Standing in my kitchen in Saskatoon cooking dinner, I’m lost in thought. As happy as I am to be home, it’s hard to come back to real life after the the intimacy of a Bodysex circle. I miss the connection, sharing of stories, touch, laughter and pleasure that I felt in the Quebec circle only one day before….
“Mama look at what I learned to do in fiddle class!” says my youngest daughter as she runs into the kitchen carrying her fiddle and bow. Turning around and looking down at her sweet face, our eyes connect and I smile.
My mind drifts to an image of a woman in the circle looking into my eyes while sharing in french her stories of physical and sexual shame. I don’t understand what she’s saying — until Marika translates her words for me — but I do understand her arms crossed over her chest, her tears, and her pain. Our eyes stay connected and I breathe deeper, encouraging her to also do so, and we hold our gaze.
My attention comes back to the kitchen at the sound of feet running up the stairs. “Thanks for the money for my hair cut mom. Do you think I should get dreads?” asks my teenage son as he slips past us to get an apple. Looking up at him I see my boy, as tall and handsome as a man, with broad shoulders and strong hands that almost cover the entire apple he’s now eating. He came from my body and yet he’s his own unique person with stories and dreams of his own. I see him, and I see me.
Just like that I’m once again back in the circle, touching the women during the group massage. In their bodies, I recognize parts of my own body and I touch with curiosity at how it must feel to touch me. Their softness feels so nice and I’m drawn to the scars and lines on their skin and wonder about the stories that created them. I touch in admiration of their journey — the parts I know and parts I don’t — and in love and respect for their willingness to let me see them. I feel the shiny, smooth texture of their stretch marks and the pleasure in my finger tips as I weave them in and out of the pattern the marks create on their bodies. smooth, plush, smooth, plush, smooth, plush….
The bubbling of the water in a pot of corn on the stove catches my attention and I move to lift the lid off. As I’m standing there, my teenage daughter comes up from behind and puts her arms around me. She’s the quietist of my children but the one who’s the most cuddly, and I’m always grateful for her gentle and loving presence. Feeling her arms around my stomach I let go of the pot lid and put my own arms over hers. l feel seen, held and loved and it reminds me of a moment in the circle when one of the women asked for a group hug.
We went to her immediately and — wrapping our naked bodies around her — we held each other. Heads touching, our bodies formed a circle so small that looking down I could only see feet and stomachs below us. “How could anyone ever tell us, that we’re anything less than beautiful” we sang….
I’m brought back once again to the kitchen as my ears perk up to my younger son telling a “knock knock” joke from the other room. It’s awful as usual and we all groan and laugh while he laughs too — pleased with our response.
Smiling I drift once again to memories of us laughing as we wandered around the retreat house naked — reluctant to put our clothes back on — left our legs open when we sat down, orgasmed, posed for photos ass up and sprawled across a dining room table, told sexy and not so sexy stories and teased the male caterer.
Dinner ready I set it on the table and call my children to come join me. I missed them while I was gone and I’m excited to hear how their weekend was. We sit around the table and I realize then that, while the eyes looking back at me are different, the Bodysex circle is still with me. The circle is there as long as I’m willing to authentically connect, see myself in other people, share stories, touch, laugh and enjoy pleasure.
Thank you to my dear sisters…..
Ananda, Corazon, Water Lili, Dauphine, Aroha, Heavan, Mango of Liberty, Oceane and Delicia.
I came upon these 3 questions in a book I was reading on a flight to Montreal last weekend. Without thinking of my answers I quickly scribbled them down in my book. Afterwards when I read them over, I felt very emotional, and have come back to reread them many times. At the end of the day – or of my life – this is what matters to me. <3
When I’m 80 years old, how will I answer these questions? How will you? Before you read my answers, I encourage you to answer the questions for yourself.
What was my life about? What did I care about? What do I want others to know that I did with my life?
What was my life about? My life was about love and connection — both inwards and outwards. With myself, my children, intimate partners, friends, circle sisters, clients and strangers. It was about everything that I could feel and know without seeing. Connection with myself for connection with the people around me. Connecting my inner layers with your inner layers. Seeking to under stand you as if you are me. Our circles converging.
