Welcome to the first installment of our 8 week summer series, The Womanly Arts Unplugged! This week, Holly, a Mastery Grad from ’13 and ’14 from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, joins us to teach about the Womanly Art of Whetting Your Own Appetite…
Holly, Age 34, Lawyer
Whetting Your Own Appetite is one of the most difficult and most essential arts of the goddess. The way I see it, whetting your own appetite is the opposite of playing the victim, or waiting to be rescued. Whetting your own appetite is choosing to love yourself in the way that you’re waiting to be loved by the prince — it’s choosing yourself for that great love affair, and then falling in love with yourself as you would the love of your life.
Whetting your own appetite is how you begin to love yourself with complete abandon — it’s the first lick to the lollypop; the last step off the diving board, and it can be really hard to do. It all starts with being hungry. Appetite is attractive, powerful and contagious in the best way. You know how, even when you’re not hungry, if you’re around someone who is…someone who’s like “oh my god, let me tell you about the pizza that I want so much I can taste it” and pretty soon you’re so hungry for pizza you can taste it too? Same thing.
All the ridiculously delicious situations I have found my way into…they all started with my appetite, my desire.
This art is the first step. If you don’t invest the time, when you’re grumpy and swampy and bored, to properly get that appetite built up; get it not Whetted but WET…the rest of it will not work.
I use this art to deal with 12-hour days, bad news from good people; bad news from bad people, shitty dates, scary conversations, anything I feel nervous or little about.
I tune out of my head, tune into my body and start to feel what she wants, what she desires, what she hungers for. As long as my attention is tuned into that turn-on — to the feel-good part of those desires — then any result that manifests itself is exactly perfect, and more likely than not, the result that manifests itself is the one I was desiring or better.
Back up for a moment…how did you find your way to the School of Womanly Arts in the first place?
I lost a bet, and as the “loser” I was forced to read Mama Gena’s book. I was, at the time, NOT the kind of woman who indulged in self-help books; NOT the kind of woman who had patience for anything pink; and NOT the kind of woman who had time for such things.
At any rate, I read it…loved it…signed up to go to an introductory weekend in Miami. That weekend, I didn’t just have a good time, I had a ridiculously superb time. By the first afternoon there, I knew I wanted in.
Life BMG (before Mama Gena) was…fine. I was working for a judge, making peanuts. I didn’t know what I wanted, or where I was going. I had put away all the magic I had in my life when I was younger, and my appetite for life was stuffed way, way down.
In Miami, I had more fun, more connection, more luxury, more pleasure and more turn-on than I had had in far too long.
I went back to Pittsburgh after that first weekend with SWA, and I cried for a week. I couldn’t believe I could bring that much magic back to myself, that it existed out there, and I had to know how to get more of it.
I made a deal with the universe, that if I could get a new job, the first thing I would buy would be Mastery. I started doing things just for pleasure, including taking a spontaneous weekend trip to NYC. Well, I got the last seat on a plane I wasn’t supposed to be able to catch and sat down next to a lawyer who asked me what I did. By the time we touched down in Newark (that’s like a 50-minute flight) he had arranged my interview and we were talking numbers. The rest was history.
What does it look like to practice the Art of Whetting Your Own Appetite?
Here’s a fun story that comes to mind… I remember when I was just starting with my firm, I was asked to go to this networking event called “Night at the Fights.” It was at this glorious hotel, in a gigantic ballroom on the top floor. We’re talking scotch drinking, cigar smoking, steak eating, decked-out boxing ring, boys club night. I was one of three women, and hundreds of men. I didn’t know anyone. I think the firm threw me in there to test me, and see what I was made of. I mean, this was the piece de resistance networking scenario.
I walked in and no one else from my firm had arrived yet. I excused myself. Went to the bathroom. Had a serious dance break in the stall. I needed some power. Some sexy power. I knew that was going to be the key.
I got into my hotness, appetite whetted, and returned to the event. Next thing I know, I’ve introduced myself to this circle of men (who I later found out included a Senator and a federal judge; lovely gentlemen), and found my way into this enchanting conversation, initiated by yours truly. The night just got better from there.
I was on top of my game, because I had whetted my own appetite and tapped into that desire — I knew what I wanted, every one of those men could feel it, and they were dying to do anything to get me what it is that I wanted. That was the first time I really took the bull by the horns. To be able to walk in there and own it is a great feeling.
Then, there are the days where I’m staring down a 12-hour day and foot-tall pile of paperwork to review at my desk. On those days, I pull out the stops with any of these techniques for whetting my own appetite:
Wearing lingerie under my suits at work. Panty-free Fridays. (And in fact, whenever I go into an important meeting, I always go panty-free.)
Sometimes I’ll write myself a love letter.
Or leave myself a naughty voicemail, and listen to it later.
I’ll do anything I need to do to keep my Appetite alive, and to stay plugged in to my turn-on.
For me, Whetting My Own Appetite is about something that presses my edges, or feels a little forbidden. It’s not just about naughtiness, but pressing the edge of the pleasure I can allow in. “Oh I can’t take myself out for THAT lunch, that’s too much.” You gotta press into that resistance — because wherever that edge is, that’s what’s going to whet your appetite.
The other thing I do is stay connected to my community.
If I’m having trouble Whetting My Appetite, or having resistance or judgment around a particular desire, I call my sisters. If there’s anything I have shame about, that’s the first thing I know I have to tell my inner circle of sisters about. I out myself to my community first when I judge my desires. That’s SUPER helpful. This is something I’m continually working through (and by the way, it’s one reason I’m so excited for Boot Camp this fall — I can’t get enough of the community, keeping the tools fresh, and staying plugged in).
