Last week I woke up to the sight of my 7 year old daughter laying beside me, wrapped in a quilt made by one of my Bodysex sisters. She had made the quilt for me last year in exchange for a friend of hers to attend one of my Bodysex retreats. Since then the quilt has mostly been used in my counselling office or at my retreats — providing warmth and comfort to women when they need it.
Seeing her wrapped in such a perfect symbol of sisterhood, I couldn’t help but think of the trickle effect that Bodysex has, not only on the women attending — but on the next generation of children. Even if they never attend a workshop, the very structure and concept of Bodysex is one we rarely see examples of in today’s culture. Women supporting other women — absent of competition. Real naked bodies — not on display, but simply being. Honest, vulnerable sharing of our most hidden stories, greatest fantasies and everything in between. Shared celebration of self pleasure as our fundamental birthright. And the healing experience of non sexual, loving touch from women who actually SEE us.
Tucking the quilt in tighter I continued to watch her, hoping that her little body would soak in some of the power of the collective stories and pleasures that the quilt holds. That as she grows and becomes a woman herself she will find acceptance in her body, love of self, enjoyment of pleasure and true sisterhood.
I love you Naya <3
A few days ago my 7 year old daughter and I were biking along the river bank — enjoying the sunshine — and trying to spot gophers and geese.
“Mama” she said, “let’s look for houses that look the comfiest.”
Smiling at this idea I turned my eyes away from the river – towards the houses on the other side, and began looking for the comfy ones. The river bank is full of beautiful homes and it didn’t take me long to find some, but she was already pointing to her own picks. Her choices, although fairly cute, all had something about them that made them not necessarily “nice” to look at.
Curious about this I asked her “What does a comfy house look like?”
“Well “ she said, “it’s not perfect, but it’s nice. It’s really nice cause it feels nice to live in. Like our house.”
Thinking about this I paid attention to the ones she chose and this is what I saw…
Children’s bikes and toys strewn all over the walkway and front yard of a little character home. A cedar house that looked years over due for a restain, and a plain house thats only identifying feature was a person sitting on the front deck reading.
“That one looks just like ours mama.” she said.
My initial reaction was to say that I didn’t think that house looked anything like ours except that it was tiny, but I stopped the words before they came out of my mouth. She isn’t looking for perfection I thought, she’s looking for a place she’d “feel nice to live in.”
As we biked on I thought about her view of what’s nice and comfy and how in her innocence it has nothing to do with perfection at all. I then thought about my own home and how there are chips in the paint and gaps between the hard wood in the floor. It’s small and tight – like a hug from someone who really cares about you. It’s warm inside and smells like home made cooking and sometimes stinky dog. “It’s not perfect, but it’s nice.”
Then I thought of my body — the other home that I live in and how just that morning in the shower I lovingly washed the parts that maybe aren’t as nice to look at. Or are they? The elaborate spiral pattern on my stomach – stretched from the 4 babies carried in it. It’s got a different texture than the rest of my skin and no matter how hard I exercise, it can’t tighten back to the way it used to be. It’s imperfect but it’s soft and warm to touch, and it’s the place my daughter reaches her little hands for when she wants to cuddle.
I thought of how both my home and my body respond to loving care – A fresh coat of paint or good, healthy food. And how sometimes loving care means eating big juicy burgers or wrestling in the living room.
“It’s really nice cause it feels nice to live in.”
According to Senaya it seems that the comfiest homes are the ones that tell a story on the outside, of the joys and the sorrows of the owners on the inside. From my tiny library out front, to my window trim that needs repainting. From the loose skin on my belly to my c-section scar. These things make me and my home comfy to her and – I like to think – to anyone else who loves me. My body isn’t perfect, but it’s nice. It’s really nice because it feels nice to live in….
**** Thank you to my wise little girl Senaya for teaching me to look at my comfy body/home in a new way.
Body and Mind
This workshop is designed to help participants explore how mainstream culture and media aim to distort our sense of what is normal and healthy regarding our bodies. Along with this we will look at our past and present feelings about our bodies, and the influence they have on our self concept and interpersonal relationships.
This is a group workshop open to anyone and everyone who wants to gain self acceptance and self compassion, so that together we can be part of finding a solution to this cultural epidemic of body shaming.
Dates: April 23rd
Location: 58 – 158 2nd Avenue North, Saskatoon
Cost: $50/person due via etransfer or paypal upon registration. Paypal payments will be charged $5
Max 10 participants
****This workshop will include viewing of the documentary “Embrace.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8N_arduKL4
****You will not be required or asked to share intimate details of your sex life. The workshop will touch on how our body image affects our intimacy, however the focus will be on body image.
“If you look for the light, the light is what you’ll find. And if you think about the light, the light will fill your mind. If you shine on the light, the light comes shining back on you. It’s an old, old story…….. ain’t nothing new.”
Lyrics by Joys Dancer
The day before this past weekend’s Body Sex Retreat I was emotional and weepy —overwhelmed with the realization that this is really the path I’m on. Only 3 years ago it was all just an idea and yet here I was on my way to the airport to pick up a woman for my 6th Bodysex circle. I felt honoured and grateful that even though this path has been full of both joy and pain, it’s without a doubt the path I’m meant to be on.
These were welcoming feelings as the last year or 2 have been the hardest and darkest years of my life. I’ve grieved the end of my 15 year marriage, made decisions for myself that were a source of pain for others, and followed career passions that require an authenticity and vulnerability that aren’t easy to exist in at times. I’ve stumbled, felt completely exhausted, and had to learn to be honest with myself about my own failings.
In the past two months however, I’ve begun to see more clearly not only my own light, but the lights around me. This Body Sex Retreat was a constant reminder of all of these lights. The reminders came in many forms and so many times I sat in awe at the beauty of the lights shining around and back on me.
