5 years ago on Christmas night I stayed up late reading a book written by Naomi Wolf, called “Vagina.” Having just begun to feel an awakening in my own sexuality I was searching for guidance from other women on what this meant and, in some ways, the permission to allow it.
Naomi wrote that “Female sexual pleasure, rightly understood, is not just about sexuality, or just about pleasure. It serves, also, as a medium of female sexual knowledge and hopefulness; female creativity and courage, female focus and initiative; female bliss and transcendence; and as a medium of a sensibility that feels very much like freedom. To understand the vagina properly is to realize that it is not only coextensive with the female brain, but is also, essentially part of the female soul.”
Even with my very limited first hand experience with these words, they resonated deeply with me and I knew that this was not only what I was seeking to learn, but also what I’d been afraid of and holding back from for years. My identity had been tied to mothering, being a supportive wife and giving to others. Seeking this pleasure – which honestly almost felt like a bad word – seemed selfish and unmotherly.
Nervous yet Inspired by the book I decided to touch myself – something that I’d never done before. This idea seemed foreign and because I didn’t really like my body, having to touch it reminded me of everything that was “wrong” with it. Unsure and unconvinced about what I was doing, my first few attempts didn’t go very well. I was so completely focused on having an orgasm that I hardly felt a thing. Like an over eager lover I went straight for my clit and ignored the rest of my body – which needed to be touched just as much. Frustrated that this wasn’t working I thought that there was surely something wrong with me until one day it just happened – I’d brought myself to orgasm with just my hands!
I was thrilled and the orgasm was a great reward for all my persistence and hard work – but what ended up being the most profound for me was what I learned through the process of discovery. I learned about my body, what feels good for me, that I actually liked what I felt like under my fingers and because of that I imagined that someone else might like it too. I learned to be patient, to enjoy the build up, to use all of my senses and all of my body. I also learned that my own touch – whether or not it led to orgasm – could help me at difficult times in my life, reminding me that I’ll be okay and that I’m always here for me.
I’m so grateful to be able to say that in these past 5 I have come to not only understand but live what Naomi was saying. Through embracing and seeking out pleasure I have healed, became a better mother, more self aware, learned to trust and honour my intuition, set boundaries, seek out my passions, forgive myself, grow through vulnerable situations and finally to love and be loved. ……and as Naomi says that “feels very much like freedom.”
.Merry Christmas. <3
“Lastnight I had the greatest most vibrant orgasm.I can see clearly the correlation between vulnerability and orgasmic power.” – Anais Nin.
4 years ago I began a journey inwards by seeking out vulnerability. Seeing things that I held back from, feared and felt shame about, I realized how they limited the experiences I was having in my life. Making the decision to walk into the experiences, feelings and self touch that I’d been avoiding was terrifying, but each time I did it I discovered a new part of myself that had been blocked.
Through this self discovery I developed a relationship with myself that allowed me to use my sexual response and orgasms as a window into my own whole wellbeing. My orgasms – the strength of them, the way they travelled through my body or stayed in one place, the ease or difficulty in which they came — showed me where I was at physically, emotionally and spiritually.
About a year ago, while undergoing huge and difficult changes in my personal life, I began noticing a big difference in my response to pleasure and the strength of my orgasms. Unable to let go and love myself I’d been trying to will myself into orgasming – not really being present in the experience leading up to it. I could see myself doing this in a few different ways — masturbating less and masturbating with clothes on instead of fully naked and open. I’d reverted back to my teenage masturbation practice of holding my breath and clenching my left hand — being unwilling to open it and explore the curves of my breasts or hips. Feeling undeserving of the love and appreciation that I’d developed for myself these past few years, my orgasms were reflecting that.
Putting expectations on the orgasmic response I felt I should be getting, led me to try harder and longer and ended with me frustrated and feeling like a fraud for teaching things that I was obviously no good at. Seeking guidance I reached out to my mentor Betty Dodson for advice and she responded just like a mother would — loving, reassuring and at the same time blunt. Betty assured me that she herself has gone through this, that it’s a normal part of life and that there’ve been times where she actually broke up with herself — no sex at all. She went on to say that “in terms of the love affair with yourself, you might say you’re being a demanding “bitch” with your orgasm expectations.” She encouraged me to let go of expectation, keep masturbating and teaching, and that in time the connection will return.
Reassured I followed her advice while in the meantime committing myself to seeking out vulnerability and doing other things to strengthen and open myself — as I had done 4 years ago when I’d begun this journey. I started with what seemed like a crazy decision to do a 200k bike trip alone. I loved biking but I’d never gone over 30k in one stretch, rode only a mountain bike, didn’t know how to change a tire and was terrified to sleep alone by the side of the road. Walking into the fear I knew I needed to try. In the end I made it just over halfway having pushed myself past the point I thought I was capable of. I’d cried, been pelted by hail, experienced unbelievable physical pain and the fear of being alone at night. It was in my pain and my fear however, that I rediscovered the strength and inner power that had been lost along the way.