What did I care about? I cared about connections with others. Expressing my love through touch, words and actions. Getting to know the people I love enough that I can love them in a way that feels loving to them. Understanding, knowing and accepting myself so that I could understand, know and accept others.
What do I want others to know that I did with my life? I want others to know that I did hard, painful work to know myself enough that I had something to offer me – and you – in my love. That it came from the deepest, innermost parts of me. To love in this way I had to be vulnerable and brave and honest with myself enough to know ME. This knowing became my lifes’ work. The more I was able to see me…. the more I was able to see you. To do this wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. To know me. To know you. To feel me. To feel you. And to love us.
Last year at this time I was recovering from surgery to remove an inch long cancerous tumor that was growing on the right half of my thyroid. I was still in shock and very much feeling shame about what I must have done, or not done, to get it.
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t still carry some of that shame, or that it isn’t incredibly difficult for me to tell anyone that I’ve had cancer and have to see the look on their face in response. That by saying it out loud or having to put it on forms at the dentist’s office, I feel like a walking reminder of our mortality that no one wants to be reminded of. That I don’t dread having to share the story with a new lover or partner and wonder if they’ll still love me. That I don’t question what awful thing I did to deserve this, or wonder if I’m a complete fraud for talking about self love when I’m obviously failing at it or this wouldn’t have happened to me.
All of these stories are a part of the current layers of shame that I’m ever so gently peeling off these days, and yet what woke me at 4:30am this morning wasn’t shame, but rather gratitude.
Having cancer is THE best thing that has ever happened to me. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s like I’ve been shown the value of my life and now I get to really LIVE it.
I can live enthusiastically and wholeheartedly in all things that I do.
I can choose to care about what matters to me and not give a shit about what doesn’t.
I can walk naked in slow motion across a nude beach with a bunch of other naked people (at least 10 years older than me) laughing hysterically at the way our bodies jiggle when laughing hysterically.
I can expand my work to include men who also struggle with physical and sexual shame.
I can be the me that I am when I’m having sex alone – with a partner. Growling, laughing, crying, breathing like I’m giving birth.
I can go to Mexico on a week long date.
I can take my kids to visit Raffi.
I can facilitate Bodysex retreats in other places.
I can have the most difficult conversations of my life and come out feeling like I climbed Mt. Everest.
I can take most of the summer off so that my children get to experience living enthusiastically with me in the least expensive ways possible.
I can choose to be grateful for each day that I wake up knowing that I have the ability to chose my desires over my fears.
I can, I can, I can.
And I do. <3
Last week I posted a pic of myself on social media, biking with my 4 times pregnant, stretched stomach showing just a bit. I’ve never received such a response from anything I’ve posted and it made me realize how much even I – who promotes body acceptance and vulnerability – have been afraid of being seen as I am. There’s still an old belief that if I’m seen I won’t be accepted – and yet I do accept myself. I guess I don’t necessarily trust others to do the same.
After the overwhelmingly positive response I received, I looked through my photos on social media and imagined myself from the outside looking in. I realized that I write about my scars but I don’t necessarily show them.
Here are two photos of me taken on the same day. One covering the physical marks that remind me of the beautiful beings I helped create, and the other showing them. In both I was sweaty and flushed from my bike ride and in both I felt absolutely beautiful. At the end of the day, both are of me and I apologize for taking so long to show up publicly in this full expression of myself. ❤️
A beautiful poem written by a Bodysex woman about her monthly cycle <3
Time to shed
to make room
for the new
A wanted guest
only to pass through
Give it a few
days to be
Tears are inevitable
will be cleaned out
and left empty
There will be
to have someone stay
at least for
But not quite yet
A red tide
But with its
will also mark
a new beginning
Time to refresh
the power to
** dedicated to those who “just want to get in the door.”
Once upon a time there was a man. He was a successful, beautiful man with a good job and a nice big home of his own. Even though he had many things to be grateful for in his life, what he longed for most, was someone to share it with.
The man liked to walk, and on his walks he would think of how much better his life would be if only he had that someone. As he walked he’d notice the doors on the houses he passed by and he’d wonder if the woman he was longing for was behind one of them. He saw yellow doors, green doors, blue doors and black doors but they were never quite the right door.
