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
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
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
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
Bodysex is a transformative and undefinable experience for women, of all ages and sexual orientations, interested in the empowering freedom that comes from shedding the masks, roles and clothing that we hide behind everyday. The workshop is done in the nude yet it is non sexual. It is about raising consciousness, creating sisterhood, integrating body shame and celebrating pleasure.
The next Bodysex Retreat Weekend will be October 19th – 21st 2018, held at a private retreat centre near Saskatoon SK. Canada. It’s the perfect place to relax, let go and just be. The retreat has a “slumber party” feel to it with healthy home made meals and snacks lovingly prepared by me and my assistant Patti throughout the weekend. Henna tattooing and hair braiding is also offered by local artist Stiina. During non workshop hours participants will be free to walk trails or the labyrinth, spend time alone or visit with the other women.
The two day workshop will include:
- Sacred circle where, in first person, we share how we feel about our bodies and our orgasms. This is the time to let go of any shame that has been holding us back from fully celebrating our pleasure. Through this, the roots of sisterhood will begin forming as we accept each other for who are. No more and no less.
- Group genital show and tell. This is a powerful ceremony where we display our vulva one at a time, identify all of the parts of our anatomy and recognize the beauty and diversity amongst us.
- Learn new methods to enhance our orgasms and our self loving practice. Understanding our sexual anatomy, how breath, movement, sound and our pc muscle work to enhance our pleasure on all levels.
- Self loving, side by side, in the circle during “erotic recess.” Sharing our own pleasure, without expectation, with other women is one of the most powerful experiences that you will ever have. This is about learning to be our own lover, healing body shame, overcoming sexual guilt and sharing in sisterhood. This is also an opportunity for me to help personally guide you, towards orgasm or increased pleasure if you have never orgasmed or are having difficulty and would like help.
- Group massage. This ancient practice is almost impossible to describe in words. It is a transcendent experience where we are able to give and receive loving, non sexual touch from the other women in the circle.
Location: Outside Saskatoon SK. Canada. (exact location will be disclosed to registered participants only)
(transportation from Saskatoon to the retreat location provided for out of town participants for a fee)
Dates: 1pm, October 19th – 1pm, October 21st 2018
Cost: $645 CDN for first time participants, $500 for returning. Included in this fee is the full Bodysex workshop, mystic wand vibrator, healthy meals (locally sourced and organic where possible) shared accommodation for 2 nights (there is a price reduction of $70 for women not wanting to use a vibrator or bringing their own)
$200 NRF deposit on registration.
Space is limited to 10 participants
Please advise me of any dietary restrictions
Register on my website here or email firstname.lastname@example.org for all enquiries.