Was there a time when you lost your appetite, and felt out of touch with your desire?
I was born with a certain flavor and intensity of appetite — a pretty big spoonful, I’d say.
As a little girl, I was always incredibly grandiose. I was passionate about literature, and I craved the same drama I read about in Wuthering Heights to be present in my life too. As a teenager, I would host these elaborate 14-course dinner parties, dress my friends in period clothing, and create a meal based on things I had read in Dickens novels.
Into my late teens and very early 20s, my appetite remained fierce, my desires were rich. I traveled to Venice for over a year and had some of the most magical experiences of my life, and I remember feeling so certain that incredible things were not only possible, but they were inevitable. They were coming to me.
Well, after about a year in Venice, my family said, “Make a choice. We’re not going to keep supporting you.” I made a decision to come back. My parents assumed I would be the same person I was before I left. There I was, back in my parents’ basement, but I wasn’t the same person.
I got very depressed, and went to a really dark place.
It was my first big encounter with disappointment.
Then, I got into a relationship with a man who was crazy, to say the least. That relationship ended with my first big girl restraining order.
It took a long time to get my appetite back after that, and begin to trust my desires again. I wasn’t able to grasp that confidence.
I had stopped believing in love, wild success, and connection with a powerful community. I had stopped believing that those things were meant for me and available to me. You put that magic in a shoebox and stuff it inside other shoeboxes and you forget you even bought that pair of shoes.
Over the course of nearly a decade, my appetite lived underground. Of course it was still there, but it was covered up and stuffed way down.
I was so afraid to take it back. Part of me hoped it wasn’t there any more, because I had gotten so tired of all that longing. I think a lot of women avoid their desires to avoid the longing — it’s like wanting a magnificent dinner of escargot, while standing in MacDonald’s. Just the pain of that perpetual ongoing burn — that’s why I put that appetite away…way way way down.
For a while, I tried to cram my appetite into what I thought I should want. I saw all my friends go out, go to school, get the job, get the guy, get the golden retriever, get married, have the 2.5 kids…and they all seemed totally miserable to me. I tried that, but it never ever seemed to taste right.
I knew that wasn’t for me. I wanted something far bigger. But I was repressing that passion, that appetite, because it was so big.
How did you make the move to getting back into agreement with your appetite, tapping into your desires, after keeping them at bay for so long?
For me, there was a moment when I decided to believe it was all possible again. After that weekend in Miami, my appetite was whet, and there was no turning back.
The other thing that I love about SWA is that you get to witness other women’s incredible stories of transformation. I had a couple women like that who were my landmarks, and I used them as my role models. Seeing what a powerful woman looks like, how she does it, who she is — all you need is one.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle for women practicing the Art of Whetting Your Own Appetite?
Fear. I think appetite and fear are so closely linked for women. Part of that is just the idea that it’s so painful to desire something that you don’t have. That longing can hurt.
I think this is at the heart of fear around appetite; to really getting into your appetite and owning it; and the longing that’s tied to wanting something that you’ve no experience of existing in the real world, something intangible that you can’t describe, let alone manifest! That seems like a huge no-no in our “results oriented” culture. Don’t you think?
I have such a huge appetite not for what everyone else has, but for things I don’t see anyone else getting, and that can be some scary stuff! Looking into your appetite and finding that huge, weird, beautiful desire that you don’t even know exists?!
Want to be a mother and not compromise romance and passion? Want to have an amazing career and still travel to the most titillating pleasure places on earth? Want your cake and be able to gorge yourself on it too? Yeah, that’s rough! Me too! Because you look around you and ask, “who actually has these things?” No one. And no one has anything that looks even remotely close to what it is you desire. No one. So what good will it do to open an appetite to a hunger that cannot be satisfied?
My response would be that the hunger is there BECAUSE it shows you what scope of desire CAN be satisfied.
Longing exists for something not because it’s yours, but because it CAN be yours — it exists. If the perfect dress doesn’t exist then we must go out and make it!! The longing, the appetite, teaches you and illustrates for you your natural homeland. Whetting your appetite is starting that journey homeward. The body hungers for bread because it knows bread exists, knows you can get it, because it comes from that place; the heart hungers for its biggest desires because it knows that they exist, knows you can get it, because it comes from that place. Quick, go out and get me a roll or something! I’m working up an appetite! The SWA is so important because it’s one of the only places where you see other women running around, making their own dress that’s never been made, reaching for that bread (and getting whole loaves of it).
If you’re in that place of resistance and fear of leaning in and letting your appetite out, I would just say you’re very good at not letting that appetite out, and you know what that gets you. What will it hurt to do a limited research experiment? Try it for a week, try it for a month, try it for a moment. Let yourself taste it.
Ok, enough about me. Now I really want to hear about YOU! I’ll be around in the comments section and would love to hear what resonates, and where you’re at when it comes to Whetting Your Own Appetite. Have you struggled with tapping into your desires, or when you do, judging them? How do you work with it? (And I’d sure love to hang in Virtual Pleasure Boot Camp this fall! I’ll be there. Will you?)
— Sister Goddess Holly
This summer series is our way of pre-partying for Virtual Pleasure Boot Camp, which opens for enrollment on July 15th! Boot Camp is a distance-learning program that takes a woman deep inside each of the Womanly Arts. It includes live teleclasses with Mama Gena, carefully crafted weekly exercises, and a thriving online community. Click here to learn more! And stay tuned for Part 2 of The Womanly Arts Unplugged, next week. (Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter for updates!)