I saw the light in my fellow Bodysex facilitator who came all the way from North Carolina to shine her light and learn along with me. I saw it in the bravery of the women baring their bodies, vulvas and souls in the circle and in the painful stories that they shared. There was light in the smiles of acceptance and acknowledgement among women who had similar stories, and also among those who didn’t. I felt the light in the room brighten with each word spoken, as the weight of our stories became shared — rather than a burden to carry alone.
Light shone outside of the circle as well through the women who took time for themselves as needed, and the women who accepted this need without judgement. There was light in our full body hugs, the different ways we nurtured each other and in the freedom we felt in our nudity. So free that many of the women remained nude late into the night – sharing fantasies, deep belly laughs, yummy food, music, yoga, massage, and the cries of our orgasms as we came at the same time. In the morning the sun shone its light on us as we soothed muscles stiff from orgasms, and eyes puffy from crying.
Inspired by all this light around me, I dug deep inside myself and discovered ways to shine my own light into the workshop. Leading a touch meditation, the deep guttural sounds of my uninhibited orgasms, constant tears that so badly needed to fall, and the stories I shared that I wouldn’t tell anyone who wouldn’t also be completely naked with me.
As the retreat came to an end, we sat in a circle — joined by hearts and hands — and sang…… “If you look for the light, the light is what you’ll find.” Closing my eyes I felt the power of these lyrics and moving my hand over my heart to the beat of the drum, I cried….. “If you think about the light, The light is will fill your mind. If you shine on the light, the light comes shining back on you”…..Thinking of how each of us came in to the retreat with our own fears, reservations, and shame yet in this moment – in this circle of unconditional love and acceptance – there was no separation between our lights. “It’s an old, old story….. ain’t nothing new…..”
Thank you for sharing your lights with me,
Marilyn, Molly Ringwald, Lucky, Heart, Audra, Gigi, Lacy, Ms.Kane, Pearl, Denada, Iris.
My next Bodysex Retreat will be June 16th – 18th. Contact me to book.
*** Photo credit to Stiina <3
Bodysex retreat weekends give women a chance to be who they are without the boxes and labels that society puts on them. As I look at these photos I’m reminded of the beauty, joy, pleasure, freedom, love, nurturing, vulnerability, hope, acceptance and sisterhood that I experience each time I sit in the Bodysex circle. I hope they bring a smile to your face like they do mine.
This is a beautiful story – written by Lauren who has sat in the circle with me 3 times – about the quilt she made in exchange for her friend to attend my upcoming workshop. To me it epitomizes exactly what the Bodysex circle and sisterhood is all about………..
Over the last few years I’ve been on a journey, supported so often by Natasha and the other women I’ve shared the circle with in her workshops. I feel like I have come so far, feeling generally grounded and connected to myself. I wish more women had the chance to experience the loving environment Natasha creates. I have one friend in particular that I believe would love the experience and it would be so good for her. At various times I’ve even tried to figure out how I could afford to just pay for her to attend. So, this summer, when Natasha posted a request for someone to sew a couple quilts for her office in exchange for counselling or workshop services, my mind started swirling. I had so many ideas. I was so excited and had to get in touch with them both right away. I have been working on the first of two quilts that will hopefully help provide Natasha’s clients with some extra warmth and love.
This sewing project felt amazing, as I poured so much love, energy, and intention into each step. Throughout the work of planning, cutting and sewing I have reflected on my own experiences within the circle and continued to process. I remembered each of my circle sisters and the many other women who have influenced and supported me.
Before I had even talked to Natasha about the quilt, my mind went instantly to circle imagery. I knew I wanted to create a circle to represent the circle of women in Natasha’s workshops. I have so much fabric and scraps and old clothes to repurpose, it was like an adventure picking out the pieces that would go together. I found twelve different fabrics to represent the twelve women in a circle.
I look at the fabric. I see the two pieces I bought traveling alone in Thailand which have been used at different times for table cloths, a skirt, wall hangings and a few handmade ornaments. I see leftover pieces of fabric from baby carriers I made for a dear friend as well as two other women. I see a skirt my mom made me almost twenty years ago, and the outfit she made me for grade seven grad. I see a dress I made myself that I loved so much but never quite fit properly. I see a piece of fabric I think my sister bought so many years ago that I can’t even keep track of all the incarnations of decorative and functional uses it has seen. I see my kids curtains from their room when they were tiny. There’s also a piece of fabric that I loved but never got around to making the intended project, a piece I scavenged years ago from my mom’s fabric stash and an old favourite pair of pajamas. In each piece I see myself, through the actual memories and through the varied styles (sometimes subtle and winding, sometimes bold and vibrant, sometimes quiet and subdued). It’s also fun to look at the styles and imagine which one best suits and represents the women I got to know in the circle.
Each fabric and each woman has a different story, similarities and unique beauty; they (we) are now forever connected to each other. I feel like the quilt shows the light and love we each bring into the circle and the energy we shine outwards in our lives after we leave the circle. Once the fabric was pieced together, I saw an eye shape that I hadn’t planned. It’s funny, once I noticed it I couldn’t miss it. I think that connects me to the sense of feeling truly seen that was at first a little terrifying and then so soothing. This quilt and my experiences of the workshops have so much story woven into them.
The quilt itself is imperfect and flawed. My technique is improvised and made up. My stitches wobble and waver just as my body and confidence do. I cringe at the thought of a real quilter looking at it, just as I once cringed at the thought of revealing my imperfect body. It reflects so much of me and my journey with my circle sisters. Even as I sit writing this, with the quilt around my shoulders, I feel held and safe. I dearly hope that many other women can accept the love and energy of other women daring to be vulnerable together.