Choose pleasure. (Especially when you don’t feel like it.)

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Picture this.
You are in Paris, the City of Light.
You have been promising your recently high school graduated daughter that you will bring her to Paris, on the occasion of said graduation. She is so excited that she asks to bring her best pal with her. You agree, thinking of all the fun you will have, exploring the city together.  

It was to be a mother’s finest moment: She gets to take these two precious girls, girls who dressed as twin Hannah Montanas on Halloween when they were in 3rd grade, girls who had sleepovers, did homework together, went to prom together, and practically lived at each other’s houses—to see Paris for the very first time.

We arrive. Check in. We walk to the Tuileries Gardens. No one is feeling that great after the long plane flight. Crankiness abounds. We stop for coffee. My suggestion for a museum is met with silence. But I notice my daughter jump on her phone, and within minutes she has arranged a date for her and her pal, to have dinner with two boys that she went to camp with, a few years ago, who live in Paris.  

The boys pick them up and they discovered Paris by night. For the next four days, they are out every night, returning home in the wee-est of hours, learning how to manage a bit too much wine, sleeping all day, to prepare for the fun night ahead with different groups of old and new friends, dinners, flirting, bars, clubs. And repeat. They had the best time, ever, in the history of good times.

And then, there was the old shoe.
That would be me.
Left in the hotel room with the channel changer and room service.
Quite a different Paris than I had imagined.

So, what’s an old shoe to do?
The first step was calling all my girlfriends to whine and weep. Girlfriends who reminded me that I was not really an old shoe. Or, at least, if I was, I was definitely a very high heel.
And they challenged me to have fun. And get out there and enjoy Paris.
Yuck. Ouch. How?  

I decided to employ one of the most difficult challenges that a woman faces.

When we are left by the wayside, overlooked, discarded, passed over – we can collapse and jump into an enticing bubbling vat of self-pity, or we can choose to reach for pleasure as if our life depended on it. Because it does.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like having pleasure.
Do it anyway.
I knew it didn’t matter if I didn’t feel sexy. (I didn’t.)
Or flirty. (I would have rather swallowed nails than flirt.)
And I was alone in a hotel room.

But when we say yes to pleasure, the universe gives us wings.
Which we can’t feel, actually, until we use them.
And using them usually involves jumping off some cliff or another.
So, I looked inside to see some edge that needed pressing.

For me, it was online dating.
I sighed, ignored the ‘no’ inside me, got on Bumble, and started ‘liking’ all kinds of men.
It’s interesting, when you are in somewhere that’s not home, all the guys look kind of great. They all seemed so European.  

I ended up connected with this kind of hot record producer named Pierre, who played guitar. He invited me for a coffee in Montmartre at 8pm. How cool is that? French people drink coffee 24/7. He was with his pal, Olivier, a painter, who is in his rock band. We talked for a while, and really hit it off. He invited me for dinner. We moved to another cafe, sat at a teeny tiny table on a cobblestone street, smoked his hand rolled cigarettes, drank rosé, had a gorgeous dinner and stayed out talking and flirting til the wee hours.  

He was interesting, interested in me, and we had a lot to talk about. He is coming to New York next month and I will probably see him again.
Whew.
Those pleasure wings saved my ass.

The next night was another story.
The night loomed ahead, with no plans and nothing interesting was happening online.
So, time to take a pleasure leap in a new direction.
The cliff I needed to jump off was getting all dressed up, and going out alone.
This is not easy for me. I like company.
But I decided to take myself to the famous and historic Ritz Hotel. It had been closed for renovation, for the last four years, so I never had the opportunity to go. I had a fantasy of going alone to the Hemingway bar, ordering a champagne, and having a hot flirtation with a mysterious man.  

I put on my slinky blue dress, the highest heels that this old shoe had packed, mascara and lip gloss, and walked up the long red carpet, and down the endless marble hall to the Hemingway bar.  

Turns out I was the only person at the bar.
I guess no one realized the hotel had reopened yet.
And the only flirting that was happening was with the bartender. 

Still, I sipped my glass of pink champagne and took in the beauty. There I was. Alone. Truly alone – in a bar. A beautiful bar. And I was OK. I enjoyed myself, actually. I was brave. I did it. I pressed an edge and went for a pleasurable experience.  

It turned out to be opening night of the Place Vendome, and there was a whole lighting ceremony, which included many dignitaries. The only one I recognized was Karl Lagerfeld, a personal design hero of mine, who I celebrated the next day, with my first pair of Chanel heels, half price on sale, as was everything else in Paris. The wings kept appearing. 

As women, we have been taught to take care of our kids, our husbands, our bosses. Our serving-other-people muscle is quite firm and well-developed. Maybe even overdeveloped. 

But our own pleasure muscle is rather flabby and weak. And just like any weak muscle, it just feels like you can’t. Until you practice. And when you practice, the rewards are endless. Seems like the universe just wants to throw you a big re-lighting ceremony for your efforts.

In the comments below, I want to hear:

– How have you used the discipline of pleasure, and what kind of wings have sprouted for you?
– Or if you have not yet had the experience, please tell me of how you are going to employ the practice of pleasure, today. And then, tomorrow, jump back on the comments and tell me about the wings you sprouted.

I can’t wait to hear your stories, pleasure warrior.

Xo,
Mama Gena

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