Feeling the need to discover more in myself I booked a private breath work session. Being used to holding space for others in their vulnerability I longed to let go and allow someone else to hold space for me. Even though I wanted this there’s a huge risk involved in truly showing up and actually allowing it to happen. Just as I look at my orgasms as a window into my wellbeing, I knew that the facilitator would look at my breath in the same way. After the session I asked him for feedback and he told me in a kind and gentle way that he had noticed my strong sexual energy, desire for living life and also my need for control, closed heart and tight stomach. I felt both surprised and horrified that someone else saw these things in me. Experiencing a full on vulnerability hangover I spent days reflecting on his response and the truth in it.
About a week later I decided to attend another breath work group ceremony led by the same facilitator. Laying back in the circle I focused consciously on my breath and pulling it up into my heart as I inhaled and letting it flow out of my vulva as I exhaled. What transpired over the next hour is difficult to put into words and I imagine almost unbelievable to someone outside of it. At some point, lost in focusing only on my breath, I was startled by the most intense physical pain i’ve ever experienced in my life. When I literally thought I couldn’t bear it any longer the pain was gone and was followed by what felt like the first breath of my life. The openness with which the air moved through me with that breath caused me to burst into tears. I sobbed and sobbed from the deepest parts of myself. As I lay on the floor crying in a circle of strangers, I knew without a doubt that I’d truly shown up.
Two days later laying completely naked on my bed, I set a timer for an hour with the intention of just touching myself. Having grown accustomed to the fear and disappointment of seeing my disconnect with myself through my orgasms I was nervous to try again. It seemed smart to go back to the place of learner that I’d started from 4 years ago when I’d never touched my body with my hands. So, using my breath as my guide, I explored myself with both hands focusing only on the sensations at my fingertips and the words that I spoke over and over “I love you Natasha.” My orgasm came as a complete surprise— just minutes before the end of the hour — and I could feel all of the built up orgasmic energy travel up with my breath and into my heart. I cried and cried with the comforting and old, yet familiar feeling, of being at home in myself that I’d missed so much.
Since that day my orgasms have been reflecting the openness in my heart, acceptance I have with myself(strengths and weaknesses) and this new path that I’m on. Coming full circle back to the place I began my sexual awakening from 4 years ago has been humbling and difficult for me. I feel grateful though that by looking into this window I’ve learned, as Anais Nin did, the connection between my willingness to be vulnerable and my orgasmic power.
This is dedicated to the women in my life who have taught me that being orgasmic is a kind of conscious awareness that extends far beyond our physical orgasms. Thanks for paving the way…….
I watch her, red stained hands, wearing only a bikini as she picks raspberry after raspberry and puts them in a bucket. Small but strong, she carries her body in a way that makes me pay attention. She is a mother – nearly 20 years older than me – and looking down at my youthful, yet covered up body, I know that she know’s something that I don’t.
It’s in the subtle sway of her hips, in the healthy food that she eats, the love she puts into her body, and that look of mischief in her eyes that tells me there is always something more going on. This is an orgasmic woman.
We huddle together in a wine bar drinking glass after glass and people watching. She is in her 80’s, and needs to sit close enough to hear me talk over the hum of the people around us. Servers come and go and she makes comments under her breath about who she would like to take home and *%&#. A little while later she sits holding a crying woman in her arms – who was a stranger only moments before.
It’s in her acceptance of herself. The swears, the irreverence, the dirty talk and at the same time her acceptance of others. It’s in the freedom to be exactly who she is and not apologize. This is an orgasmic woman.
I see her standing there looking like a jewel against a cement background. She’s in her sixties, scarf blowing in the wind, cheeks flushed, hair in complete disarray. From the look on her face I know that she has taken on the town today. And she has.
It’s in her wind blown hair, in her smile that knows things that other women don’t, and in her ability to completely lose herself in her orgasms. This is an orgasmic woman.
It’s early in the morning and I’m laying in bed feeling more awake than I’ve ever felt in my life. Taking off my blanket the cold air hits my warm body, instantly making all the tiny hairs stand on end. I shiver and the shiver reminds me of the shiver I feel when I’m touched. Skin on skin. Moving my hands closer to my body I can feel the heat from them on my skin, and I arch towards it. Closer my hands gets until they rest on the tiny hairs that are still standing erect from the cold. The pressure form my hand on the tips of the hairs sends more shivers into my body and instantly I am overcome with pleasure.
Swaying my hips, putting love into my body, accepting myself just as I am, I lose myself in my orgasms. I am an orgasmic woman.