One day while he was walking, he noticed a bright red door and he thought to himself “That’s it! That’s the one I’ve been looking for! I really want to get in that door.” Thinking that this was the door he’d been longing for, he was determined to do something really big to get it to open for him. Everyday he danced, sang songs, wore costumes, learned instruments and even rode a unicycle dressed as a peacock hoping that he could convince the door to let him in.
But the door stayed closed.
After several months of this he felt defeated and one day, exhausted, fell off of his unicycle in front of the door and wept. It was so unfair! All he wanted was to get in this door and no matter what he did, it just wouldn’t open. After crying for some time he opened his eyes and decided to walk home. As he stood up he realized that he had been laying on a pathway that led to the red door. Never having noticed this pathway before he saw that it was curved and unique, made of rocks of all shapes and sizes. He also noticed weeds poking up between the rocks and decided that the weeds made the whole walkway more interesting. “How beautiful” he thought as he walked sadly home.
The next day he woke up feeling like he had no more purpose in his life without the purpose of getting into that door, but he forced himself to go for a walk anyways. Without thinking, his feet led him — not to the red door — but to the pathway leading up to it and he once again marvelled at it’s uniqueness. This time though he noticed that the pathway led not only to the shiny red door, but to a whole entire house! Thinking back to the months he spent singing and dancing in front of the door he wondered how had he not seen this house before? The house wasn’t big and fancy like his home and yet he couldn’t stop looking at it. He noticed paint peeling on one of the shutters, fingerprints on a window, and a mixture of vegetables and flower plants in a pot. The house fascinated him and he spent the rest of the day looking at it —wondering what rooms were inside, what it smelled like, what stories it held, what secrets it kept and who’s finger prints were on the windows. Even more fascinating to him was seeing the steady stream of neighbours come and go through the red door, as if it was their own house and the door was always open.
Transfixed by the feelings this home evoked in him and the enjoyment he felt in those feelings, he realized that the sun was going down and that he had spent the entire day looking at the house and had forgotten about his desire to get in the door completely. Feeling strangely settled and at peace, he got up to start his walk home. After glancing over his shoulder for one last look at the house, he began to turn around when he heard a click. From the corner of his eye he saw the red door slowly open and he turned to face the woman standing in it smiling at him. “Hello” she said. “Would you like to come into my home?”
never brushing my hair,
biking without a helmet,
sun on my pussy,
sand in my ass crack.
accepting my self as I am,
preferring my bare skin to clothing,
letting my stretch marks show,
my abundant lips dangle.
experiencing my sexuality through my;
open body, open mouth, open eyes and open ears,
and realizing that these experiences can happen all day everyday,
with or without my genitals.
listening to my body and
trusting that by simply breathing, I can handle everything I feel.
choosing feeling over avoidance — even when it’s painful.
Having sex with the lights on,
fantasizing without shame,
saying “I’ve got one (or two or three) more in me” even if my lover is done —
and not apologizing for it.
being vulnerable with people that I love,
knowing that in my vulnerability I create an opportunity for deeper intimacy —
whether they meet me in it or not.
being brave enough to ask for what I want
and not taking it personally when I don’t get it.
knowing what my core values are,
choosing to live a life that is in alignment with these core values,
and recognizing the freedom that this alignment gives me.
**photo credit goes to Stiina
Almost always the answers are within us – sometimes we just need someone to ask the right questions to bring them out.
Q: Hey Natasha, are you still doing q&a? I have a sex question and I’m all kinds of embarrassed to ask.
A: Yes totally! Ask away!
Q: Okay. So I’ve been seeing a guy for a few months. The sex has been great and at first I was cumming every single time. Lately, the past month or two, I haven’t been able to orgasm with him at all. The sex is still super hot and I really enjoy it, but what’s going on? I can make myself cum no problem, but not with him anymore.
A: Have you tried masturbating with him? Did anything happen of significance around the time you stopped cumming during sex with him?
Q: I haven’t tried masturbating with him, sometimes I touch myself when we fuck but even that doesn’t do it. When it was strictly physical/casual, I could easily orgasm every time without touching myself. I can’t think of anything of significance…although maybe it was around the time I started to develop feelings for him. And of course I haven’t expressed those feelings to him…which is probably the problem, isn’t it?
A: Yes!! That is very insightful of you! Having feelings for someone and expressing them requires vulnerability. Orgasms are vulnerable. To orgasm is to surrender and surrender can’t happen when you’re holding back.
