Just a few weeks ago, one of my students was asking me how the heck is a gal supposed to stay inside her beautiful, beguiling, creative, endlessly renewing feminine nature, while living in a rip-roaringly masculine, gotta-get-it-done patriarchal world that encourages us to set goals and hit them out of the park, and all while looking slim and fuckable?
Can you relate? She asked:
“Discipline and hard work were taught to us as a masculine tool, not as a feminine one. What does discipline mean to a woman whose life is lived through pleasure? How do I get stuff done without getting into deprivation, pushing through, overriding my emotions and thoughts, ignoring my needs spiritually and emotionally?”
As a woman with a ridiculously full plate, I’m always working at the intersection of pleasure and hustle.
Do we ever get off the hook of feeling like everything is just so much effort?
When are we allowed to be ‘there’ and not trying to get ‘there’?
And when can we just chill out and feel like we are worthy of a celebration?
Not to mention that every time I turn on the radio, Rihanna is saying to me I gotta “Work, work, work, work, work, work.”
So many of us have internalized the masculine drive to push, control ourselves with willpower, prioritize obligation above our own joy — to the point where we can hardly even feel our feminine anymore.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I am a gal who loves to get shit done. Loves.
And yet I long to live inside the beautiful turned on power of my feminine nature. I know you are with me on this.
We want to be active contributors to this world and we want to live our very best lives, which sometimes involves “things to do” that don’t necessarily give us pleasure.
So the question becomes:
How can we find power, joy, and choice – inside the to do list? How can you turn on your obligations? How can you get shit done, without overriding your needs and desires?
1. Be responsible for less.
I’m only responsible to 3 things at a time (my book, my kid, my biz) and everything else goes by the wayside. Right now is not a good time for me to start French lessons. Or add on another course. Or throw a dinner party.
I know myself well, and I know myself enough to know that 3 things are all I can handle, if I want to do those 3 things well. And it turns me on to do things well, and turns me right off to do things poorly or insufficiently.
Turning down dinner parties, choosing to not stay out late or drink, choosing to decline potentially cool work opportunities is not easy. Sometimes I can throw a small tantrum of frustration. But all of that momentary madness passes way quicker than the price tag of wearing myself completely out.
Being a good guardian of your own time and energy is an important self-care tool.
2. Take pleasure in your desired outcome.
Take time to connect your obligation with your greater goal. Standing for your kid. Standing in your power. Standing for what’s right. Contributing to something you believe in.
A couple months ago, I was in the middle of the height of teaching season. Ten days after teaching an intensive in New York, I was headed to Paris to greet my advanced students for their final intensive there.
In between those huge events might not have seemed like the best time to fly to Los Angeles and take my daughter to look at colleges. But, she is my number one. And (I am so proud!) she got accepted in her top two choices of universities that happen to be on opposite coasts. So, no there was no decision there. We jumped on a plane and headed to Cali.
Was I exhausted? Yup. Overcommitted? Absolutely. Yet, I found my joy in pushing through because there is so much pleasure in showing up to mama my kid, and getting her set up for this huge next chapter of her life.
3. Make it fun, no matter what.
Once you’ve trimmed down your to-do list and connected your responsibilities to your true, deeper desires, then you get to be in the fun game of how to make your experience as pleasurable as possible. Find a way to make it fun.
When we are working too hard on a goal, the first thing to go can be our sense of humor. But It’s impossible to accomplish anything valuable without fun.
When Maggie and I showed up on the West Coast for one more college tour, smack in the height of my busiest teaching schedule, the only solution was to amp up the fun. We rented an Airbnb in Venice, visited friends, ate at great restaurants, sang along with Hamilton non-stop in the car.
When deadlines were piling up for my team and I, we ordered a karaoke machine and hosted theme days at the office.
By the way, the secret ingredient that turns obligation into enjoyment? Add in sisterhood.
The power of sisterhood is that we can see one another’s greatness, sometimes even more than we can see or recognize our own. Rooted inside of true sisterhood, anything is possible, and we are always on the ecstatic journey of our own ongoing creation and recreation.