A couple of years ago my son began struggling with anxiety over going to school. He became quiet, sad, withdrawn and extremely self conscious. Slowly this anxiety spread into areas of his life that had previously brought him joy – like hockey and parties with friends. To even set one foot onto the hockey rink made him become incapacitated by fear. Feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to help him, I signed us up for a class that gives children and their parents tools to cope with anxiety. Anxiety I learned is the result of not dealing with, or allowing oneself to experience, certain feelings. Triggered by a painful experience a person withdraws and learns to hold back these feelings causing them to become overwhelmed. Anytime these feelings are triggered the anxiety shows up by way of physical and emotional symptoms in the body. Some people have panic attacks because they’ve stopped breathing, and some do anything and everything they can to avoid all possible triggers. It’s crucial to understand that it isn’t the the actual trigger that’s the problem – it’s that we just don’t allow ourselves to feel the feelings the trigger causes. It is the not feeling that causes the anxiety.
As I sat in the class listening to the instructor explain the importance of teaching kids to breathe deeply and allow their feelings to have space in their body, I thought about myself and how I deal with feelings and situations that overwhelm or scare me. The answer was mainly avoidance. She had mentioned that children with anxiety often have a parent with anxiety and, while I had initially scoffed at the suggestion, looking honestly at myself I could see that there was some truth to it. I didn’t experience physical feelings of anxiety because I avoided all situations that would cause me to feel this way. Shocked by this realization I put up my hand and posed a question to the other parents in the group. “Does anyone else feel like a total hypocrite here? I don’t know about the rest of you but I sure don’t truly allow myself to feel my feelings. Especially not the uncomfortable ones.”
I went home that night deep in thought about this. As an adult I had more control over my environment than my son. I could choose to avoid dancing, to remain sexually inhibited, to keep my body covered, to never speak in public or avoid difficult conversations with people that I loved. In fact I could avoid most – if not all – vulnerable situations that were presented to me. What kind of life was that giving me? One where I was missing out on things that I would love to do for fear of looking stupid, sounding stupid, or failure. Why did I think that I was important enough that anyone else would even care how I danced or if my grammar wasn’t perfect or what my body looked like naked? And if they did care did that mean that their opinion mattered more than my own? Did I even have an opinion or was that something else I avoided? I saw that by living this way I wasn’t really living at all, and avoiding difficult feelings meant that I was avoiding potentially amazing feelings as well. I was avoiding LIFE.
Deciding that I didn’t want my life to be this way and that I didn’t want to model this way of being for my children anymore, I went to my son and shared my realization with him. I named several things that I avoided because I didn’t want to feel the feelings that they triggered: dancing, public speaking, being naked, sharing my personal stories, needs and wants.
It seems to me that a large part of healing comes from just knowing that you aren’t alone and almost as soon as the words came out, my son began to feel better. Even when I had tried my best to support him it wasn’t the same as me vulnerably acknowledging my own fears and anxieties and naming them to him. His eyes conveyed empathy for me and we agreed to not only support each other but to seek out situations where we would need to be vulnerable and face our fears. With his support I decided to do all of the things that scared me. Terrified but strengthened by the power of shared vulnerability we encouraged each other on our own separate journey’s.
Starting with small and attainable steps we learned that just by breathing deeply – any feeling that we have will pass. Feelings need space to move and holding our breath doesn’t provide that space. It locks them in – overwhelming us. We learned that it’s okay to take the time to do that – even if it meant excusing ourself from a situation to go for a 5 minute breath session – and that this is a skill that will carry us throughout our life. We learned that we CAN do anything and that when we dare to be vulnerable we build a vulnerability muscle that gets stronger each time we use it. We learned that by allowing ourselves to feel difficult feelings we would then be able to feel wonderful feelings even more. Those feelings need breath and space too.
I began my first step with dance. For years I had avoided situations where I would have to dance and felt sick about dancing in front of people. So I took a hip hop dance class – the style that scared me the most. From that class I took more classes and then got a group of women together and we performed twice in front of an audience. Regardless of what I may or may not look like when I dance, it has become one of the great loves in my life.
Then I decided to speak in front of an audience – sharing personal stories about myself to overcome my fear of public speaking. Using my breath and the authenticity of my stories I got through it. Now I never hesitate to speak in front of a group.
I got naked outside and my friend took photos of me. I did this over and over and I’m more comfortable naked than clothed these days. If you don’t like it, thats okay – because I do.
I learnt to orgasm without my face covered. To move my body in sex the way that I move it when I’m dancing. To let go. To breathe. To be free.
I took my first Bodysex workshop. Two days in the nude being vulnerable with strangers. Today I am a trained Bodysex facilitator leading my own workshops in the nude.
Separate but together my son and I learned that we can do anything that we want to do and that our anxiety can be overcome with courage, breath and simply allowing space in our bodies to feel whatever we feel. It will pass. We cheered each other on, we followed each others milestones and provided empathy at each others setbacks. We were honest and we never stopped supporting each other.