Q: Well shit, that makes perfect sense. Having been in a relationship for so long, sex and vulnerability with someone new is so different. So I guess I’m gonna have to do something about these feelings, both relationship-wise and sexually. It could totally scare him away, but if it does then that just means that he’s not right for me right now.
A: Yes!!! look at you owning your feelings more than your need for his response to them!! Yay!! That’s liberation!
I met you 9 years ago….. after a long and stressful flight home from Ethiopia, with my newly adopted daughter.
Exhausted and scared of the long transition ahead, I was surprised and relieved to see you in the kitchen greeting our arrival.
Although it was love at first sight, I couldn’t know then how deep that love would grow, or how much we would go through together in the years to come.
You were there for me while I helped my daughter adjust — through her tears and tears of my own. You were there as we bonded – her learning that she could trust me as a mama, and me learning to not take her initial rejection personally. You were there while I watched lovingly as she slept peacefully beside me — hoping we’d make it through. And… You were there when I knew we had.
You were there as my family grew and we welcomed another daughter into our home. This one from my own tummy. You were there for the late nights I sat up with her — feeling a mix of both awe and fear at what I’d gotten myself into again.
You were there while I cuddled with countless children on my worn out couch, reading book after book after book….
You were there as I took time for myself during those busy days running a daycare. The children learning that when you came out, mama was going to sit for a little bit. Because of that, they seemed to hold you with reverence and importance too, and often liked a taste of what you had to offer.
You were there as I felt the uncomfortable stirrings of change and dissatisfaction in my body. Providing endless cups of tea as I poured myself over books trying to find the answer to what it was I was looking for. You were there when I discovered that the answer was in me.
You were there as I painfully untied the threads of my marriage. Unsteady and scared, you grounded me through the consistent warmth you offered my hands, and my body.
You were there as I picked myself up off the floor, and created a new path for me and my children.
You were there for not only me, but for the other women that I welcomed and supported into my home. Sharing stories, tears, laughter and pleasure – they too came to know you as a constant.
Like me, you’ve changed a bit over the years. A broken piece here and there, marks that won’t wash off — stained from endless memories. I’ve learned to adapt to your age, happily holding you in a different and more gentle way. It seems awkward to those who don’t know you as well, but I don’t mind. I especially love how your flavour has developed over time. It’s so good that I’m hesitant to go elsewhere. The way you’ve aged has only made you more interesting and beautiful to me, reminding me to look at my own aging that way.
Last week however, an important part of you broke and, through my tears, I knew that your end was near. For a few days I handled you even more gently, seeking comfort in the warmth you still provided and discussing with my children ways to fix you. But I knew that it was time to let you go.
So yesterday I bought a beautiful new tea pot. Hand made with love by a local potter. It’s shiny, the handle is in tact and there are no stains. Her tea doesn’t taste like your tea, her edges are too smooth and I keep forgetting that I don’t need to hold her as gently as I held you. I know that I’ll grow to love her, but for now, you’re still holding the space in my heart.
It’s not goodbye. I will still see you everyday on my shelf, amongst other treasures that I love, reminding me of all the things I hold dear: family, commitment, perseverance, warmth and unconditional love. Thank you for our beautiful love affair.
**** Special thanks to Mary-Anne Parker for gifting me this tea pot 9 years ago. <3
“I have been trying to put into words since I got home from your retreat, how it’s changed me as a woman, a mother and a lover. I have done a lot of retreats and always come home with little nuggets, but this one. Wow. My entire perspective of life has shifted. I am happy. I’m happy in my body. I’m happy with my vulva. I am so into being able to relax and enjoy the pleasure that my partner wants to give me. Sensual touch, both ways. Just being naked and close, whether it’s sexual or not.
It’s allowed me to be vulnerable and open in a way I didn’t think would ever happen – especially not in this body. But it’s 100% changed my marriage, for the better. Both of us have opened up and are able to communicate better, to speak our hearts and minds. Shame left me at the retreat, I came home different and everyone that truly knows me, sees it.
So thank you. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for being a fierce space holder and loving us through everything. Thank you for being open and embracing us all. Thank you for putting on such an amazing retreat. I took so much from it and I’m so happy that I came and can’t wait to do another one.”
– April Bodysex Retreat participant