Sometimes, desires whisper in your ear.
Sometimes, they shout.
Often, the most potent, powerful, paradigm-shifting desires are the quietest.
And most of us are programmed by our culture to ignore them.
We tend to see what we know, versus what wants to know us.
I had this tiny little tug of an idea that I wanted to go to Italy this summer with my partner, Peter. To create a space to hang out with our daughters who live in Europe, and work on my new book, which is called Surrender.
I booked the trip and the villa before Peter and I were back together, hoping he would come, but willing to go on the adventure by myself if it came to that.
I’ve never done anything like this before – and, truthfully, I wondered WTF I was doing every single day before departure, whilst enthusiastically talking my friends and family members into visiting.
Sometimes we have a desire that does not make sense, exactly, a desire that can’t really be explained in a logical linear way. It just is.
It can feel like an itch.
It’s there, it’s annoying, and you try to ignore it, but it won’t go away.
These are the desires that shift your world on its axis. That open doors, windows, and hallways of expansion for everyone in your world, everyone whose lives you touch.
After a while, things seemed to be lining up. Peter jumped on the Italy train a month before I was due to leave. The girls and their partners all wanted to come. Friends and family, too.
But then, the publisher who published my last book, turned down my newest proposal.
Instead of a project that I could sink my teeth into – a project that would guide the rhythm of my days – I had scads of free space and a bruised ego. I had given these guys a bestseller with Pussy: A Reclamation. I considered them friends. And yet, they could not see the beauty and power in my new vision. Ouch.
But, I had chosen to write a book called Surrender, and I had chosen to vacation in Italy. So I knew I was being asked to do the very thing I was writing about…surrender. Say yes.
Yes, to being the steward of desire.
Yes, to surrendering to something beyond my ego.
Yes, to the desire remaking me.
Not an easy swivel turn. My ego wanted to chew the fat of my rejection, of the rug being pulled out from under me, of the lack of structure that opened like an unknown landscape in front of me.
It had been 25 long years since I’d let up on the gas pedal of productivity. I had been busy inciting a Pleasure Revolution, building the School of Womanly Arts, writing four books, and raising my child solo.
I did not know what to do with free space. Did not know how to have a meal without my fingers on my laptop…or at least near my laptop. I felt nervous. Feckless. Valueless.
Sleeping in? Long leisurely meals? Days without structure? Time? Space? All of this was foreign to me.
And we were in such a remote part of the country – surrounded by hills, mountains, and farmland – that I could not distract myself with the hustle and bustle of bigger cities like Rome or Florence. We were literally the only tourists for miles.
But I had Peter. I had Italy. I had the overwhelming beauty of this place – a place settled by the Etruscans in 500 BCE, whose roots went back for centuries.
And suddenly, I was not the driver. I was the passenger. Forced to move at an unfamiliar pace.
There was a city-wide siesta every day from 1-5 pm.
Banks and businesses would close for four whole hours, then re-open for another two.
How…human. How humane. To prioritize so much time for connection outside of work. It was terrifyingly, delightfully new.
If Italy had a message for me it would be this: Calm down, sister. We’ve got you. There is more to life than work, than accomplishment. You are so much more than what you do. Life wants you. Love wants you. Take a breath. Just be.
Peter was better at this than I was. He became an Italian right away. It took me two solid weeks to unhook my giant, overworked, hyper-masculine c@ck, and let Italy take me over.
I needed those deep Etruscan roots of love, lifestyle, and connection to extract the weeds of relentless effort, and make way for another part of my woman to shine.
And now? I am so grateful for the time, the space, and the place to explore this new side of Regena.
Regena with Peter. Regena saying yes. Yes to love, yes to pasta, yes to gelato, wine, pizza. Yes to sleeping in. Yes to wandering, walking, biking, exploring, doing nothing.
I couldn’t see it at first, but turning down my proposal was the biggest gift that my publisher could have given me. It opened up a whole new world of possibility.
But then, following your desires always does.
I am changed because of my time in Italy. I am more balanced – more connected to the simple delights of life – than I ever was before.
Is there a desire whispering to you, today?
Can you hear it?
What does it say?
With so much love and pleasure,
Regena is a feminist icon, a teacher, a speaker, a mother, a best-selling author, and creatrix and CEO of The School of Womanly Arts.