In my work now I have incorporated this belief in the power of shared vulnerability and I think that it is unique to me and is essentially my way of making this work my own. I cannot and will not ask anyone to meet me anywhere naked without going there myself – in all ways. No matter how many times I do it it is a bit scary but, like a worked muscle, I also get stronger. This is evident in the workshops I lead, nude photo sessions that I am a part of, and in my own private orgasm coaching. Of course I still have fears and there are many things that I still want to do, but the difference now is that I know I can do them.
I look at my son now – so tall, with his shoulders back, proud and empathic. He created and followed his own steps to overcoming his anxiety and now shares his story with other kids anytime he hears that they are going through the same thing. He wants them to know that they are not alone and that it can get better. How grateful I am that at 12 my son knows the power of shared vulnerability – something that took me 35 years to figure out. I can only imagine the depth of experiences and feelings that he will have throughout his life because of this.
Thank you Mateyo. <3
This blog post has absolutely nothing to do with sex. It has to do with empathy and being hit to my core with something. It also has to do with my desire to live consciously.
I have decided to abstain from drinking any alcohol for the next 2 months. No I am not an alcoholic nor do I have a drinking problem and I’m not really trying to make a difference or point. I’m doing this….
Because….in my city a family of 4 was killed by a drunk driver last weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it.
Because….as much as I can’t stop thinking about the family killed I am thinking of the woman who killed them. She is a mother of 5, as am I, and I wonder if she will get through this alive.
Because…. a friend whom I deeply respect and admire called me last night saying she needed to talk to someone instead of taking a drink.
Because…. there are people in my life whom I love deeply that are alcoholics and I worry about them.
Because…. another friend of mine is having difficulties navigating her old relationships while being sober.
Because…. I have driven when I shouldn’t have.
Because…. I have hurt people that I love by doing stupid things when I was drunk.
Because…. by saying no to drinks I will be reminded of all of these things and all of these people and that can’t be a bad thing.
Because…. not having a drink for 2 months for a non alcoholic like me seems like a very difficult thing to do.
A couple of weeks ago – feeling emotionally exhausted and broken – I felt an overwhelming need for elder women wisdom. I wanted support and words from those who have been here – where I am right now – and to know what they had learnt from this place. I reached out to my teacher Betty Dodson, my friend Celeste Lemieux, and primarily my own mother. In their own way each of the women gifted me with some of their strength, support and knowledge that it’s safe for me to be myself with them. It was however, by reaching out to my own mother in an open and very vulnerable way, that I discovered shamefully that I hadn’t really seen her before. I had never taken the time or energy to recognize her as a whole human being with physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and sexual parts. The wall around myself meant that not only was it difficult to see in, but it was also difficult to see out. By finally allowing her to see me, I was able to see her and in looking discovered that my sexuality comes from my mother.
My sexuality is not separate from myself or my life, but rather a crucial part of my everyday way of being and how I relate to my body. In this sense it can only be truly actualized when the other parts of myself are getting care and attention as well. Looking at my life I could clearly see how my mother has had an affect on my physical, emotional spiritual and intellectual well being – all of which are also a part of and influence my sexuality. In fact it’s impossible to look at my sexuality without looking at these elements of it. It is holistic.
So with overwhelming gratitude I wrote this for my mom.
Thank you mom.
For giving me life.
For breastfeeding me.
For encouraging me to “colour outside the lines” when my doing so was questioned by others.
For feeding me healthy food even though I resented you for it.
For setting up my childhood to always include space for awe and wonder.
For the cross you traced on my forehead when you thought I was sleeping.
For seeking out and following your own spirituality so that I knew that the same was possible for me.
For showing and telling me that I could do anything that I want to in life.
For taking me travelling.
For encouraging me and my friends to be artistic in a way that was unique and authentic to us. You did this by giving us free reign to decorate the cold storage room any way that we wanted to and provided a rainbow of paint colours and tiles to choose from – never once suggesting how we should do it.
For letting me make a mess.
For making me clean up my mess.
For always being there but never hovering.
For being rude to the one boyfriend who was rude to me. I secretly loved it.
For telling me that following my heart is essential but will never be easy.
For saying that you’re proud of me.
For allowing me to make my own mistakes and not punishing me for them.
For teaching me frugality and that joy comes from living with less.
For letting me learn alongside you rather than you doing it for me.
For helping people without judgement of their situation.
For allowing me to witness you breaking down sometimes so that I knew it was okay when it happened to me.
For always getting back up.
For giving me an appreciation of the smell of sweet peas, the feel of bread dough, the taste of homemade cooking, the sound of classical music and the ever present vision of your hands creating, cooking, building, sewing.
My own hands have taught me that no matter what struggles I have, they are an ever present point of connection with myself – my whole self.