say other than that 🙂

  • Laurie March 23, 2017, 11:27 am

    I was totally inspired by your momma, Regena, as someone who is turning 72 in a month. Thank you so much for sharing.
    I ascend by constantly seeking to grow in self awareness and learning.
    I desire is to take pleasure as my leading principle in life.
    I would be out there supporting others through my play, I would be part of a community of women like mastery, I would have a beloved in my life, I would be totally connected to my body and her needs and honor them and I would be doing all of this guided by Pussy.
    I am connected to my divinity through creativity, being in nature, my spiritual studies and through authentic connection with others and their divinity.
    Thank you, Regena for all you do for women.

  • Sister Goddess janet March 23, 2017, 10:24 am

    Thank you for the wonderful share about your mom…My mm would have loved her, as she also had a passion for life….She passed one year ago and I miss her…i will hope to meet your mom at the next weekend to give a hug!
    Blessings…. Janet

  • Anamika March 23, 2017, 7:20 am

    What a beautiful story! So awesome that your mother is in her nineties and travelling. She’s an inspiration! Thank you for sharing this 🙂

  • Natasha March 23, 2017, 3:13 am

    This is exactly how I see myself and living with such a passion for life!

    I am signing up to take my first pole class this weekend! I’m ready to dance!

  • Derene Derricotte March 22, 2017, 9:14 pm

    Mama Gena, your Mom is amazing and the story inspires me. My desire is to be like her.
    In what ways do you insist on ascending, no matter the circumstances? I would ascend by living a purpose driven live, contributing to other and using what I learned from Mama Gena School fulfill my dreams and desires. Also never give up and take care of myself consistently.
    • What aspects of your life would you like to take higher, if you could? I would like to take my love life higher and to enjoy life and travel with my husband. Clearly define and identify my needs and wants and go for it. I want to continually add new friends each day and build a supportive community. I want to have a daily healthy regiment for my mind, body and soul.
    • If you could design your life any way you wanted, what would you be doing differently? I would design my life to be intentional while being sexy and sensual. Live my life in the present and make contributions to this world. I will follow my passion for life and live it to the fullest.
    • What actions or activities connect you to your divinity? Prayer, attending church services, my relationship and understanding of God’s word, meditation and living my life in accordance to the Word of God.

  • Eileen March 22, 2017, 8:25 pm

    • In what ways do you insist on ascending, no matter the circumstances?
    I can’t help but breathe in Hope! Possibility! Never too late! I feel invigorated.
    • What aspects of your life would you like to take higher, if you could?
    Self-love, abundance and exceeding overflow of money, relationships, family, community service and leadership, and my career.
    • If you could design your life any way you wanted, what would you be doing differently?
    I would be more balanced, stronger, confident in all my relationships, I would be more financially stable and thriving, quarterly regular travel. I would have stronger networks and a healthier body and be married and an AMAZING wife and mother!
    • What actions or activities connect you to your divinity?
    Prayer, meditation, fasting, and service

  • Cara March 22, 2017, 4:37 pm

    What a beautiful and inspiring story. Your mother sounds like an amazing (and cool) women. May God continue he to bless her!

  • Detox Diva Donna March 22, 2017, 3:53 pm

    I Love You! Beautiful.. So inspiring.. Right On!!

  • Estela Sasson March 22, 2017, 3:18 pm

    Regena, congratulations to your mother & congratulations to you that gave your mother the chance to live on a high. May all learn from you to improve the conditions for others as you have done,

    I thank you,
    Love,
    SG Estela

  • Linda March 22, 2017, 2:03 pm

    Inspiring! I’m 56 and recently single (again :). Thanks and love for sharing the joy of knowing your mom. I was on travel for this most recent Mastery session, hope to join you for another one in the future! What do I do to keep myself alive? Tell my truth. The ex doesn’t like it that I didn’t hide what he did to me in breaking up our marriage, and that I told folks our doctor recommended that I get STD testing, which I did. My daughter does HIV education in African countries, and she thanked me for raising this issue front and center in my own circle. I am not ashamed of getting STD testing. I did nothing wrong- he did. But you can be sure as shootin’ I’m going to protect myself. 🙂 Speak your truth, ladies, it’s the only way we’re going to make change out there. thank you, Gena, for all that you do! xoxo Linda

  • Jean March 22, 2017, 1:39 pm

    How wonderful to hear about your mother, she truly is inspiring. At 72, I am learning to embrace the aging process, in training to become “an elder.” Like your mother, I also believe whole heartedly in dancing, still teaching 2 classes of Nia a week. Good for the body, the mind, and the spirit. Although I’ve never been to one of your trainings, I reach each newsletter and thank you for being an inspiration to all women who continue to grow into joyful living, no matter the age.

  • Pamilicious March 22, 2017, 1:35 pm

    What an inspiration to me as I approach my 7th decade! I had one long wrong marriage and have had a few Mr. Right Now’s, that helped me to grow and learn to let go, but your mom gives me hope for finding a special someone or even someones in the years ahead. At the age of 68 I have just recently hired a life coach. Oh my. I should have done that much sooner, but I suppose the timing had to be what it had to be. Now I am off on a grand supported adventure to unite my speaking, writing and art work into a new direction for my life ahead. You are never to old to reinvent yourself.

  • Jillian Lambert March 22, 2017, 1:28 pm

    Yes, you go Bubbe. That’s how I plan on being at 92…Definitely.
    It’s about letting go of living for others all the time and living your own life. It’s not selfish…It’s self-FULL. Fill yourself up with love, laughter, fun, sex, happiness…Whatever brings you joy. By filling yourself with joy, it spills over onto others.

  • Sensual Shakaya March 22, 2017, 1:18 pm

    I am crying tears of JOY as I read about Bubbe!
    I was blessed to have a couple encounters with your radiant mama that I will never forget and I’ll cherish them forever. She is such a Goddess… I really love her
    ps I miss my beloved mama but even though I only had her for 16 years which wasn’t nearly enough time, her unconditional love, her sensual beauty and feminine grace still nourishes my soul and inspires me endlessly Xxo

  • Cynthia March 22, 2017, 1:14 pm

    ahhhhh! love the inspiration of your mother! The actions or activities that connect me to my divinity are being in nature and making ART!! and this inspires me to not just make the time but to regularly schedule time in my calendar! Life is too short not to be doing what I love and connects me to my divinity!!!

  • cindy March 22, 2017, 12:11 pm

    Your mother is an inspiration and so are you, Thank you for always giving me a lift and a smile!

  • Nicole March 22, 2017, 11:51 am

    Hearing your mama story inspired me to not let my age stop me from attracting Divine Love!! I am lovingly and continuously providing me with juicy self care.

  • Jen March 22, 2017, 11:28 am

    Ahhhh Regina! Great reminder!
    And I thought it was hard to date at 51. Got it!! Stop complaining and start flirting. Thanks to your mom for inspiration and for your continued work!! ❤️

  • Tina March 22, 2017, 11:05 am

    You’re Mom is a national treasure. SO inspirational. Living proof that life can be wonderful at any age.

  • Gena in general March 22, 2017, 10:56 am

    Love her story! My mom still works at 80 as a bookkeeper. People ask why. I say why not?! I choose to keep growing and not be stuck or settled. Into someone else’s idea of me. Took 51 years to learn that. And you’re right. They lose so much and friends by this age. Go Bubbe! Great example for us all.

  • Rochelle Ford-Wilson March 22, 2017, 10:54 am

    I LOVED THIS STORY!!!
    Even though I am in my mid-20’s, I have taken away a lot of wisdom from this. I desire to continue to ascend and grow into the POWERFUL YET GRACEFUL woman your mama is by daily practice of pleasure which includes – journaling, dancing, listening to R&B music while I shower, light my favourite candles as often as possible, and creating space each day to just BE.
    Thank-you for sharing this!
    xo
    Rochelle

  • Anonymous March 22, 2017, 10:51 am

    Bubbe!! I’m in awe and so inspired!!! This is so great to read because when I entered SWA my rupture was that a man that was 40 years old told me that I was too old (I was 46) to date. And it ruptured me for 5 years.. I didn’t date, I got fat, I stopped having sex. It ruined me. Then I came to Mastery and this work has completely turned that bullshit story I was telling myself on its head. I’m dating, having great sex and flirting elm with men and women! I love Bubbe’s story because it shows how juicy we can live as women, not matter what age!!! This work rocks!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Elisabeth March 22, 2017, 10:50 am

    I loved hearing about your amazing mom, Gena! I have one, too. I have just spent the last four days with her as she recovers from eye surgery. She turns 90 this year and has bounced back like a champ. Two years ago she had hip surgery and you’d never know it. My dad died over 30 years ago leaving my mom a widow at age 54. She never dated but went on taking care of others and learning and growing doing the things she loved. Six years ago she moved into a posh retirement community and met her new love, a retired Army General who landed at Normandy on D-Day. My mom wasn’t the wealthiest, or best dressed, or most worldly of the women here, but the General was drawn to her warm, loving nature. Despite all of the challenges of aging, my mom rarely complains and in fact says she feels like this is heaven. She has no responsibilities and she’s surrounded by people who love her. Maybe I’ll bring her with me when I come to the School of Womanly Arts!

  • Mary from Minnesota March 22, 2017, 10:49 am

    That was great! Thank you. Your mom really does glow! I was inspired by her flirtatiousness. That’s something I need to work on. One of the things that I do to bring myself higher: I practice the piano even when I don’t feel like it. As a performing pianist and teacher, I always need new repertoire for my performances at senior residences. And yet I also need to keep up the old favorites. I know that if I’m ready and mindful I’ll be able to both please and challenge my listeners. Over the months and years these folks have become my most meaningful mental health boosters. They need me and I need them. I’m also about to begin construction on a landscape plan that will allow me to have a garden to work in. I know that will stimulate me and allow me to give beauty to my neighborhood. I’m reaching out more to the young people in my life because we older folks have a lot of love and encouragement to share, and we need friends of all ages. So glad to hear the latest Mastery class got off to a great start. I attended last year, and it was SO worth it. Love to all my Sisters. Mary

  • Sheri March 22, 2017, 10:49 am

    What a lovely tribute about an inspiring woman. I want to be just like her when I grow up (and I’m 68 now). I retired about 3 years ago, went back to school, started a new business (empowering others to life the life of their dreams) and enrolled in a number of online classes. The area where I need to do more is in health and fitness, yet I cannot be too hard on myself, just pick up the pace! As I stop and think, I don’t know if I would do things too differently, it is pretty great, now. Ok, work a little faster on decluttering. I connect with my Higher Power through prayer, meditation, service work and love. As I reflect, I once again I am grateful for my amazing life. Thank you for the pause to thank the universe for my blessings! 😉

  • Lois March 22, 2017, 10:47 am

    This was absolutely inspiring! Thank you so much because as I age I see that I need to continue to be the woman that I was created to be and not fear the process. I am inspired to continue to use my gifts and talents to improve body, soul and spirit . I want to do all the things I have put on hold. I want to dance daily and help others with their journey and welcome the aging process gracefully just as your Momma has done.

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